February, 2001

Ashcroft Nomination

The longer one lives the more one appreciates the old Greek's statement that "there is nothing new under the sun."
     During the confirmation hearings of Senator Ashcroft for Attorney General the Salt Lake Tribune carried an article about the Senator with the headline: "Democrats Zero In on Ashcroft Speech Referring to Jesus as King of the U.S."
     This is a typical example which demonstrates how public opinion is manipulated, because a fair number of readers just glance at headlines and then go on to the sports pages unless they have already read those first. Politics is not their bag and that is why they don't bother to vote. The article, authored by Libby Quaid, and carried by the Associated Press, deals with Ashcroft's "six paragraph address" before the students and faculty of Bob Jones University which is a Fundamentalist Christian institution. The article quoted Ashcroft as saying "Unique among the nations, America recognized the source of our character as being godly and eternal, not being civic and temporal. And because we have understood that our source is eternal, America has been different. We have no king but Jesus." The article did admit that Ashcroft had said earlier that the "American colonists routinely told emissaries from the king of England, 'We have no king but Jesus' when they were asked to pay taxes." The fact that the audience was profoundly Christian does put the comment into a different context which tends to be missed when one only reads the headline.
     For Christians Jesus is indeed their king and this got Cardinal Innitzer of Vienna in October of 1938 into deep trouble when he had the audacity to tell this to Catholic university students who had gathered for the annual mass at the beginning of the school year. From the pulpit of St. Stephen's cathedral he told his audience:” we will especially at this time [5 months after the Nazis had taken over Austria] assert strongly and resolutely our faith; to testify for Jesus our Fuehrer and master, our king and his church." Predictably the Nazis did not take kindly to this affront because there was only one Fuehrer of Greater Germany and his name was Adolf Hitler. What the Nazis did, thereafter, can be found in War and Mayhem.
     Have some of our Democrats now stepped into the shoes of the Nazis? Are they also determined to stamp out this "mischievous superstition" as Tacitus had called Christianity?





March 2001

Whither Zionism?

     Whither Zionism? is now at the publisher and ought to be available within a month or so. It presents the historical basis of the current Middle East conflict from the Greco-Roman era until today. But don't worry, it is written in simple language that even our politicians and "public opinion makers" can understand. Furthermore the information is condensed into only a little over one hundred pages. This was done on purpose so that the people in charge of our lives have no excuse of being too busy for reading the material. The Arab-Israeli conflict is nothing else but a replay of ancient history with America having assumed the role formerly played by Rome. Since our tax dollars are used for arms and ammunitions in that part of the world, and since the oil spigot can be turned off at a moment's notice, the history of that region is not an idle academic exercise but vitally important to all of us. One of my goals in life has always been to deprive myself of excuses and now is the time to do this to our policy makers. Ignorance is not bliss, it leads to disasters.





April 2001

Arab-Israeli Conflict

Whither Zionism? is now available through www.trafford.com/robots/01-0067.html. The site also provides the Introduction and the Conclusion of the book. Additional excerpts are available here. In view of the deteriorating situation in the Middle East the book is exceedingly topical and not only provides the reasons for the conflict but also makes some concrete suggestions. If these were followed further escalation of the fighting could be prevented and some degree of stability might be achieved.



Since neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will be able to disengage themselves from the current level of violence the suggestion is made that the United States agree that a fact-finding commission, appointed by the United Nations, be dispatched to the Middle East. This commission ought to consist of members from countries who are truly neutral in the conflict. A White Paper should then be published which presents the world with the facts as they currently exist but without casting blame. The commission's recommendations should then be publicly discussed and a reasonable compromise between the wishes of the opposing parties may become possible.



The Israeli government may oppose such a commission as outside interference into what are regarded as internal concerns. Nevertheless the precedent for such "interference" has been set in the recent "non-war" with Yugoslavia. Kosovo was and is part of the national territory of Yugoslavia but NATO under U.S. leadership felt obligated to bomb the country in defense of human rights. The "West Bank" is not part of Israel proper but represents occupied territory. The American people do not have full information on what transpires in the area because Israeli military censorship prevents it. Complete disclosure is, therefore, essential so that a solution which provides justice for both sides can be arrived at.



The American Jewish community will have a vital role to play now. If the leaders of major Jewish organizations support a commission as suggested above and bring their influence to bear on the Knesset towards a just and peaceful resolution of this tragedy, they will have provided great benefits to America, Israel, and the world at large. They will have shown that Jews really mean it when they say that the task of Judaism is to be "a blessing to the world!" If the American Jewish community simply abstains from making comments this will be taken as tacit support for current policies by the powers in Jerusalem, and the slaughter will continue. If the American Jewish community were to openly oppose the suggested commission and force the United States to veto a resolution in the Security Council for sending an unarmed fact-finding, rather than peace- keeping, commission to the area they would lend active assistance to chauvinistic circles in the Israeli government. Under those circumstances a major war in the area with disastrous economic world-wide consequences may well be impossible to avert.

Official American Jewish circles are very concerned about a re-emergence of anti-Semitism in this country and are actively soliciting funds to combat it. Money cannot solve the problem; only honesty and good will can do so! This means, however, that first of all one has to listen to the other side and reason has to take precedence over passion. If Jewish passions (understandable as they might be) were allowed to overrule reason, anti-Semitism would erupt in full bloom.





May 2001

Today's Vienna

This was a rather busy month taken up by attempts to promote Whither Zionism?, a trip to Vienna with a side-tour to Munich, and the dispatch of a manuscript entitled Satan to First Things.

The results of the efforts in regard to Whither Zionism? will be discussed in the June segment and the trip to Vienna had a dual purpose. The timing had been dictated by testimony in a court case but there was also the intent to use the occasion to get some publicity for War and Mayhem in my native city. The side-trip to Munich was made in order to meet a colleague and his wife for scientific purposes and subsequently another physician couple who had expressed interest in translating War and Mayhem into the German language.

Apart from this official program I had also looked forward to the trip in order to visit with old friends, enjoy the Viennese cuisine and one of the highlights was supposed to have been a visit to the Burgtheater. Anyone who has read War and Mayhem will recall my fondness for this institution of classic theater performances. It is Vienna's answer to the Comédie Francaise in Paris. The building has been restored from the war ravages to its former glory and Weh dem der luegt by Grillparzer (Austria's most famous poet and dramatist) was on the program.

Grillparzer has always intrigued me, not only out of local patriotism but also on account of some of the verses which stayed in memory. For instance in Der Traum ein Leben (The Dream a Life) Rustan, a simple boy, dreamt that he was king; but in achieving this exalted station and in the execution of his office he had to commit several outrages. Upon awakening in the morning Rustan was exceedingly grateful for his lowly stature in life and prayed on his knees: Eines nur ist Glueck hienieden. Eins: des Innern stiller Frieden und die schuldbefreite Brust! Und die Groesze ist gefaehrlich. Und der Ruhm ein leeres Spiel; Was er gibt sind nicht'ge Schatten, Was er nimmt es ist so viel! (The only happiness here below is inner peace and the heart which is freed of guilt. Greatness is dangerous, glory a pointless game, what it gives are merely shadows, what it takes away is oh so much). In 1849 Grillparzer expressed his feelings about the previous year's revolution in the guise of Emperor Rudolf's II words during the 30 years war. In the drama the dregs of society had risen up and demanded equality, to which Rudolf answered: bis alles gleich, weil alles niedrig (till everything is equal because everything is base)! Our current society is also doing its best to erase distinctions of any kind bis alles gleich, weil alles niedrig!

The timelessness of classic literature was also driven home to me during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. I had a vague feeling of having been aware of a similar situation but didn't realize the close parallel until I re-read Grillparzer's Die Juedin von Toledo (the Jewess of Toledo). It's all there except that our friend Bill did not require much seduction and the ending was different. Rahel-Monica gets killed by infuriated friends of the Queen, rather than ending up with book contracts, and the King goes off to fight the Moors, instead of traveling around the world making money by giving speeches to one and all. Those were some of my associations with the Burgtheater and the reason why I looked forward to the evening.

Unfortunately past memories where the classic plays were performed in appropriate period decor and where, even during war time, people were dressed in their Sunday best when they went to the theater, had to remain locked in the brain and could not be revitalized by what was going on in the audience and on the stage. I had never seen nor read Weh dem der luegt (Woe to him who lies) previously, and as author of "thinkruth.com" was ready for an interesting morality play. Unfortunately post-modern deconstructionism has also hit Europe and what was offered on the stage was a disaster. All one could say was: poor Grillparzer; he really didn't deserve that.

The stage setting ranged from primitive to absent e.g. the entire first and fifth act had only the huge empty stage with the three walls adorned by flowery wallpaper. I found out subsequently that the scene was to have taken place in a garden. Apparently the wallpaper was supposed to lead one to that conclusion! In the other acts the setting was equally primitive and gave no hint to the uninitiated as to what the author's intent had been. As far as the rest of the performance was concerned, there was open display of nudity, the purpose of which eluded one and rock noises emanated intermittently from loudspeakers which drowned out what the poor actors were trying to say. In the final act where the play calls for Christian forgiveness of the enemy and secure passage for those who had surrendered we were treated to an attempted rape and a gruesome killing where the perpetrator seems to tear open the adversary's innards and then smears himself with the blood of the victim. All this on the stage of a theater which prides itself as the epitome of German language culture. At the end I had no idea what the play was really intended to be all about. I vowed then and there that I would no longer visit the Burgtheater unless they present classic material in timeless form.

In addition, not only were the actors dressed shabbily so was the audience. Sweaters, T- shirts and Levis were in and the dark suit I wore was out. Grillparzer was right: bis alles gleich weil alles niedrig! Unless you can play to, and for, the lowest instincts and you profane whatever has been held holy you no longer belong to the world of art and culture. You are simply "not with it."

I thought that this particular performance may have been a temporary aberration and an isolated event but as my friends and colleagues assured me this is in fact what is regarded as art even in Vienna, which used to be a beacon of culture. The Opera has also been infected by this "modernity," as I was told. In Beethoven's Fidelio the helpers of the evil Pizarro wore SS uniforms! Why were they not presented as GPU commissars or even more modern as Castro's henchmen? Is evil from now on limited to Nazis? These are cheap propaganda tricks which detract from the performances rather than enhance them. I had, and still have, no use for the Nazis but the current so called art scene does smack of "entartete Kunst" (degenerate art).

Even in Austria the intellectual elite is thoroughly leftist, sees itself as the vanguard of the future and from all the newspapers there is only the Kronenzeitung which gives vent to the real feelings of the common people and, therefore, has the largest circulation. This is also the explanation of the Haider phenomenon. It has nothing to do with Nazism and everything with a revulsion against the incessant Marxist "avant-garde" drumbeat. Society has to be reformed in their image. The common folks don't like it, but they are intimidated similar to Nazi times, and the children are indoctrinated. The color has changed from brown to red and there are no concentration camps but genuine free speech and open investigations of the Nazi era, specifically of the Holocaust, are not permitted. There are laws against it and one can be jailed The book is closed and must remain so.

Having come from the U.S., a still relatively open society (the reason for the qualification will become apparent in the June update), I expected that opinions on history which do not engage in the good vs. evil polemic could be openly presented in democratic Austria. Free speech is, or at least should be, the hallmark of a democracy. That this is not so I found out when I thought it might be a good idea to organize a public discussion of War and Mayhem as part of a book promotion. I was, however, advised by well meaning friends against it because anything that presents both sides of the coin and which might possibly be construed as not rendering sufficient emphasis on specifically Jewish suffering during WWII would risk an outcry by Jewish organizations.

As a result of the coalition government between the People's Party and the Freedom Party with the exclusion of the Socialists, Austria is currently on probation and foreign observers watch every move. A few weeks prior to my arrival there was a mini uproar in the country over a demand by the Chief Rabbi of the Kultusgemeinde for Austria to admit 10.000 Jews in order to revitalize Jewish life in Vienna. In addition he wanted Austria to assume the debts of the Kultusgemeinde which apparently are considerable. Schuessel - the chancellor- said in so many words he would take about 500 people but the country could not be held responsible for debts which it did not incur. Since this answer was regarded as inadequate and Haider could not resist the temptation to add his two cents of populist rhetoric by making a pun on the Chief Rabbi's name, the feelings between official Jewry and the population are somewhat tense at the moment.

Since I did not want to feed ill-feelings I abstained from the planned book promotion but regard it as terribly unfortunate that the people in charge of official Jewish organizations don't seem to realize that incessant demands will not be met with heartfelt endorsement and that they thereby tend to encourage anti-Jewish sentiments. These are, of course, not allowed to be voiced in public and one hears about them only privately.

Jewish feelings were, however, only one part of the aborted book promotion. The wind blows from the left, as has repeatedly been mentioned and, contrary to what happens in sailboat regattas, port tack has right of way over starboard tack. Protest against the right is currently de rigeur and Widerstand (resistance) is the key word for youngsters and elitists. On buildings one could see banners Kultur ist Widerstand or Kunst ist Widerstand. That this cheapens the genuine sacrifices the Austrian resistance movement made during the war, where Widerstand resulted in KZ and/or death, these new generations (we are after all grandparents for some of them already) cannot or do not want to comprehend. I was told that every Thursday afternoon youngsters march for a while along the Ringstrasse shouting such edifying slogans like "Widerstand, Widerstand, Schuessel, Haider an die Wand" (resistance, resistance, Schuessel, Haider against the wall). That one is to be shot when lined up against a wall goes without saying. Thus the mob hasn't changed, neither have the slogans, and the only difference is the perceived enemy. For the Nazis it was Juden und Pfaffen (Jews and clergy) who were to be hanged. I had intended to watch one of these processions but illness in the family required a premature departure from Vienna and return to the States.

That youngsters are getting a dose of indoctrination in favor of the left became apparent when I was invited by the authorities of my former Mittelschule, from which I had been thrown out by the Nazis as "an abscess on the body of the German people" in 1941, to hold a discussion with the students of the fourth as well as subsequently the seventh and eighth grade. In Austria one attends Mittelschule from age ten to age eighteen and there are, therefore, eight grades. I was warmly welcomed by teachers and students and the discussions, in form of questions by the pupils, went well. In contrast to my time there, the school is now co-ed and it was the girls who participated more actively than the boys. One key question stuck in mind: "How can we prevent right wing extremism in the future?" It was appropriate in the context because we were talking about Nazis but I felt it important to explain that left wing extremism is just as dangerous and has to be exposed with equal vigor. This is where the danger lies today The students were receptive but it seemed to be a new concept because they tend to get mainly one-sided information. Nazi crimes get the exclusive attention but other outrages which had occurred during and in the aftermath of WWII are never mentioned. This is not meant to excuse the behavior of the Nazis, which is inexcusable, but history should be presented from all sides and not just one.

There were two other surprises. Learning by rote and reciting the classics has become a lost art. This is unfortunate for two reasons. One is that memory is no longer challenged and trained; the other is that one builds thereby a reservoir of information into one's brain which, just like songs, can be tapped in hours of boredom or crisis to banish unwanted idle or frustrating thoughts. The other surprise was the non-existent dress code; sloppiness of attire by the students is just as marked as it is on our schools. Whether or not they still stand up when the teacher enters I don't know. These may be regarded as minor points but lack of attention to attire does imply lack of respect for others. Yet, from lack of respect a good many of the other unwanted consequences, including poor study habits, flow. On the other hand there have to date been no shootings or knifings in Viennese schools which is a plus.

Now to other positive aspects. For Americans a trip to Austria and Vienna can be heartily recommended. Unless one wants to go to the Burgtheater, which is at this time not advisable anyway, no language skills are necessary because practically everybody speaks English and the people have retained their friendliness. In Jewish circles there may be some concern about the proverbial anti-Semitism of the Viennese but this is not warranted because it does not apply to individuals. Anybody, regardless of ethnic or religious background is being treated politely unless the person claims special privileges or throws his weight around. Under those circumstances one can expect either sullenness or a flash flood of verbal insults, but at no time is there any physical aggression.

The public buildings have been sandblasted, look practically new, and even the private apartment houses are steadily cleaned from the soot of bygone ages. The city looks impressive, the abundant parks are well kept, flowers are in bloom, and the public transportation system is excellent. Do not attempt to drive a car in Vienna, except for getting into or out of town. Even if you have been there before you are bound to get lost in the maze of one-way streets. The city simply wasn't built for today's traffic. But you really don't need a car because, as mentioned, public transportation with trolleys, subways and buses is excellent and there are also numerous taxis. The cabbies may be from Africa, Turkey, Bosnia or other assorted places but most of the time they do find their way around. Some, especially the Viennese ones, may ask you if you have a preferred route to your destination but even if you do, decline the offer because he/she knows better and will not take advantage of you.

Here is a typical experience. I am not only handicapped on account of gait problems but also by my Viennese accent. Everybody in Vienna automatically assumes that I have been living there all along and when I have to ask for directions or if I make suggestions to a cabbie which may not be appropriate due to changed circumstances I get peculiar looks or even "the lip." Two years ago I had to go to mother's lawyer on account of the estate settlement and his office was on the Mariahilferstrasse, which is a rather broad and busy thoroughfare. The lady took me from the Ringstrasse up the Mariahilferstrasse but the problem was that the lawyer's office was on the other side of the street. Since I wanted to minimize my walking because of serious hip pain where every step felt like hitting a sore tooth (the hip joint has been replaced in the meantime with excellent results) I suggested that she go up the Gumpendorferstrasse instead and then come down on the proper side of the Mariahilferstrasse. This elicited a totally unexpected flood of anger and it was apparent that she had what's referred to here as "a bad hair day." I realized what was going on and instead of biting back I patiently explained my dual handicaps. The result was totally surprising. She did stop on the wrong side of the street, subsequently insisted that I take her arm (although I wasn't that crippled), led me across the busy street, gave me a hug on the other side, kissed me on both cheeks, and wished me well. Now that is what is known as the goldene Wienerherz (the golden Viennese heart). If you treat people right they will do so also and a possible flash of sudden anger, caused by whatever, disappears right away.

It is also advisable to take a more leisurely approach during your stay then let us say in New York. Rather than just rushing around from one of the cultural sites to the next and taking one's leave within a day or so, visit the Vienna Woods with their numerous small restaurants and hotels. The Tulbingerkogel, for instance, is only half an hour from town and you find yourself in pristine nature with an unimpeded view over the countryside, while you can indulge in your favorite cocktail and subsequently enjoy a perfectly prepared dinner from a large menu. If you do not have friends with a car a taxi will take you and the prices are reasonable. Rax, Schneeberg and Semmering can also be reached by car within an hour and one gets there an idea of the real Austria unaffected by foreign influences. In sum and substance visit Vienna and her environs whenever you have a chance to do so, you will enjoy it.





June 2001

Metaphysical Guilt

As mentioned previously April and the early part of May were also devoted to get Whither Zionism? into the hands of people who control our fate. I am a scientist and have few illusions about the behavior of my fellow human beings, especially of those who are in power. But scientists love experiments, even when they think they know the outcome. Whither Zionism? was such an experiment. Everyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear must know that the current Middle East policies are doomed to failure and bound to lead to disaster.

In the February update I mentioned that there is nothing new under the sun, when it comes to human behavior as exemplified by the allegations against Senator Ashcroft during his confirmation hearings. On p.36 of Whither Zionism? there is a quote from Josephus in regard to events just prior to the onset of the Jewish war against Rome which had the result that: "many of the most eminent of the Jews swam away from the city [Jerusalem], as from a ship when it was going to sink [II 20:1]." The June 5, 2001 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune carried an article headlined "Moderates Fleeing Middle East" The article starts with: "Worn down by eight months of violence that shows no sign of easing, many Israelis and Palestinians are packing their bags for the United States or Canada...." Two millennia have made no difference in that part of the world.

The question arises, therefore, what is the responsibility of the individual citizen both here and in Israel in order to bring about a degree of sanity in that troubled land. We Americans will be held responsible, whether we like it or not, because it is no secret that Israel is our client state. Why does this bother me personally? Because, as a former citizen of Austria and subsequently the Greater German Reich, I am told that I bear personal guilt for Hitler's atrocities! This is no exaggeration. Karl Jaspers, the renowned German existentialist philosopher wrote a booklet in 1946 during the Nuremberg trials Die Schuldfrage. Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Frage.(The question of guilt. A contribution to the German Question). In it he explained that there are four types of guilt. 1. Legal guilt for criminal behavior, 2. Political guilt for allowing a repressive regime to come to power or when in power to tolerate it, 3. Moral guilt for personal misconduct, even when under orders, and 4. Metaphysical guilt which flows from the demand that every human being is co-responsible for all the wrongs and injustices which are being perpetrated in the world when one knows about them and simply stands by without taking action. Ergo in relation to the Nazis I am absolved from criminal or moral guilt because I didn't do anything bad but I am supposed to have political guilt because I had to live under them and did not volunteer for an act punishable by death or concentration camp. I am also supposed to be co-responsible for their criminal acts on the metaphysical plane. Jaspers writes of himself : "Dasz ich noch lebe, wenn solches geschehen ist, legt sich als untilgbare Schuld auf mich" (the fact that I am still alive I carry with me as inexpungeable guilt). Please note the term untilgbar - inexpungeable. Whatever one does after the fact is irrelevant for this particular form of guilt and one Jewish author has proclaimed that the German people have been stamped with the mark of Cain on their foreheads for eternity. This has, of course, practical uses because German as well as Austrian citizens can now be collared for financial retributions in perpetuity. Inexpungeable guilt!

There is obviously some hyperbole in Jaspers' exposition. If one were to follow his thoughts to their logical conclusion one would have to say that all the citizens of the former Soviet Union had political guilt for allowing Lenin to come to power and for submitting to Stalin's crimes. All the millions of Cambodians whom Pol Pot drove into the rice paddies and who didn't die were guilty for having survived. The more than a billion Chinese are guilty of still tolerating the communist regime, not to speak of the North Koreans, Vietnamese, or the Cubans who have to make do with Castro on their island. These are just a few examples for the difference between philosophic ideas and the harsh realities of this world.

Nevertheless, Jaspers is correct that when one sees a catastrophe in the making, shrugs ones shoulders and says I can't do anything about it anyway, one may incur a degree of metaphysical guilt. In a closed society the individual is severely limited in his options, but what possibilities exist in the so-called free world? To explore these Whither Zionism? was written and distributed to all the members of the Bush administration, as well as all the members of the House and Senate: International Relations Committee, Armed Services Committee and Appropriations Committee.

In addition, review copies were sent to all the major daily newspapers in the country and the major TV pundits. The Wiesenthal Center, the Holocaust Memorial in Washington and the Anti-defamation League also got copies. Furthermore, Steven Spielberg is known for his interest in the fate of the Jewish people and I thought that the reasons for the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple when depicted accurately, rather than from a propaganda point of view, could provide an excellent lesson for chauvinistic hotheads.

The result was, of course, predictable. DreamWorks returned the book with the comment that they have a policy to reject all unsolicited material and, therefore, the book is being returned unread. I can't even use it any more for anybody else because it carries an autograph to Spielberg. There were no replies from any of the magazines, newspapers or TV personalities. As far as politicians are concerned there was also mostly silence apart from eight notable exceptions where I received polite form letters or cards, including one from Dick Cheney's office who thanked me and wished me well On the other hand our National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice was too busy to even ask her staff to reply, although she was contacted on repeated occasions.

During the Easter recess I tried to get in personal touch with my senators but got no further than their secretaries. They are just too busy to bother seeing constituents. In olden days you could get an audience even with the emperor or give Caesar a personal petition, but no more when "the people" rule! The irony is that the senators I did vote for didn't give me time of day but my Congressman, Jim Matheson, for whom I did not vote, was willing to lend me his ears and I could put the book personally into his hands. He is new on the job, not yet infected with the disdain for the constituents who pay his salary and obviously wants to get re-elected. The senators have nothing to fear, their secretaries who shield them know it, so why bother?

Thus, we have a very effective censorship in this country for ideas which do not emanate from well known public figures. In the first instance a "reputable publisher" will not take your manuscript because a) the editor may not agree with the contents and possibly more importantly b) it won't bring in huge quantities of money. In our free country one can then take the self-publishing route which gets the book in print but that's the end. Papers will not review it and even if you want to give it to your local library one lady told me in regard to War and Mayhem after leafing through it in a cursory fashion: "We only take books from reputable publishers." Therefore, unless one has the good fortune to be a member of the old boys, or gals for that matter, network your chances of getting heard or read are astronomically small.

The same applies, of course to this website. Who in, literally, all the world is going to find it, even when it is submitted to all the search engines. There is just too much stuff on this "information superhighway" and its bumper to bumper traffic.

So, what has been accomplished? I have shared my "metaphysical guilt" with the movers and shakers of this world and deprived them of excuses. To read a hundred pages is no chore but to disregard them is a mistake. The Middle East continues to drift into chaos and the Mitchell Commission recommendations - although well meant - have predictably been rejected by both sides. Youngsters who aspire to heaven via martyrdom cannot be restrained by anybody and to make their disappearance the precondition for negotiations is a lame excuse. So is the necessity for continuing to expand the settlements. Since the relations between the U.S. and the UN have soured considerably in the past few month a UN commission as suggested in Whither Zionism? may at this time not have much chance of coming into being but some unimpeachable third force seems to be the only hope for letting intellect overcome passion.

In conclusion I might mention some thoughts of a revered icon of the twentieth century on the topic of Palestine which can be found in Churchill and the Jews by Michael J. Cohen. Although Churchill had been early on an outspoken supporter of Zionism he had begun to develop second thoughts later on. There may also have been personal reasons involved for his change of mind. His close friend Lord Moyne, Minister of State Resident in the Middle East, was murdered in November 1944 by a Jewish terrorist organization led by Menachem Begin, who later became Prime Minister. At the end of WWII during his last weeks in office Churchill said:

"I do not think we should take the responsibility upon ourselves of managing this very difficult place while the Americans sit back and criticise...I am not aware of the slightest advantage which has ever accrued to Great Britain from this painful and thankless task. Somebody else should have their turn now..."(p.260).

America has assumed Britain's burden and is now saddled with "managing this very difficult place" but the prospects for bringing stability to the area by the U.S. are no better than they were for the Brits, or the Romans for that matter.

In 1946 Churchill said in the House of Commons:

" The idea that the Jewish Problem could be solved or even helped by a vast dumping of the Jews of Europe into Palestine is really too silly to consume our time in the House of Commons this afternoon" (p.327).

Well it did happen, the migration was unavoidable, the state of Israel came into being and people of good will are now forced to spend considerably more time than just an afternoon to deal with the consequences of this "silly idea."





July 2001

Palestinians. Homosexuality

To start out on a positive note it is a pleasure to acknowledge Alan Caruba's kind review of Whither Zionism? In the May installment of his bookviews.com Caruba wrote that "Rodin asks and brilliantly answers the title question in a way that will prove astonishing and insightful to any reader, particularly in light of the present problems in the Middle East." I am mentioning Caruba's comments here because they are especially relevant for what follows.

The syndicated columnist Cal Thomas usually writes sensible reports but on June 5 there appeared an article of his in the Salt Lake Tribune headlined: Peace Solution: Israel must rid itself of the Palestinians Once and for All. Thomas is clearly sufficiently intelligent to realize that this plan cannot be executed; nevertheless he concludes the article by saying "The current model of 'land for peace' is not working, nor can it work given the objectives of Arafat and Israel's other enemies. Eviction is a better avenue of stability. Will it happen? Probably not. Should it ? Yes."

There are two aspects to this article which require comment. One is that expulsion of the Palestinian population from the occupied territories was advocated as "The Only Solution" by rabbi Meir Kahane in the 1980's. He lost his seat in the Knesset, his political party was forbidden and Kahane was murdered soon thereafter by a Muslim fanatic. The other aspect is that the headline could have come with slight modification from any issue of the Voelkische Beobachter during the late 1930's as "Germany must rid itself of the Jews once and for all." When one knows the history of those years one is aware that the Kristallnacht in November of 1938, which was universally deplored and removed the last vestige of doubt about Nazism's malignancy, was preceded by the deportation of Polish Jews from Germany in October of that year. The Poles did not want this influx of her former citizens either and, among others, young Herschel Grynszpan's family was caught in no man's land. When Herschel received word from his sister about their unhappy circumstances he vowed revenge. Since he was in Paris at the time he wanted to make a statement by shooting the German ambassador but when this wasn't possible he made do with Counselor Ernst vom Rath. The latter was mortally wounded and when he died soon thereafter Goebbels unleashed the pogrom in Germany as "the just revenge of the German people." Further details of the affair are in War and Mayhem. Since Mr. Thomas seemed inadequately informed about the history and complexity of the Middle East problem I sent him a copy of Whither Zionism? but as expected didn't hear back.

Another long article which appeared in a Sunday edition of the Tribune was also of considerable interest. It was written by a Professor of Educational Psychology and carried the headline: There is no evidence that homosexuals can change, only evidence of deception. In the article the professor took issue with some church leaders, as well as other psychologists, that some homosexual individuals can stop this "lifestyle" and adopt instead a heterosexual one. In spite of his academic credentials the professor, who shall remain nameless, is likewise inadequately informed on this subject. The fallacy in his argument is that he accepts an either-or stance and lumps all people who engage in homosexual activity into one group. This is biologically unsound and serves only political purposes. Homosexual activists need large numbers to exert political pressure and, therefore, anyone who may have had one or two homosexual contacts in their lives is counted among their flock.

The evidence that homosexual individuals comprise a spectrum with the more or less effeminate "born homosexual" person on the one hand and others who adopt this lifestyle for a variety of reasons comes, strangely enough, from the Nazis' concentration camps. Let me emphasize that I harbor absolutely no fondness for the days I had to spend under Hitler's rule but the experiences gathered during that era should not be disregarded either. While I do not advocate the methods which demonstrated that some homosexual persons can indeed change their behavior, the fact should not be denied.

The data are presented in the autobiography of Rudolf Höss who became infamous as commandant of Auschwitz, and his notes were penned while in a Polish prison awaiting execution for war crimes. Some "revisionist" historians take issue with a number of the statements he made because they were supposedly extracted under torture but this is irrelevant for the current topic because Höss had nothing to gain from making the points listed here. The book is published in German under the title Kommandant in Auschwitz. Autobiographische Aufzeichnungen des Rudolf Höss An English version is available under Death Dealer.The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz at amazon.com.

Höss had led a rather interesting life. At age 16 he managed to enlist as a volunteer in the German army during WW I and served in Syria and Palestine, of all places. He rose to the rank of sergeant and after the collapse in 1918 he led his cavalry platoon on a highly adventuresome trip back home. He managed to arrive with his people three months later in Germany without having been taken prisoner of war, although they had to traverse enemy territory. Subsequently Höss became involved in right wing paramilitary activities and, for participation in a political murder, was sentenced in 1924 to a Zuchthaus term, which was at that time the most severe form of jail. He remained there for four years and this stay taught him two things. One was that the worst you can do to a prisoner is to leave him totally unoccupied, without any benefit of books, writing materials or whatever. Work, any kind of work, but especially something which had a constructive purpose was welcomed, because it relieved the mind of useless ruminations about one's fate. When he was finally given some work to do he breathed a sigh of relief and the slogan "Arbeit macht frei" (work liberates) was born in his mind. Later on it "graced" the entrance of the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that before the war the concentration camps were indeed labor camps for "reeducation" as they exist, for instance, today in China, and good behavior could earn you a discharge. Even Nazis preferred tax payers over tax burdens. The second lesson was in regard to homosexuality which tends to become rampant when young males are cooped up together.

After the Nazis took over in Germany, Höss volunteered for the SS in 1933. From 1934-1938 he was deputized first as Block- and subsequently Rapportfuehrer to Dachau; from 1938-1940 he served as Adjutant and Commandant of the KZ Sachsenhausen, and from 1940-1943 he was in charge of Auschwitz. When Höss arrived at Dachau the homosexual prisoners were already a problem, although initially they didn't matter numerically. According to Höss the camp commandant of Dachau had thought it a good idea to distribute the homosexual prisoners throughout the camp in all barracks. Prior to the Olympic Games of 1936 the Nazis wanted to put their best foot forward and cleansed the streets not only of beggars and vagrants, who were sent for "education" to work houses and concentration camps, but the cities and spas were also cleared of the multitude of prostitutes and homosexuals. They were also to be educated for useful work in the concentration camps. By the way, it seems likely that the Chinese will follow the example if they are awarded the Olympic Games for 2008. Let us now read what Höss had to say about the situation Dachau.

"It didn't last long until reports came in from all quarters about homosexual relations. Punishment didn't change anything, the Seuche (contagion) increased. On my suggestion all the homosexuals were now concentrated in one block and they received a supervisor who knew how to deal with them. They were also segregated from the other prisoners during their work details. Thus they pulled for a long time a Straszenwalze (steamroller but pulled manually).

All of a sudden the plague was eradicated. Even when on occasion these unnatural relations persisted, they were isolated events. In the barracks the homosexuals were supervised so that there was no opportunity....In Sachsenhausen they were immediately segregated in a special block."

After further descriptions of the type of hard labor the prisoners had to perform, regardless of weather in winter and summer, Höss wrote the following informative passages

"The result of hard labor which was to make 'normal' individuals out of them depended upon the difference among homosexuals. It was most effective and immediately apparent in the Strichjungen (male prostitute youngsters)...they were not truly homosexual it was merely their profession...several of them could be discharged without relapsing into their former behavior. This particular lesson was sufficient. There was also a group who had become homosexual - bored by sexual relations with too many women, who wanted new thrills in their parasitic existence - who could likewise be educated in this manner, and made to give up their vice. This did not hold, however, for those who had by inclination been too deeply imbued with this depravity. They were the same as the genuine homosexuals (aus Veranlagung) but those were few and far between.

For those individuals there was no help regardless of hard work or strict supervision. Wherever there was an opportunity they were in each others arms. Even when they were already in poor physical shape they continued to pursue their vice. They were also easily recognizable. With a soft girlish affectedness (Zimperlichkeit) and mannerisms...they were immediately distinguishable from those who had rid themselves of the vice and those who were in the process of doing so, whose step by step progress could be readily observed.

While those who were willing to change endured the hardest labor, the others succumbed. Inasmuch as they could not or would not desist from their vice they knew that they would never see freedom again...this accelerated the physical deterioration. When in addition there was the loss of the "friend" through illness or death one could foresee the end. Many committed suicide. The "friend" meant for these individuals everything in this situation. It happened several times that two friends committed suicide together."

Höss also said that Himmler had devised a method in Ravensbrueck to find out which of the homosexual prisoners had really been "cured" by bringing them together in an informal setting with prostitutes. Those who had been "reeducated" readily succumbed to the charms of the ladies while the


"Incurables didn't pay attention to these women at all. If they made advances they turned away with disgust ....The ones who were to be discharged were once more given the possibility for homosexual relations but they refused the advances of the genuine homosexuals. There were, however, borderline cases who used both opportunities. Whether or not one can call them bisexual I can't judge. To be able to observe the life and habits of the homosexuals of all varieties, in connection with their incarceration, was highly informative for me."


While I, obviously, do not approve of the methods used by the Nazis to effect this change in sexual behavior it is nevertheless clear that some homosexual individuals can be motivated to abandon this "lifestyle." I sent the Höss information in a letter to the professor but he was apparently to busy to respond and seemed to follow the rule: My mind is made up, don't bother me with facts.

As mentioned earlier, like most everything else which involves human behavior there are gradations in the expression of a given trait and to deny those can only serve political purposes rather than lead to an understanding of the underlying condition. Numbers translate into votes and this is all that counts, never mind the facts. This attitude has also led to the medical absurdity that HIV-AIDS which is for all practical purposes, in this country, a preventable disease by simply abstaining from unhealthy practices, is actually the only politically protected infectious disease for which a cure must be found immediately. Since research money is limited this stance comes at the cost of removing valuable financial resources from other truly unavoidable and more common illnesses. Currently the AIDS epidemic in Africa is receiving a great deal of attention and the solution is also to be billions of dollars for research. But even in Africa the epidemic is caused by promiscuous sexual behavior. The plague could be eradicated worldwide by abstention from homosexual practices, by engaging in heterosexual intercourse with one partner only, and avoidance of intravenous illicit drug use. In contrast to nearly all other diseases AIDS (with few exceptions e.g. children of infected mothers, or recipients of tainted blood transfusions) is self-inflicted and preventable by adhering to a healthy life-style.

These verities are, of course, highly unpopular. Therefore, an attitude is fostered by the political and media establishments where even the use of the term homosexual is frowned upon and the word "gay" has been substituted. This is truly a perversion of language. Hardly any one of us, regardless of sexual orientation, is gay in the true meaning of the word for any length of time. Life has too many vicissitudes to allow us "gaiety" for more than short periods. To dignify sexual practices, which involve acts that are distasteful to the majority of people in our culture, with this euphemism is unconscionable. Homosexual activists may call themselves whatever they want but the much larger non-homosexual community should not be swayed by this misuse of language and call the behavior by its proper name.

Nevertheless even here a caveat is in order. To label somebody " a homosexual" as if this were the "be all and end all "of the individual's life, is just as uncalled for as using other potentially pejorative terms without some qualification. For instance, when I started my professional neurologic career it was common practice to talk about "the epileptic" or "the schizophrenic." I abolished these terms from my personal vocabulary because they are adjectives and should not be used as nouns. Instead I talked and wrote about patients (by the way, even this term has lost its meaning, because nowadays physicians, just like lawyers, tend to have "clients") with epilepsy or schizophrenia, or whatever the condition was. This retains the personhood of the individual and allows for a change in the condition, which can and does occur at times. I had to disagree with one of my professors early on whose favorite dictum was "once an epileptic always an epileptic." The statement was not only pejorative but simply factually wrong. I am glad indeed that my terminology, which was news in the fifties and sixties, has now been generally adopted by my colleagues.

This brings me to one of the major pitfalls in the thought processes of the human race and is clearly illustrated by the two mentioned newspaper articles. It is the inappropriate use of the "all or nothing," principle as it is called in neurophysiology. The law refers to the propagation of the electrical activity in a nerve. Once an impulse is strong enough to be propagated, the size of the response, and the speed of its conduction will be independent of the intensity of the original stimulus. Once fired up the nerve gives its all. This is how the peripheral nervous system works. But we also have a central nervous system which allows us to give graded responses before we put our nerves into action. In the present context for Mr. Thomas there are apparently only monolithic Palestinians who have to be expelled and for the professor of educational psychology there are only homosexuals who are incapable of changing. This is the same type of thinking which declared "the Jews" enemies of the German people, and which condemned "the Germans" as "the Nazis" when in fact only a small subgroup in these categories had engaged in undesirable or even outright criminal activities. Unless we stop thinking in terms of classes of people and hold only individuals responsible for their actions there will be no end to hatred in this world with concomitant injustices.





August 2001

Stem Cells

Apart from the continuing violence in the Middle East, which was reported occasionally, there were three items the American media obsessed over during the past month. One was "The Case of the Missing Intern," another was Global Warming, and the third Stem Cell research.

As far as the first item is concerned the fate of Ms. Chandra Levy and that of her paramour Representative Gary Condit has become a boon to cable news channels, because there is too much air time to fill and the genuine news are not sufficiently sensational. The entire story can be summarized in a few sentences. Ms. Levy has been missing for about three months. Nobody knows her or her body's whereabouts and it becomes increasingly likely that her case will end up like that of Jimmy Hoffa's, who also vanished without a trace. Mr. Condit on the other hand failed to obey the Prime Directive which ought to govern human behavior. Simply put it states: Whenever you find yourself in trouble tell the truth immediately and fully, without making excuses. Qui s'excuse, s'accuse (whoever excuses himself, accuses himself) the French say and they are right. This is the sum and substance of the story over which TV newscasters, hosts and guests drool endlessly for hours day in and day out.

The discussion of Global Warming will be postponed for another update. At any rate it is supposed to stay with us for at least another hundred years, so what's the hurry? I am currently in the process of gathering my own data in regard to temperature forecasts and these will be published in due time.

The third item on the agenda, stem cell research, does merit discussion today because President Bush is being pressured by the media to immediately release federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. The media bolster their argument by promising the general public the blue from the sky about the benefits the human race will reap from this type of research. The moral and religious pro and con arguments are endlessly hashed out but the legitimate medical issues which can be raised for or against embryonic stem cell research have, to the best of my knowledge, never been aired by the public media to the extent that they should have been. We are only being told that this research might lead to cures for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and a host of other chronic degenerative illnesses. With other words we are finally on the way to realize Ponce de Leon's dream. The fountain of youth is around the corner and embryonic stem cells will relieve us from all the burdens associated with aging. The key word in all of this, which by the way this type of propaganda shares with Global Warming, is the word "might." It is not being taken merely as some faint hope, which springs eternal, but is regarded as "will" and action must be taken now, immediately, and by the federal government or an irretrievable chance will be lost.

In order to find out what the implantation of embryonic stem cells really does in the human being I searched the medical literature on the Internet and came up empty handed. There are no data! As a neurologist I was, of course, most interested in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease but even the animal data are so far exceedingly sparse and inconclusive. It just so happened that the July issue of Neurology Reviews had a lead article entitled: "Shooting for the Moon. Bolstered by a New Research Agenda, Parkinson's Researchers Aim High." In this article, which will also available on the web in due time under www. neurologyreviews.com, the several techniques which are currently under investigation are discussed. These are: transplantation of a) neural tissue, b) embryonic stem cells, c) adult stem cells, and d) xenotransplantion. Before explaining these terms further in everyday language some fundamental facts about Parkinson's disease must first be presented.

The condition results from a loss of nerve cells (neurons) in certain regions of the brain which produce a critical chemical called dopamine. This discovery, in the early sixties of the past century, led to a Nobel Prize because dopamine could be produced in the laboratory and patients could take the drug in pill form. The early results were exceedingly exciting but, as everything else in life, first love wears off, and the "fine print" becomes noticeable only after some time. Although improvements in the compound in form of levodopa (L-dopa) were made, which is the current preferred form of treatment; there are still a great many problems. Not only does the effect of the medication wear off after some time but some patients also develop uncontrollable writhing movements especially of the head and limbs (dyskinesias or dystonia) which make their lives miserable. For this reason the search for "the cure" continues.

Hippocrates, "the father of medicine" who plied his art on the island of Cos in the Aegean around 400 B.C. wrote in his aphorisms: "What medicine [drugs] cannot cure, the knife [surgery] will cure, what the knife cannot cure fire [radiation] will cure, and what fire cannot cure is wholly incurable." Genetic modification of the organism could not be imagined at that time but on the whole the dictum still holds. Since L-dopa failed to live up to its promise neurosurgeons began to practice their art by destroying certain structures or pathways in the brain with their knives, or by targeted radiation. This led to some good and some bad results. At any rate the disease remained for the most part progressive and only long term follow-up of ten years or more would allow one to speak of an arrest or even cure of the disease. This brings us to the article in Neurology Reviews and stem cells. The whole purpose of the exercise is to create neurons which produce dopamine in the patient's brain not only in the right amount but also nothing else. This statement alone should give one pause, because the problem is obviously far from trivial. The solution will not only require funding but equally or even more importantly time, measured not in years but decades! Let us now look at the upside and downside of the mentioned research programs.

Neurontransplantation. The good news according to Dr. Dunnett of the Brain Repair Group at Cardiff University in Wales is that "There is convincing evidence that fetal tissue grafts can have a functional effect in animal models of Parkinson's disease" and "When such cells are implanted they survive, grow, connect with denervated [have lost their functional connections] areas, and alleviate some of the simpler motor deficits associated with Parkinson's disease. This provides proof of the principle that dopamine deficiency can be restored by transplanted dopaminergic [dopamine producing] cells."

So far so good. Now comes the fine print. The study involved an "animal model" rather than the human disease and in contrast to the human illness Dr. Dunnett's model produced acute rather than chronic effects. Furthermore, he stated that "Fetal cell transplants can work with dramatic efficacy in some cases but can also seriously go wrong." Even when the method worked it should be noted that the beneficial effect on the symptoms of the animal, rather than on the brain slices at autopsy, improved "some of the simpler motor deficits." This leads one to assume that some of the more complex motor functions on which we depend, were not alleviated.

As far as human results are concerned there is only one relatively long term scientifically controlled study mentioned in the article. This involves the work of Dr. Curt Freed at the University of Colorado. Dr. Freed's team transplanted precursors of dopaminergic cells from 6-10 week old human fetuses into the brains of 19 patients with severe Parkinson's disease. These patients were compared with others who had been sham operated where only burr holes were placed in the skull. The study was "double blind" which means that neither the patient nor the team of examining physicians knew whether or not the patient had received a transplant. The result of the follow-up of "up to three years," which means that this was the maximum and most patients had shorter observation times, was that a "statistically significant 28% improvement over baseline" was observed. This held true for the total group, when the patients were not taking their morning dose of medications. When the group was subdivided between older and younger patients it became apparent that a 38% improvement (highly significant statistically) had occurred in the younger individuals while it was only 14% in the older group, and as such not statistically significant. Furthermore, even in those patients who had benefited the total effect was only comparable to about half the effect of their usual morning dose of levodopa. Now comes the bad news. Fifteen percent of transplant patients had a recurrence of disabling dystonias and dyskinesias in the second or third year after the operation. All of these patients were 60 years or younger and had experienced these symptoms when on levodopa but now had the problem even when the medication was discontinued.

Inasmuch as review articles might be slanted I obtained subsequently Dr. Free's and colleagues' original paper which was published in the March 6, 2001 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. While the review as cited above was in essence correct, the full article did provide additional information. Embryonic tissue was obtained with the consent from the mother during elective abortions seven to eight weeks after conception. There were initially two groups of 20 patients each in the transplant and in the sham operation (placebo) group. One transplant patient died in a car accident when a tree fell across the road during a storm and the outcome of the operation could, therefore, not be evaluated at the one year final comparison point. Although some patients were followed for up to three years, the figures cited above refer to the one year outcome after the code was broken. At that point the sham operated patients were given the option to have transplants and 14 patients of the placebo group consented. Thus, the figure of up to three years follow-up covers 33 rather than 19 patients. Apart from the development of dyskinesias, which occurred later than the first year, and in some younger patients, there were also during the 12 months of follow-up 9 serious adverse events. Although these were in all probability unrelated to the transplants it is noteworthy that eight of these occurred in the transplant group and only one in the placebo group. Percentage wise this would give a difference of 40 percent vs. 5 percent. The investigators realized that inasmuch as the operation benefited only patients under 60 years of age and that younger patients tended to develop intractable dyskinesias, they did not suggest the operation to the last 6 individuals of the remaining placebo group.

We are, therefore, confronted with these facts: Embryonic neuronal tissue containing dopaminergic neurons can be transplanted into key regions of a recipient's brain. They grow, multiply, and establish connections with surrounding tissue, regardless of the age of the patient. The growth of these cells is, however, not directly reflected in improvement of the patient’s symptoms because only younger patients benefited, and the maximum effect tends to be essentially only half of what would have been accomplished with a full dose of levodopa. The late occurrence of uncontrollable dyskinesias, even when levodopa is no longer given, represents a serious and disabling complication. The amount of tissue to be transplanted and the best brain region for the transplants to be inserted will be the task for the future.

Embryonic stem cells. In contrast to embryonic tissue containing dopaminergic neurons, the embryonic stem cells have been called "omnipotent." This means that these cells, taken from the earliest stages of human development, can develop into any type of tissue. With other words they can become liver, brain, bone, heart or whatever. It should be noted that embryonic stem cell studies have so far been performed only in rodents. There are no data on higher animals or, of course, humans. While these cells can develop into neurons, there is no guarantee that they will do so, especially dopaminergic ones. In Petri dishes they have so far produced other types of neurons as well as glia cells which are the other main cellular structure of the nervous system. Dr. Mc Kay of the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke whose work is quoted in the article stated that "we are trying to improve the efficiency of differentiating to dopaminergic neurons ...in animal studies... [but] we need to demonstrate that the cells we make will actually work in animal studies." This is indeed all that is known about the effectiveness of embryonic stem cells to cure diseases. Thus, the entire media circus is about a gleam in the eye of some researchers based on hope and faith. Are our promoters of public information, who urge immediate action for embryonic stem cell research, aware of this paucity of facts? Do they also know that these omnipotent cells, when implanted into a brain, might just continue to grow and produce tumors? Once implanted they will do whatever they like and neither Federal Money nor Federal Regulations will be able to control them. Quite apart from moral and ethical considerations this is another Pandora's Box which we are about to open.

Adult stem cells. Neural adult stem cells have been harvested from nasal passages of cadavers up to 18 hours after death as Dr. Roisen's group from the University of Louisville has demonstrated. The disadvantage of using adult stem cells is that they get old after some time and lose their potency, although they did live longer when taken from an 11 month old infant. Whether or not any of these Petri dish neurons could be coaxed to become dopaminergic is not yet known. The other argument against the use of adult stem cells is that the supply is not as plentiful as for embryonic stem cells. But as long as we are dreaming, and this is really what all of stem cell research is about at this time, one could readily foresee a scenario where we donate in our youth some of our nasal neural stem cells and keep them in a freezer until the time comes when we might need them.

Xenotransplants (use of adult animal tissue) have become commonplace to repair human heart valves and dopaminergic pig cells have already been transplanted into human Parkinson patients. Studies about their effectiveness are currently under way in Tampa, Atlanta and Boston. This might bring up an interesting religious question. Since orthodox Jews as well as Muslims refrain from putting pork into their mouths and stomachs would they be willing to have pieces of pig brain inserted into their own?

Additional work is being carried out on Neuroprotective agents which are supposed to stop the progression of Parkinson's disease and thereby obviate the need for implants of any kind. It is, therefore, obvious that Parkinson research is alive and well. It will continue to prosper around the world, without federal tax dollars and federal regulations. Not only is there another Nobel Prize in the offing but drug companies are likely to reap a financial bonanza. There is still the question whether government should control the research or private industry? The answer is obvious from past history. All major advances in medicine were achieved through private initiatives and personal ingenuity which can only flourish in a free society. Those of our citizens who believe that government is the answer to all of mankind's woes should really take a good look at the "achievements" of the defunct Soviet Union, even in the medical field, and compare them with what the Free World has accomplished. Furthermore, money is not unlimited. If tax dollars go to stem cell research other investigations will inevitably have to be curtailed, although they may actually have more immediate prospects of success. The argument is also made that only government can enforce ethical rules. This is another fallacy. Universities and drug companies, the only places where work of this type can proceed, are already tightly regulated and in case of serious untoward outcomes there are armies of malpractice lawyers chomping at the bit to get a piece of the action.

So what is really at work here with this entire stem cell hullabaloo? The overriding goal seems to be politics and expansion of government. President Bush is to be maneuvered into a position where he can be attacked regardless of whatever decision he takes. He has to be tarred and feathered; his administration has to be turned into a failure because, according to some of our Democrats, he didn't deserve the presidency anyway. The current interregnum which the Left reluctantly has to put up with needs to be crippled by a democratic congressional landslide next year. Subsequently George W. can be returned to Texas in 2004 and we are all assured of a socialist government for the subsequent eight years. This will then finally usher in the real millennium and bring us in line with those European socialist governments who currently hate our guts and call us names. The reason for their dislike of America is simply that at least some of us still regard ourselves as free citizens who want to live and work under our own initiative and thereafter enjoy the fruit of our labors, with minimal government interference. Unfortunately the Bush administration seems to be singularly inept in explaining the rationale for its actions and is thereby leaving the field to its adversaries. As far as stem cell research is concerned the facts are really quite simple and if the President's spokespersons were to present them to the media, in a manner similar to what is outlined above, even the most hostile critics might have to concede that it would be useful not to rush in where angels fear to tread.





September, 2001

What is Truth?

President Bush has made his decision on embryonic stem cell research and has tried to find some middle ground. His directive that federal funds can be used only for those research projects which utilize existing cell lines, rather than newly created ones, has found some praise by his partisans but unhappiness continues to exist on both ends of the political spectrum. Nevertheless the entire argument is rapidly becoming obsolete because, as expected, private industry is jumping into the breach. There is big money to be made from selling embryonic tissue, which is readily available at the abortion mills around the country, and its subsequent cloning. It is probably only a matter of time until new stem cell lines will be auctioned off on the Internet. The Left will have to find another line of attack but the shrinking estimated budget surplus, the faltering economy and the prospective "raiding of the Social Security Trust Fund" will give them ample ammunition.

The main item for this month's agenda was occasioned by a comment from one of my sailing buddies. He is computer savvy and surfs the net. I therefore encouraged him to visit thinktruth.com but he didn't quite know what to do with the title. So I explained "think truth, that's what you're supposed to do anyway all the time!" Whereupon he replied "ok, but there may not be any." Thus we are back at Pilate's question: What is truth?

When I chose this particular URL for the website I had obviously underestimated the relativism which has invaded our culture. For me the situation was quite simple. The truth which is discussed on these pages is not absolute or ultimate truth in the philosophical sense but simply that aspect of our daily lives which is objectively verifiable by independent observers. It is the opposite of the lie where the individual deliberately misrepresents facts as known to the person. Right now lying is, of course, making headlines on account of Gary Condit's behavior. The majority of Americans who have seen his interview with Connie Chung on TV don't believe that his account has been truthful. Even if the Congressman were to sincerely believe that his answers were forthcoming and complete, a simple check with the Levy family or the Washington DC police can establish what the facts were. It may be argued that this amounts to a "he says, she says" situation but this is not the case. Police records of his interviews exist, they are potentially available for public scrutiny and objective data can be established.

President Clinton wagged his finger at us a few years ago and told us emphatically: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." Well, we had to take him at his word until the famous blue dress appeared, which had not gone to the cleaners in the meantime, and provided objective evidence for his activities. Clinton subsequently amended his statement by trying to imply that Miss Lewinsky had sex with him but not he with her or that oral sex does not constitute a sexual relationship. But anybody who is not blindly partisan or devoid of all common sense is likely to see this as excuses rather than the truth of the matter. The ex-President even lied under oath because an oath demands: to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. There is good reason for this because the most vicious and most common lie is the deliberate withholding of relevant information. The fact that Mr. Clinton was impeached but not convicted sent a signal that even an oath need not to be taken seriously provided you are sufficiently powerful and can afford superb lawyers.

Mr. Condit seems to have drawn an inappropriate lesson from the Clinton affair. Stonewalling worked for Mr. Clinton, in my opinion, because the Democrats did not want to lose the Presidency and the Republicans were afraid to face an incumbent Al Gore in the upcoming 2000 elections. It was assumed that a seriously damaged Clinton would be so much easier to defeat than an untarnished Gore. That the election turned into such a cliffhanger anyway they would not have predicted even in their worst nightmares. Thus all the phraseology of "popularity" of the President and not having committed perjury anyway was pure politics. The Senate trial was a sham as Schippers has documented in Sellout: The Inside Story of President Clinton's Impeachment.

But as far as Mr. Condit is concerned this situation does not apply. He is neither rich nor does he have sufficiently powerful friends who will defend him regardless of morals or ethics. Furthermore the Democrats can afford to lose a congressional seat, if worst were come to the worst and he had to resign; it is not the Presidency after all. On top of it we have the missing Chandra Levy and her parents are not going to give up their search as well as their efforts to have the Congressman come up with the full story and thereby the truth about his relationship.

Telling the truth is, therefore, not just some intellectual exercise for philosophers but has very practical consequences for our daily lives. In my personal opinion Mr. Condit did have, in all probability, a sexual relationship with Miss Levy but I sincerely doubt that he had contracted for her disappearance. Had he immediately informed the parents and the police voluntarily and completely of everything he knew he would not be in such dire straits today and the case might have been solved. Adultery is, unfortunately, a "so what" situation today, so is casual sex to which we are treated every night on TV. Nobody would have been particularly upset apart, perhaps, from Mr. Condit's wife. But she, like Hillary Clinton might also have become inured over the years to her husband's constant philandering and not lost any sleep over it.

There is a reason why I have become so concerned about truthfulness in our daily lives. As is apparent from War and Mayhem I had been an expert liar during my childhood and had frequently suffered the consequences. When lying was literally beaten out of me by my stepfather I not only learned that telling the truth is morally right but it can save you not only grief but even your very life, as is also documented in that book. Currently our society is steadily being weaned from the truth. We are lied to by politicians, the media, advertisers and other assorted folks to such an extent that it has practically become the norm. The truth as an intellectual concept seems to have vanished. Truth has become personal and is what I believe regardless of what you think.

There is an ancient precedent for this which was quite unknown to me until a few days ago. My next book The Moses Legacy, which deals with the problem why Jews have been persecuted since biblical times, has not yet found a publisher. But while Moses keeps wandering through the offices of various publishing houses I am using the time to polish a few paragraphs here and there. In so doing I was puzzled that in Heschel's book A Passion for Truth he described an Abraham who bears hardly any relationship to the person we know from the Bible. For instance Heschel stated that "This is what Abraham did. He forsook community and deception to live with Truth in solitude." This was news to me because the Bible tells us that he moved with his whole clan from Haran to Canaan, subsequently to Egypt and back, had a vigorous sex life, was engaged in wars and commerce etc. This is hardly what one would expect from an individual who lived "with Truth in solitude." The problem is that the relatively recently deceased Abraham Joshua Heschel was, and still is, highly respected as one of the most eminent orthodox Jewish scholars.

The question arose, therefore, how to resolve this discrepancy. The key word, obviously, is Truth. For this reason I looked up the definition of Truth in McKenzie's Dictionary of the Bible because we are, after all, dealing with biblical information. The result was highly surprising. Mc Kenzie states "The difference between Hb [Hebrew] and Gk [Greek] speech is clearly exhibited in the idea of truth; Hb has no distinct word for true and truth. These ideas are expressed by 'emet and cognate words which are treated under FAITH." The entire subsequent passages are too long to be reproduced here but will show up in The Moses Legacy. In essence McKenzie points out that the real, or truth, was personal for Hebrew-speaking people while truth and faith were clearly differentiated by the Greeks. We used to follow in the footsteps of the Greeks where truth is objectively verifiable while faith is subjective and personal. It was this difference which made scientific progress possible.

It seems that we are now turning our backs on this fundamental distinction. Inasmuch as a theory of relativity exists which pertains to cosmic phenomena everything else can also be regarded as relative. This sort of thinking undermines society at all levels. Law is no longer based on long established practices but represents an opinion by a judge, or groups of judges, at a given time rather than as what it has been understood for centuries. These opinions, although binding for a while can, however, readily be overruled by other judges because they are, after all, only personal opinions, regardless of how precedents have to be massaged in order to make them appear to be reasonable. As explained in The Moses Legacy this type of thinking is directly derived from the Talmud, where Moses' laws were not only questioned but underwent personal interpretations. When "Talmudic thinking" (the term is not my invention) moves from religious to civil and criminal law, as has happened in our country during the past few decades, problems are bound to arise. When all the established customary landmarks for decent behavior are being removed chaos must inevitably result. Is this really the direction we want to go, in this new century and millennium? Or should we not return to some reasonable and firm rules of conduct the majority can agree on, and which can be adequately enforced? Inasmuch as thinking precedes language we have to scrutinize first our thought processes so that we can then express our ideas in clear and unmistakable language.

What prevents us from thinking truthfully and speaking the truth? Fear! What are we afraid of? The myriad of untoward events which might befall us and which imagination magnifies out of all proportions! "Du fürchtest alles was nicht trifft" (you are afraid of everything which doesn't come to pass anyway) said Goethe, and he was right. But even if society removes "the ancient landmarks," to use biblical language, the individual does not have to do so. The Lord has given us strength and the ability to adapt to adverse circumstances, if and when they arrive. Instead of being fearful of what might or might not happen in the future let us be grateful for whatever we have in the present. With this attitude towards life, and its vicissitudes, lying becomes superfluous.





October, 2001

September 11th





On September 11 the world changed for all of us in an instant. There is hardly anyone who was not affected to some extent by the catastrophe which unfolded within the space of a couple of hours. The stunning simplicity of the idea to turn our own jetliners into lethal bombs which destroyed the World Trade Center totally, and the Pentagon partially, has brought home to us how fragile our lives are. Only the heroic acts of passengers on another doomed jetliner prevented a further disaster of untold proportions.

Osama bin Laden - if it was indeed his network - has brought our country literally to its knees and the country turned to God in prayer. The bitter, and in part irrational, fight waged by some for separation of Church and State had become irrelevant. The leaders of our country bowed their heads in prayers led by Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergymen. The much vaunted multiculturalism which pitted our citizens of various ethnic and religious backgrounds against each other was shown up as a charade as all of us became simply Americans rather than hyphenated ones. The problems discussed in the August and September updates: Congressman Condit's affair, federal funding of stem cells research, the disappearance of the budget surplus, raiding of the social security trust fund have all passed, at least temporarily, from our TV screens as we were shown over and over again the pictures of the jets crashing into our symbols of superpower status.

Nevertheless the current unity of our people and the high approval rating of the President's handling the disaster may evaporate when media pundits will begin to clamor for drastic actions with immediately visible results. This is the danger because the enemy is not only outside but inside our borders and we simply cannot "nuke 'em," as has been proposed. There are some "journalists" who appear daily on our TV screens who seem to be unable to grasp the simple concept that you have to investigate the causes of terrorism in order to achieve a permanent cure. It is tragic that when some well-meaning relatively prominent people advance this idea they are being insulted as "peaceniks," "incompetents" or worse. It is these journalists who need to be educated in the fundamentals of life before they fuel the flames of hate and revenge.

The tragedy, apart from loss of life and property, is that some of our "public opinion molders” actually help the terrorists to achieve their objective by spreading fear among our citizenry. Life is a precious gift but we are doomed to die the moment we are born. This is an incontrovertible fact. The only question is what we do with the span of years which is allotted to us. We can fritter them away in the "pursuit of happiness" or we can endow our lives with meaning. Unfortunately the type of meaning which we give to our lives differs considerably depending upon our life experiences and upbringing. But let there be no doubt: the people who hijacked the planes and those who organized this crime firmly believed that they were doing God's will.

All three major religions involved in this tragedy profess to believe in the One God of the universe Who is just, loving and merciful, Yet in actual practice individuals tend to believe in their tribal deity who will aid or avenge them as the case may be. Even Hitler believed he was doing God's work when he persecuted the Jews. In Mein Kampf he wrote "So glaube ich heute im Sinne des allmaechtigen Schoepfers zu handeln: Indem ich mich des Juden erwehre, kaempfe ich fuer das Werk des Herrn" (I, therefore, believe today that I am acting in accordance with the intention of the Almighty Creator: By defending myself against the Jew I am fighting for the work of the Lord). The Second World War was portrayed as a battle between good and evil on both sides. This seems incredible in retrospect but the German soldiers fighting on the Eastern Front were convinced that they were saving Western civilization from Bolshevism, and on the Western front they hoped to defeat Jewish-Capitalist interests which would enslave the fatherland. At the same time the Americans and British were saving that same Western civilization from Nazism. At Placentia Bay, before the signing of the Atlantic Charter in August of 1941, Roosevelt and Churchill sang "Onward Christian Soldiers" while the Wehrmacht was fighting the atheistic Soviet Union. To portray a struggle in apocalyptic terms makes good propaganda on both sides because it fires the emotions but it fosters hate rather than reason. We clamor for justice but most of our pundits fail to see that justice is, or at least should be, indivisible. By aligning ourselves unequivocally with the policies of the state of Israel we have turned a blind eye to the injustices which are being perpetrated against the native Palestinians in the territories conquered during the 1967 war.

Samuel Johnson wrote in regard to the American War of Independence, which he thoroughly disapproved of, that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. The winner writes history. Had George Washington lost he and his most prominent followers would probably have been hanged. So it is with terrorism. Yesterday's terrorists can become Prime Ministers if the struggle succeeds but remain condemned if they fail. Terrorism is the ultimate weapon of the dispossessed and I am sure nobody wants to be reminded that Prime Minister Begin as well as Prime Minister Shamir started their political lives as terrorists against British rule (see Terror out of Zion. The Fight for Israeli Independence by J. Bowyer Bell). The axiom that the end justifies the means is still adhered to, by both sides, although one doesn't want to put it that crudely.



During the past two months I read, among others, three books which are highly á propos. One was Barbara Tuchman's March of Folly, Gloria Whelan's Angel on the Square and Die Rache Gottes. Radikale Moslems, Christen und Juden auf dem Vormarsch by Gilles Kepel. Tuchman eloquently described how nations have acted against their best self-interest by simply persevering on a given course when it had become obvious that it would lead to disaster. She closed her book with the example of the Vietnam War but had she lived longer she might have added a chapter on the policies of the state of Israel since the 1967 war. Whelan's book is aimed at adolescents to teach them the rudiments of the causes for the Russian revolutions of 1917 and shows exquisitely how the leading upper crusts of Imperial Russia utterly failed to recognize the intensity of the storm which was beginning to brew in their midst. The relevance to today's events is that we are likewise blinding ourselves to the anger of the dispossessed masses in the Muslim world which finds its outlet in religious fury.

Kepel's book was originally published in French under the title La Revanche de Dieu Chretiens, juifs et musulmans a la reconquete du monde and it is now available in English as The Revenge of God: The resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern World. It is perhaps noteworthy that the French word reconquet would best be translated into German as Wiedereroberung, rather than Vormarsch, which means advance, and in English as re-conquest rather than resurgence. More important is, however, the fact that the book was originally published in 1991. I had bought it in Vienna in the early nineties but did not take it very seriously at the time. September 11 immediately brought the chilling contents back to memory and I re-read key sections. In short the author documents the return to biblical or Koranic Fundamentalism as a protest movement against the secular society the United States is regarded as promoting world wide. Yet all three groups have different goals. Evangelical Christians, steeped in the Revelation of St. John the Divine, want to help the Jewish state to build its Third Temple which in turn would herald the arrival of the Antichrist and subsequently Jesus' second coming. Fundamentalist Jews want the Temple built on the original site which would bring the Jewish Messiah who, obviously, would have no use for the return of an "avenging Jesus." Fundamentalist Muslims despise the presence of Christians as well as Jews in the Middle East which they regard as their patrimony. Thus the battle lines are drawn among Fundamentalists of any of the three versions. There cannot be any compromise because all of them are acting in the name of God. The last sentences of the book when translated from the German version read: "In the short run the parallel development of these religious movements, all of which want to re-conquer the world, has to lead to confrontation. As such the conflict between the 'believers’, who make the resurgence of their religious identity a yardstick for their exclusive as well as limited truths, is preprogrammed."

It is obvious that a war of ideas of this type cannot be won by bombs, rockets or invasions but only by another idea which unites rather than divides humanity. The Sharon government insists on meeting terror with terror and wants to enlist us into this spiral of ever escalating violence. Seductive as the idea is it should be resisted because Israel has tried this strategy for the past thirty years at least and is nowhere nearer to a degree of peace. While Arafat is far from blameless for the impasse to place the entire burden on his shoulders, as is currently popular here and in Israel, is not necessarily justified. We are told over and over again that not only did he walk away at Camp David from the most wide ranging concessions ever offered by an Israeli Prime Minister but in addition answered them with Intifada II showing thereby that he does not want to coexist with a Jewish state. This opinion was most recently emphasized again by Norman Podhoretz in the October issue of Commentary.

Yet, let us be honest with each other, Podhoretz concedes that no minutes of the Camp David sessions have ever been published and we have, therefore, no idea what Arafat rejected and why. Was the Palestinian state as envisaged by Israel and the U.S. viable or was it an assortment of Palestinian and Israeli enclaves in what was supposed to have been the state? We simply don't know but we should insist on seeing the documents because there does not seem to be any reason for secrecy in regard to a failed meeting in our free society. The policy of creating settlements, in the occupied territories which has been pursued by all Israelis governments since 1967 has led to a such a patchwork quilt that it is extremely difficult to see how national sovereignty could be established in that area. One glance at the map published on page 104 in Whither Zionism? clearly shows the tremendous difficulty of establishing a viable truly independent state in the area even if the partners in the peace process were to proceed with the best of intentions. Podhoretz does not address the problem and seems to believe that Israel can just continue with its past policies and in the long run the Palestinians will see the errors of their way. September 11 changed the outlook irrevocably. The entire world has been affected economically and the genie is literally out of the bottle. If Prime Minister Sharon wants to "go it alone," as he has promised, he can do so but under these circumstances America should not be held hostage to failed and failing policies.



What is to be done now? In order to formulate a correct strategy we must first of all understand what each side to the conflict really wants. But In order to do so we must see ourselves through the eyes of the adversary. We will disagree with his perception but that does not make it less real for the perceiver. Osama bin Ladin, as the symbol of radical Islam, sees the United States as a decadent country bent on the pursuit of material happiness in disregard of the moral laws of God, and controlled by Jewish interests. America supports and props up the state of Israel as a colonial outpost in an area of the world which, apart from the Crusades' era, has always been Islamic. Jewish secular culture perverts established morals and customs while political Zionism strives for an enlargement of their state. In order to rid the land of Palestine from Infidels the power of the United States must be broken. This is best achieved by involving America in a drawn out war especially in Afghanistan where other superpowers of the past (Imperial Great Britain and the Soviet Union) have ground out their eye teeth. In addition the Muslim masses who hate their non-elected secular regimes, as stooges of the Great Satan, must be mobilized, especially, if and when an Islamic country is invaded by foreigners. The disenfranchised young people in the Muslim countries are sufficiently restless to yearn for change and Islamic revolutions on the model of Iran are to be brought about. Therefore, major military action by the United States is a requirement to bring this plan to fruition and continued provocation through a variety of terror attacks is the only way to accomplish this objective.

What does Israel want? Here the answer is less clear because there are too many factions in the country. The majority of the people just want to live in peace with their neighbors but this is at present difficult to achieve. We, therefore, have to ask what the leadership wants. Obviously it also wants peace but there are considerable differences of opinion as to how this can be accomplished. The governing Sharon faction believes that only a hard line military approach will succeed while the Peres group has not yet given up on a negotiated settlement. In addition the country is quite divided as to what kind of state it is supposed to be. Is it to be a secular democracy with majority rule or a Jewish state governed by ancient Jewish law? Ever since the creation of the state there were two major factions which co-existed uneasily. These may be called political Zionism and religious Zionism. Political Zionism, which founded the country, was secular in nature and as such opposed by religious Zionists who felt that the state was illegitimate because only the Messiah can bring about the ingathering of the dispersed and the erection of the Third and Final Temple. Over the years political and religious aspirations were fused by some visionaries in the attempt to create a Greater Israel beyond the UN established 1948 borders. For them it is not Israel which is the intruder onto Muslim lands but Israelis are simply reclaiming their inheritance, promised by God, which they had lost temporarily. This goal has not yet been abandoned as the settlement policies of the various Israeli governments prove. Although the settlements have considerable popular approval, the problem what to do with a relatively large and probably hostile minority Arab population within the Jewish state tends to be ignored. There are, however, some fanatics who envision a Final Solution (to use a well known phrase) which in their eyes will ensure a permanent peace. The autocratic governments of neighboring Arab states such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and may be Jordan have to be toppled and regimes favorable to Jewish values installed. This can only be accomplished by war with the help, or at least the tacit approval, of the United States. To achieve this end terrorism against the United States can be silently welcomed because it is expected to lead to an intensification of hatred against Arabs in the U.S. and thereby a further identification of America's goals with those of Israel. America's current war on terrorism is to be not only fully supported in its present stage but needs to be expanded to other Muslim "rogue" states. With America fully occupied and radicalized by subsequent further acts of Islamic terrorism Israel can then finally achieve its borders promised to Abraham.

Let me make it unequivocally clear that the overwhelming majority of Israelis do not harbor such Machiavellian fantasies and are genuinely distressed about the loss of innocent lives on September 11; but it is also dangerous to ignore the latent streak of fanaticism in a small minority which pursues only its goals regardless of the costs to others.



What does America want? There is absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of the population just wants to be left in peace to pursue its own personal goals in freedom. This why most of us came here in the first place. Even our leadership does not want war but to get the economy moving and to work for global prosperity. Nevertheless in spite of the current unity the country's opinion makers are split on how to set things right in the world. On account of the so-called Judeo-Christian tradition (a term which, by the way, is rejected by observant Jews), there are strong emotional ties to Judaism and the state of Israel. Powerful military action is urged by the majority of journalists. Currently in the minority is another group which regards war as folly but has as yet no strong support from the media. This is bound to change if and when body bags were to arrive in larger numbers.

For these reasons a major war against Islamic states is not in the best interest of the United States but serves only the purposes of Radical Muslims and proponents of a Greater Israel. The Eye for an Eye policy which has been tried by Israel for decades is inappropriate for the United States and a paradigm shift has to take place. Our country is made up not only of evangelical Christians and Jews but of a wide variety of individuals with other belief systems which our political leadership needs to take into account. While simply turning the other cheek is not an option, judicious pursuit of policies which do not pour fuel on the flames is called for and our leadership has indeed resisted to be stampeded into precipitous action.

We can be very grateful that the September 11 attack fell into the first year of the Bush presidency rather than the last year of Clinton's tenure. Politics would have dictated a war, Al Gore would, in all probability, have won the election and the country would have had a Jewish vice-President. This is not to impugn Senator Lieberman's patriotism but some further tilt to the Israeli side would have been unavoidable. President Bush is in the fortunate position of not having to worry about re-election at this time and even if there were to be no second term it would not be a personal disaster for him. He truly serves the country rather than political ambition and the same goes for his wife Laura, which is welcome contrast to our previous leadership. Thus Mr. Bush and his cabinet can act in a statesman-like manner rather than in a purely political one. Let me re-emphasize, therefore, in my opinion America has nothing to gain by major military actions but only a great deal to lose. We will not only lose lives and property but most of all our soul as a free and peace loving people. We will foster further hate which in turn begets hate and events are likely to spin totally out of control.



What is required of us now in these most difficult circumstances is steadfastness of purpose with the goal of bringing a degree of peace as well as hope for a better future to the impoverished Muslim masses. It is obvious that the perpetrators of the crime should be found, through international efforts, and brought to justice, but this is only one step. We have to convince the minds of the people in the region that we are indeed determined to bring justice to all the people in the area and not just some. America is still the world's best hope and if we combine our economic resources with those of the other developed nations we can change the current image of the Great Satan. The road is difficult indeed but what we need to do as individual citizens is to keep our heads, don't give way to irrational fears and pray that our leadership will continue to show forbearance and wisdom.



10-7-2001



The update as it appears above was written between October 5 and 6. Today the world has changed again and as may be apparent, from my point of view, not for the better. Nevertheless, the sentiments expressed above are, to my mind, still true and this is why I am not changing the contents. The bombing campaign against Afghanistan which began today will have consequences which are as yet unforeseeable and we can only pray that eventually reason will prevail over passion.





November 1, 2001

Hawaii; Afghanistan war; Judeo-Christian tradition; Ariel Sharon



Since the purpose of these entries is to provide contemporary documentation of American life or Zeitgeschichte, as it would be called in German, you are being treated in this installment not only to opinions on current events but also to some personal information.

In order to escape from the incessant war- and scare-mongering of the national media my wife Martha and I decided to heed the President's advice, go on with our lives and stimulate the economy. Since flying and cruising is somewhat cheaper right now we thought it a good idea to take a long postponed cruise through the Hawaiian Islands on the good ship Independence of American Hawaiian Cruises.

We booked our flight tickets separately (to get the cheapest fares) and paid for the ship with my credit card. One week before going came the call from the travel agency that the company had fallen victim to bin-Ladin's efficiency and declared bankruptcy. An immediate call to Merrill Lynch brought the good news that the $2435 had not yet been cashed and the transaction was red-flagged so that no money would be paid out. This left us, however, with the discounted airline tickets which were, of course, non-refundable. Instead of writing off the six hundred dollars we thought we might as well spend the money, Osama had saved us, on a hotel in Maui, where we could enjoy nature and converse with the birds and fish. The Kaanapali Beach Hotel fit the budget with $1200 for the two of us for one week, which left the other $1200 for food, drink and excursions. When all was said and done we actually came out ahead by about $300.

The hallmark of airline travel was that, although Delta provided us with excellent steaks coming and going across the Pacific, the safety considerations demanded that we had to eat with plastic knives and forks. Trying to cut a steak with a terrorist-prove small knife which bends in all directions is a feat which Martha was unable to accomplish with finger joints ravaged by age, so she had to return to the ways of our ancestors; simply wrap up the thing and eat it from her hand. About 500+ years of civilization was gone for reasons of "security." To enhance our security even further we had, obviously, to be at the airport two hours earlier but fortunately Salt Lake City and Maui as well as Honolulu still had curbside check-in, which avoided interminable lines. Contrary to our media pundits’ opinions people are still fond of flying and the planes were full.

On the return trip we would have to have left the hotel at 4 30 in the morning to make a 7 55 flight from Maui to Honolulu in order to catch the 10 a.m. flight to LAX. Since this did not correspond to my idea of a vacation we opted to take a noon flight from Maui to Honolulu one day earlier (I wanted to see Waikiki beach and Diamond Head anyway) and leaving the hotel at 7 30 am would have given us ample time for catching our plane to LA. This was not to be. The hotel to the airport shuttle people insisted that we have to leave at 7 a.m. in spite of the fact that the trip takes only 25 minutes. We had to submit to the rules and when we got to the airport 20 minutes later we found people patiently and uncomplainingly waiting in line to go through inspection for plant and animal material one might have wanted to bring along as souvenirs. Surprisingly enough there was no movement of that line and inquiry revealed that they don't open this inspection counter until 8 a.m. Such are the joys of today's travel. The civilized ways of former days are gone for good in our "Do it yourself" society which is strictly geared to the young and vigorous.

Mind you I am not complaining, I am simply stating a fact that we are going backwards in our civilization rather than forwards. On the other hand Maui was charming and one of my colleagues who had told me before going "you won't want to come back" was absolutely correct. Sitting on the beach looking out on the Lahaina Roads (stretch of water between Maui and the island of Lanai) watching the surf come in, visiting with the tropical fish and turtles on Black Rock beach, and eventually seeing the sun set behind Lanai more than made up for the follies we are currently being subjected to by the people who control our fate.

The contrast between the beauties of nature and human behavior was magnified when we turned on CNN after dinner and were treated to a daily dose of bombing Kabul, Taliban positions and anthrax scares. One asks oneself where is Homo sapiens - man the wise - when one sees conduct which is strictly contrary to all good sense. In September when President Bush was quoted as having said that he wouldn't send a million dollar cruise missile to hit a mud hut and kick a camel in the butt, I applauded him for his foresight. Media and other pressures made passion prevail over reason and we are now doing what he said we wouldn't.

Our Media hounds - and I really have no other word for them - constantly tell us what the "American people" want. Well, I am one of the American people and I don't want to bomb mud huts and camels. I also don't want our commandoes to go on ill defined missions with no adequate information on where the supposed targets, be they Osama or Mullah Omar, are really hiding. Our boys are sent into potential death traps and they deserve better. Some media commentators were surprised that the Taliban are fighting well. What's the surprise? It's their country and they have been doing nothing else but fight for decades, if not centuries. The arrogance, as well as ignorance, of some of these pundits is staggering. The British fought two wars in Afghanistan during the nineteenth century and left both times with a bloody nose, the Russians tried it recently and got out after ten years with the Soviet Union in shambles. For that I am grateful because I had no use for their system of government. But why in all the world should we be more successful? Because we are a high-tech superpower? Have we forgotten that the ridiculed black pajama-clad boys with a minimum amount of equipment, no air power but an indomitable will to succeed, kicked us out of Viet Nam? Does anybody really believe that Afghans will be any easier to defeat when we come to introduce our ideas of how the country should be run?

The American people I talk to are not particularly keen on this war either, but nobody asks them. I haven't found anybody who has been subjected to one of the famous public opinion polls. I miss especially a poll which would ask all of the 5000 or so families who have lost one or more of their members in the tragic events of September 11 whether or not they want a war with Afghanistan. They are the ones who have suffered and they should be heard. Fragmentary and anecdotal information seems to suggest that they don't want an eye for an eye. Gandhi has been credited for saying that the policy of "an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind" and that is also the truth.

What are we dropping bombs for? Ostensibly to get rid of the Taliban and with their demise Osama would have no place to hide, except possibly Iraq, Libya and other assorted "rogue states" whom we would bomb thereafter. The world would then be safe from terrorism and in the words of the fairy tales "everybody would live happily forever after." This is so naive that I cannot believe anybody in government really believes this. I was born a European, have lived under Goebbels, and became American by choice. I am, therefore, sufficiently skeptical of propaganda and even a cursory knowledge of history shows that most wars and revolutions had ulterior motives. This gets me back to Hawaii. The revolution in 1893 was fomented by American sugarcane growers who saw their profits disappear unless the islands were annexed by America. The official reason was, of course, the undemocratic behavior of the Queen who threatened the lives of the American settlers. The Spanish-American war in 1898 was ostensibly to rid Cuba of cruel Spanish dictatorship; to extract revenge for the sinking of the Maine and to bring Christianity to the forsaken natives in the Philippines. The fact that the Filipinos had been Christians for centuries was disregarded. Also disregarded was the fact that the Spanish had absolutely no interest in fighting America and, in all probability, had nothing to do with the Maine disaster. The Spanish had to be driven out, not only from the Western Hemisphere but also the Pacific, because after Hawaii had been digested it was America's Manifest Destiny to bring good government to most everybody in the Pacific. In 1917 along came President Wilson who believed, with religious fervor, that the world must be made safe for democracy which could only be achieved by entering the war on the Allied side. The fact that the Allies were deeply in debt to America for all the arms they had to buy and that this debt could never be collected if the Central Powers had won the war, was obviously irrelevant. That the world did not become safe for democracy, as Wilson had so devoutly hoped and prayed for, and that instead another war, even more horrible than the first one, resulted from it, is ignored. So is the fact that the current Arab-Israeli turmoil also goes back to WWI and the subsequent division of the spoils among the victorious Allies. That the British promised, at that time, the same piece of real estate to the Arabs as well as the Jews nobody wants to be reminded of either.

When Arabs resist the values of Western culture and are feeling left out from the benefits which globalism is supposed to bring, when they see that the poor get poorer and the rich richer they cannot be expected to become enchanted forever with the carrot which is being dangled before their noses. If they try to assert themselves they get the stick in form of bombs or rockets as Saddam Hussein has found out. Increasing social unhappiness by the masses is bound to lead to unrest and there will always be educated people to provide leaders. Let us not forget that the leadership of the proletarian revolutions during the nineteenth and twentieth century was never in the hands of the working class but in those of intellectuals (Marx, Engels, Lassale, Liebknecht, Lenin, Trotsky, Adler to name just a few) who took pity on the downtrodden and promised them the blue from the sky in form of a socialist utopia. After the demise of the Soviet Union, socialist dreams have temporarily lost some steam and in its breach stepped religion which has always been useful to mask imperial aspirations.

Deny it as we might the current war against "terrorism" is indeed a religious war of ideas and, as mentioned repeatedly, it cannot be won by bombs or even ground troops in Afghanistan, Iraq or other places around the world. Even if the Taliban were to be defeated and a pro-Western government installed in Kabul, fundamentalist-nationalists would simply melt into the mountains and guerilla warfare, accompanied by terrorist tactics, would continue ad infinitum. It pains me to say so but Osama bin-Ladin has so far succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. A $200.000 investment in martyrs (which was recouped anyway by selling assets on the stock market before its expected crash) has produced, and continues to produce, billions of dollars of losses to the American economy, fear is being spread by the media and if we are to believe our politicians we are engaged in an Afghan war with a projected duration of several years. Even if we kill bin-Ladin now he will be a martyr (which is what he wants anyway) who goes to paradise and his image will spur on other fanatics to continue with his work of creating hatred for America in the Islamic world.

