Saturday, October 20, 2007

Democracy Now! | Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Democracy Now! | Made Love, Got War: Norman Solomon on Close Encounters with America's Warfare State

Democracy Now! | Made Love, Got War: Norman Solomon on Close Encounters with America's Warfare State

AMY GOODMAN: Fifty years ago tomorrow, Sputnik -- what does that have to do with today?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, the official storyline is that the US went from humiliation, with the Soviet launch of Sputnik fifty years ago, to triumph, man on the moon in ’69, technological superlatives ever since.

But there’s a shadowy side, a terribly damaging and destructive shadowy side, which many people in the United States and around the world have been subjected to, and that is the hijacking and the channeling of technological expertise and scientific research in billions of dollars for purposes of what Dwight Eisenhower called in ’61 the “military-industrial complex” and, in a less well-known phrase in his farewell address in ’61, a “scientific technological elite.” That elite is sending 2,000-pound bombs into urban areas of Iraq. It is not only paying off outfits like Blackwater to, out of sight and often out of mind, slaughter Iraqi people in our names and with our tax dollars, but also pursuing missions that are very far from the official storyline.

And so, you could say, just as Sputnik was said to have launched a trajectory of US technological expertise, Silicon Valley and all the rest of it, we have the underside of what we could call a political culture of hoax that has counter-pointed all of the rhetoric about democracy and scientific progress with what Martin Luther King called in 1967 a dynamic of “guided missiles and misguided men,” of using our talents of our country, our resources, our scientific brilliance, for purposes of enriching a few and building a warfare state, which is part of us every moment.

AMY GOODMAN: You talk about innocence on the eve of destruction and revulsion and revolt. Talk about the grassroots response.

NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, in the 1960s and, in a way, as of today, there’s the counterpoint between the official story, the fairy tales, the US missions that we’re told are so heroic and on behalf of democracy, and the reality, the destructiveness, the way in which in the 1950s and ’60s the very bones of children were infiltrated, not in a way that J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI was worried about, but in human terms, with Strontium-90 from nuclear fallout. Those nuclear weapons are still being developed with US tax dollars at Los Alamos and Livermore. And when I visited the Los Alamos Laboratory just recently, I talked to people who again believe that technology will save us. And this is a trajectory that is very much part of the warfare state.

Just a few minutes ago, we heard a clip from the Blackwater hearing yesterday about the way in which, supposedly, Blackwater, as one Congressperson put it, a Democrat, a critic of Blackwater, said that Blackwater is undermining the US mission in Iraq. And all too often the insidious nature of the warfare state gets us to at least tacitly accept the idea that there is something in that mission to be supported. And yet, $2 billion a day going into the Pentagon's coffers, that’s our money. That’s money that should belong to the people of this country for healthcare, education, housing.

And yet, we are tamped down, our numbing process, which is part of the warfare state, gets us to be passive, to accept. And often, you know, Amy, I travel around the country. I talk with people. Many are concerned. They watch this program. They're active. We get in a room. There’s fifty, there’s five, there’s five hundred people. And often, the question comes up: “Well, aren't we just preaching to the choir?” And that is a concern. We have to go outside our own constituencies as progressives. But the reality is that the choir needs to learn to sing better, to challenge more fundamentally the warfare state, because right now it’s our passivity, our acculturated acceptance, that’s causing so much damage.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you really think that it’s a choir right now that is a very confined to a certain group of people? I mean, in this country now, the level of opposition to the war in Iraq, doesn't it go far beyond any particular category of people?

NORMAN SOLOMON: The opposition is registered in opinion polls, but largely quiescent, and if we look at the progression of the Vietnam War, year after year, from the late ’60s through the first years of the ’70s, opinion polls show that most Americans were opposed to the war, even felt it was immoral. You fast-forward to this decade, for years now most polls have shown most people are opposed. But what does that mean? Our political culture encourages us to be passive, not to get out in the streets, not to blockade the government war-making offices, not to go into the congressional offices and not leave, not to raise our voices in impolite or disruptive ways. We have to become enemies of the warfare state, not in a rhetorical way, but in a way that speaks to the American people in terms of where our humane values are and should be.


As my book, Made Love, Got War, goes into in detail, we have lived, we have been incubated by a warfare state for five, six decades. And the effects of that are terribly pernicious. Martin Luther King talked about the “spiritual death” -- his phrase, the “spiritual death” -- that accompanies a society which year after year spends more on military defense than on social uplift. That was forty years ago. What are the effects then of that spiritual death? And so, we have a chance to counteract those sort of dangerous, horrible trends with such terrible results, but we need to activate ourselves to do that.