Even we in America are apparently fighting for religious principles because we have been told that this is a war of good against evil. Jesus' words: "Whoever is not against us is with us" have been turned into: "Who is not with us is against us!" There can be no neutrals now we are told; the world has to be strictly polarized. This is what the "Judeo-Christian tradition" apparently means. That Christianity and Judaism are supposed to operate on different premises can no longer be openly acknowledged. Jesus was a Jew we are told and, therefore, adhered to the Jewish religion to the bitter end. The fact that he changed Judaism fundamentally the moment he told the parable of the Good Samaritan in answer to the question: "who is my neighbor?" is not taken into account. This question of the scribe, as reported by Luke, was not rhetorical because Jews did distinguish very carefully between themselves and others. Jews were to help each other but they were to shun contact with foreigners. When Jesus told the scribe that your neighbor is anyone in need of help, even a despised Samaritan, he violated one of the most sacred taboos. In addition he had the audacity to tell the Jewish religious leaders that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath; to eat with "sinners," thereby abrogating the sanctity of the dietary laws; and ultimately going after temple money by overthrowing the tables of the money changers. This clearly put him beyond the pale of Jewish religious authorities and required a death sentence. We are now told by some that Jesus was a fanatical zealot and that is why the Romans crucified him. But this is only an attempt to exonerate the Jewish ruling circles of Jerusalem at that time and to foster harmony between Christians and Jews. But a harmony which is based on a wrong premise can never be lasting.

We must openly admit to the differences between the Jewish and Christian religion before we can agree on common principles. Judaism was and for true believers still is, essentially tribal in its nature. This may sound harsh but the disapproval of intermarriage, the insistence by rabbinical authorities on separateness and fear of assimilation are facts of life which cannot be denied. Careful reading of the sayings by the prophets makes it also undeniably clear that they were nationalists. The redemption of this world was to be brought about by Jews and the Law, to which all nations will have to subscribe, will come from Zion. The famous beating of swords into plowshares in Is. 2:4 is preceded by "people going up to the mountains of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law; and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge the nations and shall rebuke many people." While Christians may read this symbolically, fundamentalist Jews tend to think in terms of the here and now. It is the earthly, rather than the heavenly Jerusalem, to which all nations will have to flow and it will be the God of Jacob rather than the Heavenly Father of Jesus who will lay down the law! These statements may come as a surprise to those who believe that "Jews are just a quirky Protestant sect" as Stephen Feldman has put it in Please, Don't wish me a Merry Christmas. But while that book is clearly polemical, the one by Rabbi Neusner Jews and Christians. The Myth of a Common Tradition is scholarly, well reasoned and ought to be required reading for evangelical Christians of the Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell genre. They also ought to visit the website of a steadily growing subset of Orthodox Judaism at www.noahide.com. This should dispel any notion that Judaism and Christianity are simply variants of one common religion like Catholicism and Protestantism.

Where does this leave our Christian leadership which is engaged in this "Crusade" against terrorism as President Bush has unfortunately called it. I said "unfortunately" deliberately because the word has a bad connotation in the minds of Muslims. The Crusaders did not behave like followers of Jesus' teachings: they murdered, raped and plundered not only Jerusalem but even Christian Constantinople. The Muslim hero of the Crusades is Saladin, who soundly defeated and permanently crippled the Christian Crusaders at the battle of Hattin (A.D.1187). It is his example Saddam and Osama are trying to follow. I sincerely doubt that some of our fire-breathing media pundits have ever heard of this epoch making battle and the difference in the treatment of the inhabitants of Jerusalem first by the Christian and then the Muslim conquerors. The latter let the population of the city live while the former "put them to the sword," as the saying goes, regardless of what religion they belonged to. I am not extolling the virtues of Islam over Christianity, I am simply recounting historical facts and when it comes to politics Christianity has never been tried ever since it became the official state religion in the Roman Empire.

The reasons are obvious. Jesus' teachings such as: love those who hate you, when struck turn the other cheek and my kingdom is not of this world; have no place in power politics. Jews and Muslims are more honest in this respect because they make no such demands on the adherents of their faiths. Therefore, let us leave religious-moral sloganeering out of American propaganda and concentrate instead on actions which prove to the world at large and Muslims in particular that Americans, regardless of what faith they profess, do care for others who do not share their belief system. The month of Ramadan would be an excellent opportunity to do so. Instead of continuing to bomb and send commandoes we could use the money and the troops to feed and clothe the starving hundreds of thousands of Afghans in the refugee camps in Pakistan and in those areas of Afghanistan which are not under direct Taliban control. Dropping food from the air, as well as bombs, makes good propaganda but has little practical value. The impoverished Afghan people will have difficulty getting to it and when they are successful the Taliban can always confiscate it "for the good of the country." In addition, while the ordinary Afghan will have to walk or get to the drop points - wherever they are - by mule, donkey or camel, the Taliban who have trucks can get there first.

There is nothing we can do for the people who live under Taliban control at this time but we have a great opportunity to show our compassion - not through some nebulous relief agencies but through our troops - by helping, those who have escaped, with food and half-way decent housing for the upcoming winter months. That would be a display of genuine Christian charity. Although an effort of this type would probably be derided by Osama's followers as a propaganda ploy, the people whose lives we save rather than destroy would be grateful and the news networks including Al-Jazeera would broadcast the good news far and wide. It will not deter the likes of Osama but would-be followers might be persuaded that there is a better way than bombs and killing. To those who argue that this proposal is unrealistic I can only say: yes, as long as you don't try it! Actions always speak louder than words and we are judged by what we do rather than what we say.


Two years ago at Thanksgiving I wrote the final words for War and Mayhem and it is appropriate to repeat them in part at this time: "The challenges of the next century, let alone millennium, are going to be enormous. Will our 'opinion makers' and politicians conduct themselves any wiser than in the past? Will we be able to resurrect a universal moral code and live by it? Will we be able to meet criticism and differences of opinions without demonizing those who think differently and try to understand why they do so? Will we be able to look beyond generalizations to the individuals who make up the groups and deal with them according to individual behavior rather than preconceived notions which supposedly characterize the group?" I went on to say that if we could answer these questions affirmatively there is hope for mankind but if not we are going to slide into an abyss the magnitude of which can hardly be imagined at this time.

Our response to the September 11 tragedy does not bode well for the future and the current November issue of Commentary contains chilling information. The lead article by Daniel Pipes: "The Danger Within: Militant Islam in America," depicts a nightmare scenario of Muslim forces taking over our government and turning us into an Islamic Republic on the model of Iran. One may laugh about this but Pipes is serious and provides documentation for his opinion. The second article by Mark Helprin: "What Israel Must Now Do to Survive," is equally eerie. Not only does Helprin advocate that Israelis need to arm themselves to the teeth now but he also asks: "Is it not obvious that now is the time, when American and Israeli interests plainly coincide, for Israel to destroy [emphasis added] the laboratories [of weapons of mass destruction], reactors, processing plants and depots where untold terror might arise?" Helprin concludes "Such a thing seems perilous, and it is, but hardly more perilous than its alternative." It seems that it was this type of thinking which caused Secretary of State Colin Powell to immediately reverse his criticism of the Sharon government at the time it sent tanks back into Palestinian territory and to call him “a dear friend" (Salt Lake Tribune, October 25,2001).

The American "public opinion molders" and our politicians who react to their pressure tend to be remarkably poorly informed about foreign affairs. This leads to government from crisis to crisis without a long range steadily pursued goal. This is outright dangerous. When Prime Minister Sharon said recently that Israel will go it alone if the U.S. does not condone his actions we have to keep Sharon's life history in mind. It is even more important than Arafat's. The ill-fated invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was planned and executed by Sharon. The Reagan peace plan, thereafter, was rejected by him and the massacre in the Sabra-Shatila Palestinian refugee camp, although carried out by Christian Lebanese Phalangists, was clearly condoned by Sharon. He was severely criticized for it by concerned Israelis and lost his job as Defense Minister. The details of this affair, as well as other injustices against Palestinians which have over the years been perpetrated by a succession of Israeli governments are well documented in Noam Chomsky's book: The Fateful Triangle. The United States, Israel & The Palestinians. The book was published in 1983 and should be required reading for everybody in government and the media. It is absolutely tragic that no attention has been paid to this book although the concluding paragraph states: "Meanwhile, at least this much seems clear. As long as the United States remains committed to an Israeli Sparta as a strategic asset, blocking the international consensus on a political settlement, the prospects are for further tragedy: repression, terrorism, war and possibly even a conflict that will engage the superpowers, eventuating in a final solution from which few will escape." The first part of the prophecy is a fact of life now and with Sharon's finger on the trigger of Israel's nuclear devices the last words are no longer far fetched either. If Israeli politicians were to feel themselves pushed against the wall The Samson Option, as it has been called by Seymour Hersh in his 1991 book, may well become attractive. Furthermore, if Israeli scientists were to have, in the meantime, perfected a neutron bomb which kills only people and animals, rather than destroy property, the world could be in dire straits. The vital oil installations might remain viable and could switch from Arab into Jewish hands. What a temptation for any government if it were to feel that its survival is at stake. The backlash which would subsequently ensue against America would be both vicious and interminable.

It is in this context that the third article of the current Commentary issue: "The Wages of Durban" by Arch Puddington needs to be seen. The UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) had concluded a few days before the September 11 catastrophe. The conference was marred by anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish polemics, as well as demands for reparations for slavery and colonial misconduct, by a variety of delegates. Nevertheless it was only Israel and the United States who walked away from the conference demonstrating to the world that: whatever you say or do we don't care we go our own way together! If our fate is truly irrevocably linked to actions initiated by the government in Jerusalem rather than Washington our war on terrorism is bound to fail. If we were to win but lose in the process the freedoms we still enjoy the victory would be a hollow one. What use is it to gain the whole world if you lose your soul?, the biblical writer asked. Yes indeed! I personally wish the Jewish people, both here and in Israel, well but as I said on previous occasions justice is indivisible and, difficult as it is, justified grievances by the Palestinians must be addressed now. Time is running out.







December 2001

War On Terrorism



The collapse of the Taliban in northern and central Afghanistan took everybody by surprise and made the Ramadan suggestions of the previous month's installment irrelevant. This success was so stunning that "On to Baghdad" and let's get rid of Saddam once and for all is now a common theme in our media. That American air power was an essential aspect of the Taliban's defeat is undeniable, but the territory was taken on the ground by Afghans. Furthermore, nobody, apart from a few fanatics, liked the Taliban even in the Muslim world. The situation may not be as easy in Iraq.

It is true that most Iraqis are fed up with Saddam and would rather live in a democratic society. We should help them to attain this objective; but bombs or rockets can achieve this goal only if there are ground forces in place that do the actual fighting. Let us not forget that the "Northern Coalition" was available in Afghanistan to do the dirty work, but whether or not this type of insurgent army is available in Iraq remains to be seen. Thus, unless we can engineer a relatively bloodless coup d'etat in Baghdad, we are likely to have a tough row to hoe. Even as far as Afghanistan is concerned the job is far from finished. Taliban fighters are beginning to melt into the abundant mountains and the new mujahadeens may harass any government in Kabul for a long time to come. For the Northern Alliance to suddenly give up the idea of translating their military power into political gains - out of the goodness of their hearts - would also be a first in world history.

We are told that our government is split in terms of how to proceed next. The hawks, whoever they may be, don't want our military assets, which sit in the Persian Gulf, to simply declare "mission accomplished." I am reasonably sure that our reservists and National Guard units who are engaged there now would be very happy to be home by Christmas, but who is going to ask them?

The "doves" in the administration, whoever they may be, tend to think about long term political goals and propose strategies where bombs and rockets are the last rather than first resort. They also listen to responsible Arab leaders like President Mubarack of Egypt who warned in no uncertain terms that the current coalition in our war on terrorism cannot hold together if we attack Iraq without providing convincing evidence for a direct link between September 11 and Saddam's government. Germany, and most members of the EU, have voiced similar concerns as well as most other nations of the world. A war on Iraq simply does not have the same popularity in other countries, apart from Israel, as the one on Afghanistan had.

Sergei Khrushchev headlined his article in the current November/ December issue of American Heritage with "Finding the Killers Is the Easy Part." He stated that the fight against extremism needs to be pursued on three levels:



The simplest is the police level: finding the terrorists specifically responsible for the events of September 11. The second level is the police-plus-intelligence one: cracking the whole terrorist network. But all that will be useless if we don't reach the third level: fighting to eliminate the extreme dissatisfaction within the [Muslim] society. Without that, the Arab world will see our actions as an attack against all of them and their religion, and if we catch Osama bin Laden, he will be replaced by someone else. What is essential is strong pressure on both sides, on Israelis as well as on Arabs, much like the pressure we exerted in the former Yugoslavia. Without that, all thoughts of stopping terrorism will be useless.



Mr. Khrushchev is a senior fellow at the Thomas J. Watson Institute of International Studies, at Brown University and that his views coincide with those I have expressed previously in these pages was gratifying. The gangrenous sore of Palestinian-Israeli relationships must be addressed if we want to achieve a modicum of peace in that part of the world and thereby reduce the threat of terrorism. Let us not forget that modern terrorism started with Palestinians hijacking planes and the massacre of Jewish athletes at the Munich Olympic Games, in 1972. Thirty years later the creation of a viable internationally recognized Palestinian state will not necessarily stop all terrorist acts in the world but, as mentioned previously on these pages, would remove at least one point of friction.

The American people, at large, are remarkably poorly informed about the Middle East. On the Opinion page of a recent Sunday edition of the Salt Lake Tribune there was an extensive article, which covered nearly half the page, entitled: U.S. Guards Its Interests When It Takes Israel's Side." In the article the lady chided one of those "peaceniks" and wrote "Permit me to give you and the nation a lesson in history and the future." In so doing she informed us that Israel protects the Suez Canal and sees to it that it does not fall into the hands of the enemies of freedom. Since we have given control over the Panama Canal to the Chinese we should follow the example of the British who sent their fleet half way around the world to retain the Falkland Islands and thereby guard the route around Cape Horn.

Since this history lesson conflicted profoundly with my information I sent immediately a letter to the Public Forum page of the Tribune in which I explained tat the Suez canal has been in Egyptian hands since the spring of 1956 and that the British - French -Israeli war against Egypt in November of that year, with the goal to retake possession of the canal, had to be abandoned as a result of severe pressure by the United States and the Soviet Union. This was the final end of British-French colonial ambitions. The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces), which had performed brilliantly in regard to territorial gains (all of the Gaza strip and the entire Sinai Peninsula), also were forced to withdraw as a result of a 65 to 1 vote in the UN. The lone dissenter was Israel; England and France abstained from the vote. Ben-Gurion was furious. He knew now that he could not rely on America under all circumstances and embarked full steam, with the help of France, on arming Israel with nuclear weapons. This was the outcome of the Suez war and what we are now confronted with. I also informed the readership of the Tribune that the documentation for these statements can be found in Righteous Victims. A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict. 1881 - 1999 by Benny Morris and The Samson Option. Israel's Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy by Seymour Hersh.

This correct version of history was not palatable to the editors of the Tribune and the article was never published. Nevertheless it was helpful for me to refresh my memory and re-read aspects of the two mentioned books. In the November installment of Hot Issues I hedged my bets in regard to Israel's possession of neutron weapons but this is no longer necessary. Seymour Hersh states unequivocally in the Epilogue of The Samson Option: "By the mid-1980's, the technicians at Dimona [Israel's nuclear facility] had manufactured hundreds of low-yield neutron warheads capable of destroying large numbers of enemy troops with minimal property damage. The size and sophistication of Israel's arsenal allows men such as Ariel Sharon [who was out of power at that time] to dream of redrawing the map of the Middle East aided by the implicit threat of nuclear force. Israel has also been an exporter of nuclear technology and has collaborated on nuclear weapons research with other nations, including South Africa." Hersh is not some fly by night journalist but he knows his facts and has won more than a dozen major journalism prizes. The book was published ten years ago and there is hardly any doubt that Israel has in the meantime continued to improve on its nuclear capability. Granted that Israel's nuclear arsenal is for defensive purposes, but why should Arabs, for whom the existence of Israel's capability is no secret, not be concerned and develop their own counterweight? Why do we read about the threat of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) only in relation to "rogue regimes" like Saddam Hussein and there is not a single word either printed in the papers or mentioned on TV?

Whom does Saddam really threaten? Is he going to ship to us numerous batches of Anthrax or other disease germs? Is he going to send us nuclear bombs? What would be the purpose? His regime would vanish over night and he knows it. His first goal is to hang on to his power and this cannot be accomplished by needlessly provoking the U.S. His second goal is to guard himself against Israel. Does he want to attack Israel first? This does not seem particularly likely because he knows full well that American retribution would be swift and devastating. Whatever else he is, he is not particularly suicidal. Thus, if we start a major war against Iraq we are not serving primarily America's interests but those of Israel.



While checking my facts in Benny Morris' book (he is Professor of History at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba) about the British and French Suez canal debacle, which by the way coincided with the Hungarian uprising against the Soviets, I came upon a passage which is also highly á propos. At a funeral service on April 29, 1956 for the assassinated security officer Ro'i Rothenberg of Kibbutz Nahal-'Oz on the edge of the Gaza strip, Moshe Dayan delivered a eulogy which goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian problem:

Yesterday at dawn Ro'i was murdered. The quiet of the spring morning blinded him, and he did not see those who sought his life hiding behind the furrow. Let us not today cast blame on the murderers. What can we say against their terrible hatred of us? For eight years now, they have sat in the refugee camps of Gaza, and have watched how, before their very eyes we have turned their land and villages, where they and their forefathers previously dwelled, into our home. It is not among the Arabs of Gaza, but in our own midst that we must seek Ro'i's blood. How did we shut our eyes and refuse to look squarely at our fate and see, in all its brutality, the fate of our generation? Can we forget that this group of youngsters sitting in Nahal-'Oz, carries the heavy gates of Gaza on their shoulders?

Dayan continued with an admonition for Israelis to be forever vigilant: "We are a generation of settlement, and without the steel helmet and the gun's muzzle we will not be able to plant a tree or build a house." He concluded with "This is the fate of our generation. This is our choice - to be ready and armed, tough and harsh - or to let the sword fall from our hands and our lives be cut short."

Forty six years later and in another generation Americans are now supposed to "shut our eyes and refuse to look squarely at the fate of Israelis "in all its brutality." Since 1956 Israel has enlarged its territory and thereby harvested more hatred, which has now spilled over onto our shores. The refusal by our media to accept a connection between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and our current terrorist problem is indeed self-inflicted blindness. At the time of this writing two American mediators are in the Middle East. Their mission seems to be doomed because Israeli newspapers and Television stations have already complained that the person in charge, retired Marine General Zinni, is not Jewish, had close ties with the Saudis and is, therefore, biased in favor of the Palestinians. In addition Pat Buchanan's column of November 20 on WorldNet Daily stated that 89 senators had sent a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell with the request not to pressure Israeli towards a peace settlement.

This development was utterly predictable and this why I had suggested in Whither Zionism? that the only possible hope for a diminution, if not resolution, of this conflict could come from the United Nations Commission and the Security Council. If we veto the resultant implementation of their recommendations we have doomed our children and grandchildren to an endless "War on Terrorism." The Israelis, in the words of Dayan, have made a choice to live by the sword. If our government forces us to follow their example we can also expect to die by the sword. Advocates of peace are currently not only derided as "peaceniks" but also by Michael Kelly in his most recent editorial as "peacemongers!" I gladly accept this title and intend to introduce myself to the Lord in this fashion when I meet him in the not too distant future. Unless He is still a "jealous God (Ex. 20:5)" who "will make Mine arrows drunk with blood, And My sword shall devour flesh (Dt.32:42)" I don't expect any problem on that account.





January 1, 2002

THE HOLY LAND -
PROPAGANDA AND REALITY



With the beginning of every New Year one tends to be filled with hope that things will be better than in the past. The stunning and it must be admitted unexpected, phenomenally rapid successes of our military forces which resulted in the removal of the Taliban as a government raises hopes for future successes on the world stage. Our armed forces and their leadership deserve full credit and applause for a job well done. Afghanistan is in the process of being pacified, which may, however, still take some time because the various factions within the Afghani people have different ideas on how the country should be run. Whether or not they will continue to listen to our well meant advice is another question.

More troubling is, however, that America still seems to be unwilling to realistically address one of the root causes for our War on Terrorism, the Middle East. The Holy Land continues to be mired in chaos and we seem to have hitched our wagon firmly to Prime Minister Sharon's vision of the future. 'War Has Been Forced on Us' Sharon Says was the headline in the Salt Lake Tribune after a spate of suicide bombings committed by Palestinians in Israel. The slaughter of innocent civilians is indeed reprehensible and measures must be taken to reduce these acts of random violence to a minimum. But an expectation that they can be stopped altogether, even by means of the most intense security measures and repression, is unrealistic and should not be fostered.

For me Sharon's words cited above evoked an eerie memory of the Third Reich. Der uns aufgezwungene Krieg - the war which has been forced upon us - was the favorite phrase of Hitler after the victory over France, when he made a feeble peace offer to England which was rebuffed, until the bitter end in 1945. The war was not Germany's fault it was Britain and France who had declared war on the Reich and which led to all the subsequent events, was the official propaganda line. That Hitler had started the war with his invasion of Poland and that the Western Allies were duty bound to stand by their guarantees, of which Hitler had been fully aware, the German people were supposed to have forgotten.

Any historical similarity must be viewed with caution but it does behoove us to look at the facts which have led Israelis and Palestinians to this dreadful impasse. Mortimer Zuckerman, Editor in Chief of the prestigious U.S. News and World Report, kept repeating in a recent editorial that Arafat is a hate-filled terrorist who has never kept a promise in his life. It is he who has instigated all the Palestinian terrorist attacks of the past and who continues to do so now. Zuckerman wrote:

"When Arafat, ejected from Jordan and Lebanon, finally left his stopping place in Tunis to come to Gaza, he was essentially given a choice: either a state or terrorism. Perversely, Arafat said yes to terrorism and no to a state. We saw it again last year at Camp David. Arafat would not accept the huge concessions offered by then Prime Minister Ehud Barak and endorsed by President Clinton. If he had, a Palestinian flag would be flying today over a sovereign, independent, internationally recognized Palestinian state, and there would be no Israeli occupation."

This is not idle rhetoric but a firmly held belief by Mr. Zuckerman to which Americans should now subscribe or appear unpatriotic.

Let us examine dispassionately some of these statements. The most important aspect is that if Israel had withdrawn the occupying forces from the areas conquered in the Six Day War, as demanded by the Security Council Resolution 242 of 22 November, 1967, the problems we see today could, in all probability, have been prevented. The Resolution, which was passed unanimously, demanded "Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territory occupied in the recent conflict." Israel ignored the Resolution. After the peace agreement with Egypt in 1979 Israel surrendered the Sinai Peninsula and considered its commitment in regard to Resolution 242 fulfilled because the Resolution did not contain the words "all territory"but only "territory." It was actually the word "all" over which bitter haggling had ensued and its omission prevented an American veto of the Resolution. That the right wing of the Israeli public, most prominently represented by Likud under Prime Ministers Begin, Shamir, Netanyahu und now Sharon, had absolutely no interest to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza is exemplified by the party's manifesto for the 1977 election as cited in The Iron Wall by Avi Shlaim

"The right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is eternal, and an integral part of its right to security and peace. Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank] shall therefore not be relinquished to foreign rule; between the sea and the Jordan, there will be Jewish sovereignty alone. Any plan that involves parts of Western Eretz Israel militates against our right to the Land, would inevitably lead to the establishment of a 'Palestinian State,' threaten the security of the civilian population, endanger the existence of the State of Israel, and defeat all prospects of peace."

The goal was to create a "Greater Israel" which was not limited to the armistice frontiers after the 1948 wars. The term "Western" Eretz Israel is, therefore, potentially highly meaningful. Revisionist Zionism, of which Likud is the offspring, always wanted to incorporate areas to the east of the Jordan River into the Jewish state. Although further military expansion into Jordan was unrealistic in 1977 the hope to ultimately bring this dream to fruition, has not yet died. In the meantime the territories conquered in 1967 were to be colonized with Jewish settlements. To attract settlers state subsidized housing would be provided at substantially reduced rates. Palestinian land would be expropriated and the civil rights of the Palestinian population in these areas were not regarded as worthy of attention. The aim was to create facts on the ground, including in East Jerusalem, which would mute any question of withdrawal. Palestinians who objected by violent means were jailed or expelled and the rest of the people had to submit to military rule. The consequences of this policy were, of course, utterly predictable. Yeshahayu Leibowitz (Judaism, Human Values and the Jewish State) stated in an article, published in 1988 and entitled Forty Years After:

"What many call 'the undivided Land of Israel' is not, and can never be, the state of the Jewish people, but only a Jewish regime of force. The state of Israel today is neither a democracy nor a state abiding by the rule of law, since it rules over a million and a half people deprived of civil and political rights. That a subjugated people would fight for its freedom against the conquering ruler, with all the means at its disposal, without being squeamish about their legitimacy, was only to be expected...We call the acts of the Palestinians 'terrorism' and their fighters 'terrorists.' But we are able to maintain our rule over the rebellious people only by actions regarded the world over as criminal. We refer to this as 'policy' rather than 'terror' because it is conducted by a duly constituted government and its regular army."

Leibowitz called for a voluntary withdrawal of the occupation forces but "the conscience of Israel," as he was referred to, was ignored. So were numerous UN resolutions which condemned the continued occupation and the settlements on occupied territory as being illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention which regulates the rights and obligations of an occupying power. Israel felt free to disregard the Convention because in the views of its leadership there is no occupation of conquered land. All of it is Eretz Israel, and whoever does not like it is simply wrong. The treatment of the Palestinian population is Israel's internal affair. The fact that this view is not grounded in international law but simply in a biblical interpretation and therefore a religious one is not being conceded.

When one reads Shlaim's book, as well as the one by Benny Morris which was mentioned in the December installment, it is absolutely amazing how the American public has been misled about the real facts. Was it really only Arafat who had deliberately sabotaged the Oslo peace process, as Mr. Zuckerman and a great many others insist on? The answer is: No! Right-wing Israeli politicians among them Benjamin Netanyahu have been firmly opposed to the Oslo Accord. Shlaim headed a sub-chapter of his book with "Declaration of War on the Peace Process." In it he lists the basic guidelines of the government as outlined by Prime Minister Netanyahu in his inaugural speech to the Knesset in 1996. To quote from Shlaim's book:

"Those who expected the Likud leader, once elected, to start blunting the edges of his opposition to the peace process, found no comfort in this document. The guidelines were those of an ethnocentric religious-nationalist government. The chapter on education promised to cultivate Jewish values and to put the Bible, the Hebrew language, and the history of the Jewish people at the center of the school curriculum. The foreign policy guidelines expressed firm opposition to a Palestinian state, to the Palestinian right of return, and to the dismantling of Jewish settlements. They reserved the right to use the Israeli security forces against terrorist threats in the areas under Palestinian self-rule. They called on Syria to resume peace talks without preconditions but at the same time ruled out any retreat from Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights. The assertion of Israel sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem was explicit and exhaustive. So was the commitment to continue developing settlements as 'an expression of Zionist fulfillment'. And for good or bad measure, the guidelines made no explicit reference to Oslo or Cairo agreements."

Is Mr. Zuckerman and those who write similar articles, merely unaware of history or does the rule: "I've made up my mind, don't confuse me with facts!" hold? Another aspect of Netanyahu's speech is noteworthy: "His call on Syria for talks without preconditions [while having made a precondition himself] was widely seen as an attempt to dissociate himself from the verbal promises made by his predecessors. But there was also an implied warning that Israel would act not only against terrorists but against the sponsors of terror [emphasis added]." What was implied in 1996 in Israel has become official policy of the United States in 2001. President Bush may now remove any government we do not like, either by bombing a given country into submission or by fomenting internal upheavals. That this merely smacks of American Imperialism dressed up in humanitarian language ought to be obvious to any unbiased observer of the international scene.

Let me re-emphasize that I have never had any sympathy for the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's followers. I also have deep compassion for the victims of the September 11 attack and want to prevent future disasters of this type. But if we merely seek justice for the victims and the prevention of future attacks we do not have to antagonize a great many other countries. We should rely on Interpol as well as coordination of the various government security agencies around the world instead of massive bombing. The fact that bombing worked in Afghanistan, is no guarantee that it will do so in other circumstances. If the Bush administration persists in the belief that all governments who have harbored terrorists need to be eliminated we have a massive job ahead. We will not only have to install a new regime in Baghdad but also in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lybia, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, China and various other places around the globe, while we condone and support at the same time a repressive government in Israel. Under these circumstances there will be nothing but war, human suffering, and further hatred of American policies.

An objective observer must admit that the Israelis and their supporters in the United States have done a superb propaganda job while the Arab-Palestinian side has shown a great deal of incompetence. This brings me to the oft repeated statement that Arafat had walked away from the 2000 Camp David peace plan and chosen terrorism instead. At no time have our government, the Israelis, or the Palestinians published a transcript of the sessions and what the conditions were that Arafat was supposed to have accepted. What type of state should he have signed on to? Was it truly independent and contiguous or was it supposed to have been a group of isolated cantons where the access is patrolled by Israelis and water as well as power supplies are in Israeli hands? We have not been shown these documents and, therefore, simply don't know. The Palestinians are being chided for not having presented a peace plan of their own. Theirs is actually rather simple. It says to Israel: obey the Security Council Resolutions, dismantle the settlements on the West Bank and Gaza, withdraw your armed forces to the pre-June 1967 borders and allow refugees to return. Since Israel is unwilling to do this the blame for the breakdown of talks has to be shifted onto the opponent. One cannot fault the Jews for this strategy because it works, but American citizens who morally and financially support Israel's policies should be given the facts. There does not seem to be any reason why the minutes of the Camp David meeting are being withheld from public view. What is our government afraid of, and why do Congress and our media not demand factual answers? As long as we do not have these answers we will be bombarded by propaganda on the one hand and conspiracy theories on the other.

Why have Israeli politicians proven to be so intransigent towards genuine peace? The major reasons were already present in 1948 and 1949 when Ben-Gurion felt in no hurry to conclude peace with the neighbors, because he believed that time was on his side. Every peace treaty would inevitably involve some territorial concessions, and the return of the refugees into the Jewish state would create a major political problem. It was preferable, therefore, to wait until the world would get used to the existing borders and eventually forget about the Palestinians. He was correct in this assumption as far as the world was concerned, but the Palestinians refused to be forgotten. An annexation of East Jerusalem (as was done), Gaza and the West Bank (which is still hoped for) obviously makes good military sense because the current borders are quite illogical. It would lead, however, not only to condemnation by the rest of the world, but more importantly to profound changes in Israeli society. Israel cannot remain a "Jewish" state for Jews when it has to harbor more than three million Arabs as full fledged citizens. The question Israel has avoided throughout its existence for more than 50 years is what kind of a state do the Jewish inhabitants really want?  Is it to be a secular constitutional democracy with equal rights for all citizens regardless of religion and ethnicity, or a Jewish state by and for Jews? Throughout their history Jews have been masters at avoiding either-or questions and opted for the as-well-as route but sooner or later a choice will have to be made. Unless this fundamental question is answered there can be no peace, and as long as the U.S. continues to veto Security Council Resolutions which demand justice for Palestinians we invite further acts of terrorism on our own people.

Gloria Borger recently (U.S. News & World Report, December 31, 2001/January 7, 2002) quoted one of President Bush's aides as having commented "What he says in private these days is very often what he says in public." This is a laudable trait and would be a welcome change from some previous presidents. On the other hand if President Bush really thinks in the terms the Jerusalem Post has reported in its December 21, 2001 edition, America and the rest of the world may have little to rejoice about in the coming year.

"In a meeting last week with seven leading Jewish donors, including veteran Republican Max Fisher, and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice present, George W. Bush reportedly said that if he had been Ariel Sharon he, Bush, would have acted the same way the prime minister is acting in the face of the Palestinian war of terror. Quoted without attribution by the highly reliable Nahum Barnea of the Yediot Aaharonot daily, Bush also said that Arafat is weak and his regime close to collapse. Proceeding from there to the broader Arab world, Bush said that unlike Sharon, who was democratically elected, Saudi King Fahd was not elected and it is unclear just who exactly he represents.

One participant in the meeting told Barnea that Bush also spoke disparagingly about his own State Department, which he said is 'irrelevant,' and whose Arabists' 'games' the President now intends 'to bring to an end.' Finally Bush personally reiterated, according to the report, what other American officials said in recent weeks, namely that Hamas and Hizbullah were terrorist organizations, and that if Syria and Lebanon are harboring them, they are no different than the Taliban.

Be the accuracy of this report what it may, it is clear in Jerusalem that Bush has lost all patience for Arafat, whom he now clearly, and irreversibly, sees as a liar and terror-supporter."



That Sharon is likewise a terror-supporter, against whom a criminal investigation is under way in Belgium for his behavior in Lebanon, is deemed to be unimportant and not reported by our mass-media. Sharon seems to have been given the green light to proceed as he pleases and America will have to pay the bills not only in the financial sense of the word. Arafat has many strikes against him but the most serious is, for the American public at least, that he is neither telegenic nor articulate. The suave American educated Netanyahu, who is likely to be Sharon's successor if Likud remains in power, can outtalk any Palestinian any day. As long as the American public is satisfied with glib one-liners and glamor rather than a basic understanding of complex issues we will continue to be treated to self-serving propaganda rather than facts.

When Sharon prevented Arafat from visiting Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, which Arafat had done regularly since 1995, Sharon showed himself to be a petty hate-filled individual whom we have every reason to distrust. This type of fanaticism reminds one of the Taliban's destruction of the ancient statues of Buddha and tells the world that no other religious sentiments except one's own are tolerated in the "Holy Land."

If the Jerusalem Post article, as quoted above, is indeed correct the hopes which I had pinned on the Bush administration in Whither Zionism? might well have been misplaced. But it is not yet too late. Therefore I'd like to offer this New Year's prayer for our President:

Please oh Lord look kindly upon George W. Bush and his wife, grant them the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood; let them not be misled by propaganda which serves ulterior motives and leads to actions which do not conform to the principles America was founded upon. Prevent the President from succumbing to Hubris which tends to afflict people in their success and heralds their downfall. Let him act with wisdom and foresight, rather than expediency, to the benefit of America and the world. Thank you Lord.





February 1, 2002

THE GREAT SATAN



The Ayatollah Khomeini bestowed the title "The Great Satan" on us after his successful Islamic revolution in Iran. Although Khomeini is dead his spirit lives and our media as well as politicians have never stopped ridiculing the notion. There is good reason for the rejection of the idea because "We" as individual citizens are really basically good natured and don't want to harm anybody else. Most of us will, therefore, regard the term as slander. But there are policies, which are carried out in our name which, although well meant, not only impinge on the lives and belief systems of others but affect them adversely. Let us, therefore, not be too hasty and examine the Ayatollah's term somewhat more closely.

Baudelaire is credited with having said: "Satan's greatest victory was when he convinced the world that he doesn't really exist." Yes indeed! Our secular society, which has expelled God from public schools, surely does not have any use for His counterpart either. Although we bemoan the existence of evil the causes are usually sought in externals and when people are involved it is "the other" who foments evil. One's own contributions usually are not considered and if one tries to do so during our current war on terrorism one risks being labeled as unpatriotic. Nevertheless I invite you for the next few minutes to look at the splinter in our own eye and not only the beam in others. Was the Ayatollah totally wrong when he rejected America's values and their seductive influence? It is, after all, values we are really talking about and supposedly fighting for at this time. Let us look, therefore at our current society, not the way we want it to be, but the way it actually is and as we are seen by others.

If one were to publicly proclaim that the pillars our society rests on, and the forces which shape its course, are thoroughly satanic one would either be laughed at, or confined to a lunatic asylum if one were too insistent about it. Yet, this merely betrays the ignorance which has come to pervade our public lives inasmuch as the Greek word satanas means nothing else but adversary. This puts the entire discussion into a different perspective. Our legal system prides itself that it operates on the "adversarial principle." Truth and justice are no longer the overriding goals but rather the largest possible settlement in civil cases. In criminal law suits the outcome may depend on who can hire the most expensive legal team. Our journalists and media pundits take pride in their adversarial stance, where all sides of a given issue have equal merit regardless of the truth involved. All members of society are encouraged to take positions against each other. Even women have to fight men and vice versa; everyone has to fight for some "right" and if the presumed justice is not forthcoming it can be pursued on an individual or better yet, a "class action basis" where vast sums of money can be extracted. Fight as well as Rights have become the key words, while responsibility and cooperation are relegated to the backbench. Thus the spirit which motivates our culture at this time is thoroughly adversarial in nature. Advocates of peace and understanding are not much sought after.

In addition the quest for financial gain is paramount. Our culture as represented by Hollywood, with its emphasis on nudity, sexual licentiousness, and physical violence is geared to the lowest instincts of the human race because that is where most money can be made. Even when a program which airs what I still regard as genuine culture, rather than the smut we are exposed to on the major commercial networks, the viewer's enjoyment is constantly interrupted by advertisements. A glaring example might be the following. A few weeks ago ABC presented a film "Immortal Beloved." I did not immediately recognize the significance of the title, expected the usual graphic sex scenes, and would not have bothered had I not read the name Beethoven. The movie dealt with one of the two most famous notes ever written by the composer. In The Heiligenstadt Testament Beethoven expressed his distress over his impending deafness while in the letter to the Unsterbliche Geliebte he poured his heart out to "My Angel, My All, My I" over the fact that they would probably never be able to be joined in union as man and wife. The letter bore neither address nor where it was written, and the date was given only as July 6 without a year. Speculation has been rampant ever since who the intended recipient was. In the film she was identified as the woman who, through mistaken assumptions, had become his brother's wife instead of his. Her son was not Beethoven's nephew but actually his own offspring. This was clearly poetic license without any grounding in reality but be that as it may. The story was depicted tastefully and what made the film great was the skillful interposition of Beethoven's music with his life's events. But as soon as one experienced a genuine emotion of appreciation one was interrupted by five minutes or more of commercials. Imagine for a moment: the final bars of the 9th symphony are played, the chorus sings Brüder überm Sternenzelt muss ein guter Vater wohnen (brothers above the starry tent there is bound to live a good father), the picture shows the star-studded sky then fades to the orchestra and the deaf Beethoven who when the music has ended has to be turned to see the standing ovation because he can't hear the applause. It was profoundly moving, but without missing even a heartbeat the station cut immediately to selling beds, pain killers and other paraphernalia. This was truly jarring on account of its incongruity and we were immediately confronted by the commercialism which runs our lives. It may be argued that we have to pay the piper, we do, but we don't have to do it in this obnoxious manner.

Salt Lake City is now eagerly looking forward, with some trepidation, to the upcoming Olympic Games. The papers are full of information on the events and the massive security preparations. A recent Sunday edition showed on the front page a picture of one of America's favorite downhill racers as he jumps over a section of the Hahnenkamm course in Kitzbühel as part of the qualifying events. What attracted my attention was not merely his good form but his ski suit was plastered with advertisements. On his right arm he sold VISA in addition to other unidentifiable companies, on the left leg Chevy trucks, on the right leg Holland-America line and Sprite. The ear band had another logo and so did the band which held his goggles in place, his back could not be seen properly but from what could be discerned was also plastered with ads. This type of commercialization of the sport is not limited to Americans but has become widespread and important international sailing regattas also display numerous ads on boats and sails. The remarkable aspect is that hardly anyone notices this commercialization any more, which penetrates all levels of our society, and has become accepted as the norm. Jesus had advised us that we cannot serve God and Mammon. It seems that our society has opted for Mammon.

Thus, to tell the truth, when the Ayatollah Khomeini called America the "Great Satan" - a rallying call which has now been taken up by other Muslim fundamentalists - he was not necessarily totally wrong. The culture we display and export through our media is indeed inimical to Islamic (as well as Christian) values. It is thoroughly understandable that Khomeini did not want his country to be swamped by this tidal wave of smut. When our media ridiculed the Ayatollah's notion they simply betrayed their ignorance of what he was talking about. Trained to look only at the most obvious in material terms they failed to see the deeper significance.


Let us, therefore, study Satan for a moment. How the concept has evolved, what the main properties are and what the individual can do in order not to succumb to temptation. To understand the satanic it behooves us to go back to the very beginning of the Bible and Eve's encounter with the snake. In Christian theology it is called the original sin while Jews put a different interpretation on it but this need not concern us here. What is important to remember is that it was Satan, in the form of a snake, who blessed us with "The Knowledge of Good and Evil." Since good and evil are antonyms one cannot exist without the other. What was the motivation of the mythical Eve to yield to temptation? She heard only "good" as well as "You will be like God" and jumped at the idea. It was not just disobedience but the impulsive act towards satisfaction of a desire without giving a second thought to possible consequences. This type of behavior has been reenacted by the human race ever since. The excuses are also typical. Some writers simply abbreviate the name of the forbidden tree to the "Tree of Knowledge" and insist we should be grateful to the serpent because by eating the tree's fruit we became scientists while God had intended to keep us ignorant. That is not so, it was only the knowledge of good and evil, i.e. moral judgment, which was withheld. There may have been good reasons because as the subsequent history of mankind shows, what is or is not moral has become a major bone of contention.

But there is more to the story. It tells us something about the nature of the satanic lie. The warning to Adam was: "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The prohibition was specific "you must not eat" but either Adam, or Eve had embellished it and she replied to the serpent that she wasn't even allowed to touch it. Why do I make such a point of this? Because it is a classic example that human beings don't hear what is said but what is perceived by the recipient's brain and that is what counts. Anyone who has either published or given lectures knows that what people tell him he has written or said bears at times little relationship to what was presented. Poor Eve was now in a quandary. This was the first time a choice had to be made. Should she or shouldn't she follow the serpent's coaxing? To make a long story short she did and persuaded Adam to follow suit. After he had eaten something drastic happened. Their "moral" eyes were opened to their nakedness and they realized that this was not an advantage. In addition they had developed a guilty conscience and the blame game started. "The woman you [emphasis added] gave me" made me do it. Don't we hear this over and over again? Not only is it Eve's fault that Adam took a bite but it is God's! He should have known better and not have given him a gullible Eve in the first place for his "helpmate."

We now come to a key question: did the serpent lie? Ergo what is a lie? Answer: The deliberate misrepresentation of the truth as known to the individual. The serpent said that they would not die, and they did not "in the day thereof." Their "eyes would be opened," which was also correct and they now knew good and evil. So where is the lie? It resides in what was not said. It was the deliberate attempt to mislead by withholding information. This is the reason why an oath demands :"To tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" and why ex-President Clinton's lame excuse "it depends upon what the meaning of 'is' is," doesn't wash. This is also the reason why I became quite concerned when I read an article in a recent issue of the Jerusalem Post entitled the "Jewish Millennium." The author stated that the American people expressed "Jewish values" when they continued with high approval ratings for Clinton's political conduct and that he was not removed from office. Economic well-being took precedence over morality and as far as the author was concerned rightly so. If these are truly the values endorsed by the majority of our population, and not only some members of its Jewish segment, we are in deep trouble. Other countries may not appreciate the export of these "values."

Let us consider now what our mythological ancestors could have done? Eve might have said to the serpent: "Wait a minute, I don't understand, are we going to be like God in all respects or just in regard to good and evil? What is this good and evil anyway?" If the serpent had remained truthful and explained what evil meant, Eve would have cut short the conversation. Thus the deliberate use of the half truth constitutes the satanic lie. It is the most vicious, most effective, and most frequently used lie throughout the ages by propagandists, unscrupulous politicians, and other individuals who regard themselves as being in an adversarial position. Words taken out of context is also one of the most common techniques to smear someone whose views one disagrees with. I don't want to be hard on Eve because it was Adam who also thoroughly failed us. It would have been his job to say: "Evie, what in all the world  have you done? I don't know what's going to happen, so let's find God and ask Him what to do now." That would have been the rational approach. But we, just like Adam, are frequently not capable of thinking rationally when the "forbidden fruit" is dangled before us. In the numerous generations since that story was written we surely should have learned better.

In the Christian religion the devil used to be depicted as a hoofed, horned, furry creature which actually bore a close resemblance to the ancient Greek god Pan. Apart from his other characteristics he was mischievous and used to frighten people who wandered into the woods. Thus we owe the word panic to him. This picture of the devil was thoroughly repudiated during the period of the Enlightenment. We did away with all the ghosties and ghoulies and long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night from which the good Lord was to protect us. Nevertheless, they still bring in the cash in the form of horror movies and outer space creatures. But these are not Satan's essence. Among the various mistakes our materialistic society makes the one most relevant in this context is what may be called the pars pro toto attitude. The term is used in grammar when one word stands for a sentence. The part is taken for the whole. This is what we are doing continuously in our lives whenever we judge something or someone. We don't know the whole, so we go by the part we can perceive and deal with it as if this were all there is. What we cannot grasp with our senses is regarded as non-existent. Goethe's Faust provides an excellent example:

Doctor Faust had been followed by a poodle on his Easter holiday walk and when he returned to his study to continue translating the Bible, the animal grew unhappy and kept interrupting him. Finally the poodle morphed into Mephisto, which led to the famous saying "Das also war des Pudels Kern" (so, this was the poodle's essence). Faust then asked for the name of the person who stood in front of him. The devil initially just poked fun at the question because names are really no longer meaningful but eventually he answered: Ich bin ein Teil von jener Kraft die stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft (I am one part of that force which forever desires evil and always produces good). Faust was perplexed and asked: what do you mean with this riddle? Mephisto answered: Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint! Und das mit Recht: denn alles, was entsteht, ist wert dasz es zugrunde geht . . . so ist denn alles, was ihr Sünde, Zerstörung, kurz das Böse nennt, mein eigentliches Element (I am the spirit who always negates and rightfully so, because everything that comes into being is worthy of perishing...everything you call sin, destruction or in short evil, is my true domain). Faust is still unsure and says: you call yourself "one part" and yet you stand in front of me as one whole being? Mephisto: Weil doch der Mensch die kleine Narrenwelt sich immer für ein Ganzes hält (because the human being, this foolish little world, always considers himself to be an entirety). This is the pars pro toto type thinking mentioned earlier. We always regard that part of whatever we can apprehend, conceive of, or desire, as if it were the whole. This is especially true of God but also of Science written with a capital S, because apart from Mammon it is likewise the current god.

When Goethe credited the devil with wanting evil but nevertheless achieving good he had paraphrased Milton who actually was less charitable in his Paradise Lost:

To do ought good never will be our task,

But ever to do ill our sole delight,

As being contrary to his high will

Whom we resist. If then his Providence

Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,

Our labor must be to pervert that end,

And out of good still to find means of evil;

Which oft times may succeed, so as perhaps

Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb

                                     His inmost counsels from their destined aim.



The German language has another word for the devil that is quite fascinating: der Leibhaftige. It is used by the common people especially in the countryside when they don't want to "paint the devil on the wall." There is no single word in the English language which captures the meaning; therefore, it has to be explained. The word is a composite of Leib (body) and haftig, Haftig comes from the verb haften which can be translated as: to cling to, to stick to, or adhere to. The inherent wisdom of the people has thereby created a word which indeed provides the devil's essence. While God is in the German language also referred to as the Himmelvater (heavenly father), a term which encompasses the material and spiritual realm, the devil is thoroughly and exclusively wedded to bodies. The Leibhaftige has no room for the spirit which has to be denied, and the acquisition of material goods is to be the overriding objective.

While the Leibhaftige is German, there exists in the English language the word Mephistophelean which is defined as: cynical, crafty, sardonic, or fiendish. Thus, we do not have to look far for its presence among people. The challenge we face as human beings lies in the recognition that when we lie, cheat, or hate we create an adversarial environment and thereby help to keep Satan alive. It is from the lie that all the other evils spring. He who lies to himself will inevitably lie to others and trust, which can only be gained by truthfulness, has been destroyed. Without trust, societies cannot function, regardless of how many laws are invented. But trust has to be earned, it cannot be demanded, and it requires honesty. In our present-day society this is hard to come by. We are being lied to on an unprecedented scale by politicians, the media and commercial enterprises.

So how do we know the truth of a given statement? In science we are dealing mainly with relative truth as available at the moment. Science, in contrast to religious faith, is work in progress and new information can readily invalidate previous concepts. Science is important for technologic and hygienic progress but every scientist knows that the fundamental questions: "why are we here?" and "what is our purpose?" do not lend themselves to scientific investigation. Philosophical or religious truths are also subject to modification as time goes on and conditions change but in spite of this there is an inner core of reality which defies time and is readily discernible when one reads literature which originated several centuries or millennia earlier. This core can be found in all religions regardless in what part of the world they originated. The names with which phenomena are described differ but the substance and the message are always the same. Because human behavior has remained constant over the ages so has the advice for achieving contentment in life. Faith in the ultimate goodness of God, perseverance with planning for the long range goal rather than immediate gratification, kindness, helpfulness, friendship, honesty, resisting anger and hate, but fostering instead a spirit of gratitude are just a few of the virtues human beings have always been told to aspire to. I have deliberately avoided the word love. When "making love" means having sexual intercourse and the word is being equated with lust, which disappears upon gratification, we have left the eternal for the temporary. Furthermore since love is an emotion, it must arise spontaneously and cannot be produced on command. "Love thy neighbor as thyself" goes beyond the capacity of human beings as history has amply proven. We have to be more modest and simply aspire to treating each other with kindness and consideration.

A fundamental difference between the satanic and the divine is that God has time! God's truth is still true after millennia while Satan's is fleeting. Satan constantly urges us that we must act now, immediately, lest we lose out either on revenge or on a tremendous advantage. We are thus coaxed to repeat the original sin. By recognizing that Satan is within us, just as the kingdom of God is, we can a turn a deaf ear to seduction. We don't have to hate Satan, and what he stands for, because hate is an unhealthy emotion and would serve his purposes. Instead, when we recognize the inner voice of seduction all we have to say is: "Thanks, but no thanks" and concentrate on the task at hand. If we hanker after, or stew over, an imagined past or a fantasized future, which will never happen the way it is imagined, we open the door to Satan's realm. But if we can stare the adversary in the face and can say: "no, there is a better way" we have achieved the victory which a simple denial of his existence cannot provide.

A few years ago our daughter, who knows of my interest in comparative religion, gave me for Christmas The Dhammapada which is part of the Sacred Writings Series. I already had a fair amount of other Buddhist literature so I wasn't immediately interested but in our "time of war" I picked it up again and found it rather useful. The book contains the essence of Buddhism in English translation as well as in the original Pali with explanations. In the context of the current topic verse number I: 5 is most appropriate:

Not by enmity are enmities quelled,

Whatever the occasion here.

By the absence of enmity are they quelled.

                                                    That is an ancient truth.


Isn't this what Jesus meant when he told us not to resist evil?


On September 12, 2001 our leadership had a choice. We had been viciously attacked and a response was needed. The entire world was with us in stunned grief at the outrage which had been committed. A wise government which had no ulterior motives in mind could have limited itself to promising: 1) with the help of international police and intelligence services we will track down and bring to justice the perpetrators. 2) For the families who have lost loved ones we will appoint a supervisory agency that sees to it that they do not suffer financial hardships in addition to their grievous emotional loss. 3) We will renew and redouble our efforts to seek justice for the oppressed in this world - wherever they are - and try to bind up wounds rather than create new ones.

This is what could have been done. Instead we have announced rather than declared war, which as it turns out now is a crucial difference because captured enemy personnel are not regarded as prisoners of war, with the rights they would be entitled to. We have bombed a country which was already devoid of infrastructure and we have destroyed the Taliban government but not the idea behind it. Although there is a pro-Western interim government in Kabul at this time its authority does not exceed the city limits. The rest of the country is in anarchy; people are starving and dying of exposure. International relief agencies still cannot get to the people who desperately need help because of marauding bands that steal and rob.

If we go through with plans to bomb other countries, whose policies we do not like, we will indeed continue to play Satan's role. Our current political conduct is likely to create more enemies rather than friends abroad. This in turn will hamper the primary goal of our mission: to find and disable terrorist networks around the world. For this we need the international community. Unless and until America returns to the ideals our country was founded upon and heeds the wisdom of Washington's Farewell Address, where he counseled us to avoid foreign entanglements, we are likely to glory in momentary ephemeral successes but lose our integrity. The leaders of our society seem to have struck a Faustian bargain: material well-being for the loss of our soul. The rest of the world is supposed to do so likewise. That some members of Islamic countries will not merely passively accept this idea but rebel was to be expected. What would be most helpful now is, instead of widening the war, to reflect on our ultimate aim of bringing peace to this world even if we thereby have to give up some pet notions that military might, and/or money is the answer to all problems.

We have been blessed with a wonderful country let us, therefore, not destroy it by continuing in an adversarial spirit at home as well as abroad. Let us cherish our diversity by learning about and from each other. Instead of adversarial conduct let there be cooperation even if we disagree at times on philosophical or religious abstractions. If we were to move forward on this basis we would have far fewer enemies and a great many more friends.



The article as it appears above was written about a week prior to President Bush's State of the Union speech on January 29. It contained an enumeration of American values all of us can heartily agree with, including the goal "to seek a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror." On the other hand I felt quite concerned about the methods - seemingly mainly military - through which this goal is to be reached. The President also stated that this war will occupy at least the next three years of his presidency and may extend beyond it. This will involve considerable expenditures for external as well as homeland defense. He believes that we can keep at the same time the economy growing and the budget deficit under control. The last president who had tried the guns and butter approach was Lyndon Johnson and he failed on both counts. There seems little reason to believe that Mr. Bush will do better but time will tell.

Earlier in this update I failed to mention another hallmark of Satan namely pride. Our government seems determined to believe that only its ways are the correct ones regardless of the viewpoints of other nations. In the State of the Union address we received a "pep talk" the consequences of which, once the fine print is revealed, may not be to the liking of the average citizen whose life is going to become increasingly less free on account of "security" regulations which will increase geometrically. What is happening currently here in Salt Lake City on account of the Olympics, which are upon us, could well be a harbinger of what the future may be like.





March 1, 2002

THE MORMON OLYMPICS



All of Utah and especially the East as well as West side of the Wasatch front is breathing a collective sigh of relief. Thank God it's over and nothing seriously untoward has happened. When Salt Lake City was originally awarded the Games there was jubilation which turned into dismay and distress when a letter was leaked which showed that the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) had greased the palms of International Olympic Committee (IOC) members. We had not won the nomination on merit alone, although we had surely been better qualified than Nagano to which we had lost out. Rumor had it that IOC members had been slipped notes by abortion activists prior to the final vote not to award the games to Utah on account of its anti-abortion stance. Our "bribery scandal" made headlines all over the world as if this sort of behavior had not been routine in the recent past. Apparently one should do these things but not talk about them. What made the matter worse was that, in the land of the Saints of all places, not only scholarships were given to some children of African dignitaries but "escort services" were provided for some of the delegates, who fancied that sort of thing. Inquiries were held, and the mayor as well as the governor strongly denied any knowledge of malfeasance, although this is somewhat difficult to believe since especially the mayor had been heavily involved in the bid process. The two individuals who had done most of the work for getting the bid were not only sacked and disgraced but also criminally prosecuted, although there was never any evidence presented that they had personally enriched themselves. Nevertheless the case is still in court. To top it off we found out that the whole affair was massively under funded and SLOC was deeply in the red a year and a half before the Games were to take place. We, as good citizens of Utah, had happily paid for the extravaganza with an increase in sales taxes, but apparently that was far from enough to cover costs.

To the rescue came Mitt Romney, son of the former governor of Michigan George Romney, a good Mormon, or more correctly, Latter Day Saint. The official designation of the Church (in Utah when one says Church everybody knows what one is talking about) is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" and this name should also clarify the question whether or not Mormons are Christians. Since they are firm believers in Jesus Christ as our Savior they obviously qualify, in spite of some notions which might strike outsiders as quaint. The Church obviously couldn't tolerate this disgrace of its home state and drafted Mr. Romney who lived in Massachusetts. When God calls there are no choices. He came to town, worked like a beaver and drummed up the necessary funds from sponsors. The fact that he is not only articulate but also immensely telegenic was an additional plus. Our two senators and the congressmen also did a yeoman's job in Washington to obtain funding for the necessary infrastructures including highway improvements and the construction of a light rail system to deal with the anticipated traffic congestions.

By September 10 of last year we were well on our way to stage a happy and successful event. The morning of the next day changed the equation. The country was attacked, counter strikes were deliberated, eventually a war against the Taliban was decreed and since this was not enough we also had to declare War on Terrorism per se so that we could at least bomb any country in the world which might harbor terrorists. In as much as one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter the field is now wide open to do away with anybody we don't like. Anthrax spores were sent through the mail to senators, and the media were acting as if the end of the world were at hand. America as we know it had ceased to exist and from now on we were to be in a perpetual state of war. A director of homeland security was appointed, although it is far from clear what powers were delegated to him, and the panic that gripped the media could be likened to ancient Rome when Hannibal was ante portas or, more recently as if we were in London of 1940 when the Blitz started. This was the climate in the waning months of last year and there were serious discussions whether or not it was appropriate to hold the Olympics under these circumstances.

But we live in the land of the Saints where the firm belief is held that the Lord will never forsake His own, so there was never a question of quitting. SLOC under Mitt's guidance ignored the media tumult and quietly continued with its work. But there was also the additional problem of how to secure the various venues. Osama's boys would surely be tempted to wreak vengeance for having been thrown out of Afghanistan. They would poison the water, blow up the Toelle army depot, which is only about 30 miles southwest from us and contains more toxins than Saddam could ever dream of, disable the electricity grid (which would actually be quite simple), and bring suitcases full of nuclear devices in order to kill as many people as possible. Therefore a massive, elaborate, and unprecedented security system was put in place. We were visited by Mr. Rich, the homeland security chief, Mr. Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, and numerous other dignitaries who dished out over $200 million for security measures. Special attention was, of course, placed on airport safety. New baggage inspection devices had to be installed and Salt Lake was to become the prototype for airport security around the country. Since the rest of the country and especially the world at large do not boast anywhere near the safety we now possess, we have the paradoxical situation that theoretically anybody could bring in his lethal goodies but he couldn't take them out. But this is, of course, irrelevant. Eventually Timbuktu airport will also meet our standards. The consequences of this policy became apparent on Monday after the games were over; but let me not jump the gun. Saddam can now be happy that Salt Lake had also become a no-fly zone during the Games. Unauthorized private jets with visiting diplomats, or officials, were to be met by a pair of F16's who would politely escort them out of the area. During opening and closing ceremonies the airport was to be completely shut down for four hours. Even the hot air balloon operators who had hoped to attract some business to properly show off our fabulous vistas had to close shop for the duration of the Games.

Before the media ever arrived here they dubbed the 2002 Games the "Mormon Olympics." Apparently the journalists and TV pundits expected dark suited missionary boys to track them every step of the way, hand them a copy of the Book of Mormon, politely take their cigarettes from their mouths, and if they wanted a drink they would be told that it is not healthy for them. They should have Hawaiian Punch instead and for good measure also a dish of green mint jell-O (a favorite taunt Mormons have to endure) which would keep them in harmony with nature. The supposed inability to get a drink in Utah, and the fear of succumbing to proselytizing were apparently uppermost in the minds of reporters. There seemed to have been also some latent fear by lady journalists to be drafted by a roaming army of polygamists, while their male companions might actually have relished the thought of joining that "peculiar institution" as it was referred to in the 1890's.

I was not privy to the deliberations of the Church as to how to deal with this emergency when the world arrived and when it was confronted by Utahns who are not necessarily intrigued by "cultural diversity," which translates into "anything goes." Ours is a conservative state, where the gospel song of: "Give me that old time religion, It was good for our mothers, It was good for our fathers and It's good enough for me " is not being preached but practiced. President Hinckley, who is also the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of the Church, received a revelation as to how to solve this dilemma. An edict came down to the faithful, who comprise about 80% of the population of the state, that there was to be no proselytizing and the liquor laws would be relaxed for the 17 days in question, so that booze could flow more freely than usual. In addition he probably told them: "don't worry what other people think about you, don't put on any airs of defensiveness, just be your usual friendly, cheerful selves and all will be well. And indeed it was.

When the opening ceremony started in the refurbished Rice-Eccles stadium 25,000 volunteers of all ages were on hand at the various venues to greet and help the visitors. In addition there were thousands of national guardsmen in their camouflage suits around plus other security personnel who remained unobtrusive. The Lord also contributed His share to the success. The high winds and inclement weather we had in the morning cleared up by the afternoon and all the floats, which had been so meticulously prepared, could safely be launched. Had we had one of our usual February storms which can dump about a foot of snow within a few hours, chaos would have erupted. But all went well except for some display of super patriotism, which lingers after September 11, and which some of us felt wasn't quite necessary. The fact that President Bush officially opened the Games not from the podium above the entire crowd but in the midst of the American team was a departure from custom foreigners might have winked at, but when he also altered the official text and said: "On behalf of a proud and determined nation I declare the XIXth Olympic Winter Games opened," some eye brows went up. The host shouldn't brag, was the feeling. When you invite somebody to your house you don't want to start out with showing the guests the pictures of your children and grandchildren. But everybody knows that he is from Texas, where everybody is proud to be a Texan, and that he may yet have to learn the fine art of diplomacy from his father. On the other hand, how would people in the West have reacted if Hitler had opened the Berlin games in 1936 with: On behalf of a National Socialist Germany, risen from the ashes of defeat, I declare etc. It'll be interesting to see what the President of China, whoever he may be at that time, will say in Beijing in 2008. Will he take his cue from George W. and say: On behalf of the mighty and determined People's Republic of China, the most populous nation on earth, I declare....? But Americans are different from other people. Would a Chinese equivalent of figure skater Sharon Cohen call her mother on the cell phone and when she answers say: "Hi mom, here's the President, talk to him!"?

This momentary glitch in protocol, as well as the parading of the tattered flag which was rescued from the World Trade Center rubble, to demonstrate that America can also rise like the Phoenix from catastrophe, was commented upon but no harm was done. The media people were amazed by the friendly smiles of the crowd, the stunning backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains and they even got their drinks. About seventy thousand people congregated every night downtown for concerts and medal distributions. Office hours for the average "working stiff' who still had to be on his/her usual job in the downtown area were shortened so that the employees could leave in the early afternoon in order to ease the anticipated evening traffic congestion.

There were, of course, complaints which included even the Great Salt Lake. "It stinks!" Of course it does on the shore. Decaying brine just doesn't smell good but the nose is a marvelous organ and the sense of smell adapts much faster than all the others. Within a few minutes you don't smell it any more, even on shore. Once you are just a tad away from shore and the wind blows, as usual, from the north you don't smell anything at all. But I think the biggest surprise and media hit was Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Church. This 91 year old spry, upright, grand fatherly truly gentle-man impressed everybody with his natural grace and sincerity. When a visiting journalist was amazed at how mentally sharp he was at his advanced age, a bystander told him: "You should have seen him when he was eighty!" That's what clean living and having family values, rather than just talking about them, does.

As an aside I might mention that a few days before the Games, on Valentine's Day, I gave "my Bonnie" a treat and took her to the Home Buffet. It isn't that I was stingy but she likes the salad bar there, the food is good and inexpensive, so that's where she prefers to go and after fifty years I don't argue any more. We went there early to avoid crowds but were surprised that there was already a fairly long line. The reason soon became obvious. When we came to the counter the cashier girl asked us how long we were married. When we declared fifty years she smiled, congratulated us and we were told that dinner was on the house. They also took our photograph. Subsequently we found out that this is a custom on Valentine's Day for this nation-wide chain. But I bet that the corporate planners in New York or wherever hadn't figured on the cash loss of Utah. Here fifty years of marriage is nothing to be marveled at, it's the rule unless one or both die first. When somebody asks me how many grandchildren I have (nobody asks do you have grandchildren?, that's a given) I answer somewhat embarrassed: "I can't compete, only six." With a minimum of six or eight children, thirty five and more grandchildren tends to be the rule. We were told that we could pick up our photos the next day and when we came again a few days later for dinner a whole wall was plastered with couples who had stuck it out for fifty years or more with each other. That's Utah!

The athletic events proceeded smoothly until the pairs figure skating. We watched it at home on TV and felt that the Canadians had skated flawlessly and deserved the gold medal. The Russians had made a minute misstep but they got the gold and the Canadians the silver. This injustice enraged the crowd and when it was rumored that the French judge had made a deal with the Russian judge as a quid pro quo for the next competition a few days later the outrage was palpable. For the rest of the week all the other competitions were overshadowed by the scandal, over which the media literally drooled. The Canadian Figure Skating Association protested and Olympic President Dr. Jacques Rogge was put under intense pressure to nullify the judgment. There was talk of exchanging the medals where the Russians would give the Canadians their golden one and the Canadians would reciprocate with the silver but even Putin would have objected to that, so a Solomonic decision was taken. The baby was not cut in half but there were two golden babies. In addition the French judge was removed from the panel. The outrage subsided but the Russian Federation was unhappy, although the four athletes themselves behaved marvelously and, at least on the surface, there were no hard feelings.

When I viewed the brewing scandal I was immediately reminded that there is truly nothing new under the sun. Several decades earlier I had read a story in Herodotus which is highly á propos. The Greeks, during the fifth century B.C. were upstarts and the ancient civilization of Egypt was regarded as the repository of wisdom. You may be surprised that even Moses cribbed from the Egyptians, not only in regard to the essence of the Ten Commandments but also with other wisdom literature which is attributed to him. At any rate, Herodotus tells us that a deputation of proud Greeks from the state of Elis went to Egypt and boasted that their Olympic games were the best and fairest of all. They thought that even the Egyptians would have to admit to that. But the king of Egypt called his council of wise men together and when the Greeks had presented their case they asked the Elians if their citizens were permitted to enter the competitions. The Greeks replied: Of course, the games are open to all Greek citizens, whatever state they belonged to. Whereupon the Egyptians declared: "If this were so they departed from justice very widely, since it was impossible but that they would favor their own countrymen and deal unfairly by foreigners." If they wanted to have true justice the Elians must not be allowed to compete when the games are held in their country. It's obvious that the human race has not changed in twenty five hundred years and is not likely to do so, barring some genetic engineering, in the foreseeable future. Judging of competitions is inherently subjective and thereby potentially unfair. Another precedent has been set here in Salt Lake and protests may become run of the mill. We may also have opened the door for the legal profession to ply its trade on behalf of disadvantaged individual athletes or their national federations. Will the judges now have to buy malpractice insurance in case they might get sued for their personal worth? In our day and age where money rules, nothing is too outlandish to contemplate.

Other incidents of suspected doping caused further unhappiness on part of the Russians who at one point even threatened to leave the Games. But President Putin put his foot down and told them to forget it. As our son Peter declared: "Putin wants to watch the hockey game too." Unfortunately for him his Russians lost but he could take solace in the fact the American winning team had three Russians on their roster. Peter who still lives in the Detroit area, home of the fabled Red Wings hockey team, told us that they had given their players a three week vacation from the ongoing season so that they could compete within their own respective national teams in Salt Lake. Thus it was in part Red Wings against Red Wings. To be precise: of the eleven Red Wing players who participated in the Games three played for Russia, two for the U.S.A., one for the Czech Republic, two for Sweden and two for Canada. Now that's the true Olympic spirit! The numbers come from the official website of the team www.detroitredwings.com. The South Koreans were also unhappy about what they judged as bad manners by Apolo Anton Ohno who had snatched the gold medal from their speed skater. Feelings ran so high that he got hundreds of life threatening letters. These were turned over to the FBI; Ohno had to move out of the Olympic village to undisclosed hotels and was given a special state trooper to accompany him at all times.

While Park City and Deer Valley teemed with crowds of visitors, our two boys who had come with their families for this once in a lifetime event found perfect ski conditions in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon. Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird and Alta were practically deserted. No lift lines, beautiful sunshine and occasionally even a foot of powder provided a perfect vacation. Since even the youngest of our grandchildren is already an accomplished skier, at the tender age of five years, I feel that bringing my skis with me from Austria in 1950 was one of the best ideas of my life.

As far as NBC's TV coverage is concerned I had mixed feelings. They obviously concentrated mostly on the American athletes but I would liked to have seen, instead of some of the fireside chats by the commentators, other events where Americans were not so prominently represented. It was the world after all we wanted to see perform. In addition, some of the commercials were obnoxious. Every company from Chevrolet through Coca Cola was a "proud" sponsor of its ads. Pride is currently a greatly overworked word in this country. Everybody must feel proud! That pride comes before the fall hasn't sunk in yet. At the end of the closing ceremony the entire foothills of the Wasatch front exploded in a brilliant display of fireworks. Instead of waiting for its beginning the station had to cut back to "proud advertisers" but thankfully we could see part of it on the evening news. Since some of the grenades were launched from right in front of the Hogle Zoo there was concern that the animals might not take kindly to all that noise and stampede. But the Zebras, Polar bears, elephants and the other members of the animal kingdom who live there merely got a little nervous, took it in their stride and calmed down when it was all over.

All's well that ends well, as the saying goes. Our kids left on Saturday and that was smart. The people who departed on Monday were in for a huge disappointment. They were told to come to the airport four hours before flight time - security and baggage check in - but even so some missed their flights and they had to stand in line for up to six hours. The volunteers were on hand again distributing hot chocolate, bottled water, gold wrapped chocolates and tried to entertain the waiting crowd with song and dance but this could do little to assuage some angry feelings. There was nothing SLOC or the city could have done about it because the airlines are a law unto themselves. But all in all the games were a success and Utahns are so happy that they want the world to come back again some time in the future. We ended up in the black and were even promised that we will get some of our tax money back. But I won't hold my breath for that to happen. Credit for the success must go, apart from the athletes, to Mitt Romney and SLOC who have done a terrific job, to Olympic President Dr. Rogge for defusing a potentially problematic situation, to the Church who by staying in the background immeasurably improved its image and that of the state, but most of all to the 25,000 volunteers. These people were on their assignments for up to ten or twelve hours a day, regardless of weather, for the entire period. They received no pay, meager food but were simply happy and grateful that they were allowed to show the world in what kind of place we really live and what kind of people Utahns really are.

Congratulations and Thank You volunteers, you deserve all the praise you can get! You made it the Mormon Olympics in the best sense of the word.





April 1, 2002

PALESTINIAN STATE OR ISRAELI PROTECTORATE?



This installment was prepared prior to the suicide bombing in Netanya, the subsequent Israeli destruction of Arafat's headquarters, and his virtual imprisonment in his office building. Nevertheless, I am leaving the original text unimpaired because it does not conflict with the unfolding events and I shall merely add two paragraphs at the end.

The past month was an anniversary of sorts and unfortunately a sad one. Hope springs eternal and this why I had Whither Zionism? published last March and why I sent it to all the members of the Bush administration as well as to the Chairmen and members of all the relevant committees in the House and Senate. As documented previously in these pages this was, of course, a forlorn hope and the book was ignored. A few days ago I received a phone call early in the morning (we are two hours behind Washington time) from an aide to one of the senators who thanked me for the "gift" and asked me what the senator was supposed to do with it? At first, benumbed by sleep, I wasn't sure what he was talking about but then he told me that they have "just received the book" and blamed the anthrax scare for the delay. Unless it went via the North Pole and Antarctica it should certainly have arrived prior to September 11. His question also puzzled me. What is one supposed to do with a book, especially when there was an explanatory letter included, but to read and act on it?

I am not sufficiently conceited to imagine that had the suggestions contained in Whither Zionism? been taken up, and had the U.S. placed the Arab-Israeli conflict before the Security Council in the spring of last year, the tragedies of September 11 and their aftermath would have been avoided. I do believe, however, that the ever increasing spiral of violence in the Mideast could have been reduced. Still permeated by the hope that if the American people were to be told the truth about the reasons why Arafat had rejected the Camp David II plan with its "unprecedented" offer to return about 96 per cent of the West Bank to the Palestinians, I wrote in January of this year an article for the Salt Lake Tribune, in which I outlined the reasons for the rejection and a plan that could bring some semblance of sanity to the area. It took several communications with the Editor of the paper until the article was published in full (!) and unedited (!), except for a change in the headline, by the Tribune. Obviously the Tribune is neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post but the individual citizen and taxpayer have no other recourse except at the "grass roots" level. Once it was published I faxed it to our President, Secretary of State Powell, and Condoleeza Rice. It probably ended up in the proverbial circular file.

In essence the article gave the reasons why the Palestinians had to reject the Israeli-American proposal for the Final Settlement. They were abstracted from the documents section of www.mideastweb.org and the updated edition of The Israel-Arab Reader by Laqueur and Rubin. The most important features for rejection were:

1) Israeli settlements would remain in the proposed Palestinian state, albeit concentrated in three blocks; but access roads would be under Israeli control.

2) Israel would continue to control the water resources of the Jordan River and an Israeli security zone would exist along its west bank. Israel could deploy its troops in the Jordan valley at any time if it felt itself threatened from the East.

3) The proposed state would not have had contiguous borders but would have consisted essentially of a series of unconnected municipalities.

4) The Palestinian areas of Jerusalem which Israel was willing to cede would likewise not have had contiguous borders but would have remained islands within the Jewish city.

5) Border crossings with Jordan and Egypt would be under Palestinian control but under Israeli supervision.

6) The Palestinian state would be demilitarized and alliances with other countries would be subject to Israeli approval.

7) Israel would accept some refugees from previous wars but the rest would have to be absorbed elsewhere.

In sum and substance Arafat would have become the mayor of several unconnected municipalities within an Israeli protectorate. Since this plan falls far short from the creation of a viable independent state the Palestinians rejected it. If these conditions had been presented by the U.N. in 1947 to the Jews in Palestine, for their state, they would also have rejected it.

Prime Minister Sharon, with a flair for the dramatic, has recently evoked the analogy of Israel being placed into the position of Czechoslovakia because the Munich agreement which led to the dismemberment and subsequent disappearance of the state was reached over the heads of the Czech government. This is the fate, Mr. Sharon announced, which would befall Israel if it were to accede to a truly autonomous and viable Palestinian state. The irony of this statement seems to have eluded him. It is not the Palestinians who are armed to the teeth with the most modern weapons, but it is the Likud government and its sympathizers who want a "Protectorate of Judea and Samaria." It would have essentially the same rights and privileges Hitler had arrogated to himself over "rump Czechoslovakia" which became the "Reichs-protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia." Hitler's ostensible reasons were security because he didn't want Soviet planes using Czech airfields. For the Israeli government security is also the reason put forth for its demands although there is no army in the area which can succeed against Israeli conventional and nuclear might.

These are no secrets but the Israeli and especially the American public have to be told that Israel is in mortal danger of being wiped off the map, by the combined Arab forces if it were to make any concessions which would be interpreted as weakness. Let's face it this is propaganda because the Arabs simply don't have the wherewithal and if they tried they would be annihilated by America. What is behind this scare-mongering? The status quo has to be retained and somehow or another the Palestinians should just disappear, or at least give up their suicidal behavior.

Even one of our currently most esteemed Newscasters endorses this principle. Bill O'Reilly repeatedly states on his "No Spin Factor" that he is "not interested in causes" he simply wants Palestinians to stop killing Israelis during suicide missions. As a physician this stance strikes me as strange. If Mr. O'Reilly, and those who think like him, were to suffer from a chronic cough and the physician would say "I don't care why you cough, just stop it because you're spreading germs," the answer would be a malpractice suit! This also reminded me of my psychiatric training at the Mayo Clinic where I was taught the principles of psychoanalytic thought. Among these was the admonition that "everything is always the opposite from what it appears to be." For instance a good natured jolly, obese person is really consumed by deep hatred and depression. In addition we were told that a patient with some type of undesirable behavior, be it alcoholism, a sexual obsession, or whatnot, would first have to give up his compulsion and then could be taken into treatment. In my naiveté I thought to myself that if the patient can do it voluntarily why does he need years of psychoanalysis?

Little did I know, in the early nineteen fifties, that psychoanalytic thought would enter world politics. Suicide bombings must stop before treatment of the reasons for these disasters can begin, is not only Israel's but America's stance! Like everybody else I don't condone suicide bombings but when young women join their ranks one really should look at the depth of despair which drives these people. What they need is not the stern words of "stop it" by our President but the ingredient without which people cannot live and that is genuine hope for a better future in freedom and dignity.

Unfortunately this may not be in the cards as the Beirut meeting has shown where they were put on the table for everybody to read. Sharon threatened Arafat with not letting him return if he said one word Israelis could disapprove of. This killed the Saudi "vision" as far as Israel was concerned. But the Arabs also tipped their hand. They did not allow Arafat to address the meeting live through remote TV hookup but only via a taped recording. Thus the Arabs showed themselves far from united in giving aid to the Palestinian cause. Finally it became clear that President Bush was not seriously interested either in a genuine attempt to resolve the conflict. He could have authorized General Zinni to put Arafat in a U.S. helicopter, take him to Beirut, and then bring him back again to Ramallah. This would have been statesmanship. But this course, which would have shown the world that America means business and is indeed an "honest broker," would have annoyed Sharon and since he is "our friend" we must not do so.

Thus the Saudi plan, is probably doomed and so is my own suggestion contained in the Tribune article. Sharon will take the Arab disarray and the tacit approval of his policies by the U.S. as a green light to go ahead with re-occupation of major portions of the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians will have to live under military law and those who don't like it will be shot. The Arabs are not likely to answer militarily, because they can't win, but they will use the only weapon they have - their oil. A boycott of exports to America would have serious repercussions on our economy, which still reels from the aftershocks of September 11 in form of increased defense spending both at home and abroad.

But even if the Israelis were to annex Judea and Samaria, as some like to call it, as well as the Gaza strip, what is to be done with the people? Contrary to Golda Meyer's opinion of "there are no Palestinians," they do exist and will continue to blow themselves up while taking as many Israelis as humanly possible with them. For "security" the Israelis will give up all hope for peace and will end up even more beleaguered than they are now. Even if they were able to expel the Palestinians from the occupied territories, which is not likely to be condoned by the rest of the world, they would have their own Arab citizens within Israel to deal with who may create even worse havoc in the state.

My own suggestion as to how to prevent the disasters, we seem to be inexorably sliding into, was quite simple. Only a complete separation of Jews from Arabs in separate states with internationally guaranteed borders has any chance of preventing future catastrophes. There are about five million Jews in Israel at this time and about 15 million in the world. Even if one were to assume a phenomenal birth and immigration rate, which is not likely, and the country's population were to swell to about ten million in the next decades this would still amount only to the population of Rio de Janeiro. Furthermore, how much land do ten million people who are predominantly urban in character really need? Theoretically it would be entirely feasible to create a purely Jewish state as a garden megalopolis which extends along the Mediterranean shore from Nahariya in the North to the Gaza strip in the South. The eastern border could be fixed along the hill country. This would still give the Jewish state the high ground for defensive positions and the state would receive international guarantees for its existence. The settlements would have to be disbanded because they will always be a point of friction. The Dimona nuclear plant could be reconfigured to peaceful atomic energy production which would make Israel largely independent of Arab oil and desalination plants on the Mediterranean could provide the needed water resources. For Jerusalem the initial U.N. idea of a corpus separatum could be enacted. The rest of the current state of Israel could become the Palestinian state which could under those circumstances absorb the refugees from the previous wars. A connection between the Gaza strip and the rest of the Palestinian state could be established by the creation of a tunnel from the south end of the West bank to the north end of the Gaza strip. A tunnel is preferable to a road which would have to traverse Israeli land and could be disrupted at any time. With a tunnel entry as well as exit would be under Palestinian control and contiguity of territory would be preserved. Although a tunnel would present an engineering challenge a precedent exists in form of the "chunnel" which connects Calais with Dover. The Golan Heights would return to Syria and the remaining enclaves of Lebanese territory which are still held by Israel would go back to Lebanon. This would immediately produce peace treaties with Syria as well as Lebanon and the major friction points, which threaten to ignite the Mideast would disappear. There is little doubt that all the Arab states as well as the Palestinians would accept a solution of this type. Israel will oppose it because it involves significant concessions. Neither Israel nor the Arabs can be expected to come to a meaningful lasting agreement. The car is stuck in the mud of mutual hatred and it needs AAA to pull it out. Only the United States can do so. If the Bush administration were to bring a plan of this type, with appropriate input from experts for details, to the Security Council it would in all probability be adopted because the rest of the world wants an end to this conflict, which threatens the welfare of all of us.

Could America bring about a genuine peace solution as suggested above? Yes, if the will were there. But the will is obviously lacking!

As mentioned in the beginning, the situation in the West Bank is currently in flux. Nevertheless a picture begins to emerge. Arafat may not survive very long and we may never hear the truth as to how he died. The Palestinians will probably say that he was murdered by the Israelis, while the Israelis may announce that he has committed suicide. But that does not matter. With his death Sharon will have achieved his goal of plunging the Palestinian Authority into chaos, which will foreclose any peace negotiations. He does not want a Palestinian state, and neither does his likely successor Netanyahu. By creating chaos in the occupied territories the Israeli government can then appoint "Quisling" type mayors of the various municipalities in the West Bank and Gaza who will cooperate with the occupation. This, of course, will not stop fanatic young Palestinians of either sex to continue with guerilla warfare against the "Quislings" as well as the Israelis. Terrorism will abound and since America not only has done nothing to prevent this situation, but obviously supports Sharon, we will be targets also. This much seems reasonably predictable.

In the United States there is currently only hand wringing by the media with "but what can we do?" The signals Secretary Powell and President Bush are sending are inane. To tell Sharon that his actions are correct and Arafat, who is virtually imprisoned, must call off suicide attacks is not a serious policy. These statements are designed to placate the media and the American public, but are otherwise useless. The U.N. Resolution which calls on Israel to withdraw its forces has no teeth and can be complied with, on a token basis, by Sharon. The United States need to introduce a Resolution which in principle conforms to the Saudi plan, or to that of the mentioned Tribune article, and subsequently tell the Israeli government that if they do not accept it, there will be no further aid from the United States or NATO countries. An action of this type seems to be the only way to prevent further disasters and is in the long run the best chance for Israelis to live in peace with their neighbors. The reason why America is not taking constructive action will be discussed in the next installment.





May 1, 2002

THE UNHOLY ALLIANCE



In the April installment I mentioned that it was up to America to enforce a just settlement of the Mideast conflict. We boast that we are the only remaining super-power which projects its influence throughout the world, yet we allow a small country with a population of less than six million people to determine our foreign policy. Surely this should give rise to thought.

Ostensibly the fight between Israelis and Palestinians is over land which both sides regard as their own but behind it is the Bible. The conflict is at its root religious on the Jewish, Christian and to some extent the Muslim side. I am qualifying the Muslim contribution because in Palestine the struggle is for national liberation and as such still secular in its origin. Nevertheless the "martyrs" believe they will enter paradise which adds religious fervor. Even at the beginning of Zionism in the 19th century there was an alliance between secular Jewish intellectuals and Christian Protestants in German and British high society. This enabled Herzl to gain support for his dream of establishing a "Jewish homeland." The rationale for Protestant politicians to pursue a policy which more sober-minded people knew would lead to permanent bloodshed in the Mideast, was a misinterpretation of biblical prophecies, especially the one in the Book of Revelation, more commonly known as the Apocalypse.

This nightmare vision of an unknown Christian-Jewish author of the late first century is now driving decisions two thousand years later in America. If this does not stagger the minds of rational people I don't know what will. St. John the Divine, as the author of that unfortunate book is called, wrote for the people of his own time who were persecuted by a number of Roman emperors. The disasters he "foresaw" had been stock in trade for hundreds of years in Jewish apocalyptic literature. They had gained increased importance during Jesus' time because the Jews who lived under Roman occupation believed that the end-times were near. A Jewish Messiah from the seed of King David would appear, he would rout the "idolaters," the unjust world order would collapse, and the kingdom of God, with its capital at Jerusalem, would be established under Jewish rule forever and ever more here on earth.

But then came Jesus. In accord with the emotional climate of the time he was also imbued with millennial expectations and taught that the Kingdom of God was imminent. Furthermore he believed, like everyone else, that biblical prophecies were indeed forecasts of the future. He did not know, and could not have known, what Bible scholars have demonstrated during the past two centuries that these "prophecies" were not predictions of the future but the work of theologians in order to justify the past. The Bible, as we know it, was not written in the dim past but came into being some time after the Jews were allowed to return from the Babylonian exile. The earliest complete text was written in Greek, albeit based on earlier Hebrew texts, at some time around 250 B.C. in Alexandria. What has never been properly appreciated is that the biblical authors and editors had not intended primarily to write a history of their nation, although they followed the example of Homer, Herodotus and Thucydides, but to reveal God's plan for "His Chosen People." To do so the past disasters, which the Jewish people had been subjected to, had to be explained and some facts from the past were projected into the future as if the prophets had actually predicted them. In this way credibility was achieved. Thus the Bible is not only a religious, but also a political document.

Jesus had no way of knowing this. He took the prophecies at face value and so did his disciples. By applying the verses of the "Suffering Servant" from, what is nowadays called, Deutero Isaiah he believed that by his death he would usher in the kingdom of God. With other words because biblical prophecy existed it needed people to make past predictions come true This is how the Word became Flesh, to use the terminology of the fourth gospel. Jesus' little band of followers kept believing that the second coming was just around the corner and only as the decades went by without change did they feel the need to put his words on paper which became the gospels. Since the majority, if not all of them, were written after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. the words which have been put in Jesus' mouth in this respect are not necessarily historical either.

This brings us back to our own time and the imminent arrival of the apocalypse which some Christian as well as Jewish circles so ardently want to bring about. Jesus had based his prediction of the events surrounding the end-times, and the arrival of the Son of Man in glory, largely on the book of Daniel. What was not known then, and is not openly admitted to now by Evangelicals, is that this book had nothing to do with the era of Persian rule, but was written in the second century B.C. by an unknown adherent to apocalyptic thought. The events which were projected into the future reflect those which had happened previously during the reign of Antiochus IV and the Maccabean revolt. The "abomination of desolation" was the statue of that Greek ruler which had been placed in 167 B.C. on the altar of the temple. The duration of persecutions also fits precisely the actual time during which the Jewish religion had been forbidden.

The purpose of the book of Daniel had been to bring hope to the Jews of Greco-Roman times and the same applies to the Apocalypse of St. John the Divine The churches in Asia Minor had been persecuted under Domitian and needed to be strengthened. Babylon the "mother of harlots . . . drunken with the blood of Saints" equaled Rome and the beast whose number was 666, or in some early manuscripts 616, was Nero, depending upon how the name and his title were spelled when Hebrew letters were used as numbers. The author's vision was couched in classical Jewish apocalyptic language so that any interpretation of other details is limited only by the fantasy of the reader.

How did these ancient "prophecies" become popular in our age? In 1998, the fiftieth anniversary of modern Israel's birth, Timothy Weber explained the situation in an article for Christianity Today "How Evangelicals Became Israel's Best Friend." It is available on www.christianitytoday.org. The article is quite long but deserves to be printed and read carefully. The intervening years, and especially the current situation, have only strengthened Weber's analysis. He pointed out that not only do evangelical Christians love the land of Israel because this is where Jesus lived and died, but also because of the anticipated end-game in which Israel plays a pivotal role. In order to reconcile the conflicting ideas of who was going to rule the post-apocalypse world: Jesus or an as yet unnamed Jewish terrestrial king, an Englishman, John Nelson Darby, came up in the mid 1800's with the ingenious idea that the Lord had two distinct plans. One for the "earthly people" (Israel) and another for the "heavenly people" (the church). This idea which has been called dispensationalism means that some prophecies apply to one and some to the other group. For both groups the return of the Jewish exiles from the Diaspora is essential. For this reason Protestant Christians were initially far more eager to embrace the Zionist idea, than even Jews themselves because the ingathering of the dispersed was the fundamental sine qua non to fulfill God's plan. Dispensationalism began to be popular in the U.S. during the 1870's but the real success had to wait until the 1920's and especially until after 1948 and the 1967 Six-Day war.

The dispensationist belief system includes:

1) After the "times of the Gentiles" are finished and the Jews have returned to the Holy Land civilization as we know it will unravel. Moral standards, including those of the clergy will suffer irreversible setbacks. Wars, political and economic unrest, natural disasters including catastrophic weather changes will abound and whatever is done to reverse the situation is doomed to failure.

2.) Since God had decided to work with only one of the two mentioned groups at a time there will then occur during these times of trial what has been called the "Rapture." Jesus will physically remove his faithful from earth to heaven so that God can then concentrate on the Jews.

3) After the rapture of the church a charismatic leader - the Antichrist - will appear and head a confederation of ten European states. Israel will join and rebuild the temple.

4) In spite of the Antichrist's inordinate power and the help of a False Prophet other nations will rise up against his coalition and eventually he will be defeated at the battle of Armageddon. During the battle Jesus and his saints will arrive and ensure the final victory. The surviving Jews will accept him as the Messiah and he will then rule from Jerusalem for a thousand years.

I have omitted several details which can be found on the mentioned website but it suffices to show the mind-set of a segment of Christians who devoutly believe these prophecies and who now devote their best energies to make them come true at the soonest possible time. One may argue that evangelical Christians are a minority in the United States, just as the six million Jews, but this would seriously underestimate their superb organization and the resulting political clout. For evangelicals, just as for Jews, the Palestinians stand in the way and have to disappear somehow. A peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is unthinkable because it would run counter to God's plan. There can only be one state of Israel which encompasses all the biblical lands. This has also always been the goal of the Likud party and is why Netanyahu told an audience of predominantly evangelical Christians in April of 1998, "We have no greater friends and allies than the people sitting in this room." This occurred during the Clinton era and President Bush is expected to toe the line also. If he goes against these combined Jewish, neo-conservative and Christian coalition votes he is being told, by his advisors, that he might as well forget about reelection. Members of the House and Senate receive the same message that their chances in the upcoming midterm November elections are quite dim unless they resolutely support the policies of the Jerusalem government.

But this is not all. The American public at large must be indoctrinated that Israel is in mortal danger unless the Palestinians become either adjusted to perpetual Israeli sovereignty or are eliminated in some form or another. This propaganda has been remarkably successful because even pillars of the community such as Jeane Kirkpatrick and William Bennett keep repeating the mantra that Arafat has rejected the most generous peace offer ever, and that Israel must be supported in the battle for its very life. President Bush also seems to have accepted this propaganda ploy. After the visit of Crown Prince Abdullah he announced that America will not allow Israel to be "crushed." But let us look at the facts. How can some desperate suicide bombers "crush" a country which is armed to the teeth with nuclear and conventional weapons? It is the Palestinians who are getting crushed. As of mid-April the death count was 440 Israelis versus 1620 Palestinians and by the end of the month their civilian infrastructure lay in ruins. But this toll of human suffering does not seem to concern our "Christian" evangelicals

This brings me to the problem of terrorism. When an army of a duly constituted state creates havoc upon the civilian population of a conquered territory by imposing unreasonable strictures on everyday life this is acceptable. When some of the oppressed, who have no heavy weapons with which they could resist, resort to suicide attacks on Israeli citizens they are terrorists. It is argued that they attack innocent civilians while soldiers limit themselves to military targets. That this is clearly not the case has been shown recently by the events in Jennin and elsewhere on the West Bank. Why do Palestinians use suicide tactics? I believe that if they had bazookas they would prefer to disable Israeli tanks and other military equipment but that option is not available. Since they cannot get to military installations they go after the civilian population. But let us not forget that WWII forever obliterated the distinction between military and civilian targets. The carpet bombing of entire cities affected the civilian population much more than the war effort. An airman who releases bombs from a height of thousands of feet upon cities is regarded as a hero, even if there are no enemy planes or antiaircraft guns to hinder him. On the other hand desperate, disgusted individuals who try to draw attention to the plight of their people by blowing themselves up in an attempt to take as many as possible of their enemies with them are regarded as murderers. Let me emphasize that I do not condone suicide bombing but I can understand why people resort to it and they should not be forced to persist in this behavior by misguided U.S. policies, which clearly favor Israel.

Let us now look at the result of Sharon's reoccupation of the West Bank. The declared goal was to remove the infrastructure of terrorism. But to produce suicide belts one does not need an infrastructure. They can readily be made in basements or garages. Hamas, Islamic Jihad or the Al Aqsa brigade also won't have to worry any more about recruiting for suicide missions. Enough hatred has been generated to fill their ranks for years to come. Furthermore let's look at the demographics. Of the 6 million people who live within the pre 1967 Israeli borders there are about 5 million Jews and the rest are Arabs. The occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza contain an estimated 3.2 million people and their birthrate exceeds by far that of secular Israelis. But even today the 5 million or so Israeli Jews are confronted with somewhat over 4 million Arabs who are thoroughly exasperated. What Sharon and people who think that a military solution is the only way for Israeli security don't seem to realize is that Israeli Arabs may soon join their Palestinian brothers and sisters, with far better weapons than are now available in the occupied territories. Sharon seems to be impervious to this simple fact and he may well continue to extend his destruction of "terrorist infrastructure" to the Gaza strip at the earliest pretext, thereby creating even more hatred. This is precisely the reason why this strategy must be resisted and Israel must be made to pull back now if she wants to have peace.

We have at present in the U.S.this incredible unholy coalition of secular Jewish Zionists, Jewish religious fanatics and Christian evangelicals. The basis is a promise God was supposed to have made to Abraham in the distant past and biblical prophecies which can be interpreted in any way one wants. Although the evangelicals, in their idealism, envision a different final outcome, Jews whose feet are firmly planted on this earth are happy for their support. Once all the land is theirs they are not going to be unduly worried about Jesus and his heavenly host. I would like to strongly urge our Evangelical Christians to visit www.noahide.com in order to get a better perspective on some orthodox Jewish thoughts.

President Bush is now in the unenviable position that he must choose between a policy which demands equal justice for both sides of the conflict, and the pressures from Jewish as well as Christian groups who tell him that he must stick with Sharon no matter what. This accounts for all the zig-zags of the President's public utterances during the past month which make our foreign policy so totally ununderstandable to the rest of the world.

There is nothing holy about what is going on in the Holy Land right now and all the parties to the conflict Jews, Christians and Muslims are using the Lord's name in vain when they pursue earthly material goals rather than moral improvement. During the election campaign President Bush told us that his "favorite philosopher" was Jesus, but the essence of Jesus' message, which might be summed up in the Golden Rule, seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. American policy should neither be based on biblical prophecies nor on concerns about elections but on a rational approach which benefits all rather than some.





Memorial Day 2002

WE TOO WERE SOLDIERS



The last Monday of May is traditionally dedicated to honor and remember America's soldiers who have been killed in the various wars the country has been engaged in. This is good and proper but we should not only remember those who had given their lives, but also those who had to live on with serious and at times massively debilitating injuries. These soldiers who had laid their lives on the line and had been spared the fatal bullet should also be remembered and equally honored.

But there exists among the living another generation who had faced the fury of war and either succumbed to it or emerged in a severely battered state. Not only is this generation of soldiers not honored but it is regarded as, brutes, murderers, and wanton killers especially of Jews. I am talking, of course, of the German Wehrmacht.

When I read the newspapers it is common to find us, and I mean us because I was one of "them," referred to as Nazi soldiers, and the Wehrmacht as the Nazi army. It is true that we served in the German army, and the country had at that time a national-socialist government but it is not true that we, therefore, agreed with Hitler's policies or automatically hated the enemies of the country. Goebbels did his level best to instill this hatred into us but he failed because soldiers, especially the front line troops, don't hate. They are too busy saving their skin. It's "shoot first before you get shot" and every soldier who has ever been in a war will recognize this as a fact of life.

Let me now go back sixty years. At the end of May 1942 I was still in High School but my brother, who is two years older, was already in the Wehrmacht deep inside the Soviet Union and his outfit was on the way to the Caucasus to get at the badly needed oil wells. His job was not to kill Jews or other undesirables but to change the wide track Russian railroad tracks to the usual European ones, which was back breaking work. He was also a kid, drafted as soon as he got out of high school, and not yet nineteen years old. Fortunately he got a bad case of hepatitis in Maikop, at the edge of the Caucasus, which saved his life. He was transported back home and received a desk job after his recovery. By the time his fiftieth high school reunion rolled around in 1991 there was no reunion because he was the only survivor of his class. The vast majority had been in the Sixth army which was wiped out in Stalingrad, and whoever survived tended to be in bad health which did not allow for longevity.

Now fast forward to Vienna 2002. My brother still lives there and earlier this spring there was an exhibit on the Wehrmacht. It was a replay of another one which had toured Germany and Austria some years before and which had painted the entire German army as a "murder machine." The previous exhibit had aroused a great deal of indignation by ex-soldiers of my generation because faked pictures and documents had been used. In the current one some corrections had taken place to avoid the obvious pictorial distortions but the tenor was the same. The "Nazi" soldiers had been evil and such atrocities which had then been committed by them must never be allowed to come to pass again. My brother went to see the exhibit and saw that hordes of school children had been brought by their teachers to this educational display. When some of the kids saw my brother standing there viewing the pictures they came up to him, because of his obvious age, and asked him what thought of it. He then proceeded to tell them of his personal experiences and that they were being indoctrinated with propaganda which bears little relationship to what had actually happened. He was soon confronted with an irate teacher who obviously knew better, having been born several decades after the war had been over, and who thoroughly believed the current party line. She shooed her flock away from this fuddy-duddy who obviously must have been a Nazi. Thus the new generation is being brainwashed in current political correctness just as our generation had been more than half a century earlier.

But I said "we" in the title because I was also one of these "evil ones;" "one of the Nazi beasts" who wanted to destroy Western civilization. The summer of 1942 was spent working on a farm because youngsters had to do productive work, for the final victory, the Endsieg, which was just around the corner. Your opinions were neither asked for nor valued so the smart thing to do was to keep your mouth shut and do what you were told. My army life started in 1943 and I must admit that I even volunteered. Now this surely must have stamped me, in some eyes, as a devoted follower of the Führer. On the contrary, it was Realpolitik. I knew that I would be drafted as soon as I had graduated, because that was a given, but it was also obvious that I would, in all probability, have been assigned to the infantry. This was a fate I wanted to avoid like the plague. I never enjoyed hiking long distances, and for living in muddy foxholes I had no taste either. First I thought I'd volunteer for the Luftwaffe because I had always wanted to learn to fly. But my grandfather, who had been dead already for more than a decade, stood in the way. He had been born a Jew. That made me a Mischling and as such ineligible for this elite outfit. The fact that Goering's second in command, General Milch, was also a Mischling didn't matter because it was Goering's privilege to choose whomever he wanted for whatever he wanted. Goering had also expropriated the phrase "I determine who is a Jew." It had been coined by the former Mayor of Vienna, Lueger. Before becoming mayor Lueger had reveled in antisemitic slogans and when he was confronted by adversaries that he really shouldn't have Jewish friends he uttered that previously mentioned memorable phrase. Lueger had another one which is highly á propos today and I have quoted it in War&Mayhem. Lueger dropped his antisemitism after his election because that was, after all, also Realpolitik.

Since the Luftwaffe was out I was at odds with what to do with myself. Then fate sent me one of my school friends, during a stroll in the city, who said that he was going to volunteer for the Panzer. Now there was an idea. Everybody was enamored with Rommel’s daring and here was another elite outfit for which I might have been eligible. As must be obvious by now, I have nothing whatsoever against elitism, provided the status is earned. For me it is not a dirty word, as for some whom I have had the opportunity to run into in this country, and who accused me of it. So both of us volunteered and were accepted. In the fall of 1944 I was on the front in Hungary where the Russians had come to meet us, but I was spared the battle for Budapest, for reasons that were related in War&Mayhem. Earlier this year I received as a gift John Lukasz's Confessions of an Original Sinner who experienced it from the other side. But the point to be made is that we did not kill any civilians, Jewish or otherwise, and we behaved like soldiers do in all armies, which included even an occasional looting of a watchmaker's store. Looting was strictly forbidden in the Wehrmacht and when caught one could get court-martialed. This happened in fact to my tank commander but after I had already been ordered out.

Now comes the next irony. Not only was I in the Wehrmacht but even in the SA, which obviously might stamp me now, in some eyes, irrevocably as a Nazi. Well to quote the Gershwin opera: "It ain't necessarily so." After the assassination attempt on Hitler in July of 1944 the army was discredited and had to be Nazified. So my Panzer Grenadier Division was stripped of its number and was called instead the Panzer Grenadier Division Feldherrnhalle. We were also given a brown, relatively narrow, armband which proclaimed SA Feldherrnhalle. This we had to stitch onto the lower end of the left sleeve of our uniform jackets. We were also told that the Russians had a head price on the wearers of this band, just as for the Waffen SS. I suppose this was meant to stiffen our will to fight. I wouldn't have been necessary because we were determined to fight anyway. Our division was completely destroyed during the Budapest siege. There were somewhat over 16.000 men in our division when Budapest was encircled and 291 of them were eventually able to break through and make it back to the German lines. Thus more than 98 per cent were either captured or killed. After the war I met two of my comrades. One had lost a leg; the other had shown an enterprising spirit after his capture and had joined the Red Army on its march to Vienna. If the choice is between Siberia and heading where you want to go anyway, the choice is not all that hard.

This brings me to the oft asked question. "But if you weren't a Nazi, then why did you fight for Hitler?" The answer is simple: we didn't fight for Hitler, or the Nazis, we actually wanted to get rid of them. You may not want to believe this but we were also fighting to save Western civilization. The threat had come from the "Asiatic hordes," "the Soviet beasts," and the "Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy" which had dragged the Western world into the war against its own will. At least that was the party line at the time. We who fought in the East had a clear goal. It was to keep the Soviets at bay long enough so that the Americans and Brits could get to Austria and Germany first before the Russians had a chance to get there. What we wanted to avoid at all costs was to live under Soviet occupation and for this we were willing to give our lives. Just as the Russian soldier did not fight for Stalin or communism, but in defense of Holy Mother Russia, so did we defend the Vaterland and not necessarily its regime. On the Western front the ideological situation was more complex because many Austrians did not want to fight the Western Allies. It was simply the wrong war. For us the enemy was not capitalism but communism. If I had been sent to the Western front in the summer of '44 I would have made every effort to throw my rifle away, sneak to the American lines, put up my hands and say "Hi folks, do you need an interpreter?" But why did Germans and other Austrians fight on the Western front when the war was obviously hopelessly lost?

There were two reasons. One was that the army's oath encompassed not only "to defend the country" but also Hitler in person. In those days an oath, even when extracted under duress, was meaningful and a lame excuse that "it depends on what the meaning of is, is" would have been unthinkable. In addition there were Roosevelt's favorite phrase of "unconditional surrender" and the Morgenthau plan which would have destroyed Germany forever. Neither of these facts emanated from Goebbels' brain but was official policy of the Allies at the time. It was these policies which unnecessarily prolonged the war and cost additional millions of lives. Why did FDR promote them? One reason was that he simply hated Germans and he also wanted desperately to please Uncle Joe who might otherwise have made separate arrangements with Germany. The Soviet Union had to be kept in the war to spare American lives and to get rid of Hitler who was regarded as the main menace. We wanted to get rid of Hitler too and had the Western Allies taken the peace feelers of the anti-Hitler group in Germany seriously numerous lives, including those of Jews, would have been saved.

But the problem was not really Hitler and the Nazis in the minds of Western politicians at the time. The problem was the existence of Germany per se. As Vansittart had put it: "Hitler is the symptom, Germany is the disease," to which FDR and his group readily subscribed. To paraphrase Marcus Cato, Germaniam esse delendam, Germany must be annihilated. The fate that had befallen Carthage two thousand years earlier was now to be meted out to the Germans. Nazi or not didn't make a difference! Even Eisenhower succumbed to this doctrine. When the Wehrmacht surrendered in the millions in the spring of '45 the soldiers were no longer treated as prisoners of war but as "disarmed enemy forces." This DEF, rather than POW, status allowed Eisenhower to circumvent the Geneva Convention and to perpetrate a disaster of massive proportions on the soldiers who had thought that the Americans would treat them in a humane fashion. All of us are more than familiar with the horror pictures from the liberated concentration camps, where prisoners had died like flies from starvation and disease. But as yet I have not seen a single documentary about the conditions German soldiers were exposed to in American and French camps between August 1944 and December of 1945. Being a volunteer by nature I avoided this fate and discharged myself with a friend from the Wehrmacht on May 4. We simply threw our gear away and started walking home. Another friend of mine who had sat for six years next to me in school was not so lucky. He had been taken prisoner by the Americans, was then given to the French for more than two years of slave labor before he was eventually discharged. He had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time and had become a number among millions. I have mentioned earlier that at the time of the fiftieth High School reunion my brother was the only one still living. For us, born two years later, the situation was different. We had lost only somewhat over fifty percent of our class rather than one hundred percent. Accidents of where and when you were born, for which no one can be held responsible, do make a difference.

This chapter of WWII is largely unknown in America and we owe it to James Bacque's Other Losses to have brought this tragedy to light. But since WWII was a war of "good versus evil" his book, which exposes evil on the good side, must not become widely known, let alone serve as a basis for a TV documentary. Myths must not be shattered. The same applies to John Sack's Eye for an Eye which documents the behavior of some former Jewish inmates of concentration camps in Poland, when they had become supervisors and guards of imprisoned Germans. Lest I be misunderstood let me make it quite clear that I do not deny that some members of the Wehrmacht had in fact committed war crimes especially in Russia and the Balkans where they were confronted with a guerilla war which is notoriously brutal. "Reprisals" were the norm then and they still are, but these acts do not justify the slander of millions of ordinary soldiers who had served their country in the Wehrmacht, let alone the rest of the civilian population who had lived under the Hitler regime.

Thus when we celebrate this and other Memorial Days we should also remember all the other victims of wars Americans have fought in regardless of nationality. The real enemy all of us face is hate rather than a given nation or regime. Hate will always surface under different names, be it a Hitler or the currently popular ones: Yassir Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Ladin or any other member of the "axis of evil." What we fail to realize is that hate when met with hate will only generate more hate. While Hitler had to be defeated and Osama, as well as Saddam have to be neutralized, the methods to do so should not exceed the essential minimum to achieve this goal. In our present war on terrorism we are in the process of losing precisely some of those freedoms Americans have fought and died for in the past. For the sake of "security," restrictions are imposed upon our lives which were unimaginable only a few years ago. Surely the goal of all wars past and present should be peace. But if this peace is achieved by hate, and punitive measures, all past and future sacrifices of lives and property will have been in vain. The cycle will merely go on. The names of the adversaries will change but hate, with all its consequences, will persist.





July 1, 2002

MORAL CLARITY



William Bennett, former Secretary of Education in the Reagan administration, Co-Director of Empower America, and author of numerous books, has for quite some time been regarded as the moral conscience of America. He has now published a new book Why We Fight. Moral Clarity And the War On Terrorism, which is the subject of this installment.

Bennett makes the point that the September 11 tragedy brought about a moment of "moral clarity" in America when all people felt a renewed sense of patriotism and justified anger at the outrage which was committed against us. He then warned that this anger must not be allowed to be replaced by questions as to why we fight this war on terrorism America is engaged in. We must persevere until final victory is achieved. Patriotism, which in his view, rules out any questioning how our government conducts its foreign and domestic policy, also precludes questions how we got into the current war in the first place. Well, this is all fine and good because Mr. Bennett is entitled to his opinions like anybody else but he then infuses the anger, which by now has largely dissipated, with a moral purpose. He points out that Jesus was not a pacifist, had no objections to war and that the Catholic Church condones a "just war,"which is what we are waging because we have undoubtedly been attacked.

Let us now take a look at how Mr. Bennett arrived at his opinion. He admits that Jesus said "love your enemies," as well as "all who take the sword will perish by the sword," and that these words "in their unequivocal aversion to the use of force have resonated down the centuries with a clarion purity." Now comes, however, the "but" which Mr. Bennett condemns when used in relation to our current policies."But as so much in the Bible, they are not the only or last words on the matter; they are not even Jesus' own last words on the matter." As examples Bennett cites Jesus praising the Roman centurion "a soldier and a man of violence," who had requested the healing of his servant. Furthermore, that Jesus said he had "not come to bring peace to the earth but a 'sword;'" that "at Gethsemane" he had said "'The one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one'." In addition Peter was rebuked from fighting with the people who had come to arrest Jesus not because Jesus was averse to violence but because the arrest was necessary to fulfill the will of the Father.

This was the best Mr. Bennett could come up with, but the context in which the mentioned words were uttered is all important. As far as the Roman centurion, "a man of violence" in Bennett's words, is concerned the story occurs twice in the New Testament. A short version was provided by Matthew in chapter 8:5-10, and an expanded form by Luke in chapter 7:2-10. In Matthew, Jesus marveled at the faith of the centurion who believed that a single word spoken by Jesus would heal his servant and there is no comment as to what kind of person he might have been. Luke gives us a fuller picture. While in Matthew the centurion had come in person to ask for help, in Luke's version the centurion had asked Jewish elders to intercede with Jesus on behalf of the sick servant. These elders convinced Jesus that the centurion was a worthy man who "loves our people, and it is he who built a synagogue for us [7:5]." Thus Luke makes it clear that it wasn't the centurion's profession which raised Jesus' compassion but that he was a good person.

When Jesus said that he did not bring peace but a "sword" to the world, Bennett admits that it was meant metaphorically. The subsequent statements that families would be torn apart on account of Jesus was simply a recognition of reality and did not require a great deal of foresight. A teaching which breaks with the established order, tells people that they must follow him even to the point of forsaking their families is bound to be disruptive. Some family members converted to the new faith, while others did not with resulting discord. But this has nothing to do with condoning war.

In regard to Luke's passage that the disciples should buy a sword the context is again all important. Contrary to what Bennett wrote, the mentioned words were spoken at the end of the Last Supper after Peter had declared his fidelity. As we are all aware, Jesus had to tell him that before the cock crowed Peter will have denied knowing him three times. Subsequently

He said to them. 'When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?' They said 'No, not a thing.' He said to them, 'But now, the one who has a purse must take it and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you the scripture must be fulfilled in me. 'And he was counted among the lawless,' and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled. They said 'Lord, look, here are two swords.' He replied, 'It is enough.' [Lk. 22:35-38].

This surely puts the situation into a completely different light from what Mr. Bennett wanted us to believe. Jesus' aversion to the use of violence is also attested to by his reaction at the time of the arrest

While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him but Jesus said to him, 'Judas is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?' When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, 'Lord, should we strike with the sword?' Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, 'No more of this!' And he touched his ear and healed him [Lk. 22:47-51].

Thus if one wants to find justification for war other sources than the words and deeds of Jesus need to be used. The same applies to the teachings of Paul which were also used by Bennett to bolster his case. After having mentioned Paul's admonition "'Do not repay evil for evil, but take thought of what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible live peaceably with all. Believers, never avenge yourselves.'" Bennett goes on "'the authority does not bear the sword in vain' but is rather 'the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.'" Thereafter Bennett quotes from "the first letter of Peter, where that disciple reminds his recipients that human institutions are 'sent by [God] to punish those who do wrong and praise those who do right.'"

Now let's look what Paul said in Romans 13 from which the quote has been taken out of context. The first four verses are:

”Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive approval; for it is God's servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer [13:1-4].”

Thus the context is not a justification for war by a ruler but an admonition to individual Christians for proper every day conduct. The same applies to the first letter of Peter. Chapter 2 verses 13-15 are the relevant ones, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme, Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For it is God's will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish." It takes again a wide leap of imagination to get from personal conduct to the right to wage a war by rulers. I have used The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament for the biblical quotes. The reason is explained in my forthcoming book A Jesus for Our Time.

Now let us consider what has become the scriptural excuse, and I use the word advisedly, for the idea of "just war." The concept was first formulated by St. Thomas of Aquinas' in his Summa Theologica. The Summa are an enormous treatise by this eminent thirteenth century theologian and Peter Kreeft's A Summa of the Summa contains over five hundred pages of text. The "just war" concept was, however, not deemed important enough by that author to be included. One is required to look in the total Summa, which take up over eighteen hundred pages to find the three and a half which deal with war. I was aided in this search by Darrell Cole's "Good Wars" in the October 2001 issue of "First Things" who provided the reference. In article 1 of Book II Part II under Question XL Whether it is Always Sinful To Wage War? [Emphasis in the original] St. Thomas wrote :

”We proceed to the first article: It seems that it is always sinful to wage war...

On the contrary, Augustine says in a sermon on the son of the centurion: 'If the Christian Religion forbade war altogether, those who sought salutary advice in the gospel would rather have been counseled to cast aside their arms, and give up soldiering altogether. On the contrary they were told: 'Do violence to no man ... and be content with your pay!' (Luke 3. 14). If he commanded them to be content with their pay, he did not forbid soldiering'.”

St. Thomas had made the servant into a son but that is immaterial. He then listed three conditions which allow "for a war to be just." They are: the authority of a sovereign, rather than of a private individual; a just cause and a right intention by the belligerents. It is not my purpose here to question whether or not these conditions are currently met, but rather to explore the gospel authority on which all the rest hangs. As repeatedly mentioned context is everything and when St Augustine (354-430 A.D.) said "he commanded them" one would immediately assume that the bishop had referred to Jesus. This was not the case. The words came from John the Baptist! After he had called people who came to be baptized "you brood of vipers [Lk. 3:7]," they asked him what they should do to be saved. The full quote of the relevant section is :

”Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him 'Teacher what should we do?' He said to them, 'Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.' Soldiers also asked him. 'And we, what should we do?' He said to them, 'Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages' [Lk. 3:12-14].”

This is all any of the gospels say about the duties of soldiers and there is no evidence that Jesus had ever addressed the issue of war. His kingdom was not of this world and his name is being misused when political issues, apart from paying taxes, are supposedly condoned by him.

As far as righteous anger is concerned, of which Mr. Bennett seems so fond, I would suggest to him the books by Seneca On Anger, which are available in Seneca. Moral and Political Essays by Cooper and Procopé. Seneca, a stoic philosopher, was for several years Nero's tutor and conscience but eventually had to pay with his life for this thankless task. As is apparent from the content of the books Seneca concerned himself mainly with lingering resentment which turns to hate, rather than the sudden surge of anger all of us intermittently experience. This is why his thoughts are so important for today. Seneca wrote:


”Now look at its consequences and the losses which it [anger] occasions. No plague has cost the human race more. You will see slaughter, poisoning, charge and sordid counter-charge in the law-courts, devastation of cities, the ruin of whole nations, persons of princely rank for sale at public auction, buildings set alight and the fire spreading beyond the city walls, huge tracts of territory glowing in flames that the enemy kindled [1:2,1].”

What accounts for it?

”{Anger is 'a burning desire to avenge a wrong' or, according to Posidonius, 'a burning desire to punish him by whom you think yourself to have been unfairly harmed' [1:2,3]. There is no need to chastise in anger if error and crime are to be repressed. Anger is a misdemeanour of the soul and one ought not to correct wrong-doing while doing wrong oneself [1:16,1]. Reason gives time to either side, and then demands a further adjournment to give itself room to tease out the truth: anger is in a hurry. Reason wishes to pass a fair judgment: anger wishes the judgment which it has already passed to seem fair [1:18, 1]”

”If we wish our judgment to be fair in all things, we must start from the conviction that no one of us is faultless For here is where indignation most arises - 'I haven't done anything wrong,' 'I haven't done a thing!' On the contrary you won't admit [emphasis in the original] anything! We grow indignant at any rebuke or punishment, while at that very moment doing the wrong of adding insolence and obstinacy to our misdeeds [2:28, 1].”

How is it, then, that wrongs by enemies provoke us? Because we did not anticipate them, or certainly not on that scale. This is a result of excessive self-love. We consider that we ought not to be harmed, even by enemies. Each of us has within him the mentality of a monarch; he would like carte blanche for himself but not for any opposition. So it is either arrogance or ignorance of the facts that makes us prone to anger [2:31, 3].”

”'But there is pleasure in anger - paying back pain is sweet.' Not in the slightest! The case is not like that of favors, where it is honorable to reward service with service. Not so with wrongs. In the one case, it is shameful to be outdone; in the other to outdo. 'Retribution' - an inhuman word and what is more, accepted as right - is not very different from wrongdoing, except in the order of events. He who pays back pain with pain is doing wrong; it is only that he is more readily excused for it [2:32, 1].”

How about this moral clarity Mr. Bennett? Was this stoic pagan not more of a Christian than those of us who carry Jesus on their lips but ignore or pervert his real message?

But let's face it what is really behind most of the hatred against us? Is it not also in part our unqualified support of the state of Israel regardless of the conduct of its politicians? Even if it were just an excuse by the Arab world for their hatred of American policies (mind you they don't hate us, but merely what is done in our name), should we not remove this excuse from them rather than perpetuate it? Mr. Bennett had this to say about the state of Israel after he had on a previous page placed our "one-sided" support of that country in quotation marks, as if he really thought we were even handed in this matter. In the chapter "The Case of Israel," Bennett wrote :

”I want to put it positively. Our essential human kinship with Israel is something like our kinship with Great Britain, but it is also more particular and less blood-related than that. It is a deep-rooted feeling of linked destinies, a feeling that echoes back to our founding and to the earliest conceptions of the American experiment itself, that new birth of freedom which our fathers identified with the Biblical Israelite's emergence from the darkness of bondage. And I believe it also has to do with an understanding, almost religious in nature, that to our two nations above all others has been entrusted the fate of liberty in the world. That - the survival of liberty - is precisely what our efforts to eradicate terrorism are all about.

 Keeping faith with the people of Israel in their still unfinished confrontation with evil is, to me, a species of keeping faith with ourselves; breaking faith, a species of self-negation. It is exactly that simple, and exactly that difficult, and exactly that consequential.”

These are deeply disturbing passages, from a chapter which is full of them, especially when they come from a person who is widely respected and listened to by our administration. I don't believe that most Americans feel a "kinship" with the state of Israel, they might with the people, but not necessarily the state. Americans may also love the country, for biblical reasons, but this does not imply that they, therefore, have to endorse the policies which are carried out in that country at the present time. To link our "destiny" with the policies of a foreign state strikes me as absurd. The Bible should not be our guide to foreign policy, just as it should be impermissible to use the Koran for that purpose by some Arab fanatics. I also have a feeling that Mr. Bennett, who seems to be so enamored with the ancient Israelites, is unaware that the honor for having carried out the first jihad in recorded history belongs to Moses! Wars have, of course, always been with the human race but the ancients were more honest about them. They fought either to enlarge their lands, take prisoners for labor purposes, and enrich themselves; or in self defense. The introduction of religious war, ostensibly for the sake of religion, was Moses' idea.

In the book of Numbers we can read that there was serious discontent in the Israelite camp about intermarriage and the introduction of the worship of Baal. Moses' authority was challenged by a highly regarded individual, Zimri, who had married a Midianite wife and was loath to divorce her just on Moses' say so. Zimri and his wife Cozbi where then killed by faithful Phinehas who has subsequently become a role-model for religious zeal. Thereafter Moses launched a full scale attack against the Midianites. A fuller version of the dispute between Zimri and Moses can be found in Josephus' The Antiquities of the Jews. It would seem, however, that the punitive expedition had the additional purpose of diverting the people's attention from the internal problems and concentrating it on an external enemy. This is, of course, still common practice today when politicians are in trouble. Although Moses himself had been involved with at least two foreign women, the "Cushite" and Zipporah, this did not matter. Moses was in charge and intended to remain so. One may also wonder whatever happened to father-in-law Jethro - the priest of Midian - who had treated Moses so hospitably, when the latter had been a refugee from Egypt where he was wanted for homicide. This war was not against some foreign enemy whose land one wanted to conquer, but against Moses' in-laws and seems to represent the first purely religious war. It was fought with appropriate fury as Numbers 31: 1-18 testify to. First the Israelites killed every male. The cities were burned and the "spoil," which included women and children, as well as all the property, was brought before Moses. Instead of being pleased he was incensed: "Have ye saved all the women alive?" Those were the ones that brought on the trouble in the first place "now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves." Thus the pattern for religious persecution was established and has been followed ever since. Mohammed used the Arabic word for "holy war," but the practice had been established and endorsed by the Jewish religion more than a millennium earlier.

And how does Prime Minister Sharon see the future of his country? Bob Novak, a conservative commentator, wrote in the National Weekly Edition June 24-30, 2002 of the Washington Times an editorial headlined, "Sharon rivets senators with his take on the Mideast." The Prime Minister "Speaking off the record to mostly uncritical American politicians, the old soldier-statesman was even more blunt. Mr. Sharon pointed to no Israeli-Palestinian deal for at least 10 years and talked of a hundred years struggles with Arabs. Warning of Egyptian and Saudi duplicity, he informed the senators that removal of Saddam Hussein from Iraq would be the best way to deal with the Palestinians." Sharon wants to keep the West bank and Gaza, because they were promised to the Israelites by God, expand the settlements therein and for that purpose hopes to get one million Jewish immigrants from France, Russia and Argentina. This is precisely the scenario I outlined in Whither Zionism? and why I wrote the book in the first place. It is updated in the January and April 2002 installments on this website Whatever Mr. Arafat or any newly elected Palestinian leaders may want or do is irrelevant and to be used only as a smokescreen for perpetuating and expanding Jewish presence on Palestinian soil. Americans are not only to condone this program but finance it as well.

There's moral clarity for you Mr. Bennett! You want us to fight this war on terror until victory is achieved, but you fail to define what this victory consists of. Since the war is also regarded as between "good and evil," there can be no end because evil and good are intermixed in every human being. You have condemned our children and grandchildren to an interminable religious struggle on foreign soil while we are losing our religious freedom here. Grade school children must not be exposed to the word "God" by their teachers, although they can be instructed in the joys of sex! This is the Western civilization we seem to be defending.

From one Catholic to another I would like to ask you Mr. Bennett please reconsider your stance, for the sake of God and our children. Go to the occupied territories, talk with Hanan Ashrawi, read her book This Side of Peace, spend a week with ordinary Palestinians, listen to them, and then write another book in the light of correct information rather than being swayed by religious sentiment and Israeli propaganda. You are a decent, intelligent person and can serve our country better than with the opinions expressed in Why We Fight.





August 1, 2002

GOD UNERWÜNSCHT



After Hitler had annexed my native Austria in 1938 one could see signs at public beaches, resort hotels, restaurants and other assorted places "Juden Unerwünscht," Jews not welcome. It seems that this fate is now to befall God in America. The phrase "one nation under God," in the Pledge of Allegiance, has recently come under attack because the word God when uttered at public functions supposedly violates the Constitution. Yet anybody who has bothered to read the Constitution and more specifically the First Amendment, which is the excuse for banning God from the "Public Square," knows that this a fraudulent claim, regardless how many judges agree with it. Here is the full text of the First Amendment

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Since Congress has not passed a law that forbids: school prayer, singing songs at graduation ceremonies which contain the word God, or any other mention of God at public functions, it is difficult to see why these activities should be "unconstitutional." On the contrary when one forbids the use of the word God one violates the First Amendment by preventing "the free exercise thereof," and "abridging the freedom of speech."

How has this perversion of the intent of the framers of the Constitution come about? It is quite recent and the article by Alan Mittleman From Jewish Street to Public Square (First Things, August-September 2002) is most enlightening. As some Jews became progressively more "secular" and left the confines of Jewish enclaves in the major cities for the suburbs the old traditional bonds were broken. But suburbia brought along other problems. Discrimination in terms of housing, private clubs, admissions to universities existed and had to be confronted. Three organizations were the most active in this respect: the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith.

It is generally agreed that discrimination on basis of sex, color or creed is patently unfair and should not be tolerated in a country which prides itself in its Declaration of Independence "...that all men are created equal..." Had the laudable efforts of the mentioned organizations stopped at the point where equality had been achieved we could all have lived happily for ever after and would indeed have become a model for the rest of the world. But some Jewish intellectuals simply didn't know when to stop. They still carried the long history of persecution in their backpacks when they came from Europe, and wanted to achieve not only equality but "safety." To accomplish this goal there were three possibilities: full assimilation, conversion of the country to Judaism, or the abolition of all religious sentiments from the public sphere. Complete assimilation was not desirable because it would threaten the survival of the ancestral belief and to expect that Judaism would become the majority religion was, of course, unrealistic. Therefore the third option was chosen. In a fully "secularized" country, which is a euphemism for atheistic, there could be no threat to Jews as Jews, anti-Semitism would vanish and the Messianic age would dawn. This was the ideal to be worked towards. To quote from Mittleman's article

"It was from the [American Jewish] Congress and particularly from its lead attorney, Leo Pfeiffer, that a stream of test cases and friend of the court briefs on crucial church-state cases would issue. The Congress learned from the NAACP and the ACLU that the courts could effect radical changes more swiftly and elegantly than legislatures...It is no exaggeration to say that the shaping of the church-state separation regime of the post-war period cannot be understood without Leo Pfeiffer's activism."

Mr. Pfeiffer was, of course, not alone and anyone who is really interested in how God was expelled from public schools and other public functions should read also Stephen Feldman's book Please don't wish me a Merry Christmas. In this book Feldman also shows why America has to be secularized. The predominant religion of the country is Christian and as such automatically antisemitic. This may strike one as strange but Dr. Feldman is a law professor and here is his definition of anti-Semitism

"the intentional or unintentional, conscious or unconscious, hatred, dislike, oppression, persecution, domination, and subjugation of Jews qua Jews for whatever reason or motivation, whether it be religious, cultural, ethnic, racial or political."

Feldman explains

"My critical narrative, told from the viewpoint of an American Jew, reveals the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state to be a highly complex social phenomenon that flows primarily from and helps reproduce the Christian domination of American society and culture."

Ergo what should Christians do? Since they are by nature at least "unconsciously antisemitic," as Feldman declared, it seems the only way out of the dilemma is that they would have to renounce their Christian faith and become atheists. Even if they merely continue to go to church on Sundays, their antisemitism will be reinforced, which they will carry over into their professional and social lives. Am I exaggerating or is this the logical conclusion which is aimed at, but obviously, and for good reason not voiced?

Lest one believes that I am making too much out of Feldman's book here are excepts of the reviews from the back cover, "a wild ride." "Clearly a superb work of scholarship...the historical sweep of the book is impressive." "His ability to understand and discuss difficult nuances of doctrinal history is impressive." The conclusion from a review in Booklist states

"At a time when debate rages around issues associated with the establishment clause of the First Amendment - including school prayer and public displays of Christian religious symbols - and at a time of resurgent antisemitism, Feldman's carefully reasoned and meticulously documented case is particularly welcome."

It did not seem to have occurred to the reviewers that the book is profoundly anti-Christian and that the relentless pursuit to banish God from public functions is bound to lead to a backlash. These "intellectuals" fail to consider the law of unintended consequences and do not realize that their efforts are likely to produce precisely what they wanted to avoid: a resurgence of anti-Semitism. Let me emphasize, however, that it was not only "non-Jewish Jews," to use Deutscher's terminology, who were responsible for this slide of our society into "secularism." Nevertheless that they were in the vanguard of the effort is readily demonstrable.

Let us now look at what this relentless drive towards a secular society has achieved. Inasmuch as Freud has abolished a conscience, with its concomitant sense of responsibility to a higher power, and even the so-called super-ego has given way to "do your own thing," we now have a "culture," which no longer deserves the name. When a "joke" by Woody Allen that "the brain is my second most favorite organ” is heartily approved of; when public education and the media gear themselves towards the lowest common denominator, one should not be surprised that even the President of this country is reported to have derived a great deal of pleasure from a current Austin Powers movie which revels in gutter humor. If America were a little island somewhere in the ocean all of this would not matter very much. But we are the self-proclaimed "Leader of the Free World", "Defenders of Western Civilization" who broadcast this smut far and wide. Responsible people should, therefore, take cognizance and try to return America to the principles the country was founded on.

What the American Jewish Congress has accomplished on the domestic front, AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) has achieved in regard to our foreign policy. The committee has been, and still is, working exceedingly hard to ensure that Congress does not pass legislation which might be construed as harmful to the interests of the state of Israel. Seemingly unlimited financial resources and a dedicated corps of volunteers make sure that only those candidates for election or re-election to public office gain the needed number of votes who are firmly committed to a pro-Israel line. This holds true even if a given government in that country adheres to policies which are not in the best interests of the United States. Whenever this happens, as for instance currently in regard to the Palestinian issue, the American people have to become convinced by media pressure (let me not use the dirty word propaganda) that Israel is our most reliable and best friend. Alternative voices to this view can only rarely be heard.

Let me make it explicit at this point that I do not blame the mentioned Jewish organizations and other members of the Jewish community to pursue their self-interest vigorously with all legal means. They deserve to be congratulated to their success and for having shown how a small minority can use the democratic process to thwart the wishes of the majority. To remedy the situation those of our citizens who are not in favor of how the domestic and foreign policy of the country is being conducted, should look in the mirror and say mea culpa. But mea culpa is only the first step. Effective organizations would have to be created, which are neither anti-Semitic nor neo-Nazi, but are led by responsible citizens from the entire spectrum of the American people who say: thus far and no further. The envelope has been pushed to the limit and it is time to put the real interests of all the citizens of this country to the fore, rather than those of special interest groups whoever they are. We have a genuine crisis of confidence in government as well as the financial system which has deliberately defrauded millions of our citizens which needs to be rectified.

The proposed answers to the problems of: homeland security, financial scandals and the dry rot of our culture are more money and more laws. Neither of these can solve the problems. There is not and cannot be total security for anybody regardless where the person lives. Man-made and natural disasters have always occurred and will continue to do so. While reasonable precautions can be taken, the creation of a police state is not the answer. Not only is it inimical to the American spirit but in the long run it will financially and morally bankrupt the country, without a chapter 11 protection.

To use the state of Israel as a model for how we should protect ourselves from terrorists, as is currently proposed, does not make good sense. One unbiased look at the Middle East shows that Israeli citizens are less secure after about one and a half years of Likud government with concomitant repression of the people living in the West Bank and Gaza than they were before. No amount of propaganda can hide this fact. For us to go down the same road is a guarantee that we shall also suffer the same fate. What is needed instead is that on the domestic scene we should first of all stop creating more fear. If and when another disaster were to occur we should respond to it with measures which limit the impact on the innocent victims, while we are pursuing at the same time a foreign policy which shows to the entire world that we do not prefer one country over another when we try to resolve a given conflict..

In regard to further legal measures for our problems it should be obvious that whenever more laws are created the lawyers go to work and in no time at all they will have discovered loopholes to subvert the law so that the rich and powerful can get away while the little guy goes to jail. This is not a good way to run a country. Campaign finance reform is also worthless. Loopholes will be found and money will continue to be poured into the coffers of preferred candidates. A genuine reform of the electoral process which drastically reduces the election cycle should be called for. As long as a Congressman or even Senator has to worry immediately upon entering office about creating a "war-chest" for re-election, he/she cannot be expected to take a rational, reasonable, long range stand on controversial topics. Pandering to voters with the deepest financial pockets is bound to take precedent. Regardless of the best intentions this must be recognized by the public at large as a fact of life. As long as we do not insist on electoral reform rather than merely campaign finance reform nothing will be accomplished. When laws are created and subsequently not impartially and promptly enforced they are worse than useless; they make a mockery of the very word "law."

And what is the common denominator of all our problems? Absence of a sense of responsibility! The rich know that they can get away, in some cases even literally, with murder and there is no conscience to restrain them. "Greed is good" we have been told in a movie not too long ago. When CEO's of companies are interested mainly in enriching themselves further without regard to the fate of their employees or stockholders who get ruined in the process, capitalism will lose its luster as a model to be emulated by the rest of the world. So will the secular society which we are pushing so hard for in other countries. No human relationships be they within the family, in business or government can flourish without trust. But trust has to be earned and cannot be legislated. This is the fundamental problem of our country. The last few decades of the past century have eroded trust on all levels and it is high time to rebuild it, by day to day behavior which subordinates personal desires to the needs of others. This effort could be immensely aided if trust in God were to be re-established because it brings with it a sense of responsibility regardless of high one's station in life is. To those who believe, like Nietzsche, that God is dead we can answer that Nietzsche forgot one vital characteristic of God. You can kill Him but He obstinately refuses to stay dead.

Those of us who still have a conscience and believe that we have an immortal soul for which we are responsible to our creator will have to shed our complacency and cowardice so that we can indeed work toward America becoming again "one nation under God," who by the way is non-Sectarian. I said cowardice on purpose because those who engage in this task can expect ridicule by those who "know better," and it is much easier to just keep quiet and "not make waves." This was an option we had also in Nazi Germany. In those days you risked your life if you spoke out; today you only risk derision or being shunned. But this is precisely what builds character, a quality which has been so sadly lacking in high places.

Finally, the perfunctory "God bless America" which is the routine refrain of our President and some other politicians with which they close their speeches is utterly meaningless. Why should He? when those in charge of the country don't pay Him any respect the rest of the time. The phrase is not even a request but when not preceded by a "may," it is an order. Inspire of His infinite patience He may not relish being ordered around. Thus our country needs a change of heart and a return to the values which created it in the first place. The attempt to replace an internal conscience by external laws has failed and will continue to do so. The time has come to change the attitudes which gave rise to the headline of this essay to a sincere: Welcome to America, Lord!





September 1, 2002

OCTOBER SURPRISE?



It is a longstanding political practice that when the outcome of elections is in doubt the ruling party, of whatever designation, tries to change the cards in its favor by creating a foreign policy crisis. The assumption is that the nation will rally around the flag and you just "can't change horses in midstream." The upcoming midterm elections may well provide a great temptation repeat this time-tested paradigm. The more so since the Republicans have only a slim margin in the House and have lost the Senate by one vote. Furthermore it is also a historic fact that the party which controls the White House tends to lose rather than gain seats in midterm elections. Thus the Republicans are potentially in dire straits and their hope of gaining a solid majority in both houses of Congress may require a radical foreign policy coup. The only one that seems readily available and tailor-made is the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

I have been told that, as the saying goes, "It’s a done deal." On October 15 Saddam's government will be taken out by tactical air-borne strikes. U.S. elite forces which are already assembled in Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait plus some other sites, will drop from the sky onto Baghdad and take over. The Iraqi people will cheer like the Afghans did in Kabul and the November elections will be in the bag. When I told my informant, who is influential in Republican circles, that this sounds more like Texas Ranger Walker from the famed TV series rather than a realistic plan for battle because everything hinges on us knowing where Saddam is staying at a given moment, my concerns were dismissed with "oh we know!" Well, I'm not privy to what the President and his advisors really know, but I do remember that our mission in Afghanistan was to "get Osama bin-Laden dead or alive" and that is still in limbo.

I met my informant, whose right to privacy I intend to honor, during the early part of August when I had the opportunity to participate in an experiment of "grass roots" democracy. As a result of articles on this website, as well as others which I had submitted to the Salt Lake Tribune, I became acquainted with, Maha, a young woman who has relatives in Jordan. She and her husband are also deeply disturbed by the conditions the Palestinians have to live under in the West Bank and Gaza. She is, however, not content to merely bemoan their fate and write letters to the Tribune but she is a genuine well meaning activist in the best sense of the word. She has organized and participated in candle light vigils in downtown Salt Lake City and in addition she arranged meetings with our Representatives and Senators.

My physical condition no longer permits me to participate in candlelight vigils and protest marches but when she called me about joining a meeting with one of our senators I was most happy to oblige. I was especially interested because I had been prevented from seeing him last year by his secretaries who vigorously guard him from his constituents, as mentioned in the June 2001 installment. Since I had been unable to visit with the senator I had left a copy of Whither Zionism? with the secretaries, urging them to be sure to hand it in person to their boss. I even went the extra mile and sent an additional copy to the senator's Washington office. I was, therefore, most curious to find out what the fate of that little book had been and came armed with another copy.

As it turned out there were eleven of us who met that afternoon with our "junior" senator and he was gracious enough to listen to everyone. Attempts to meet with the senior senator had been unsuccessful because he talks only through intermediaries. But senator Bennett lent us his ears although when half an hour had passed the expected knock at the door came to let us know that we had overstayed our welcome. Nevertheless we persevered and he had to acquiesce in order not to sound too impolite. We informed him that America's unconditional support of the policies of the Sharon government is not in the best interest of either Israel or our own country, that the plight of the Palestinian people is severe and unless that issue is addressed, security for Israelis and Americans is a forlorn hope. Desperate people resort to desperate measures. We also told him that what is being done in that part of the world in America's name does not conform to the principles we as American citizens stand for and that he should be using his influence in the Senate to become a voice of reason rather than merely obeying the party leadership.

I actually was given the honor by the group to lead off with the discussion and my first question was: "Senator, have you seen this book?" while holding up Whither Zionism? He looked surprised and answered: "No." I then proceeded to tell him of my futile efforts to get this little booklet into his hands. I also told him that he ought to have a word with his staff. He should inform them that when efforts are made by his constituents to personally brief him on issues which are in the vital interest of our country and for which he will cast his vote they should be respected. I subsequently put the booklet in his hand and said: "Senator, please read it on the plane to Washington because that's all the time it takes, and then let me know what you think of it!" He smiled, said that he would but I have no illusions that he really did so. At any rate that was the last I have heard from him but I intend to send him an e-mail. Persistency paid off even for the poor widow and the hard headed judge as we can read in the gospels.

In concert with some of the others I also told the senator point blank that military action on part of America to remove Saddam from power is ill advised. Even if it were to succeed it is likely to turn the Arab masses against us. This is not the way to win the war against terror but is on the contrary an open invitation for more attacks on American lives and property. At that point he became adamant and recited the well known mantra that Saddam is a dangerous madman and criminal who has poisoned his own people, has started two wars against his neighbors, has stockpiles of weapons of mass destructions, is working to get more, will have in short order nuclear capability and this must be prevented at all cost. He is sure to unleash anthrax, smallpox, the plague and other assorted ills against our country which puts us into terrible danger.

It was obvious that the senator's mind was closed and reason could not reach him. But let us look at the facts now and the Encyclopedia Britannica tends to be a reliable resource for history. When one consults it, Saddam looks actually a great deal more rational than he is being portrayed currently. What was, however, the most surprising aspect is that we owe the Middle East mess to none other than our own President Wilson and his famous 14 points. The Ottoman Empire which controlled the area was to be dismembered, Wilson told Congress on January 8, 1918. The non-Turkish nationalities of the empire should be "assured of an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development." Let us remember, however, that America was not even at war with the Ottoman Empire when Wilson already disposed of it.

When it came to divide the spoils after the war, the British and the French had no use for truly independent nations and established a series of client states. Present day Iraq was cobbled together from the former Ottoman provinces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra but was far from ethnically uniform and served mainly British interests. The borders we now know were finalized in 1922. These were, of course, arbitrarily drawn and the biggest losers for self-determination were the Kurds. Their tribal area was parceled out to Turkey, Iraq and Iran.

The Brits wanted to have a League of Nations mandate over Iraq but the Iraqis insisted on nationhood and gave the British a hard time until independence was achieved in 1932. Initially the country was a constitutional monarchy but it was toppled by a military coup in 1958. A claim by the revolutionary government to Kuwait was abandoned in 1961 when Britain and some Arab governments opposed it. Another rebellion in 1963 brought the Ba'th party ("Revival" or "Renaissance") to power with Saddam Hussein, our "madman," as one of its prominent members. The party advocated Arab nationalism and socialism. Several other coups occurred thereafter until 1968 when the Ba'th party took control again and Saddam Hussein, with a group of armed officers arrested the chief cabinet minister, an-Nayif. Contrary to expectations he was not executed but was sent as ambassador to Morocco. The president of the Republic, Al-Bakr, remained in office until 1979 when his mantle fell on Saddam as his successor who had actually been running most of the government affairs for several years already because Al-Bakr was elderly and in poor health. Industries were nationalized, agrarian reform initiated and irrigation projects were carried out. A small private sector was permitted to exist and there was also a mixture of private and state enterprises.

But there were some domestic and foreign complications. The Kurds tried on several occasions to overthrow the Ba'th regime and in 1974 they initiated a full fledged war. They had help from the Shah of Iran who was interested in the disputed waterway of the Shatt-al-Arab. Saddam met with the Shah in 1975 and a treaty was negotiated which ended the war against the Kurds because they no longer had Iranian support.

Saddam started his presidency in 1979 by discovering a plot to overthrow him whereupon he had 22 conspirators executed while others were sent to prison. This had a salutary effect and Saddam's rule has never been seriously challenged thereafter. The reasons for the Iran-Iraq war were directly related to the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Although Iraq recognized the Khomeini regime this was not mutual because the Ayatollah regarded the secular Saddam as a bad Muslim and insisted on fomenting an Islamic revolution in Iraq. There were also some minor border disputes, and skirmishes were frequent. On September 17, 1980 Saddam announced that he had abrogated the 1975 agreement with Iran, because the Iranians had already broken it. Iraqi forces invaded Iran on Sept.21-22 and also bombed various targets in that country. The UN stepped in and called for a cease-fire. Saddam agreed under the proviso that the Iranians did likewise which they were in no mood to do. From then on the war dragged on, the Iranians enlisted the help of the Kurds again and that is when Saddam, in order to protect the northern portion of his country, used chemical weapons "on his own people." This solved the problem in the north but Basra was still threatened.

By the mid-1980's Saddam looked mighty good to the Reagan administration, certainly better than the Ayatollah, and American help began to arrive. Another Security Council resolution in 1987 which urged Iraq and Iran to stop hostilities and return to their respective borders was accepted by Iraq but ignored by Iran. Only when Khomeini saw that the war could not be won and was afraid of an internal uprising did he accept Resolution 598 in August of 1988, but it took another ten years before all aspects of the resolution had been implemented.

During these ten years Saddam tried to raise his stature in the Arab world by cooperative agreements with his neighbors and a non-aggression pact with Saudi Arabia as well as Bahrain. It is understandable that he smarted from the Israeli attack on his nuclear reactor in 1981, while he was fighting the Iranians, and told the Israelis that if they were to attack his country again he would retaliate with chemical weapons. This upset the Reagan administration and led to strained relationships. Saddam added fuel to the glowing embers by making, in typical oriental hyperbole, inflammatory remarks about the West's hostile attitude, which paved the way for the Gulf War.

Apart from the problem with the Kurds there had been a long standing dispute about the legitimacy of Kuwait as a separate nation. As mentioned above, Iraq had, even before Saddam's ascension to power, regarded the country as one of its provinces. It was the British who had nixed the idea because they had their own fish to fry in that part of the world. Not only was there the sovereignty aspect, but there was also a dispute about two strategically located islands at the head of the gulf, and negotiations between the two countries about their fate went nowhere. In addition Iraq was in serious financial difficulties as a result of the Iran-Iraq war. It owed $80 billion, half of which was to go to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Saddam, in his naiveté, had assumed that his Arab brothers would not only forgive the debt but, in the spirit of the Marshall plan, help with the reconstruction of his country. He may well have thought that they owed him something for having saved their regimes from succumbing to an Iranian style of Muslim fundamentalism. But Arabs are not Americans and they not only left him high and dry, but also increased oil production which dropped the price and thereby reduced Saddam's revenues. The invasion of Kuwait was intended to solve his financial problems and help the cause of Iraqi nationalism. The decision was made even easier by a misunderstanding of what the American ambassador had said prior to the invasion. She seemed to have implied that America had no vital interest in this dispute.

But Papa Bush and Maggie Thatcher said "this will not stand" and the Gulf war was on. President Bush senior is now being criticized for "not having finished the job" when he had the chance to get rid of Saddam. But these connoisseurs of history fail to remember that Bush led a coalition and was acting under an UN mandate which demanded only the restoration of Kuwait's integrity. Regime change was not in the cards! In the aftermath of the gulf war Iraq was devastated. The Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south tried to get independence from Baghdad but after our initial encouragement of these efforts we withdrew support from the insurrectionists and left them to Saddam's not so tender mercies. Apparently our policy makers thought that a weak, ineffectual, but geographically intact Iraq would serve their purposes better than a dismembered one.

Since I have not examined Saddam in person I am not entitled to make a psychiatric diagnosis but from the history as presented above I find it difficult to believe that the man is irrational. Throughout his career he has acted in self-interest, like any good politician, although he has frequently underestimated his opponents. This is a not uncommon mistake to which even the Johnson administration succumbed. Let us also remember that Saddam is now 65 years old, has not embarked on any military ventures in the past ten years, and there is reason to hope that he might have learned from the mistakes of his youth. It is unlikely that he is either going to "nuke us" now or in the future, nor will he send us chemical weapons either directly or by proxy. With all the war hype which is going on nobody seems to ask the question why he would intend to attack us. He is not stupid and knows that any such act would be the end of him. He is not even likely to attack Israel, which would be the only logical target because we, if not the Israelis, would wipe him out and I do not believe that he is suicidal. If the Israelis feel threatened they have ample military resources to destroy Saddam's regime and I fail to see a reason why we ought to do the job for them.

Regardless whether it's October 15 or some other date, President Bush seems to feel obligated to finish the job his father had supposedly left undone. It looks like that he has already painted himself into a corner by all the bellicose rhetoric and he may now feel that face has to be saved and bombs have to fall. UN approval is neither regarded as necessary nor desirable. All that is needed now is an event which leads to some loss of American equipment or lives, which can be used to infuriate the public. But that should present no problem inasmuch as ample precedents exist how a casus belli can be manufactured at a moment's notice. Incidents at the no-fly zones, for instance, could readily provide the analogue of a Gulf of Tonkin event which served the Johnson administration so well in its quest to justify expansion of the war in Viet Nam.

Let us now assume for the sake of argument that everything goes miraculously well, it's all over within a few days before Saddam can send rockets loaded with biologic weapons to Israel, which he would surely do under other circumstances, and there is only relatively minor "collateral damage" among the civilian population. Saddam is dead and the Ba'th party gone, then what? We will install the analogue of a Karzai regime in Baghdad but it is not likely to have much control over the rest of the country. The government will be regarded as an illegitimate stooge for American interests, and Muslim fanatics, as well as Iraqi nationalists will do their best to destabilize it. The Kurds will in all likelihood want their independence but that will create a problem with our NATO ally Turkey because the Kurds may want to have their Turkish brethren in their own nation. This is what President Wilson had promised them after all. The same secessionist trends apply to the Basra district. The Shiites living in the area may want to join their fellow Shiites in Iran and that is likewise not in our interest. Who wants to make Iran stronger than the country already is? The next "war of liberation" against Iran is then automatically preprogrammed. Is that what the "Bushies" really want?

The British tried to control the Middle-East with governments of their choice. They failed! What is the reason to believe that we will be more successful? The fundamental problem is that we expect that everybody in the rest of the world has to think like us and when they don't they ought to be made to do so. It won't work. Oriental traditions are different from ours and cannot be shed by an executive fiat from Washington. We also ought to realize that Iraq, which basically is the ancient Mesopotamia, has produced the first great civilization this world has known. Americans see only the current situation but people in that part of the world have longer memories. They view themselves as the descendants of the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians who have ruled their countries long before there was a Western civilization which is actually in part derived from them. Before there was a Moses there was a Hammurabi and it was his laws, including the famous eye for an eye, which became incorporated into the Bible. If we have our pride so do they have theirs.

While I am highly skeptical of a military solution to our fight against the "axis of evil," there is, of course, another point of view as expressed, among others, by Mr. Podhoretz in the current issue of Commentary. He loves the "Bush doctrine" of pre-emptive strikes and firmly believes that the "Afghan model" will work. Once Baghdad is liberated Iran will fall on its own accord, as the next domino, and by implication so will the other Muslim regimes we are not fond of. Apparently the supporters of al Qaeda will then either see the light of democracy or just whither on the vine. Well, anything is possible, what is likely is another matter. It would, therefore, behoove the hawks in our administration, and especially President Bush, to remember that it takes only one party to make war but two to make peace. Once war starts in earnest there is no way of knowing how and when it will end.

Will there be the mentioned October surprise? No one can know for sure but the world may well be confronted sooner or later with a fait accompli. We, the citizens and taxpayers in whose name all of this being done, have just as little influence on the actions of our government as the Germans had under Hitler. But in contrast to those days democracy allows us to raise our voices in warning. If and when the war comes it will hardly be a surprise for anyone any more. The only real surprise would be if reason won out over passion.





October 1, 2002

ONE YEAR LATER



In contrast to politicians and a great many journalists, physicians are trained to perform follow-up studies on their patients in order to learn whether or not a treatment regimen has been effective. Thus it is appropriate not only to remember the dead of September 11, the number of whom has now shrunk from 5000 to about 3000, but also what the American response to this tragedy has accomplished.

The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has collapsed under the weight of bombs as well as the troops of the Northern Alliance and victory is being proclaimed by our politicians, who feel free now to march on to Baghdad. We have been shown pictures of happy people dancing to Western music in Kabul and the faces of women who no longer need to be draped from top to toe. But let us pause for a moment and look closer at what was really accomplished in Afghanistan. We have installed a client regime in Kabul but its authority does not extend much beyond the capital, or Kandahar, and possibly some other cities. The countryside is far from pacified, roving bands impede disaster relief efforts so that people are starving again and another winter is in the offing. President Karzai is seen as a stooge of the West and has to rely on American Special Forces for his personal safety. The locals are still trying to murder him. The King, of whom we have heard nothing lately, was supposed to unify the country but when it came to elections we didn't want him on the ticket. What he is doing now is anybody's guess and he may well look wistfully back to his stay in Italy where he was at least safe.

In the fields the poppies are blooming again, the growth of which had been banned by the Taliban, and a bumper crop of opium and heroin is assured. A British source has stated that Afghanistan produces 75 per cent of the world's heroin and 90 per cent of Britain's supply. That the British authorities are not thrilled over the renewed influx is understandable. The Kabul government as well as ours doesn't want this state of affairs and we are trying to bribe the farmers to destroy the crops, but since selling the stuff brings a great deal more than what we are offering the result is a foregone conclusion. Furthermore, although the Taliban government has disappeared, this does not mean that their fighters have seen the errors of their ways and become good democratic citizens. As expected they have melted into the mountains and villages from which they continue to harass their enemies, be they Afghans or foreigners. Inasmuch as the people are dirt poor there has also developed a brisk trade in Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. We offer the Afghans some money to hand them over to us but there are others who pay even more to get them smuggled out of the country to Pakistan or elsewhere. Thus a primitive capitalism is flourishing and the highest bidder gets the prize. What we do with our captives, apart from interrogating them is also a good question. As far as I know no one has recently wondered about what is happening to the detainees in Guantanamo. Since they are not designated as prisoners of war, although we are fighting a war against terrorism, they seem to have no civil rights whatsoever. There exists another nasty little fact we are not supposed to remember. The most important Al Quaeda leaders which are in our custody were not captured by our special forces in Afghanistan but through the dedicated cooperative efforts of intelligence services around the globe. "Bin Laden dead or alive," which was the President's motto when we started the bombing campaign, has also been quietly forgotten.

Our efforts to root out Al Qaeda and Taliban militia, which our special forces are still intermittently engaged in, are seriously handicapped, because we have to rely on local informers as to where their hiding places might be. It is assumed that these citizens love us more than their own countrymen whom they are supposed to inform on which is, however, not always the case. Sometimes they engage in efforts which are clearly counterproductive from our point of view. For instance by calling in air-strikes on villages which are populated by rival clans but are quite neutral in their opinions about the U.S. In so doing we may bomb wedding parties or a convoy heading for elections. These sorts of "friendly fire" mistakes do not endear us to the populace. Nor can one blame the Canadians for being upset when we bomb them.

On occasion we have also conducted house to house searches. This seems innocuous enough to us but was regarded as deeply offensive by the locals. In the home the women are not veiled and foreigners have no right to gaze on their faces. Now we are supposedly first sending Afghans into the house to be searched, to ensure proper attire by the ladies. In the countryside the Burqa is still the appropriate dress code and men rule the roost regardless what our feminists or their local equivalents desire. The promised aid to Afghanistan which was to feed the people, reestablish the destroyed infrastructure, and promote democratic reforms has been slashed and is slow in coming. We try to pawn the aid efforts off to our allies because the impending second Gulf war obviously requires our money and there is just so much that can be extracted from the ever patient American taxpayer. In addition there is also bound to be a limit somewhere for the steadily increasing billions of deficit spending.

It is, therefore, obvious that democracy is not going to blossom in Afghanistan any time soon. If one looks objectively at that country today one gains the impression that we are apparently in the same situation as the Soviets were in early 1980. They had installed a friendly government, proclaimed freedom from an intrusive religion, replaced it with their own secular values and expected peace and quiet on their border. As we know it didn't work out that way. The locals liked their own religion better than Soviet values and America was most willing to oblige with money and material so that the mujahadeens could give the Russians a hard time. In the process we created Osama but the ingrate turned against us when we established military bases in his home country after the Gulf war instead of just packing up and leaving. For infidels, including women and Jews, to establish a permanent military presence in the land of the Prophet was too much to stomach.

This reminds me of an event in the 1980's when I had been invited to Saudi Arabia for a lecture tour. On the visa application one had to enter one's religion and there was a comment, "Judaism and Atheism not acceptable." So there! On the plane from Jeddah to Riyadh I had my usual window seat and a Burqad lady sat down next to me. The stewardess arrived immediately thereafter and ordered me out of my seat. I am by nature not very obliging to peremptory commands especially when no reason is given, so I pulled out my boarding pass pointed to 14 A looked up at the row number and there was 14 A. In righteous determination I had no intention of vacating that seat. A somewhat animated argument ensued, the stewardess was demanding my leaving and I was equally determined on staying. Then a lady, with only a modest and attractive head scarf covering her hair, seated in the row ahead turned around to me and said quietly: "You are not allowed to sit next to a lady." Well that explained the situation and I happily yielded to local custom because Europeans are taught early on "When in Rome do as the Romans." This piece of wisdom some Americans have yet to learn. But since we are now engaged in world wide "peace keeping," it would seem to be imperative that our military forces are being taught not only how to handle their weapons but also to show proper respect to local customs.

As far as the goal of the Afghan war is concerned we have been told that it was to destroy the infrastructure of terrorism and to liberate the Afghan people from an intolerable religious regime. An ulterior motive as for instance a pipeline construction from Central Asia through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea was, of course, denied publicly but devoutly wished for by certain circles in the oil business. Well, the pipeline has remained a pipe dream for the time being because nobody in his right mind is going to invest money in a country where public safety cannot be guaranteed. This adds considerable allure to Saddam's oil reserves. Once he is gone a friendly regime can be installed in Baghdad and the oil will flow to the Persian Gulf without having to bother with expensive pipeline constructions. That is the assumption, what reality will bring no one knows.

It is likely that I will now be accused of massive cynicism and of disregarding the noble motives for which we ostensibly are going to topple the Saddam regime. President Bush assured us just a few days ago that Saddam is a menace to Western civilization not only for our generation but that of our children and grandchildren. Mr. President please pardon my skepticism about rendering the world safe for our grandchildren. The only universally true law of life is change and unforeseen consequences! There is no way anybody can make our children, let alone grandchildren, safe by engaging in wars and "regime change." It has not worked in the past and will not work in the future.

Let me remind our "hawks" of just one such past effort. "We believe that our own desire for a new international order under which reason and justice and the common interests of mankind shall prevail is the desire of enlightened men everywhere. Without that new order the world will be without peace and human life will lack tolerable conditions of existence and development. Having set our hand to the task of achieving it, we shall not turn back." Thus said President Wilson on February 11, 1918 in his speech to the Congress. The new order brought Versailles; Versailles brought Hitler, who in turn brought the Soviet Union into the heart of Europe. Only by waging a cold rather than hot war against her did that regime collapse under its own weight without a drop of American blood having been shed. Surely this might be a better precedent than continued military campaigns.

The main difference between the Soviet presence in Afghanistan and ours in regard to world politics is that the new mujahadeen, which are in the process of emerging, won't have the resources of the U.S. available to them. But what are Pakistanis, Iranians and even Chinese for? Arms deals make money and I know of no country which has in the past refrained out of lofty motives. Our new found "friend" Musharraf has a similar problem as does Karzai. He can't trust his people and has to rule by decree. While we abhor a dictatorial regime in Iraq and are inundated by the dire threats Saddam might pose if he were to get nuclear weapons our pundits are much more tolerant of Mush raff’s proven nukes and his means to drop them on people whom he doesn't like. Obviously he knows better and won't use them but why should Saddam? Thus it is again not democracy or humanitarian values which count in the circles that really make our political decisions but whether or not a given dictator is willing to do our bidding.

One tends not to read the type of information about our Afghan victory, which was mentioned above, in our major news media. It is available, however, not only on the Internet but also the Christian Science Monitor. Although I have considerable reservations about Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy's medical opinions the worldwide coverage of political events which the Monitor provides is indeed a service to democracy because the information is presented in a fair and balanced manner. This is not necessarily the case with our major news-organizations and the media pundits

What has happened at home since 9-11-2001? The stock market has crashed, the economy is in the dumps and the idea of early retirement by some of our baby boomers had to be shelved. Some of them no longer even worry about retirement but have more immediate problems with either keeping or getting a job. The airline industry especially is in shambles. Not only has flying become a distasteful chore because of the "security” measures but their very survival is at stake. A mid East war with an inevitable spike in oil prices may well be the kiss of death for some of our airlines which can't make ends meet even now. What the laid off employees, from all the companies which are busy with "downsizing," are supposed to do does not seem to concern our happy warriors in their quest for our safety. Those are the realities some Americans have to be concerned about and I am sorry to say that these worry me considerably more than Saddam's WMDs. The question for some of us grandparents is not whether or not our grandchildren will be nuked, anthraxed, or smallpoxed but will we have to bail them out financially and will we be able to do so?

Another ominous event has taken place in "the land of the free and the brave." Our Muslim citizens of Mid Eastern descent live in fear of being regarded as terrorists. Professors in academia may no longer voice their opinions freely because they can be blacklisted and lose their jobs. Our high tech industry has relied heavily on foreign students but now their visas are no longer as readily available as in the past. Some Saudi students who had green cards here and had homes and cars, were not allowed to return after a brief visit to their home country. They have been forced into limbo. Other bright Mid Easterners no longer get student visas in the first place and will have to go for a good education to Europe or states of the former British Empire, which FDR helped to dismantle. For those who doubt America's role in the demise of the British Empire I suggest A Time For War by Robert Smith Thompson and Churchill by Clive Ponting.

The war in Afghanistan is not yet over it has merely shifted to Phase II, as predicted on these pages last year. If Afghanistan is to be the model for a regime change in Iraq our administration would have a lot of explaining to do why the result will be better. But it is not in the nature of politicians to look beyond immediate goals. Instead of explanations and rational debate, fear has to be produced in the populace so that Congress can cave in and ratify whatever the administration demands. This recipe has worked in the past and is expected to do so again. But fear, anger, and hate (which President Bush has admitted to harboring against Saddam Hussein), are not the foundations upon which American policy should be conducted.

There seems hardly any doubt that war with Iraq has already been decided on by the Bush administration. The troops are being moved to their staging areas and the political maneuvers at the UN and in Congress are designed to fix the blame on Saddam. The strategy for achieving this goal has also become clear. We will make demands to the Baghdad government which are incompatible with their national sovereignty and when they are either declined or subverted we start with "regime change." This model dates at least to July 1914 when Austria used it to start a war with Serbia. Most recently it was resurrected by Madeleine Albright with the Rambouillet "agreement" which unleashed our war on Milosevic. The question seems to be no longer whether or not there will be war but when. Last month's installment was called October Surprise? but since even Democrats have caught on now it may not be feasible any more. The November elections may well turn into a referendum on the war and be decided by the susceptibility of the American people to propaganda. "The Great Game" as it used to be called at the end of the 19th century, is still being played. Empires have to be defended and commercial interests expanded which inevitably leads to conflict with those who, to use a well known colloquialism, don't want to play ball with us.





October 17,2002

THE SAGA OF TUTANKHAMEN'S SKULL X-RAYS



Before reading further I suggest that you print this "Epistle to the World" because I shall refrain from highlighting special aspects; the details are important and the eleven pages cannot be properly digested by cursory glances at a screen. Although I had mentally committed myself to monthly installments there are occasions in these fast moving times when one feels forced to deviate from this pattern. Too much is happening which deserves to be commented upon. The evening of Sunday, October 6 was one such event when the Discovery Channel presented "The Assassination of King Tut." In this pseudo-documentary the English-speaking world finally received the answer as to who had murdered Tutankhamen, the last descendant of Egypt's fabled 18th Dynasty. The mystery of the king's sudden death, which has puzzled Egyptologists for decades, was solved by none other than a pair of detectives from my neighboring cities of Provo and Ogden. We were told that a set of skull X-rays had been released to them from England for their investigation. These produced "vital evidence for the detectives" and allowed them to finger the killer. Now at long last "justice has been done" for the unfortunate victim and he "can rest in peace." It had been Ay, the Prime Minister, who in the waning years of his life, killed the frail handicapped Tut in order to usurp the throne. Since I made a more or less "cameo" appearance in this Machwerk (the word has no direct English counterpart but denotes a piece of fake artistry), I owe it to my friends and readers to set the record straight.

I have had a long standing interest in Egyptian history and when I saw on one of my periodic trips to Vienna a book by Vandenberg Nofrete, Echnaton und ihre Zeit, I bought it right away. What I read in this book during the middle 1980's literally set this whole show in motion. It's obvious that God's mills grind slowly. The key sentences when translated from German read:

"Radiologic examinations of the mummy revealed that the young pharaoh did not die of natural causes and, therefore, urgently needed this tomb [which had been hastily prepared and was not originally intended for him]. Tut-ench-Amun has a hole [Loch] in the posterior portion of his skull [Hinterkopf] as it might have resulted from a club or spear tip. Did the little king die from the hand of a murderer? Many regard Eje [Ay] the 'Father of the God' and successor of Tut-ench-Amun, as the murderer; an assumption which has not yet been fully validated."

The words "hole in the skull" clearly raised the interest of the professional neurologist and I immediately decided to follow through on this. Where are these X-rays and what do they really show? was the question. But Vandenberg had written for the general public and had, therefore, not provided references for his statement. There are, however, other sources and the Cambridge Ancient History has a well deserved excellent reputation. It contained a statement by Cyril Aldred, a highly respected Egyptologist:

"He [Tutankhamen] died in his nineteenth year, perhaps as the result of a wound in the region of his left ear which penetrated the skull and resulted in a cerebral haemorrhage. How this lesion was caused must remain a mystery, but the nature and seat of the injury make it more likely to be the result of a battle wound or an accident than the work of an assassin."

Now we no longer have just a skull defect but also a brain hemorrhage. Furthermore it is not in the back of the head but in the region of the left ear, and young Tut wasn't murdered after all. Where did Aldred get his information from? As a scientist he gave the reference which read "The Times, Science Report, 25 October 1969." A trip to the public library followed, the article was located and printed. The headline of this brief note read "Violent death of Tutankhamen." The essential sentences were:

"Examination of the mummy by Professor R.G. Harrison and Dr. R.C. Connolly of the anatomy department at Liverpool University, has revealed wounds that resemble brain damage sustained by a violent blow on the head.

X-rays of the pharaoh's head have shown up a thinning of the bone at the back of the skull, Professor Harrison said yesterday. His diagnosis is that the thinning was caused by a cerebral haemorrhage resulting from a blow to the head."

I found out later that the statement was based on a BBC documentary which had been shown in the UK in 1969 and will be discussed later.

All right; now we no longer have a skull defect but only a thinning of the bone caused by bleeding in the brain. Thus, the question remained what did these X-rays really show? But at least there were now two names and an address. This is how my correspondence with Mr. Connolly, Senior Lecturer at the Anatomy department of Liverpool University, started and which thanks to my compulsive nature survived the trip from Michigan to retirement in Utah. He was one of the key members of Harrison's expedition which actually had as its goal to investigate the kinship of Tutankhamen with a mummy that had previously been thought as belonging to Akhenaten but is now regarded as that of the ephemeral Smenkhare, who was either co-regent or for a short time successor of the heretic pharaoh. Precise data are lacking. As a result of their examinations Harrison suggested on anatomic and Connolly on serologic grounds that Tutankhamen and Smenkhare may have been brothers. This important scientific finding was, however, in the public mind overshadowed by the sensation the skull X-rays had caused. When I wrote to the Chairman of the anatomy department in the summer of 1986 my letter was answered by Mr. Connolly who wrote:

"Before Professor Harrison died, we were working on an extensive analysis of the x-rays of several Dynastic specimens including Tutankhamun but this is still incomplete. I have all the x-rays and am hoping to complete the study in the not too far distant future and I shall give you the information about publication.

We haven't published anything beyond the 1972 Antiquity but I may produce a report before publication of the main comparative study because several workers have been seeking information specifically about Tutankhamun."

I thanked Connolly for his information and asked him to inform me about the final results of his investigations. I also made a trip to the University Library in Detroit and unearthed two relevant articles by Harrison. One, dated 1971, was hidden away in a journal called Buried History under the title "Post Mortem on Two Pharaohs. Was Tutankhamen's Skull Fractured?" The second article was the mentioned 1972 report in Antiquity with the simple title "The Remains of Tutankhamun." This article is a classic because it provides most valuable evidence about how Carter and Derry's "autopsy" of the pharaoh in 1925 was really carried out. The details would take me too far afield now, suffice it to say that due to an excessive use of unguents the king's mummy was found to have been solidly glued to the bottom of the third coffin and even the gold coffin itself was stuck to the bottom of the second coffin. Carter's team had to literally chisel the mummy away from the coffin to get at all the artifacts which now grace museums around the world. They severed the limbs, sawed the trunk away from the pelvis and decapitated the mummy at the seventh cervical vertebra. Mr. Filce Leek, a member of the expedition, produced a book afterwards under the title The Human Remains of Tutankhamen where he details the condition in which Harrison's team found the mummy of the king. Unless one has read the Antiquity paper and Leek's book in detail no worth-while opinion can be formulated about the meaning of the X-rays and a possible cause of death.

While the paper in Antiquity did not enter into speculations how Tutankhamen may have died, Harrison did write in the Buried History article:

"While examining X-ray pictures of Tutankhamen's skull I discovered a small piece of bone in the left side of the skull cavity. This could be part of ethmoid bone which had become dislodged from the top of the nose when an instrument was passed up the nose into the cranial cavity during the embalming process. On the other hand, the X-rays also suggest that the piece of bone is fused with the overlying skull and that this could be consistent with a depressed fracture which had healed. This could mean that Tutankhamen died from a brain hemorrhage caused by a blow to his skull from a blunt instrument.

This evidence taken together with the fact that the pharaoh was only 18 when he died, and considered against the troubled times during which he lived, poses an intriguing question: was Tutankhamen murdered?"

It was this sentence and one other sentence on the mentioned BBC documentary which started all the speculations about murder. Without any new evidence since 1969, Tut's death is now being declared not only a homicide but we even have the murderer according to the Discovery Channel.

Yet when one looks at what has been presented so far in regard to the interpretation of the crucial X-rays we have two different locations for the supposed "fracture" and "hemorrhage." One is in the posterior portion of the head, namely the occipital bone and the other higher up in the parietal bone. A scientifically inclined mind might ask: well which way is it? Let's give these X-rays to a panel of neuroradiologists and let them decide what the proper interpretation of the radiographs should be. Let us remember, also, that Harrison was Head of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Liverpool and although an excellent scientist he was not necessarily a specialist in neuroradiology.

The years went by, Martha and I had retired from our jobs, moved to Utah and I kept checking the literature intermittently whether or not new information had come out from Liverpool about the final interpretation of the X-rays. When this was not the case I asked, in December of 1995, my friend and colleague Dr. Ted Reynolds, Director of "The Institute of Epileptology" at the Maudsley Hospital in London, if he could find out who the current Chairman of the Anatomy Department at Liverpool University is because as time moves on people have a tendency to die. Lo and behold in April of 1996 I received a letter from Connolly. It was dated April 1, 1996 and stated:

"Your letter to Dr. Reynolds has been passed to Professor Chadwick, who passed it to Professor Wood who passed it to me. Reports of my death have (as the man said) been greatly exaggerated!

I enclose a positive and a negative print of the original lateral radiograph of the badly damaged head and neck of Tutankhamen.

I am afraid there is really nothing beyond our original publications on the subject which I can add about these radiographs. They have been examined recently by several eminent radiologists, and apart from the obvious features referred to in previous publications they really do not contribute anything particularly significant either to the procedures for mummification in the 18th Dynasty or, more importantly to the cause of death."

The letter ended with the request that in any publication credit should be given to the Department and that there is a standard University charge for publication in popular magazines or in non-academic books.

I thanked Connolly for his pictures and also mentioned that this view of the head has in the meantime already been published by Nicholas Reeves in The Complete Tutankhamen. In the text Reeves wrote, "Sadly Harrison did not live to publish fully his thoughts on this feature [the obvious bone splinter in the parietal area], and it is not clear whether he believed the damage to have been sustained before or after death, accidentally or intentionally. That the king was murdered, however, seems increasingly likely." How Reeves, who was a Curator in the British Museum's Department of Egyptian Antiquities, arrived at the likelihood of murder was not elaborated on.