AMY GOODMAN: What is a vision of the future that you work towards, as you look back at your forty years of activism?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, a vision of the future that I have is not particularly optimistic. It is certainly not fatalistic. All of this is up for grabs. The momentum that we're up against, in terms of the military- industrial complex and all the rest of it, can be counteracted. I believe -- not to be Hallmark card about this -- in the human spirit. The human spirit can’t be killed, but it can be sedated. And we need to be able to shake off that sedation. It means wake up, get past the psychic numbing, help each other to do that, and organize and organize.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, looking at the film you made, War Made Easy, and the previous book, do you feel like any progress has been made, when you talk about the pundits spinning us to death?

NORMAN SOLOMON: The spinning is a repetition compulsion disorder. It’s part of the corporate media. If we’re going to counteract it, we need to support this program and many others around the country, websites, publications, radio outlets, all the different efforts that are necessary, because if we leave it to the punditocracy, they will go back to square one as they're doing with Iran, this danger of an attack on Iran boilerplate with what we saw five years ago. We have to stop it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Democracy Now! | Headlines for September 28, 2007

Democracy Now! | Headlines for September 28, 2007
Transcript: Saddam Offered Exile to Avoid War
A newly-leaked transcript from one month before the U.S. invasion of Iraq shows President Bush was aware that Saddam Hussein offered to go into exile if he was allowed to bring one billion dollars and information on weapons of mass destruction. The disclosure is contained in a record of a meeting between President Bush and then Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in Febrary 2003. The Middle East analyst Juan Cole speculates that Saddam likely wanted to bring with him information that showed Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had helped fund and support his weapons program. Possessing that information, Cole says, would have protected Saddam from future retaliation out of fear of embarrassing the White House. The transcript also shows President Bush hoped the UN Security Council would support the war in part because “[it] would save us fifty billion dollars.” The fifty billion figure was the initial estimate of what the invasion would cost. Bush also made clear he expected U.S. forces to invade Iraq within a month of the conversation regardless of UN approval. Bush and Aznar met on February 22nd -- the U.S.-led invasion began on March 19th. Bush also reportedly said Europeans are opposed to the invasion because they’re indifferent to Saddam’s atrocities. He said: “Maybe it’s because he’s dark-skinned, far away and Muslim — a lot of Europeans think he’s OK.” White House spokesperson Gordon Johndroe declined comment on the transcript.

Democracy Now! | Headlines for September 27, 2007

Democracy Now! | Headlines for September 27, 2007
Judge Rules Parts of PATRIOT Act Illegal
A federal judge has ruled two provisions of the USA Patriot Act allowing secret wiretapping and un-substantiated searches are unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken said the Patriot Act’s leeway for surveillance and searches of U.S. citizens violates Fourth Amendment requirements for probable cause. The ruling came on a challenge sought by Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield. Mayfield has sued the U.S. government for falsely accusing of him involvement in the Madrid train bombings of 2004. Mayfield settled the case, but retained the right to challenge the Patriot Act under the terms of his deal.

Relatives of Bolivian Massacre Victims Sue Ex-President
Former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada is being sued in a U.S. court on behalf of relatives of victims of a massacre four years ago. The conflict arose following a decision by the Sanchez de Lozada government to export Bolivia’s natural gas through a port in Chile. When hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in protest, government forces responded with soldiers and tanks, killing 67 of the protesters and wounding more than 400. Sonia Espejos lost her husband in the crackdown.

    Sonia Espejos: "They are the only ones who are responsible for what we have to suffer for here in Bolivia but we are not going to allow Gonzalez Sanchez de Lozada to tour the United States."
De Lozada and two former top officials have resided in the US since 2003 after a citizen’s uprising removed them from office.

Report: Bush Believed War Inevitable, Threatened Anti-War Nations Month Before Iraq Invasion
And the Spanish newspaper El Pais is reporting that one month before launching the war on Iraq, President Bush claimed an invasion was inevitable and that he would punish governments not behind it. According to a Spanish government transcript, Bush told then-Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar: “Saddam Husein will not change and will continue playing; the moment has arrived for undoing of him.” Bush also reportedly said he would withdraw financial aid to Angola and freeze a trade agreement with Chile if they did not back the war. In the transcript, Aznar tells Bush he needs help in swaying Spanish public opinion and that he’s worried by Bush’s optimisim. Bush responds: “I am optimistic because I believe I am right. I am at peace with myself.”