Photographs in hand I proceeded to show them to my colleagues Dr. Richard Boyer, Head of the Department of Medical Imaging at Primary Children's Hospital (Salt Lake City's Pediatric Hospital for the University of Utah) where I still worked as a consultant, Dr. Anne Osborn a highly respected specialist in Neuroradiology at the University Hospital, and the Medical Examiner of the State of Utah, Dr. Todd Grey. This was done on separate occasions to obtain unbiased independent opinions. The verdict was unanimous: the splinter is in all probability due to post-mortem artifact, there is no evidence for a skull defect but unless one had the actual radiographs a final opinion could not be rendered merely on photographs. The visit to Dr. Grey was prompted by the desire to discuss my own ideas, on how the king might have died, with a forensic pathologist. In a subsequent letter, dated September 30, 1996, he confirmed that they were reasonable. The X-ray information was promptly relayed to Connolly with the request that he should continue to keep my interest in mind and let me know if and when something new developed.

Something did, but not in Liverpool. I had attended the American Clinical Neurophysiology Meeting in Boston and during a break in the proceedings wandered across the street to the Public Library. Everything was nicely computerized and not quite knowing what I would be most interested in I typed "Tutankhamen." Much to my surprise up came a brief article written by David Stout for the New York Times June 30, 1996. The headline was "The violent Death of King Tut." This was obviously the same as that of the 1969 London Times article except that irreverent American journalists are loath to use the king’s full name. The article stated:

"After studying the X-rays of Tutankhamen's skull, two scientists said last week that he might have been bludgeoned, and that his death at the tender age of 19, might have been slow.

The discovery was made when Bob Brier, an Egyptologist at the C. W. Post Campus of Long Island University, asked Dr. Gerald Irwin, a physician and trauma specialist at the university, to examine the X-rays of King Tut that were taken 28 years ago at the boy Pharaoh's tomb.

Dr Irwin said the X-rays showed that King Tut, who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago, could have died of a blow to the head. And a line on the skull could indicate a blood clot, meaning Tut may not have died right away."

Immediately upon returning home a Fax went off to Connolly asking him whether or not Brier and Irwin had been members of the team of "eminent radiologists" whom he had mentioned in his previous letter. The answer was that this had not been the case. Brier and Irwin did not even have the X-rays. What Brier had done was to enlarge the same photograph Connolly had sent me previously, placed it on an X-ray viewing box, "made up to look like an actual radiograph - which it is not." To add emphasis not was underlined three times. Well, so much for the integrity of the New York Times but it was sad that one of our medical colleagues had allowed himself to be used in this spoof. Nevertheless a new wrinkle had appeared in this ongoing saga: What was the reason for assuming that Tut's death had not been sudden but that he had lingered for some time before succumbing to whatever had ailed him?

The answer was provided by a Father's Day present from my good and faithful wife in June 1998 in form of a book The Murder of Tutankhamen. A True Story by Bob Brier, Ph.D. The dust jacket tells us that Bob Brier is one of the country's most respected Egyptologists, whose specialty is paleopathology and that he has conducted autopsies on many ancient mummies. We are informed furthermore that "Now Egyptologist Bob Brier uses modern forensic techniques and ancient documents to reveal the crime, identify the killer of Tutankhamen, and bring the tumultuous world of ancient Egypt and its young pharaoh alive."

The historic information Brier provides can be found in other texts on the 18th Dynasty but what is new is an explanation for David Stout's article. Brier wrote:

"Given the omissions and confusions surrounding Tutankhamen's X rays, it was clear that a careful reexamination of the material relating to Tutankhamen's death was necessary. My first step was to get a copy of Harrison's X ray, but he had died in 1979. His colleague R. C. Connolly was still at the University of Liverpool and he kindly sent me prints of the X ray along with a friendly note that was far from encouraging.

'I am afraid there is really nothing beyond our original publications on the subject which I can add about these radiographs...Apart from the obvious features referred to in previous publications they really do not contribute anything particularly significant either to the procedures for mummification in the Eighteenths Dynasty or more important, to the cause of death.'"

Brier referenced the letter as having been sent on April 1, 1996. An attentive reader of this Hot Issues installment will immediately have experienced a profound déja vu sensation and this is the reason why I have presented Connolly's letter to me in full which had precisely the same date. What has happened here? Connolly is a busy man who has a heavy teaching load, in addition to his research efforts, and has little time to spare for numerous requests from all over the world about Tut's X-rays. So he apparently sent the same letter and photos to insistent petitioners. But Brier did something which is not quite kosher in scientific circles, especially when he subtitled his book "A True Story." He had replaced the statement about the "eminent radiologists" who had examined the pictures recently with ellipsis! The reason is obvious because what doesn't fit a hypothesis is not allowed to exist. If there is one message in all of this it is: Beware of Ellipsis! They can be used to hide the truth and whenever an ellipsis is encountered it behooves a scientist to go to the original text and find out what has been omitted.

But there is more. Figure 25 shows the by now famous photograph which is labeled as "X ray" and an arrow "points to the location of the possible blow to the back of the head." It is nowhere near the left ear as had been suggested by earlier authors and is so close to the neck that it would seem highly unlikely for an assassin to strike this spot which is extremely well protected by the neck musculature. Figure 26 shows the blowup of the photograph on the view-box Connolly had mentioned in his Fax. Brier can be seen pointing to the bone splinter in the parietal area (which is regarded as artifact), while Dr. Irwin watches attentively. The legend to the picture states that "Irwin was the first to suggest Tutankhamen may have lingered before dying from a blow to the back of the head."

Irwin's opinion was based on the BBC documentary of 1969 which I had not seen until after the interview for the recent Assassination video. In this documentary, which by the way is excellent, we are shown under what conditions the X-rays had been obtained by Harrison's team in 1968. On the film Harrison explained in detail the skull X-ray findings in regard to the splinter, which he regarded as artifact. But subsequently he added a fateful sentence when he described an "eggshell thinning" of the occipital bone, "This is within normal limits. But in fact, it could have been caused by a hemorrhage under the membranes overlying the brain in this region, and this could have been caused by a blow to the head, and this in turn could have been responsible for death."

Here is now the proverbial "smoking gun" for the cerebral hemorrhage or more properly called subdural hematoma, in neurologic circles. But Harrison was a scientist, as such cautious and not given to apodictic statements. The sentence is laced with "could." The only time a definitive "is" was used occurs in relation to the finding being "within normal limits." Now let us fast forward to 1998 and Brier's book where he wrote in regard to Dr. Irwin's opinion:

"First, I showed him the BBC video of Harrison's explanation of the X ray. Then he studied the X-ray print of Tutankhamen's skull. He agreed with Harrison. There could indeed have been a blow to the back of the head; the X ray was evidence [sic] for a hematoma; an accumulation of blood beneath the skin. But then Dr. Irwin noticed something else. Inside the skull, near the location of the possible blood clot, an area of increased density showed. This is what would be expected from a calcified membrane formed over a blood clot. Physicians call it a chronic subdural hematoma - a phenomenon that takes considerable time to develop."

Although Brier goes on to state correctly that the X ray "does not prove he was murdered," because X-rays can't reveal intentions, he had to justify the title of his book. He, therefore, continued:

"In Tutankhamen's case, two renowned experts saw evidence [sic] of a hematoma in the skull. Did Tutankhamen trip and hit his head? Given the location of the hematoma, that is unlikely. By itself, evidence of a fatal blow to the back of the skull in a place where an accident is unlikely would never convince a jury to convict. But it would certainly be enough to cause a thorough investigation by the police to see if they could turn up additional evidence. They would label the X ray 'indication of suspicious circumstances.'"

This is where the saga ended for the time being. Although the murder theory was not regarded as proven it was initiated by a set of X-rays which had never left Liverpool and had never been published in the medical literature so that the pros and cons of the various interpretations could have been discussed. Brier devotes the rest of the book to his literary detective work with the final conclusion that the assassin had been Ay. This would not have come as a great surprise to those Egyptologists who subscribed to the murder theory on the flimsy X-ray "evidence." I discussed this new "evidence" again with my radiology colleagues who regarded the idea of a calcified posterior fossa subdural hematoma as highly unlikely because they had never seen one in that location especially in a person of that age. Since my own efforts to get the actual X-rays had not been successful I dropped the matter and devoted myself to more attainable purposes.

But to paraphrase Shakespeare "uneasy rests the head that wore a crown." In August of 2001 a call came out of clear blue sky and a lady, who identified herself in a wonderful British accent as Kate Botting, asked me if she could talk to me in regard to Tutankhamen. She was making a video about Tutankhamen for Atlantic Productions to be shown on the Discovery Channel and would appreciate it if I could give her a few minutes to discuss the project. She was in town and could come to our house if this were agreeable. Obviously it was agreeable and over a couple of glasses of wine Martha and I discussed with Kate, and her camera crew supervisor Lance, all my efforts to find out what the X-rays really showed. I also told them that the evidence for young Tut having been murdered, as presented in Brier's book, is inadequate and pointed to various other more probable scenarios. She was enthused and asked if I would be willing to be interviewed for the film. I agreed but only on the condition that she bring along copies of the X-rays from Liverpool so that our experts could go over them and come to their own conclusions. She agreed and filming was set for September 15. But the whole world knows what happened on September 11. Air travel came to a standstill and the project had to be postponed.

After several delays Kate arrived on September 19 at 12:30 a.m. and by 8:30 a.m. I had finally at long last 3 X-rays in my hand. They consisted of the famed lateral view, a front to back view and one taken from the chin up. I headed immediately for what used to be called X-ray department of Primary Children's and now has the less descriptive but more flowery name of Medical Imaging. As usual Boyer was busy and there was no time for detailed inspection. I left the X-rays with him so that he could at least glance at them prior to the interview which was scheduled for the late afternoon of the same day.

Filming took place, most appropriately, in the morgue of the Medical Examiner's building. I was first in line and explained for about half an hour the reasons why the "evidence" for Tut's murder does not necessarily hold up and that a key element of Carter's findings may not have been properly interpreted in the past. Moisture had damaged not only the second coffin (the third one was pure gold) but even the bandages with which the body had been wrapped. Carter also reported that the closer to the body one came the worse the condition of the bandages and it seemed that the moisture had come from the body itself. Carter blamed this moisture on an excessive use of unguents for religious purposes and they had over the millennia introduced spontaneous combustion which accounted for the massively decayed state the mummy was found in. Inasmuch as the whole purpose of mummification was to preserve the deceased in as intact a state as possible, and the ancient embalmers had been experts in their art, I found it difficult to believe Carter's explanation. It seemed more likely to me that the body may have been already in the process of decay by the time it reached the "House of Vigor" or "Vitality," as the workshop of the embalmers was euphemistically referred to. Under these circumstances even experts may have been confronted with an impossible task. Desiccation with natron, the usual procedure, would have been no longer effective and a hasty disposal of the remains may have been imperative. Anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of viewing a decaying body knows that this process is accompanied by a terrible odor and I reasoned, therefore, that the clearly excessive use of unguents, by the bucketful, may have been to mask this dreadfully foul smell. I also suggested that there may well have been an accident during hunting or fishing in the desert or marshes sufficiently far away from the palace and even a few hours in the Egyptian sun can lead to the decay of a dead body. Another possibility could be related to the unexplained, and now no longer mentioned, nature of "the scab" on the left cheek which Derry had noted at the original autopsy. It might have been due to an insect bite which had become infected leading to sepsis which likewise hastens bodily decomposition and makes proper embalming difficult if not impossible. This is precisely what I had discussed with Todd Grey in 1996 and he had felt that these were reasonable ideas. I did not talk about the skull X-rays during the TV interview but left that to Dr. Boyer.

My comments were, however condensed in the movie to two brief snippets and since they clearly interfered with the murder idea they were treated with a curt statement, "But Cooper and King [the detectives] think it unlikely that Tutankhamen died in an accident, someone was always looking after him." On TV, just like in newspapers, the editor always has the last word and that is all the public ever gets.

The same mangling of the interviews occurred also especially in regard to Rich Boyer's skull X-ray explanations. He spent about twenty minutes explaining the various features which were all due to post-mortem artifact but he then became attracted to the seeming lack of intervertebral disc spaces. He interpreted this finding as suggestive of a congenital condition called Klippel Feil syndrome where the neck is fused and movement of the head thereby limited. This was precisely what the producers had been longing to hear because with a normal skull X-ray the murder theory loses much of its luster. When it was further said by Boyer as well as Grey, whose turn had come next, that even a relatively minor fall or blow to the head might, therefore, be fatal the murder story was again on track and a brand new piece of "evidence" could be added.

The detectives then took over. With the help of a "profiler" and by visiting the wall paintings of various tombs in Egypt the narrator told us that they were able "to right a wrong and nailed a killer." Ay had come upon the sleeping Tut, lifted his head by the stiff neck and then smashed it down. Murder solved!!!

When I saw this fantasy I cringed, but I had been forewarned. Connolly had sent me from England newspaper extracts which detailed the contents of the movie. Even our own Time magazine had a long article on "Who Killed Tut?" While my emotional tone was one of annoyance for having been misled in believing that the movie would be a documentary where the various possibilities of Tutankhamen's death would be discussed in a scientific manner, I can imagine how Egyptologists must have felt when they saw how previously published information was used by the producers to declare an old theory as a brand new fact. Since it was Bob Brier's book that apparently had been the inspiration for this video he may well have been particularly unhappy for not getting his name mentioned in the program. Although the content of the film was misleading my good Martha, who always finds a rose even among weeds, said: But the photography was good! That was correct and Lance deserves congratulations.

A few days after the filming Rich and I went over the X-rays in detail especially in regard to the supposed Klippel Feil syndrome. The impressive fusion of the cervical spine turned out to have likewise been a post-mortem artifact due to the resin. The neck was encased in a consolidated mass of resin which became apparent when we saw Harrison's original video-documentary, given to me by Kate. For this, as well as for bringing the X-rays from Liverpool I am grateful. The bone splinter in the skull which had given rise to the skull fracture theory is in all probability, as Connolly has pointed out to me, a piece of the first cervical vertebra which was dislodged when Derry stuck some instrument through what is called the foramen magnum on the bottom of the skull to explore the skull cavity. The "thinning" of the occipital bone is normal and exaggerated by the tilt of the head when the X-ray was taken, this applies also to the suspected "calcified membrane," which was taken by Brier as evidence that the pharaoh had not died suddenly. Thus the side view of the skull X-ray, which can be found in books around the world, is normal. Detailed explanations of the findings, which have been so puzzling, are now being prepared by us for a presentation to the medical community. So much for the "groundbreaking evidence" and the "motive for murder," the video tells the world about.

What can be learned from this adventure in science fiction? The first lesson is that persistence pays off even if it takes 15 years to see some X-rays. The second is that what you get afterwards may not be what you had expected, and the third that you cannot trust what you are being told on TV even from respected programs which masquerade under the name of History or Discovery. All the producers want is ratings which translate into money and that is what makes the world go round. By the way I was asked by a friend if they had paid me for my performance. Yes they did. I received $300. But Grey and I paid afterwards for dinner at an upscale French Restaurant where the entire party of about eight people was invited. Since Rich Boyer had to leave immediately after his interview he did not receive his $300. I, therefore, gave him half of my "honorarium," which he was loathe to take but I felt guilty and forced it on him anyway. He has a great many more children than I do, gets only a meager salary from the hospital, and he can use every penny he so richly deserves.

It is obvious that this saga is far from over. Tutankhamen's death will continue to give rise to further speculations and a new book which supposedly claims that he had hit his head against the throne during an epileptic seizure is to become available in November. It is, therefore, abundantly clear that the meager medical evidence has been distorted to such a degree that I might even write a book of my own. I would not only critically examine each one of the numerous theories that have been proposed and point out their shortcomings, but also discuss how and why the conclusions, which dot the literature, were arrived at. This aspect would actually be the most important one because the methods by which people are led to believe what they believe have general validity and clearly transcend the fate of Tutankhamen.





November 1, 2002

ISRAEL THE FIFTY-FIRST STATE



This installment may be unsettling for some but please have patience, curb your emotions and read carefully. It is important if one wants to understand America's Foreign Policy and get a glimpse of the possible future. Please note that whenever bold print appears in direct quotations it has been added for emphasis.

In the October 25, 2002 issue of The International Jerusalem Post Shmuley Boteach who is identified as "a rabbi and best selling author, who hosts a daily talk radio show syndicated across the United States" wrote on the Opinion page a lengthy article entitled "Add Israel's star to the Union." The accompanying picture features the U.S. flag with a large six point star in the place of honor leading all the other smaller five point ones. Lest one might get paranoid and presume that the artist meant this to be the final design of our national flag he placed it on a rather barren stretch of beach at the edge of a body of water, which probably symbolizes the Mediterranean, and with a small hill in the distance. One can assume, therefore, that it was meant to represent the 51st state's flag rather than our national one. On the other hand the addition of the Star of David to Old Glory is not new because Goldberg's book Jewish Power carries it on the dust jacket although, as a late arrival, it is placed slightly below the last of the ones we are familiar with.

In case one might think that the author is merely making a Jonathan Swift type "Modest Proposal" it behooves one to read the article carefully because the rabbi details the benefits which would accrue from this idea not only to Israel but to the United States as well. The argument proceeds as follows:

Americans are now, as a result of the September 11 attack, in the same situation that Israel has been all along. The rest of the world no longer has sympathy for America but the country is regarded as arrogant and throwing its weight around, an idea that Jews are thoroughly familiar with. When America is being accused of trying to take over the world, has this not happened to the Jews also? “Jews have been decried as condescending to the rest of the world with their trumped-up claim of being 'the chosen people,' just as America is now condemned for harboring a holier-than-thou attitude to the world's nations, who are not prepared to weed out evil terrorists." The author goes on to say that “Now that the Americans have become the Jews of the world, I propose formalizing the arrangement by making Israel the 51st state in the Union."

This act would immediately solve a number of problems for the Jewish state Rabbi Boteach believes. Although Israel has currently the means “to destroy the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure and exile Überterrorist Yasser Arafat" it is prevented from doing so by international pressure via the U.S.:

”And so Israel straddles the line. It proceeds with limited actions, after which Bush, under intense pressure from American allies, puts in a call to Ariel Sharon and Israeli troops have to pull back - until another group of Israeli civilians are killed.
This problem would obviously be solved, by statehood because once Israelis are American citizens any attack on them anywhere would be an attack against America.
Then it would be absurd for Bush to be pressured by other world leaders to curb the military response. Israeli-turned-American commando units would finally go in and remove Arafat's terror regime once and for all, just as the US changed regimes in Afghanistan.”

What does America get out of this arrangement? The author's answer is equally simple: America needs a permanent base in the troublesome Middle East, which is a spawning ground of terrorists. America would immediately acquire "a crack military that is highly experienced in fighting terror. America would also be able to watch over the Middle Eastern oil fields, on which it is so dependent, from very close range."

For those Jews who feel it would "be crazy" to give up their homeland which they have been struggling to get for 2000 years, the rabbi advises "a reality check." Israel will never be safe because:

"Let's call a spade a spade. The Arabs will only ever be satisfied when Israel is pushed into the sea, and without an American green light to get rid of the Palestinian terrocracy [sic], we cannot be entirely sure that there will even be an Israel, God forbid, in a decade. That is, unless Israel becomes an American state."

So far so good but how about the Jewish character of the 51st state? Won't that be a problem? Not at all the author reassures us and points to my home state of Utah as the splendid example. Three Cheers! Now Utahns can really be happy: we had a banner year! In February we hosted the Olympics, which indeed went superbly well, in October the world was informed that we have brilliant detective profilers who can solve a crime, which may or may not have been committed three and a half thousand years ago (see previous installment), and now we are the model for a prospective 51st state. In Utah, the rabbi writes:

"the Mormons basically have their own state, maintaining cohesiveness and a strong religious identity while being patriotic members of the larger American republic. In fact, they enjoy the best of both worlds.
Their schools are funded by the state, yet attached to every public school is a Mormon religious school, funded by the Church, where pupils go as soon as classes are over."

I am not telepathic but I can hear the Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Church, President Gordon B. Hinckley, quietly say to this picture of Utah "Lord, wouldn't it be nice if it were so! We'd surely save ourselves a lot of legal fees for suits brought against us!" But let us continue with the rabbi's views a little longer before I shall proceed with my own reality check in regard to the Utah fantasy. The rabbi also sees enormous financial benefits for the U.S. as well as Israel. No longer will the Israeli economy have to struggle because "federal dollars being put to education and defense would come in very handy.":

"The US is already pouring billions of dollars into Israel in foreign aid each year, and millions more private citizens, a large part of them fundamentalist Christians, support Israel. Why not change all this and make it tax dollars instead?
While the idea of turning Israel into the 51st state might strike some as crazy, to me it is self-evident. The US and Israel are both democratic nations. Both are deeply religious, founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic. They are united in their fight against terror, and are increasingly loathed by the world for acting to defend themselves against unrepentant murderers. Both require peace in the Middle East as their foremost foreign policy goals.
Finally, both already have lots and lots of Jews.
For two centuries America has been seen by oppressed immigrants the world over as a 'promised land.' Why not have America acquire the real thing and make it official?"


After having read this article I was still not quite sure: Does the author really mean every word he says or is he talking tongue in cheek? But it doesn't really matter what I think because I am certain that there will be a great number of people who will take him at his word and will either applaud or exude venom. Let us do neither and proceed instead with our God-given intellect rather than reacting emotionally.

This is necessary because it would not be justified to regard the author simply as a crazy dreamer whose views are so outlandish that they need not be listened to. When Herzl proposed his Jewish state in 1896, everybody regarded him as crazy. He knew it, but he wasn't concerned about the "Wadlbeisser" as he called his detractors, of which there were many. The term is a typical Viennese expression for which no English equivalent exists. It refers to those nasty little dogs that pester you and try to bite your calves while you are out for a walk or bike ride. Zionism was regarded as dangerous nonsense by the Viennese Jewish community. Herzl's bosses, Benedickt and Bacher, at the Neue Freie Presse, which might be regarded as the equivalent of the New York Times or Washington Post of that era, forbade him to write articles on Zionism in their paper. His diary entry of September 3, 1897 can serve as an example of how dreams can become reality:

"If I condense the Basel Congress into a single statement - which I shall be very careful not to say openly - it is this: In Basel I have founded the Judenstaat [there is disagreement whether the term should be translated into "Jewish State," or "State for the Jews," both translations are feasible]. If I were to say this out loud today I would be answered by universal laughter."

It took fifty years and two World Wars but persistence paid off. Another dreamer whose time eventually came was Eliezer ben Yehuda, who was born during 1857 in Latvia as Eliezer Perlman, also spelled Perelman at times. While Herzl had insisted that "we can't all be expected to learn Hebrew," that was indeed ben Yehuda's goal. At the end of the nineteenth century Hebrew was the equivalent of Latin, spoken only in religious services or by scholars. Ben Yehuda realized that one can't have a common country without a common language and he started by using only Hebrew in his daily communications with his family. He pushed the idea so vigorously that eventually the language became officially recognized in Palestine, along with Arabic and English, during the British Mandate period.

Let us not laugh at dreamers, therefore, but examine realistically the premises and logic of Rabbi Boteach's suggestion. While some Israeli's may well jump at the idea others are bound to be reluctant because it's nicer to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a little fish in a big pond. Sovereignty suits them just fine. Furthermore, any attempt to buy yourself "security" by amalgamation in a larger entity, which is highly diverse, and at the same time not integrate but insist on your separateness is a highly dubious enterprise.

Apart from these aspects there are three catchphrases in the article which need to be discussed. These are: Israel is a democracy, the Judeo-Christian ethic, and the facts about Utah.

Yes, Israel is a democracy in name, but by Jews and for Jews. The country has no Constitution! A constitution was promised in the Declaration of Independence in 1948 but never enacted. The government runs on a Basic Law which in turn is derived from Emergency Decrees by the British. Over the years some of them have been made progressively more stringent in regard to people who might want to dissent from government policies for whatever reason. Although Palestinian Arabs, who are Israeli citizens within the 1967 borders, have the right to vote, they are discriminated against when it comes to any other legitimate aspiration they might have. Even such simple things as adding a room to your house can get stalled in bureaucratic hassles. To equate Israeli-type democracy with American democracy is a propaganda ploy devoid of reality. Let us not forget the purpose of the state. It was founded as a home for Jews and non-Jews are, therefore, not particularly welcome except as visitors.

If the rabbi's suggestion were to become reality some Israeli Jews might not be very pleased because a Constitution which guarantees equal rights to the Arab Palestinians would have to be enacted. All of the four million or so Muslims (which includes those living in the West Bank and Gaza who can't all be eradicated as part of the "terrorist infrastructure") with their higher birth rates would have at long last their voices heard and Jewish dominance over the Holy Land would come to an end. The rule of law would no longer be promulgated and enforced exclusively from Zion but also from Washington.

The Palestinian people, especially in the occupied territories, on the other hand, might experience it as a God-send. At long last they would have recourse to law courts, there would be a Constitution which grants them equal rights, demolitions of their homes and orchards would cease and so would the "security arrangements" consisting of curfews and massive restriction of movement. Furthermore, the 51st state would obviously be open to indiscriminate immigration. Not only would the expelled Palestinians descend upon this state but so would other diverse non-Jewish groups who might want to build another Mediterranean Monaco. What the rabbi is really suggesting, apparently without realizing it, is a repeat of the Jews inviting Rome to take over their country because they had not been able to govern themselves! I have dealt with this historical fact in Whither Zionism? last year.

The second point is the "Judeo-Christian ethic," "heritage," or "tradition" as it is also commonly referred to. Readers of this website and some of my other publications know that I have strong objections to this term. It is inherently faulty because it amalgamates Christianity with Judaism and obscures the essential differences between the two religions. I have written two books about the problem, The Moses Legacy: Roots of Jewish Suffering and A Jesus for Our Time. Both are still looking for publishers and my hopes are growing dimmer by the day, as rejections keep dribbling in. Serious ideas that deserve to be discussed in an intelligent, rather than facetious, way are not in demand in today's publishing industry which is nearly exclusively devoted to the proverbial bottom line.

If the term Judeo-Christian ethic were used simply to denote that Christianity arose from Judaism, or that we share the Ten Commandments, there would be no problem. But when the two religions are equated for political purposes I have to object. The Old Testament is not the book by which I want to live my life, although this is currently a minority view. Nevertheless, for a Christian the role model is not necessarily Moses but Jesus, and his message gets shortchanged when we talk about the "Judeo-Christian ethic." America used to call itself a Christian country but this is no longer politically correct.

Why do I disagree with the Old Testament or the Written Torah as Jews call it? Because it contains a basic premise which I cannot in good conscience subscribe to. If the original premise is amiss so will be all subsequent actions which flow from it. Let me explain. In Genesis Chapter 1 verse 26 of the Bible we can read:

"And God said: 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.'"

The quote comes from the Socino Chumash translation of the Torah. The key word here is dominion! Man is to be the ruler and exploiter of the earth's natural resources. The word was used again in verse 28 where God is quoted as saying to Adam:

“‘Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.'"

The medieval commentator Sforno (Obadiah Ben Jacob Sforno c.1475-1550) explained "to have dominion" in a footnote. “Ensnare them by nets and snares and compel them to serve you.” Thus, the model which this view of the world provides is one of dominance by the stronger over the weaker. That this applies also to human beings is made explicit in verse 16 of chapter III where the Lord God said to Eve, "'. . . thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.'" Instead of mutual cooperation there is to be force which soon was extended to political action. Moses ordered conquest and those who were not part of the "chosen people" had to have their altars overthrown and their idols smashed. This ethnocentric position which shows no regard for the traditions and aspirations of others is also the "heritage" left by Moses. It has precious little to do with what Jesus taught and this is why I oppose the term Judeo-Christian ethic, heritage, or tradition, when it is used for political purposes.

Now to the idea that Utah could be the model for a Jewish 51st state. What the rabbi said about Utah is in part true, but what is more important is what has been left out. Utah does have a constitution which guarantees equal rights to all citizens. As a matter of fact the church-state separation criteria are considerably more detailed and stringent than on the federal level. Although about 85 per cent of the legislators are Mormons and it is difficult to get legislation passed which is not approved by the LDS church, there is a recourse. Initiatives can be put on the ballot and the press is free. Salt Lake City's major newspaper The Salt Lake Tribune publishes all opinions. The letters to the editor are an excellent example of the diversity of feelings expressed by this supposedly homogeneous population. The church, when it comes to civil actions, does not nearly have the same power as the religious parties in Israel for instance. Let me give two examples.

A few years ago a "secular" Jewish student objected to the school choir singing at High School graduation the song "Friends." It had been a long standing tradition, but she insisted that the song violates the mandated separation of Church and State because it contained the word "God!" The students were forbidden to sing it and when they did so anyway, they were severely disciplined! As I said in a previous installment God is officially "unerwünscht," even in Mormonland. Events of this type do not foster religious harmony, but more importantly they show that the LDS church caves in when it comes to church-state matters.

The second example is the current legal controversy over an easement on Salt Lake City's Main Street adjacent to the Temple plaza. The property had been bought from the city by the Church to provide a park-like area around the Temple grounds where visitors would be sheltered from the hustle and bustle of traffic. Although the easement, which allows pedestrian traffic to flow along Main Street, is now private property, it has been used by some malcontents to express their opinions against the Church quite vociferously thereby vitiating the intended purpose. When they were politely removed from what the Church regarded as its property the case was placed before the courts under the free speech amendment to the Constitution. It is being litigated right now before the appeals court which is not in Salt Lake but in Denver, Colorado. Ergo, although the LDS church clearly has some power in our state it is limited and in no way parallels that of the religious parties which sit in the Knesset.

There is another important difference between Utah and Israel. When the first group of settlers arrived here during the summer of 1847, Brigham Young wisely decided not to interfere with the tribal customs of the natives. He told his flock that it was much better to trade with the Indians than to kill them. This policy of tolerance, which was in complete contrast with what happened in other parts of the West, where the "Indian Wars" raged, paid off and the state has never experienced racial upheavals. The only mass killing which did occur was in 1857. A group of emigrants from Arkansas on their way to California had behaved obnoxiously during their trek through what is now referred to as the "Crossroads of the West." They were subsequently murdered in southern Utah by a band of Mormon militia and some local Indians. This Mountain Meadows Massacre, as it is called, was a very unfortunate event which still spawns ever so often a spate of books. But it ought to be seen within the context of the then existing tensions due to what is officially called the "Utah expedition" but locally the "Utah Invasion." President Buchanan had dispatched 2500 regular troops, plus auxiliaries, to Utah because the Mormons had a theocracy, did not subscribe to the dictum that "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" and they also adhered to the Jewish patriarchal custom of "plural wives." The Union tolerated that men may have several wives in succession via divorce, but not simultaneously. This "peculiar institution," as it was called, had to be stamped out. Nevertheless, one can say in retrospect that if the Jewish settlers in the early decades of the twentieth century had been guided by the Brigham Young principle how to deal with the locals, the entire history of the Jewish state including its current dire straits might have been different. Their Zion might have become as secure as ours is.


But even if we leave all these points aside the proposal, if it were adopted, contains another fatal flaw which would lead within a relatively short time to a disaster for the Jewish people in the U.S. and abroad. Herzl wrote in his Der Judenstaat, "The Jewish question exists wherever Jews live in considerable numbers. Where it does not it is brought along [eingeschleppt] by immigrating Jews." This was true in 1896, was proven subsequently true in Palestine, and is likely to remain true in the future. There is already considerable concern in the America's Jewish community about a steady rise in anti-Semitism. This is bound to increase if the country were now to officially adopt Jewish goals as its own. It might not take very long before the cry "America Awaken," in analogy to Deutschland Erwache, will no longer be uttered by fringe groups but enter the mainstream. This is all the more likely because terrorist attacks against us, for which there can never be adequate security unless one creates a police state á la Hitler or Stalin, are going to mushroom. Protest political parties are already on the horizon because neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are seen any longer as the true representatives of the people at large. This is documented by the fact that slightly less than half of the people voted in the last election. Radical populists are bound to arise, and with them civil strife. Is this what the rabbi wants for his people? He probably does not, but this is what he will get. It may not come in my lifetime but come it will because whenever minorities try to force their opinions on the majority a backlash ensues. It's a law of life and anybody who ignores it will suffer the consequences.

But Rabbi Boteach is no mere dreamer. His article needs to be seen in the context of the news reports in the same issue of the Jerusalem Post. On page 2 under Diplomacy with the subheading Entente Cordiale we see a large picture of our smiling President and behind him a smaller one with an equally happy Ariel Sharon. One might be tempted to jump to the conclusion that he represents the power behind the throne, but I shall refrain from yielding to it. What is more important is the text of the article where we are assured that the recent meeting between Bush and Sharon in the White House had gone exceedingly well. “‘It was an excellent visit, perhaps the best so far' a senior official said." In regard to the upcoming Iraq war, "last week's talks consisted of 'deep strategic coordination' that will be necessary in any war, an Israeli official said." So this is what the meeting was really all about and as usual the American people who pay the bills are not allowed to be privy to what's going on in their name. “Both US and Israeli officials are reluctant to detail that coordination, which will include early warning of a US offensive." Obviously!

The term entente cordiale is especially ominous because it recalls the real cause of WWI; secrecy for the sake of "national security!" The details of the alliance between Great Britain and France were hidden not only from the public but even from the British cabinet! This "understanding," between the general staffs of the two countries, obligated the British fleet to guard the North Sea and the Atlantic, while the French deployed their fleet in the Mediterranean. It was this agreement which forced Britain into the war with Germany. Violation of Belgium neutrality was good for public consumption but was not the reason. The Germans never understood that any attack on France, which in turn was allied with Russia, would automatically involve England and thereby ignite a world war. The documentation for these statements can be found in the book How Diplomats Make War. On page 52 Francis Neilson, the author, who was Member of Parliament from 1910-1915 wrote:

"A neutral's hands must be free . . . . There can be no impartiality where the policy of a country is fettered by secret understandings. The phrase 'foreign friendships,' used so often of late, is in itself an indictment; and in connection with France proves how absurd our position as a so-called neutral power was all through the negotiations since the murder of the Austrian archduke."

This was written in 1915 at which time it had become obvious that this fratricidal war was the greatest mistake Europe had made in its long history. Our current so-called friendship with Israel, which I have discussed in Whither Zionism?, and now the Entente Cordiale are a prescription for catastrophe. They tie our hands and give a lie to our professed stance as "honest broker" in the Israeli-Palestinian war. Thus the rabbi is not just dreaming he has solid grounds for his suggestion and the final paragraph of the Entente Cordiale article is the clincher:

"Daschle [our democratic Senate Majority leader] said that when it comes to Israel, there are no Democrats or Republicans, 'only Americans.' Sharon wished both parties good luck in the November 5 elections."

Well here it is. The elections are just about as useful in regard to foreign policy as the one recently held by Saddam. As far as Iraq is concerned, Congress has abdicated, the three important dissenting voices in the UN Security Council: France, Russia and China, will be browbeaten or bribed so as not to cast a veto and at least abstain from any resolution which might limit George W.'s power to go to war. The Ides of October have passed, but aufgeschoben ist nicht aufgehoben (postponed doesn't mean abandoned) as the German proverb says and the war is still on the docket for January. As Gwynne Dyer so accurately remarked in a Tribune article this week "a December attack could undermine the Christmas retail binge." That Christmas was supposed to make us reflect on the birth of the "Prince of Peace" has, of course, become a fantasy a long time ago.

Since I had never heard of Rabbi Boteach before, I looked him up on the Internet and complete information is available via "Google" by simply typing his name. The short biography on Beliefnet.com to which he is a frequent contributor is informative, but even more so is the longer one by the Harry Walker Agency. Both sites are worth visiting if one wants to put his Jerusalem Post article in perspective. In order give the reader a brief overview I am quoting here the introduction from Beliefnet.com:

"Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the director of the L'Chaim society, a Jewish education organization that hosts world figures and statesmen lecturing on values-based leadership. He is also cofounder, with Michael Jackson, of Heal the Kids, an initiative to encourage adults to reprioritize children. He is the author of a number of books, including 'Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy,' 'Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments,' and most recently, 'Why Can't I Fall in Love.' A winner of the annual 'preacher of the year' contest sponsored by the Times of London, he was formerly rabbi of Oxford University."

My non-bilingual German and Austrian friends will be pleased to hear that "Kosher Sex" has been translated into their native language.

Knowing what I now know about the rabbi, who has also been described as "a world-famous thinker," I am still puzzled: did he write in jest or did he mean what he said? You, the reader, will have to decide, but the "Entente Cordiale" article is definitely a deadly serious piece of news. It should not be allowed to go unchallenged if the American people want to retain their freedom of action in foreign affairs and avoid a potential WWIII.

Let me conclude now with a personal note to the rabbi.

Dear Rabbi Boteach:

You have been called "a world-famous thinker." Please think again about your proposal. As mentioned above, I was not sure why you had written it but on further reflection I believe that you might have done so in order to "test the water." If this was indeed the case I would like to assure you that you have stepped into Lake Superior and it is urgent to get out immediately. No one survives in it for any length of time. Your premise that Americans have become "the Jews of the world" is mistaken. Americans are not "loathed" all over the world, only some aspects of our foreign policy are. Please do not equate the people with a handful of politicians, that was a Nazi ploy, and please abstain from remaking us in your image. No good can come from this effort, only bloodshed. Furthermore, please inform those of your co-religionists both here and in Israel that attempts to turn the clock back 3000 years to biblical times cannot produce peace but only perpetual war, to the detriment of all of us.

It is time to abandon the conquest and "dominion" model, technology has become too dangerous. Hate has to be removed step by step rather than fostered. There are no quick fixes and we have to learn to work on the Lord's time table instead of ours. If we want to have peace we will have to make a genuine effort to first open our hearts and minds to those who disagree with us and then jointly work towards mutually satisfactory solutions. It is the only way to save the world from catastrophe. In regard to the Holy Land I can think of no better advice than the one given by the Buddha to his followers twenty five hundred years ago, "Don't repel each other, like oil and water; but mingle like milk and water." Regardless of what happens in the near future, in the long run the two sons of Abraham will have to live together and it should be America's role, and especially that of American Jews, to help them do so. Please feel free to contact me so that we can discuss this - literally - deadly serious problem further.

Sincerely yours,

Ernst Rodin MD





December 1, 2002

WANTED: GOOD JUDGMENT!



The week of November 3-9 was surely a highlight in our President's life. On November 5 the country gave him control of both houses of Congress and on November 8 the UN Security Council passed unanimously a resolution to force UN inspectors on a reluctant Iraq. The carrot and stick approach as outlined in the previous installment worked. Apparently the administration promised Putin free hand in Chechnya, trade concessions to the Chinese, and the Syrians would have received the stick had they not "played ball."

The question now is: what will our President do with all this power which has been bestowed upon him? The measure of his character will become apparent in the next few months. By March we will know whether the mentioned week was one highlight or a watershed, and the zenith of his achievements. Judging by the rumblings emanating from Washington it seems that our President is intent on a war with Iraq, come what may. Plan A the October 15 "surprise" air drop attack was shelved as too risky, and as it turned out it wasn't necessary anyway. Now it's on to Plan B. This seems to combine Plan A with initial bombing, ground invasion and generous bribes of local Iraqi opposition leaders. It had worked after all in Afghanistan, so why wouldn't it work in Iraq? seems to be the logic.

But has it worked in Afghanistan? On September 14, 2001 three days after the tragedy, I sent a brief article to the Salt Lake Tribune entitled "Justice or Revenge?" In it I strongly argued for the former and against the latter. I wrote

"Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that we obliterate the Taliban regime will that be the end of terrorism? Of course not. Fanatics are simply going to move to another 'rogue state' and in addition destabilize those regimes in the Middle East which are currently friendly to the U.S.

Furthermore, bin Laden's demise will not automatically create 'peace on earth, good will to men.' There are enough drug lords with 'deep pockets' who can support any number of groups who carry a grudge against the United States. To start a war is easy to end one is difficult as Lyndon Johnson found out in Vietnam."

I also argued that the causes and not only the symptoms must be treated and one of them surely is the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian disaster. While clearly not the only cause, our unconditional support of the Likud government and its repressive policies in the occupied territories are certainly a contributory factor for the hatred some Arabs feel against our government. I counseled reason which punishes the perpetrators of the 9/11 disaster while we address at the same time legitimate grievances others might have against our policies. Since this type of argument ran against the grain of prevailing passions the article was never published.

Little did I know that this proposed program never had a ghost of a chance as the recent book by Bob Woodward Bush at War clearly demonstrates. Anyone who still harbors any illusions about how our government really functions should read this book. Even on September 11 Bush had already accepted the premise that the al-Qaeda attack was an act of war which can only be responded to by massive military retaliation. Limited strikes against the perpetrators combined with patient police work to uncover terrorist cells around the world were never regarded as an option. Patience is not yet an American virtue. Immediate and spectacular action was demanded by the President. The idea was that we wouldn't do it "like the Soviets," going in with massive ground forces, but we'd use our air power and let the locals do the fighting. To this end "Gary," our highest level CIA clandestine operations chief was dispatched to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan on September 19 with a select group of "special ops" and a suitcase containing $3 Million in $100 denominations. He liberally dispensed the cash among the warlords as a down payment with another $10 Million to follow. They could use the money any way they pleased and he also promised them the blue from the sky how we would subsequently rebuild their country on a lavish scale.

As we all know Phase I worked superbly well but we are now in Phase II which is, somewhat similar to the situation the Soviets found themselves in 1979. The Afghan government, which they supported, had lost control of the countryside to the mujahadeen who thoroughly detested the atheistic practices of the Soviet style regime and wanted to establish an Islamic republic. Once the USSR invaded the country, the CIA sprang into action with money and equipment. The rest, as the say, is history including the creation of our erstwhile friend Osama.

Now fast forward to the end of 2002. We have a friendly government in Kabul but Karzai, the President, requires American bodyguards because he can't trust his own people to protect him. Although the countryside is not yet in open rebellion, the Americans are not seen as liberators but as another materialistic culture which exploits the locals for their own gain. Burqa or veil is still the traditional garb for women; definitely outside Kabul and to some extent even in the capital. As a female Afghan Supreme Court Justice found out: democracy has limits. When she returned to her country after having been photographed at the White House with President Bush, without wearing a veil she was promptly sacked by her government. Afghanistan is after all officially an Islamic State and the Commission which is to write a new constitution is headed by a judge who is in favor of sharia, Islamic law. When a group of about 2000 students recently protested against their miserable living conditions in the dorms (e.g. broken windows, massive overcrowding, no heat, no electricity etc.), they were met with gun fire which killed three and wounded several others. As one student ruefully commented, "We thought this was a real democracy. We didn't know we could be killed for demonstrating. Otherwise we wouldn't have done it."

Thus nation building, an idea our President thoroughly denounced while still a candidate for office, is still not to his liking. Our resources instead of being used to build up what we helped smash are being diverted against Iraq. We are thus paving the way not only for another Afghanistan quagmire, but a similar one in Iraq when Saddam has been successfully deposed. Apparently the idea is that we'll let our allies pick up the pieces afterwards.

The average person keeps asking oneself: why this obsession with Iraq? It not only threatens to ruin any hope we may have for rebuilding Afghanistan in the near future, but is also bound to destabilize the Mid-East. This is where Bob Woodward's book comes in again. Immediately after 9/11 Bush was urged to go not only after the Taliban and Osama who is referred to in Washington circles as UBL (first name Usama) but also Saddam Hussein. Bush correctly resisted because he feared that this loss of focus might not resonate with the American people. He wanted first UBL's head. After that was done and the Taliban were finished it would be Iraq's turn. This decision was already made in the first two weeks after 9/11. The order to go after UBL's head was taken literally, if we can trust Bob Woodward. Cofer Black, the CIA's Director of the Counterterrorism Center ordered advance team chief Gary with his $3 million suitcase to bring him bin Laden's "head in a box." When Gary was surprised because this violated the rules the CIA had been operating under and questioned the order, he was told by Black, "I want to take it down and show the president." Woodward continues that when Gary signaled the team's safe arrival in Afghanistan "mindful of Cofer Black's request about bin Laden's head, he added a line to the cable requesting some heavy-duty cardboard boxes and dry ice, and if possible some pikes."

Is that really how our highest level administrators see their jobs or did Woodward fall for a joke that was played on him? We don't know, of course, but what is not a joke is that our buildup in the Gulf for the upcoming war with Iraq proceeds according to the Afghan model and we are buying ourselves now an Iraqi opposition army of Kurds. But the army we are buying ourselves is not wanted by other Iraqis and our latest opposition leader beneficiary is, according to the Christian Science Monitor, the ex-General Secretary of the Iraqi Communist Party, Ballahadeen Nouri. Never mind, that ordinary Iraqis neither trust him nor any other opposition leader. Marching on we must because our Commander in Chief says so and as Woodward wrote: his decisions are not to be questioned. As he told Woodward personally, “‘I’m not a textbook player. I'm a gut player.' “He also stated, “‘I’m the commander - see, I don't need to explain - I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation.'"

Well, I guess that attitude seems to take care of the Gettysburg address. "Government of the people, by the people, for the people" may become obsolete as we enter the era of unending war against terrorism and "Homeland Security." The measures designed to "protect us," and which are already on the books, will give the government unfettered access to complete information about our private lives. Lady Liberty may soon wonder about what has happened to the country whose entrance she guards.

It is reasonable to ask now who this President we elected 2 years ago is. Chris Matthew's recent book American presents us with a quote of candidate George W. Bush from December 1999, "Let us reject the blinders of isolationism, just as we have refused the crown of empire. Let us not dominate others with our power or betray them with our indifference. And let us have an American foreign policy that reflects American character. The modesty of true strength. The humility of real greatness." Is that the President we have now? It seems that during the run-up for election Mr. Bush wasn't quite sure what he would do with his presidency if he won, but 9/11 gave him an opportunity which is now being relentlessly exploited. He decided right then and there that he would be "a war time president" and this would be the all consuming direction of his administration. The war is limitless and will stretch even beyond his term. I guess the speech writer who was responsible for the above cited quote is out of a job now.

Since the President seems determined to have his war it'll only need the pretext, as mentioned in previous installments. This can be readily manufactured because on the one hand the conditions imposed on Saddam are sufficiently stringent that any minor breach of compliance can be exploited and on the other hand the "no fly zones" are ready made for excuses not only to bomb but to create incidents when needed. We in the U.S. have accepted the "no fly zones" as our right conferred upon us by the UN Security council. Little do most of us realize that this was supposed to have been a temporary arrangement in 1991 for humanitarian reasons. They were intended to prevent Saddam from punishing the Shiite rebels in the south and the Kurds in the north, when his regime was threatened in the aftermath of the first Gulf war. That has, of course, fallen by the wayside a long time ago and we, jointly with the Brits, are now happily bombing air defense installations in preparation for the upcoming war. This one will, of course, also be fought for humanity's sake because the "monster" and "madman" who has WMDs and has gassed his own people must be eliminated. That our money bought him the gas and that the Reagan administration was not averse to Saddam's use of it against the Iranians and their allies the Kurds in the Iran-Iraq war must not be remembered. Neither should we remember that the icon of the 20th century, Winston Churchill, also had no compunction about advocating the gassing of people, although he was in favor of non-lethal agents. Geoff Simon quotes Churchill in Iraq: >From Sumer to Saddam as having said, "I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes." This was at the time when the Kurds were in open rebellion against the British Empire which had shouldered the "White Man's Burden" and was intent on bringing Western values to the dismembered Ottoman Empire. Wing Commander Gale of RAF Squadron 30 in Iraq is also quoted to have said after the bombing campaign, "If the Kurds hadn't learned by our example to behave themselves in a civilised way then we had to spank their bottoms. This was done by bombs and guns." For the British Empire "to behave in a civilized way" was "do as you are told" and forget about any aspirations of nationhood, which had been implanted into their minds by our very own President Wilson. The British found out the hard way that their type of nation-building didn't work in the long run, either in Afghanistan or in Iraq, but Tony Blair is eager to forget the past and hopes that the U.S. will do better. That this hope is hardly justified by history and the currently existing facts doesn't seem to bother the Bush-Blair "Axis of Good."

In the second paragraph I have mentioned that the next few months will tell what kind of a man George W. Bush really is. The jury is still out and this is why I have composed this little poem in the style of Aeschylus

To Our King George II

A bush thou art, Alas no tree.

Yet Fortune lifted thee

High above all other men.

Power undreamed of eons before

Is yours; but not forever more.

Two years, or maybe six,

And you'll return to Texan sticks.

What deeds you do in this allotted span;

The choices made, for good or ill of man,

Are yours alone, with no one else to blame.

Let, therefore, this your warning be:

Brute force does serve expediency;

Yet in its wake the victimized

Will shout for vengeance; always highly prized.

Unless obstinacy does to wisdom yield,

And friendly counsels rule the field,

The seeds you sow no good will bring.

And of your downfall future bards will sing.







January 1, 2003

DECONSTRUCTING AMERICA



This time of year usually leads one to look back as well as forward. We want to know how we got where we are and what the likely near future will be. But Americans tend to have a short memory. This is why George Bush I, for instance, could confidently talk about creating a "New World Order,” a course which his son is now eagerly pursuing, because Dad had supposedly left the job unfinished. Only those of my generation who have lived in Europe know and remember that Neue Ordnung was the slogan under which Hitler fought his WWII and pursued the extermination of Jews. He was actually more modest than Bush father and son, because he limited his announced efforts to Europe. Europeans who have experienced the disaster which Wilson's evangelism has foisted on the world are also highly dubious of the results the new Wilsonianism, which currently emanates from Washington, will bring.

When I look back at the country I came to in the late summer of 1950 and compare it with the winter of 2002-2003 I hardly recognize it now. Nobody forced me to come; I did so exercising my free will and volunteered to become a U.S. citizen. I saw goodness, a spirit of cooperation, willingness to help and kindness to the stranger. That was the country I wanted to live in. But I also saw New York. Although the skyscrapers were imposing so were the drunks sleeping on the sidewalk right off 34th Street and Fifth Avenue. The jostling and rudeness of the pedestrians and cab drivers, the filth of certain sections of Brooklyn and the Bronx also made me wonder what was going on and Goethe's words, "Wo viel Licht ist, ist viel Schatten" came to mind. Indeed where there is a great deal of light there is also deep darkness. It wasn't that city life itself repelled me, because I had come from a big city, but it was the arrogance of "we are the biggest and the best" by some of its inhabitants who thought that when they went across the Hudson into New Jersey they had gone slumming.

Just as I had to leave Stalin behind in Vienna there was the determination this is not for me, there had to be a better place. I found it first on Staten Island because, although a borough of NYC, it had a semi-rural character in those days. The real America, however, was in Minnesota and the rest of this vast country where people didn't throw insults at each other but lived in peace with their families and neighbors. There was the opportunity to grow and develop. As the Mayo brothers, who had stamped out a world renowned medical center in the cornfields had said, "Here is an opportunity, what you do with it is up to you." That was the spirit and the challenge. You had a chance and no one else to blame for your under achievements. We had different opinions on a variety of subjects but didn't insist that our own was the only correct one. We addressed strangers by Mr., Mrs. and Miss. or whenever appropriate by our academic titles. It wasn't snobbishness but in so doing we showed good manners and respect for each other. "Every Tom, Dick and Harry" was a byword if one wanted to refer to uneducated or nasty people. God was a reality in people's lives and honesty a virtue. People knew what the word "shame" meant. When Senator McCarthy started slandering people his career was finished with one sentence by the defense counsel, "Senator have you no sense of decency left?"

Little did I know in 1950-51 that in New York I had seen the future and that there was no escaping from it. The "elites" of the crooked axis: New York, Washington and California have imposed their stamp on the country and now the rest of the world is supposed to followed suit. But what does this Western civilization, which we are defending really look like? Yes, I can still write and say what I do but one wonders how long? The Homeland Security Act and the Patriot Act may soon regard opinions which dissent from the "party line," and there is no doubt that we have one, treasonous. People are already afraid to openly discuss certain taboo subjects. You can revile God, slander the Catholic Church, teach sex in school rather than religion, question whether or not we ever did go to the moon, but there is one subject which remains holy and that is the Holocaust and the safety of the state of Israel. These have become inextricably linked. It wasn't always so.

I have two editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The full 24 volume set of the 1960 edition and a CD ROM of 1999. A comparison is instructive. In the full set neither the word Holocaust nor Auschwitz appears as a subject. The persecution and destruction of European Jewry is covered in one paragraph under Hitler where it says, " in German-occupied Europe between 4,500.000 and 5,500.000 had been killed by the end of the war as the only solution in Hitler's view to the Jewish 'problem.'(This approximate total is a compromise between the 6,000.000 quoted during the Nuremberg trials and the 4,500.000 later admitted by German sources). The sufferings of other races were only less when measured in numbers killed. Such barbarism was indiscriminate, even where, as in the Ukraine, Hitler might have encouraged nationalist feelings to his own advantage." The 1999 CD reports in a long article devoted to the Holocaust that 5,700.000 were killed and there was no longer any reference to the suffering which had been inflicted on "other races." In the Auschwitz article the world is now told that in this particular concentration camp estimates of death "from all causes vary greatly, usually cited as between 1,000.000 and 2,500.000 but sometimes reaching 4,000.000." Yet, the November 25, 1947 edition of The New York Times stated in a report on the Cracow trial of Auschwitz KZ guards and officials that they had been responsible for the deaths of 300,000 prisoners.

Does it matter how many people were "really" killed? No, but what does matter is that the more time elapses the larger the figures grow. What is more important, however, for people who live in a democracy and believe in the freedom to investigate historical events as objectively as possible is that the Holocaust is off-limits. In Europe there are laws against it and one loses not only one's reputation but can be sent to jail even if one simply wants to scientifically examine the methods which were used in the perpetration of this crime. One may now say: Well, that's Europe. But how long will it be before such a law is being passed here? The leaders of the Jewish community seem to believe that by elevating and magnifying the Holocaust, and by stifling all dissent, the people of the world will develop more compassion for Jews. This is unrealistic because the policies of the current government of the state of Israel produce hatred rather than pity. America is seen as aiding and abetting these policies and, therefore, European anti-Jewish sentiments will inevitably arise here also. The current issue of Foreign Affairs shows a picture of an antiwar demonstration in Paris from October 2002 where a somewhat morose looking young lady holds up a placard. It has a picture of Hitler, with his familiar bullet proof uniform cap, in the top center who says "grâce à Sharon & Bush ma reléve est assurée!" This sentiment that "thanks to Sharon and Bush my revival is assured" is unfortunately not a fantasy and appeals to the Holocaust, or law suits will not prevent it.

The extent to which the Bush administration is beholden to the Sharon government is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that Bush's "road map to peace," which he touted during the fall, is being kept secret and was not released to the press when Sharon expressed his displeasure. This does not go unnoticed by the rest of the world and it is only a matter of time till anti-Jewish sentiments will spill over onto our shores. The policies of our administration make it inevitable. This is a tragedy and I am especially disappointed because I had put such high hopes on the Bush administration. I had voted for the man and was delighted when he was finally confirmed by the famous single vote of the Supreme Court. I had been deeply disenchanted with Clinton's performance in office and breathed a sigh of relief that now honesty and sanity seemed to be returning to Washington. I wrote and distributed Whither Zionism? in the assumption that our politicians might benefit from a brief history lesson on the Middle East which was obviously the powder keg about to explode further. It was ignored and events proceeded from bad to worse. Prior to 9/11 our president seemed singularly disinterested in foreign policy, until the wake-up call came. On September 11 he was confronted with a choice between vengeance and justice. He chose vengeance and we have not yet seen the outcome of that decision. Let there be no doubt, Bush's reaction to Osama's challenge was not foreordained. It was a deliberate, conscious, but possibly impulsive choice. He announced that war had been declared on the United States and the rattlesnake motto, "don't tread on me" was invoked. Bush would show the world whom they were dealing with. Are we rattlesnakes, or human beings? When one considers the size of our country and its economy, the 9/11 tragedy can be compared to a mosquito bite. Bush has elevated it into blood poisoning with an ever increasing drain on lives and resources.

In last month's installment I mentioned Bob Woodward's statement that Bush characterized himself as a "gut player." This assessment was repeated in the current issue of Time magazine. In the article "Double-Edged Sword" the relationship between Bush and his Vice President is discussed. "Bush had the zeal to make the war on terrorism his mission; Cheney provided the theology. 'With Bush, it's all gut; its visceral,'a White House official says.'He hates Saddam. He's an evil guy who tried to assassinate his dad, and he's gonna get him... '" Do we have a Captain Ahab at the helm of our ship of state who will go after his white whale, come hell or high water? This surely is a chilling thought. His crew of Cheney, Rumsfeld and their supporters keep cheering him on and there is only the lonesome General Powell who is likely to be swept aside in the events of the next month.

Barring divine intervention the war with Iraq seems all but inevitable. Obviously the Lord has a number of options which range from helping Iraqi colonels assassinate Saddam, a massive devastating earthquake that levels the center of Washington and gets rid of all politicians, an invasion by space aliens and the like. But apart from the first one these seem rather unlikely and fate will take its course. At some point in the next 6 weeks the inspectors are likely to be ordered out of Iraq, regardless of what they do or don't find, just as happened in 1998 when Clinton sent a few rockets. This time it won't be just rockets but boots will follow. This is inevitable because one cannot possibly assemble such a vast invasion force in the Gulf States, as we are doing now, and then tell the troops, "Thanks for coming, but it's time to go home!" This is so preposterous that it need not be discussed further.

The only question is the date when the sky over Baghdad will be raining bombs again. Our president may have to coordinate this with his "good friend" Ariel. Sharon has an election coming up on January 28 and is likely to win. His opponent the well-meaning mayor of Haifa, who runs on the sensible platform of disengagement from the occupied territories, will probably get beaten. Sanity is not in demand; neither here nor in Israel. Once Sharon is firm in the saddle again there is nothing that can stop the war because the map of the Middle East needs to be redrawn in Israel's favor. There are already rumblings from Jerusalem that Sharon is not happy about the Lebanese who had the audacity to drill a well in their own country which diverts water from the Jordan river upon which Israel depends. They also tolerate Hizbollah which intermittently sends some rockets into Galilee, and since they wouldn't do so without Syrian support this state which "harbors terrorists" will also have to be democratized by military means. Furthermore, this could be finally the opportunity to get rid of the Palestinians who can be expelled into Jordan and this country will likewise become a democracy under joint Israeli-U.S. protection. Then the dream of a Greater Israel, some Zionists had longed for since the establishment of the state, will have been realized. This is not total fantasy because we have been told that the U.S. and Israeli Chiefs of Staff are coordinating their plans for the upcoming war.

There is no doubt that all of this is militarily feasible because the mentioned states are simply no match for our "precision weapons" with their "depleted" uranium war heads which smash through whatever is in their way and subsequently leave it as a radioactive health hazard for ever and ever more. That this is a fact of life is testified to by the remainder of Iraqi and Serbian tanks in their respective battlefields. All right, we have achieved our military objective, now what? We are going home and let the rest of the world clean up the mess we have left behind? This seems to be the thinking of our planners. But Mars has a nasty habit that once his door has been opened he enjoys himself to such an extent that he is loath to go back and have the door shut on him again. The above painted scenario assumes that after we've "democratized" the mentioned states we are free to go after the junior partner of the axis of evil, Kim Jong Il, get rid of his bomb and then liberate the Iranians from their ayatollahs. Oil will flow in abundance, the economy will boom and re-election is in the bag. The Wilsonian dream has been achieved, the world is safe for democracy, the messianic kingdom has arrived and will endure as Pax Americana forever. Is this really how the people who are responsible for our future see the world?

The fly in the ointment is those nasty Muslim extremists who are supposed to stay quiet and keep Musharraf, as well as all our other clients in the area, in office. They may not be inclined to do so and are bound to extract their price from us by continued terror attacks. Regardless how many laws and restrictions are being passed there is simply no way to make us "safe." Again, Israel is the model and the warning. They went this route since 1967 and are currently worse off than they were before that war. This is a lesson one doesn't want to hear about and will, therefore, have to be relearned.

But back to the title of this essay and Deconstructionism because this is what our leadership and intellectuals are engaged in. The word did not exist as a concept in the 1960 Encyclopedia Britannica but it does show up on the mentioned CD ROM. When I looked for it, the article on Nietzsche appeared. He was the father with his Umwertung aller Werte, transvaluation of all values, which his as well as Freud's disciples put into practice. The phenomenal irony is that Nietzsche's evil genius was released by microscopic worms, spirochetes, which slowly but surely ate up his brain. We have to thank a prostitute for this gift to the world. Had he not lost, due to syphilis, the function of parts of his frontal lobes, he would not have shown this phenomenal lack of inhibition and he would not have produced the books he became famous for. Die Geburt der Tragoedie, Morgenroete , Froehliche Wissenschaft and whatever else he had published prior to 1883 wouldn't have made a ripple among intellectuals. It was Zarathustra and what followed thereafter, written in a manic state, which cemented his fame.

It surely makes one wonder what runs this world. Maybe Empedocles had the answer twenty four hundred years ago. He posited the cyclical dominance of one of two forces: Love and Strife. While Love is constructive, Strife tears apart. In the nineteen-fifties we still had Love in this country, it degenerated into Lust and now Strife rules. How long will it be before Love has a chance to return?





February 1, 2003

RHETORIC OF WAR



In contrast to magazines which routinely predate their issues by several days, these essays are indeed sent to the web on the mentioned date. This means, however, that in these fast moving times events may occur which were unexpected and have to be commented upon. The Columbia shuttle explosion which happened this morning was one of those. What might have been simply a national tragedy, similar to the Challenger disaster, has potentially the makings of an international catastrophe. One of the crew members was an Israeli Air Force officer and the hopes of his entire country were flying with him. He was the shining star in the midst of gloom which was suddenly extinguished in a mass of disintegrating debris. Since mission command had lost contact with the shuttle crew 15 minutes before impact, while the shuttle was still at an altitude of 200,000 feet, any type of terrorist action initiated from the ground is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, there is hardly any doubt that conspiracy theorists will immediately go to work, especially since the Israeli officer had piloted one of the planes that bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. It is clearly too early to gauge Israeli and American reactions to this tragedy and I shall abstain from speculating. The following article was written during the past two days and inasmuch as today's tragedy does not invalidate any aspect of it I shall leave it in its original form.



This was the week where the course for the current decade and possibly beyond was set. Sharon was, as expected, re-elected and has already spurned an offer by Arafat to enter into negotiations about the conditions the Palestinians are forced to live under. There will, therefore, be continued stalemate and further bloodshed in that country. As predicted in the April 1, 2002 installment Palestinian State or Israeli Protectorate, Sharon has in the meantime indeed re-occupied the West Bank and major portions of Gaza, although he has so far refrained from martyring Arafat. To foresee events like these does not take special prophetic powers. All one has to know is the character of the leaders of a given nation and their actions become predictable. Any hope for an early peace in Israel has been destroyed by Sharon's re-election and the situation will continue to have to go from bad to worse. Eventually the Israelis may wake up, say enough is enough and follow Mitzna's disengagement plan which actually dates back to 1968 as pointed out in Whither Zionism?. Unfortunately the majority of Israelis are not yet ready to face these harsh facts of life and continue to believe that Might makes Right, that fear will spawn hate, and hate combined with military force will eventually triumph. That was also Hitler's fantasy.

The fate of Israel would not necessarily be of major concern to Americans had our politicians not yoked us, apparently irrevocably, to Jerusalem's policies for reasons which were spelled out in the Unholy Alliance article of May 1, 2002. President Bush seems to have a rather simplistic view of the world. There is only good and evil. He has declared after 9/11: Who is not with us, is against us. The inhabitants of this world are now being divided by Washington into those who are good, i.e. they agree with America's point of view; or evil, namely those who disagree and especially those who oppose us by means of terror. States who pursue an independent nuclear policy are "rogue states" and have to be dealt with by the American military. We are after all "the only superpower" and have the best trained army in the world. As the former Secretary of State, Madelaine Albright, reportedly told the generals who were reluctant to get entangled in Balkan politics: what good is it to have such a wonderful military if you don't want to use it? Now we have a President who does want to use it because it has been reported that he sees himself as an instrument of Providence to rid the world of evil. An inner belief of this type should raise concern because it brings inevitably past history to mind.

In his State of the Union speech our President made it clear that he feels America has been chosen by history to rectify evil throughout the world, but most urgently in Iraq. "America and the world will not be blackmailed . . . . A brutal dictator with a history of reckless aggression, with ties to terrorism, and great potential wealth in a vital region will not be permitted to threaten the United States." He has "shown utter contempt for the United Nations and the opinion of the world . . . . It is up to Iraq "to account for what happened to the "25,000 liters of anthrax, the 38,000 liters of botulism toxin, the 500,000 tons of sarin, mustard and VX agents" as well as the "30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents." The "high strength aluminum tubes" capable for developing nuclear weapons were also referred to although an hour earlier the Chief Nuclear Weapons Inspector, Mohamed El Baradei, had told us in a TV interview that the aluminum tubes had nothing to with atomic weapons, and that his experts have so far been unable to detect anything that would raise concerns. The President then asked the rhetorical question what all of this arsenal is good for. "But why? The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for these weapons is to dominate, intimidate or attack." He could "resume his ambition of conquest and create deadly havoc in this region . . . . Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy and it is not an option." Subsequently the President enumerated again the major sins Saddam has already committed. He used poison gas "on whole villages leaving thousands of its civilians dead, blind or disfigured." He, tortured "children while their parents watched." Saddam's CIA personnel poses as scientists and the real scientists are forbidden to talk to UN inspectors on pain of death, which includes their families. In Saddam's prisons tongues have been ripped out, skin burned with acid and there is rape. The President declared that "If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning." He went on to say that "We fight reluctantly, we strive for peace," but "if war is forced upon us we will fight in a just cause with just means, sparing the innocent," but we will "fight with the full force of the American military and we will prevail." Although God has been banished from U.S. schools He seems to be alive when needed and the President concluded with the assurance that He will help us and finished with the familiar refrain of "God bless America."

I have recited the essence of this speech in such detail because Central Europeans of my generation have heard this type of language before when an attempt was made to create enthusiasm for war, which was notably lacking by the populace. The year was 1938 and the evil person, for Germany was in those days Mr. Benes, the President of Czechoslovakia. In the middle of September the Sudeten crisis was in full bloom. Chamberlain had twice, unsuccessfully, met with Hitler who had kept upping the ante and war seemed imminent. Hitler's September, 26 speech in the Sportpalast gave the signal for, and the cause of, the impending war. As everybody knows he was, like Fidel Castro, exceedingly loquacious and his speech - reprinted in Domarus' Hitler Reden 1932-1945 kommentiert von einem Zeitgenossen - takes up 8 pages even in shortened form.

Before going any further let it be understood quite clearly that I am not comparing the person of President Bush with Hitler; or that of Saddam Hussein with Benes. All I intend to do is to show how the rhetoric which is used to whip up enthusiasm for war is timeless, the same the world over, and can be used by anybody. Here are some key morsels from that speech but I am somewhat handicapped by Domarus excerpts' because the main hate tirade against Benes was omitted. Domarus merely mentioned that it had occurred. Nevertheless what is printed is enough to give the flavor. The following are direct quotes when translated from German. "The question which has so deeply concerned us during the past months and weeks is well known: It is not so much: Czecho-slovakia, it is: Mister Benes," whom Hitler called "the father of lies, responsible for the slaughter [niedermetzeln] of thousands of Germans." Hitler then went on to recite, what Domarus appropriately calls, the "Parteierzählung," namely his regularly repeated mantra of how he, the poor orphan and unknown soldier, had been led by Providence to first head the party, then the Reich and now, after the incorporation of Austria, Greater Germany. But eventually he got back to Benes who had created this state (Czechoslovakia) from a lie because he promised a Swiss type model where all the minorities were supposed to have had equal rights. This never came to pass "he started a regime of terror!" When members of the three and a half million German minority protested they were "shot down . . . . Mr Benes had decided to slowly but inexorably exterminate the German population . . . . He has succeeded to a certain extent. He has thrown innumerable human beings into the deepest despair. Through unabashed use of his terror he has succeeded to silence and frighten these millions while at the same time the international obligation of this state became clear. This state [CSR] is now used by Bolshevism as its entry door," and it represents an airbase which threatens all of Germany. Benes' enslavement of the people by the military leads "to gruesome figures: in one day 10,000 refugees, on the next 20,000, one day later now 37,000, again two days later 41,000, then 62,000, then 78,000, now there are 90,000, 137,000, and today 241,000. Entire districts are being depopulated, villages are being burned down; with grenades and gas one attempts to smoke out Germans [ausräuchern] . . . . The time has come for plain talk . . . . If anybody has that amount of patience as we have had in the past one can surely not say that we are eager for war." Hitler ended the speech with the statement that he had given Benes his outline for a peaceful solution, which included incorporation of the German speaking areas of the CSR into Greater Germany. "The decision is now in his [Benes'] own hand! Peace or War! He will either accept this offer and give the Germans at last their freedom or we shall bring about this freedom by ourselves . . . . We are resolute! Mister Benes may choose now!"

Let me re-iterate, there is no doubt that Hitler not only exaggerated but used outright lies, especially when he declared in the same speech, that once the Sudeten question has been settled in his favor he has no further territorial demands in Europe and specifically, "we don't want any Czechs." His motive, however, was not the plight of the Sudeten Germans but Czechoslovakia had to disappear so that he could then proceed with his march to the East. Lest there be a misunderstanding I want to state once more that President Bush and his speech writers acted in good faith but the point is that rhetoric has consequences and in this respect the two speeches are a good example for how to inflame public opinion at home and abroad. Hitler's war against Benes was avoided at the last minute by the Munich conference, which is now universally condemned as appeasement. Nevertheless, it had its value at the time because neither England nor France could have helped the Czechs in 1938, just as they could not help the Poles a year later, when they did declare war on Germany. The year England gained enabled her to build up the RAF and defeat the Luftwaffe in the battle of Britain another year later. Chamberlain deserves better than the "bad rap" he is currently receiving. While Churchill pushed for war in 1938 and is now held up as the paragon of wisdom it must be admitted that although he won the war he lost the empire as a result of it. The outcome of wars tends to be quite unpredictable.

But back to the President's speech and the comparison. In both instances, the adversary is depicted as an individual consumed by utter evil. In both instances figures are trotted out, to demonstrate that an intolerable situation exists. In both instances it is emphasized that if the condition is not immediately rectified the most dire results will occur and in both instances the choice between peace or war is attributed to the adversary. The danger in Hitler's case was the threat of Bolshevism, which had served him exceedingly well throughout his career, and in the current instance it is the specter of atomic or biochemical annihilation of our cities by terrorists. Although Hitler did not use the phrase "this war which has been forced upon us" on this occasion it was regularly employed after the victorious Poland campaign, when he saw no reason to continue the war with the West. He wanted to go East because that was where the empty spaces and material resources lay which he coveted.

Bush's premise is that America is in mortal danger from this "madman," Saddam, and immediate action to disarm him is required. But just as in 1938 there is a hidden agenda. Disarmament is clearly not enough. It needs "regime change" and unless there is a coup inside Iraq, or Saddam were to be willing to go into exile with his family, as well as the top leaders of the Ba'th party, this can only be accomplished by American military ground forces. But we don't want just "any regime," we need a client state in the area because there happens to be the proverbial elephant in the living room in the region of whom nobody talks about here. It is Israel, who as our friend and not just ally, needs friendly regimes as neighbors. Neither the Turks, the Syrians, the Jordanians, the Saudis and maybe even the Kuwaiti seem to be particularly afraid of Saddam's WMDs. So it does boil down to Israeli politics, the regional nuclear superpower. Bush's rhetorical question why Saddam needs his WMDs has another answer. They are Saddam's life insurance and not necessarily intended for the purposes mentioned by the President. His nuclear reactor was bombed once by the Israelis and he may want to make sure that if they attempted to interfere again in what he regards as his own internal affairs they would suffer the consequences.

Now let us take this point a step further. Granted that Saddam has no conscience and will do anything to stay in power. Granted further that he has some WMDs, does it follow that he will use them to antagonize us on purpose? I have dealt with this question in the December, 2001 installment on War on Terrorism and can find no reason from his past behavior that he is suicidal. The total annihilation of his country would be assured if he indeed launched germ or chemical warfare against us without a prior invasion. Let us in addition think unpopular thoughts and place ourselves in his shoes. The President has declared that "trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not an option." What would you do if you were to be devoid of a conscience, your life is on the line, and your country is invaded by a superior force? Would you not want to use whatever WMD is in your arsenal and in addition give some left overs to known terrorists? Thus our policy instead of decreasing the threat of terror might actually increase it geometrically.

This leaves aside the unrest which is likely to be spawned in other Arab and Muslim nations, who have a vast revoir of human suicide bombers. Our announced policy to stomp out evil in the world wherever it exists cannot succeed. It assumes a static world, where we can enforce our will wherever we want. This assumption is fundamentally flawed because the laws of physics assure us that for every action there is a re-action. We also know from history that there are no "final solutions." "A New Order" in the world by rearranging borders has always had a short life span. It was pursued by Hitler in Europe, by Japan in East Asia, and most recently by the President's father, who promised that he would "bomb Bagdhad back into the stone age." The only universal law of life is change and Fukuyama's "End of History," in the sense of absence of wars and revolutions, will never arrive as long as there is a human rather than humane race.

It seems clear, to me at least, that whatever we do in the Middle East cannot lead to permanent peace in the area unless the Palestinian problem is addressed. It is this purulent wound which poisons not only the region but our active support of Israeli policies, threatens our own future and that of our children. Last year the President chided the UN for not enforcing its decisions on Iraq and he did so again this week. But Iraq and North Korea are not the only states which thumb their noses at the UN. So does Israel and the silence from our part in this respect is truly deafening. Nevertheless, the rest of the world sees what is going on and will accuse us, not without good cause, of hypocrisy. Hiding behind noble words and calling opponents to Likud policies anti-Semites is not likely to succeed forever and we are squandering whatever good will America has built up in the world over the past century.

Neither is it correct to assume that all the people in this country, and abroad, who oppose a war against Iraq at this time are professional protesters and "cooks." We have faith-based groups both here in Utah, as well as the country at large who do not believe that the current situation meets the Christian theologic preconditions for a "just war." Abroad, Germans are chided for being opposed to the war, because they should toe the American line. After all, we have liberated these ingrates once, and the French even twice. That Americans have insisted after WWII that Germans change into pacifists is not to be remembered. Furthermore, citizens of the former Greater Germany have their collective noses utterly full from, "Führer befiehl, wir folgen." They did follow their leader, blindly trusting in his good will, and it destroyed their countries. Questions about the wisdom of leaders should not be ridiculed or snuffed out but honestly debated. This debate should take place in broad daylight rather than behind closed doors.

The most important question is: Why Now? This is the first question every physician asks when a patient comes with a chronic illness. Our Secretary of State will give the answer to the world next week. But, General Powell please pardon me for being skeptical. If we had unequivocal proof for Saddam's imminent threat to our shores we would have no hesitation sharing it with the rest of the world. The fact that the President himself did not announce it this week seems to indicate that he wants to gain some additional time. The Turks should cooperate with an invasion from the north and the buildup of military forces in the Gulf. seems to have progressed slower than expected. There may also have been some procurement snags with the protective suits against toxic agents. But as the President said, "We are talking weeks and not months." This is the point where Rhetoric of War comes back to haunt us. The President has painted himself with his own words into a corner from which he will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to extricate himself. Words have consequences and once they have left the mouth of the speaker they assume a life of their own.

In the February 2002 installment The Great Satan I have made the point that when one is faced with a difficult decision whether to act immediately or consider first the potential consequences, one should keep in mind that God has time! The good and the true will still be available to us after deliberation and consultation with others. Only "satan," the adversary, lacks time and urges us into precipitous action. When we are told that "time is running out," we have both the right and the duty to ask "Why?" A reasonable course of action would be to allow the UN inspectors whatever time they require to do their job. Saddam cannot be an immediate threat as long as they are in his country and we can use the time to address other more pressing issues. The economy needs to be rescued here at home, rather than stressed further with a war and a prolonged occupation of Iraq. The war against terrorism needs to be continued with international cooperation of police and intelligence services. The job in Bosnia, Kosovo, rump Yugoslavia and especially Afghanistan has been left unfinished. We promised these people better lives but have failed to come through with the necessary action. To promote HIV-AIDS relief for Africa is laudable but hardly deserves the priority assigned to it by the President when we have so many other pressing problems and a massive, steadily growing, budget deficit. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, we should use the time gained, by allowing the inspections to proceed, to finally use our influence to bring the Palestinian tragedy to a reasonable conclusion. By showing genuine impartiality towards Jews and Arabs alike we may be able to turn world opinion in our favor again. We should not allow the perception to continue that Israel's policies determine those of Washington. The elephant in the living room has to be addressed. If we don't do it ourselves the Arabs will, but in a manner we are not going to like. Concrete actions which promote peace and good will should now be the order of the day rather than Good and Evil rhetoric and "My way or No Way."





March 1, 2003

FROM HOMO SAPIENS
TO THE NAKED APE



In the middle of the 18th century the botanist Carolus Linnaeus bestowed the title Man the Wise on our species and genus. This sense of pride and optimism seemed to be justified because of the phenomenal strides which were being made at that time in the sciences and humanities. It was the era of the Enlightenment which laid the foundations for our modern world. The fundamental laws of physics, discovered in the previous century by Newton and Huygens, were refined. In medicine Boerhaave introduced bedside teaching; Halle wrote the first modern textbook of physiology; Morgagni introduced the anatomic concept into the diagnosis and treatment of illness; Réaumur not only invented the thermometer but also showed that the first stage of digestion results from the action of stomach acid, rather than fermentation or contraction of muscle walls as had been assumed previously; Galvani demonstrated that muscle can contract as a result of electricity, and these are just a few names from a long list.

It was, however, the social philosophers starting with Locke, and subsequently Hume, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire who led the fight for reason over religious dogma. All of the then current knowledge was compiled in a seventeen volume encyclopedia to make it available for the people at large. As Diderot one of the editors remarked, "Our children, better instructed than we, may at the same time become more virtuous and happy." D'Alembert, the other "encyclopedist," remarked: "Our century is the century of philosophy par excellence. If one considers without bias the present state of our knowledge one cannot deny that philosophy among us has shown progress." It was probably no coincidence that at the same time harmony was added in music to the previously prevalent polyphony, and in the decorative arts what was termed rococo, which stood for lightness, grace and elegance, became dominant.

Nevertheless the fact that all was not well with Homo sapiens was hinted at in politics, which went on as usual. Frederick II of Prussia, who became known as Frederick the Great, started his "preventive war" in 1756. He had previously exploited Austria's weakness after the death of Charles VI by taking Silesia away from the young Maria Theresia who had inherited her father's empire. Austria's coalition with France and Russia in 1756 was supposed to have rectified that situation and to put Frederick in his place. But nobody expected that it would last seven years. When der grosze Fritz (Hitler's model) had finally won with the assistance of British money and the fortuitous death of the Czarina, which removed Russia from the alliance, the face of the world had changed. France had lost most of her overseas possessions in America as well as India to the Brits and was financially exhausted. Austria had not only permanently lost Silesia but the House of Habsburg which had supplied the German Emperors for the past several centuries was now challenged by the Hohenzollers of Prussia. The conflict between Berlin and Vienna as to who was to have the dominant voice in German affairs had begun and found its culmination on March 15, 1938 when the German army paraded before Hitler over Vienna's Ringstrasse. The ultimate symbolic irony was that the reviewing stand had been erected in front of the monument to Maria Theresia who had led the fight against the great Fritz. She had to stare at Hitler's rear end who represented everything that was abhorrent to the Austrian spirit.

Apart from Prussia, the other winner was Britain because the foundations for her empire, which lasted somewhat less than two hundred years, were laid with this treaty of Paris in 1773. While they basked in glory for a few years they soon found out that the American colonials were now no longer content to remain colonials but in the spirit of the enlightenment wanted their say-so in the London parliament. British arrogance refused to talk to these uncouth upstarts with the American War of Independence the outcome. It was a given that the colonists could not have won their war against the British had the French not smelled a chance for revanche and supported Washington. All the rest is, of course, known but if one were to ask any American High School graduate today what role Montesquieu had played in this whole drama one would get a "Monte who?" Yet it was he, who in his The Spirit of Laws had laid down the principles how a state should be governed. It was precisely this document that gave rise to the American Constitution, which is so sadly abused today.

To return to the consequences of the 1773 Paris' treaty. While in the short run the British prospered, it laid in the long run the foundation for the demise of their empire. They had nurtured Prussia into a semi-great power but the Hohenzollerns were not satisfied with that and when they demanded full equality with the British. This had to be denied to them because the Kaiser was "evil." The result was WWI, which led in turn directly to the second one. The other phenomenal irony of history is that Hitler actually wanted to help preserve the British Empire because it held the "inferior races" in their place and because he was a man of the infantry rather than a sailor. Overseas possession could be safely left to the Brits as long as they acquiesced to his taking the European East for German colonization. But Churchill, the navy man, was suspicious and wanted to preserve the empire under American protection. That Roosevelt had no use for empires, except his own, dawned on him too late when England was no longer in a position to refuse American demands. Churchill had survived the war, one really shouldn't say won, but he had lost his job and the empire. The real winners were America and the Soviet Union. Our President should ponder this fact of history when he contemplates the picture of his hero which supposedly hangs in his office. He might also keep the fate of both Churchill and that of his own father in mind. After they had been successful in their wars, they were removed from office!

By 1789 and 1793 when kids started playing soccer with decapitated heads in the streets of Paris under the name of liberty, equality and brotherhood some doubts as to the perfectibility of our species were bound to arise. As the sciences progressed Lamarck developed the concept of evolution in form of a ladder. At the bottom resided the ameba and Homo sapiens was still on top. Darwin subsequently substituted the ladder for a tree and established the close kinship between man and apes. Interestingly enough he called his epochal book the "Descent" of Man rather than "Ascent" and as history has proven subsequently this was amply justified. Even more apt was the date when the book was published. The Franco-Prussian war had also started in 1871. The quick victory with the resultant unification of Germany under the Prussian king, who became German emperor, pushed Austria irreversibly into the Balkans and was as such another cause of the Great War slightly over forty years later. The humiliated French wanted revenge, the Brits didn't like the arrogance of Cousin Willie, and the Russians had no use for the Austrians in the Balkans.

Nationalism had become the rallying cry of the age. Nations had to be liberated from their "oppressors," and the way was paved for what Grillparzer (Austria's greatest 19th century dramatist) called, "from humanism, through nationalism to bestialism." Small wonder that Nietzsche appeared on the scene a few years later with the Uebermensch as the solution to the problems of the human race. The will to power where the stronger dominate, and if necessary exterminate, the weaker in perpetual warfare provided the justification for the events of what has been called the "execrable" twentieth century.

Although Darwin had already disabused us of the notion that human beings are something special and had shown that our emotions find their counterpart in other animals it was up to Professor Desmond Morris to finally put us in our place. Homo sapiens was gone and The Naked Ape emerged in 1967. The book with the same title was an instant bestseller and it is still rightly regarded as a classic. In it Dr. Morris detailed with great care how all of our behavioral traits in regard to: child rearing, exploration, fighting, feeding, and comfort seeking are in no way unique but simply the expression of our animal heritage.

As a zoologist Dr. Morris did not address himself to the problem of verbal and written language, our proudest achievement. For a neurologist like me language, and its function in health and disease, is of course of paramount interest and it has become obvious that the abuse of language is nowadays the greatest danger to our civilization. The spoken and written word allows us not only to express our desires, fantasies and opinions but it has also enabled the naked ape to create a truly staggering array of lies, with which he threatens and deludes himself as well as others. This brings us to our current century which has all the hallmarks of becoming even more "execrable" than the one we have left behind.

Why should this be so and why do wars repeat in endless cycles? The simple answer is that human passions have never changed and only the excuses for war have. As is apparent to anyone who has a grasp of history wars never solve a problem they simply pave the way for the next one. In addition the last century has shown that wars have become increasingly vicious and that the lines between combatants and the civilian population have become thoroughly blurred. When cities are bombed and the infrastructure for the population is destroyed in order to eliminate the enemy one should not be surprised that adversaries who lack military power will use guerilla tactics, which have never differentiated between civilians and soldiers. When the "terrorist" leader of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, Menachem Begin, blew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, because it was the headquarters of the British mandate forces, and killed 91 people the end, namely the creation of a Jewish state, justified the means. By 1977 he was Prime Minister of Israel and in 1978 he received the Nobel Peace prize, jointly with Anwar Saddat. The fact that he was in violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions urging Israel to vacate the territories conquered in the 1967 war (which was likewise waged for "preventive" reasons) was obviously of no concern. One need to choose one's "friends" wisely and when one has the backing of the United States one can safely ignore the UN.

Saddam Hussein was not so lucky. He thought that he could get away with an invasion of Kuwait but that was not to be condoned and our erstwhile friend and ally against the Ayatollah of Iran became the "Butcher of Baghdad" who not only had to be give up his ill-gotten gains but has been under quarantine ever since. Currently the Bush administration regards it as imperative that he be removed from power within the next few weeks, come what may. As is obvious from the foregoing power politics are as old as civilization. What is somewhat new is that it is no longer admitted to but couched in moral language. Saddam is not just another despot, with a long history of others of his ilk, but he is profoundly evil and it is this evil that our morality requires us to lead a "just war" directed towards his removal.

At this point Homo sapiens has fully abdicated and the naked ape has come into his own. Some of today's newspaper headlines are telling, "The True Ethical Position Is to Give War a Chance and Vanquish Evil;" or "Time to Go to War and Exterminate the Evil Butcher of Baghdad." Although Saddam has no means to significantly harm the United States while Kim Il Jong of North Korea does, we are told that it is "moral" to remove Saddam but it would be "immoral" to apply the same treatment to little Kim. The latter could retaliate and cause significant casualties while our losses in Iraq, apart from "collateral damage" to Iraqi civilians are likely to be minimal. With other words it is moral to go after a weak bully but you better stay away from one who could significantly hurt you. This is the law of the jungle and has nothing to do with morality.

In order to make an Iraq war palatable the American public is currently being subjected to an incessant barrage of fear and hate. During the "hadj" our government had decreed that we have to live under "code orange" of serious danger and which is only one step removed from code red, where presumably the whole nation comes to a grinding halt. This alert sent people scurrying to stores for duct tape and plastic sheets to make their homes terrorist proof. Two days ago the risk was reduced to yellow which indicates only "significant" threat conditions. Since yellow is a color which is in the popular mind not particularly associated with heroism, Osama can congratulate himself on how our leadership has taken and continues to take his bait.

As far as hate goes the same author, who wants to "exterminate" Saddam also wrote this week that "Bush Must Bring Hammer Down on Militant Muslims in our Midst." In the previous installment "Rhetoric of War" I have mentioned that Hitler and President Bush used the same type of language to influence their respective audiences. Now Cal Thomas, the author of the two mentioned pieces, chimes in with phraseology right out of the Goebbels kitchen. In 1938 we could have read in the Stuermer that "We must smash the Jewish Danger in Our Midst." By the way Mr. Thomas regards himself as a Christian, whose wish for the Israelis to expel all the Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank and Gaza so that the Jews might finally enjoy most - Jordan and Syria would still be missing - of their promised land, was discussed in the July 2001 installment.

There is no doubt that a small number of militant Muslims who plan to wreak havoc exists in our country. But who defines a "militant" Muslim? What must he have done to earn the label of terrorist suspect, let alone terrorist? This is the slippery slope we are on and which allows the government through hasty legislation to undermine the freedom the fathers of this country have fought for and which the majority of the people want to see preserved. But this becomes impossible when a climate prevails where "The Virtue of Hate" is advocated. An article under this title appeared in the February issue of First Things and the author, a rabbi, declared that, according to the Talmud, a Jew is "obligated to hate" a "hopelessly wicked" individual. I happen to know that the Talmud is an encyclopedia where you can find anything whatsoever to prove your point and I know also that Jesus did not die for the Talmud! Furthermore who is going to play God, and certify someone as "hopelessly wicked?"

Our current war against terrorism is as I have mentioned repeatedly a war of religious opinions and we must now be honest and specific. Osama bin Laden as a self appointed representative of Muslim fundamentalism has at his goal to bring his brand of religious fundamentalism to the Muslim world. After the recent tape was made public I received an e-mail which stated that Arabic speaking people got a completely different impression as to what bin Laden had actually said. I followed up, typed "bin Laden tape" into Google and presto there was his speech as reported by the BBC. I have a fondness for this network which dates back to my youth when, as reported in War&Mayhem, I sat glued with one ear to the radio in the afternoons to hear: Hier ist London mit der Sendung fuer die deutsche Wehrmacht. Had I been discovered it would have meant KZ but it was the only way to get correct information as to how the war was going. It is gratifying to know that at least the BBC can still be trusted so many decades later.

At this point I shall let him speak for himself rather than putting words in his mouth. But I will only give brief excerpts because anyone interested can readily find the full text on the net. Bin Laden emphasized that "fighting should be for the sake of the one God," rather than for "championing ethnic groups, or for championing the non-Islamic regimes in all Arab countries, including Iraq." Osama has no use for Saddam and his "socialist" regime but the "mujahadeen brothers in Iraq" should not be afraid of the American weapons because the Americans are fearful of engaging in hand to hand combat and trench warfare. He also exhorted "honest Muslims" to "incite, and mobilize the [Islamic] nation, amid such grave events and hot atmospheres so as to liberate themselves from those unjust and renegade ruling regimes, which are enslaved by the United States . . . to establish the rule of God on earth." The states which fell into this category were listed as "Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the land of the two holy mosques [Saudi Arabia], and Yemen." He also urged "patience" during the fight because Americans are known to have little, and "martyrdom" because there is no effective defense against it. Furthermore, "fighting in support of the non-Islamic banners is forbidden" and "Socialists are infidels wherever they are, whether they are in Baghdad or Aden." The support of Saddam is, therefore, simply a marriage of convenience just as the one between Churchill and Stalin was during WWII. The enemy of my enemy is my friend was the slogan and as Churchill put it at the time, "If Hitler invaded hell I would even find kind words to say about the devil."

Apart from infidel Arab regimes the other main enemy of Osama is the state of Israel. Let us remember that the entire raison d'être for the re-establishment of the state after two thousand years in the Middle East, is a supposed promise to the Hebrews by the same one God of Osama. That this promise exists only in a book written by Jews for Jews is of no concern for fanatics who cherish dogma more than reason. The predominantly Christian U.S. is involved because of our unquestioned support of Israeli policies to the detriment of Palestinian Arabs. Instead of Christians acting as peacemakers the evangelical group, to which according to a recent book by his erstwhile speech writer David Frum - author of the infamous "axis of evil" phrase - President Bush belongs, supports the Israeli side as outlined in the May 1, 2002 installment under The Unholy Alliance.

With oil as the final prize for some, and religious fervor by others, war seems all but inevitable in spite of the fact that our administration's rush has in the meantime hit some speed bumps. Dr. Blix, head of the UN Inspections team, has proven less pliable than our hawks had hoped; the French and Germans have voiced serious reservations, and even the Turks were not entirely happy to have their country used as a staging area for invasion. They not only wanted guarantees that the money we bribe them with for their cooperation will really be forthcoming but also that they have a sizable military contingent to take part in the invasion under their own officers. We chided them, of course, because all we really want to do, we say, is to defend them from Saddam, but nearly ninety percent of Turks are more afraid of our intentions than his. There is also the delicate issue of the Kurds who don't want the Turks to come in and they already threaten with war if they Turks do. In addition within the Kurdish political groups we have the Iranian Shiites on the one hand and secular ones on the other who also vie for who gets first to the oilfields near Mosul. But our administration believes that all these are minor details which can be handled with money and threats. The fact that we are confronted with an increasing budget deficit also does not enter into the equation because as soon as the oil starts flowing in abundance our financial worries are supposedly over.

Nevertheless, apart from the street demonstrations at home and abroad there are additional voices of discontent which include among others the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Furthermore, our regular military forces do not have sufficient personnel and the reserves as well as the National Guard are being mobilized to be sent abroad. This has a serious impact on families because these people hold jobs which in the current economic climate, may or may not be available when they come back. In addition many of these reservists are either in law enforcement or firefighters and as such in the first line of defense if a catastrophe were to happen here. This leads to the absurdity that we defend our country by invading Iraq while at the same time reducing the forces we need for "Homeland Security." Women are also going to war overseas now and as one little kid cried: "Why does mommy have to go? Why can't daddy?" Yes indeed! This little one has to thank Ms. Friedan, Steinem and others of their ilk with the idea that a woman's first priority has to be herself rather than her children. But in some instances both mommy and daddy have been called up and left. Who will take care of these little ones who are left behind? The grandparents, if they are so lucky to still have them. Furthermore since the professional military, even with the reservists and National Guard, is seriously understaffed to meet the global excursions we intend to embark upon it becomes likely that the draft will sooner or later have to be re-introduced. At that point peace marches will erupt to an extent that may dwarf the Vietnam era and the entire so called "Foreign Policy" of this administration will collapse. This is the real state of our country and all the war propaganda cannot hide these facts.

The evening of February 25 was also instructive. First we saw a speech by President Bush to a selected audience where he laid out his vision for the future and about an hour later we were show an interview Saddam Hussein had granted an American reporter. As we know our President believes that Saddam presents an acute and growing danger, which must be eliminated before anything else can be done. Once the Iraqi regime has been removed the liberated people will joyfully cooperate with the necessary American occupation and the Iraqi oil revenues will flow into their pockets. Since the Palestinians will no longer enjoy Iraqi financial and emotional support they will give up suicide bombings and the Israelis feeling secure will stop building settlements and agree to the creation of a peaceful Palestinian state. President Bush is an honest man but if he really believes this fantasy he is grievously mistaken. Iraq is currently contained, has no means to successfully attack its neighbors - we are told that the Iraqi army is only a third of what it was before the previous Gulf war - and it is precisely the Palestinian problem which keeps fueling the anger in the region. The president seems to harbor the illusion that there will be dancing in the streets of Baghdad, when the GI's arrive as was shown on our TV sets when the Taliban were routed from Kabul. But the Afghans are no longer dancing, some of them are taking potshots at our peacekeepers and Karzai needs American Special Forces for protection. That is the reality. It is the long range effect which counts not the first few hours or days.

The interview of Saddam Hussein by Dan Rather was also revealing. The Iraqi president handled himself in a calm and deliberate manner and was careful not to give cause for offense. A telling small detail was when one of the Iraqi interpreters translated a sentence about the former President Bush as "Bush," Saddam interrupted and said that he had said Mr. Bush, he didn't say president because he was no longer president, but he was Mister Bush. Saddam knows the media, how they will pounce on a small detail and subsequently distort it. This he wanted to avoid. His claim that his people will follow him to the death because they had given him recently a one hundred per cent vote of confidence was, of course, baseless. On the other hand his suggestion to publicly debate President Bush via satellite hook-up so that the world could judge the actions of these two leaders was a shrewd one.

The debate idea was, of course, immediately nixed by Washington because the non-compliance of Israel with UN resolutions and the obvious double standard which the Bush administration is applying vis á vis Israel and Iraq would have been brought up. Furthermore, Saddam might have gone even a step further and explained that he would gladly disarm and keep the inspectors in his country indefinitely if Israel got rid of its WMD's under UN inspection. Inasmuch as this is, of course, highly unlikely to ever happen continued warfare is assured. This is also obvious because our administration is unwilling to talk directly not only with "The Butcher of Baghdad," but also the "loathsome pygmy" who is in charge of North Korea. Thus the naked ape will persist with what Barbara Tuchman has called the March of Folly. By not talking to adversaries because they are beneath contempt and inherently evil: pride, greed and delusions will be the real reasons why history will have to repeats in endless cycles of ever increasing violence.

This is the point where we need to part with the naked ape and allow Homo sapiens to re-emerge from the shadows. We ought to say to our politicians: stop and listen, there is a better way. Yes, we have all the characteristics of other species' within us but we also have something in addition. This is the tiny spark of reason which can lead us to conduct ourselves not merely as lying, deluded naked apes but in the manner we were intended to act. Our geneticists have now told us that we share more than ninety per cent of genes with mice. Are we, therefore obligated to behave like mice? Even if geneticists were to tell us in the future that one hundred per cent of our genes are identical with those of some anthropoid apes we can still say: So what? A whorehouse, as well as a cathedral are built with stone, wood and glass but they surely have different purposes. We have been given free will and we can choose where we want to spend our mental time: in the gutter or in company of the divine? But the divinity that lives in some of us does not label others as good or evil who need to be rewarded or punished but who sees homo sapiens both as an opportunity and obligation to strive towards a higher goal which unites the inhabitants of this planet rather than sets them against each other.

Once upon a time Homo sapiens lifted his voice in ancient northern India and declared: "think of pleasurable objects, and you will become attached; from attachment will come desire, when desire is thwarted you will become angry, when you are angry your mind becomes confused and you lose sight of life's purpose. This fundamental psychological insight was also formulated as the Buddha's first and second noble truth: Life is full of Suffering, and the Cause of Suffering is Craving. This is as valid today as it when it first uttered twenty five hundred years ago, but it is ignored. Yet ignorance is not bliss and will inevitably lead to further suffering even for those who literally call the shots today on both sides of the fronts.

Our country is in great danger, not from the currently identified enemies, but by being led down a road which threatens to destroy our soul and lead to despotism. The old proverb "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" is again proving true. Those of us who feel that the impending war against Iraq is a serious mistake also know that this is just the warm-up. After Iraq's defeat comes the turn of all the other "rogue-states" and there is no end to the corruption of our souls. But in spite of all the fear and hate-mongering Homo sapiens is not yet extinct in America. As one protester who took to the streets put it recently: "Bush must really be screwing up to bring out the mainstream." We, as individual citizens, are not likely to be able to change the course of history but that does not mean that we have to follow blindly and willingly to wherever a given administration wants to lead us. Homo Sapiens differs from the Naked Ape in this respect and will direct his efforts toward a reduction of suffering rather than inflicting more in the mistaken assumption of doing good.





March 15, 2003

IDES OF MARCH



This article had been submitted to the Salt Lake Tribune but since publication is far from certain it is presented below.

The Ides of March are upon us again and decisions are made which will affect our lives as well as those of our children and grandchildren for decades to come. Let us, therefore, step back for a moment and reflect upon the origin of these words. On March 15, 44 B.C. Brutus, Cassius and other Republicans murdered Caesar in the Capitol because they wanted to rescue Rome's republic from incipient despotism. What did they get? Mark Anthony’s fiery funeral oration precipitated a brutal civil war between the followers of Caesar and those of the Senate. Two years later Brutus and Cassius committed suicide when they were defeated by Octavian and Mark Anthony. A shaky coalition between the victors lasted for a few years but by 30 B.C. it was open warfare again. Mark Anthony lost, committed suicide and Octavian became Caesar Augustus, the undisputed ruler of Rome. What Caesar's murder was supposed to have prevented came to pass anyway. But, as they saying goes nowadays, this is ancient history and our college students tend to be told "it's all about dead white males" anyway, so why bother?

There was, however, another March 15 which changed the world and I witnessed it. This was the day when Hitler proclaimed from the balcony of Vienna's Hofburg the annexation of Austria. The Greater German Reich was formed on that day and with it began the road to WWII. Without Austria, neither Czechoslovakia nor Poland could have been invaded. The Greater German Reich was supposed to have lasted a thousand years but made it only for seven. If a Cassandra or Jeremiah had told the cheering crowds on that day that seven years later American bombs would ruin their city, that the Red Army would occupy it, and Stalin instead of Hitler would be calling the shots they would have declared her/him as insane. But that was precisely what happened. The consequences of violent political acts are always totally unpredictable and unexpected. This brings me to the current situation.

Those of our citizens who believe that a "preventive" war against Iraq is wrong are now labeled as "Ideologues" of "appeasement," as Mr. Lavender recently put it. Bill O'Reilly on his "no spin zone" is even more outspoken. While he reluctantly tolerates dissent from the current party line he has made it clear that if demonstrations against the war persist after the shooting has started the participants are "bad Americans." Let me now go back again to March 11, 1938. On that morning I awoke as a "good Austrian." Although I was only twelve and a half years old my family was conservative and had no use for Nazis. We looked forward to the plebiscite which was supposed to have been held the coming Sunday, March 13, and we were sure that the government would win the declaration that Austrians want to have a free and independent country. Since Hitler knew that this would be the outcome, the plebiscite was not allowed to take place. The Schuschnigg government was forced to abdicate, a Nazi government was installed during the night of Friday 11, and by Saturday morning we awoke to the roar of the Luftwaffe which had come to "liberate" us. This was the phrase which was given as the reason for the invasion. At that moment I had, in official parlance, become a "bad Austrian" because I was not in favor of this liberation. By the following Wednesday morning I had become a "bad German" because Austria no longer existed. I had not changed my views from Friday to Wednesday. They had remained the same but politics, over which the individual citizen has no control, decreed the difference in classification. The details of these events are documented in a book I published a few years ago.

Eventually I came to America because I wanted to breathe the air of freedom. I became a citizen and on the day I received citizenship my wife and I celebrated with champagne. We were and are good Americans. The Clinton scandals deeply disturbed us and we voted for the Governor of Texas in the hope that he would bring honor and sanity to the White House. But since his administration seems to be in the process of dismantling the very foundations which made America great and to which I swore allegiance, out of my own free will, I am now in danger of being labeled a "bad American."

Mister Lavender's article which caused me to write this reply quoted from Thomas Friedman's book that "When it comes to thinking about Middle East politics, the American liberal mind is often chasing rainbows. They are living in a world of delusion." This is correct as far as it goes except that the word liberal needs to be omitted. It is a conservative administration which tells us that when Iraq is defeated, democracies will spring up all over the Middle East, the Palestinians will get their state, Israel will be safe and for all practical purposes the messianic age will have arrived. This is the delusion for which we are now asked to shed innocent blood and deplete our economic resources.

In August of last year about a dozen of us Utahns saw this imminent war coming and were granted an audience with Senator Bennett. We didn't bring placards but reason and laid out why a war with Iraq, before the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy is resolved, cannot bring peace but only greater disasters. We were a cross section of law abiding citizens ranging from descendants of Mormon settlers to immigrants like myself. Unfortunately we were met by a closed mind. The senator listened politely but answered all of our concerns with the administration's stock mantra: Saddam is evil, he has weapons of mass destruction which he may give to terrorists, he has invaded neighboring countries and gassed his own people. I called it a mantra here because it is mindlessly repeated over and over again without ever considering the context in which these actions occurred. I pointed out to the senator that Saddam was 65 years old and this is not an age where one willfully engages in political adventures. It is in their forties and fifties when politicians are most dangerous. By the middle sixties a peaceful life in security and splendor is much more desirable even for dictators. But as mentioned our presentations were of no avail.

We are also frequently told that Saddam is a "madman," and as such his actions are totally unpredictable. After having watched the Dan Rather interview I can confidently say that this is not the case. He is a shrewd, calculating, ruthless dictator who will do whatever is necessary to remain in power. Arming terrorists to hurt America does not fall into that plan, because it would be self-defeating. We are being told, furthermore, that we have to go to war because we have to liberate the Iraqi people from an evil dictatorship. As mentioned I have been "liberated" twice. First by Hitler from Schuschnigg and then by Stalin from Hitler. It took Austria ten years and the death of Stalin before the country was really free again and decades more to repair all the damage those ides of March 1938 had caused. The lost lives can, of course, never be replaced.

When we are told that Iraqis will dance in the streets of Baghdad when GI Joe and Jane come walking in, just as they danced in Kabul, we should remember that they are not dancing in Kabul any more. Potshots are taken on American peacekeepers and President Karzai has to have American Special Forces protecting him because he can't trust his "liberated" people.

So what should our administration have done? We should have agreed to a continued inspection process, if needed indefinitely, because as long as the inspectors are in the country Saddam's ambitions are hamstrung. To leave the inspectors in Iraq would be infinitely cheaper in blood and resources than first destroying the country and then occupying it for years to come. In addition we should have impartially worked for a genuine peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy. This would have required respect for the rightful aspirations of both sides and would be the only way to bring finally a just peace to the Holy Land. This is what should have been done and this is what some of us have been and are working towards. We are not "ideologues" but people who know war and the concomitant tragedies. It is not the goal of removing Saddam Hussein from power we disagree with, just the means to do so. Although it seems that our efforts are not going to bear fruit in the near future we still owe it to our children to have insisted that there is a better way than the brutality of war.



Now some additional thoughts. It is obvious that as far as the real reasons for this war are concerned, and the behind the scenes maneuvers of the administration, we are to be left in ignorance. Where are the Woodward and Bernstein's who would tell us, for instance, what really went on in the meetings on energy policy held by Vice-President Cheney in 2001? Why are taxpayers not allowed to know who the members of this elite group were which met behind closed doors and why the minutes are such highly guarded "national security" secrets, that even members of Congress are not allowed to get a peek at them?

For clear thinking Americans the moral posturing in regard to Iraq and the questioning of the relevance of the Security Council, because Saddam ignores the resolutions, is bound to sound hypocritical. Israel has refused to meet UN demands to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967, and America has never hesitated to use its veto in the security council when Israel's interest were at stake. Now France and Russia are not supposed to do so when they follow their financial or strategic advantages. It has also become apparent that our love for democracies around the world is limited and we infinitely prefer pliable dictatorships like those of Musharraf, for instance, over those countries where freely elected parliaments follow the will of their constituents and object to pre-emptive wars.

As of this writing our president has kindly agreed that he will give diplomacy "one last chance" and delay the UN vote and/or war until next week. We are being told that this is done in order to give Prime Minister Blair more time to come up with a resolution the British parliament can accept. The deal is sweetened further by the belated discovery of the Palestinians' plight who are promised a road map to their very own state. That this road map is doomed, because the Sharon government has absolutely no interest in allowing a viable Palestinian state to emerge, neither PM Blair nor President Bush are willing to acknowledge. As usual it will be the fault of the Palestinians, when the talks break down because they will be unable to rein in their extremist elements. By insisting on Israel's security (defined as no suicide attacks) before giving up the settlements and achieving a functioning Palestinian economy is putting the cart before the horse again. Inasmuch as this is, of course, no secret to administration officials the public is to be pacified by these gestures.

While keeping Tony Blair in power is one reason for the postponement of the war there is also the nasty problem with the Turks. Plan A, the kidnapping of Saddam in October of last year by Special Forces, was shelved as too risky. Plan B was a two pronged attack from Turkey as well as Kuwait. The Turks have unfortunately asserted their democratic right to disagree with American war plans and it may turn into Plan C. Our troops are supposed to halt in front of Baghdad and Special Forces will "leapfrog" north to capture the oil fields of Mosul and Kirkuk. Since this is obviously a more chancy adventure, because the Kurds might get there before we do, the carrot and stick approach is still vigorously wielded to bring the Turks on board. In addition the wavering Security Council members are being subjected to intense pressure so that the so-called "coalition of the willing" has now been dubbed the "coalition of the billing!" American taxpayers, including Congress have so far not had the opportunity to find out how much the destruction of Iraq and its subsequent rebuilding is likely to cost us. The question as to who are the companies which stand to gain from this human disaster, must also not be asked because it might involve "national security." The idea that we might be considerably more secure without inciting further terrorist attacks by this war is also frowned upon in public debate. Furthermore, there has been remarkable silence in our news-media about Israel's request for a handout by Congress to the tune of 12 billion dollars this year. This surely suggests that "we the people" are no longer in charge of our country but are instead ruled by a monarch who yields to an unelected oligarchy and where questioning the wisdom of the country's policies by its citizens is not desired.

In the previous installment I mentioned Montesquieu’s Of the Spirit of the Laws, but there are also the Persian letters (published anonymously in 1721) which are highly á propos. By the way it may soon be unpatriotic to use such French expressions since even "French fries" have already been renamed in government cafeterias and a boycott of French products is advocated. In letter 94, dated Paris 1716, Montesquieu wrote:

International law is better known in Europe than in Asia, yet it can be said that royal passions, the submissiveness of their subjects, and sycophantic writers have corrupted all its principles. In its present state, this branch of law is a science which explains to kings how far they can violate justice without damaging their own interests.

Kings are gone, or have their powers severely curtailed, the people supposedly rule but those two sentences are as valid today as when they were first penned.



On a more cheerful note it was gratifying to hear that Salt Lake City made again national and international news this week. The odyssey of the missing girl, Elizabeth Smart, has had a happy ending when she was found wandering the street in company of her "abductors" right here in our very own Sandy City. The case is surely bizarre and has led to numerous speculations. How can an adolescent from a good home and loving family spend nine months with vagrants without making any attempt to escape or contact her family? The first four months were even spent here in Salt Lake where posters of her face could be seen everywhere. Yet the trio "Emmanuel," his wife, and Elizabeth mingled undetected in public places and were even photographed attending a party. All she had to do at that time was to take her veil off and say: "Help me folks, I'm Elizabeth, I want to go home!" There was no possible danger to her and the only conclusion is that she stayed willingly with Mr. Mitchell and his wife. This is also attested to by the fact that at the time of her arrest she lied initially and pretended to be the daughter of the Mitchells. These are the meager facts and we will probably never hear the full truth because the parents have every right to shield the privacy of their daughter and let her recover from this strange episode.

Psychologists are now spending their time on TV explaining that she was probably a victim of the Stockholm syndrome where hostages begin to identify with their captors. But before there was a Stockholm syndrome Laségue and Falret (again those nasty French, why do they have to be so smart?) introduced in 1877 the term folie á deux, which was later enlarged to folie á trois, when three people were involved. This seems to be what has happened here. A dominant male in the grip of a delusional system converts a submissive female who lives with him to share his delusions which are, not uncommonly, religious in nature. Initially it was the wife, Wanda, who succumbed but she in turn then found a substitute for her own daughter, who had run away from home as a teenager, in Elizabeth. As a good Mormon in an impressionable age Elizabeth then began to identify with the religious delusions of the other two and was all set to save the world. If psychologists and psychiatrists can be kept away from her, the prognosis is excellent because once removed from the environment people always come to their senses again in short order. This applies also to wife Wanda. To send her to prison for at least twenty five years, as has been suggested, makes no sense at all and neither does the death penalty (which we still have in Utah) for "Emmanuel." The man is psychotic and as such good and evil, the terms which are so freely bandied about even in this case, simply do not apply.

Let us hope that reason will prevail and Elizabeth will be left in peace again. Unfortunately this flies in the face of our commercial culture and I'm sure there will be books written about her and her likeness will star in a movie.





April 1, 2003

THE NEOCONS' LEVIATHAN



When I told friends and family that "The Neocon's Leviathan" would be the title of the next installment on this site they had no idea what I was talking about. The terms are not yet household words especially in their juxtaposition. This article was prompted by one of the weekly phone conversations with my brother in Vienna, where we not only discuss family affairs but also the reasons why continental Europe has undergone such a seismic change in its opinions about America. On September 11, 2001 all of Europe and indeed the world grieved with us and today our policies are met with universal incomprehension and by some with fear and hatred. How did this come about?

As always there is no single cause for a given occurrence but a confluence of physical events which bring latent ideas to the fore. There can be no doubt that as Dr. Ullman (who has been credited with coining "shock and awe" as the method of choice in future wars) has written that if Saddam had exported bananas instead of oil we would hardly have undertaken the first Gulf War, of which the second is merely the continuation. Oil is, of course, a factor but not necessarily the only one because we could buy it and make sure that the prices stay reasonably low. But something else happened and that is the Euro. Petrodollars have to be converted into a genuine currency and up to recently the U.S. dollar ruled the roost. Lately, however, with the weakening of the American economy, the dollar has lost against the Euro so that prior to the onset of the war one needed $1.10 to buy 1 Euro (it rose temporarily at the beginning but is currently falling again). Thus the dollar seemed no longer entirely secure and people began shifting to the alternative. From an American point of view this is, of course, intolerable and since the only physical commodity which can prop up the economy is oil, its exploitation must be removed from the locals and placed into American hands. That was at least one assumption which led us into this war.

The other one is about the role America is supposed to play in the 21st century and this is where the "neocons" come in. Irving Kristol, father of the better known Bill Kristol, published in 1995 Neoconservatism. The Autobiography of an Idea in which he wrote:

"Is there such a thing as a 'neo gene? I ask the question because, looking back over a lifetime of my opinions, I am struck by the fact that they all qualify as 'neo.' I have been a neo-Marxist, a neo-Trotskyist, a neo-socialist, a neoliberal and finally a neoconservative. It seems that no ideology or philosophy has ever been able to encompass all of reality to my satisfaction . . . . One 'neo,' however, has been permanent throughout my life, and it is probably at the root of all the others. I have been neo-orthodox in my religious views (though not in my religious observance)[bold print was added in this and all subsequent direct quotes]."

These sentences are extremely revealing because they show that the neo-conservatives as opposed to those for whom it has been a life long creed are actually struggling against their religious beliefs which they transport into the social arena. I am saying this because of what Mr. Kristol had been taught in the yeshiva (the Jewish counterpart to the Muslim madrasa). "Discipline was strict - if we misbehaved in any way, the rabbi would order us to stand up and then give us a stinging slap in the face. He also taught us to hate the goyim and to spit whenever we passed a church." It is to Mr. Kristol's credit that he abandoned these practices, but as a Catholic I was never encouraged by our religion teacher to hate Jews or spit when we passed a synagogue.

This brings me to my brother's question "Who is Kagan?" I had never heard of the man but in my quest for the truth I headed for the Internet and found the article which had upset the Europeans. It was published in June 2002 in Policy Review by the respected Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace under the title "Power and Weakness." One needs to know furthermore that Robert Kagan is also the co-founder, with the mentioned Bill Kristol, of the "Project for the New American Century and he contributes not only to the neocon Weekly Standard and the New Republic but also to the more influential Washington Post. Furthermore, Kagan is a Senior Associate for the Carnegie Endowment and the Director of its "U.S. Leadership Project."

In the mentioned article Kagan polarized the world and the first sentences set the tone:

"It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world. On the all-important question of power - the efficacy of power, the morality, the desirability of power - American and European perspectives are diverging. Europe is turning away from power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation. It is entering a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity, the realization of Kant's 'Perpetual peace.' The United States, meanwhile, remains mired in history, exercising power in the anarchic Hobbesian world where international laws and rules are unreliable and where true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might. That is why on major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus. They agree on little and understand one another less and less. And this state of affairs is not transitory - the product of one American election or one catastrophic event. The reasons for the transatlantic divide are deep, long in development, and likely to endure. When it comes to setting national priorities, determining threats, defining challenges, and fashioning and implementing foreign and defense policies, the United States and Europe have parted ways."

These are indeed remarkable statements, especially when one considers that they were published in June of 2002 a time when our Secretary of State, Colin Powell, tried to elicit European support for disarmament of Saddam Hussein. Thus it is clear now that he was undercut at the same time by the neocons (Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, Norman Podhoretz, to name just a few of the most important ones) who had gotten the ear of Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and President Bush and who demanded regime change. This fundamental difference of opinions manifested itself outwardly in what the world regarded as the incoherence of American foreign policy. At that point the Europeans balked. Although they agreed with disarmament, thereby removing a potential threat, they did not want to enter on the slippery slope of regime change, because who decides what regime needs to be changed when, and how.

But let us return to Mr. Kagan, his polarization of the world and the attribution of his views to all Americans. At this point I have to admit that I had no idea what he meant with "anarchic Hobbesian world" and "Kant's "Perpetual peace." In order to correct this ignorance one has to go back to the 17th and 18th century for what Hobbes and Kant had really said. Since their writings are voluminous and in part difficult to understand I also had to rely on my old stand-by Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy. The following was taken for Hobbes from the Encyclopedia Britannica's Great Books of the Western World, while the original German language Kant article resided in the Marriott library of the University of Utah.

Thomas Hobbes, the son of a Protestant Vicar, was born in 1588 and it has been reported that his mother had been so frightened by the impending invasion of the Spanish armada that she gave birth prematurely. This is why Hobbes commented later that he was born "a twin with fear" and why he "abominated his country's enemies and loved peace." This is not irrelevant for current circumstances because a person whose life is dominated by fear is also likely to hate and the political views will be flavored by these emotions. Hobbes was a convinced monarchist but by 1640 it was obvious that the position of Charles I had become untenable and Hobbes fled to France. While there he published his claim to enduring fame, Leviathan, an exposé of how the state resembles an artificial man, and the rules that should govern the commonwealth. Since he vigorously attacked the Catholic Church in the fourth part of his book he was forced to flee from France in 1651, return to England and submit to the hated parliament which ruled the country at that time. This about face found its repercussion in his book. Nevertheless by 1666 he was persona non grata again and parliament threatened action against the Leviathan. Hobbes was no longer allowed to publish on political subjects so he devoted himself for the rest of his life to his other hobbies: the translation of Homer as well as geometry. In the latter field he managed to come up with a theorem which squared the circle. He was serious about having solved the unsolvable which brought him ridicule rather than renown. By the way, squaring the circle is still figuratively attempted by his followers. Hobbes died at the ripe old age of 91 and these aspects of his life must be known to understand Leviathan.

Leviathan is long, the language somewhat archaic but the central tenants are contained in his "Review and Conclusion" as well as in the chapter by Bertrand Russell. They can be summarized as follows: Man is brutish and desires only self-preservation. War is, therefore, decreed by nature and in it force and fraud are the two cardinal virtues. For the sake of protection, people form a commonwealth (or state, as we would say today) and choose their sovereign. Once he is established he is no longer responsible to the citizenry because they are his subjects who have to obey his will for the greater good. Peace results from submission to authority and since the prime reason for a commonwealth is to protect the individual citizen it is indeed in his best interest to submit. Property rights pertain only to the people among themselves but the sovereign is not subject to the civil law. Since anarchy is the only alternative it has to be avoided even by stringent measures and all attempts at revolution must be suppressed. If, however, a sovereign has been deposed he is no longer in a position to protect the individual and obeisance to the new sovereign has to be made, because even civil authority comes from God as the apostle Paul had declared. There is no difference between sovereignty and tyranny. Tyranny is simply another name used by those who hate the sovereign and thereby the commonwealth because he is its soul. As long as a Christian sovereign does not compel his subject to forego his faith in Christ all his actions are lawful and have to be obeyed. If the sovereign were to forbid the faith the subject has two options: one is to dissemble by submitting in public but not in private, and the other to accept martyrdom. Dissembling is lawful because a biblical precedent exists in the Old Testament.

What Hobbes in fact is telling us that, to put it into a modern context, my fellow Viennese citizens behaved correctly on the morning of March 11, 1938 when they supported the Schuschnigg government because it was lawful at the time, but they behaved equally correctly when they welcomed the new rulers on March 12, because the power had shifted. Hitler was also correct in his actions because the sovereign is supreme and has no obligations to his subjects. According to this view George Washington and the other "founding fathers" of our republic should have been hanged, but once they were victorious they were to have obeyed. This Hobbseian concept found its most recent counterpart in President Bush's remark as quoted by Bob Woodward, "I'm the commander - see, I don't need to explain. I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." Students of history will, of course, immediately remember Louis XIV and "L'état c'est moi" (I am the state). But if we endorse this point of view why should we condemn "the butcher of Baghdad?" He is the lawful ruler of Iraq and for Hobbes it is irrelevant how the sovereign got to where he is. The ruler has no one to answer to any more except his god who has put him into power. For Hobbes gaining and holding power is all that counts!

Now on to Kagan's counterpart. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was born in Koenigsberg, East Prussia, and was in his thirties during the Seven Years War when the city was occupied for a time by Russia, a fate which has befallen it again since 1945. This event as well as the subsequent European disasters led Kant to believe that there must be a better way than perpetual war. The article, Zum ewigen Frieden, to which Kagan refers was published in 1795 and should be seen in the context of the French revolution. By 1792 Europe was at war again with France on one side and a coalition of Britain, Austria, Spain and Prussia on the other. In France Louis XVI was beheaded on January 21, 1793 as part of what was then called le terreur instigated by the Jacobins, which also consumed to some extent the original leaders of the revolution like Marat and Danton. By 1794 even Robespierre had shared the fate of all the numerous others whom he had sent to the guillotine. In 1795 the "directorate" was appointed in Paris which paved the way for Napoleon who kept Europe in perpetual war until 1815. What should intelligent people, who were either conscripted into these wars or had to stand by helplessly, have done but suggest possible means to end all this useless bloodshed?

This was the political background to Zum ewigen Frieden. It is also obvious that translations cannot do justice to multiple meanings of what Kant called "A philosophical Entwurf." The word defies accurate translation but tends to mean a first draft of a project, or idea, which one wants to put up for debate. The first sentence of the introduction indicates that the inspiration came from a satirical panel over the entrance of a Dutch Inn "Zum Ewigen Frieden" which portrayed a cemetery. The intended pun tends to be lost unless one knows that the German word for cemetery is Friedhof, courtyard of peace. Kant also requested that his little treatise should not be used for bösliche Auslegung, evil misconstruction, a request which Mr. Kagan's article ignores.

Kant is difficult to read and at times impossible to properly translate but the following key elements deserve to be highlighted:

A peace treaty should be designed only as a treaty of peace if it does not contain the idea of revenge. Otherwise it is just an armistice. For wars to be avoided countries should have a republican form of government. Standing armies should be abolished. States should not incur internal debts to settle external strife. No state should forcefully intervene in the constitution and government of any other!!! No state should allow itself during war those means which make subsequent peace impossible (e.g. assassination of leaders, instigation of treason etc.). Kant recognized the Bösartikeit der menschlichen Natur, the evil inherent in human beings, and for this reason universally agreed laws have to be put in action to keep the beast in check. These laws should be subscribed to by a federation of states. "If a powerful and enlightened nation can form itself into a republic (which by nature has to be inclined to constant peace), it can provide the center for a federal type union of other states [Völkerbund], around which they can gather and thereby guarantee the freedom of the states in accord with international law. and expand thereby gradually farther and wider."

Thus Kant was in fact the father of the defunct League of Nations and now its successor the moribund United Nations because Völkerbund was indeed the German name for the League of Nations.

This gets us back to Mr. Kagan's article. Like Hobbes he seems to be "a twin of fear" and sees power as the only solution to the world's ills. This power has to be wielded by the United States who is responsible to no one. America is currently the strongest military power on earth, therefore, every effort has to be made that this remains so. Since multilateral international agreements hinder rather than enhance, the use of power America should not be bound by them. Europe on the other hand is weak and can, therefore, find its security only in a system of laws which protect the weak. Since Kagan's view of power is strictly military Europe should rapidly re-arm. Inasmuch as American military power is used only for the good of the world it would behoove the Europeans to contribute their share. With other words Europeans should see themselves as an additional resource for American might. Kagan ends his article by saying, "their [America's and Europe's] aspirations for humanity are much the same, even if their vast disparity of power has now put them in very different places. Perhaps it is not too naively optimistic to believe that a little common understanding could still go a long way."

The latter statement is laudable but needs to be seen in the context of another article Kagan published jointly with Bill Kristol in the Weekly Standard on September 3, 2001 a scant eight days before the 9/11 catastrophe. The title was, "A Green Light for Israel." In the article the authors argue that the way to end the Israeli-Palestinian war is for America to give up its "evenhandedness." The authors raise the rhetorical question, "What if we made it clear that, far from pressuring Israel, we planned to back its right to defend itself, and trusted our ally to do the right thing in the very difficult situation in which it finds itself?"

Thus the two articles really complement each other and explain Kagan's view of the world. Israel is the country which lives in the "Hobbesian anarchic world" against which it needs to defend itself to the utmost, by massive military power. The tragedy of 9/11 has subsequently been used to convince Americans that Israel's dilemma is now their own and that they should behave like the Likud government. This stance ignores that the Likud policies, which America is supposed to adopt for the world at large, have been a dismal failure. Israelis are less secure now and their economy is in worse shape than in 1996 when some of our neocons under the leadership of Mr. Perle wrote a position paper for incoming Prime Minister Netanyahu. The title was "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." As far as foreign policy is concerned the article advocated regime change in Iraq and Syria as well as Iran because the latter two countries support Hezbollah which fires intermittently rockets upon targets within Israel. This objective was to be achieved with at least tacit approval if not overt help of the United States. A missile defense system has to be pushed because, "Not only would such cooperation on missile defense counter a tangible physical threat to Israel's survival, but it would broaden Israel's base of support among many in the United States Congress [italics in the original but not bold print] who may know little about Israel, but care very much about missile defense. Such broad support could be helpful in the effort to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem." Furthermore, "Prime Minister Netanyahu can formulate the policies and stress themes he favors in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the Cold War which apply well to Israel. If Israel wants to test certain propositions that require a benign American reaction, then the best time to do so is before November, 1996."

Thus there was to be no "peace dividend" but Americans were to become part and parcel of Israel's perpetual war against its neighbors and the Palestinians. One year later some members of the same group founded "The Project for the New American Century" which pursues the policies outlined in "The Clean Break," and the two Kagan articles, right here in our midst, where Perle, Wolfowitz and Feith have risen to leading positions in the Bush administration. Mr. Perle was forced to hand in his resignation to Secretary Rumsfeld this week (conflicts of commercial interests), but the Secretary would also have done well to follow the advice of his friend Jude Wanniski. On October 9, 2001 Wanniski, founder of Polyconomics, wrote a letter to Rumsfeld "re: The Monkeys on your Back" under the headline "Fire Paul Wolfowitz." The letter is available on the Internet and deserves to be read in toto. As we now know from Bob Woodward's book the 9/11 tragedy was literally a gift from heaven for Perle, Wolfowitz and their friends. Wanniski concluded his letter with Wolfowitz "is a menace and one of the most dangerous men in the world as long as you [Rumsfeld] let him play Defense Secretary. HE MUST BE FIRED [bold print and caps in original].

This is how our administration and the American people were literally "conned" into the Iraq war and Mr. Rumsfeld is likely to be the "fall guy" when the war does not go according to plan. One can also feel genuinely sorry for Mr. Carnegie and past-President Hoover that parts of their Foundations have been hijacked from their noble purpose of achieving peace through laws. Americans now have the choice which of these two visions they want to follow: the Kantian system of laws or the Hobbseian autocracy and perpetual war. Maybe the choice will be easier if we return to the origin of Leviathan. I don't know why Hobbes chose that title but it is a reasonable guess that as the son of a Protestant minister he was steeped in the fire and brimstone rhetoric of the Old Testament. In the King James Version the name leviathan shows up four times. Once in Job, twice in Psalms, and once in Isaiah. Leviathan does not make an appearance in the New Testament and that is why Catholics are largely unaware of the properties of this animal apart from the fact that it's supposed to be big and swim in the ocean. I shall leave Job for later because of the extensive description of this mythical beast. In Psalm 74:14 we are told, "Thou breakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gaveth him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness." On the other hand in Psalm 104:26 he tends to be more benign, "There go the ships, there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein." But in Isaiah 27:1 we are confronted with evil again, "In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea." Admirers of the Old Testament like to believe that the Lord who does the slaying is Yahveh but the biblical authors simply cribbed from an older Ugaritic text which says, "If thou smite Lotan, the serpent slant, Destroy the serpent tortuous, Shalyat of the seven heads." In this instance the slayer was Baal and although it may seem a stretch from Lotan to Leviathan the names become easier to reconcile when one recognizes a) that ancient Hebrew has no written vowels and b) that Leviathan is merely the English rendering of livyatan where the lot morphed into liv while the yat remained. But this is a minor point except that it emphasizes again: only the names change while phenomena and myths remain constant.

More important is the description of the animal in Job 41 where the entire 34 verses are devoted to it in order to demonstrate the power of God over such a loathsome and powerful beast. The chapter is too long to be reproduced here but should be read in toto by those who believe in raw power as the solution to the world's ills. Some samples will have to suffice, "his scales are his pride . . . . out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out . . . . out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron . . . . his heart is as firm as stone . . . . when he raiseth himself up the mighty are afraid . . . . he esteemeth iron as straw and brass as rotten wood." Verses 33 and 34 are the punch line, "Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. He beholdeth all high things; he is a king over all the children of pride."

Yes indeed and one is reminded of the last sentence in Perle's position paper for PM Netanyahu, "Israel - proud, wealthy, solid and strong - would be the basis of a truly new and peaceful Middle East. This was the vision which was sold to the Bush administration and they bought it. Now is the time when the rest of America is supposed to chime in. But this vision is born of fear and its adherents would be well advised to remember another passage from Job 3:25, "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me." When, and I am not saying if, the neocons' policies begin to unravel scapegoats will be sought and since a great many of them are Jewish, all Jews will be blamed. This is also part of Kant's "evil residing in human nature."

This is your choice America: you can puff yourself up like leviathan, or you can recognize that pride is a sin and that genuine security results from cooperation rather than domination. Nothing is fore-ordained, the future still remains to be written; but those who place their faith in the leviathan's military might would do well to remember that he was always subject to the Lord, whose ways are mysterious and inscrutable. They should also remember that if there is only one God, as we have come to believe, it doesn't matter by what name different people refer to Him: Baal, Yahveh, Zeus, or Allah.

America is, however, not only a place on a map it is her citizens - you and I - and it is up to us to make this choice, each person individually. There is a story that when Thomas Jefferson left the Constitutional Convention a passer-by asked him, "Mr. Jefferson; what kind of government do we have? A Monarchy or a Republic?" Jefferson answered, "A Republic, if you can keep it!"

Personally I feel that this should be our primary duty. We should re-establish the separation of power between the three branches of government and reject an Imperial Presidency or Imperial Supreme Court. We should demand of Congress to be genuinely responsible to "We the People," rather than special interest, and become transparent as well as accountable to the taxpayers. Senators and Congressmen, rather than their secretaries, should meet with their constituents and listen to their suggestions. We should also demand a stop to the secrecy that surrounds government, in the name of national security, which has made us less secure than at any time in our history. Above all we should relinquish the failed Israeli Likud model of Might Makes Right. In this effort to reclaim our republic we also need the help of those of our Jewish citizens who reject the siren songs of their current spokesmen and opt for a saner, more just, world. Examples to follow might be the editor of Tikkun, Rabbi Lerner, whose central creed is "Love thy Neighbor," or those orthodox rabbis who started a protest by burning the Israeli flag which currently represents oppression instead of freedom. Our Jewish citizens, in order to avoid the looming fate outlined above, should publicly dissociate themselves from their pride-, fear- and hate-mongers and thereby destroy the false monolithic image of "the Jews." If this were done we could have a genuine regime change right here at home in November 2004 and the world might become a better place to live in for all of us.





May 1, 2003

POWER POLITICS OR STATESMANSHIP?



While looting was still going on in "liberated" Baghdad, and her citizens lingered without water and electricity, our Pentagon neoconservatives were already busy talking about the next liberation. We were told that Syria is now the repository of a massive arsenal of WMD's which has in addition been bolstered by Saddam's cache. This is why we a) couldn't find them in Iraq and b) why Syria has to be eliminated. Iran, as another source of chronic evil also has to be dealt with immediately before the mullahs get the bomb. Little Kim Jong Il, on the other hand, has to be treated diplomatically, rather than militarily, because we assume he already has the potential to do us significant harm. It thus becomes obvious that we chose our evils wisely. We use our military against those states we can readily defeat but become considerably more cautious in our ambitions when the stakes are raised.

In the previous installment on "The Neocons' Leviathan" I have detailed the reasons why the mentioned people think the way they do and how the fruits of their thoughts are carried out in actual practice. The key word was "Power" and by that these thinkers mean only military power. The power of the human spirit eludes them and one is reminded of Stalin's quip: "How many divisions does the Pope have?" Stalin's successors found out, and the legions of the Prophet our neocons are inadvertently recruiting are likely to be increasingly heard from. It'll just take time but that is precisely what our "policy makers" don't seem to have. This is not altogether unreasonable because in a republic like ours there is always the specter of an election which might send a given group of oligarchs out to pasture in order to be replaced by another one. Nevertheless one idea seems to be common to Republicans and Democrats alike: America is at the zenith of her power and this power must be preserved and secured come what may. A Pax Americana will now be imposed upon the world and whoever doesn't like it will be made to feel the consequences.

Although I had read the literature which gave rise to last month's article I was still somewhat hesitant to believe that the course laid out by the neoconservatives and their friends will indeed be followed. I was, therefore, genuinely puzzled when I read in The Salt Lake Tribune a brief note under the headline: "Poland. $3.5 billion deal for F-16 is biggest defense contract since Cold War." The short blurb stated in part,

"Prime Minister Leszek Miller, who attended the signing ceremony, said the package reflected 'our partnership with the United States in political and military areas, but also in the economy.' With its complexity and scope, the package underscored strong U.S.-Polish strategic ties, reinforced in recent months by Warsaw's help in the war in Iraq."

When I read this note I wondered "what is this all about?" As a reward for sending a couple of hundred hapless young Poles into battle in Iraq the Polish people are now allowed to buy themselves with their tax money F-16 s? To put this bargain in perspective let us remember that already in the year 2000 (the last year for which I have readily available figures) Poland's economy was in shambles with a per capita income of $6,500 and a trade deficit of $14.3 billion. Due to the world-wide recession since then the numbers can only have gotten worse and the current unemployment rate stands at 18 per cent. Under those circumstances one is surely entitled to ask: What do the Poles need fighter jets for? Against whom are they to be used, since their traditional enemies the Russians and the Germans are no longer a threat?

For the answer to that question I am again indebted to my brother who had sent me as an Easter present the German edition of a book by the French author Emmanuel Todd which was published in 2002 and has already been translated into 11 languages. The original title was Après l'empire. Essai sur la décomposition du systéme américaine, which might be literally translated as: "After the empire. An essay upon the disintegration of the American system." The German translation carried the title Weltmacht USA. Ein Nachruf, which could be rendered as "U.S. world power. An obituary." Well, it's obviously too early to write an obituary but that isn't quite what the Frenchman had said anyway. Nevertheless, his thesis is so striking that amazon.com has so far not put an English translation on the market.

Todd says that America is no longer at the zenith of her power but has begun the downhill slide. Although her military might is currently undisputed, her economic strength has been eroded and she hides this weakness by throwing her military weight around in the world. America has become a debtor nation with a massive trade imbalance, and internal deficit, while Europe is recovering from the disasters of her two civil wars, WWI and WWII. Europe including Russia as well as Japan, China and South Korea are net exporters of goods while America has been relegated to the role of consumer. This, in the long run, is incompatible with America's continued role as the world's only remaining superpower. Thus, a balance between the combined strength of Europe and Asia and that of the Americas is likely to evolve in the future.

Now the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and the emphasis on military power by the neoconservatives and their allies all of a sudden makes perfect sense. If one sees America as the empire which is destined to enforce its values around the globe one must do everything in one's power to prevent other countries from gaining the possibility to challenge one's rule. This means that Europe must not be allowed to unite but the "new Europe" has to be set against the "old Europe." The Euro, which has steadily been gaining strength and now trades again, after the dollar's brief rally during the Iraq campaign, about ten percent higher than the dollar, must be weakened. Poland's entry into the Euro zone is undesirable and the country has to be kept tied to the dollar. Petro-dollars will also have to become greenbacks again. Russia, practically a continent with immense potential natural resources, must be left in economic doldrums and chastised as being undemocratic. Every effort will also have to be made to create unrest in China because this colossus of more than a billion and a quarter intelligent people is bound to challenge, in the long run, America's hegemony over East Asia. This can only be avoided when, under the banner of "human rights violations," the Soviet Union's fate is meted out to China and she sinks again into competing fiefdoms of warlords. Divide et impera, divide and conquer, served the Romans well and the idea seems to be that what worked two thousand years ago will work just as well now.

Under these circumstances Poland being forced to buy herself fighter jets makes also perfect sense. The American economy has to be stimulated and there isn't all that much manufactured paraphernalia we have to sell. Computers, cars and other technology one can buy cheaper from Asia but in military hardware we are unsurpassed. That is also the reason why Kagan, in his article which was mentioned last month, insisted that Europe needs to re-arm. Why? I asked myself, when I read it. Whom are the Europeans supposed to shoot, kill, and bomb? Al Quaeda terrorists, the IRA, Basques? The answer is now obvious. It doesn't matter that the Europeans are sick of war, have no external enemies, and don't really need a new arsenal. What does matter is that they buy our lethal equipment and thereby not only stimulate our economy but also create fear, dissension and instability around the world.

There's only one problem where the new Rome and its Pax differ fundamentally from the old one. Neither Hannibal, Mithridates nor any of the other enemies of Rome had the bomb! It can no longer be de-invented and we have to live with it. This ought to be a sobering thought for would-be imperialists. Pakistan has the bomb and its "democracy" is unstable. China has the bomb and Russia's arsenal is also still relatively intact. We have no monopoly on power politics and if we want to "pre-empt," sooner or later others are bound to do so also. We will then indeed have an Armageddon of unheard of proportions. But it is highly doubtful that at the end of it Jesus is going to arrive with his army of Saints and set up an enlightened despotism. Yet this seems to be precisely what some of our fellow citizens seem to have in mind.

If America continues to pursue the political course she has embarked upon and continues to use the September 11 tragedy as a mask to hide imperial ambitions there cannot be even a semblance of peace in this world. The chimera of a messianic kingdom where one power rules eternally is a bedtime fantasy for children. It cannot come to pass on this earth because the laws of physics and motion are against it. Force produces counter-force and the only constant is eternal change. Statism has never existed and can never exist on this planet.

In previous installments on the "Deconstruction of America" and "From Homo Sapiens to the Naked Ape" I have already documented how far America has strayed from the path she had set out upon in 1945 at the height of her glory. It was America who had proposed, although subsequently not endorsed, the Kantian principle of a League of Nations under Wilson, and its successor the United Nations under Roosevelt. Recently I re-read the Preamble of its Charter and there is hardly anything else that needs to be said in order to show how far we have departed. Here are just a few highlights to jog our collective memories,



"We the people of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and

To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and

To establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and

To promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and for these ends

To practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors, and

To unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and

To insure by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and

To employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims [bold print added]."



Although the U.S. has not yet repudiated the UN and its principles de jure it has done so de facto. In last year's speech before that body our President made it quite clear that the UN is relevant only as long as the member nations agree with and help carry out, our policies. America's right to act independently of the UN was also enshrined in a document signed by President Bush on September 17, 2002 entitled "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America." While the introductory letter pays lip service to international cooperation the document itself spells out quite clearly that we shall use international cooperation on our terms only and reserve the right to initiate military policies without regard to international agreements when we feel that it is in our interest. The same applies to international treaties which deal with other global matters such as the environment or the International Criminal Court.

It is obvious that the UN has never lived up to its high principles but no human institution has ever been able to live up to lofty ideals. Power politics has prevented it and is likely to continue to do so. Nevertheless, to abandon the road of international law, as we seem to be in the process of doing, can only bode ill for the future. The UN, flaws and all, is still the only representative organization where all countries big or small, democratic or authoritarian have a forum and their concerns can first be listened to and subsequently, hopefully, acted upon with the blessings of the majority of that body. We seem to be tempted to walk out on the UN because our wishes can be vetoed in the Security Council. But if we do so we sign its death warrant and the real WWIII (I don't agree with the Pentagon's assessment that the Cold War represented WWIII) becomes inevitable. This is the reason why European scholars, like Emmanuel Todd, regard America as the most dangerous country in the world today. No longer able to dominate economically she has to do so militarily and thereby violate the established legal international order.

True statesmanship would require the insight that no empire is immortal and that the strength we still possess should be used to create, by peaceful means, conditions around the world which take the wind out of the sails of would-be terrorists or "rogue states." Our political moralizing, which divides the world between the good and the evil is not only hypocritical but harmful because it is bound to backfire. We cannot live up to the image of goodness we are trying to project, for a variety of reasons. But one which is paramount in the eyes of the Arab world is our unwillingness and/or inability to solve the Palestinian question. President Bush has announced that after the Iraq war he will not only unveil, but in concert with the EU, Russia and the UN, enforce his "road map for peace" in that troubled region of the world. He may genuinely believe that he will be able to do this but the experience of his father in this respect should tell us that this outcome is far from assured.

Let us step back to spring and summer 1991. In a spectacular 100 hours campaign the Iraqi army was routed from Kuwait and President Bush I enjoyed an unheard of popularity rating. This was not limited to the American public but represented a widespread feeling around the world. The invasion of another country had been stopped and UN values, which do not allow for annexations through force, had been upheld. President Bush then tried to translate this military success into a political one by bringing an end to the Israeli-Palestinian war. While Secretary of State, James Baker, worked feverishly to bring Arabs and Israelis together for the Madrid conference, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was working just as hard to convince Congress to give Israel a $10 billion loan guarantee to help with the absorption of the new immigrants from the Soviet Union. Inasmuch as this "loan guarantee" - a polite word for donation - would likely have been used for the creation and expansion of settlements in the occupied territories the elder Bush balked. Arabs would obviously have been in no mood to negotiate when we are seen as blatantly favoring Israel at that critical juncture. Bush was not against the loan guarantees per se but he did want a postponement of 120 days. Inasmuch as AIPAC's efforts were, however, all but assured of success President Bush gave on September 12, 1991 a special press conference where he went over the heads of Congress. J.J. Goldberg in his book Jewish Power. Inside the American Jewish Establishment relates what happened. After Bush had made his pitch for Congress to delay action on the bill

"he said, that he was 'up against some powerful political forces' bent on thwarting his will. Congress, in fact, appeared on the verge of approving the loan guarantees without him.

'I heard today there were something like a thousand lobbyists on the Hill working the other side of the question,' the president barked, pounding his fist on the podium with an anger usually reserved for foreign despots and congressional Democrats. 'We've got one lonely little guy down here doing it.'

The 'political forces' confronting the president at that moment were about thirteen hundred leaders of local Jewish organizations from across the country."

Goldberg tells us that this was merely the culmination of AIPAC's four months long campaign and Bush saw himself threatened to have to use "the first veto override of his presidency." Bush won that battle. Support on the Hill dwindled but he was made to pay a bitter price. The White House was deluged with angry letters and phone calls from irate Jewish citizens who felt that their right to petition Congress had been infringed upon and within five days the President had to write an apologetic letter to Ms. Shoshana Cardin of Baltimore who was at the head of "the powerful forces." The apology was grudgingly accepted but the damage was done and efforts began immediately to deny President Bush his re-election, which had seemed all but assured. Goldberg writes,

"On November 5, 1991, seven weeks after Bush's fateful press conference, America went to the polls for an off-year election that should have held few surprises. The one interesting race was a shoo-in contest in Pennsylvania, where a U.S. Senate seat had been opened up the previous spring by the accidental death of John Heinz, an attractive, moderate young Republican. The GOP's candidate was the popular ex-governor, Richard Thornburgh, another moderate and one of President Bush's closest allies. . . . His Democratic opponent was a little-known college professor, Harris Wofford, who had once served in the Kennedy administration. As of September 17, Thornburgh was forty-four points ahead in the polls."

Within one week after President Bush's press conference the flow of money began to reverse course in the Pennsylvania electoral campaign. While on October 16 Thornburgh still had a two to one fund-raising lead the situation reversed itself completely in the final weeks before the election. "Donors with Jewish surnames who had made up nearly 10 per cent of Thornburgh's October 16 filing, were almost totally absent from his final report. . . .  What had happened was that from all across the country, outraged Jews (and some passionately pro-Israel Christians) were focusing their anger at George Bush on his friend Dick Thornburgh. The accidental beneficiary was Professor - soon to be Senator - Harris Wofford."

After his loss at the polls Thornburgh told Bush that he was the sacrificial canary Pennsylvania coal miners use to check the air in the mine shaft. Goldberg relates the conversation, “‘Mr. President, I'm your canary. You've got a leak, and if you don't do something about it, it's going to get you too.’” Well we know what happened thereafter. President Bush dragged Prime Minister Shamir screaming and kicking to Madrid which later on led to the ill-fated "Oslo peace process," and by November 1992 Clinton was voted in as the next President of the U.S. The official story line was that Bush had lied to the American people about not raising taxes, when he found himself pressed to repudiate his promise, and that the economy was in dire straits. While these were some factors they were not necessarily the determining ones. As the currently well known James Carville, who was then Wofford's campaign manager and who went on to be Clinton's thereafter, is quoted as saying "the press conference did indeed 'hurt Thornburgh bad.' . . . It hurt Republicans in Jewish fund- raising. And we started raising a lot more money.' "

When the 1992 votes were tallied Bush had received 12 percent of the Jewish vote, Perot 10 per cent and Clinton 78 per cent. One may argue that Jewish voters favor Democrats anyway but in the 1988 election Bush had received 35 per cent while his opponent governor Dukakis, who even had a Jewish wife, was relegated to 64 per cent. Obviously it is not the individual American Jewish voters who swing an election but the fund-raising efforts and the allegation of anti-Semitism against those who don't toe the line, can surely have an impact.

This little lesson of history may not be lost on George W. The current $9 billion loan guarantee had smooth sailing in Congress but that does not make the "road map to peace" any easier. Jewish voters are still, by and large, adamantly pro-Israel and so is one of the President's core constituencies the evangelical right. If President Bush wants to avoid the fate of his father he cannot afford to alienate either of these two groups and "leaning on Israel" does not seem to be a viable option. This is the political reality in America.

In Israel the situation is hardly different. Although Israelis are sick of war they want peace on their terms rather than a solution which is equitable for both sides. Prime Minister Sharon has recently said that a Palestinian state is inevitable, and that painful concessions will have to be made, but it seems apparent that these words are for public consumption rather than indicating a genuine change of heart within his party. The Likud party program www.jewishsf.com/bk990514/iparties.shtml prior to the 1999 elections which swept Sharon into office stated,

"PEACE PROCESS

Likud rejects the creation of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. The party will honor all international agreements signed by previous governments. The party will work to strengthen settlements and prevent their dismantling. Jerusalem will remain the united capital. There will be no negotiations over the city's future. There will be increased Jewish settlements in all parts of Jerusalem. No diplomatic activities will take place in Orient House [Palestinian Authority headquarters in Jerusalem]. The Israeli police presence in eastern Jerusalem will grow."

This was the platform Sharon campaigned on and which led him to win two elections. In spite of the fact that this party program is in direct violation of the UN charter and International Law it was adhered to. Jewish settlements in the occupied areas, including east Jerusalem, proceeded at a rapid pace so that the Palestinians now have to live in disconnected islands. They cannot readily go from one town or village to another without crossing specified checkpoints and the main highways in the West Bank, the so-called "bypass roads," are for Israelis to travel on but off limits to Palestinians. The difficulties Bush's "road map for peace" is confronted with can be readily appreciated when one looks at a genuine tourist road map as advertised in the Jerusalem Post. Characteristically the map is called "Carta's Map of Judea, Samaria & the Gaza Strip,” because Israel refuses to acknowledge the UN principle that acquisition of territory by military power is illegal. First the term "occupied territories" was abandoned in official Israeli parlance, then the word "territories" also disappeared, and now there is only "Judea, Samaria and Gaza Strip!" It was hoped to create facts on the ground which will make a meaningful contiguous Palestinian state for all practical purposes impossible. The Carta map, which shows on its title fold a nice shiny car traveling along a modern highway between hills dotted with trees and settlements, reveals the success of these policies and the resultant break-up of Palestinian lands. It is highly regrettable that this map is not shown by the American media, including television, because the American public is thereby kept in ignorance of the true facts and can readily be misled by skillful propaganda. Once the "road map to peace" collapses, just like the Oslo peace process did, the blame will, in all likelihood, be placed again at the feet of the Palestinians for their stubborn refusal to appreciate Israeli generosity and for the persistence in their fight for liberation from occupation.

Our current President loves to think in terms of "good and evil" but he might be well advised to remember what happened to Adam and Eve when they gorged themselves with “the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil." They lost their paradise and since our president regards himself as a "born again Christian" it might also be useful for him to recall Satan's temptation of Jesus. In the wilderness Jesus was promised power over all the kingdoms of the world if he were to fall down and worship Satan. Our president now has this power for a fleeting moment of history. Will he give in to the seducers around him who offer even more glory? Or will he say "No, enough bloodshed! Henceforth we go the way of cooperation with others rather than that of domination?" That would be statesmanship!

Although Mr. Bush is not likely to ever read these lines I do have a suggestion for him. On one of his Sunday mornings at Camp David he might want to sit down in the woods with a copy of the New Testament and ponder Luke 11:24-26. We know that he quoted the preceding verse 23, "He that is not with me is against me,” but the subsequent ones are of even greater personal importance for his soul. They contain the story of a man from whom an unclean spirit had gone out. After this particular demon had wandered around restlessly he decided that he might as well visit his former host again and found the house "clean and garnished. The he goes and takes to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. " I am not saying that our president will resort to the solace of alcohol again, from which he regards himself as having been redeemed by Jesus; but I am saying that he finds himself now in dire danger of some so-called friends and advisers who will try to use him for their pet projects. History is not only made by social forces, as Marx claimed, but by people whom fate has thrown up into executive positions with vast powers over the rest of us and that is where Satan and his guile becomes relevant. The frequently cited words of Lord Acton "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely," ought to be the warning to be heeded.





June 1, 2003

CHURCHILL AND HITLER



The topic of this installment was prompted by two events during this lull between military campaigns in our war on terrorism. The first one was that I had come across the recently released new edition of Sir Charles Wilson's war diaries Churchill at War 1940-45. The second was a TV miniseries Hitler The Rise of Evil, which was shown in the middle of last month. These coincidences made me wonder if there will be a future Plutarch who will write an objective assessment of these "Parallel Lives." It is not possible at this time because even if it were written it would not be published, and if it were published, it would not be reviewed and the book relegated to oblivion. The myths which have grown up around these two personalities must be preserved or the entire current political world-view of that era, and its consequences, would collapse. Yet it is a fact that the fate of these two people was so intertwined that neither would have become what he was without the other. In the following pages I shall give a skeleton outline how these parallel lives led the one to greatness and the other to ruin.

Sir Charles who wrote the above cited book was Churchill's physician from June of 1940 until his death in 1965. He accompanied him on most, if not all, conference trips abroad and was elevated in 1943 to "1st Baron Moran of Manton" for his services. As he reports, this puzzled a young Russian interpreter no end on one of his trips to Moscow. "You are Lord Moran, and he is Mister Churchill?" was a discrepancy this poor Soviet citizen could not fathom. The diaries provide us, however, not only with an intimate glimpse of Churchill but also of the other major leaders of the day, although remarkable enough Hitler hardly figures. The book ends with the diary entry of July 27, 1945 the day after Churchill had lost the election by a landslide to the Labor government and Attlee had become Prime Minister. Yet these are only the first 308 pages of an 848 page book Churchill. Taken from the Diaries of Lord Moran, published in 1966, which I found at the Marriott Library of the University of Utah.

While Churchill at War reinforces the picture of the solitary war time hero who had stood up to evil against all odds, the complete book gives a considerably more rounded picture, and I shall rely on this publication for the subsequent analysis. It shows that Churchill's life basically fell into three major portions: up to May 1940 when he became Prime Minister at age 65; the war years until he was voted out of power; and the subsequent slow decay, in spite of re-election in 1951, until his death at age 91 in 1965. But even within the war, the height of his glory, there are clearly three phases. The first from May 1940 to December 1941 when America was drawn into the war, the second ended essentially with the Teheran conference, while the third lasted till his landslide defeat by the Labor Party in July 1945.

Immediately prior to WWII Churchill was out of a job and had a very dubious reputation. He had switched parties twice and his political colleagues did not trust his judgment. He was regarded as a flamboyant adventurer and the Gallipoli disaster in 1915 which had cost 20,000 lives was laid at his feet. He was never allowed to live it down before WWII. Although he is regarded as a brilliant orator public speaking was not his natural forte. His speech was halting, he lisped and he dreaded major speeches, even during the war. Some of his most famous ones, which he gave in Parliament, were read on the BBC by an actor. His strength was the written rather than spoken word and he carefully prepared his speeches, filing key phrases and, like Hitler, practiced them before a mirror. But unlike Hitler his speeches never aroused the passions of his colleagues in Parliament and as Moran wrote,

"Winston had no idea what was going on in their minds. He said a piece. It was a kind of one way traffic, he thought more of the sound of his words than their effect on his audience. It was rather a cold-blooded business, I suppose, the words picked so deliberately as in some fine balancing act, the sentences built up with cool deliberation in his own bedroom. The speech from beginning to end had been contrived beforehand, every word typed out, the very pauses marked in the script. Even his expression as he mouthed his carefully polished periods had been observed and studied before the looking glass."

Churchill's warnings about the danger Hitler presented to the established order might have gone over better with responsible circles in government had he not used marked exaggerations, which were patently false, and vindictive language. Some other similarities between Hitler's and Churchill's opinions have already been presented in War & Mayhem. These included: passionate love for war, a disdain for "colored people," the necessity for eugenic efforts, the establishment of "labor colonies" for "tramps and wastrels," so that they be "made to realize their duty to the state." He bullied others and could reduce grown men to submit to his will by shouting matches. Humanitarian concerns about civilian casualties in war did not exist for him. He intended to float down mines in the Rhine river, was in favor of terror bombing of cities to demoralize the civilian population, and in 1944 approved the manufacture of 500,000 bombs capable of delivering poison gas and anthrax to decimate the German population. But these projects were, fortunately, never carried out.

These aspects of his character were known in Britain but are relegated to oblivion now. Had Churchill lost the war he would have been tried and convicted for war crimes. Moran, who obviously liked and admired Churchill, was nevertheless, puzzled by the internal contradictions of what he called on one occasion "this strange creature." He records a characteristic exchange in a diary entry of August 12, 1956 between himself and Sir John Anderson (Viscount Waverley; former Lord President of the Council and in 1943 Chancellor of the Exchequer)

"Moran: "If Winston had died in 1939, before the war what would history have said of him?"

John (becoming very serious): "he had been wrong about so many things: India for example, and he was wrong on finance, and wrong on Gallipoli . . . . And he wasn't a very good Home Secretary. Then when he was in opposition he was isolated and Winston needs advisers, who will say to him; 'Winston you are making a fool out of yourself.' . . . . Left to himself, Winston's judgment was a menace. No, if he had died then he would have gone down as a failure."

Moran: "What about the war?'

John: "Well, he had this wonderful gift for inspiring people. He was, too, astonishingly fertile in ideas; some were hopeless, of course, but something came out of others. And he was, as you know, a wonderful mouthpiece of the nation. No, I agree he couldn't place people, and he was no good in administration unless somebody held his hand. But his imagination was his most valuable gift. And there was something . . . " (John hesitated for the word) ". . . something selfless about Winston; if an idea got hold of him he would follow it up with endless enthusiasm and energy, quite regardless of whether it would help him personally."

These were the characteristics which made the British people accept Churchill as a leader during war but reject him as soon as the war was won. For the British, dictatorship was a necessary evil during war but not to be perpetuated in peace-time when other qualities were called for. Churchill's re-election in 1951, in-spite of failing health, was essentially a reward for his war-time services and to assuage the guilt for having dismissed him at the height of his triumph. This had been a severe blow to him and exacerbated his tendency to intermittent life-long depressions which he called the "black dog business." Although he was mentally no longer up to the job he stood for election because the need for power was in his blood and he just couldn't let go. This posed a dilemma for Moran, the physician. Should he have told him point blank? "Winston [they were good friends and on first name basis], stay in retirement, enjoy the world-wide accolades you are receiving, you are no longer the man you once were and another term as PM is not the best thing for the country." But Moran knew that out of office Churchill's purpose in life would have vanished and the man would have sunk into even greater depressions than he was already experiencing. As a doctor who considered his patient above all else he encouraged him to run for office. A series of minor strokes and a major one disabled Churchill to an extent that four years later he was forced to resign by his party.

In this connection Moran also commented on Roosevelt's appearance at Yalta, "The president looked old and thin and drawn; he had a cape or shawl over his shoulders and appeared shrunken; he sat looking straight ahead with his mouth open, as if he were not taking things in. Everyone was shocked by his appearance and gabbed about it afterwards." On another occasion Moran commented that "Winston became impatient with the President's apathy and indifference [at Yalta]. He did not seem to realize that Roosevelt was a very sick man." When one looks at the famous Yalta photograph of the "Big Three" it is obvious that Roosevelt was dying and I personally have a feeling that he had cancer because cerebro-vascular disease alone would not account for this obvious weight loss. But diagnosis aside, there is a more important problem. Roosevelt should not have been allowed to run for a fourth term in 1944. During a time when momentous decisions had to be made the country required a sound mind at the helm and the only positive aspect that came from that election was the appointment of Truman as Vice President. Truman could not undo all the harm that had been done in Teheran and Yalta but at least he prevented further inroads by Stalin at Potsdam and thereafter. Thus, the question remains for the physician who is in charge of the leader of a country, "where does your duty lie?" Should the will of the patient, and his "court camarilla," override the good of the country? I cannot answer it but in our age where the fate of the world can be decided by the push of a button the question needs to be discussed openly and guidelines issued.

As mentioned, Churchill saw the potential nightmare scenario unfolding after the Teheran conference and became deeply concerned about not only how his war for the honor and glory of England had turned out but also the ultimate fate of the world. He sincerely detested communism and said on one occasion in 1947 in a private conversation,” If ever it comes to the triumph of the Communists, I hope that some people will have the guts to resist. I am prepared to commit a crime" - he spoke more quickly and with emphasis - "to throw a bomb among the most subversive people. I am not afraid of death." Clemmie, the good wife knew how to handle him when he had worked himself up, just said," Have a little more brandy, Winston." In a 1954 speech at Woodford he said, "Even before the war had ended, and while the Germans were surrendering by the thousands . . . I telegraphed to Lord Montgomery directing him to be careful in collecting the German arms, to stack them so that they could easily be issued again to the German soldiers whom we should have to work with if the Soviet advance continued." The comment created a furor in the press; the mentioned telegram has never been found and may never have been sent. But it does represent Churchill's genuine feelings about the state of post-war affairs. As an aside I might mention that, as reported in War&Mayhem, we, the soldiers of the Wehrmacht, would only have been too happy to join the Brits and Americans in order to send the Russians from Central Europe back to their own country.

"Poor England," Churchill kept repeating after the war and especially after the existence of the atomic bomb had become known. In 1946 he felt that a pre-emptive war against the Soviet Union should be launched within the next few months before Stalin got the bomb. It is also remarkable how his attitude to the German people changed after they had been thoroughly defeated and the Soviets were in charge. During the war he had routinely referred to the Germans, even in private conversations, as "The Hun" and had countersigned the Morgenthau plan, which would have reduced Germans to subsistence levels, but in 1954 he was all for rearming Germany. "They are fine fellows. That is the element which has been the strength of England for a thousand years; responsibility, constancy." When Moran asked him in the same year on another occasion, "what would happen to Germany if there was war between Russia and the United States?" "Poor lambs, they would be over-run and our neutrality would not save us. I wanted America to have a show-down with the Soviet Republic before the Russians had the bomb."

On the other hand when Stalin died and Malenkov took over, Churchill was eager to make peace. He repeatedly urged Eisenhower to arrange for a three man summit conference but ran into a brick wall. Neither Ike nor Foster Dulles wanted to even explore the changed realities. Churchill had to resign himself to another failure. Now only the goal to leave the most admirable picture of his life for posterity remained. "History will be kind to me, because I shall write it," he reportedly said. As Moran noted, Churchill became obsessed in the last years of life how the press wrote about him and became very upset over negative comments. Moran closed his diary entries in March 1960 with a cruise they took on Onassis' yacht to the Caribbean. The last five years were simply slow, progressive mental decay which needed not to be chronicled.

But as mentioned earlier Churchill's days of political glory were actually limited to three of his 91 years, between 1940 and 1943. From then on his, and England's, influence was permanently eclipsed by America. "Poor England," he kept muttering but he also said that "I will not be the grave digger of the British Empire." Nevertheless, when one views his decisions objectively, that was indeed his role. He saved England but lost the empire. The fact that he sensed it himself is attested to by a comment to Moran when he mumbled, "I ought not . . . I must not . . . be held to account . . . for all . . . that has gone wrong." The fate of the empire, which had been tottering even prior to the war, was sealed at Teheran. Since this conference was pivotal for the rest of the war and post-war history, although it has been largely ignored by the popular media, I shall now present the essence.

When Churchill made his defiant speeches in June and July of 1940, he knew that eventually America would come to the rescue, just as in WWI, and all he had to do was to hang on long enough for America to be able to do so. While he still had considerable influence on the conduct of the war up to 1943 it had become apparent to him by the time of the Teheran conference that the center of gravity had shifted and decisions were no longer made in London but Washington and Moscow. Churchill's personal influence on Roosevelt had also declined to an extent that the latter didn't even want to talk to him any more because their goals had diverged. Churchill had fought the war for the preservation of the British Empire while Roosevelt's goal was "free trade" throughout the world, and the abolition of all colonies, regardless of whether they were British, French, Dutch or whatever. At Teheran Roosevelt side-lined Churchill and negotiated directly with Stalin. Harry Hopkins (FDR's most intimate advisor) told Moran at that time that in a "heart-to-heart talk" the President,

"made it clear that he was anxious to relieve the pressure on the Russian front by invading France. Stalin expressed his gratification, and when the President went on to say that he hoped Malaya, Burma and other British colonies would soon 'be educated in the arts of self-government' the talk became quite intimate. The President felt encouraged by Stalin's grasp of the democratic issue at stake, but he warned him not to discuss India with the Prime Minister. Stalin's slit eyes do not miss much; he must have taken it all in.

As I listened to Harry, I felt the President's attitude will encourage Stalin to take a stiff line in the conference. But Harry is not worried. Things are going fine he said."

When one looks back nearly sixty years later one is appalled what this unfortunate conference and Roosevelt's plus Hopkins' naiveté have brought us. Europe was cut in half, for nearly fifty years; Africa became one vast disaster zone with tribal wars and accompanying famine; China became communist; Burma is a dictatorship, India and Pakistan are at each others throats over Kashmir; and the other South-east Asia countries Hopkins mentioned are fertile spawning grounds for Muslim extremists. Roosevelt thought that he would bring democracy to the world but in fact he brought us chaos. It is truly terrible to see that our current government seems to be pursuing a similar disastrous course.

But to return to Churchill. As Moran makes clear, up to the summer of 1943 Churchill still had a fair amount of influence on FDR. He persuaded Roosevelt to make the war in Europe the number 1 priority with the Pacific theater the secondary one. He also convinced Roosevelt, over General Marshall's objections, to postpone the invasion of France in 1942, which Stalin urged. Instead the North African and subsequently Italian campaign was pursued which had only half hearted support from Roosevelt and none from Stalin. After 1941 Churchill's conduct of the war was driven by three major considerations. One was to get Rommel out of Africa and secure the Suez Canal; the other to drive through Italy, Trieste and Yugoslavia for Vienna, thereby saving the Balkans for the West; and in addition he was deathly afraid of a repeat of the trench warfare of WWI. The German Wehrmacht had to be bled white first in Russia, and the American infantry had to be steeled in battle against lesser forces before the channel was to be crossed. But Roosevelt's nightmare was that Stalin would come to a separate arrangement with Hitler, if he saw that the West, whom he never trusted, was dragging its feet. If Stalin dropped out and Roosevelt was to be confronted with Japan as well as Germany the military equation would have looked rather differently. Since neither Roosevelt nor Churchill, in contrast to Stalin and Hitler, were dictators for life but had to worry about elections, this concern was very real. It is in this light Roosevelt's demand for unconditional surrender in Casablanca needs to be seen. It was meant to reassure Stalin that the West would not make a separate peace but would stay with him for the duration. All he had to do was to hang on and he would be rewarded thereafter. This is also the reason why FDR acted in 1943 at Teheran the way he did. Stalin had mentioned to Churchill that the Red Army was war-weary and it was, therefore, essential to keep them fighting not only with the firm promise of a second front in France by 1944, but also of post-war rewards.

As far as Stalin was concerned, he admitted to Churchill at Teheran not only the mentioned "war-weariness" of the Red Army but also that “Without America we should already have lost the war." To make sure that Roosevelt would stick to his promises, Stalin also pledged at Teheran that he would enter the war against Japan as soon as Germany was defeated. America was the key and this key Hitler had so badly misjudged.

Although the producers of the Hitler TV miniseries had made a concerted effort to minimize the cartoon picture of Hitler as a boisterous buffoon they could not resist it altogether because the Zeitgeist demands it. Yet if Hitler had indeed behaved mainly in the way as presented by Mr. Carlyle he would hardly have impressed Lloyd George, the Duke of Windsor, Halifax, Mussolini, a variety of European monarchs as well as other statesmen. Even Stalin stood up for him. In the book Summit at Teheran by Keith Eubank one can find that in December 1941 Stalin said to Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Secretary,

"Hitler had proved himself a man of extraordinary genius. He had succeeded in building up a ruined and divided people into a mighty world power, within an incredibly short space of time. He had succeeded in so regimenting the Germans that all elements were completely subservient to his will. 'But,' Stalin added he has one fatal defect. He does not know where to stop.' “When Eden smiled Stalin added that, 'I will always know where to stop.'"

But stopping a war is not as easy as starting one. Whenever Hitler did want to stop the war, prior to the invasion of the Soviet Union, there was Churchill who would not let him. Sumner Welles wrote in Seven Decisions which Shaped the World, "When Roosevelt commented that Hitler was mentally unstable, Stalin dissented - 'Only a very able man could accomplish what Hitler had done in solidifying the German people, whatever we thought of the methods.' “

But the myth makers have succeeded and Hitler will continue to be portrayed as evil incarnate, a madman, who wanted to conquer the world and kill all Jews. This picture must remain paramount and any genuine understanding of who the man was and what he really wanted to accomplish is not allowed to be shown on TV screens. Yet this is the main source the vast majority of the American people rely upon for historical information. Although the mentioned mini-series was certainly politically correct there were two CBS affiliate stations in Texas which refused to show the film. Any potential understanding of the man is to be feared and must not come to pass. Although historical accuracy was for the most part preserved the film failed to show, or at least emphasize, the reasons why Hindenburg had no choice but to appoint Hitler chancellor. Furthermore, while the April 1, 1933 boycott of Jewish stores and professionals was shown, the fact that this was a response to the call for a boycott of all German goods by America as demanded by Jewish organizations in the United States and reported in the New York Times was ignored. Thus the American public is always fed half-truths because what is left out is equally important as what is reported.

I have absolutely no intention to defend Hitler's crimes because they are indefensible, all I intend to do is to correct the most glaring misinterpretations of his intentions. First he never wanted to conquer the world. Had this been his goal he would have insisted on building a navy. But he was a man of the infantry, not a sailor like Churchill or Roosevelt. This is why he was quite willing to sign the Naval agreement with England in 1935 which limited the German fleet to a third of the British. The idea that he wanted to attack America is, of course, ludicrous. He didn't even have the navy to successfully launch a cross-channel invasion of England and that is why he abstained from the effort. Furthermore, if he had any such ambitions he would not have left the French their fleet as part of the 1940 armistice. Churchill on the other hand genuinely misunderstood Hitler and shot some of the French battle ships to pieces at Oran, causing considerable casualties among the French sailors.

Hitler's foreign policy goals were limited to Central and Eastern Europe. He didn't even want the colonies back. These demands were simply a bargaining chip. But the other clauses of the Versailles treaty had to be undone. All the German speaking people had to be united in one Reich which also included not only the 1919 Austria, but that of the 1914 monarchy with Bohemia, Moravia and parts of Poland. Poland would have to cede, in addition, the corridor she acquired in Versailles which separated East Prussia from Germany proper. Furthermore, if feasible, the USSR would be smashed in order to gain its phenomenal natural resources. "Blut und Boden," blood and soil, was the slogan. As Hitler also put it "the German plow will follow where the German sword has conquered." That was the plan from which he never deviated. To put it into operation he had to re-arm but the thrust was to the East rather than the West. Churchill on the other hand insisted, in contrast to Prime Minister Baldwin for instance, that Hitler was a military menace for the West which was simply not true.

For his plans to succeed Hitler also needed allies. France and Russia did not enter into consideration, because of historic enmity against the first and Bolshevism in the second. But Italy and England he thought would qualify, which was the first serious miscalculation. As an Austrian he should have known that Italians, even under Mussolini, are not necessarily natural allies and their talents lie in areas other than military prowess. The idea of England as an ally was dictated by his racial notions and the precariousness of the British Empire. He admired the British for their ability to control nearly a third of the world population and since the empire kept the non-whites in check he was all for it. He did not necessarily want to attack France either because there was nothing to colonize there. But he knew that England and France might not approve of his "New Order" in Europe and that is why he built the West Wall-Siegfried line. Defense in the West, offense in the East was the plan.

But there was Churchill who nixed it. Although in opposition, rather than the government at the outbreak of the war, he had sufficiently agitated against the appeasers that Chamberlain was honor bound to declare war when Hitler invaded Poland. Germany's occupation of Denmark and Norway was due to Churchill's plans to deny Hitler Sweden's iron ore which was shipped through Narvik and was a genuine pre-emptive strike. The invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece was forced upon him also by Churchill and the military inaptitude of the Italians who had gotten bogged down in the north of Greece, while the British landed in the south. An exposed flank immediately before the Russian campaign could not be tolerated. The North African front was also forced upon him by the weakness of the Italian army which had to be bailed out. In spite of the fact, that Mussolini had become a liability instead of an asset Hitler continued to show him loyalty throughout all his subsequent misfortunes.

Why were Churchill and some others in the West so adamantly opposed to come to an understanding with Hitler? The propaganda machine had already painted him as such an ogre that any lasting political, rather than military solution, would have been out of the question, and it was the treatment of the Jews in Germany which provided grist for the mill. Soon after the Anschluss I found in my father's library a book Hitler in der Karrikatur der Welt. It showed how Hitler had been portrayed in the German and foreign press between February 1924 and spring 1933. When I first saw these cartoons I was flabbergasted: How could a book like this which contains genuinely vicious diatribes be published in Germany? I wondered. But as the title page also displayed it was, "vom Fuehrer genehmigt" (approved by the Fuehrer) and the publication date was May 1938. The infamous cartoons in the Stuermer, which were equally vindictive, differed only in the person of the villain; Jews in the one, Hitler and the SA in the other. The caricatures showed Hitler either as an incompetent ninny who wouldn't last; a tool of bankers, the army, or monarchists; a vicious tyrant or bloodthirsty menace who would unleash a disastrous war. In the summer of 1938 we knew that the first aspects were clearly wrong but that a war was only a little over a year away nobody would have believed. After the war I looked for the book but it had been gotten rid of by my parents before the Red Army arrived. I was, therefore, very glad to find another copy in a second-hand bookstore in Vienna later on, because it is an important document which resides now in my library. The point is that we have here a perfect example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As mentioned, Hitler did indeed want war but a limited one rather than a world-war. Churchill on the other hand could not win a war against Germany after June 1940 and the rest of the world had to be recruited. Germany's mal-treatment of Jews was the ideal pretext. "See what this monstrous tyrant is doing?" was used to mobilize the world against Hitler. Did Hitler intend to kill all the Jews all along, as has been alleged? No, he wanted them to emigrate and didn't care where to. I have already mentioned some of these aspects in War&Mayhem but they are so important that a brief outline is essential here. What needs to be clearly understood, and what is not taken into account now, is that for Hitler Jews were not a religion, but a nation. This nation within the German nation had, in his opinion, usurped rights which it was not entitled to by being successful in all aspects of public life. This success, which denied Germans rightful positions within their own country, had to be curtailed. This was the purpose of the Nuremberg laws and why there were also contacts with Zionist organizations. Initially Hitler had no objections to send large numbers of German Jews to Palestine, but the British were adverse because of Arab hostility. During the war he wanted to cultivate Arab friendship against the British and thought that Madagascar, for instance, might have served as a German "mandate." The European Jews, who were to be shipped there, would have had complete sovereignty in all internal aspects but no standing army or independent foreign policy. This seems to be the model Sharon envisions now for the Palestinian state. The Madagascar plan fell apart because neither the finances nor the transports were available. Furthermore, the British were unwilling to cooperate. This is what led to the Holocaust. With the Polish and subsequently Russian campaign Hitler had acquired a large number of Jews in the East. As a separate nation Jews were even officially "enemy aliens." A few days prior to Hitler's invasion of Poland Chaim Weizman, as spokesman for International Zionism, had pledged full support to the British cause in a letter to Chamberlain. It was published under the headline "Jews to fight for Democracies" in The Times of London on September 6, 1939. As enemy aliens Jews were segregated first in ghettoes then in concentration camps. With America in the war, steadily mounting losses on the Eastern front and increasing civilian casualties due to the relentless bombing campaign, revenge took over in Hitler's mind. When valuable German blood was being spilled, those who were really responsible for the world wide extension of the war, the Jews who had agitated for it, should not escape their just punishment. They needed to bleed also. Since he could not get at the American and British Jews who had agitated against him he would take his ire out on those who were in his power within Europe. In this way the cartoons had become grim reality.



Let me now return to Churchill and how he was really seen by his contemporaries. The following is a series of statements from Moran's book. They are valuable in this context because anybody who has read authentic biographies of Hitler cannot fail to be impressed by similarities between these two politicians. Prior to 1939 Churchill was regarded "a brilliant failure." Then came June 1940 when he demonstrated an "indomitable will to conquer" "Never, Never give in," became the obsession. There was a demonic element in him and an extraordinary concentration on one purpose - victory. He had an extraordinary sense of mission and said, "This cannot be accident, it must be design I was kept for this job." He was pugnacious and seemed to frighten people. But it was also theatrics "I can be very fierce when I like," he said. He governed as a dictator, wanted people to listen to him rather than argue with him. He didn't want criticism, but reassurance. General Marshall said, "some of his projects were positively dangerous had they been carried out." Moran also mentioned that Churchill was "ignorant of human behavior. Where people are concerned he lives in an imaginary world of his own making." He was largely self-educated and virtually stopped reading when he went into politics. He was regarded as a soldier of fortune with the mind of an artist. His planning was all wishing and guessing. War was his hobby. Moran also called him, "that improbable man. A genius trampling down like a bull elephant everything that got in his way." Attlee felt that he was, "Fifty percent genius, fifty percent bloody fool." How did Churchill see himself? As Joan of Arc!

June 1940 was the month when the two parallel lives permanently intersected. With the fall of France Hitler stood at the height of his glory. England might well have made peace with him. As Sir Charles Portal, Chief Air Minister during the war commented later, "They say there was no danger that we should have made peace with Hitler. I am not so sure. Without Winston we might have." After June 1940 Hitler went down to defeat and ignominy, while Churchill's star rose to mythical heights. What was a will for power by each one of the antagonists became an epic struggle of good versus evil by the myth-makers. But morality in politics is an oxymoron. It is a superb propaganda tool yet has never had a place in the real world. What these two lives should really teach us is that when hate is met by hate death, destruction, and chaos are the outcome.

We have been told that Churchill is President Bush's role model and that he ever so often contemplates the bust which sits in his office. What was June 1940 for the one is September 11 for the other. He would, however, be well advised to look at Churchill's entire life and how contemporaries, who knew the man rather than the myth, really saw him. Will Bush also have to mutter some years from now, "I ought not . . . I must not . . . be held to account . . . for all . . . that has gone wrong."?





July 1, 2003

PRESIDENT BUSH'S CHOICE



Our President has told us that the major military operations in Iraq are over. He has not mentioned the long haul, and the inevitable finger pointing especially since Saddam's feared WMD's have so far eluded detection. Some, who don't particularly like George W, even raised the question from the Nixon era, "What did the president know and when did he know it?" It behooves us, therefore, to inquire how America got into this foreign policy conundrum she finds herself in today.

Every physician knows that there is no one single cause for a given disease or symptom only a confluence of adverse circumstances which bring the patient to the doctor. The same applies to politics. It is true that the ultimate order to invade Iraq was given by the President but it is equally true that it was not his will alone that led him into this fateful decision. When one investigates a great variety of available sources it becomes apparent that there were three major factions at work which exploited the 9/11 tragedy for their pet projects. These were the Neocons, the Oil Industry and President Bush himself. As mentioned in "The Neocons' Leviathan" this group of people thought that the difficult situation the state of Israel finds itself in is equally applicable to the United States and Israel's methods to deal with the Palestinians should now be used in an overall war against world-wide terror. This would supposedly lead to the security not only of Israel but the world at large. Needless to say this is a fantasy. Every cough is not tuberculosis or lung cancer and every national liberation movement is not automatically a danger to the rest of the world. This type of thinking mistakes the method for the purpose and can lead to nothing but tragedies. Under those circumstances our war on terror can never end because aggrieved, obsessed individuals, who have no compunction about creating havoc will always exist. This war is just as unwinnable as the war on poverty. "The poor you will always have with you," Jesus said nearly two thousand years ago and he was right; Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" not withstanding. The civilian Pentagon group who ordered the military, and State Department, around has succeeded in alienating us from the rest of the world and although the troops performed brilliantly in Iraq we are now stuck with the not so brilliant aftermath.

It is no secret that if Saddam had merely sat on sand without oil underneath, he could have tortured his people all he wanted, as some dictators do in Africa, and our policy makers would not have gotten particularly excited. But the world, not just America, runs on oil and it is regarded as intolerable that some miscreants can control some of the spigots. Even if America were not dependent on Middle East oil the rest of the world is and if the global economy were to fall into a 1930's type depression America could not escape from it either. So the idea was that since we can't trust this "madman," Saddam has to be gotten rid of and we will take over the flow of oil for the benefit of the rest of the world. That Vice President Cheney's as well as President Bush's friends are standing to make a hefty buck in the process is just icing on the cake.

All that might, however, not have been enough if someone else but Bush had sat in the Oval Office. For him it was personal. Saddam had to go. The son had to finish what the father had supposedly left undone twelve years earlier. In addition Saddam "had tried to kill my daddy." Whether or not that piece of intelligence was true, or belonged into the realm of the babies who were thrown out of their incubators when the Iraqis invaded Kuwait, no one knows. But the truth is irrelevant because people act on their beliefs and the dictum is: don't confuse me with facts! For Bush his mission in life was clear, "crush Saddam." In this obsession, because that is what it was, and that is why the WMDs were merely a convenient pretext, he followed the model of his hero Sir Winston to whom I devoted the June installment. Up to September 1939 Churchill had been floundering but when he became Prime Minister he defined his mission, "I have only one purpose, the destruction of Hitler, and my life is much simplified thereby." Getting rid of Hitler was a worthy enterprise but by what means and at what cost? Churchill's stated method was, "to set Europe ablaze." When Churchill said in November of 1942 "I have not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire," he had no idea that this would be precisely the outcome of his policies. Hitler knew it, Stalin knew it, Roosevelt knew it but poor Churchill didn't. He was obsessed with Hitler and nothing else mattered until Teheran in 1943 and especially Yalta in 1945 when he got an inkling of what he had wrought.

This brings me to the title of this installment. It was no accident, because in my readings I had also come across a book by Churchill published in 1937 entitled Great Contemporaries. One does not find Stalin there but Adolf earned a short chapter, "Hitler and his Choice." It is worth while reading, as is all the literature written by foreigners and published in non-German countries prior to September 1939. The post-WWII literature tends to be dominated by the Jewish tragedy and, therefore, presents only a partial picture of pre-war Germany. Churchill starts his chapter with

"It is not possible to form a just judgment of a public figure who has attained the enormous dimensions of Adolf Hitler until his life work as a whole is before us. Although no subsequent political action can condone wrong deeds, history is replete with examples of men who have risen to power by employing stern, grim, and even frightful methods, but who, nevertheless, when their life is revealed as a whole, have been regarded as great figures whose lives have enriched mankind. So may it be with Hitler.

Such a final view is not vouchsafed to us today [an asterisk states "written in 1935"]. We cannot tell whether Hitler will be the man who will once again let loose upon the world another war in which civilization will irretrievably succumb, or whether he will go down in history as the man who restored honour and peace to the great Germanic nation and brought it back serene, helpful and strong, to the forefront of the European family circle. It is on this mystery of the future that history will pronounce. It is enough to say that both possibilities are open at the present moment If, because the story is unfinished, because, indeed, its most fateful chapters have yet to be written, we are forced to dwell upon the darker side of his work and creed, we must never forget nor cease to hope for the bright alternative."

Apart from the flowery rhetoric we must keep in mind that the year was 1935 when he made the following allegations,

"It was not till 1935 that the full terror of this revelation [that Hitler had begun to re-arm Germany] broke upon the careless and imprudent world, and Hitler casting aside concealment, sprang forward armed to the teeth, with his munition factories roaring night and day, his aeroplane squadrons forming in ceaseless succession, his submarine crews exercising in the Baltic, and his armed hosts tramping from one end of the broad Reich to the other. That is where we are today, and the achievement by which the tables have been completely turned upon the complacent, feckless and purblind victors deserves to be reckoned a prodigy in the history of the world, and a prodigy which is inseparable from the personal exertions and life-thrust of a single man."

This review of the past is important, because this is precisely how history is made. We can take the statements printed above as those of a o prophetic visionary or as self-fulfilling prophecies. By this I mean that Churchill would do his level best to prevent "the bright alternative" from coming to pass. For Churchill the problem with Hitler was just as personal as Saddam was for Bush. Let us, therefore look in more detail at the facts as they existed in 1935. If Churchill had read Mein Kampf, which would have been his duty as a statesman who wants to understand the other side, he would have known that the abolition of the Versailles treaty was the number one priority in Hitler's program. Not only did Germany's pre 1914 borders have to be reconstituted but all German speaking people in Central Europe had to be incorporated in the new Reich. Furthermore, Hitler was quite explicit that he did not expect this to result from the good will of other countries. It was bound to involve armed struggle for which the nation had to be fully prepared. But the thrust, as he repeatedly emphasized, was to the East where Lebensraum was to be found. All he wanted from the West was to be left alone in the pursuit of this goal. These plans were no secrets, they were known to anybody who wanted to know since 1925.

The statement that by 1935, or even 1937, the tables had been turned on the victors by the military might of Germany was false. The Franco-British-Czech- Polish alliance, even leaving aside the Soviet Union, was far superior to anything Hitler could put into the field as late as 1939. As far as the roaring munitions factories are concerned Hitler had at the beginning of the Poland campaign munitions for no more than about a month. Even in May of 1940 only about 15 per cent of German industry was specifically devoted for arms procurement. Hitler did not plan for a long war! The "exercising submarines" consisted of a total of 57 in September 1939 and in 1940 only 22 were operational in the North Atlantic. While propagandists and politicians keep, on the one hand, exaggerating Hitler's early military might they keep repeating on the other hand the idea fostered by Churchill that he was the lone voice in the wilderness whose pleas were ignored while "England slept." When one reads Clive Ponting, for instance, it becomes obvious that England did not sleep during Hitler's arms build-up. The British government had made a decision to gear its level of armaments to the likelihood of a major war within the next ten years. This policy was adopted in 1919 and extended to another ten years in 1929. But in 1933 when Hitler took power in Germany the pace was increased and Britain was made ready for war within six years i.e. April 1939. There was good reason for this type of thinking. Timing was essential. If the country was fully mobilized too early the equipment would become obsolete and in the other case one would be unprepared. As it turned out the Brits guessed right.

But this was, of course, not just a lucky guess it was based on solid knowledge. The basic fact was that Hitler had to start from scratch in 1933 because Germany had been forcibly and completely disarmed as a result of Versailles. The French, the Italians, the Czech, and others not only refused to cut their post 1919 forces but kept building more and more modern arms. This was the imbalance Hitler was confronted with. In 1933 he had an army of 100,000 men. There was no heavy artillery, not a single tank and no plane. It was clearly impossible to defend the country, or to gain the respect of the world, and enforce legitimate demands with this type of an army. In addition, the heavy industry to build new arms was not yet available either. Although the Reichswehr had bypassed some of the Versailles restrictions by training pilots and tank crews in the Soviet Union even prior to 1933 nobody, not even Hitler, could create a modern army, within two years, of the proportions Churchill talked about. It was pure propaganda to scare the British public.

What the fear of weapons of mass destructions is today was long range bombers in the nineteen thirties. It was actually Hermann Göring who had proposed the idea of "Shock and Awe," because he believed that the war of the future would be won within hours or days by overwhelming air power. This was one of his typical bragging, blustering statements which was proven wrong. So was the one that he would build such air defenses that no enemy bomber could ever penetrate German skies, and in 1942 that he could supply the encircled troops in Stalingrad by air. To Westerners he kept bragging in the thirties about the strength of his Luftwaffe, which did not correspond to the facts but was, of course, grist for the propaganda mills on both sides of the channel.

Churchill began to spread the fear in the House of Commons as early as 1934 when he announced that the Luftwaffe would be able to threaten London with massive bombing within 18 months. This would have put it into the fall of 1935! The serious buildup of the Luftwaffe did not start until spring 1935 and there was a shortage of everything, planes, equipment to make them, and most of all trained pilots which led to marked accident rates early on. In July of 1934 Churchill declared that by 1936 the superiority of the Luftwaffe planes would be such that Britain would never be able to make up this lead. On November 28 of that year he stated that by 1937 the Luftwaffe size would be double that of the RAF. This was nonsense. Although the RAF was numerically somewhat inferior in planes to the Luftwaffe in August of 1940, it had more and better trained pilots. In addition German fighters could stay over southeastern England for only about twenty five minutes. The RAF on the other hand was fighting over home territory and could, therefore, recover the pilots who had to bail out as well as repair damaged aircraft, an option which was not available to the Germans. Furthermore, the Luftwaffe, in contrast to the RAF, was designed primarily to support the troops on the ground rather than for long-range bombing of cities. As such it was inadequate for the task when the decision was made to bomb London, rather than continue with the destruction of airfields, during the Blitz. Hitler was goaded into this mistake by Churchill who had started bombing Berlin.

I am mentioning all of this because the real history of WWII and its antecedents are being supplanted by myths, and myths rather than facts are the staple of politicians and media hacks who control our fate. How many of us still remember the "missile gap" between the Soviet Union and the U.S. with which Kennedy squeezed out a narrow victory over Nixon in 1968? It was non-existent; but who wants to be reminded? This brings us right back to Saddam and his WMDs which in all probability fall into the same genre of misinformation for ulterior motives.

So where do we stand today and what is Bush's choice?

Although Churchill stated that Hitler had a choice in 1935 this was only partially true. Hitler had made too many powerful enemies abroad which would not let him execute his program, even at the cost of a world war. In addition his vindictive and ultimately self-destructive character stood in the way. These aspects do not apply to President Bush. Nevertheless, after the Iraq invasion he has to make a choice in regard to his future foreign policy. He can take the easy way out let things slide and basically run for re-election on his successes. When the road map collapses, as it inevitably will, the Palestinians can be blamed because I sincerely doubt that no further attacks on Israelis are going to take place even within the proposed three months truce. This will let Bush off the hook and he can wash his hands of the affair to the applause of his main, but narrow, constituency. If by September 2004 either the economy is still in trouble, or some other unforeseen disaster occurs he can, egged on by Karl Rove and the neocons, initiate another "pre-emptive war" to assure electoral victory. I do not believe that the President lied to us about Saddam's WMDs. He was honestly misled by people whom he should not have trusted. It was a mistake and a mistake can be forgiven but persisting in mistakes can not.

The other choice is considerably more difficult and would require strength of character Bush may or may not have. He would have to put thoughts of re-election totally out of his mind and look objectively at the situation the U.S. finds itself in vis á vis the world as a result of his two and a half years in office. The required course of action would then become apparent. He would come to realize that a small high tech army can win against a third world type military force but is insufficient to secure the peace. This is why the Chief of the German General Staff, von Seeckt, had argued in 1933 not only for a small professional army which could quickly conquer enemy territory, but an additional militia which subsequently performs the occupation duties. He was overruled by Hitler who was enamored with vast numbers. Nevertheless, the concept was correct and this is now Bush's and the Pentagon's dilemma in Iraq. The neocons insisted that America can go it alone when it comes to winning wars. But now when our troops are facing a guerilla type war they want others to help out. All of our high tech weaponry is useless for an occupation which the locals want to get rid of. This should have been the lesson of Israel's experience on the West Bank and Gaza but nobody, including our president, wants to admit to this. If Max Boot's article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs is correct that we have only 10 full time active duty divisions in the army and the rest of manpower, apart from the Marines and the other services, has to be made up by the National Guard and reservists, our "pre-emptive" wars can never be successful in the true sense of the word. We can devastate countries but we can not occupy them and turn them into democracies. The required manpower is not available. Reservists and National Guard unit members have civilian jobs and will not be enamored to act as "peace keepers" for extended tours of duty. Army enlistments are also likely to fall off when the goal of the soldier is clearly defined as: to wage war! This means "to smash things and kill people," rather than a cheap way to get a college education and "be all that you can." Under these circumstances the draft may look mighty appealing to policy makers although the Vietnam experience would strongly argue against it. Americans are not militaristic by nature and to turn out the necessary legions in order to change regimes on a world wide basis will not be to their liking. This is where the analogy to Rome breaks down and the inherent weakness of our superpower status is exposed.

Keeping the foregoing in mind Bush would have to repudiate the neocons' idea of the "Hobbesian anarchic world" which requires perpetual wholesale regime changes. He would have to pledge to work within the framework of the UN to defuse, by diplomatic means, the looming genuine threats to international security. He would have to separate the war against terror from local wars of liberation and, most importantly, tone down this constant belligerent rhetoric which threatens everybody who does not share our views. The war against international terrorist networks is, as has always been maintained in these pages, a job for international police and intelligence work, and our military cannot be expected to win this type of war. It's not the job they are trained for. This international police effort requires, however, good will from the rest of the world and if we keep treating other countries in the way we have during this past year, they may simply say: If you want to do things your way go ahead, we can't stop you, but don't expect us to bail you out when you're in trouble. President Bush would also have to come to realize that International Law exists and just as no person can be above the law, no country should be either. A Nuremberg type court which hangs the defeated but ignores the crimes of the victors will not do in the long run. Instead of harping on our standing as the only superpower, which enforces its will upon the rest of the world, we should be satisfied with the status of primus inter pares.

Finally there is the "road map" to which the president supposedly has committed himself but his heart isn't in it. He was dragged into it by Tony Blair to get the Iraq "coalition" going. There is no evidence that Bush truly understands the plight of the Palestinians and unless he begins to do so no peace is achievable in the Holy Land. A disjointed Palestinian state which retains major Israeli settlements and cedes large portions of the Jordan valley to Israel will never be acceptable to the locals. At best such a Versailles type "peace treaty" will be an armistice. The only genuine peace would require steps which have repeatedly been mentioned in previous installments on this site. They include the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state with full sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza, direct access through Palestinian rather than Israeli territory, and complete evacuation of all Israeli settlements which have been built on Palestinian land since 1967. Nothing else has a genuine chance for peace. Last year Bush chided the UN for not enforcing its resolutions against Iraq. Now he would have to take Sharon to task for ignoring the numerous UN resolutions against Israel. Neither Sharon nor any other Israeli government will ever voluntarily agree to the steps outlined above in order to secure genuine peace for Israel. Bush would have to go before the nation, tell the American people the unvarnished truth about what really goes on every day in the occupied territories of Palestine and then announce that unless and until Israel fully conforms to the existing UN resolutions no further American tax money will be forthcoming. Americans are a fair minded people and when the facts are presented to them truthfully they will respond and support him in this effort, certain special interest groups notwithstanding. This would show the world that the president is a man of his word. American prestige would be restored and international cooperation would blossom again.

Time is running out, another election is around the corner and the president must make a decision, which is actually quite straightforward: continue on the present course for the sake of not alienating his main constituency or put principle above electioneering. We are told that he already has more money for the election than all the other Democratic candidates combined and if he were to show himself a statesman by taking at least some of the steps outlined above his personal popularity, which has remained high, may well let him overcome the hostile criticism which is bound to arise.

Mister President: Although I am going to fax this article to the White House I have no illusions that your staff will allow you to read it. Nevertheless, I must remind you that you have been told "The truth will make you free!" Try it, it'll work for you personally and the good of the world. On the other hand you can follow the dictum of Winston Churchill who said that, "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies." Under those circumstances you will allow the country to be inundated in the next year and a half with a continued flood of exaggerations, if not outright lies, geared to create fear in the hearts of Americans and the world. This in turn will in the long run pave the way to a general and much more devastating war. Das habe ich nicht gewollt, I did not want that; the Kaiser said when he saw what his 1914 policies had contributed to. Neither had Hitler wanted a world war in 1939 but that is what he got. One does not unleash the dogs of war without running the risk of getting severely bitten oneself, is the main lesson history provides. Therefore, the overriding question of our time is: Are you and your advisors willing to learn this simple truth?





August 1, 2003

THE NIGER FORGERY



In all civilized societies forgery is a crime, and when committed by a private person leads to jail sentences of varying durations. Afficionados of mystery stories also know that crimes are solved by considering three factors: Motive, Means, and Opportunity. When it was reported that the attempted sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq, which found its way in a shortened version into the President's State of the Union speech, was a forgery, the question immediately arose in my mind: who had done the forging? Remarkably enough the question has, to the best of my knowledge, never been raised in our country by the media.

The motive for the forgery is obvious. Iraq had to be presented as an imminent threat to the world. A nuclear armed Saddam Hussein was regarded as intolerable and it would have been the obligation of the "only remaining superpower" to remove his regime. The U.S. had, therefore, to be sent to war against Iraq. Now comes the next question who had an overriding interest in the fall of Baghdad?

There were three potential candidates. One was the Iraqi exile group under Ahmed Chalabi, the other the neoconservative civilian group in the Pentagon, who believed that American security was so intimately tied to Israel that the latter country had to be protected by any and all means, and the third was the state of Israel itself. Israel is, since 1948, still officially at war with Iraq. Peace treaties have been signed with Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon but not with Syria and Iraq. Although Israel and Iraq do not share a common border there was fear that Saddam might put his enmity against Assad of Syria aside and their combined armies would indeed represent a considerable threat to Israel. Iraq's military power had to be eliminated and what better way than letting others, and especially the US, do it? So much for motive.

Means required a facility which is used to turning out fake documents and that leaves mainly the various secret service agencies of the world. When one considers motive it is unlikely that the French, the British, Germans, Russians etc. would have forged those documents. It is also unlikely that the CIA would have done so, unless it was a rogue operation. The most likely candidate seemed to be the Mossad, Israel's counterpart to the CIA. Having reached that conclusion, which so far has not yet even been hinted at by the media and since my information about the Mossad did not exceed that of the average educated citizen my interest was piqued to learn more about that organization.

The first stop is, of course, always on the Internet and when typing Mossad into Google up came prominently, "FAS Intelligence Resource Program." It was graced by the picture of a spy, the Israeli flag, and a menorah surrounded by Hebrew characters. The headline was, "Mossad. The Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks [ha-Mossad le-Modiin ule-Tafkidim Meyuhadim]." Since the second page of this short document lists only Israeli sources I regarded it as authoritative. It states that the agency was established by Prime Minister Ben-Gurion in 1951 who gave its primary directive as, "For our state which since its creation has been under siege by its enemies. Intelligence constitutes the first line of defence... we must learn well how to recognize what is going on around us." We are told furthermore that Mossad has eight departments. These are: Collections Department responsible for "espionage under diplomatic as well as unofficial cover;" Political Action and Liaison Department which conducts "political activities and liaison with friendly foreign intelligence services and with nations with which Israel does not have normal diplomatic relations; Special Operations Division - Metsada - "conducts highly sensitive assassination, sabotage, paramilitary, and psychological warfare projects;" LAP (Lohama Psichologit) Department "is responsible for psychological warfare, propaganda and deception operations." In addition there are the Research Department responsible for intelligence production and the Technology Department. The latter is "responsible for development of advanced technologies for support of Mossad operations."

Of greatest interest in the current context was LAP with its psychological warfare, propaganda and deception operations. The vigorous propaganda campaign against Iraq, before and especially after September 11, fits perfectly with LAP's duties. Some of us may remember that our Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, intended to have a similar unit at his disposal in the Pentagon but it was shot down by Congress. On the other hand that does not necessarily mean that the project was totally abandoned since the American people, supposedly for their security, must not know what is being done in their name.

Armed with this information I then went to amazon.com and two books came up prominently. One was Israel's Secret Wars by Ian Black and Benny Morris, the other Gideon's Spies by Gordon Thomas. Since it is bad scientific practice to rely on only one source I ordered both books. These led me to the book by Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad case officer and whistle blower, By Way of Deception. The subsequent information is culled from these three sources and for anyone interested I can cite page numbers.

The Black and Morris book is an extensive treatise of 528 pages and an abundance of notes as well as source references which will be read mainly by seriously minded scholars. The one by Thomas will appeal to the general public. It is shorter and based on firsthand interviews with the movers and shakers in Israel and to some extent the US. Ostrovsky gave his personal story why a convinced Zionist who had joined the Mossad in good faith was turned off by its practices and left the organization. Although all three books cover much of the same material they are definitely worth reading if one really wants to get an appreciation of what is going on inside the Mossad and how its operations have impacted on the United States.

The Motto of the Mossad is, "By way of deception thou shalt do war." As mentioned, Israel is indeed still at war at least with Syria, and with the other neighbors there exists only, what might be called, a "cold peace." Internally there is in addition the war against the Palestinians in the occupied territories which is officially labeled as a war against terrorism. As mentioned previously in these pages for Israel there are no occupied territories only Judea, Samaria and Gaza which constitute part of Eretz Israel promised by God to Jews. It has been said that "all is fair in love and war," or as Black and Morris put it, "A la guerre, comme á la guerre." Thus lies, murders, "false flag" operations, are the stock in trade and the only crime is being caught. The essence is: what is good for Israel is good for the Mossad. As Ostrovsky wrote whenever something happened anywhere the only question was, "'Is it good for Jews, or not?' Forget about policies or anything else. That was the only thing that counted. And depending on the answer, people were called anti-Semites, whether deservedly or not." Since what is good for Jews, or more specifically the policies of the state of Israel, is not necessarily good for America, conflicts have arisen and will continue arise.

The Pollard spy operation, which was called by Black and Morris, "a gold mine," is just one example. It was good for Israel to get secret American documents but, according to Thomas, it was bad for the CIA which found its operations destroyed in South Africa and the Soviet Union when Israel turned some of the material over to these countries. Thomas also wrote, "One note taker at the Sunday cabinet meeting in Jerusalem claimed that 'listening to Admony [Mossad director 1982-1990] was the next best thing to sitting in the Oval Office. We not only knew what was the very latest thinking in Washington on all matters of concern to us, but we had sufficient time to respond before making a decision." Even if this "note taker" had exaggerated the fact remains that a serious breach of security had occurred. There was also wide-spread concern that Pollard had received some of his orders, which demanded specific documents that were not in his ordinary purview, through some other highly placed source in the White House.

This brings up another unique feature, which is specific for the Mossad. The paid staff of case officers, field agents, and informers is rather small because it can rely on a large number of sayanim - helpers. These are Jews who come from all walks of life and for whom the survival of Israel is of prime concern. When they are approached by an agent who paints an imminent threat to their spiritual home in the darkest colors they are only too willing to lend their hand in providing information as well as, on occasion, tangible material. For instance the theft of about one hundred pounds of uranium from the nuclear facility Numec in Apollo, Pennsylvania, to get the Israeli nuclear program started. The motives of the sayanim are beyond reproach. They believe that by helping Israel they help making the world a better place. Unfortunately that is a delusion. But this is the reason why the American Jewish community was so upset when the Pollard case broke because it brought inevitably the question of dual loyalty to the fore. Wolf Blitzer, the respected journalist and TV commentator, discusses this aspect to some extent in Territory of Lies.

While the Pollard affair is widely known in this country, events during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the background of the Iran-Contra scandal have not received much media coverage. Lebanon is important in the present context because our current Iraq dilemma was precipitated by the same misuse of intelligence and wishful thinking as Israel's disaster in Lebanon.

Here is a brief summary of the underlying rationale for the invasion. Palestinian guerillas regularly shot rockets into Galilee from the south of Lebanon and also made hit and run attacks on Israeli citizens. Since there was a civil war in Lebanon at the time, Prime Minister Begin and Defense Minister Sharon decided on an invasion of Lebanon. The ultimate goal was to destroy Muslim power as well as the PLO in that country and establish a friendly Christian Maronite government in Beirut which was expected to make peace with Israel.

There were two invasion plans, "Little Pines," a forty kilometer incursion of the Israeli army to eliminate Palestinian strongholds on the border. This was for public consumption and favored by segments of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). "Big Pines," an advance to the north of Beirut and cutting the Beirut-Damascus highway was Sharon's and Begin's plan. When Sharon was asked how long the army would have to stay in Lebanon "to assure the emergence of a new Phalange dominated regime? Sharon thought six weeks. Saguy [IDF intelligence chief] was less optimistic and believed it would take no less than three months." As it turned out eighteen years had to pass before the last Israeli soldier came home from Lebanon. The withdrawal was ordered by then Prime Minister Ehud Barak to end the guerilla war against his troops and Hizballah has now taken over the PLO's job to harass the Israelis.

The Lebanon invasion was Israel's Vietnam and it was not based merely on faulty information provided by the Intelligence community but on wishful thinking of the politicians. Although the Christians were initially glad to be rid of the PLO, they soon became disenchanted. They were after all Lebanese and their desires did not necessarily coincide with those of Israel. In addition the Israelis soon found themselves involved with very unhappy Shiites who still provide cover for Hizballah. This seems to be exactly the scenario which played itself out prior to our invasion of Iraq and how long we will have to stay there fighting a smoldering insurrection only the future can tell.

But the Lebanon invasion also showed the split between Israeli and American interests. Israel wanted peace with Lebanon so that it could concentrate on eliminating the threat to the settlers in the occupied territories, which it intended to retain. President Reagan, on the other hand, wanted a global peace arrangement which included an Israeli withdrawal from them Although this would have been in the long term interest of Israel as well as America it was anathema to Begin and led to the disastrous truck bombing of the Beirut Headquarter of the Marines' Expeditionary Force in 1983, causing the loss of 241 American lives. Mossad has excellent spy services and can infiltrate any organization it wants. Israelis are multiethnic, speak several languages and can blend with the population of any country without undue fear of sticking out. It was known to the Mossad that a Syrian sponsored group had planned a major suicide attack with a blue Mercedes truck. Since they did not know its final destination they were shadowing it. The question was how much to tell the Americans about it. A decision was made at the highest level that the Americans should be given only, as Ostrovsky wrote, "the general warning, a vague notice that someone may be planning an operation against them. But this was so general and commonplace, it was like sending a weather report; unlikely to raise any particular alarm or prompt increased security precautions. Admony, in refusing to give the Americans specific information on the truck, said 'No we're not here to protect the Americans, They are a big country. Send only the regular information.' At the same time, however, all Israeli installations were given the specific details and warned to watch out for a truck matching the description of the Mercedes." The purpose was obvious: American public opinion had to be inflamed against Arabs.

This failure to share vital information with one's benefactor and most important ally played itself out also in the Beirut hostage crisis. Among the group of Western hostages was the CIA Station Chief, William Buckley, and the US was desperately trying to get him back. Although Prime Minister Peres assured President Reagan of his full cooperation the Mossad played by its own rules. No specifics were provided and the Americans were led down the garden path. As Ostrovsky wrote, "Many people in the office said the Mossad were going to regret it someday. But the majority were happy. The attitude was, 'Hey, we showed them. We're not going to be kicked around by the Americans. We are the Mossad. We are the best.'"

Had the Mossad indeed cooperated fully the Iran-Contra affair might have been avoided. While the US was supplying weapons to Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war the Israelis were busy shipping some of our weapons to Iran. The logic was impeccable. The longer the war lasted the more exhausted the combatants became and the better it was for Israel. On July 29, 1986, with the hostage crisis still unresolved, then Vice-President Bush met secretly with Prime Minister Peres' Chief Security advisor, Amiram Nir, at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Ostrovsky wrote, "Nir told Bush the Israelis 'activated the channel. We gave a front to the operation, provided a physical base, provided aircraft.'" Bush was also told, in contrast to President Reagan's later assertions, that the Israelis were dealing "'with the most radical elements [in Iran because] we have learned they can deliver and the moderates can't.'" When the Iran-Contra affair became known Congress started hearings. Nir, who was the most important witness, had promised to give full testimony which would have severely hurt the American as well as Israeli government. This was not allowed to come to pass and he supposedly died in an unexplained Cessna crash in the wilderness of Mexico. Ostrovsky speculated that he may have been bought off, had plastic surgery to alter his facial features, and lived happily for ever after.

This brings us to the present and the Niger forgery. Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas reported in the July 28, 2003 edition of Newsweek that it may have started with a break-in at the Niger embassy in Rome on January 2, 2001. There was nothing significant stolen, "but someone had apparently rifled through embassy papers, leaving them strewn about the floor." Some months later the Italian intelligence service received a stack of official looking documents from an African diplomat. They were signed by officials of the Niger government and purported to show that Saddam Hussein wanted to buy some 500 tons of pure uranium which can be used for making atomic weapons. The Italians notified the British and the CIA. As it turned out the documents, which consisted of letters dated from July to October 2000, were crude forgeries. They were known as such at least a year and a half before the famous 16 word sentence was uttered by the President. Now the blame is being shifted to the British and most recently the French but who fed it to them in the first place? It was probably the Mossad, which is known for its "False Flag" operations and had the most to gain. For Bush the information, regardless of its provenance and veracity, was icing on the cake in his determination to go to war. But why would the Mossad engage in such a clumsy fabrication when it surely has the means to do a better job?

For the answer to that question we have to turn to the previously mentioned highly traveled and respected reporter Gordon Thomas of Gideon's Spies. In my search for the truth I had found some minor discrepancies between his book and that of Black and Morris. Since he does have a website, Globe-Intel, I contacted him and found him most forthcoming. My first letter was immediately answered and so were the subsequent ones. I am, therefore, happy to publicly express my thanks because such cooperation is far from commonplace. He told me that the Niger documents came from the Mossad and were fed to MI6 (British intelligence) via Rome and when they received them "The documents were originally taken as 'the kind of stuff you would expect with sloppy Third World people.'" In this way the Mossad could cover its tracks and as we know the operation achieved its purpose.

Unfortunately there is more and we are not likely to hear the truth from official channels. There is good reason to believe that the Mossad had some fore-knowledge about the impending 9/11 attack, but failed to share all its information with the CIA and FBI analogous to the Beirut truck bombing and the Buckley capture. A radicalization of the American public against Arabs and the Muslim world in general is obviously good for Israel but is it good for America? Congress is not likely to get the full truth because the White House stonewalls and the documents which are handed over are in part censored.

There is, however, another reason, apart from elections where the Jewish vote is regarded as vital, why the role of the Mossad must remain unmentioned. I believe that we are heavily dependent on "The Institute," as it is also referred to, in the current Iraq war, which is far from over. Only Israelis can readily mingle with Arabs, pose as Iraqis and get information which is not necessarily available to the CIA, or military intelligence in the field, because our guys simply lack the necessary language skills. Even if they were to know Arabic they would not be able to communicate in the local patois and would become sitting ducks. This does not apply to Israelis but since they are interested first and last in Israel, as they should be, we may not necessarily be able to trust the information we receive. This is the bind into which our troops have been placed but it is not likely to be debated publicly.



When one reads the mentioned books one feels that one is staring into an abyss. Regardless of motives, the means are reprehensible and violate all strictures of human decency. In essence we are paying for government supported Mafia operations. The fact that it is not only the Mossad which behaves in this manner but to some extent all the so called "Intelligence" services of the world makes the situation even more grim. This is also another example of the misuse of language. What the spies provide is not intelligence but information. The difference is vital because it would require intelligent people to evaluate this mass of data. But intelligence which is not biased by wishful thinking is a difficult commodity for anyone, let alone politicians and their supporters in the media.

As mentioned the full truth of the antecedents to 9/11, from which all else flowed, is currently being hidden. But "We the People" and especially the families of the victims have a right to know what really happened. Congress should not tolerate stonewalling by the administration and if key documents are not forthcoming they should hold the responsible people, even if it were the President, in contempt. Continued secrecy and cover-ups do not serve the American people. Deception, whether willful or inadvertent, needs to be shunned. When mistakes are made they have to be publicly admitted to, common decency demands it. But regardless of who was behind 9/11, the Niger forgery, and the Iraq invasion the major fact that has emerged is that trust in our government and the media has been eroded. We no longer know whom we can trust and that is the death knell for a free society. Without trust we will create a police state and we will end up not much different from the regimes we are so eager to topple. That is the tragedy of today's events and this is why people of good will need to speak out.

The true revelations will have to come from the inside of the "secret services," including our own. This why I shall give Victor Ostrovsky the penultimate word. He was there, got disgusted and tells us why. In the Foreword he wrote, "It is out of love for Israel as a free and just country that I am laying my life on the line by so doing, facing up to those who took it upon themselves to turn the Zionist dream into the present-day nightmare." In the Epilogue one finds,

"The Intifada and resultant breakdown of moral order and humanity are a direct result of the kind of megalomania that characterizes the operation of the Mossad. That's where it all begins. This feeling that you can do anything you want to whomever you want for as long as you want because you have the power. . . . It's a disease that began with the Mossad and has spread through government and down through much of Israeli society. There are large elements inside Israeli society who are protesting this slide, but their voices are not being heard. And with each step down, it gets easier to repeat and more difficult to stop.

The strongest curse inside the Mossad that one katsa [case officer] can throw at another is the simple wish: 'May I read about you in the paper.'

It might be the only way to turn things around."

Although these words were published in 1990 the passage of time has made them only truer. Now the disease has spread to our government. Unless we face up to it we will go the way of the Israeli state: disliked around the world and embroiled in perpetual warfare with concomitant deceptions. This is not what the founders of our republic had in mind.





September 1, 2003

FOR THE GOYIM THEY SING



The topic to be discussed here is so emotionally charged that it needs to be read in sequence lest wrong opinions are formed. I shall, therefore, refrain from using bold print, which would lend itself to quotes taken out of context. About two months ago I came across a book by Haddon Klingberg Jr., Professor of Psychology at North Park University, entitled When Life Calls Out To Us. The Love and Lifework of Viktor and Elly Frankl. The Story behind Man's Search for Meaning. As discussed in War&Mayhem Dr. Frankl, whose lectures on neurology at the Poliklinik I attended in 1948, became a role model not only for my professional life but also in the personal sphere. What impressed me most at the time was not only his exemplary teaching style but that as a Jewish survivor of concentration camps the man exuded only profound humanism without any trace of hate or resentment. Klingberg's book was, therefore, of great interest and I can strongly recommend it to anyone interested in Frankl's lifework.

I had always been puzzled why Frankl had not achieved greater recognition by leading Jewish authorities. Wiesenthal is known by everybody but Frankl's name does not have the same resonance among average persons. As an example of discrimination against Frankl I might mention that he was clearly entitled to the Chairmanship of Vienna's renowned Neuro-Psychiatric University Hospital when the position became vacant in 1949. It went instead to another Jewish neurologist, Hans Hoff, who had spent the war years first in Palestine and then New York. More about Hoff can be found in War&Mayhem. After reading Klingberg's book the reasons for the difference in the treatment meted out to Wiesenthal or Hoff versus Frankl became apparent.

Although not stated in these words, Frankl had committed four cardinal sins in the eyes of the Jewish establishment. One was that he refused to hate the Nazis for what they had personally done to him and his family. Rather than looking backward at past suffering he looked instead forward to the new challenges life had in store. The second sin was that he spoke out against collective guilt, even in 1945, and advocated reconciliation rather than en bloc condemnation of entire groups of people, which he regarded as Nazism in reverse. Individuals who had committed crimes should be punished but the global condemnation of "the Germans" or even "the Nazis," was not appropriate. His was the voice of the physician who examines individual people and tries to find their positive characteristics which can help them to overcome their negative ones and thus lead to more appropriate behavior patterns. This stance is, of course, anathema to politicians and media people who want to first create and then sway "public opinion." The third sin was that his psychotherapeutic treatment method of "Existential Analysis," also referred to as "Logotherapy," (website: http://logotherapy.univie.ac.at) was seen as serious competition for Freudian psychoanalysis, which essentially reduced the human being to a sex driven organism. Frankl saw the soul and its yearning for meaning in life. This is why he called his first book, the manuscript of which was destroyed in Auschwitz, Aerztliche Seelsorge. The title, which is most appropriate in German, defies a succinct translation and the English title The Doctor and the Soul does not capture its essence. It could be rendered as: how the physician can provide care for a patient's soul. In German the word Seelsorge is regarded as the domain of priests and ministers but Frankl broke through this barrier. He said essentially: Yes, priests should do their job, but physicians also have a role to play when they are confronted with patients whose problem is basically a spiritual one. While Freud, the materialist, had derided religion as an illusion, Frankl saw, felt, and acted on the human being's spiritual essence. This simply did not sit well in our "secular society." The fourth sin was that, although Frankl had never renounced his Jewish faith, he had married, in a civil ceremony, a Catholic woman.

For Gentile readers these aspects may all be "so what," but for some influential segments in the Jewish community they are indeed pretty near traitorous. For these sons of Jacob (I deliberately do not call them sons of Isaac because Esau, Isaac's first born, has a decidedly bad name in Jewish religious circles) there still exists a tribal mentality of a beleaguered "us versus them." This brings me to the title of this essay. Frankl was fond of jokes and one of his favorite ones, as quoted from Klingberg's book was, "An old Jewish man who had emigrated to Berlin is walking in the famous park there. Then a bird appeared overhead lets its droppings go and they land right on the old man's hat. He takes off his hat, looks at it, and says, 'For the goyim they are singing.' "

Obviously one laughs at the joke but as Freud told us jokes can have deeper meaning and in this instance it reveals a basically paranoid attitude bred by a history which emphasizes intermittent persecutions in some parts of the world rather than periods of relative well-being. Gentiles, or goyim, as non-Jews are referred to in private Jewish conversation with a connotation that is somewhat akin to the "n word," will never understand the deep trauma some Jews labor under. When Gentiles either ignore it, or are trying to make up for past sins, they tend to merely perpetuate a mind-set which is inherently unhealthy. This is one facet of Jewish life which deserves be recognized and openly discussed.

Paranoid type of thinking exemplified by - because we have been persecuted in the past we are ordained to be persecuted in the future until the Messiah arrives - can be compensated for by a feeling of superiority over others. This combination of mental attitudes is a major contributing factor to the hostility Jews have encountered intermittently throughout history. To understand this very delicate, difficult, but terribly important subject I'd like to discuss first my professional experience with paranoid patients. Paranoia does, in general, not start out with ideas of persecution but with an experience which the individual regards as extremely important and which the rest of the world should share. When others who fail to appreciate that need, either ignore or ridicule the person, the sense of "I am right and the rest of the world is wrong" is born. When the person then not simply retires into his own fantasy land but actively endeavors to recruit others into his belief system he will encounter resistance and at that point active retaliation by society, which does not want to conform to the wishes of the individual, will occur. This is the typical sequence when paranoia is limited to one person. The family steps in, the patient will be taken to a psychiatrist and a treatment course will be instituted. A problem for society at large arises if this particular person is "charismatic," intelligent, intact in all other mental functions and can rally others into his personal belief system. Under those circumstances events are set in motion which have incalculable consequences. The group then feeds on myths of superiority, which are denied by the rest of society. The resultant ill will by society has two consequences. One is the increased cohesion of the in-group in face of actual or perceived danger and the other active and at times violent hostility by the larger overall society. In this way antisemitism was born and this is why it is so difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate.

These thoughts are not purely academic at present, but have very practical consequences which affect the lives of all of us. The state of Israel was created as a reaction to European antisemitism. It was Herzl's, and like-minded others', belief that when the Jews leave Europe and build a prosperous state in Palestine, antisemitism would lose its raison d'être and all the world would then be happy and grateful for the benefits Jews are providing to the world. The fatal flaw (both literally as well as figuratively) in this assumption was the non-recognition of the existence of an indigenous population in Palestine. The slogan under which Zionist colonizers flocked to Palestine in the late 19th and especially early 20th century was "A land without people for people without a land." This is a classic example of how a wrong assumption has to lead to wrong results. People did live there. They were in the vast majority Arabs and they acted exactly in the manner Sultan Abd ul-Hamid II predicted. When Herzl wanted to acquire Palestine for the Jews with the promise of providing financial help to the ailing Ottoman empire the Sultan replied, through a mutual friend, "If Mister Herzl is indeed such a good friend of yours, as you are mine, then advise him not to take even one more step in this matter. I cannot sell a single foot of my land, because it doesn't belong to me, but to my people. My people have fought for this empire with their blood and have fertilized it with their blood. We shall have to cover it again with our blood before one tears it away from us . . . The Jews should save themselves their billions [Milliarden]. If my empire is parceled out, they might get Palestine for free. Only our cadaver can be partitioned. I do not agree to vivisection [Herzl Tagebuch entry of June 19, 1896. Translation is mine]." One can only wonder about how much past as well as future misery might have been avoided had Herzl been able to take this advice to heart and had indeed abandoned his project. History's wars are not foreordained but result from wrong assumptions and the Zionist dream, which is turning into a nightmare for all of us, is just one of them.

But Herzl was obsessed, and he as well as his followers, could not and still cannot, abandon the quest for Eretz Yisrael, which encompasses for some at minimum the current state plus the occupied West Bank and Gaza. The maximalists dream of the restoration of King David's borders, which are actually quite nebulous if one asks historians. The failure of American administrations to recognize this quest, which can bring only further bloodshed, has led us into the current impasse in the Middle East. Under the slogan that we have to fight terrorism and secure the survival of "the only democracy in the Middle East," America has been led into the war with Iraq and if Likud supporters, both here and in Israel, had their way we would also eliminate Syria and Iran as potential threats to Israel. Let me emphasize that the threat to Israel was not the only reason for our invasion of Iraq but, to deny that it was a contributing factor would also be inaccurate.

Now we come to the problem: How can a small nation of six million people, of whom about one million Arabs are partially disenfranchised even within the pre 1967 borders, prosper in the face of ever growing hostility? To answer this question we have to look at how Jewish intellectuals think about themselves and what methods are employed to gain support from inside and outside their own community. As far as self appreciation is concerned I would now like to quote from a few Jewish sources. One is a recent letter I received from the Simon Wiesenthal Center which starts out,

"Dear Friend,

I'm writing you today with news about a frightening trend that is sweeping across the European continent.

Since October of 2000, the beginning of the Palestinian Intifada II, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has been tracking with growing alarm, a dramatic rise in hate rhetoric and hate crimes targeted toward Europe's Jewish population . . . . The situation has grown so serious that Simon Wiesenthal, now 95, told me that 'there is more antisemitism today than we experienced in the 1930's.'" The message is that Jews not only in Israel but also in Europe are in serious and growing danger and must rally to the meet the threat. Financial support for the Wiesenthal Center was requested; as if the problem could be solved with money.

To highlight the threat to Israeli Jews the tax-exempt organization FLAME (Facts and Logic About the Middle East), which advertises in a number of newspapers and magazines, argues vigorously against the creation of a Palestinian state. It is claimed that the state would never remain demilitarized, continue to threaten Israel's very existence, and eventually lead to a nuclear holocaust. One of the "facts" cited in support of this thesis is that a Palestinian state is unjustified "because there are no distinct 'Palestinian' people. The concept of a Palestinian state came about after the Six-Day War in 1967." Well, this is simply untrue, and the writers of FLAME must know it. Palestine was the official name for the country under the British Mandate; ergo the people living there were Palestinians regardless of what religion they professed. The division of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state was first suggested by the Peel Commission in 1937 and officially adopted by the UN in 1947. The argument whether the Arabs living in Palestine were really "Palestinians" reminded me of the story of a an old man in the Sudetenland, "When I was born I lived in Austria, then I lived in Czechoslovakia, then I lived in Germany, now I live in Czechoslovakia again and I have never even set foot outside of my village." Since the FLAME article reflects the current Israeli government's position it is obvious that the "road map" never had a ghost of a chance to succeed. Regardless of what the Palestinians did or did not do the will from the Israeli side simply wasn't there. In spite of the so called truce Israeli settlements continued to be expanded and the construction of the "fence" which in part separates Palestinian farmers' villages from their fields was started. All of this is done in the name of security for Israel, which reinforces the basically paranoid mind-set into which Americans are now being recruited.

But as mentioned earlier for paranoia to flourish it needs not only the threat of persecution but also a sense of entitlement. In order to understand this aspect one has to read Jewish literature and the book by Max I. Dimont The Indestructible Jews. An action-packed journey through 4,000 years of history, is a good example. He divides Jewish history into three acts. The first one, "The Manifest Destiny", covers the era from the patriarchs to Jesus; the second, "The Existential Dilemma" deals with the period from Jesus to Ben-Gurion, and the third act, "The Paradox of the Diaspora" is being played out now. Dimont believes, and he may well be right, that the Jews are what he called "the surfboard riders of history." They attach themselves to one rising civilization infuse it with their belief system and when that civilization is in decay, they catch the next wave. For this reason they need both the Diaspora as well as the state of Israel as its spiritual center. Let me now quote some key passages to get a flavor of Dimont's thinking.

"The Jews will not worship idols, be they religious, secular or scientific. A consequence . . . is that of the Jews as skeptics, who never accept the say-so of anyone not even God . . . They are a people of law. They are a people born with a pontificating finger, moral busybodies, who are forever telling the world what is right and what is wrong . . . Finally, Jews have always supported education and general welfare. . . the Jewish ethic rallies round the flag that symbolizes what is noblest in man."

In regard to Jewish Diaspora Dimont wrote,

"Each Diaspora interaction enriched Judaism, giving it a new virility, verisimilitude, and a broader spectrum of intellectual activity. But its inner core always remained distinctly Jewish. No matter how much the Jews borrowed, they did not doubt the superiority of Judaism itself. . . . With each new challenge, with each successive enlargement of the Diaspora Judaic ideas were indelibly imprinted on each host civilization. This 'Judaization' of the world that has imperceptibly coursed below the surface of history in our second act is destined to surface in the third."

Dimont then asks, "Will it be the destiny of the Jews in the third act to proselytize the universalistic aspect of their faith to a diasporized world sick unto its scientific soul, ready, perhaps, at last, to accept their prophetic message? Is it possible that Christianity, Mohammedanism, communism have been but stepping stones to make it easier for diasporized man to cross over into a universal Judaism? . . . . At the end of the first act, Jesus proclaimed a religious brotherhood of man in heaven. At the end of the second act Marx proclaimed an economic brotherhood for man on earth. What will be proclaimed at the end of the third act? Will the Christian Jesus reappear as promised by the Gospels, or will a Jewish Messiah appear as promised by the prophets? Thus in the third act, man himself will be faced with an existential choice. Should he choose the Christian paradise in heaven, with an avenging Jesus returning to end mankind with a Judgment day, or should he choose the Jewish paradise on earth brought about by a messianic concept of brotherhood?"

Dimont then addresses the question,

"How could these forthright Zionist agnostics [who had settled in Palestine prior to nationhood] claim to be heirs to the messianic ideal? How could they deny God and yet proclaim the chosenness of the Jewish people? Perhaps Ben-Gurion best resolved this dilemma when he said

'My concept of the messianic idea is not a metaphysical but a social-cultural one . . . I believe in our moral and intellectual superiority, in our capacity to serve to serve as a model for the redemption of the human race . . . "

Dimont concluded,

"Perhaps this is why God chose the Jews, if there was indeed divine choice. He could count on them. As one scholar so perceptively summed it up - 'In Judaism, God turned to man and said, 'Finish the job for me,' and man said 'I will.' In Christianity, man returns to God and says 'I cannot do it, finish the work for me,' and God says 'I will'. In essence the Christians are unable to fulfill the task assigned to man by God, and slough the job back to God via Jesus. . . . As long as the Jews stick to the ethics of the Torah and the ideology of the Prophets they will remain indestructible. When all men embrace this ethic and ideology, they, too, will symbolically become 'Jewish.' There will then be only man."


I have quoted so extensively from my 1973 edition because these are the ideas over which the current war in Israel as well as the more general war with Islamic fundamentalists are fought over. Let me highlight just a few points. Dimont tells us that the Jewish vision of morality is the only correct one. It has to be pushed onto the rest of the world, which has to be "Judaized." "Diasporized man" is a neologism and I doubt that people of other nations or religions feel that they live in a "Diaspora." A "universal Judaism" is an oxymoron. Judaism, strictly speaking, is a set of laws given by Moses to the Israelites to form a nation which sets them apart from the goyim! The messianic concept of brotherhood was always limited to members of the twelve tribes. When one reads the Old Testament carefully, Gentiles could join but would have to undergo conversion to Jewish law, which for males includes circumcision. The expansion of some aspects of Judaism into a universal religion was due to Jesus martyrdom and mainly St. Paul's missionary trips to the Gentiles. It is they who should get the credit. I have discussed these aspects in my next book Understanding Jesus. A Medical Perspective which, as of today, is still looking for a publisher. When it comes to "moral and intellectual superiority," I thought that this concept of the inherent superiority of one racial or ethnic group over another was buried with Hitler in the bunker, but apparently not. The ethics of the Torah and the prophets, which should be accepted by the rest of the world is also a catch phrase without meaning but mindlessly repeated by numerous Jewish authors. The Torah is not only the first five books attributed to Moses in the Old Testament but the entire body of Jewish written and oral law, which most Jews do not adhere to anyway. The prophets were nationalists who showered doom and gloom upon all their neighbors as well as the wayward Jews. This vision hardly lends itself to a peaceful future. Thus to call upon the world to adopt the "universal aspects of the Torah and the prophets," but in the same breath deny the existence of God strikes me as less than honest. Furthermore the truly universal aspects of the moral law antedated Moses. It would be most wholesome for writers like Dimont to read Pritchard’s The Ancient Near East. This collection of documents from the beginnings of our civilization ought to remove chauvinistic preconceptions and provide respect for those ancients upon whose words the laws and wisdom literature of the Bible was based. A great many of the commandments the Israelites were ordered to adhere to in the Torah were actually literally copied from Hammurabi's [ca. 1728-1686] laws. He received them likewise from his god whose name was, however, Shamash not Yahweh.

The statement that "there will then be only man," is a concept not even religious Jews subscribe to and an effort to turn the entire world into atheists must create resistance. Yet it is precisely these ideas which are being pushed in America and which the world receives through television. These fuel the hatred not only against Jews but Americans as their protector. Small wonder that some Muslims will say in so many words: not over my dead body.

Lest one assumes that it is merely one author who harbors and promotes these thoughts one needs only to read Jewish newspapers, magazines, as well as a variety of books by Jewish authors. Dimont, and those who think like him, also have a profoundly distorted view of what Christianity is, or should be, all about. Just as many Christians, especially Evangelicals, harbor an idealized view of Judaism and the state of Israel which has no counterpart in the real world. Thus Dimont's writings are typical for a paranoid mind-set which consists of an exaggerated sense of self importance masking the unspoken fear of the "avenging Jesus." The dead Jesus and the possibility that God might exist haunt some Jewish intellectuals and this is the reason why not only Christianity but all religions have to disappear. The claim that Jews as a whole rally to the flag which stands for "what is noblest in man" also sounds quite hollow when one considers Jewish behavior vis a vis their Arab citizens and to the Palestinians in the occupied territories. Security will never be achieved by brutality and each escalating reprisal will merely lead to more bloodshed. There are indeed some responsible Jews in Israel as well as here who argue against these policies but they are the proverbial voice in the wilderness which gets drowned out by the clamor for revenge and "security."

On the other hand there is one point where I have to agree with Dimont. The "Judaization" of America has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of Jewish immigrants after WWII. Even our foreign policy is currently no longer in the hands of the professionals in the State Department but is run by a small civilian neoconservative group in the Pentagon who turn Israel's goals into those of America. This is the tragedy of the beginning century because the American people, by and large, do not realize that they are being used for ulterior motives.

We now have to address the question how is Dimont's vision to be accomplished. The answer is already partly in his book and in last month's essay on "The Niger Forgery". "Thou shalt wage war by deception" is not limited to the Mossad; it now permeates all aspects of our society. To get by with deceptions the responsible officials can either lie or stonewall, by not releasing pertinent documents and Congress' as well as the media's acquiescence. Even the minutes of Vice President Cheney's meeting on energy policy in early 2001 are not allowed to be released because they would, in all probability, throw a rather different light on the administration's response to the 9/11 disaster. While secrecy and outright lies are one mechanism, the spread of fear by exaggerating possible dangers is the other, as exemplified by the rhetoric which led up to the Iraq invasion, and expressed also in the letter from the Wiesenthal Center as well as in FLAME.

One year ago I wrote in the essay "October Surprise?" that I had been told in August by a person who was privy to administration information that the decision for war had already been made and that our efforts to convince Senator Bennett to act as a voice of reason in Washington were fruitless. I had no possibility at that time to verify the information but corroboration came in an article from The Guardian. The British have appointed an independent commission under Lord Hutton to examine the recent suspicious death of Dr. Kelly who was the country's foremost expert on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The Guardian wrote in its August 23, 2003 edition under the headline, "Emails show how No 10 constructed case for war," that Tony Blair was told on September 8, 2002 by President Bush at Camp David that the invasion of Iraq had been decided on. It was Blair's job to make the British people come on board and the flurry of e-mails under discussion was to provide the justification for the war rather than an attempt to avoid it. "The sense that the decision had been made is also echoed by the former cabinet minister, Clare Short, who opposed the war and who told the Commons foreign affairs committee that she had been informed by three senior people - believed to be another cabinet minister, an MI6 chief and a top civil servant - that war was inevitable. One of them told her to stop fretting because it could not be stopped."

Evidence how the American people were hoodwinked into the war can also be found on the Internet in an interview with Ray Mc Govern by Will Pitt on June 26,2003 (www.truthout.org). McGovern, a CIA analyst for 27 years, had served under seven Presidents beginning with Kennedy and ending with Bush I. His job was to brief the highest administration officials, and as he relates the motto of the CIA, chiseled in marble at the entrance, is "You Shall Know The Truth, And the Truth Shall Set You Free." In those days CIA officers did indeed present truthful analysis results to the policy makers and were not interfered with, regardless whether a given administration liked or did not like the data. The CIA was an independent agency which could go after facts. This changed profoundly in the run-up towards the Iraq war. President Bush II had ignored the briefing on August 6, 2001 which had its title "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US." Condoleeza Rice, our National Security Advisor, admitted after September 11 that she had not looked at her predecessor's, Sandy Berger, file on terrorism. As she said, "It was still on my desk when September 11 happened." According to McGovern the driving force in the exaggeration of the potential Iraqi threat, which justified the invasion of the country, was the Vice President as well as the civilians in the Pentagon especially Wolfowitz. Mc Govern, also told his interviewer, "When the decision was made last summer that we will have a war against Iraq, they were casting about. You'll recall White House Chief of Staff Andy Carr saying you don't market a new product in August. The big blast off was Cheney's speech in Nashville, I think it was Nashville anyway, on August 26. He said Iraq was seeking materials for its nuclear program. That set the tone right there."

This is what seems to really have happened, the tragedy of 9/11 was used as the excuse to pursue other goals by manufacturing non-existent threats against the U.S., supposedly emanating from Saddam Hussein. Fear had to spread and our moral superiority over the rest of the world had to be proclaimed. This policy has now committed us to an indefinite guerilla war in Afghanistan as well as Iraq and possibly other places around the world. Although the CIA as well as the FBI analysts in the field had done their level best to detect and warn of imminent dangers they were ignored by their higher-ups. Problems of this type will neither be solved by an additional layer of bureaucracy called Homeland Security Office nor by a Patriot Act which allows the government to snoop on its citizens at will.

What can be done now? First of all the press and television have to demand a truly independent investigation of the events leading up to 9-11-2001 and the administration's response to it. Public pressure for an accounting is needed before Congress will react and take the appropriate steps. Senators and Representatives have re-election on their minds and will not act unless the public is truly aroused and it is the media's job to keep government as honest as possible. Stonewalling by the President as well as the Vice President in regard to crucial documents should be condemned and brought before the judiciary. If judicial orders are then denied on grounds of "national security" the responsible people should be held in contempt. Nothing but the disclosure of the full truth will ever get us out of this quandary we have gotten into during the past two years. Our national security is not served by secrecy but only by a fully informed citizenry.

As far as Iraq is concerned the predictions about the consequences of this invasion, which have been made during the past year in these pages, have sadly come true. The guerilla war in Iraq against everyone who cooperates with Americans, as urged by bin-Laden in his tape recorded message prior to our invasion, is now also a reality. I presented excerpts in the March, 2003 essay "From Homo Sapiens to the Naked Ape." The most recent highlights are the tragic attacks on the UN headquarters and even the most revered Shiite mosque in Najaf. Ayatollah Mohammed Baquir al-Hakim had advocated accommodation with the infidels and this was not to be condoned. Attacks upon the Kurds are likely to be in the offing next. At this late stage everybody in the US now wants the UN to assume a greater role. But this cannot be achieved in the way Charles Krauthammer wants it. The headline of his essay on the last page of Time September 1, 2003 was, "Help Wanted. Why America needs to lean hard on its allies to lend a hand in Iraq." This reflects precisely the sense of arrogance which is discussed above. First we tell the world that regardless of what they want we will go it alone, and when that didn't quite work out as envisioned they should come and bail us out. But we intend to keep the major contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq and the anticipated future profits. People who think this way forget that our allies are not our servants, they are free people and the scenario as outlined above is not likely to find their approval. Only when we demonstrate that we are willing for them to share not only burdens but also rewards is help likely to be forthcoming.

To the Jewish people and their sympathizers I suggest that they take the contents of Whither Zionism? and of "The Neocons' Leviathan," which was published here in April of this year, to heart. Please recognize the failure of the neoncons, as well as Likud's, policies and conduct yourselves according to the high ethical principles your writers proclaim. Place yourself into the shoes of the Palestinians in the occupied territories and consider what the world-wide Jewish reaction would be if the roles were reversed and Palestinians treated Jews the way Palestinians are being treated now. Remember that the Golden Rule works both ways, "You will be treated the way you treat others." Realize, furthermore, that when a total of about 14 million people want to convert a world of more than 6 billion to their belief system - be it religious or secular - it cannot work; it must backfire. Complaining about antisemitism, spreading further fear and drumming up money will not help.

The answer to the challenges ahead is honesty and conduct commensurate with universal, rather than parochial, human values. Goethe has summed them up in, "Edel sei der Mensch, hilfreich und gut." The human being's task is to be noble, helpful and good! This is everyone's duty and not limited to a given religious, national or ethnic group. Frankl, a Jew, has shown that it can be done even when a tremendous personal loss has taken place. So have other Jews both here and in Israel. But misguided Jewish zealots, who have converted some Gentiles to their cause, are dragging us down the wrong road. It will be up to individual responsible Jews to publicly and vociferously speak out against this type of "leadership" because goyim cannot do this job for them.





October 1, 2003

IGNORANT ARROGANCE




September was the month when the races for political power started to gather steam. In California we saw a popular attempt to recall the sitting governor blocked by a three panel judge’s vote. But that vote was overturned a few days later by 11 judges and the recall election is on again for October 7. The mere fact that a few appointed judges have the potential power to nullify the constitutionally guaranteed expression of the wishes of 1.6 million Californians should give us pause to reconsider what kind of a republic we have become. Needless to say our current President was actually also anointed by one vote of a Supreme Court Justice, and that it is the Supreme Court, made up of political appointees, who decides what the "law of the land" is at a given moment.

Nevertheless some of us, including myself and most members of my family who had actually voted for Mr. Bush, welcomed this particular Supreme Court decision because we thought he would bring to the White House: honesty, common sense and a foreign policy which works in concert with the UN on the problems of this world. This illusion was fostered further by the people governor Bush surrounded himself with. The designated Vice-President, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State seemed to be men of experience and substance who had served honorably in his father's presidency.

But appearances were deceiving. We did not know at that time that Mr. Cheney's interests seem to have remained wedded to the oil industry, and it became apparent that Mr. Rumsfeld's defense policies did not originate within himself but reflected the views of a small group of neocons whose political outlook equates the policies to be adopted by the United States with those of Israel, as has been pointed out here in "The Neocons' Leviathan." This group disdained the professionals at the State Department and General Powell, as a good soldier, took his orders from his Commander in Chief, who had also fallen under their spell. This led to the sad spectacle earlier in the year where Powell presented evidence to the UN about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction which neither he nor CIA director Tenet, who was there for moral support, probably fully believed in. What we saw on that day was what might have been regarded as a lack of Zivilcourage, namely standing up for one's principles of truth and integrity and refraining from making allegations based on dubious evidence. Although General Powell had resigned from the army and the president could no longer order him around he failed to draw the consequences from the fact that his position had become untenable because foreign policy was made in the Defense rather than the State Department. Had he quit his job he might well have put the rush to war on hold, especially if the General had given open and full testimony before Congress how his position had been undermined by the civilians in the Pentagon. The fact that he chose instead to support the administration, possibly against his better judgment, makes him, unfortunately, co-responsible for the current tribulations of the "liberated" Iraqi people, the deaths and injuries of our soldiers, as well as of thousands of innocent Iraqis, loss of America's prestige throughout major portions of the world and the staggering financial burdens Americans are now saddled with.

The ultimate responsibility for the conduct of America's foreign policy lies, of course, with the president, and it is no secret that he has little use for diplomacy but favors the approach advocated by the group of Cheney-Rice-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz etc. Had the 9/11 terrorist attack not occurred he might have served out his presidency with little fanfare, because Americans are not a belligerent people. Live and let live tends to be their maxim, in addition to being generous to those who are less fortunate than us. A foreign policy which defies international law and invades other countries in a "pre-emptive" manner tends to be against the image they have of themselves. There is a caveat, however, because our politicians have always played by the rules of power while cloaking them in moral phraseology. The Spanish-American war which set America on the road to empire was ostensibly over the Spaniards sinking our battleship Maine in Havana harbor, although the inquest failed to establish Spanish guilt in this naval tragedy. The reason for invading Cuba was not merely the "liberation of the Cuban people from a ruthless dictatorship," as advocated by what was then called the yellow press. It is also worth while remembering that before there ever was a "Butcher of Baghdad," the American public was introduced to "Butcher Weyler," who was the Spanish general in charge of rooting out the insurgency. In 1896 the Hearst press showered him also with epithets such as, "a fiendish despot, a brute, the devastator, pitiless cold, an exterminator of men."

The rebellion of nationalist Cubans, who used what is now called terror tactics, severely interfered with the profits of the sugar cane industry and that could not be tolerated. In addition some political circles had for a long time cast a desirous eye on the island and even Thomas Jefferson had written, "I have ever looked at Cuba as the most interesting addition which could ever be made to our system of States." Since American public opinion always rooted for the underdog the invasion of Cuba was preordained regardless of the steps Spain took subsequently to ameliorate the situation. But Spain also had other overseas colonies especially the Philippines and those folks had to be liberated too in order to receive the blessings of Christianity. The fact that the vast majority were already Catholics was apparently unknown. But who can blame President McKinley who, although a very well meaning person, couldn't even find the Philippines on a map. Just as Cuban exile groups in New York had urged America's entry into their war, Philippine exile groups entreated Admiral Dewey, who happened to be in Hong Kong with his fleet, to sail into Manila Bay destroy the Spanish fleet and then hand a freed country over to them. Dewey did the first part but could not follow through with the second. The "splendid little war," as John Hay, U.S. ambassador to London, had put it in a letter to Teddy Roosevelt in the summer of 1898, was soon over in the Caribbean with little loss of American lives. But it turned subsequently into a prolonged bloody battle in the Philippine archipelago which lasted for six years until peace was established. America's goal in the Philippines as outlined by President McKinley was to create a government "designed not for our satisfaction nor for our theoretical views, but for the happiness, peace and prosperity of the people of the Philippine islands." This language strikes one also as eerily familiar. But the Muslim Moros in the island of Mindanao wanted no part of infidel rule in 1904 and kept on fighting intermittently. It took about fifty years before the liberated Filipinos were deemed worthy to run their own country and lo and behold a hundred years later we are still, or again, fighting Muslim terrorists in those islands.

The information and quotes mentioned above can be found in Ivan Musicant's Empire By Default. The Spanish-American War and the Dawn of the American Century.The American people were goaded into empire building by claims of Spanish villainy and a threat to our shores, just as the so-called attack on our ships in the gulf of Tonkin led us into an expanded Vietnam war. Now the charge that Saddam was in cahoots with terrorists, who would unleash weapons of mass destruction on us at any moment, brought us into Iraq for an unforeseeable period of time.

The rhetoric of creating fear, which has to be overcome by a determined course of forceful righteousness, has remained the same and so has the ignorance of how other people live and what their real aspirations are. Uncle Sam knows best and his views have to be enforced. When others, as for instance some ingrate Europeans, like France and Germany, demur they are being given the stark alternative of "if you are not with us, you are against us." In the self-proclaimed war on terror there is no middle ground and people who do not see "the moral clarity" of our cause are not only potential enemies but also evil. Thus one should hardly be surprised over headlines "France: Friend or Foe?" and "Saudi Arabia: Friend or Enemy?" Simplifications like these are to be expected when one considers the background of the people who write these articles, or as in the case of our president write his speeches. Now we come to a remarkable observation. President Bush is apparently disinclined to read even newspapers or magazines in order to form his own opinions. As he said in a recent interview with Brit Hume of Fox News, "I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves. But like Condoleeza, in her case, the national security adviser is getting her news directly from the participants on the world stage [www.foxnews.com]." Leaving the mangled syntax aside this is surely a remarkable statement by the "leader of the free world." He tells us in essence that he relies entirely on precooked and pre-digested ideas of others who feed him what they think he should know and, what is worse; he seems to have no inclination to get independent verification. I believe that this explains his foreign policy conduct and how he came up, for instance, with the idea that "Sharon is a man of peace." Yes, but on whose terms?

Since Bush's staff shields him from people with divergent views and the president himself has apparently never been out of the country as a simple tourist his views of the world are severely restricted. When one adds to this the fact that he regards himself as a "born again Christian," we can understand why he could so easily fall prey to those elements in the government who seized on the 9/11 tragedy to enact their foreign policy ideas which are in essence those of the Likud party in Israel. When this is coupled with a Bush-Cheney background in the oil industry it is hardly surprising that Iraq had to be invaded regardless of whatever cooperation Saddam may or may not have extended to UN inspectors. It was literally a "done deal" by last September and it has been reported that Halliburton (whose CEO Mr. Cheney was before he assumed his present job) had already received in November 2002 a "no bid contract" to rebuild Iraq's oil industry after the war. The entire UN performance in the fall and winter of last year was not designed to prevent the war but merely to get UN approval for something that had already been unilaterally decided on.

The president prides himself on being a strong leader and he certainly reads the speeches, prepared by unknown writers, quite well. It is, however, highly instructive for a neurologist to watch his body language and syntax when he is speaking spontaneously during rare press conferences or interviews with members of the media. While trying to a give a strong impression and making positive statements his head turns at the same time not up and down in the manner of saying yes, but from side to side which seems to negate what he is saying. This body language is, of course, totally unconscious and raises a question of inner insecurity hidden behind a facade of official bravado. When his detractors pointed out, prior to the November 2000 election, that he may not possess the stuff that is required for a president of the country, we dismissed the idea as malevolent gossip but in retrospect it may well have been correct.

The president seems to be a simple person with oversimplified ideas and thereby became the ideal tool for others who have more complex and occasionally devious minds. This is where his main constituency the "Christian Right" comes in. I suggested earlier this year in "President Bush's Choice" that he had to choose between statesmanship and running for re-election. These are mutually incompatible goals. When I wrote the installment I sensed, of course, what his choice was likely to be and now there is no longer any doubt. Re-election demands that Evangelical Christians must not be alienated. This means in turn that any "leaning on Israel" to grant the Palestinians their rights is out of the question. One of the leaders of the Christian Right, Pat Robertson, recently gave an interview which was published in part in the September 19, 2003 edition of The Jerusalem Post. The headline was "Cross his heart. When US televangelist Pat Robertson talks, millions of Americans listen. And what he's telling George W. Bush is to beware of dividing the land of Israel and creating a Palestinian state." In the introduction to the interview we find, "As far as Robertson is concerned Bush is playing with fire, and making what he considers to be a 'terrible mistake.' To the interviewer's question "do you think that American Christians in 2004 should take that [the division of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state] when deciding whom to vote for into consideration?" Robertson replied diplomatically, "I think they will, but the problem is between two people." Robertson explained that if Bush's opponent is going to be a liberal Democrat who "is as bad or worse on Israel than he [Bush] is," the evangelicals will have no choice but to stick with Bush regardless of the road map. The unspoken conviction is that they will make sure it won't go anywhere any time soon.

In regard to Saudi Arabia, Robertson regarded the Wahabi as "vicious" who have to be dealt with "forcefully." One may wonder what that means, bomb Saudi-Arabia? To the question "How can American citizens, particularly American Christians, support Israel in this difficult time?" Robertson answered, "The best thing is to discuss the legitimacy of Israel, the legitimacy of Israel's claims to the land on a biblical basis. I think that for the American Christians and for Israel itself, the strongest claim to integrity rests strongly in the Bible. The Land was given by God." Well, it really is as simple as that: the Bible is God's inerrant word and ought to be the basis of America's foreign policy in the Middle East. The fact that Muslims will never agree to this interpretation is irrelevant as far as the good reverend is concerned. But since the land was, according to the Bible, deeded by the Lord to all of Abraham's offspring and Ishmael (purported ancestor of the Arabs) had arrived on the scene before Isaac "moral clarity" would seem to require that they have an equally good claim to at least parts of the land. Furthermore, one truly wonders about what kind of Christianity this is when one turns a blind eye to the oppression of Palestinians and concentrates exclusively on the suffering of Jews and their God given rights. For Christians, Jesus is supposed to be the final arbiter and his message does not include land grabs and expropriation of other peoples' property. The effort to remake American Christians in Pat Robertson's image can only result in further disasters. The Good Samaritan parable seems to have been bypassed by these "born again" Christians who prefer the fire and brimstone of the Old Testament.

This would not matter much if the fate of the world did not hang on these arrogant notions, proclaimed by people who are ignorant of other civilizations and their rightful aspirations to live in peace within their own culture. There is no universally agreed way on dress codes, sexual mores, what the rights and duties of males versus females are, and in certain societies even capitalism is not regarded as the highest good. When we try to impose our values on other cultures we can expect serious troubles. When our soldiers come crashing into homes in rural Afghanistan or Iraq in search of terrorists and frighten the women who don't want to be seen unveiled by strangers, humiliate the fathers by having them kneel blindfolded in front of their children, we should not be surprised when new "terrorists" spring up.

While President Reagan has been called "The Great Communicator," president Bush would surely qualify as "The Great Simplifier." By misinterpreting method for goal and labeling all insurrections against existing power structures as terrorism, he is lumping national struggles for independence with religious Mafia type criminals. This is a serious mistake for which the American people are already paying a bitter price and it is likely only to get steeper in blood and resources. It is also hardly surprising that a speech, like the one the president delivered before the UN last week did not evoke resonance from the rest of the world community. He asked for help from the UN, but on his terms. The speech was also laced with what other countries "must" do but there was no hint to what extent he is willing to share revenues if and when they were to become available from the sale of Iraq's oil and gas wealth. This approach is not likely to work and to label those who won't buy into these grandiose plans as either "evil" or enemies, will also not be helpful.

There was another interview on the Fox News channel last week which also fully fits the title of this essay. Bill O'Reilly, whose "no spin zone" has currently the biggest ratings among cable news programs, interviewed Dick Morris who was President Clinton's intimate political advisor several years ago. While Clinton could survive sexual indiscretions, Morris did not and now freelances his services, probably to the highest bidder. The remarkable aspect was that he suggested in all seriousness that if Bush wants to get re-elected next year he has to launch a war against Iran. The issue of potential nuclear proliferation will be the pretext to remove this "rogue regime" which breeds terrorists. If Bush simply sits on his haunches during the next year without any dramatic new foreign wars the unfinished business in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the potentially still sagging economy will come to haunt him and he can shelve the re-election dream. O'Reilly, who is not given to bashfulness and is a strong Bush supporter, did not want to believe this scenario but failed to contradict Morris with a more reasonable approach. Should one be surprised, therefore, that when non-Americans read or see this they come to believe that America is indeed currently the most dangerous country in the world? This perception needs to be changed but platitudes by the president about bringing freedom, democracy and peace to the rest of the world will not do. Actions speak louder than words.

Two years ago I published in these pages under the title "September 11th" an opinion as to what the various key players in the post 9/11 world really want. As far as bin-Laden is concerned he wanted to engage America into a prolonged war with Muslim countries. This would weaken America's stature in the Middle East and rally the masses to the flag of radical Islam. Bush obliged and so far Osama has gotten his wish. We are bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, we may or may not bomb Iran and each passing day further antagonizes Arabs and Muslims. The fact that we seem to have again adopted a hands off policy towards Israel and vetoed a UN Security Council resolution which condemned Israel's decision to either kill or exile Arafat does not get us bonus points in Arab eyes. In addition Bush's crusade puts a terrible strain on an already weakened economy and it is doubtful that even Congress has a stomach for further military adventures unless another catastrophe occurs which can be laid at the feet of Syria or Iran. That neither of these countries has a wish to tangle with the U.S. does not matter because the mere charge of "harboring terrorists" is nowadays sufficient for a "pre-emptive strike" to bring about a regime change.

Sharon also got his wish. The West Bank is re-occupied; there are running battles in the Gaza strip, and by identifying the Palestinian struggle for statehood with America's war on terrorism he has succeeded in getting America's unqualified support. He has eliminated Iraq as a potential threat, without firing a shot, but Syria and Iran still need a little more work, and so does breaking the will of the Palestinians to resist Israeli occupation.

As far as America is concerned I was mistaken in one assumption only. I wrote that "even our leadership does not want war, but to get the economy moving and to work for global prosperity." This supposition was grounded in the basic goodness of the American people and I was not aware that war had already been decided on by September 12, 2001 as documented in Bob Woodward's book. On the other hand I was not blind to realities as the very next sentences prove,

"Nevertheless in spite of the current unity the country's opinion makers are split over how to set things right in the world. On account of the so-called Judeo-Christian tradition (a term which, by the way, is rejected by observant Jews) there are strong emotional ties to Judaism and the state of Israel. Powerful military action is urged by the majority of journalists. Currently in the minority is another group which regards war as folly but has as yet no strong support from the media. This is bound to change if and when body bags were to arrive in larger numbers.

For these reasons a major war against Islamic states is not in the best interest of the United States but serves only the purposes of Radical Muslims and proponents of a Greater Israel."

The neocons got their war and there is no end in sight. Even if Bush is voted out of office next year the legacy he leaves this country will be difficult to overcome. Democratic contenders for the presidency, who belatedly see the failures of the Bush foreign policy, are trying to define themselves. But so far none of the nine have been able to inspire a great deal of confidence in their ability to steer the country into calmer waters. We know, as yet, too little about the latest and tenth arrival on the scene, General Wesley Clark, to allow for an educated guess as to what he might really stand for and be able to do. As argued previously in these pages what is needed is a paradigm shift; away from ignorant arrogance and towards a policy which is grounded in a thorough understanding of history, which in turn leads to a genuine respect for other people's rightful aspirations and traditions. General Clark may possess these qualities but whether or not he can clearly formulate not only his aspirations, but also the ways to achieve them remains to be seen in the coming months. Right now it is too early to tell because all we have so far is rhetoric.

Finally we must face the real problem of our society. Ignorant arrogance is not limited in our country to politicians; it is wide-spread among the people. Most, if not all of us, fall prey to it intermittently. It is a cardinal sin which needs to be guarded against. "We are the biggest and the best," is a pervasive attitude. Yes, we have the biggest economy and great technology which allows us to reduce any country to rubble. But as the past two years have proven although we can destroy in a flash, winning hearts and minds cannot be done by bombs. This simple truth must first sink into the minds of the people in our media and then the general public. Only a truly educated public can generate an educated leadership which it can follow in good conscience. All politicians on the local, state, and national level, as well as all candidates for public office stress their devotion to education but hardly any one asks them what they mean by that word. When asked the answer is, as for everything else, we need more money for a variety of worthwhile projects. But the problem of ignorance cannot be solved by money. Educational reform, to be meaningful, would have to realize that what is being taught in our schools, from elementary through college, is more important than how it is taught. This is the real problem which ought to be faced and publicly acknowledged.





November 1, 2003

WOLFOWITZ - MAN OF THE YEAR

It is not often that one finds one's views confirmed by independent knowledgeable sources but this was the case this past month. I have always maintained that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was not a direct threat for the United States. Israel was in the potential line of fire and it was, therefore, in Israel's interest to eliminate Saddam. This had been a priority for the supporters of that country ever since the inconclusive Iran-Iraq war, which had left Saddam with a modern army and chemical as well as biological weapons. Saddam's invasion of Kuwait was designed to get rid of the vast debts he had accumulated during the war with Iran. But he had no designs on Saudi Arabia as had been claimed by our media in order to justify not only sending but keeping our troops there. This was known to the Israeli government (Israel's Secret Wars; Black and Morris), but whether or not this information was passed on to the CIA and the first Bush administration has never been revealed. Saddam's military might was severely decimated in the first Gulf war, and the international sanctions thereafter led to the decay of the infrastructure of the country we are now faced with. But although he was not regarded as a threat by his direct neighbors (none of whom, apart from Kuwait, condoned our March invasion) his continued existence in power could not be tolerated by the Likud government and some members of the Bush administration.

Saddam stood in the way of Greater Israel by encouraging the Palestinians' use of force, including rewarding suicide bombers' families, thereby thwarting Likud's plans to quietly annex as much of the West Bank and Gaza as possible. For the Bush administration oil was a major factor but in addition there was the personal issue of Bush II who had to prove that he knew better how to deal with tyrants than his dad. Thus, the neocons (see April 1, 2003 The Neocons' Leviathan) were chafing at the bit and saw immediately in the 9/11 tragedy an opportunity to make tabula rasa in the Middle East. Afghanistan was a side show for the neocons who from day one had argued that Iraq, Iran and Syria have to be dealt with in line with the document prepared in 1996 for the incoming Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, "A Clean Break. A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" (also April 1, 2003). The connection between this document and our present situation is that it was written by the same people who rose to power in the U.S. after the November 2000 elections. They are now the chief architects of our foreign policy which is, at least as far as the Middle East is concerned, no longer in the hands of the State Department but in that of the civilians in the Department of Defense and the Defense Advisory Board. Within these groups Richard Perle and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz are the most important people. They managed to recruit the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice-president Cheney and in due course our President to their cause. It is, therefore highly appropriate that The Jerusalem Post of October 3, 2003 should have on its title page the face of a joyful Wolfowitz and the caption, "Rosh Hashana 5764 Paul Wolfowitz. Man of the year."

One article which details why he deserves this honor is prefaced by, " No question: this was Paul Wolfowitz's year. On September 15, 2001 at Camp David, he advised President George W. Bush to skip Kabul and train American guns on Baghdad. In March 2003, he got his wish. In the process, Wolfowitz became the most influential US deputy defense secretary ever - can you so much as name anyone else who held the post? And he's on the shortlist to succeed Colin Powell as secretary of state." A second article entitled "Invasive treatment" is prefaced, "In 1979 [sic] he warned that Iraq would invade Kuwait. In 2001, he told the president to train his sights on Baghdad, not Kabul. Now Paul Wolfowitz is getting his way. Will he be proven right?" That indeed is the question and the newspapers as well as the Internet are currently full of pictures of a rather shaken Wolfowitz after the rocket attack on the Al Rasheed hotel earlier in the week where he narrowly escaped from being hit.

But Wolfowitz should really have shared the honor with Mr. Perle as became apparent in a "Frontline" documentary, "truth, war and consequences," aired by PBS. The transcript is available on the Internet (www.pbs.org/wghb/pages/frontline/shows/truth/etc/script.html). Several highly revealing statements how American foreign policy was made since September 11 can be found there. Perhaps the most dramatic one was the casual way in which some people with influence can put words into our president's mouth and thereby make national policy. Here is an excerpt of the broadcast,

"NARRATOR: Ever since the end of the Gulf war a small group of influential policy makers has wanted to rid the Middle East of Saddam Hussein. But going to war to achieve it was not politically feasible until after September 11th, 2001.

RICHARD PERLE: Well I believe there was a strong argument for looking at Iraq before September 11th. What September 11th taught us is that we can wait too long in the presence of a known and visible threat.

NARRATOR: On the afternoon of September 11th, Richard Perle, phoned one of President Bush's speechwriters, David Frum.

RICHARD PERLE: I had a conversation with David.

NARRATOR: And what was the content of that?

RICHARD PERLE: That we are not going to deal effectively with global terrorism if states can support and sponsor and harbor terrorists without penalty.

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: The search is under way for those who are behind these evil acts.

NARRATOR: At 8:30 that evening, President Bush spoke to the nation. He laid out his policy, echoing the words that Perle had suggested to his speechwriter earlier in the day.

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."

The full interview with Mr. Perle (July 10, 2003) from which these excerpts were used for the Frontline program is available at www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/truth/interviews/perle.html. During that interview Perle repeatedly made the case that if the Iraqi National Congress (INC) under the leadership of Ahmad Chalabi had been given a free hand by the State Department most, if not all, of the present problems in Iraq would have been avoided. Mr. Perle kept insisting that Chalabi is "quite brilliant. He is a Ph.D. in mathematics, with a background at the University of Chicago and MIT. He's a Shi'a, committed to secular democracy." According to Mr. Perle the State Department refused to accept Mr. Chalabi's qualifications as future leader of Iraq and actively sabotaged the Defense Department's efforts to create a stable Iraq under Chalabi as soon as the Saddam regime had been deposed. In the interview Mr. Perle also asserted that what is being called a separate intelligence operation within the Defense department under Wolfowitz and his deputy, Douglas Feith, had become necessary because the CIA simply did not want to see all the damning evidence against Saddam which they had no problem finding. But more about this later when we return to the October PBS broadcast.

There is one additional statement from the Perle interview which I found revealing. After the interviewer had asked Perle point blank: "If you had your choice, he [Chalabi] would still be the person we should be backing," Perle gave him an unequivocal yes. When the interviewer followed up with, "People say that we should listen to people who actually lived in Iraq during the regime," he got this irate reply, "Oh, this is complete rubbish. It would be hard to imagine a sillier argument. Iraq was a place where, if you were an opponent, you were dead. Now how are we supposed to find people in Iraq that we can talk to, and whose judgment we can repose any confidence in? People who kept secret and managed to survive their opposition to Saddam all theses years? What are we talking about?"

This answer shows that either Mr. Perle is "spinning," to make a case for his protegé, or that he has no idea how people, who do not agree with government policies, survive in dictatorships. I happen to know something about this because Hitler was no joy to live under either when you were one of the many who loathed his government. We were not all killed provided we kept our mouths shut and our noses to the grindstone. People put on blinders, concentrate on the tasks daily living requires and stay clear from any political statements. This is the uniform response regardless what the name of the country or the dictatorship is. Survival comes first and to state that anybody who managed to survive inside the country is automatically disqualified from leading a post-Saddam government is either blinded by dogma, or has some other ulterior motive.

Now that we know how Mr. Perle feels about Dr (?) Chalabi let us look at the man through the eyes of BBC which aired a program on October 3, 2002 "Profile: Ahmed Chalabi," also available on the Internet. An excerpt reads as follows,

"Ahmed Chalabi is one of the best known Iraqi opposition figures in the West.

As leader of one of the foremost opposition movements, the Iraqi National congress [INC], the 57-year-old former businessman has even been tipped by some analysts as a possible successor to Saddam Hussein.

A Shia Muslim born in 1945 to a wealthy banking family, Mr. Chalabi left Iraq in 1956 and has lived mainly in the USA and London ever since, except for a period in the mid-1990's when he tried to organise an uprising in the Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

The venture ended in failure with hundreds of deaths. Soon after, the INC was routed from northern Iraq after Saddam's troops overran its base in Irbil. A number of party officials were executed and others - including Mr Chalabi - fled the country.

Chequered career

A seasoned lobbyist in London and Washington, who studied mathematics at Chicago University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr Chalabi is often described as a controversial figure, charismatic and determined but crafty and cunning at the same time.

Mr Chalabi has been accused by some opposition figures of using the INC to further his own ambitions.

There are also allegations of financial misdemeanours. In 1992, he was sentenced in absentia by a Jordanian court to 22 years in prison with hard labor for bank fraud after the 1990 collapse of the Petra bank, which he had founded in 1977.

Although he has always maintained the case was a plot to frame him by Baghdad, the issue was revisited later when the State Department raised questions about the INC's accounting practices.

Cometh the man?

In recent interviews Mr Chalabi has discounted the possibility he will take a role in any future government.

'Personally, I will not run for any office, and I am not seeking any positions. My job will end with the liberation of Iraq from Saddam's rule,' he is quoted as telling the German weekly Die Zeit. . . He has strong backing among some sectors of Congress and the Pentagon, but is thought to have little grassroots support in Iraq and a number of opposition groups have sought to distance themselves from the INC.

Mr Chalabi subscribed to the 'three-city plan', which called for defectors to capture a number of key areas, isolating and surrounding Saddam.

But the plan had little support from Arab governments, which said they would not allow Mr Chalabi to run a liberation army from their soil.

In 1998, the then US president, Bill Clinton, approved a plan to spend almost $100m to help the Iraqi opposition - principally the INC - to topple Saddam.

But only a fraction of the money was ever spent, and the INC subsequently suffered leadership infighting. Mr Chalabi now says the movement is united. But many people are sceptical.

According to the Qatari newspaper Al-Watan, Mr Chalabi and his movement 'are failures and are not even qualified to run a grocery shop [bold print added].' "

This report leaves us with a choice. Do we believe Mr. Perle, who has an obvious agenda, or the BBC, which has a well deserved reputation for excellence in reporting? There are several interesting aspects in this article. Although Mr Chalabi did study at Chicago and MIT he apparently does not hold a doctorate as intimated by Mr. Perle. Furthermore, it is now apparent why the State Department and the CIA washed their hands of Mr. Chalabi after the failed Kurdish uprising and his questionable accounting practices. In addition it may have been this "three-city plan" which my informant in August of 2002 had in mind when he told me about the removal of Saddam which was to take place as the political coup of the year just prior to the November 2002 mid-term elections (see October Surprise?, September 2002). As far as Mr. Chalabi's promise is concerned that he would not seek political office after Saddam had been removed it was technically correct. He did not have to "seek" it or "run for office" because Mr. Perle's friends in the Pentagon appointed him and he is currently in charge of Iraq's Governing Council.

Now back to "truth, war and consequences" in order to learn how the information was obtained upon which the president led the country to war.

"NARRATOR: When it came to Iraq, the special intelligence office [the group who worked for Perle, Wolfowitz and Feith] didn't trust what the CIA or even their own Defense Intelligence Agency had to say. They did apparently listen to Ahmad Chalabi. According to one Pentagon source, he visited once every other month. Across the Potomac, Greg Thielmann had analyzed intelligence for the State Department for seven years.

GREG THIELMANN, U.S. Dept of State (1977-02): That office was largely invisible to us in the intelligence community because they didn't-- they didn't play in the - - in the normal bureaucratic process of making intelligence assessments and reporting on those assessments.

MARTIN SMITH [interviewer of Richard Perle in July 2003]: What did you understand that office to be about?

GREG THIELMANN: I am still trying to figure out what that office was about. The office wasn't big enough for them to really have the expertise in-house and the mere creation of the office was odd, since the secretary of defense had the entire Defense Intelligence Agency at his disposal. So it's a little mysterious what exactly they were doing.

RICHARD PERLE: Let me blunt about this. The level of competence of the Central Intelligence Agency in this area is appalling. They had filtered out the whole set of possibilities because it was inconsistent with their model. So if you're walking down the street and you're not looking for hidden treasure, you won't find it.

MARTIN SMITH: Conversely, if you look for something, you will find it simply because you are looking. And the nature of intelligence is -- is very often vague, and things can be interpreted one way or another.

RICHARD PERLE: Of course. There's no absolute truth in this."

This was the way how we got into Iraq. In the neocons' view all the professionals in the State Department, the CIA, the FBI and the Defense Department were incompetent because they could not come up with evidence that Saddam was linked to Al-Quaeda and thereby 9/11, had WMD's, and was an imminent threat to the United States. A handful of specially selected people had to go over old data from the mentioned agencies as well as unverified information supplied by Chalabi to provide a "true picture" of the danger we were in. This was the version which was fed to the Vice-President as well as the President who used it to convince the country of the necessity to invade Iraq.

But there is more to this tug of war between the State Department and the defense neocons as the PBS program revealed. While the Pentagon group was busy trying to find justification to bring the country to war the State Department was planning for the aftermath. It established in the spring of 2002 the "Future of Iraq" project because the decision to go to war had already been made by president Bush in March. Since Saddam's army was no match, the outcome was never in doubt, only the pretext had to be found and allies recruited.

The State Department gathered 200 Iraqis to form 15 working groups. These were concerned with how to get everyday functions up and running once Saddam had been deposed. As Edward Walker from the State Department said "There are committees set up to consider each aspect of the future life of Iraq and how you could deal with it in the immediate days thereafter. It involved an awful lot of very bright people, many of whom have the credentials in economics and banking and agriculture and so on . . . ." But Chalabi and the INC were not interested and felt that a committee structure would turn into a debating society which was not the way to solve the problems. They wanted to be recognized as a government in exile. This notion went against the grain of other opposition groups, as well as the State Department, because it was felt that a government should consist mainly of local Iraqis rather than a group coming in from the outside. In this tug of war between Chalabi and the Pentagon on one side, and the State Department on the other, the president came down firmly on the Pentagon's side in January 2003, when he gave it the authority for post-war reconstruction All the work the "Future of Iraq" team had done was disregarded and Lt. General Jay Garner who was put in charge had to start from scratch. During the invasion in March 2003 Chalabi was flown with an "army" of 700 supporters to Iraq where they intended to participate in the march on Baghdad. Since his reception by the locals was far from gratifying, and there was opposition to starting a democracy with an image of a warlord arriving, the U.S. army sidelined him. He didn't get to Baghdad until five days after the city had fallen. General Garner and his crew also had to twiddle their thumbs in Kuwait because the situation on the ground was regarded as too unstable to have the reconstruction team come in. Thus, there was no authority whatsoever, because the American troops were stretched too thin and in addition had no orders to intervene with the looting.

We cannot blame the troops on the ground. The fault lies with the arrogance of the civilians in the Defense Department who ignored all the warnings from the professionals. They first relied on Chalabi who fed them rumors, obtained from paid defectors, which they promptly sent on to Cheney and Bush bypassing the traditional channels. Since the war needed to be justified to the country and the world at large anything that made Saddam a supposed threat to the United States was touted far and wide while the usual qualifiers of genuine intelligence were omitted. Thus, the war was based entirely on wishful thinking while disregarding professional advice.

The immediate post-war chaos including massive looting was predicted on basis of actual experience. Robert Perito who had served on the National Security Council Staff, during 1988 - 1989 gave a presentation to Pentagon officials, upon invitation of Mr. Perle, where he warned about the potential post-war violence. Talking about the experience in Panama he said in the mentioned PBS program, "As soon as the fighting ended, mobs went into the streets of Panama City and destroyed Panama City, looted the city, did more damage to the Panamanian economy than the conflict did. And so my presentation was largely about the kinds of forces that we would need in order to deal with that kind of violence. And those lessons were ignored." But the post-war looting was of no concern to Rumsfeld because as he told us, "Stuff happens!"

There was an additional report about the pre-war search for justification. In the October 27, 2003 issue of The New Yorker Seymour Hersh wrote an article, " THE STOVEPIPE. How conflicts between the Bush Administration and the intelligence community marred the reporting on Iraq's weapons." It confirms what has been reported above but there was also an item which was of special interest to me in regard to the forged documents purporting the sale of enriched uranium to Iraq. In The Niger Forgery (August 1, 2003) I discussed the question who might have had the means, motive and opportunity to commit this crime. It seemed reasonable that the Mossad's LAP department whose task is "psychological warfare, propaganda and deception" might have had a hand in it. Since I do not have access to classified information I merely put forth the suggestion for someone who is "in the loop," or an investigative reporter, to follow through with getting at the truth of that forgery. It had, after all, found its way into the president's State of the Union Address in January of this year. Here is Seymour Hersh's assessment,

"The F.B.I. had been investigating the forgery at the request of the Senate Intelligence Committee. A senior F.B.I. official told me that the possibility that the documents were falsified by someone inside the American intelligence community had not been ruled out. 'This story could go several directions,' he said. 'We haven't got anything solid and we've looked.' He said that the F.B.I. agents assigned to the case are putting a great deal of effort into the investigation. But 'somebody's hiding something, and they're hiding it pretty well.' "

President Bush was elected on the promise to bring common decency back to the White House, which had been sullied by the private conduct of its former occupant. But decency requires first of all honesty. Yet, this administration has been highly secretive. The Cheney deliberations on the country's energy problem have not been allowed to become public. Documents pertaining to the run-up of 9/11 are not being released to Congress, and the FBI is stymied in its pursuit of the truth in regard to a forged document which was used to paint the picture of an impending mushroom cloud over our country. Since this conduct is even worse than that of Mr. Clinton because it involves all of our lives, and not just private sexual gratification, the American people and Congress should take note and demand an accounting. Eventually the truth will come out and the president is doing neither himself nor us any good by hiding behind "national security" or "executive privilege." We are all grown-ups, we can handle the truth whatever it is, and we should not be treated like children who can't be trusted.

The last word should go to Mr. Thielmann. When asked in the mentioned PBS program "Were we told the truth?" he answered, "The administration made statements which I can only describe as dishonest." Since the Iraq situation is in the near future only going to go from bad to worse scapegoating will soon start. Mr Rumsfeld may come in for hard times first. But the problem did not start with Rumsfeld. He succumbed to a siren song by Perle, Wolfowitz and others of their belief system. It is indeed tragic that hardly any one in a position of responsibility is as yet publicly facing up to, "you cannot serve two masters." When the interests of the ruling party of the state of Israel are identified with those of the United States no good can come of it. President Eisenhower's defense secretary, who had been CEO of General Motors and was nicknamed Engine Charley Wilson, said "what's good for GM is good for the country," and he genuinely believed it. Now we have people in charge of decisions which not only affect our country but the entire world, who genuinely believe that what's good for the policies of Likud is good for America. It is this delusion which has to be exposed so that we can get an administration which works for the good of all and not mainly special interests, especially those which benefit a foreign country to the detriment of ours.





December 1, 2003

PROMISE AND REALITY


Last year's December 1 headline was "Wanted: Good Judgment." During the week of November 3 - 9, 2002 our President had been given by Congress the power to invade Iraq, if he so desired; his party had won the midterm elections; and the UN Security Council had passed a resolution to force weapons inspectors on a reluctant Saddam Hussein. I therefore wrote, "The question now is: what will our President do with all the power which has been bestowed upon him? The measure of his character will become apparent in the next few months. By March we will know whether the mentioned week was one highlight or a watershed, and the zenith of his achievements.  Judging by the rumblings emanating from Washington it seems that our President is intent on a war with Iraq, come what may." I also wrote a little poem for him and the last verse was

Unless obstinacy does to wisdom yield,

And friendly counsels rule the field,

The seeds you sow no good will bring.

                                     And of your downfall future bards will sing.


All of us know what happened. The warnings from the State Department were ignored; Rumsfeld acceded to the neoconservatives in the Pentagon; Iraq was "liberated;" our troops are now caught in a hostile environment; some - as well as the liberated Iraqis - get killed on a daily basis; there are more world-wide terrorists attacks which kill the innocent; and the U.S. is saddled with a massive financial debt, which the taxpayers of this country will have to shoulder. I do not have the gift of prophecy but all of these events were foreseeable as has been documented prior to the Iraq invasion in these pages. All that is required is to know history as it really evolved, rather than the myths which have been spun around it, and the fundamentals of human behavior which have remained constant throughout the ages.  

Unfortunately these simple truths have not yet found their place in the minds of the decision makers in Washington which include the speech writers of President Bush. The president gave two major speeches during the past month. One before the United States Chamber of Commerce - Endowment for Democracy, and the other at Westminster Palace. The speeches were not excerpted or commented upon to a great extent in the press but Fareed Zakaria (Newsweek November 17, 2003) wondered how to explain

"the churlish reaction among so many Democrats, Europeans and intellectuals to the president's speech on democracy in the Middle East last week? Whatever the problems - and I'll get to them - as a speech it stands as one of the most intelligent and eloquent statements by a president in recent memory. (Don't take my word for it: read it at whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/11/20031106-2.html.) If it marks a real shift in strategy, it will go down in history as Bush's most important speech."

Mr. Fareed ascribed the negative reaction to the Chamber of Commerce speech as, "A visceral dislike for the president is boxing many otherwise sensible people into a corner because they cannot bring themselves to agree with anything he says." Since I never "viscerally disliked" the president, voted for him, but thoroughly disagreed with his post 9/11 foreign policy here was a challenge. I took Mr. Fareed at his word and read the speech carefully. In the first part the president recalled that president Reagan had also been vigorously denounced in Europe for his vision to bring freedom to the captive people in the Soviet sphere of influence; but he succeeded nevertheless. Subsequently he mentioned "the progress of liberty is a powerful trend. Yet we also know that liberty, if not defended, can be lost." There is no doubt about that and no one will quarrel with it. Neither is "freedom is worth fighting for, dying for and standing for," controversial. But when it comes to "Our commitment to democracy is tested in countries like Cuba and Burma and North Korea and Zimbabwe,” one is beginning to wonder. Are we supposed to invade and liberate them also?

The president then turned to the Middle East and assured his listeners that Muslims can indeed appreciate democracy and that those who do not feel so as yet will soon see the error of their ways. But he also rang a note which sounded disturbing. "Dictators in Iraq and Syria [emphasis added] promised the restoration of national honor, a return to ancient glories. They've left instead a legacy of torture, oppression, misery and ruin." People who are used to reading between the lines will immediately note that here is a potential opening shot of the next war against Syrians, who are known to "harbor terrorists" and who have already been subjected to economic sanctions by the US.  "The good and capable people of the Middle East all deserve responsible leadership." Yes indeed but that cannot be imposed from Washington!

The President subsequently lectured the Palestinians that their "only path to independence and dignity and progress is the path of democracy. . . . The Palestinian leaders are not leaders at all . . . . They are the main obstacles to peace, and to the success of the Palestinian people." One might now have expected some advice for his "friend" Ariel Sharon, but neither that name nor the state of Israel was mentioned at all. It is agreed that Arafat has his faults, but to omit the role the Likud government is playing in fueling the flames of Palestinian hatred, is a violation of good sense and turns this "most intelligent" speech into a travesty. The additional fact that there was not a single sentence about how he intends to solve the Middle East problem - including the self-inflicted Iraq wound - is ample reason to label the speech as full of good intentions but without definitive substance. As we all know "the way to hell is paved with good intentions" and that it is the means to the goal which count.

The president then told us, and if he means it this is important, ". . . we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not and should not look like us. . . . We've taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice - and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey." Patience and understanding are indeed called for but it is difficult to forget that the president had called himself a "patient man" around this time last year and a few months later the tanks rolled. But since of all us are capable of learning, we can hope that there may more patience next time.   

The second speech at Westminster Palace was in the same vein. He tried to flatter the British with our common heritage and values, but couldn't help inserting a dig at the French. "President Wilson had come to Europe with 14 Points for Peace. Many congratulated him on his vision; yet some were dubious. Take for example, the Prime Minister of France. He complained that God, himself, had only Ten Commandments. Sounds familiar." The president did not mention that it was not only Clemenceau who made a shamble out of the 14 points but was ably assisted by Lloyd George of Great Britain and Orlando of Italy. It was this threesome who created a "peace to end all peace," in the words of Field Marshall Wavell.  

The president continued, and stated that it was the failure of the League of Nations to reign in dictators which led to WWII. This statement is interesting for several reasons. 1) The Carthaginian dictates of Versailles (Germany), Trianon (Austria-Hungary), and Sèvres (Ottoman Empire), which humiliated the vanquished and produced profound resentment, were not mentioned as contributory elements. 2) The fact that Congress never ratified the Versailles dictate, and that the US never did join the League, it's very own brainchild, was also omitted. 3) And this is the most telling for the disconnect we are exposed to; the successor of the League, the United Nations, has been totally ignored in the decision making before the Iraq invasion.

The lesson that Wilson's idealistic stand at Paris foundered on the granite rocks of old fashioned imperialism was thoroughly disregarded. That he came home a broken man should be forgotten because we must charge ahead bringing the gospel of democracy to all the rest of the world.

The president also told the Brits that we are pursuing "a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East," but left undefined what that consists of. Except that "our will is firm, our word is good and the Iraqi people will not surrender their freedom." The last part of the sentence surely rings true. The majority want us out of their country in short order, not just the military but also Halliburton and associates. Mr. Bush then repeated in several paragraphs his admonitions to the Palestinians. But since he was out of the country and not on the campaign trail, he allowed himself to add a sentence, "Israel should freeze settlement constructions, dismantle unauthorized outposts, and the daily humiliations of the Palestinian people, and not prejudice final negotiations with the placement of walls and fences." That would have been nice had he said it in the Chamber of Commerce, and even more importantly if he had informed Sharon in no uncertain terms that this must be done as a first step, or else no more money! That means none of the 9 billion dollars in loan guarantees, and no further funding of Israeli defense policies. Withholding $389.4 million is not a serious policy. The president concluded the Westminster speech by congratulating his hosts with, "The British people are the sort of partners you want when serious work needs to be doing. The men and women of this Kingdom are kind and steadfast and generous and brave."

Yes indeed they are brave; a crowd, estimated by the police between 100,000 and 110,000 had turned out not to hail the Great Liberator but to demonstrate against his policies. He was not allowed by his "handlers" to address Parliament, because he would have been heckled and had to be transported by helicopter to and from Buckingham Palace so that he would not see the unpleasant reception. We need to remember that these are the precautions the "Leader of the Free World" had to be subjected to.

On November 22 The Salt Lake Tribune published an article headlined, "Even in wee town, Bush can't escape protests." It printed the above quoted number of the protesters in London, whom Bush never saw, and the "wee town" was Blair's country residence. While Mr. Bush obviously lives in a bubble, shielded from the real world, this extends unfortunately also to his wife Laura who is likewise shielded from the truth. She is quoted as saying, “I don't think the protests are near as large as everyone was predicting before we got here. We've seen plenty of American flags, we've seen plenty of people who were waving at us - many, many, more people in fact, than we've seen protesters." That's true, but the reason is simple; she wasn't allowed to see the protesting crowds.  The article was also accompanied by a picture which shows a confident Bush striding to his helicopter on the lawn of the Palace. He is accompanied by a rather glum looking queen and when I first saw the picture I wasn't sure of the reason for her unhappiness. It became apparent later. Not only had three helicopter pads savaged her beautiful lawn, her roses some of them dating back to Queen Victoria did not survive the prop whirl, and even her flamingoes which had been evacuated, because of the expected noise apparently refused to come back. Well, "sacrifices have to be made" as the president assured us.

But let us return to the end of the Chamber of Commerce speech where the president assured his audience that the "freedom we prize is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind." Yes that is correct, but how do we achieve it, by patient diplomacy and balancing the needs of all parties, or invasion of the lands of those who do not see the wisdom of our ways? Freedom is the great slogan today but our politicians and media pundits don't seem to understand that it cannot be imposed from above. When one does so one tends to get anarchy which is likely to prevail in Iraq for the foreseeable future. If and when we leave there may well be civil war from which another dictator is likely to emerge. That is also the lesson of history. The problem is not that the people of Iraq are not ready for democracy but a tribal society with religious animosities cannot be expected to rally around a government which lacks legitimacy in their eyes as the current Governing Council demonstrates. Neither they, nor our other prime example of liberation, Karzai in Afghanistan, can show themselves outside government compounds unless guarded by Americans. This shows, more clearly than anything else, the bankruptcy of our post 9/11 foreign policy.

Unless this is openly admitted to and constructive steps are taken, which may, unfortunately, already be too late, the brave rhetoric by our administration will remain just that. Even Goethe wrote at the end of Faust II "das ist der Weisheit letzter Schlusz: Nur der verdient sich Freiheit wie das Leben, der taeglich sie erorbern muss." This is wisdom's final conclusion: only he deserves freedom as well as life itself who has to reconquer it on a daily basis. Freedom cannot be brought on a platter it must be worked for by the people who want to be free.

The 22nd of November was also the 40th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination and the History Channel devoted an entire week to that event. Numerous conspiracy theories and witnesses supporting each one of them were procured and in the end one remained just as confused as before. Although the official government pronouncement is still that the lone deranged Oswald killed the president with rapid fire of 3 bullets from his Mannlicher, the idea is highly doubtful. The Zapruder film clearly shows that the president was hit twice. With the first shot he stiffened and raised his arms to his throat while the second and fatal one exploded the right posterior portion of the skull. For a physician this is troublesome. If the fatal bullet was fired from the 5th floor of the Book Depository building, as the government steadfastly asserts, the entry in the back of the head should have been small, and the exit would large. This is axiomatic in forensic medicine. The only reasonable explanation seems to be that the bullet came from the front and exited in the rear. This is why there was such massive damage to the back of the head. Since this would invalidate the lone assassin theory and indicate a conspiracy of what ever size and by whomever, the government is loath to admit it. Everybody can readily understand that in the panic and danger of the moment in November 1963, at the height of the Cold War,  any idea of a conspiracy might have had a profoundly negative effect and this is why the "patsy," as Oswald called himself to reporters at the Dallas police station, had to be pronounced guilty.

But forty years have elapsed, the Cold War is over, and the government still refuses to open the files to independent investigations.  This is the additional tragedy and points out how unreliable official history really is. If we are not allowed to learn the truth about such an important event, as President Kennedy's murder, which had profound consequences including the Vietnam War, there is something deeply wrong with our government. As mentioned repeatedly we are also denied the truth about the events leading up to the 9/11 catastrophe, about who forged the Niger documents, and numerous other aspects leading to the Iraq invasion.

November 19 was the 140th anniversary of the Gettysburg address where President Lincoln said that "these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." One hundred and forty years later "this nation under God" is not allowed to mention the word God in public schools and we have a country that is governed by a handful of people who are not necessarily elected and beholden not to the citizens at large but a to variety of special interests which dish out enormous sums of money for their pet causes.

But there is a ray of hope and it comes, of all places, from California. Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in as governor and runs now the most populous state in the Union. This is a truly remarkable phenomenon. A boy from a small place in Austria decided to make something out of him and started with body-building. He succeeded, got to America, found his way into the movies as Conan the Barbarian (which always irritated me, because I thought that Austria deserved better representation), and then realized the ancient Austrian dream. There is a Latin sentence all of us learned in history about how the Austrian empire came into being, "bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube." Others wage war, you happy Austria marry! The empire was not built by war; as a matter of fact the Austrians lost most of them, but by strategic marriages. To a boy from Thal in Styria to marry into the Kennedy clan surely must have seemed the "impossible dream." But he succeeded. The recall election, which was bitterly denounced by the incumbents, was indeed by the people for the people and an expression of grassroots democracy. Will the entrenched powers allow him to achieve his current goals as governor? We don't know yet, but he has made an excellent start. With Maria Shriver, JFK's eloquent and attractive niece at his side he can woo the Democrats, and his moderate Republican stance, which actually shades over to the liberal side anyway, allows him to govern from the center. When one adds to this a style which tends to make friends rather than enemies he should have a good chance, although Gary Trudeau author of the Doonesbury cartoon can't let go of Arnold's past history of petting desirable young women and demands an accounting. Trudeau was considerably less perturbed about President Clinton's escapades, but that's politics. The problems of California including its massive budget deficit are truly daunting but when one considers what Schwarzenegger had to overcome to get to where he is, he might be able to meet even this challenge and he deserves our best wishes.

Finally November is also the month of Thanksgiving and it might be appropriate, especially for our so called "secular citizens" to remember what this last Thursday of the month is supposed to be really all about. The last paragraph of the Proclamation as signed by George Washington on October 3, 1789 states,

"And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discretely and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows best."    

That was the prayer of the first president of our republic, and in the current climate of intense strife nothing seems more important than to devote ourselves to the realization of that goal. We cannot leave it up only to God; the work must be done by ourselves.





January 1, 2004

TODAY’S DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA



On Wednesday afternoon December 17, 2003 I received an e-mail message from David Irving inviting me to a next evening’s dinner meeting at a nearby local restaurant where he would be talking about comparisons between World War II events and the current situation in Iraq. I had met Mr. Irving several years ago when I had attended one of his annual conferences on “Real History” in Cincinnati and since I was not particularly impressed with the qualifications of the speakers I had not returned. But this is how I got on his e-mail list and since the meeting was only 15 minutes from our home I decided to go and hear what he had to say.
I knew, of course, that David Irving has aroused the ire of Jewish officials because he has publicly questioned not only the number but also the manner in which Jews were killed at the infamous Auschwitz death camp. For this he has been labeled a “Holocaust denier,” which is currently the most powerful epithet to use if one wants to destroy someone’s reputation. The label “anti-Semite” no longer seems to be strong enough, especially since some Jewish authorities insist that any critique of the policies of the state of Israel amounts to anti-Semitism. Inasmuch as this now involves the entire Muslim world as well as numerous European countries, “anti-Semites” seem to have multiplied to an extent to make the term meaningless. Therefore, “Holocaust denier” had to take its place.
David Irving acquired this title in a book by Deborah Lipstadt Denying the Holocaust. The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, published by the Penguin group in 1994. The book received high praise from The New York Times Book Review, New York Newsday and major newspapers from around the country. It is an impassioned plea to fully accept the current version of holocaust history and to abstain from further questions about details. I shall not go into a discussion of Professor Lipstadt’s book because she is a professional student of this tragedy occupying the “Dorot Chair in Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta,” although I have reservations about how she presents some of the data.
Since Mr. Irving felt that Ms. Lipstadt had unfairly slandered him he initiated a libel suit in Great Britain against her as well as Penguin books, the publishers. For reasons known only to him, Irving chose to act as his own attorney, while several high priced lawyers represented Lipstadt and Penguin books. The outcome was a foregone conclusion.
The dinner meeting was supposed to start at 6 pm with coffee in a room separate from but adjacent to the main dining area on the main floor of the restaurant When I arrived promptly at the stated hour there was only one other person present apart from Mr. Irving and members of his family. Therefore, I had a chance to talk to him in an informal manner and get a feeling of the kind of man he really is. He talked in a very rapid manner, with a somewhat clipped British accent and seemed to be preoccupied, looking nervously at the outside. Since my hearing is no longer quite what it was five years ago I had at times some difficulty understanding everything he said. This was compounded by music from the main dining area because the glass doors, which separated our room from the other guests, were open.
At the time of the mentioned Cincinnati meeting Irving stated that he would appeal the negative court decision and I was, therefore, curious about what had happened in the meantime. He told me that several appeals had been turned down, and that British authorities had also raided his home and confiscated all his archival material. His books, which had been his major source of income, have not only been removed from all major bookstores but even libraries, so that he is in serious financial difficulties. His appearances before groups, like the one I was presently attending, have been disrupted by protesters and he has been deported from Canada as well as Austria and been denied entry, among other countries, to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Italy. In England his printer’s office was firebombed. I was rather surprised and did not want to believe this because the man is not a wild eyed radical. He simply espouses and presents unconventional views, which should be tolerated in democratic countries where free speech is valued. There is no evidence that he ever advocated violence. Since I am by nature and profession a skeptic I thought that he was either exaggerating or paranoid. This feeling was reinforced by his furtive glances to the outside, which seemed to continuously distract his attention, and where I could not detect any problems. By 7 pm some individuals as well as a group of people flocked in and we had dinner. There were hardly more than a dozen people present and with one exception, a Vietnam veteran, they were all in their twenties or early thirties.
After dinner, the glass doors to the main dining area were closed and Irving started his talk. He drew a comparison about President Bush’s shifting reasons for the invasion of Iraq and those of Chamberlain and subsequently Churchill at the onset of WWII. America’s reasons from imminent threat by WMDs, through: connections to Al Qaeda, regime change, deposing a vicious dictator and establishing democracy in Iraq are, of course, known to everyone who reads the papers or pays attention to the news. The WWII events as seen from the British side are less well known. Irving explained that Chamberlain declared war on Germany because he had given a guarantee to the Polish government that if Germany attacked the country, England would come to its assistance. By the beginning of October of 1939 that question was moot because Poland no longer existed. It had been partitioned between Hitler and Stalin. Although Stalin was clearly a partner in the destruction of Poland, Chamberlain did not declare war on him because that was not feasible militarily. For England to reject Hitler’s peace offer of October 6 and continue with the war there had to be a new reason, and that was “the defense of the British Empire.” But this was an excuse because Hitler had no intention to rob the British of their Empire; on the contrary he wanted them to keep it so that the Nordic Brits would hold the “inferior races” around the world in check. When Churchill took over the government in May of 1940 he knew that England could not possibly win the war by itself and that he needed the Americans for that purpose. WWI had to be replayed. But since Roosevelt had absolutely no interest in defending the British Empire, and on the contrary would do everything in his power to abolish it, another reason for the war had to be advanced. This was the final one, “to rid the world of a megalomaniac dictator who would destroy Western civilization.”
All of this was no news to me or anyone else who has lived through WWII, although it does conflict with what people are being taught today as the history and origin of that war. Actually it occurred to me at the time of this writing that it wasn’t Hitler who had initiated the war on September 1, 1939. It was his partner, Stalin, when he had agreed to the partition of Poland on August 23. Had Stalin not entered into the non-aggression pact with Hitler and told him instead that he would oppose any change in Poland’s territorial integrity, Hitler would have abstained from his September invasion. A war against Russia, England and France was clearly beyond his military capabilities in 1939. But this is an aside, which belongs to subsequent thoughts rather than the events of December 18, 2003.
Irving’s talk was then interrupted with a message that the manager of the restaurant wanted to see him. When he returned a couple of minutes later he apologized that he has to cancel the meeting because the manager had ordered him to do so. I couldn’t believe that this could happen in our very own Sandy. That somebody was not allowed to give a quiet presentation to a dozen people was unimaginable. I, therefore, told him and the group to just sit tight while I talked to the manager in order to find out what was going on. I could only get the assistant manager who told me that there had been complaints about Mr. Irving’s presence and a group outside the restaurant was distributing leaflets to warn potential guests to stay away. When I looked outside I did not see a group and none of the diners in the main area seemed to be upset in any way. Nevertheless she was flanked by a deputy who I thought might be one of “Sandy’s finest,” but it turned out that he was in charge only of the complex where the restaurant was located. I told the deputy that Irving was giving no offense, any group which might have been there earlier must have left, the man wasn’t going to start a riot, so what was the harm to let him talk for another three quarters of an hour. Restaurant assistant manager and deputy seemed to agree, that as long as no employees entered the room it would be ok to continue for the stated period of time. I went back with “mission accomplished” and told Irving he could carry on with his presentation. He did, but not for long. He was called out again and came back with the message that it was indeed curtains. This attitude clearly aroused my feelings again because I am, after all, a resident of Sandy, a citizen of the United States, had patronized that restaurant before, and free speech was surely one of the reasons why I had come to the U.S. in the first place. Again I went out and demanded to speak with the general manager of the establishment. We talked on the phone; I explained my views and so did he. The problem was that the leaflet group had threatened to tell The Salt Lake Tribune that he was allowing a Holocaust denier to use his restaurant and this would surely drive potential future customers away. I pleaded again for another half hour reprieve and he said that if Irving does not call him personally within the next thirty minutes the deputies in charge of the complex were empowered to evict us.
I returned to the group explained what had happened and Irving continued in an obviously distracted fashion for another ten minutes or so when all of us thought it might be better to quit before the place was raided and his books, which he was trying to sell, were confiscated.
 
The January 1, 2003 installment of the Hot Issues was entitled “Deconstructing America” and I discussed in it the changes that have taken place in our country since I arrived here in 1950. I was, therefore, no longer quite naïve but the event described above was surely unexpected and had I not personally experienced it I would not have believed it. Are these the values our troops in Iraq are fighting and dying for? We must remember that this event took place not even in Salt Lake City with a more diverse population mix but in quiet, mostly Mormon, Sandy!
Irving was not paranoid, he had reason to fear, and leaflets had indeed been passed out by a group, which listed itself only as “The Holocaust History Project” with an Internet address www.holocaust-history.org. The group had apparently come after my arrival but the mentioned Vietnam vet with whom I had exchanged war stories gave me his. Under the title “Who is David Irving?” we find statements attributed to the London Times, “Britain’s leading anti-Semitic lunatic;” to Vice President Al Gore, “ That awful falsifier;” and to Judge Gray, “… he is an active Holocaust denier; … he is anti-Semitic and racist and he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo–Nazism.” These are just some samples, giving the reasons why Irving should be regarded as an “Unwelcome Guest.” 
Since Irving had told me earlier in private that a letter had been sent out by special interest groups to libraries requesting that his books be removed from their shelves I checked the website of the University of Utah library and indeed none of his books which were published after 1989 are available. When I looked at amazon.com only the 2002 hardcover update of Hitler’s War was available to be shipped within several weeks, others were listed as either out of stock or out of print. The Salt Lake County library system likewise has none of Irving’s books that were published after 1990. The greatest surprise came when I looked at the Library of Congress’ catalog. Hitler’s War is available in 1977 and 1990 editions but not in that of 2002. Rommel. The Desert Fox exists but the books about Goebbels and Hess do not. Furthermore, and most astounding, was that his book Nuremberg. The Last Battle is on the shelves but only in its German translation! Irving is now forced to self-promote through the website www.fpp.co.uk/books, and personal appearances which lead to the result described above.
I regard this entire situation as a terribly sad commentary on the current state of America’s democracy. Regardless of what one may think about Mr. Irving personally, or his views, there is a principle at stake. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are the most fundamental hallmarks of our constitution. It is true that groups have the right to pass out leaflets protesting a given person’s presence. It is also true that the manager of an establishment has the right to ask guests to leave when he is afraid that they might interfere with future earnings. But it is, furthermore, true that a climate of fear has been created in this country that effectively silences voices that challenge the currently accepted versions of history. This is a throwback to the Catholic church of the early renaissance when the dogma of the sun rotating around the earth was not to be doubted because the Bible said so. Scientific evidence was irrelevant. Nearly 500 years later we have advanced to the point where we no longer burn dissenters at the stake we just deprive them of their livelihood and ostracize them.
The ancient Jewish cherem, which was pronounced against Spinoza, has now taken the place of papal Bulls. The “Index of Forbidden Books” also seems to have been resurrected and is enforced by Jewish pressure groups rather than the Catholic Church. Let me make it clear that Jewish groups have a right to protest, like everybody else, but the fearful submission of the vast non-Jewish population to the demands of small pressure groups is truly appalling. It is also most remarkable that anyone is free to deny the virgin birth of Jesus, his stature as Son of God, or any other religious dogma but the Nazi holocaust has to be written nowadays with a capital H and is absolutely taboo. Scientific investigations are not allowed. The book has been closed, the canon set in cement!
I have used the word cherem, which stands for excommunication of members from the Jewish community, and it may be of interest to read an excerpt of the formula, which was pronounced over Spinoza in Amsterdam on July 27, 1656. It starts with:

“Having long known of the evil opinions and acts of Baruch de Spinoza they [the governing body] have endeavored by various means and promises, to turn him from his evil ways. But having failed to make him mend his wicked ways, and, on the contrary, daily receiving more and more serious information about the abominable heresies which he practiced and taught and about his monstrous deeds . . . the said Espinoza should be excommunicated and expelled from the people of Israel . . .”
“By decree of the angels and by the command of the holy men, we excommunicate, expel, curse and damn Baruch de Espinoza, with the consent of God, Blessed be He, and with consent of the entire congregation . . . Cursed be he by day and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lies down and cursed be he when he rises up. Cursed be he when he goes out and cursed be he when he comes in. The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book [Torah] shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name under heaven. And the Lord shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law. But you that cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day.”


I am indebted to Professor Lindemann of the University of California Santa Barbara campus for having provided me with the article by Asa Kasher and Shlomo Biderman: Why was Baruch de Spinoza Excommunicated? which served as the basis for the quotes. As one says in the German language: Kommentar ueberfluessig; the text speaks for itself.
Let me reemphasize that I am not talking primarily about Mr. Irving’s fate, regrettable as it is, but about the nature of our democracy and what we are allowing it to become. Discerning readers may already have noted that I borrowed the title of this essay from de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America first published in 1835. It is therefore of interest to read what this French world-traveling aristocrat told his contemporaries. He was a cautious optimist who predicted the spread of democracy throughout the world :

“The good things and the evils of life are more equally distributed in the world: great wealth tends to disappear, the number of small fortunes to increase; desires and gratifications are multiplied, but extraordinary prosperity and irremediable penury are alike unknown . . . Each individual stands apart in solitary weakness; but society at large is active, provident, and powerful: the performances of private persons are insignificant those of the state immense. . . . There is less perfection, but more abundance, in all the productions of the arts. The ties of race, of rank, and the country are relaxed; the great bond of humanity is strengthened . . . A state of equality is perhaps less elevated, but it is more just; and its justice constitutes its greatness and its beauty.”

De Tocqueville also warned:

“That men living in aristocratic countries may, strictly speaking, do without the liberty of the press: but such is not the case with those live in democratic countries. To protect their personal independence I trust not to great political assemblies, to parliamentary privilege, or the assertion of popular sovereignty. All these things may, to a certain extent, be reconciled with personal servitude. But that servitude cannot be complete if the press is free: the press is the chief democratic instrument of freedom. . . . I perceive mighty dangers which it is possible to ward off, - mighty evils which may be avoided or alleviated; and I cling with a firmer hold to the belief, that, for democratic nations to be virtuous and prosperous, they require but to will it.”

More than a century and a half later democracy is indeed spreading throughout the world and its strengths and weaknesses are becoming more apparent on a daily basis. We are currently losing our freedom of the press, the only guarantor of personal freedom, and fear instead of confidence rules. Fear of losing income, prestige, or job, allows small groups with access to the press to muzzle those who do not toe the prescribed line. Those of us who do not agree with this increasing trend need to speak out. David Irving is not alone in his plight to get his books circulated. Gordon Thomas, the author of Gideon’s Spies, has also run afoul of the Anti- Defamation League. Barnes&Noble withdrew its support for his latest book Seeds of Fire and his book promotion interviews on national radio and TV were cancelled. The facts which led up to this event can be found on his website www.gordonthomas.ie under “The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith.”
One truly wonders what has happened to the citizens of this country who were told in the past, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Our media are full of praise for having rescued the Iraqis from the fear of Saddam, yet hardly any attention is being paid to the fear that is generated at home. The word fear is, of course, shunned. It has been replaced by the German angst, spelled with a lower case A, apparently in an attempt to hide the real situation. Benjamin Barber has recently published a book, which I became acquainted with in its German translation. Imperium der Angst. Die USA und die Neuordnung der Welt is its title in German. The original English language title was Fear’s Empire. Terrorism, War and Democracy. Our neoconservatives believe that they can rule the world through military power. First come intimidation and subsequently, when the opposing country is weak, occupation. This seems to be the new morality and those who are in charge of our policies act surprised when they find that the rest of the world is no longer enamored with America. Jewish authorities complain about rising anti-Semitism but fail to understand that actions like the ones described above will not make people any fonder of Jews. The dozen or so people who were at David Irving’s meeting were not neo-Nazis or rabid fanatics, they were simply curious to hear another version of history and subsequently debate its merits or flaws in a civilized manner. Should it be surprising when some of these people may subsequently feel animosity against “the Jews,” and not distinguish between militant zealots and the common Jewish people who likewise feel concern about these tactics of intimidation? The end should not justify the means.

There is perhaps no better final comment on today’s situation in America than the cartoon from Singapore that appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune a few days ago.







February 1, 2004

RETROSPECTION AND INTROSPECTION



This is an anniversary of sorts because it has been three years since the Hot Issues were first started. As such it is an appropriate time to look back not only in terms of what has transpired but also to find out where my opinions have been proven wrong.

The most glaring error was, of course, my faith in the incoming Bush administration but it would have required a personal acquaintance with the president to foresee how he would really conduct himself in office. Furthermore, ordinary citizens who are far distant from the levers of power, could not have predicted the 9/11 catastrophe. On the other hand the probable results of the policy decisions after this tragedy could be inferred by reasonable people. Thus, the Hot Issues clearly fall into two sections. The first one deals with events from February - October 2001 and the second part with those that occurred thereafter. They demonstrate clearly how one Bush voter was first full of hope and then became progressively more and more disenchanted with the conduct of our current administration. This is important not because of my vote, which does not matter in the large scheme of things, but the reasons for my disenchantment have wider implications as will become apparent later on.

For now let us start, however with the first essay entitled "The Ashcroft Nomination." In it I defended the appointment of Senator Ashcroft to Attorney General of the United States against attacks by Democrats. They had complained about Ashcroft's statement that "Jesus is our King," because he thereby violated the separation of the Church and State amendment of the Constitution. Ashcroft had done so in a setting of a speech before students at a religious university with an unusually strict moral code and I did not regard it as objectionable in that setting. As matter of fact it brought to mind the same phrase uttered by Cardinal Innitzer from the pulpit of St. Stephens Cathedral in Vienna in October 1938, after he had seen what Hitler and the Nazis really stood for. But this is also the point where the comparison ends. Innitzer had held worldly power prior to March 13, 1938 and lost it thereafter while Ashcroft ascended to it in 2001. Innitzer became a genuine Christian by helping victims of Nazi persecutions, while Ashcroft became a persecutor especially after 9/11. I don't doubt his personal devotion to his faith but his life merely shows that it is difficult, if not impossible, to follow Jesus' teachings while holding political office.

Let us stay with John Ashcroft for a moment. Even if he had not personally crafted the so called "Patriot Act," he condoned it and now continues to defend its practices. The very name of this piece of legislation is inaccurate and simply a propaganda tool because true patriots guard our liberties rather than destroy them in the name of national security. We do not need laws which allow the government to enter our homes without a search warrant, to find out which books or videos we check out from libraries, to arrest and hold us incommunicado without charge for an unspecified time and similar insults simply because somebody thought that we might be "terrorists." Mr. Ashcroft has even seen fit to allow the establishment of a concentration camp, which is obviously not called by that name. Everybody knows that "Camp Delta" exists in Guantanamo, just as we knew in Nazi Germany that Dachau existed. But neither did we know then what really went on in Dachau nor do we know now the conditions of the prisoners in Guantanamo. As a matter of fact Himmler did allow the Red Cross to visit Dachau and Theresienstadt after they had been spruced up for the visit. Mr. Ashcroft has yet to do so. Not only are the Red Cross and Red Crescent barred but so are the media. The main difference between Camp Delta and the Nazis seems to be that the fences are not electrified and the prisoners are not worked to death, just caged. In both instances the prisoners are regarded as undesirables and national security risks by the government. In the Nazi era they were considered opponents to the regime either on religious or political grounds, while here they are labeled "Taliban," "Al Quaeda" or simply "terrorists." The names of the people who are held in Guantanamo or the actual crime they are accused of having committed have never been published and they are simply held under the mentioned generic terms, just as Jews or communists could be sent to KZs (as they were called) not for anything they had actually done but simply on a "pre-emptive" basis.

The German and Austrian people have been, and to some extent still are, accused by some that they tolerated the repressive unjust regime, and especially the concentration camps, without speaking out. The people who do so have never lived under a totalitarian system of government because it would have meant volunteering for KZ or death by guillotine which had been renamed "Fallbeil." What I find so remarkable, however, is that in our country where we still have some freedom of speech there is hardly anyone in the media or even among Democrats in Congress who brands Guantanamo as a disgrace on America's honor. Consider for a moment the massive outcry that would have resulted if the prisoners were Jews instead of Arabs. There is a double standard in regard to human rights and we must face up to it. Once you label somebody his fate is sealed, his individuality and with it all civil rights are gone. To order or even condone these abuses of power is incompatible with the Christian religion and this is the tragedy of Attorney General Ashcroft's tenure.

The second mistaken belief on my part was that I thought politicians in our country are reasonable people who listen to their constituents. This is why I published Whither Zionism? as a short booklet, which provides facts that they can read on the plane to and from their constituencies. This would allow them to cast intelligent votes on matters pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict which was bound to get worse unless the United States made its weight felt. To make sure that they had access to the publication I put my money where my keyboard was and sent it to everyone in power. The result was, of course, predictable. The booklet got intercepted by the various staffs and promptly disappeared in the proverbial circular file. But even if you have the good luck to be able to see your Congressman or Senator in person and hand it to him he'll still ignore the contents as documented in the June 2001 issue "Metaphysical Guilt," and the September 2002 issue "October Surprise?."

Nevertheless these efforts were not totally in vain because losing illusions and facing reality is always helpful. There was another aspect where my prognostications have not yet come true. Yassir Arafat has proved more resilient and Sharon less determined than I had assumed in April 2002. The Israelis abstained from killing or deporting him although they were on course in regard to the other aspects mentioned in that article entitled "Palestinian State or Israeli Protectorate." Arafat clearly proved himself a survivor and if Sharon were indeed to lose his job over the bribery scandal, which wends its way currently through the Israeli legal system, he would have outlasted yet another Israeli Prime Minister. One is reminded of Castro in this respect. They stare down their respective superpower for decades and retain the loyalty of a fair proportion of their people in spite of providing mainly misery for them.

The Afghan invasion, which I regarded as unfortunate has not brought about the result the administration had hoped for. The Taliban are regrouping and although the Afghans now have a Constitution on paper, Karzai is still mainly the mayor of Kabul and international relief agencies are weary of going into the provinces, which are ruled by warlords. The Iraq predictions were unfortunately on target and the outcome of that experiment to bring democracy to the Arab people is still highly doubtful.

In all of these events the Bush administration has shown its true colors. In retrospect it has become obvious that our president had no intention to ever bring the Palestinians and Israelis to the peace table and that he espoused a hands-off policy, which has turned into a disaster for all parties concerned including us. Our policies are now hated by most of the Arab world because our "honest broker" stance has been exposed as a sham. In addition it has become obvious that we really have no use for genuine democracy in the Arab world not even in Iraq. A caucus system of election, as espoused by our government and resisted by the Iraqis, is no substitute for one person one vote, cast in secrecy, which is the true hallmark of democracy. We don't want democracies in the Middle East; we want client states that do what they are told, especially in regard to their oil resources. In addition we are very happy to have a dictator like Musharraf in charge of Pakistan rather than democratically elected Mullahs who would then have their fingers on atomic weapons. The administration was also not very pleased with Turkey's democracy when their lawmakers refused to allow our troops to invade Iraq from the north. While the White House justifies its conduct with "bringing democracy to the oppressed" it has become obvious that this is merely a slogan in order to gain public approval. To tell the truth to the American people about the much more mundane reasons for invading other countries or pressuring them by other means into obedience is simply not feasible politically. You can't get elected to public office, or if appointed retain it, when you speak the truth as you see it.

This brings me to David Suskind's book about the experiences of the former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill. The Price of Loyalty has received some praise in Democratic circles and vituperation from Republicans especially in the weekly journal Human Events. Although not all the details and impressions contained in the book may be accurate there are important aspects, which shed light on the Bush administration in general and the president in person. According to the book Mr. O'Neill was about to retire as Chairman of the Board of Alcoa when he was approached by his long-term friend Dick Cheney to join the Bush administration. O'Neill had served with Cheney under Presidents Nixon, Ford and Bush senior but was reluctant to enter public service again. He had a good job, made lots of money and his wife was against a move back to Washington. His main reluctance stemmed, however, from the fact that he was an outspoken person who told the truth as he saw it, did not mince words and he didn't know how this would work in Washington's politicized climate. As it turned out he should have listened to his wife because his tenure lasted only two years. The reason why was so unceremoniously fired by Dick Cheney in December 2002 was a profound disagreement with the administration about fiscal policy. O'Neill and his long-standing friend Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, were fiscally conservative. They disliked deficit financing and were never enthused about the Bush tax-cuts, to rescue the economy from the doldrums. They did not trust the fanciful projections of massive surpluses over the next ten years and suggested that if taxes were to be cut provisions should also be enacted that if the surplus projections were proven wrong the cuts would no longer be continued. When O'Neill stated that he saw no reason for a further tax cut after the November 2002 election, especially with the Iraq war on the horizon, he had exhausted the president's patience with this "maverick."

As it so happens The Salt Lake Tribune published last week the actual surplus and deficit figures from 1970-2004 as well as the projections for 2005-2008. There were only four years of surplus from 1998-2001 and as expected from the administration's response to 9/11 the deficit not only resumed in 2002 but is expected to soar to 477 billion dollars during the current fiscal year. A Secretary of the Treasury is supposed to be prudent but that was not tolerated by Bush, and the conservative Human Events praises the new Treasury Secretary Snow for going along with the wishes of the administration. Some of the tax cuts slated to expire soon are, according to the president's recent State of the Union speech, to be made permanent in spite of the fact that we may not be able to afford them. A federal tax cut, which not only leads to higher state and local taxes but also progressively higher interest payments on the massive debt can't be good for the average tax payer. But politicians are not swayed by reality; electoral votes count and John Q Public is not supposed to think.

All of this would not necessarily have raised substantial Republican ire had O'Neill abstained from giving his impression on how our president governs and compared it with the habits of previous presidents he had served under. Mr. Bush II's stature as chief executive of the US does not come off well even in comparison with his father. Although there may be a case of "sour grapes" in his assessment there are nuggets which suggest the type of person our president really is.

O'Neill had not known George W. Bush personally before he was summoned to Washington by Dick Cheney in December of 2000 to meet with the President-elect. The message was clear: O'Neill's concerns were noted but dismissed and the $1.6 trillion tax cut Bush had promised during the election campaign was carved in stone. "You've got to pursue what you said you're going to pursue. And I I'm not going to negotiate with myself. I don't do that." Keeping promises is obviously an admirable trait, and so is steadfastness but when it turns into obstinacy, an inability to change one's mind when circumstances demand a different approach it becomes dangerous in a chief executive and especially when he is president of the United States. O'Neill allowed himself to be persuaded to take the job in the hope that he might be able to steer the new and relatively inexperienced administration onto a responsible course. The second time he met the president was in the Oval Office on January 24, 2001 where he was confronted with reality. O'Neill had known about the president's penchant to affix nicknames on everybody but to be greeted with "Pablo" was somewhat of a shocker. Although it may have been meant as a gesture of friendliness it was inappropriate because it showed lack of respect for a person who was clearly his senior in age as well as professional experience in the field. Henceforth he was Pablo until a year or so later he became the "Big O" which was likewise no compliment because it is the trade mark of an automobile tire company. Little things like that matter; they allow one to take the measure of a person.

O'Neill reported that he had come prepared for the January meeting with answers to questions he had expected to be asked but none were forthcoming from the president. Bush sat impassively listened to his Treasury secretary's monologue for more than fifty minutes and when the hour was up the meeting ended with Bush telling O'Neill: "Get me a plan on global warming." Global warming had simply been an afterthought on O'Neill's mind to fill the time for the last five minutes of what was supposed to have been a discussion on how to best manage the country's economy and finances. Sure, global warming is important and has financial implications but it really was in the bailiwick of the Environmental Protection Agency under Christie Whitman.

The president's defenders attacked O'Neill for his characterization of Bush being aloof during meetings and leaving the cabinet ministers in doubt about what he was really thinking, but I am inclined to believe O'Neill because his experience with Bush as related above was identical to mine with our Congressman as reported here in the June 2001 installment on "Metaphysical Guilt." I was granted an interview where I explained to Mr. Matheson that America's policy toward Israel is short-sighted and he should take the contents of Whither Zionism?, which I put in his hand, to heart. He sat impassively like a Buddha for twenty minutes, then thanked me and that was it. There was not a single question why I thought the way I did or on anything else. This was the attitude of my congressman, but I thought that the president at least would be more inclined to a give and take exchange of views with his cabinet officers who after all are supposed to have the expertise he cannot be expected to have in all areas. That he did not do so is troubling.

So is Mr. Bush's management style. As reported previously he is disinclined to read newspapers and magazines but relies on "Condi" or "Dick," as the case may be, to feed him the information he is supposed to have. Independent verification of their opinions does not seem to have a priority for our president. At the first National Security Council meeting on January 30, 2001 the president announced: "Condi will run these meetings. I'll be seeing all of you regularly, but I want you to debate things out here and then Condi will report to me. She's my national security advisor."

This stance is highly problematic. The president is responsible for the security of the United States, not a political appointee regardless of how gifted she or he may be. Not to know first hand the discussions which these meetings are supposed to provide and to rely on a filtered version may border on dereliction of duty. I believe this may be the basic reason why the White House is not releasing pertinent documents to Congress and the Independent Commission which has been created to elucidate the antecedents of the 9/11 tragedy. The administration is also dead set against extending the term of the commission, which is supposed to have its report ready during the spring of this year. Under those circumstances the American public cannot expect to have the truth revealed because under the guise of National Security documents are withheld and underlings blamed. Who makes the decisions, apart from the president, as to which documents can and should be released? As far as we know these persons are: Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Karl Rove and possibly Karen Hughes. Each one of these people has their own agenda and divulging the truth to Congress or the media may not be on the list.

This situation carries even greater danger in the current election campaign where the main Republican issue is likely to be a "proven strong national security policy." If vital issues of national security and the economy are indeed ideology driven, as Suskind's book suggests, a second term for the president may lead to even greater difficulties for the country than we are experiencing already. Secretary of State Powell has indicated that he may not want to continue in another Bush administration, which given the facts as they have evolved over the past three years is perfectly understandable. It has also been reported in the press that Paul Wolfowitz may be his likely successor. This would be in all probability a disaster because he has little or no credibility abroad.

When one looks at the current field of Democratic contenders for the Presidency there is also reason for concern. Senator Kerry seems to be a decent and competent person but to what extent he would pursue as president the leftist positions he has espoused in the campaign is an open question. My colleague, Dr. Dean, has in my eyes disqualified himself by his inappropriate outburst in Iowa. He had come in third and acted like a coach whose high-school football team had just had just won a game and they are now on the road to a national title. Senator Edwards is not likely to get any votes from physicians because as the foremost trial lawyer specializing in suing them he will not win friends in those circles. More importantly, his political position seems to be even further to the left than that of Kerry. General Clark, the latecomer, did not handle himself well in the New Hampshire debate among Democratic contenders. The question why he became a Democrat after having previously supported the Republicans could have been answered in a straightforward manner. All he needed to have said was, that the Republican Party had been highjacked by the neoconservatives and led down a road many Republicans cannot condone. The question why he did not distance himself from Roger Moore, when the latter asserted that president Bush had deserted from the National Guard during the Vietnam war, could also have been answered more cogently. The issue arose from a report that Bush had not shown up for duty when he was supposed to have; but this report has never been followed up. General Clark could have pointed to that report and said: "I don't know if this report is true or not, but I shall inquire and let you know what the facts are." Those answers would have given him credibility, which the General currently lacks. The other three remaining candidates: Senator Lieberman, Dennis Kucinich and the Reverend Sharpton are not in serious contention and are likely to drop out from the race within the next month or so.

In sum and substance, the U.S. voter will be confronted with a very difficult choice. The Bush administration with its hallmark of secrecy, the manner how vital decisions are reached and false assertions to get the country into the Iraq war does not inspire confidence. Unless the Democrats manage to put forth a candidate and a goal most Americans can agree with, the turnout in November may be even lower than in past elections.

In the meantime promises will be made by both sides, the country will be allowed to drift and the oligarchy in the White House will concentrate on re-election. If the outcome were to be in serious doubt the country and the world might even have to brace themselves for another foreign policy adventure. Going gently into the night does not seem to be the White House's style. I am saying this because of two small items in Suskind's book. There seems to be a vindictive streak in the administration which the country has usually associated with President Nixon's enemy list. Suskind reported in the Epilogue that the former head of the "Faith-based Initiative" John Dilulio had sent him a memo: "articulating his concerns that the administration lacked even the most basic policy apparatus and was being run by the 'Mayberry Machiavellis,' his description of the political operation directed by Karl Rove." This memo formed the centerpiece of an article Suskind had published in Esquire. As a result of that publication DiIulio received calls from the White House and retracted the statements he had made calling them "groundless and baseless," which were the identical words White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer had used earlier in a press conference. Suskind related the story to O'Neill with the obvious implication how he would react when pressure was put on him by the powers for the statements he had made to Suskind about the administration's modus operandi. O'Neill reflected and then said to Suskind: "'But here's the difference. I am an old guy and I'm rich. And there's nothing they can do to hurt me.'"

After the book was published O'Neill gave an interview on Sixty Minutes, where he repeated the statements made here. I saw the interview and felt that he had handled himself in a somewhat detached manner to the extent that he even waved a document before the camera which had "Secret" stamped on it. Next day the storm broke. He was threatened with a law suit for distributing secret government documents, and the former Secretary who thought that he had nothing to fear for telling the truth as he saw it, recanted. As we said in our family when we discussed the situation: "They got to him!"




March 1, 2004

THE SILLY SEASON



What has been dubbed "the silly season," namely the quadrennial circus of presidential election campaigns is in full swing. Sordid charges and countercharges fill the airwaves as well as the print media, while the real business governments are elected for has to take a back seat. Neither side wants to offend its core constituencies, which leads to the postponement of unpopular decisions. This may not be so easy this time because America can hardly afford in this day and age to waste practically the rest of the year on internal squabbles, which will become progressively more vicious and each side will blame the other for "negative" campaigning and "dirty tricks."

The world will, however, not take a vacation until Americans have decided who is going to lead them for the next four years. On the contrary, America's perceived turning inwards is likely to encourage others to take advantage of this seeming vacuum at the top and may make the rest of this year one of the more dangerous ones for the world. The Middle East is in turmoil. Sharon has a green light to do whatever he wants until the end of next January, or possibly beyond if Bush wins, and he will surely use this once in a lifetime opportunity. He is building his wall on occupied land, raids Palestinian banks and as a matter of policy assassinates leading Palestinians all under the name of fighting terrorism. Iraq's occupation, with concomitant loss of lives and property will have to continue even if we stick to the July deadline of turning power over to the Iraqis because a nation, especially one based on tribal loyalties, can't be rebuilt in a few months or a year.

The real problem is that America's 9/11 catastrophe was a Godsend to certain circles because President Bush turned what was a crime immediately into a war. This was a fundamental mistake and has opened the door to all the disasters that have already followed and will continue to come to pass. Even if there were to be a "regime change" in Washington next January the clock cannot be turned back to September 10, 2001. Events have been set in motion that can no longer be undone. I have always maintained that the 9/11 tragedy was a crime rather than an act of war because private organizations cannot make war. They can rob, kill, maim, and destroy property on a previously unprecedented scale but war has always been the final outcome of a dispute between states. A state has to commit aggression for war to ensue. The pretext for invading somebody else's country because it harbored terrorists has in the past been regarded as a prerogative of empires run by an aristocracy, or after their demise that of totalitarian dictatorships. "Democracies don't make war" has been the slogan dutifully recited at least since Wilson and this is why the "world has to be made safe for democracy." The Bush administration has taught us that this was merely rhetoric and that whoever has the power in a given arena will use it for perceived gain, regardless of what the electorate wants.

While the rationale for even the Afghan invasion was not quite as lily white as administration supporters made it out to have been there was no question that the Taliban government did indeed harbor Osama and his Al Qaeda fanatics. But as subsequent information has proven Afghanistan was a sideshow. The goal had always been Middle East oil. This was one of the reasons why Saddam had to be removed from power by the Bush administration even if there had never been a 9/11. Israel's security and a personal hatred by Bush jr. for Saddam were the other two essential ingredients. It was a personal vendetta against the man who had retained his power in spite of a devastating defeat while the victor, Bush senior, lost his job. This was not allowed to go unpunished as Kevin Phillips in American Dynasty. Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush tells us. Weapons of mass destruction and atrocities by Saddam were excellent pretexts for the war but not the cause of it. The coming together of these three ingredients: Oil, Israel and Personal Revenge made the Iraq invasion foreordained. Although 9/11 was the catalyst, it was neither the necessary nor sufficient cause.

In the process of writing these lines another war against a country which harbored terrorists came to mind. It was none other than the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As mentioned in War and Mayhem private secret nationalistic terrorist groups in Serbia, the Narodna Odbrana and the Black Hand, dedicated themselves to the destruction of their powerful neighbor in the north and were responsible for the assassination of the Archduke and his wife on June 28, 1914. But the ruling circles in Vienna used this crime as a pretext to declare war on Serbia although the government of that country had not been involved in the crime and had actually made wide-ranging concessions to cooperate with the investigations to bring the culprits to justice. We know the outcome of that pre-emptive war against a state harboring terrorists and all our current troubles can be laid at the feet of the decision makers in the summer of 1914. But the war could have remained limited to Europe, had England stayed out of it. Although Germany's invasion of Belgium was officially proclaimed as the reason for England's entry into the war, it was not the real cause, and her overseas empire made it into a worldwide war.

As Niall Ferguson writes in Empire. The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power: "[Germany's invasion of] Belgium was a useful pretext. The Liberals went to war for two reasons: first, because they feared the consequences of a German victory over France, imagining the Kaiser as a new Napoleon, bestriding the Continent and menacing the Channel coast." Ferguson then goes on to state that even if the fear was legitimate both political parties of the time, the Liberals and the Conservatives, should have acted earlier to prevent a potential German menace. But the second reason, and this is where we enter familiar territory, was that: "By 1914 Herbert Asquith's government was on the verge of collapse. Given the failure of their foreign policy to avert a European war, he and his Cabinet colleagues ought indeed to have resigned. But they dreaded the return to Opposition. More, they dreaded the return of the Conservatives to power. They went to war partly to keep the Tories out."

These are some of the real reasons why countries went to war then, why they do so now and why the rest of this year is potentially so dangerous. To understand this danger we need to look at the men behind Bush. I do indeed mean men in the sense of male because although "Condi" had influence in the past she seems to have at best been a reluctant player and has already announced that she will be leaving the administration in January regardless of who wins the election. Prior to July 2002 there was another woman in the White House to whom Bush listened and who ran the show for him. She was Karen Hughes who had guided, together with Karl Rove, his election campaigns in Texas and for the White House. She got high marks from everyone who had been in contact with her but she left the administration at the mentioned time. The ostensible reason was that her husband and teenage son were quite unhappy in Washington and everybody wanted to get back to Texas. These are noble sentiments which probably did play a significant role but my clinical mind suspects that there may have been another reason. She must have seen the inexorable push toward the Iraq war which was hyped by Karl Rove for winning the November midterm elections. If she was indeed as smart as people report, she may well have had second thoughts about the wisdom of this enterprise and quietly left the scene before shouldering part of the blame for this experiment in first ruining a nation and then putting it back together in whatever fashion.

In July 2002 Ron Suskind published an article in Esquire (available on the Internet): "Mrs. Hughes Takes Her Leave," which is well worth reading. The caption states in bold print: "The single most influential adviser to the president of the United States is going home to Texas with her family to live a simpler life. Perhaps Andy Card, the White House chief of staff, says it best: Oh, God.'" The reasons why her departure was regarded by knowledgeable people with such a sense of foreboding are as follows. Suskind quotes Card: "She's irreplaceable. The cost of her absence will be huge. . . . Listen, the president's in a state of denial about what Karen's departure will mean, so is the First Lady, and so is Karen herself. The whole balance of the place [the White House], the balance of what has worked up to now for George Bush is gone. My biggest concern? Want to know what it is? That the president will lose confidence in the White House Staff. Because without her, we'll no longer provide the president what he needs, what he demands. Karen and her family, will be fine. It's the president I'm concerned about. . . . She's leaving when the president has one of the highest approval ratings on record. From here it can only go down. . . . The key balance around here has been between Karen and Karl Rove. . . . That's what I've been doing from the start of the administration. Standing on the middle of the seesaw, with Karen on one side, Karl on the other, trying to keep it in balance. One of them just jumped off. . . . Karl will miss Karen. He may not want to admit it to the level he should, but he'll miss Karen a lot. . . . It's like she's a beauty to Karl's beast."

When the "beauty" resigned the "beast" was left in charge. Suskind explains the difference between these two people who were: "the president's right hand and his left. Rove is much more the ideologue, a darling of the Right, who often swings a sharp sword of partisanship on matters of policy and politics. Hughes always more pragmatic, mindful of how to draw the most support across a balkanized political terrain, somehow figures how to beat that sword into a plowshare. That is at the core of what has worked so well politically for the president. Both have been with Bush for many years - Rove first met the president twenty nine years ago - and are ferocious personalities."

Well, Card was correct. Karen Hughes was irreplaceable. Karl Rove was now in complete charge of policy and although he won the November 2002 elections for Bush the subsequent downhill slide in the president's approval, shortly interrupted by the early Iraq success, began and is likely to continue. Suskind's article also explains the difference between the president's rhetoric during the campaign of being "a uniter and not a divider" and his subsequent actions in office, which polarized the country even further. It seems that Karen Hughes was actually the uniter, rather than the president, and it was she who smoothed out the sharp ideologic bent of Rove.

Which brings us to the next question. Who is Karl Rove? There are two recent books about him: Boy Genius. Karl Rove, the Brains Behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of Georg W. Bush by Dubose, Reid and Cannon; and Bush's Brain. How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential by Moore and Slater. The portrait which emerges from these books is that of a political consultant who is highly intelligent but also totally ruthless in pursuit of his goal. This can be summarized in the desire to create a conservative political majority in the country which will outlast a given president and endure for at least a generation. It is to be achieved by handpicking personable, conservative candidates for public office, be it on the state or federal level, and overseeing their election to the desired job. The borders of Congressional districts may be redrawn to maximize his candidate's chances and no effort is spared to annihilate the opposing candidate even to the point of character assassination. His guiding light is Machiavelli's The Prince and since he is in charge of the current election campaign he will do anything whatsoever to ensure the president's victory. In as much as this may even include starting another "preemptive" war his dealings must be exposed and should be legitimate targets for the Democrats. To focus on Bush who is a likeable person but a political lightweight is, in my opinion, mistaken. The opposition should instead concentrate on the people who really run the show. Their conduct should be scrutinized in a non-malicious but thorough manner. Democrats should: expose Rove's dealings and dirty tricks; expose Cheney's current connections to the oil and military procurement magnates; expose Rumsfeld's early and relentless push for war regardless of justification; and expose Wolfowitz's as well as Perle's connections with the state of Israel. If all of this were brought to the attention of the general public not just in books, which only a few people read, but on the TV talk shows, the Bush presidency would be finished. But who has the courage to do so?

Are the Democrats really capable of defeating Rove? One may wonder. The field of candidates has narrowed down to two since last month. Lieberman, Clark and Dean have called it quits and although Kucinich and Sharpton are still theoretically in the race they have no chance of winning and they know it. Even Edwards is not likely to get the nomination because Kerry has won so far all but two primaries or caucuses while Edwards won only once. Although he denies it, he may be running for the Vice-presidency.

Conventional wisdom has it that Kerry will be the nominee at the Convention in Boston and will give Bush a run for his money. This will be difficult because Bush has already twice as much as he could possibly need and Karl will spare no effort to dig up whatever dirt he can on the gaunt senator. One effort to smear him as a Clinton clone with an intern scandal has already failed but that will hardly be the last. We are just warming up for the "silly season." Although Kerry will have the votes of all the "progressives" this may not be enough to get him over the top, especially since Ralph Nader has rediscovered his indispensability for the welfare of the American people. The Bushies could not be more delighted and Karl may buy him a dinner in November.

There is potentially another scenario if Kerry were made to stumble or implode. Gore has committed political suicide by first endorsing Dr. Dean, without even telling his former running mate Joe Lieberman beforehand, and then by putting on, in all seriousness, an imitation of Dean's Iowa performance which was painful or hilarious to watch depending on one's political viewpoint. This leaves us with the junior senator from New York our former First Lady. No one has any doubt that a return to the White House with Bill as First Husband in tow is Hillary Clinton's abiding dream and she, like Karl Rove, will do anything to make her dream a reality. Right now it is assumed that she will be running for the presidency in 2008 when after eight years of Bush the country will be ready for her. On the other hand if there were to be a major stumble by Kerry she might "consent" to being "drafted" during the Democratic Convention. This would be a desperation move by the Democrats, because she can't win this time around. On the other hand the Democrats might want to write this election off and give her a chance to test the waters for the real event in 2008.

This is how politics are played in our country and the article by Günter Nenning in Vienna's Kronenzeitung, supplied to me by my brother, entitled "Three Cheers for America!" (Hoch Amerika!) is premature. Nenning, an old Social Democrat in both senses of the word, congratulated us to the self correcting powers of democracy. He told his readers that Americans first elected the wrong guy but now comes Kerry, the new hero, to the rescue. This is his hope anyway. But not so fast Dr. Nenning: remember Stalin; both of us do. One of his classic statements was: "It doesn't matter who votes what matters is who counts the votes." As we have seen in the fall of 2000, no truer words were ever spoken. Vote counting is likely to become a major issue in the upcoming election. There are no uniform standards across this vast country of ours how the votes are being cast in the first place and then tallied. It'll all be high tech in most states where you merely touch the name of your candidate and/or your party of choice on a computer screen and presto your vote is registered. What senior citizens' trembling fingers and poor eyesight will really accomplish in this way is a good question. What glitches will there be in the computer programs that can either invalidate your vote or send it to some other candidate? Let us remember Miami in 2000 where an inordinate number of Jewish voters endorsed Pat Buchanan whom they regard as anathema. The issue of the actual voting process and who the company is which writes the software has not yet been publicly addressed to the best of my knowledge. Nevertheless, it is likely to become a major point of contention. Unless Karl Rove sends us into another war this election may well turn into another cliff hanger and might again be resolved by judicial fiat rather than the will of the people.





April 1, 2004

MEL GIBSON'S PASSION


"Were you there, when they crucified my Lord? . . . . Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble . . ." is an old gospel hymn, which has somehow gone out of favor. But Mel Gibson took us there and produced what I regard as a Rorschach test. Each viewer saw what his preconceptions and conditioning led him to see and the criticisms, which were so vigorously expressed simply prove the point. How else are we to understand a review in The New Yorker which called it, "a sickening, unilluminating, and ignorant show . . . . It's a deeply angry film, and one wonders how believers can react to it with anything but guilt, fear, or loathing." On the other hand a Christian lady, as reported in U.S. News & World Report, felt: "'It's hardly more graphic than the junk many adults allow their kids to see on TV. And this violence', she said, 'has a purpose.'"

The most vociferous protests came from some Jewish intellectuals of the secular as well as religious variety who felt that the film depicts anti-Semitism and would lend fuel to currently increasing anti-Jewish sentiments around the world. But Christian theologians and biblical historians also found fault with the film apart from its excessive violence. They complained that Gibson was loose with the facts because he picked from the four gospels those aspects which suited his aim and thereby violated their historicity. But most of all he neglected to drum into the audience that Jesus was a Jew who suffered his fate because the Romans didn't like Jews and especially Jesus whom they regarded as a rabble rouser. It was also argued that Pilate, a cruel autocrat, was portrayed as wishy-washy, which does not conform to the picture drawn by ancient Jewish historians such as Josephus and Philo.

Although I am not a theologian I did acquaint myself fairly intimately with the Old as well as the New Testament during the years after retirement from professional duties, and I also devoted myself to studying historical sources dealing with Greco-Roman times. This was brought about by my attempt to understand anti-Semitism, to which I had been personally exposed during Nazi times. The first result was War&Mayhem, which gave my version of the events of WWII and why the leaders in the various countries did what they did. Since this personal history conflicts to some extent with what is officially taught in schools and in the media the book failed the publishing test. It was rejected not only by editors of major publishing firms but even agents did not want to expose themselves to unorthodox views. In as much as I felt sufficiently strongly about the topic I went subsequently the print on demand route. At the same time I began working on The Moses Legacy because in my opinion the Second World War would probably not have achieved its world wide dimension and attendant atrocities without the Nazis' persecution of Jews.

These books were written because I do not share the simple minds of others who merely declare anybody they don't like as "evil" and be done with it. As a scientist and student of human behavior I want to know why people do what they do. This included Nazis and why they hated Jews with such vigor. In The Moses Legacy I traced anti-Jewish sentiments from biblical and extra-biblical sources throughout the ages and demonstrated their reasons. But the legacy of Moses did not end with Jews, it led to Christianity and subsequently to the Muslim religion. This puts us squarely into the current Middle East dilemma and our War on Terrorism which cannot be understood without its biblical background. Therefore, while Moses made his rounds to publishers, I began working on the next book "Understanding Jesus," which brings us to Gibson and his film. The Jesus book was finished for preliminary viewing by friends and acquaintances in January of 2003 and I also sent it to a senior editor of a New York publishing firm with whom I had personal contacts. By the middle of last year the Gibson film was already being talked about and I tried to convince the editor that since the movie would be regarded as highly controversial it would be appropriate to publish the book around the time of the film's release because it would then be able to get additional publicity. He thought it over; months went by and when reminded he told me that he needed the advice of one of his colleagues. By early winter the final rejection arrived. Now both Moses and Jesus sat peacefully together in my computer and went nowhere.

Inasmuch as the Jesus book is a sequel, the decision was reached to self-publish Moses first and then partly rework the Jesus book to incorporate some valuable suggestions by friends who had really read the book rather than scanned it. As matters stand now Moses is likely to become available to the public some time in April.

After this preamble which was intended to give my credentials for saying what I am going to say we can now discuss the criticisms leveled against Gibson's film. As has been pointed out by others they are really not so much against Gibson but the gospels and their historical truth. The crux of the problem, and there is no pun intended, is Jesus. He is probably the single most controversial person in human history and in the Introduction to the Jesus book I provided a multiple choice test for the reader. "The word Jesus refers to: A) an expletive when one is angered or distressed. B) a prophet of God. C) a deluded itinerant Galilean preacher and miracle worker. D) a dangerous false prophet. E) the savior of mankind." These choices exist and it is up to the individual which one is subscribed to.

Let us now examine some of the criticisms from the Jewish and the Christian community. The main one from Mr. Foxman's Anti-Defamation League constituency is that "the Jews" are being blamed for Jesus' death. This is regarded as anti-Semitic slander because it was really "the Romans" who did the crucifying. Matthew's verse 27:25 "His blood be on us and our children!" was also found so offensive that Gibson relented and took it out of the final version. Our current religious-political climate demands that Jews are exonerated in Jesus' death, for fear that otherwise anti-Jewish sentiments might be rekindled. In the article entitled: "The Real Jesus. How a Jewish reformer lost his Jewish identity," U.S. News & World Report wrote: "Some say he was the Messiah, some say, a prophet. But Jesus was, indisputably, a Jew." Now that finally settles it!

In The Moses Legacy I have devoted a full chapter to definitions including the ones dealing with the word "Jew." It is, therefore, appropriate to ask: In what sense was Jesus "a Jew?" When one places oneself into first century Palestine there were various national groups which can be listed when going from South to North as: the Idumeans, the Judeans (Jews), the Samaritans, the Galileans and then the Syrians. Although some of these people shared, to varying degrees, the mosaic religious code they were not necessarily "Jews" in the modern sense of the word. Thus, a statement such as, "Jesus was a Galilean who was brought up in a mosaic religious milieu" would have been more appropriate. The "Jews," which were so vigorously condemned, especially in the gospel of John, were the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea, or more correctly their religious leadership and mob following. This is why we also read in the pre-resurrection story by John that Jesus' disciples (most of whom, if not all, were Galileans) were afraid of the "Jews." To insist today on Jesus having been foremost a Jew is like saying that Buddha was a Hindu, St. Paul was a Pharisee and Luther was a Catholic. Yes they were, until they saw the abuses of their respective religions, decided to do something about it and moved into a totally different realm.

Those pundits who pride themselves on "historical accuracy" commit, in my opinion, a fundamental intellectual error. To look for historical facts in religious history is futile. There is no history; there are only historians and each one brings his one bias to the topic. Right now we can't even ascertain what our President did or did not know about the impending 9/11 attacks; so how are we going to know what "really happened" 2000 years ago? It can't be done and each historian will take those data that fit a given stereotype, especially when one deals with faith rather than facts.

Let us now agree that in the eyes of the populace on Palm Sunday Jesus was hailed as the Messiah. This meant in Jewish tradition that he was to be a redeemer of all who lived under the law of Moses and establish a Jewish kingdom forever. This was and still is the job of the Messiah! It is obvious that they misjudged Jesus whose "kingdom is not of this earth" and when they found out that he was unwilling to lead a rebellion against Rome, as was expected of the Messiah, they had every reason to be furious. They felt that they had been duped and that he was merely one of many other pretenders to messiahship. Caiphas really had no choice either. For a Galilean to admit that he was the "Son of the Most High" was the ultimate blasphemy, which deserved a death sentence. When the gospels relate that the Jewish authorities handed Jesus over to Pilate because in John's words 18:31 "it is not lawful for us to put anyone to death," someone bent the truth. The death penalty did exist in various forms, as discussed in The Moses Legacy, and different methods for different crimes were in place. Blasphemy required stoning as was carried out for instance with Stephen and reported in The Acts of the Apostles.

But let us now put ourselves into that particular Passover week in Jerusalem. How can you stone a blasphemer who has been hailed as the Messiah by the crowd a few days earlier? What options did Caiphas have? If he just arrested Jesus and hid him away somewhere until the holy days had passed he would have had a riot on his hands because the crowd would have wanted to know where their Messiah was. To hand this troublemaker over to the Romans, as a troublemaker, was really the only valid alternative. Jesus became under these circumstances no longer a Jewish but a Roman problem.

Pilate, the procurator, was in town precisely to either avoid or put down a riot by the inflammable mob, wich tended to occur especially around holy days. Pilate's goal in life was simple: to get his tour of duty over with, while fleecing the populace as much as possible and to put down rebellions whenever they occurred. Gibson's portrait of Pilate, which is merely that of the gospels, is not inherently unbelievable when one reads all of Josephus rather than the excerpts we are currently being treated to, which show him as a brutal fore-runner of Saddam Hussein. In Chapter III of Book XVIII of The Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus describes in great detail how Pilate backed down when the Jews threatened him with rebellion for having brought Roman ensigns into Jerusalem which had "Caesar's effigies." Pilate relented for religious demands but when it came to health problems such as Jewish protests over financing an aqueduct with temple money he brooked no interference and cut down the mob.

The experts of our day who get quoted in the media about Pilate's villainy also refer to Philo's opinion about that man and it may be useful, therefore, to give a full excerpt of what Philo wrote. It can be found in the chapter "On the Embassy to Gaius." Gaius, better known as Caligula, had intended to have his statue erected in the Jerusalem temple and his friend Agrippa warned him in a long letter that this would inevitably lead to a war with the Jews. In the letter Agrippa told Caligula how previous emperors had dealt with the restless province of Judea. When Pilate violated Jewish religious law by having "dedicated some gilt shields in the palace of Herod in the holy city," the Jewish leadership petitioned him to remove this offense.

"But when he [Pilate] steadfastly refused this petition (for he was a man of very inflexible disposition, and very merciless as well as very obstinate), they cried out: 'Do not cause a sedition; do not make war upon us; do not destroy the peace which exists. The honour of the emperor is not identical with dishonour to the ancient laws; let it not be to you a pretence for heaping insult on our nation. Tiberius is not desirous that any of our laws or customs shall be destroyed. And if you yourself say that he is, show us either some command from him, or some letter, or something of the kind, that we, who have been sent to you as ambassadors, may cease to trouble you, and may address our supplication to your master.

But this last sentence exasperated him in the greatest possible degree, as he feared least they might in reality go on an embassy to the emperor and impeach him . . ."



Although the two historians don't agree on the nature of Pilate's offense both state that he gave in to pressure from the crowd. Thus, when the mob yelled that if Pilate did not condemn Jesus to crucifixion he was "no friend of Caesar," this was indeed the ultimate threat. It was well known that Tiberius was profoundly paranoid by that time and when there was a choice to be made between a poor Galilean's head and his own, it surely was not difficult. What was one more crucifixion anyway?

This little episode brings up another question. I am not a professional Bible historian but if I can unearth these data why don't the professionals who criticize Gibson and the gospels for historical inaccuracy? I believe the answer is simple and deals with our socio-political climate where accuracy has to take a backseat in order to placate a vociferous minority. In addition, only a person who no longer works for money and is not beholden to any institution can freely speak the truth as he sees it when it goes against the prevailing political wind.

It is true that Matthew's verse 27:25 has brought great harm to the Jewish community throughout the ages because it has been interpreted in a literal sense. This is also the reason why we have such difficulty to understand Jesus intellectually, especially as depicted in the gospel of John. Only when we realize that we are dealing with spirit rather than flesh will he come to life for us and then we begin to understand that, while the person Jesus can be killed, the spirit which animated him is immortal and immune to all insults and suffering. To kill Jesus was expedient and everybody had a hand in it but Jesus knew that only by his suffering all insults, and ultimately a cruel death, might mankind be reconciled to God and mend its ways. How did he know? I discussed this in Understanding Jesus in detail but believe that it was a personal decision which grew into a conviction from which there was no return.

Jesus intended to wash away the sins of all generations, past - present- and future with his blood. The idea of the cleansing power of blood was deeply ingrained in the Jewish religion, except that it was animal rather than human blood and limited to Israel's tribes. Exodus 24:8 reports that after reading the words of the covenant: "Moses took the blood [of the slaughtered oxen], and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you concerning all these words." But while Moses thereby sanctified the tribes of Israel, Jesus went further and proclaimed that his blood was shed not merely for one nation but for all nations and all individuals therein. From that point of view we might even hope that the cleansing power of his blood can come upon the children of Jews so that they too will at long last find rest from persecution and persecuting. But for a person to sacrifice himself for another, let alone the rest of the world, was a distinctly un-Jewish thought. Its parallels and antecedents come from the Hellenic and Buddhist world. It is in that world where one also finds the essence of Jesus' teachings.

But what does this mean for us today? Everything! The question for everyone of us is not necessarily Hamlet's, "To be or not to be?" But, "Who am I?" As Kipling has put it in his novel about the Great Game, which is currently being re-enacted again, "Who is - Kim - Kim - Kim?" Who is this that says "I" to itself and what is its purpose? This is the fundamental question of mankind from which it always runs away so diligently. Nevertheless, the question remains, at least for some of us, and keeps nagging until an answer is found. When the answer comes we see the world in a new light. We can then truly say not only with Socrates: "Anytus and Meletus may kill me; they cannot harm me," but also with Jesus: "Father forgive them they know not what they do."

Gibson tried to bring us into contact with ourselves because Jesus did not seek his death merely for the sins of Jews but for the evil which lurks in every one of us. Did Gibson show us too much brutality? Yes; but on the one hand he is Mel Gibson after all and can't jump over his shadow, and on the other hand we do inflict brutality on others on a daily basis. We just don't want to be reminded of everything that is being carried out in our name. Condemning the film because it might provoke anti-Semitism is blinding our eyes to the real causes of anti-Jewish sentiments which sweep this world now and which we fan by our government's blind endorsement of Sharon's policies. These are infinitely more harmful than any film Gibson or anybody else can make.

I believe that The Intermountain Catholic was correct when it suggested that "The Passion of the Christ" should have a sequel called "The Resurrection of Christ." It will be considerably more difficult to produce because to put Spirit on the screen rather than bleeding flesh will require artistry which may not be readily available. In addition Spirit doesn't sell tickets as readily as violence does. Nevertheless, unless we move from flesh to Spirit we have failed in our prime task and Jesus will indeed have been a deluded fool whose suffering was in vain. This is where the multiple choice questions come in again. It may come as a surprise to some readers that the choice "a prophet of God" is the official teaching of the Koran, while that of "a dangerous false prophet" is the firm belief of a group of ultra-orthodox Jews. The followers of the Lubavitcher Rebbe also declare unequivocally that Jesus had to be killed according to the Torah which had warned of false prophets. This information is readily available on the Internet at www.noahide.com/yeshu.htm and one wonders why the people who so fervently argue for Jesus' Jewishness do not take note of it. For those who are so eager to make Jesus conform to their image of a Jew it might be better to come to terms with him and live up to his message. This would not require conversion but simply a change in personal conduct. It would make his sacrifice meaningful for everyone and put all enmity to rest for ever.

Jesus showed us the way from a human to a humane society. Looking at the world objectively we must say that so far he has failed. But it is up to us whether or not this failure is permanent. Whether we will continue to nail him and ourselves to the cross or if finally critical mass will be achieved and people will say: no more hate, no more torture, no more killing,. It may take several more hundreds of years or even millennia for this to come to pass but this ought to be our task: to graduate from the human to the humane race.





May 1, 2004

THE GREAT LIBERATOR


The past month provided us with the opportunity to get more information on how our leadership really thinks and works. First we had Dick Clarke’s book Against All Enemies and his testimony before the 9/11 Commission. Clarke was president Clinton’s Chief anti-terrorist officer who had been retained by the Bush administration but had lost his access to the president and was effectively sidelined. In essence Clarke said that the new administration was so absorbed by its preoccupation with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq that they ignored, or at least put on the back burner, the gathering threats posed by Osama bin Laden. When the president was briefed on August 6, 2001, while vacationing on his ranch in Texas, and was told that Osama planned to strike at the homeland this did not raise any particular concerns because, “the threat was not specific enough.” August is vacation time anyway one might add.

The administration, especially in the person of Condoleezza Rice, vigorously denied that they had been asleep at the switch or that concerns about terrorist attacks were not taken with the seriousness they should have deserved. Clarke, similar to former Treasury secretary O’Neill, was duly vilified as another disgruntled ex-employee and the Bush people thought that this would suffice. It might have worked but another problem arose with Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack, which essentially corroborated what Clarke and O’Neill had said. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld’s Defense department were indeed obsessed with Iraq to the exclusion of everything else in foreign affairs. Woodward’s book will be discussed later because other events occurred before its publication.

The Iraq war was not going well, the 9/11 hearings were a potential disaster for re-election, so the decision was made to trot the president out for a news conference where he would present his vision for the future. Since Mr. Bush is not particularly articulate when it comes to spontaneous speech his staff thought it best to immunize him as much as possible by first having him read a 17 minute declaration and then prep him for all the potentially embarrassing questions he might be asked. The speech can be summarized in a few words: We will not yield to terrorists, we will stay the course and we shall prevail. He fully presented a picture of the resolute leader who is embarked on a mission, which has been thrust on him and from which there is no flinching. This is precisely the image Karl Rove has designed for him as will become apparent in the discussion of Woodward’s book. But image is not substance and the real Bush emerged when he was asked by a reporter, “had he had made any mistakes?” The question was open ended and could have referred to 9/11, Afghanistan, or Iraq. Bush was visibly embarrassed, complained that he had not been warned previously that this question might come up, tried to find an answer and eventually said apologetically that he was not quick on his feet. He then asserted that he couldn’t think of a single mistake.

In the meantime the “Silly Season,” as discussed in the March issue, continued in full swing. Florida is regarded as a must win state by the Bush people and no effort is being spared to obtain that state’s electoral votes. This led to a disaster for the Palestinians and an absurdity for cruising sailors.

Sharon is in considerable trouble in Israel. His “unilateral withdrawal plan” from Gaza is vigorously opposed by other members of his own party and in addition he is facing a possible conviction for a bribery scandal. His good friend George immediately rode to the rescue. In a press conference right after the meeting with the Prime Minister he congratulated him to this courageous and historic step. Although not all of the fine print of that unilateral withdrawal is available as yet enough is known to indicate that a fundamental shift in American foreign policy has occurred. Up to that news conference the fiction of America’s evenhandedness in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian war - we have to call it that because it is now more than just a conflict - could be tenuously maintained. This fiction disappeared when Bush gave Sharon a green light for whatever he wants to do in the occupied territories. In Gaza certain Israeli installations will remain; air and coastal waters will be under Israeli control and so will be the border between Gaza and Egypt.  In the West Bank the illegal wall, which in part annexes Palestinian territory, will continue to be built and only a few settlements in the northern part will be removed while the main ones in the heart of the West Bank will stay put. Although Jerusalem was not mentioned the “realities on the ground” will make sure that the Palestinians can shelve any plan for ever having a substantive presence in that city. They can also forget about hopes that DP’s of the 1948 wars, or their descendants, may ever return to their former homes. All of this is, of course, contrary to international law and numerous U.N. resolutions. Having made these concessions Mr. Bush asserted that, “the United States support the establishment of a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent.It seems not have occurred to him that he had just torpedoed this idea because Sharon’s plan, which he had so vigorously endorsed a moment earlier, is designed precisely to prevent this from ever happening. For the Palestinians, whose only task, as far as Bush is concerned, is to eliminate terrorism against Israel this is the analogue of Munich, where Chamberlain and Daladier signed away Czechoslovakia to Hitler. Although these two men are now chastised for their cowardice they had at least an excuse because Hitler had threatened them with war for which they were not yet prepared. They did declare war on him one year later. Bush does not have this excuse. Sharon cannot make war on us and the entire despicable performance was merely to gain the Jewish vote for re-election.

But Jews are not the only large swing bloc in Florida which has to be wooed; there is also the Cuban vote that needs to be secured. Now we are really in the theater of the absurd and unless one is a sailor who subscribes to Cruising World or Sail one would never know the height of foolishness this administration will go to in order to win votes.

What follows has not been reported by any of the major news outlets and I found it only in the May 2004 issue of Cruising World. The Editor’s Log states under the title of Bushwhacked:

“On February 26, 2004, in language that American sailors can only describe as stunning, President George W. Bush issued a decree that is unprecedented in both its scope and purpose. Citing his all-encompassing war on terror as the principal impetus behind a proclamation fired straight across the bows of that unlikely band of terrorists – cruising sailors! - Bush granted the Secretary of Homeland Security the immediate power to seize any vessel, at any time, anywhere in the territorial waters of the United States, if for any reason officials believe ‘it may be used, or is susceptible of being used, for voyage in Cuban waters.’”

This is bound to have been the brain child of Karl Rove who unearthed what is called The Espionage Act of June 15, 1917; two months after the U.S. had declared war on Germany! The language cited above comes from that Act. Only the “Whereas” justifications were rewritten specifically for Cuba and the power to board and confiscate vessels is no longer in the hands of the Treasury Department but that of Homeland Security. Since cruising sailors are negligible as a voting bloc but Miami’s Cubans are not, the “Freedom of the Seas” has just been cancelled. Since this act applies not only to U.S. citizens but to “any vessel in any U.S. port,” my Canadian friend Roger, who keeps his catamaran in the Bahamas, better sail directly to Cuba henceforth rather than stopping off in the Florida Keyes where he could lose his boat. The Great Liberator who promises to free the world can now liberate anyone of us even from our own boats!

But the prime event of the month clearly was Woodward’s book and during the week of the 18th – 25th there was not a single day where he did not appear on at least one of the TV talk shows. This attention was justified, and to his credit he stuck to his guns even under tough questioning. Although he did not present much that was news, at least to me, he gave detailed quotes from the key actors and had the documentation to back them up. What emerged was a president who had made up his mind to bring Saddam down as early as November 21, 2001. On that day Bush collared Rumsfeld and told him in utter secrecy to prepare a military plan against Iraq. Instead of following through with the stabilization of Afghanistan, money and military resources were to be diverted to the preparation for an invasion of Iraq.

Woodward is careful throughout the book to point out that Bush had not actually made a firm decision to go to war at that point but he wanted to have the option. Nevertheless, Bush had clearly resolved to bring about “regime change” in Baghdad “one way or another.” The justifications for doing so and the means were left to the future. It was not a matter of “if” but only “when and how.”

There are so many nuggets in this book that it is difficult to select some of the most significant ones but European readers especially will be interested to learn how the “axis of evil” phrase got into the president’s 2002 State of the Union speech. Mr. Bush has a whole stable of speech writers among whom Michael Gerson and David Frum were the most prominent. The speech was meant to put the world on notice that America will no longer wait for attacks to occur but will act preemptively in the future. It was clearly directed against Iraq because as mentioned above military planning was already on its way. On the other hand Bush couldn’t just single out Iraq because that would void all the secrecy so some other way had to be found. This was the problem for which Gerson sought help from Frum. It is not surprising that Frum, who is Jewish, would have come up with the phrase “axis of hate,” since axis and Nazis are synonymous. But Gerson, the evangelical Christian, is not supposed to hate. He is much more concerned, just like the president himself, with evil in this world which has to be eradicated. Thus, the word hate was exchanged for evil. Iran as well as North Korea was added to deflect intentions from the real goal. That is how phrases which galvanize the world come about. 

In regard to the chief players in the run up to the Iraq war, Condoleezza Rice comes across as having been over her head in the power struggle between Colin Powell on the one hand and Cheney-Rumsfeld on the other. Rumsfeld sounds like a bureaucrat who loves to throw out questions but answers few. When he does, the answers tend to be convoluted or “Greenspanesque.” Cheney on the other hand is the Sphinx who has the answer to all the riddles, rarely talks about them in public but when he does he forecloses options. For reasons, which Woodward has not yet explored, Cheney was always firmly bent on war and openly so since his speech in Cincinnati on August 26, 2002. He was dead set against involving the U.N. in a diplomatic solution, favored by Powell, and did his level best to undercut it.

Powell was handicapped by his military background and inherent loyalty to the Commander in Chief. When Bush confronted him on January 13, 2003 point-blank with his plan to invade he raised some warning thoughts, but when asked, “Are you with me?” saluted mentally and said, “Yes, sir, I will support you. I’m with you Mr. President.’” Woodward feels that Powell thought he might still be able to deflect the inevitable but this was, of course, a forlorn hope. It is my opinion that had Powell emerged to his position from civilian, rather than military, life he might have said, “I’m sorry Mr. President I can’t,” and handed in his resignation.

This leaves us with Bush whom Woodward presents in a sympathetic but puzzled vein. He clearly likes the man but it seems equally clear that he cannot subscribe to his policies. Bush is not the European caricature of the “cowboy” but conforms more to the picture of the idealized movie version of the Texas sheriff who rides into town to bring order out of lawlessness. He doesn’t shoot for the heck of it. He is concerned about civilian casualties, but he is on a mission from which nothing, except electoral defeat, will deflect him. Bush believes, as he has said also in public, that he has been sent by God at this time in history to confront and root out the evil in this world, which is summarized in the word terrorists. When asked by Woodward if he had had any doubt before engaging into the war he denied it. No doubt whatsoever. “Had he discussed the pros and cons of the decision with his father?”  “No.” That answer may surely strike one as strange, because the son was embarking on the same war his father had led a decade earlier, but it does make sense when one sees the real human being instead of the “Persona” which is paraded before us.

Karl Rove whose only goal in life at this time is to get Bush re-elected gave him a power point presentation at the ranch during the Christmas holidays in 2002. He wanted Bush to get started on fundraising but the president waved him off with, “We got a war coming, and you’re just going to have to wait.” As Woodward notes the first slide of the presentation as to how Bush was to be portrayed was entitled  PERSONA and it listed in bold letters, “Strong Leader; Bold Action; Big Ideas;  Peace in World; More Compassionate America; Cares About People Like Me; Leads a Strong Team.” This is the background for the “photo-op” on May 1 of last year where the president emerged in full flight combat gear from a Navy jet on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and gave his speech under the sign “Mission Accomplished.” The intended campaign ad will now be fodder for the Democrats.

For those of us who grew up under Hitler this evokes eerie reminiscences. Rove’s phrases were exactly the same Goebbels showered us with and one has to realize that “Leader” translates, of course, into Führer. All that is missing now is the additional adjective of “heissgeliebte” (ardently loved) and the picture is complete. Fortunately this is still America and it won’t come to that. But this is precisely the reason why Europeans are so skeptical about our president’s intentions. They’ve been there, seen the disasters “strong leaders” with “bold ideas” create, and want no part of it.

But as mentioned earlier this is all sham and for public consumption because the real Bush does not conform to it. We saw him in the mentioned press conference where he was flustered when asked about mistakes because nobody had told him that this would be coming. We saw it also when it was announced first that he would not testify before the 9/11 commission at all but later had to relent under public pressure to the point that he would, but only in presence of Dick Cheney! That takes care of the persona right there and his insecurity is also the reason why, in all probability, he did not discuss the intention to go to war with his father. He knew that the father might try to talk him out of this adventure and that was a risk he was not willing to take.

So the American public has to be treated to the fictitious Rove persona who is convinced that it his destiny to “bring freedom to the world.” This will have to be accomplished within maximally five years, because a third term was, thank goodness, eliminated by Eisenhower. In addition there are limits as to who is to be free. As we found out above Palestinians are not necessarily included and the Afghans are also no longer of concern. They have been handed over to the tender mercies of the warlords who profess to fight the Taliban and al Quaeda. Neither are the citizens of a well functioning democracy such as Taiwan assured of their freedom if they wanted to vote for independence from China. They were warned recently to abstain from such dreams. Although we would lodge a protest against China if she were to take military action against the island that would be the extent of our involvement.

So what does all this amount to? The president is motivated by religious fervor, which he actually shares with fundamentalists of other persuasions. The people around him play Realpolitik and use him for whatever suits their purposes. These tend to be the old fashioned ones: lust for power, couched in flowery rhetoric. Unfortunately the Democratic contender falls into the same mold. Not to be outdone by Bush in the grab for the Jewish vote he also immediately embraced the Sharon plan and thereby disqualified himself from being a genuine hope for the future. He stands now exposed as just another politician who will say and do anything to get elected. This is a tragedy because America surely deserves better.

But the world does not stand still for our election antics. While the political parties engage in smearing each other’s candidate the situation in Iraq goes from bad to worse. Our ex-Trotskyite neoconservatives can surely congratulate themselves. They have succeeded in molding us in the image of the state of Israel and we now have our very own West Bank and Gaza. Our troops have been trained by Israelis in counterinsurgency and are using the same methods as the IDF with the same abysmal results. Doors are smashed in, prisoners hooded, adults humiliated in front of their children and homes bulldozed. Due to the lack of security foreign contractors are leaving, the electricity grid is not being improved and a hot summer without adequate air-conditioning is in the offing. That tempers are going to flare and violence is bound to get worse rather than better is utterly predictable.

Our government says that we shall turn sovereignty over to the Iraqis on June 30 but we have our own definition of the word, which does not conform to what is found in a dictionary. We’ll let them do some chores under our supervision but the power will remain in U.S. or, its euphemism, “coalition” hands. This is not likely to work because although we pay lip service to have the U.N. involved we want to keep the contracts and, therefore, the oil, which is the main problem. We would have to let go of the dream of developing the oil resources through Halliburton et al. and really give it back to the Iraqis. It’s their oil after all and not ours.

So far we have not shown the slightest indication that we are indeed willing to make the Iraqis full partners in the reconstruction of their country. Regardless of rhetoric about freedom and democracy “facts on the ground” are created, which tell the Iraqis that we have every intention to continue to run their country from behind the scenes. The largest U.S. embassy is being built in Baghdad which, we have been told, will house up to 3000 employees, although the most recent numbers have been reduced to 1000 Americans and 700 Iraqis. What does Mr. Negroponte need all these people for? Another fact is the contracts, which are bound to irritate the locals. On the Internet one can find a document from the U.S. Department of Commerce on Prime Contracts and Subcontracts awarded for fiscal year 2004, dated March 26, 2004. Of the 52 Prime contracts listed, 45 went to American firms, 3 were joint U.S./U.K ventures; 2 went to Israel, 1 to the UK and 1 to Jordan. The Israelis are supposed to procure armored vehicles and the Jordanians are allowed to deliver fuel to southern Iraq. These are actions Iraqis and the world see, even if the average American doesn’t pay attention to them. This is why we are hated in that part of the world, and why the U.N. is not eager to help us out of the mess our government has created for us.

There seems to be only one honorable exit strategy. The Iraqi army and police have to be reconstituted and given power to establish internal security. If we were indeed willing to turn security in Falluja over to the locals this would  be a good start in the right direction, as long as we don’t insist on having “joint patrols” in that city. American soldiers are regarded as an irritant and if the Iraqis can handle the situation we would be well advised to keep a low profile. If the Falluja experiment were allowed to work it could serve as a model for other “hot spots” where local Iraqis should be fully empowered to provide law and order. The Iraqi interim, and eventually permanent, government would have to be given power to award the contracts for reconstruction of their country to companies of their choosing rather than ours. They will need money and some oversight that it doesn’t go into corrupt hands. We have distributed literally hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to buy ourselves Iraqi informers before the war; surely we could spend a fraction of that amount to let the Iraqis re-build their infrastructure which we helped destroy during it. The Iraqis are proud, intelligent, and educated people. They have the ability to rebuild their country and will do so if we treat them as equals rather than demanding that they do our bidding. When the Iraqis see that we are serious, in our desire to turn their country over to them good will can re-emerge. The violence will subside over time and eventually all of our troops, with the reservists and National Guard first, can come home. This is the way to support our troops and not blind obedience to the dictates of Cheney-Rumsfeld and their neoconservative friends.

Unfortunately this is likely to be pie in the sky because in the real world greed rules and tends to bring the best meant plans to ruin. Nevertheless, it would seem that our great would-be liberator of the people of this world may still have a chance to extricate himself and us from the problems he has created. To do so he would have to abandon his crusading spirit, which has nothing to do with genuine Christianity, relieve Wolfowitz and company of their jobs, and begin to listen and act on the advice of the State rather than the Defense Department. He may well find himself unable to do so. But under those circumstances he is likely to suffer the same fate as his fore-runner Woodrow Wilson who had entered the war ostensibly to create democracy around the world. He won the war but lost the peace at Versailles where he was forced to sacrifice his ideals to the rapaciousness of Clemenceau, Lloyd George and Orlando. Wilson’s example: from being hailed as a savior in November 1918 to a ridiculed irrelevancy a few months later, should surely give our president some food for thought.





May 26, 2004

DEMOCRACY ON TRIAL


This issue appears a few days earlier than usual because next week I shall be attending a scientific meeting in Europe. The key event of this month was the public airing of photographs, which documented the scandalous behavior of some members of the U.S. military in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison. Although everybody, Republicans and Democrats alike expressed immediate shock and outrage the political polarization of the country soon took over thereafter. Defenders of the administration labeled the incidents as shameful and regrettable but insisted that it was simply the behavior of some “bad apples,” relatively junior people, who acted out their sadistic impulses. The Democrats who want to win the upcoming election used the scandal as another example why thorough house cleaning is needed in Washington on Tuesday November 2.

When one looks at the published pictures, and I have no interest in seeing more, it is quite apparent that especially Pfc Lynndie England and Spc Charles Graner thought that the type of behavior they showed in the photos was a joke and they had a good time documenting it. As Pfc. England testified, [it] was basically us fooling around.” Yes indeed but England and Graner didn’t come up with these ideas by themselves. They were put up to it and that is where the “few bad apples” explanation loses validity. We are now told that the abuse of prisoners was designed to “soften them up” to get information that would lead to a suppression of the ongoing insurrection. We have also been told that the pictures were to be used to show other detainees what would happen to them if they did not divulge any and all information about ring leaders, weapons caches etc. This seems reasonable and clearly puts the entire situation into a different light.

The Bush administration was increasingly frustrated by the way the Iraq invasion had turned out. Weapons of mass destruction, the ostensible reason for the attack, could not be found and the Iraqi people were no longer overjoyed by the anarchy the US army had brought in its wake. Some began to rebel against the Americans while others settled intra-Iraqi scores.

From the Defense department’s point of view, which is encumbered by tunnel vision, this problem was simply one of inadequate intelligence. If detainees were properly, or improperly as it turned out, grilled they would lead our troops to the hidden weapon’s treasure and the nasty people who might use them. This was the fantasy and, as usual, it totally ignored the realities of human behavior.

If one really wants to understand the Abu Ghraib problem one has to go back to the Afghanistan invasion and the decision that captured Taliban and Al Qaeda members are not prisoners of war but “unlawful enemy combatants” and as such not entitled to the protection of the Geneva Conventions. This is where the problem started and why it will continue to fester unless and until this issue is addressed. The president has declared that we are in a war against terrorism and since the terrorists don’t wear uniforms they are not soldiers and can only expect the same treatment as they inflict on others. This is a repudiation of all the principles civilized societies are supposed to stand for. Yet it is still official policy of the United States. The detainees in Guantanamo, for instance, have no civil rights and we have no idea what goes on there, except that “useful information has been obtained.” But what this useful information consisted of we have no idea. Furthermore, journalists, the supposed guardians of our democracy, are not allowed to visit. Since General Miller, who was in charge of Guantanamo, had initiated procedures in that facility which supposedly led to confessions, he was the person chosen to bring these practices to Iraq. Thus, the ultimate responsibility lies with the persons who authorized the policies to extract confessions by physical and mental abuse and not only with the underlings who did the dirty work and in their ignorance enjoyed it.

This whole sad affair brings back memories of WWII and shows that people the world over when put into similar circumstances will behave in a similar way regardless of sex, religion, ethnicity or nationality. Since behavior of this type does not conform to the norms society expects, it is shrouded in secrecy. I personally knew that Dachau existed and that the prisoners in that facility were not treated kindly. But this is where my information ended and I had no interest in pursuing the matter further because it would have led to a long term first hand acquaintance with that place. But is the average American really interested in knowing what goes on in Guantanamo today, or in Abu Ghraib, or any of the other places where we hold prisoners?

Martha and I live about 10 miles northeast of Bluffdale, which is Utah’s state penitentiary but we have not faintest idea how the prisoners are being treated. Since Utahns are good God-fearing people one assumes that nothing bad can happen there. But The Salt Lake Tribune reported recently that two of the Abu Ghraib prison guards (not directly involved in the scandal) were from Utah, had served in Bluffdale, and stated that humiliating naked prisoners is routine procedure there. It is obvious, therefore, that human beings, whenever they are given absolute power over others may well be prone to abuse that power. This is a fact of life and the existence of sadism, in most of us needs to be recognized. This is what civilization is supposed to be all about: to curb our negative traits and enhance the positive ones. When the rules of civilized behavior are officially declared as non-applicable and provisions of the Geneva Conventions as “quaint,” one is encouraging sadism. It’s as simple as that.

Leaving morality aside, now comes the next question: how useful is the information obtained under these cruel circumstances? This is the real problem, which has so far not been properly aired. Even when detainee and interrogator speak the same language fear and pain can lead to useless confessions as any criminal lawyer will readily testify to. But with our Arab or Taliban prisoners we have a profound language barrier. The question arises, therefore, who are these interpreters and “civilian contractors” we rely on? What is their background and what are their motives to serve in this capacity? It seems obvious that they are volunteers because if they were drafted their interpretations could not be trusted. But even under the best of circumstances how do we know that what is being interpreted is what the prisoner really said?  We don’t, and that puts the utility of the whole interrogation process into question. The language problem has additional ramifications, which directly impact on the military conduct of the current guerilla war. We rely on informants to lead us to enemy strongholds in Iraq as well as Afghanistan but they may deliberately mislead us to attack innocents. This has occurred in Afghanistan and may have happened recently on the Syrian border. Patriotic Iraqis and Afghans have only one primary goal: to get us out of their countries. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that they may intermittently feed us false information and when civilians get killed America stands exposed as a brutal oppressor.

President Bush expressed outrage and said that the Abu Ghraib behavior “is not the America I know.” Yes, that’s probably true but had he cared to inform himself about the seamy side of American life he would have been less surprised. In the May 20 edition of The Christian Science Monitor one can read, “‘Simply stated, the culture of sadistic and malicious violence that continues to pervade the ... prison system violates contemporary standards of decency.’ That conclusion written by Judge William Wayne Justice, does not describe Abu Ghraib in Iraq last fall, but the Texas prison system in 1999 when George W. Bush was still governor there.”

The president could also have benefited from having read about the behavior of some American troops in Germany after the end of WWII. Ways to bypass the Geneva Conventions had their precedent in the spring of 1945 when General Eisenhower was confronted with millions of German soldiers who had surrendered to the Americans. Their numbers were augmented by a deliberate Wehrmacht policy to leave only a relatively smaller force in the East in order to delay the Russian advance. The intention was to save the bulk of the men from destruction and allow the Western Allies to occupy the country rather than the Soviets. In this way more than five million soldiers ended up in American captivity. James Bacque, a Canadian, chronicled the events in Other Losses, An investigation into the mass deaths of German prisoners at the hands of the French and Americans after World War II. This book ought to be a “must read” for all those, including the president, who insist that Americans are, by nature, morally superior to people of other nations.

On March 10,1945 Eisenhower requested from CCS (Combined Chiefs of Staff of Britain and the USA) that prisoners of war taken after VE day not be accorded POW status but identified as “disarmed enemy forces (DEF),” which placed them outside the limits of the Geneva Conventions. The request was approved, but only for prisoners in American hands. The British refused to go along with it. The ostensible reason for Eisenhower’s request was simple: he did not want to feed the millions of prisoners he expected. That was supposed to be left to the German authorities, although he must have known that in the post-war chaos German authorities would not exist because all organizations, including those concerned with social welfare, had been run by the Nazi party. The real reason for the request was punitive and part of the Morgenthau plan, which was to guide America’s post-war conduct towards Germany. The plan was designed to return Germany to the pre-industrial age so that the country could never again play a leading role on the world stage. Since the DEF status clearly contravened international law it was kept secret from the public.

Bacque reported that, “On a trip to Europe in the summer of 1944, Morgenthau [Roosevelt’s Treasury secretary] discovered that the Allies under Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower had some first-rate plans for getting into Germany, but no idea of what to do once they got there. Foreign Secretary Eden read to him from the minutes of the Teheran Conference the discussion of the proposed dismemberment of Germany, but no one had figured out how to carry this out. Morgenthau could not understand the lackadaisical British.” The only person who impressed Morgenthau was “Eisenhower, who, Morgenthau said, wanted to ‘treat them rough,’ when he got to Germany.” When Morgenthau reported to Roosevelt that “‘No-one is studying how to treat Germany roughly along the lines you wanted;’” the reply was “‘Give me thirty minutes with Churchill and I can correct this. We have got to be tough with Germany and I mean the German people, not just the Nazis. We either have to castrate the German people, or you have got to treat them in such a manner that they just cant go on reproducing people who want to continue the way they have in the past.’” This attitude was the groundwork for the catastrophe which descended on the Wehrmacht soldiers who had surrendered in good faith believing in the ideals America is supposed to stand for. They were to be sorely disappointed.

By April 1945 the U.S. army had already set up huge detention facilities for the masses of soldiers who surrendered. These consisted of barbed wire enclosures in open fields without any form of shelter, exposed day and night to the elements. There were no sanitary facilities and only minimal food rations. While U.S. troops received about 4000 calories a day the allotment for the prisoners was officially set at 1150 calories per day for non-workers and 1,850 for workers. As Bacque notes, “This was sentencing them to death in a fairly short time, especially considering the lack of shelter and clean water.” Although the German civilian population was eager to help feed their captive soldiers they were not allowed to do so. On May 9, 1945 Eisenhower issued a proclamation which expressly forbade civilians to provide food. “Those who violate this command and nevertheless try to circumvent this blockade to allow something to come to the prisoners place themselves in danger of being shot.” This order also applied to American troops who felt pity for their incarcerated fellow human beings. “Private Martin Brech, a guard at Andernach in spring 1945, was told by an officer, ‘that it is our policy that these men not be fed.’” He was also informed that disobeying this order would lead to court martial.

While the food and water situation was terrible so was in some instances the space allotted to the prisoners. The official figure was 175 square feet per person but at times the enclosures were so crowded that people couldn’t even lie down. But even when overcrowding was not the issue absence of protection from the weather was the most pressing problem apart from lack of food and water. As one prisoner, who had a PhD, put it in his notes, which he penned on toilet paper, the only available material, “Our only wish is finally after six weeks to get a roof over our heads. Even a savage is better housed. Diogenes, Diogenes, you at least had a barrel.”

Bacque puts the blame for these conditions clearly on Eisenhower and makes the point that while other generals like Patton and Mark Clark discharged their prisoners within a few weeks Ike did not. He even transferred some of the ex-soldiers, who already had discharge papers issued, to the French where they lingered in captivity and forced labor for several more years. In addition while German POW’s were allowed to get mail through the International Red Cross in the British and French occupation zone after a few weeks, those in the American zone had to wait for over one year for this privilege. The American public gets a steady dose of Nazi atrocities in TV documentaries but it is deliberately kept in the dark about those which the American government instituted during those years because that would shatter the carefully maintained myth of America’s moral purity. Why was Eisenhower so punitive towards the German people? There may have been a number of reasons but as he wrote in a letter to his wife in 1944 he “hated Germans.” 

Thus, the Abu Ghraib scandal is new only in the methods used for harassment and intimidation of prisoners, but not in its purpose which is to break down the morale of the adversary by whatever means available. The pronounced sexual humiliations of the current scandal are clearly a legacy of our popular culture, which continually promotes sex in all its forms on our video screens. So is the role of women. They must no longer be depicted as caring mothers but gun-toting, physically aggressive amazon warriors. Should one be surprised that other cultures, especially those dominated by the Muslim religion, want no part of this type of democracy?

By calling the punitive expeditions on the Taliban and Al Qaeda a war on terror president Bush has opened the door to the abuses we witnessed. Furthermore, some defenders of the war do not hesitate to call the current situation World War III and insist, along with the president, that it may go on longer than the previous wars. If this is what they want they will get it but they may not like the eventual outcome, which can only be a further brutalization of our society. I will never forget listening to Goebbels’ speech in February of 1943 when he asked the attendees in Berlin’s Sportpalast,Wollt Ihr den totalen Krieg? (Do you want total war?)” And the crowd roared Yes! Whereupon he followed up with “Wollt Ihr in totaler und radikaler als sich irgend ein Mensch in Deutschland heute noch vorstellen kann? (Do you want it more total and more radical than anybody in Germany can even imagine today?), which was likewise answered by a resounding: Yes! What their country looked like two years later they really could not have imagined. But that is what war brings and why those of us who have seen war first hand are so dead set against its repetition.

Hitler and Goebbels told us that the war they had initiated, and that had gotten out of hand, was one ofSein oder Nichtsein (existence or nonexistence). The Asiatic hordes must be prevented from overrunning Europe and the German soldier was the only bulwark which stood in the defense of Western civilization. Hitler was chosen by providence to fulfill this historic role as defender of the Western world. As Goebbels wrote in his diary on January 23, 1943, “All of us know that if Germany were to lose this war Europe would become Bolshevist and the Reich would, of course, also be lost.” Please note that this was not propaganda in Goebbels’ mind but knowledge, “wir wissen. What does our president tell us? He believes that he has been chosen by God to lead the American people in the defense against evil terrorists, who intend to destroy our nation. This can only be done by pre-emptive strikes against nations “who harbor” them because the alternative of further and more devastating 9/11 attacks is too terrible to imagine. What Bolshevism and the Jews were for the Nazis, Islamic terrorists have become for the Bush administration. Let me emphasize that Bush is no Hitler but he uses the same rhetoric and is also convinced of its truth.

This is the point where genuine democracy must come into play. In Nazi Germany we had to keep our collective mouths shut and do our assigned tasks, but thanks to the founders of this republic we are allowed to play by different rules. Not blind obedience to a Fuehrer is required now but a thorough investigation into motives and means with which the present war in Iraq was initiated and is being conducted. The Abu Ghraib scandal could become the catalyst for a scrupulous soul searching. Reprehensible as the conduct of the prison guards was, they did not create the climate in which they operated. That originated with decisions made in Washington. It will be interesting to see if our media are up to this task and really follow through with investigating how this stain on our national honor came about. Will they be content with parading salacious photographs and the court martial of a few misguided low level “bad apples,” or will they be able to expose all the secrets about 9/11 and the administration’s response to it. There is no doubt that the American people have been deceived. The question still is: by whom and why? 

American prestige around the world has never been as low as today and the only way we can salvage our integrity is by honesty, which has to emanate from the highest levels. Pep talks as given by the president on Monday will not suffice. We cannot trust our government at this time and it is the medias responsibility to uncover how and why our country has lost its way. This has nothing to do with partisanship and everything with what kind of a country we want to live in. This airing of facts needs to be done not only in some books or magazines, which few people read, but in the mainstream daily press and not just on cable but also the regular TV networks. When larger segments of the public become fully informed they will demand action from Congress and genuine nonpartisan hearings can follow.

We are involved in a guerilla war in Iraq as well as Afghanistan and it will not be won by “staying the course.” We have sufficiently aggravated the Muslim world that mere words will no longer “win the hearts and minds of people.” This administration and/or the next must come to understand that peace in the Middle East cannot be achieved unless there is peace in Palestine. As long as Muslims are denied access to the third holiest shrine, in Jerusalem, religious fanaticism will flourish and casualties will mount on both sides. A genuine non-punitive armistice between Israelis and Palestinians is essential and long overdue. It will not automatically usher in peace in the rest of the Middle East but it will allow moderate Arab governments to survive and gradually institute democratic reforms.
Unless America renounces its unconditional support for Israel’s current policies, there is grave danger that moderate Arab governments will not be able to survive and will be swept away by religious fanatics. What are we going to do if the Saudi monarchy falls and Osama becomes their Ayatollah Khomeini? What are we going to do if this sets off a reverse domino effect and the Kuwaitis get rid of their Emir and the Pakistanis of Musharraf? Bomb all of them? Invade their countries? Those are the nightmare questions, which have to be put before the American public, not just in these pages but shouted from the rooftops. We cannot postpone facing them because an election is at stake. The fate of the country and the world hangs in the balance and that is the reason why our democracy is on trial right now.





July 1, 2004

THE MOSES LEGACY



Just like the book, the title of which appears in the headline, this report comes in two parts. The first deals with the book itself and the second with the legacy of Moses as it is currently unfolding in the Middle East.

After several years of writing and another few years of trying to find a publisher The Moses Legacy; Roots of Jewish Suffering is now finally available through Internet commerce. It had to be published through the “print on demand” medium because I no longer have a life expectancy that will allow me to pursue reluctant publishers or agents for several more years. In as much as the content of the book does not conform to current political ideology editors of well known publishing houses are reluctant to tackle a topic that is not only highly emotionally charged but also presents both sides of Jewish-Gentile relations.

On the other hand I do feel sufficiently strong about the ideas expressed in the book that one should be willing to “put one’s money, where one’s mouth” is and make them available to the public. This attitude has to do with my upbringing where I saw injustices being done to the Jewish members of our society and was unable to do anything about them. I shall never forget the sense of shame I felt one day while traveling on the Stadtbahn in Vienna during WWII when I saw a Jewish girl of my age with a downcast demeanor and the Star of David on her overcoat, as was required by law. I did not decide then and there to rectify injustice all over the world wherever it might exist but the impression was lasting, kept resurfacing intermittently throughout my life and the question kept nagging me why such hatred against Jews could have existed.

After retirement from executive duties, and seeing patients, time was available to study the “Jewish question” with the book under discussion the result. After reading a considerable amount of Jewish literature it became apparent that the problem of anti-Jewish attitudes is an ancient one and there were reasons why people felt the way they did. I shall refrain from using the European term antisemitism, spelled currently anti-Semitism in America, for their feelings because the term implies a racial homogeneity which is inappropriate. When people express dislike or hatred of Jews it is directed against Jews, regardless of racial background, and not Semites in general.

Thus, the book stresses first of all clarity of language. Imprecise language is associated with muddled thinking and subsequently inappropriate behavior. This will be discussed further in the second part of this essay. It may seem strange to connect a religious figure like Moses with 21st century politics but when one reads the book the reasons will become obvious.  Without the figure of Moses there would be no Judaism, no state of Israel, no Christianity and no Islam. Historians and theologians can argue whether or not Moses existed as an individual, what laws he promulgated and what benefit accrued thereby to the world. For the purposes at hand these questions are not relevant because The Moses Legacy deals only with ideas which are expressed in Jewish literature about Jews and their place in the world. The book is about Gentile-Jewish relationships since the inception of the Jewish religion.

Currently it seems to be no longer polite in official American society to speak of a Jewish tradition and a Christian tradition. The two religions have been amalgamated under the term Judeo-Christian thereby blurring the differences between them. It may, therefore, come as a shock to some well meaning Christians that observant Jews not only reject the term but one of them has even regarded it as “an antisemitic lie.” As Neusner has pointed out the “the two religions … really are totally alien to another.” Thus, the purpose of the first part of this book was to explore how such a fundamental misunderstanding between well-meaning people had come about.

One of the fundamental misconceptions Christians harbor about Judaism is that it is a religion like others and has no political implications. Yet Moses intent was not to create a religion but to make an enduring nation out of the diverse group of people he had led out from Egypt. Again it doesn’t matter whether or not the Exodus is a historic reality, it has become so by being enshrined in the Bible and millions of people around the world believe in its veracity. The purpose of Moses’ Law was to set the Hebrews apart from the rest of their neighbors and to make them into a “holy nation [Ex. XIX.6];” “a kingdom of priests” and as such a society unto themselves. But inasmuch as the Hebrews, and later on their descendants the Jews, always lived in the midst of people who worshipped other deities not only was constant strife foreordained but so were increasingly more stringent regulations over all phases of daily life. Once the Jews lost Jerusalem and the Temple the rabbis were confronted with a massive problem how to keep their people together in the Diaspora. The answer was the creation of the Talmud, which has become the “central pillar” of authentic Judaism.

Christians have very little, if any, information on the Talmud and this ignorance has given rise to the misconceptions about the essence of Judaism. The importance of the Talmud for Gentiles lies not necessarily in its religious doctrines but in what has been called “Talmudic thinking,” which differs markedly from that of the Gentile world. Only when one is aware of this fact can one understand Ben Gurion’s comment about the British. He explained to some of his friends that, “You can do many things with an Englishman but you cannot change him into a non-Englishman. The Englishman does not see things with Jewish eyes, he does not feel things with a Jewish heart, and he does not reason with a Jewish brain.” The term Englishman referred to a specific situation but really means Gentile in general and perpetuates a theme of separateness.

The Moses Legacy shows why Ben Gurion’s statement is true and the consequences that flow from it. As mentioned the book is divided into two sections. The first part starts with definitions so that all of us know what is being discussed at a given moment. This is necessary because “Talmudic thinking,” which assigns the meaning of a word to whatever a given person wants it to mean at a particular point in a discussion, pervades the literature. This has to be shunned in a scientific exploration of a topic. The chapter on definitions is followed by what is known about the origins of the Bible, the cornerstone of the religion. Its importance for current political events cannot be stressed enough. This is the reason why various key biblical figures are subsequently examined for their actions and their capacity to serve as role models for behavior in our day and age. Specifically it is shown what type of conduct has been reported, who was rewarded or punished by God and for what reasons.

As a result some rather surprising findings became apparent and demonstrated how the past, present and future intersect. Since the present is based on the past the future is not totally unknowable. It can be predicted to a certain extent, barring divine intervention, if one knows the character and motivations of key players. The first part of The Moses Legacy ends with a discussion of the Pharisees and the essential features of the Talmud. This section demonstrates how Jewish authors during the first century A.D., prior to the establishment of Christianity, responded to attacks. The means with which they defended their views will be found remarkably similar to present day practices.

The second part of the book shows how the world-view, which was derived from the biblical stories and the Talmud, has now been put into practice in America. Its influence on the domestic as well as foreign policy of the United States is documented by quotes from contemporary Jewish authors. It explains why the Constitution of our country is currently constantly re-interpreted and why aspects of American life, which have been constitutional for two hundred years or so, are no longer tolerated. The prime example is the vigorous enforcement of separation of Church and State and re-interpretation of the “free speech” amendment. These are largely driven by “secular” Jewish legal professionals (i.e. atheistic, or “non-Jewish Jews” as Deutscher called them), although atheists coming from other religions have also joined the fray.  The subsequent chapters deal with Jewish perceptions of the past and future, attitudes on justice and death, and Jewish power. As mentioned these observations are presented in discussions of relevant books by Jewish writers, and show how these authors perceive the difficulties their people are confronted with and the ways to overcome them. But as the final chapter, “Are anti-Jewish attitudes curable?” demonstrates the proposed remedies fall short of the mark. The chapter, therefore, presents suggestions which, if adopted, would not require state or other legal intervention. They would cost nothing and simply make us humane beings who work for the benefit of all rather than persisting in a “them and us” attitude where “us” is obviously favored over “them.”

The book clearly reveals that a great many Jewish authors see their people as a beleaguered minority in a hostile environment, which has to be either shaped to conform to their views or, whenever feasible, opposed militarily. The examples presented make it quite apparent that militant nationalistic Jews operate on different assumptions from Christians, Muslims and members of other religions. Fanatic, radicalized Muslims are currently regarded as the greatest threat to the U.S. and the world but the equally grave potential danger not to but by the state of Israel is not being addressed publicly. The main reason seems to be that the “Judeo-Christian tradition” puts us into the same boat as the Israeli leadership and any criticism immediately leads to cries of anti-Semitism by well organized Jewish organizations. Anyone in professional life can ill afford a label of this sort and the injustices perpetrated by Israeli policies against the Palestinian population in the occupied territories, for instance, are only rarely commented upon by the media and ignored by our political establishment.

The book can be obtained through amazon.com or booksurge.com. Excerpts are available on this site and by simply clicking on the book cover on the Contact page a direct link to booksurge is established.

 

 

This brings me to the second part of this essay. Our current War on Terrorism is a classic example of inappropriate language. The term serves only to arouse passions but hides the true battle, which is going on behind the scenes. This obfuscation is useful for politicians but a disservice to our citizens, who pay in blood and money for this war. Terrorism is a means towards an end rather than an end by itself. A war on a tool makes no sense and in reality we are dealing with a war between ideas. This cannot readily be admitted to because ideas cannot be defeated militarily and that is the way this war is being conducted.

In order to deflect attention from this war of ideas we are being told, in print and on the TV screens that people around the world hate us because we are rich and powerful, which has always led to resentment and jealousy. But this is not the real cause of America’s current dilemma. It is, instead, how we are using our resources and the fact that the Bush administration has created the world-wide impression that Americans are above the law and do not have to abide by internationally recognized norms. Unless this perception is rectified, not by propaganda but concrete actions which the world can see and agree with, the very real war we are engaged in cannot be won.

We are also being told that this is a war between good and evil where good must triumph regardless of length of time or cost. But good and evil are philosophical concepts and no agreement can be reached on this basis because good is “us” and evil is “them” regardless which side of the conflict you find yourself on. Mohammed Atta, the purported leader of the 9/11 attack, did not regard himself as evil. On the contrary he prayed to God that “all doors may be opened” to him while carrying out his mission. This consisted of delivering to sinful America, which is promoting “secularism” over spiritual values, a foretaste of the punishment it deserved.

Our leadership, politicians and media people, will also have to recognize that the idea of the “One God” is putting us into a dilemma vis á vis the Muslim and Jewish world. The Muslim creed, “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is His prophet,” establishes unequivocally the unity and identity of God for all three monotheistic religions. For an American general to tell his Muslim counterpart that “My God is bigger than your god” betrays utter ignorance. Unfortunately this ignorance is pervasive and bodes ill for the future. To cast this war into apocalyptic terms makes good propaganda but cannot lead to a satisfactory resolution of the conflict. The Jewish creed (Shema) which is to be recited twice daily also asserts, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.” This establishes the unity of God and theoretically all three monotheistic faiths should have equal access to the “One.” But if the emphasis in the Shema recitation is on “Our” all non-Jews pray to the wrong deity. They are idolaters and as such unacceptable.

This is the interpretation given by some of the settlers on the West Bank. One of them told Jeffrey Goldberg (The New Yorker May 31, 2004), “All my ideas are formed from the Torah. It’s not complex. This land is ours. God gave it to us. We’re the owners of the land.” This mentality leads also to the destruction of Palestinian olive groves, which as Goldberg points out, is a grave sin in Judaism even if the trees belong to an enemy. When Goldberg confronted the rabbi of the settlement, whose youths were carrying out the destruction he said, “I’m not hearing you. I’m not hearing what you’re saying. You don’t understand me. I’m not hearing and I will continue not to hear.” Another person from the settlement when asked about the cutting down of the trees was more concerned with access to Joseph’s tomb. “What is an olive tree compared to the burial place of Joseph, the son of Jacob?” When Goldberg pointed out that those trees are the livelihood of the farmer and his family, the reply was, “But the farmer is an Arab [italics in the original]. He shouldn’t be here at all. All this land is Jewish land. It is meant for the Jews by God Himself.” Thus, the God of Israel is not the God of the Muslims and the settlers in the occupied territories are right while everybody else who disputes this is wrong! Can peace occur with a mindset of this type?

But the internal Palestinian problem is not the only festering sore which infects body politics. There is also the concern of Israeli politicians with external security. There is no doubt that every nation has the right to internationally guaranteed secure borders. There is also no doubt that Israel is a small country and vulnerable to assaults from the neighbors. It is, therefore, equally understandable that in the 1950’s Ben Gurion wanted to have a deterrent against aggression from Arab countries by developing a nuclear bomb. The details about how this was accomplished can be found in Seymour Hersh’s 1991 book The Samson Option. Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy.  But what may have made sense in the second half of the previous century when even Soviet missiles could be targeted on Tel Aviv is now becoming an increasingly dangerous liability.

This brings us back to today’s events and nuclear proliferation. We are currently in Iraq not because Saddam was a threat to U.S. security but he was a potential threat to Israel. This is not yet admitted to in public but it may be only a matter of time before it will be. When I published the essay “The Neocons’ Leviathan” in April, 2003 on this website hardly anybody had heard about “neocons” and what they stood for. Now everyone knows and although their ideas stand discredited because of the Iraq problems, the full implications have not yet been drawn. Israel’s security concerns are still identified with those of the U.S. and although we have been willing to remove the Iraqi threat we are now supposed to eliminate potential threats from Syria and Iran. Neither of these countries presents a danger to America and even the threat to Israel appears exaggerated. The Syrian army is no match against the IDF and Iran does not share a common border. Even if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons the country could not use them against us because we would obliterate Tehran in an eye blink and the mullahs know it. The idea that because they support terrorists they will, therefore, send a bomb via willing helpers to our shores also does not make sense. These men are not stupid; they know that nuclear terrorism cannot destroy America and that the retaliation would be unacceptable. So why do they seem to be willing to build themselves a bomb? One reasonable answer may be that they regard it as the “great equalizer” against Israel’s arsenal of WMDs. Once we have nuclear capability, they might reason, we can no longer be shoved around by the Americans. This is likely to be also the rationale for the North Koreans. Let us remember that we have officially branded these countries as members of an axis of evil. The United States has declared a preemptive war strategy and followed through by invading the first of the three evil ones. They may thus think that they need bargaining chips to assert their independence, just as France did when she developed her bomb and then took a leave of absence from NATO in the nineteen-sixties.  Since Israel is determined that no rival nuclear power will be allowed to exist in the Middle East the risk for a showdown is becoming increasingly higher. There is no doubt that the Iranian Mullahs represent a highly repressive regime and the world would be better off without them. The question is not whether or not they should be put out of office but only how. Bombs and/or military occupation will not work. The change must come from within the country, even if it takes longer than impatient American policy makers would like.

In the current issue of The New Yorker (June 28, 2004), Seymour Hersh writes about Israel’s “Plan B” in Iraq. According to Hersh Israel had warned the United States early last summer to seal the border against Iran because Iranian intelligence officers and foreign fighters were crossing at will in increasing numbers. The border remained open and the Iraqi insurgency gathered steam. One may ask why the U.S. military did not follow through with the well meant advice but one likely reason may be that we simply didn’t have enough boots on the ground to do so.  Israel’s preoccupation with security against a potential Iranian threat has now led to a highly dangerous “Plan B.” Hersh stated, “Israeli intelligence agents and other military operatives are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and most important, in Israel’s view, running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria.” It seems obvious that the Israeli government is not doing this for love of the Kurds, so that they may enjoy a Greater Kurdistan, which encompasses all the Kurdish people who have been parceled out between Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. It is simply using them to destabilize Syria and Iran. But in the process the Israelis are likely to undermine America’s effort to establish a democratic Iraq in its current borders and bring a semblance of order to the region. The Kurds are already concerned that they will lose rights once a strong central government is installed again and demands for autonomy, if not outright secession, are going to become increasingly louder. But the establishment of an independent Kurdish republic will be opposed by Turkey, Syria and Iran out of fear of uprisings within their own Kurdish population. While we can ignore Syria’s and Iran’s concerns, Turkey is a NATO partner and if it were to get involved in major military operations against the Kurds we would have a real problem on our hands. Israeli actions of the type reported by Hersh are clearly against the best interests of America. The newly installed interim government of Iraq will also need all the help it can get to hold the country together rather than encouragement of separatism. Furthermore, if Turkey, Syria and Iran were to get involved militarily innocent Kurdish people would again be slaughtered just as they have been in the past.

There is another potential tragedy brewing in the Middle East and America stands by helplessly. We have an election coming, while the Israeli government is stirring the pot in Iraq, and no one can tell Jerusalem to “cease and desist.” Yes, Israel should be able to live in security but the current security concerns are exaggerated. There is no army that can invade the country and if a missile were to strike one of its cities not only Israel but the United States would retaliate. The fear-mongering needs to be curbed by responsible Jews both here and in Israel so that a degree of sanity can finally emerge in political conduct. A second Auschwitz, Israel’s recurrent nightmare, is not around the corner unless irresponsible Israeli politicians yield to paranoia, or religious fantasies of a Greater Israel, and initiate policies which will escalate the dangers rather than defuse them. While the turning over of even limited authority to the Iraqis two days prior to the promised date is cause for hope meddling with the Kurds is surely not what America and the new Iraqi government need.







August 1, 2004

HERZL’S DREAM

 

It may seem incongruous that after a month during which such major events occurred as: the turnover of “full sovereignty” to Iraq, the Senate’s report on the “intelligence” failure leading up to the Iraq invasion, the 9/11 Commission’s report and the Democratic convention in Boston, that I should instead devote an essay to happenings, which transpired more than a hundred years ago. But as will become apparent, all of the past month’s events are to some extent related to thoughts hatched in Vienna during the end of the nineteenth and beginning twentieth century. Events were set in motion at that time, which will affect not only us but our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I have put full sovereignty and intelligence in the previous paragraph in quotation marks because they represent typical examples of the misuse of language that was discussed extensively in The Moses Legacy. The secret services of various countries around the world do not produce intelligence, they produce information. It would have taken intelligence to sift facts from fancy, but that quality was sorely lacking in our leadership. Full sovereignty is, of course, another euphemism for what has happened in Iraq.The name of the person Dr. Allawi  reports to is Negroponte and the U.S. wouldn’t be building its largest embassy in Baghdad if it didn’t have the intention to retain its influence over Iraqis regardless whether they like it or not.

Now what has all of this to do with a Viennese journalist who was hungry for fame as a playwright? And why does he have to be remembered at this particular time?  It just so happens that this July was the one hundredth anniversary of Herzl’s death and a Symposium was held at Vienna’s City Hall to commemorate the event. I have a certain affinity with Dr. Herzl (he had a law degree from the University of Vienna) because 1904 was not only the year he died but also when my mother was born and my grandfather opened his first leather goods store in the Währingerstrasse, a few blocks from Haizingergasse 29 where Herzl used to live.

Herzl, whose parents had come from Hungary, was deeply perturbed about his Jewishness and the anti-Semitic sentiments he encountered at the university as well as elsewhere. Initially he thought that the cure for anti-Semitism would be complete assimilation. But try as he might he found out that there was no escaping from being regarded as a Jew by others. This fact of life subsequently led him to the opposite extreme by embracing nascent Jewish nationalism and over a period of about eight years he became its most fervent apostle. He traveled from one end of Europe to the other to drum up support from the ruling circles of the day for his intent to solve the Jewish question, as it was called, by an organized mass exodus of European Jews to the land of their ancestors. From rich assimilated Jews he wanted money for his project; from Germany and England he wanted guarantees that the Jewish state he envisioned would not only be accepted but also politically protected; from Russia he wanted exit visas for the millions of the “huddled masses” that were to be the backbone of the emerging country, and from Turkey’s Sultan he wanted to buy the land.

With the assimilated rich Jews he struck out immediately. They obviously saw no reason to give up the privileged positions they had finally attained, even in spite of anti-Semitism. In addition they regarded the idea that Jews are a nation rather than merely a religion as highly dangerous and grist for the mill of anti-Semites. The Sultan was equally adamant. As mentioned in the September 2003 issue (For the goyim they sing) he let Herzl know that the land his ancestors had fought for and conquered with their blood, was not for sale and that the Jews should keep their money.

Anybody else might have given up when it became apparent within the first year of  trying that persevering with this dream would not gain one fame only notoriety, and might actually bring harm to oneself as well as others, but Herzl soldiered on. When no money was forthcoming he convened the first International Zionist Congress in Basel. In Munich, where he had really wanted to hold it, the local Jews told him that he and his ideas were not welcome so the venue had to be changed to the more hospitable climate of Switzerland, where there were hardly any Jews and no Jewish problem. The Congress resolved that the Jewish people needed a Heimstätte in Palestine and its creation was the goal of political Zionism. I am saying political Zionism to mark the contrast with religious Zionism, because religious Jews, as individuals, were always allowed to live and die in the Holy Land if they so desired. The word Heimstätte, a term which is only partially translatable into homeland, was chosen because the word state would have lead to political repercussions the Congress wanted to avoid. “National home” became also the official term in the Balfour declaration of 1917, although everybody knew that a state was really meant rather than a place where Jews would live on ancient soil under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire. Living as Jews with Jewish customs was already possible in the Pale of settlement in Russia but there were, of course, intermittent pogroms and those Jews from the Pale who wanted to escape from its restrictive environment and enter Holy Mother Russia proper did not find a warm welcome there. These were the sentiments Herzl banked on.

But the idea of political Zionism did not originate with Herzl. He had several fore-runners although he claimed to have been unaware of them. One of the most interesting ones was Moses Hess who published in 1862 a treatise Rome and Jerusalem. A study in Jewish Nationalism. The book was inspired by the emergence of European nationalism and for Hess Rome was the symbol for the unification of Italy Garibaldi was engaged in. If the Italians could get their state why not the Jews? seemed to have been the thinking. There are several points in the book which deserve to be quoted because they reflect how the idea of Jewish nationalism was to be sold first to Jews and then to the Gentile world. Hess wrote:

“Fortified by its racial instinct and by its cultural and historical mission to unite all humanity in the name of the Eternal Creator, this people [the Jews] has conserved its nationality, in the form of its religion and united both inseparably with the memories of its ancestral land. No modern people, struggling for its own fatherland, can deny the right of the Jewish people to its former land, without at the same time undermining the justice of its own strivings. …

The great teachers of the knowledge of God were always Jews. Our people not only created the noblest religion of the ancient world, a religion which is destined to become the common property of the entire civilized world, but continued to develop it, keeping pace wit the progress of the human spirit. And this mission will remain with the Jews until the end of days …
The Jewish race is one of the primary races of mankind that has retained its integrity, in spite of continual change of its climatic environment, and the Jewish type has conserved its purity through the centuries. …

The pious Jew is above all a Jewish patriot. The ‘new Jew,’ who denies the existence of the Jewish nationality, is not only a deserter in the religious sense, but is also a traitor to his people, his race and even to his family….

In reality, Judaism as a nationality has a natural basis which cannot be set aside by mere conversion to another faith, as is the case in other religions. … 

 

When one reads these words not from a Jewish point of view but that of a German of the second half of the nineteenth century it is understandable that they would raise eyebrows among the educated and create anger and hate in the mob. Let us summarize what we have been told here. In contrast to Count Gobineau’s books, published in the previous decade, which had extolled the virtues of the Aryan race as the main bearers of culture, Hess had asserted that it was the Jews who had been the major benefactors of the world. Classical Greece and Rome, which had found a renaissance in German culture was not the inspiration of the Western world but Judaism. Furthermore, not only are Jews primarily a race rather than a religion but their religion nevertheless is destined to become the one acknowledged as the true one throughout the world. The assertion that a pious Jew is a traitor to his people if he does not accept membership in the Jewish nation also had to immediately raise questions about loyalty to the countries Jews were citizens of. When one is aware of this aspect of Jewish literature it should come as no surprise that the Nazis took these Jews at their word and regarded race as the determining factor in legislating who is a Jew.

But Hess, Pinsker, Birnbaum, and others who wrote in this vein during the last half of the nineteenth century were ignored until Herzl came along and energized the masses. While Birbaum’s pamphlet Die Nationale Wiedergeburt des jüdischen Volkes in seinem Lande, als Mittel zur Loesung der Judenfrage (the national rebirth of the Jewish people in its country as a solution to the Jewish question), published in 1893, had no resonance - Herzl’s Der Judenstaat (1897), saying essentially the same all the others had previously said, did make an impact. The difference was that while the others had been content to publish their thoughts, Herzl created an organization and relentlessly pursued his course to the detriment of his health as well as his personal and his parents’ finances. He was scrupulously honest and it was this reputation, as well as his position with the Neue Freie Presse, which inspired trust and gained him access to high political circles. This particular newspaper was the equivalent of The New York Times or the Washington Post and as such respected throughout the world

As mentioned above, before Herzl became what one may call a professional Zionist he wrote plays. While still in Paris as foreign correspondent for his newspaper he wrote in 1894 during 17 hectic days and nights what was to be his last play, Das Ghetto. The play, which has been renamed Das Neue Ghetto (the new ghetto), is of considerable interest in the current context because it was Herzl’s first attempt to tackle the Jewish question publicly. The action of the four act drama took place in contemporary Vienna. The protagonist, Dr. Jakob Samuel, is an honest, just married young Jewish lawyer, who devotes himself to progressive social causes and defends the less fortunate in court. He is obviously modeled on Herzl’s view of himself. His major antagonist, Rittmeister von Schramm, is an aristocratic cavalry officer who had insulted Samuel on two occasions. Once for a minor altercation but when he accused Samuel of cowardice and for having been responsible for his financial ruin Samuel lost his temper and slapped him on the cheek. This insult required satisfaction obtainable only by a duel in which Samuel got killed. Herzl used this condensed plot to highlight the Viennese Jewish scene of the day. Samuel’s best friend, Dr. Wurzlechner, is a Christian of impeccable character, who as Samuel states had been his model how to conduct himself in upper class society, took leave of him before going into politics because after Samuel’s marriage he had become too involved with his Jewish family. By maintaining their close friendship Wurzlechner would be seen by his political enemies as a friend and lackey of Jews (Judenknecht), which would have been harmful to his career. While Samuel’s parents were honest, middle income, hard working God-fearing people, the family he had married into represented Jewish upper class wealth with money as their main concern. Hermine, Samuel’s wife who called him Jacques instead of Jakob, was also more concerned with clothes and jewelry, which Jakob couldn’t afford to buy her, than her husband’s work. In addition there is a Mr. Wasserstein, the quintessential parody of the Jewish venture capitalist who is obsequious when down on his luck but arrogant once he had made money again on the stock market.

What has all this to do with the ghetto and the events of the first decade of the twenty first century? The ghetto resides in Samuel’s mind. He knows that the external walls of the medieval ghetto have disappeared but in spite of emancipation Jews are still segregated, although not quite so overtly any more. As he sees it there are two barriers. One is external as represented by anti-Semitism but the other is internal and resides within the minds of Jews themselves. The external barrier can be removed by working with well-meaning Gentiles but the internal can only be overcome by Jews themselves. The play ends when the mortally wounded Jakob floating in and out of consciousness, surrounded by his family and Wurzlechner, who had been his adjutant at the duel,  murmurs;

 “Mother forgive me this pain … (kisses his father’s hand) You will understand father! You are a man! ... (With stronger voice) Jews, my brothers, one will only let you live again - when you … Why do you hold me - so tight? (murmurs) I want – out! …  (With very strong voice) Out – Out from the ghetto!”

The drama is, therefore, both the end of one phase and a prologue for the final phase of his life. He would bring the Jews to the Promised Land, cost what it might, thereby ending anti-Semitism and earn the gratitude of the world.

But this dream had a fatal flaw it ignored reality on two counts. One was the Jewish people themselves whom he saw as an idealistic brotherhood who would follow his call towards a better future and the other that he regarded Palestine as an empty land. He also assumed that the few Arabs who did live there would welcome the Jews as bringers of modern civilization and accompanying prosperity. Jews were to be the colonizers, the Western bulwark against Asiatic hordes and at the same time providing the gateway for the West, especially England, to India. The notion that nationalism might not be limited to Jews but could also affect Arabs, Herzl was not willing to entertain.

He did create a Jewish state but its present condition is a far cry from his imagination in 1902 when, in his novel Altneuland, he foresaw a prosperous state in which the deserts bloom as a result of technologic marvels and most importantly where Jews and Arabs live in peace and harmony together. In the conclusion of this novel, people recount their good fortune after the funeral of one of their revered elders who had passed on in peace.

 

“In this mood Friedrich Lőwenberg raised a question which each one answered in his own manner. The question was: ‘we see here a new, a truly happy way of cooperation among people – who is responsible for this?’

The old Littwak said: ‘Distress’ [Die Not. The word could also be translated as necessity or grief].

Steineck, the architect, said: ‘The reunited people.’

Kingscourt said: ‘The new means of transportation.’

Dr. Marcus said: ‘Science’ [Das Wissen. It could also be translated as knowledge].

Joe Levy said: ‘The will’.

Professor Steineck said: ‘Nature’s forces.’

The British pastor Hopkins said: ‘Mutual tolerance.’

Reschid Bey said; ‘Self-confidence.’

David Littwak said: ‘Love and suffering.’

But the old rabbi raised himself solemnly to his feet and said: ‘God!’’

 

It is noteworthy that Herzl put “mutual tolerance” into the mouth of the Christian rather than the Arab who stressed “self-confidence.” It is obvious that this hoped for state of affairs did not arrive and if Herzl were to return today he would be appalled at what he had wrought and say, like Wilhelm II at the end of WWI, “das habe ich nicht gewollt (I did not intend this). Herzl’s goal was to “have a state, not according to the European model, but a community joined on a voluntary basis with mutual cooperation.” A state of this type does not exist anywhere in this world. Although Herzl didn’t mention it, the idea behind the creation of the United States of America might have come closest to it. But as we all know our country is also sorely rent apart with conflicting interests.

Three and a half years ago when the Bush administration arrived I was still hopeful that a solution to the perennial problems of the state of Israel could be achieved with America acting as the impartial arbiter between Arab and Jewish claims. This is why I wrote Whither Zionism? and sent it to the powers who control our lives. It was not of no avail. Today we in the U.S., the Israelis, and other countries around the world are worse off than in February 2001.

Even in Israel the Jews have not escaped from the Ghetto, as Herzl thought they would. They continue to live now not only in their mental ghetto, but are actually in the process of building a physical one by the creation of a wall to separate themselves from Arabs. This wall is regarded as essential for the security of the country. Although it defies international law some writers like Mr. Zuckerman, editor of U.S. News and World Report, supports it with articles like “Good fences make good neighbors.” If Israel were to build its ghetto wall within the pre-1967 war borders nobody would object. But if Mr. Zuckerman’s neighbor were to build a wall which takes in part of Mr. Zuckerman’s backyard he would surely take the neighbor to court. This is the problem in a nutshell. As long as Jewish writers and politicians see only expected benefits for the members of Jacob’s tribe and ignore the legitimate aspirations of others, the Jewish people and their benefactors are condemned to dislike, hatred and ostracism.

Why has America, which was admired four years ago, sunk so low in the eyes of the world? The true answer, which no one wants to admit to, is our unconditional support for Israel’s policies. It is this support in addition to a quest for oil and a personal vendetta of President Bush against Saddam Hussein which has driven us into the Iraq war. Now we are stuck with a failed dream, just like the Israelis, and are hated for it.

What I am writing now will never be admitted to by the Bush administration even if it were re-elected because it would offend their “base.” But the Democrats can’t say it either, at least during the election campaign, because they would be tarred and feathered as anti-Semites. This is America’s dilemma and this is what Herzl’s followers did to us. It was the neoconservatives in the defense department who hatched the Iraq strategy on the model of Herzl’s dream: we will bring culture to a civilization which actually preceded ours by millennia and our soldiers will be welcomed with open arms by happy Iraqis. As mentioned in the essay on “The Neocons’ Leviathan” (April 2003) the foreign policy of the Bush administration did not originate from its legitimate source, the State Department, but from the Defense Department’s ex-Marxists. They first wrote for incoming Prime Minister Netanyahu a document “Defense of the Realm” and subsequently they simply exchanged the word Israel for United States of America. They were the ones who brought us “angst” and as long as our main friend is a pariah nation we cannot succeed.

Senator Kerry gave an excellent acceptance speech and there was no “angst” during the convention. All of the participants brimmed with optimism for a bright future and great expectations. But for those to be translated into reality senator Kerry, if he were to be elected, would need the same courage he has shown on the battlefield at his desk in the Oval Office. He would have to recognize the existence of “the Jewish brain,” as ben-Gurion has called it, and deal with it in a constructive manner. This would include a full disclosure of the sources which led the British, the Russians and Americans to believe in Saddam’s weapons of mass destructions. The Senate’s report did not address this question and Americans are led to believe that the Mossad, the best spy agency in the Middle East if not the world, had no role. As mentioned in “The Niger Forgery” (August 2003) I don’t know whether or not it did, but to hide behind “sources” only feeds conspiracy theories and these are anathema to a well functioning informed democracy. Indeed, much is at stake in the November elections and it is a sad fact of life that the most important issues cannot be publicly discussed at this time. 







August 26, 2004

PERCEPTIONS OF REALITY

This installment appears a few days earlier than usual because we will take a week of vacation visiting the Caribbean.

As the November elections finally draw nearer the American public is deluged by claims and counterclaims from the two major parties. These tend to leave the average citizen in a state of bewilderment, unless one is a faithful party hack who does what one is told. But for those of us who like to think for ourselves the question of: what is fact and what is fiction? does become important. I shall deal with the dilemma of the American voter, which results from this problem, in next month’s installment and intend to limit myself here to how we perceive reality or, if you like, the truth. This is the fundamental issue from which all else flows.

In May of 1980 I published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease an article on, “The Reality of Death Experiences. A Personal Perspective.  It was prompted by a rash of publications on near-death experiences, which were taken as proof for survival of the soul after death. The question whether we are simply electro-magnetic-biochemical machines, which have to decay and perish, or whether there is an additional element in the human being which survives the destruction of the body is obviously important for how we conduct ourselves in our lives. Inasmuch as the idea of “ashes to ashes” as the end all and be all has always been unpopular, religious thinkers and philosophers have come up with various models of an afterlife. In our skeptical and agnostic society these ideas have lost credence because scientific evidence for retention of consciousness after destruction of the brain is lacking. The near-death experience by survivors of catastrophic life situations was, therefore, hailed as the long sought proof. Reputable physicians and psychologists published books on the narrations of these obviously sincere people who stated that during the time when they were regarded clinically dead, or were in extreme life-threatening circumstances, had been aware that they had died. They were welcomed by deceased relatives or other helpers, but were eventually told to return to earth, which they reluctantly agreed to. The near-death experience (NDE) had all the intensity, if not more, of waking life rather than dream consciousness and became the ultimate reality for the particular person. It affected future conduct because fear of death was lost and the people directed their lives with foremost regard to the benefit of others, rather than strictly selfish purposes.  

I would not have written the article had I not experienced earlier in life the knowledge of, “I am dead, I am free,” accompanied by an indescribable feeling of bliss. The circumstances under which this arose are detailed in the paper (reprint available on request) and need not be repeated here but the important aspect is the word “knowledge.” I did not “believe” that I was dead; I “knew” that I was dead and it was wonderful. The subsequent awakening in a hospital bed, wracked with pain, was a severe disappointment. I never talked about it to anyone except for my wife, Martha, who stood at the bedside and heard me say as my first words, “let me die, let me die.”  

The experience convinced me that the people who claimed to have had a NDE were indeed truthful and had experienced something that is out of the realm of the ordinary; but it also demonstrated the fallibility of human knowledge. The knowledge of that moment, which I will remember for the rest of my life, was wrong because I had not died I only thought so. Life altering as the experience was it also confronted me, as a neurologist, with: what do we call knowledge or reality? If absolute knowledge, experienced as beyond any shadow of a doubt, can subsequently be proven patently wrong it behooves us to look for the reasons. I tried to come to grips with the problem in the mentioned paper because it was obvious that the NDE phenomenon cannot be taken at face value for survival of the soul after death.  Although the experience occurs under clearly altered brain function, the brain is not dead and the question what consciousness, if any, survives a dead brain remains unanswerable.

This problem is, however, not urgent and is likely to remain unsolvable in the foreseeable future. The question of how we perceive our internal and external environment can be examined, however, and conclusions can be drawn. In the mentioned paper I made a distinction between: subjective reality, shared subjective reality and objective reality. In my own situation I was dead subjectively but alive objectively to everybody else. Thus, subjective and objective reality can be vastly different and should not be confused. In everyday life we tend not to make this distinction. Subjective impressions tend to be relegated to dreams, daydreams and fantasies and we act as if they were unimportant. The fact that our subjective reality, unconscious bias resulting from previous life experiences, flavors how we perceive objective reality is only rarely fully acknowledged. We believe that we act on objective reality, or facts, when we actually conduct our lives on shared subjective reality. This fundamental point needs to be grasped and kept hold of.

As mentioned we like to think that we conduct ourselves in an objective, dispassionate, manner most of the time, but this is a fallacy. Unless we are engaged in a specific task which requires fullest concentration our thoughts wander into daydreams and fantasies. These tend to reinforce each other and provide the background for how we meet the next life situation.  Thus the question arises: how do we know when something, anything, represents objective reality? The term is defined here as an observable fact, which does not involve judgment, and is verifiable by anyone with a healthy central nervous system who uses the same means by which the particular fact was arrived at in the first place. For instance the content of this essay is my subjective reality, which you may or may not share, but that it contains a definable number of words can be verified by anyone and is objective reality. This is, of course, what science strives for but this is not how we live our daily lives because it would require pure reason and that commodity is not readily used by the human being most of the time.

This brings up another question: how do we know what we think we know? As a result of the experience mentioned above I began to examine my thoughts in the waking as well dreaming state rather carefully and the result was quite surprising. In general we do not accord to dreams the same reality as to waking consciousness. So: how do we know that a dream is “only a dream” rather than waking reality? Recently the movie “Oh God,” with John Denver as a supermarket assistant manager and George Burns as God, was shown again on television and I was struck by the following conversation:

 

Denver: “How do I know that you are real and I’m not just dreaming this?

Burns: “What color are my eyes?”

Denver: “Blue”

Burns: “Do you dream in color?”

Denver: “No.”

Burns: “So, there you have it.”  

 

Well, for me and some others this type of reality testing would not work as the following example shows. I dreamt that it is a Saturday morning. I am heading down the pier at the marina to my sailboat to get ready for the race when the thought hits me, “could this be a dream?” Then I look up and say to myself, “No; the sky is so blue, the clouds are so white, I feel the wind on my cheek; this can’t be a dream.” When I woke up eventually I found out that it wasn’t Saturday after all and I had to go to work. Thus, this type of reality check doesn’t work. With continued examination of my dreams I found out that during the dream it is impossible to draw a distinction between waking and dream consciousness. Whatever test one may devise is futile as another example shows: It is a Thursday afternoon and I find myself walking around in my neighborhood rather than being at work. I have no memory whatsoever why I am not a work and this raises serious concerns. The neurologist then confronted himself with two possibilities: either I have a serious brain disorder or I am dreaming. I concluded that I was dreaming, woke up contentedly in the knowledge of having dreamt and got up to shower. But even this was merely a continuation of the dream as I found out when the alarm went off at 7 a.m. 

There are also sometimes so called “lucid dreams” where the dreamer realizes in the dream that he is dreaming. This has happened to me on a few occasions and was actually quite hilarious. For instance: I am talking with a group of people when the knowledge hits me: this is a dream! I then proceed to tell the bystanders that they don’t really exist; they are just pictures in my brain. You can readily imagine the expressions on their faces that resulted.

This fundamental fact of life that we cannot tell during the dream whether we operate on dream or waking consciousness has profound repercussions for our last moments of life. The distinction that “it was a dream” becomes apparent only upon awakening, but when we die there is no awakening, at least not on planet earth, and whatever pictures our brains choose to conjure up during the process of dying will be taken as objective reality although it exists only in our heads. This leads to the remarkable conclusion that we are indeed immortal to ourselves. By definition the human being cannot experience unconsconsciousness. Even if the thought, “I am unconscious” were to occur it would be a conscious experience. Since we are subjectively immortal to ourselves the content of consciousness during our dying moments may be of crucial importance but that is for each individual to ponder about.

The reason why we cannot distinguish objective from subjective reality in our dreams is probably due to relative absence of activity in what is called the prefrontal lobes. These portions of our brains are the latest acquisition in human development and are present only to a rudimentary extent in the monkey. They endow us with foresight, judgment, concentration, critical thinking and what is generally called executive function. The prefrontal lobes, rather than the rest of the brain, enable us to act potentially as Homo sapiens. The tragedy of the human race is that they are not always put into gear. We tend to operate on automatic pilot and this is where perception comes in.

When a sensory impulse travels from its specific peripheral receptor organs via specific pathways to the specific central receptor stations it does not remain there but gets subsequently relayed to a variety of other brain structures. These may or may not allow the sensory impression to reach consciousness. It could be shown experimentally that there are two types of responses in the brain to a peripheral stimulus. These have been called the primary and the secondary. While the primary is limited to the specific brain sensory area, the secondary response is widespread and can be changed by conditioning. Pavlov has shown this in his animals more than a hundred years ago on a behavioral level and we can now study its electrophysiological basis. Conditioning is not limited, however, to producing salivating dogs at the ring of a bell but goes on constantly in our brains. This is how habits are formed and this is the grist for the mill of politicians who want to us to think the way they do. Conditioning proceeds in an entirely unconscious manner and there is nothing we can do about it unless we are fully aware that it is indeed happening to us. Once this insight is reached we can act in a rational rather than impulsive, conditioned, manner. We stop being, in the words of our President, “gut-players” and put our prefrontal lobes into gear.

How can this be done? Buddhist philosophy provides the answer. The seventh point of the “Eightfold Noble Path” is “Right Mindfulness.” I have always had a problem with the precise meaning of the term until I came across a book by Nyanaponika Thera. The Heart of Buddhist Meditation (available on amazon.com) is a superb example of how a Ceylonese monk, who explains two thousand five hundred years old thoughts, can benefit modern Americans. The first and most important aspect is the effort needed to “Know Thyself;” an admonition which also graced Apollo’s temple at Delphi. Only when we understand how we as individuals operate can we hope to understand others by noting the similarities and differences. To achieve this goal the Buddha has proclaimed the “Four Foundations of Mindfulness.” They deal with the accurate perception of one’s internal world. Namely: one’s body, one’s feelings, one’s state of mind, and the pictures the mind produces. Once this has been accomplished one can deal appropriately with the external world. For the purposes of this essay only the first three aspects dealing with action will be discussed at this time. These are: bare attention, clear perception of purpose, and clear perception of suitability of means for achieving that purpose.

Bare attention exhorts us to register only the primary sense impression without jumping immediately to the conditioned secondary responses which are judgmental. For instance when one is stuck in traffic one is not supposed to get exercised over the consequences of being late to wherever one is headed but instead register the fact and direct one’s attention to the car ahead of one. Its color, its make, its license plate and so on can be examined in detail. All of this is to be done in a objective way as if one were expected to report it to someone else. In essence: look at each event as it occurs with a scientific, detached mind and move on when the situation changes. Immediate judgment, which is the conditioned response, needs to be held in abeyance. This is also what “living in the present” really means. When a new action needs to be initiated, the second principle ought to be adhered to and one should ask oneself immediately: “what is the purpose?” Once that question has been examined and a decision has been made to move ahead the final question arises: are the means to be employed to achieve this purpose really appropriate?

When we look at our world in this manner we can immediately see how wrong the Bush administration’s response to the 9/11 tragedy was. Had our leadership been reared on the above stated principles instead of the Old Testament they would have spared us and the world untold suffering. Bare attention would have registered as: Two buildings were completely destroyed, one partially, four commercial jets were lost and nearly three thousand people were killed. Those were the facts and our so-called Judeo-Christian heritage cried out for vengeance. Not on the people who actually committed the crime, because they were dead already but on those who had sent them on their mission. Some response was obviously required and this is where the next two aspects of mindfulness should have come into play.

The prime purpose of a reaction should have been to a) compensate, to the extent possible, the victims and b) take measures that will minimize the chances of a recurrence. A fund for the victims was indeed set up but the measures to prevent a recurrence did not take “suitability of means” into account. The appropriate means to deal with bin-Laden’s organization would have been through international cooperation to deprive it of its finances, as well as limited specific special forces operations to destroy his sanctuary in Afghanistan, and make life difficult for him, wherever he moved to subsequently. Only the financial route was pursued but for the rest ulterior motives came into play. The