MoveOn Peace Bulletin, International Edition
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Susan V. Thompson, Editor
Leah Appet, Editorial Assistant

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Introduction: A High Stakes Game
One Link: North Korea Threat Part of US Regional Strategy
Axis of Evil
Nuclear Weapons Program
About the Bulletin

In 1994, the US and North Korea reached the brink of war when it was discovered that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons. The crisis was averted by the Agreed Framework negotiated by the Clinton administration, which had North Korea promise to stop developing nuclear weapons in exchange for two nuclear reactors, fuel oil aid, and improved relations.

Now North Korea has admitted to having a weapons program once again, after being presented with evidence of North Korean nuclear activities by US envoy James Kelly. The result has been global shock and confusion about North Korea's motives. South Korean representatives have framed the admission as part of North Korea's willingness to improve ties with the outside world. Other analysts believe that it is part of a traditional North Korean tactic of creating a crisis in order to force talks, and that North Korea may be using its nuclear capacity as a bargaining chip--as something to be exchanged for improved relations with the US or for aid. For its part, the US has declared that the admission makes the 1994 agreement null and void, dismissing the North Korean perception that the the US had already broken several of its own promises under the agreement, including the building of two nuclear reactors in North Korea by 2003.

The UN's nuclear monitoring body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has issued a call for North Korea to admit weapons inspectors as soon as possible. However, the action cannot be enforced by the IAEA. It must be enforced by the UN Security Council, which is currently focused almost exclusively on Iraq. Even though the Bush administration and several of its allies have opted to stop shipping fuel oil to North Korea as a retaliation for the weapons program, there is still no talk of forcing inspections; nor has the US said that it is considering military retaliation if North Korea does not comply.

Considering the stance the US government is taking against Iraq, the relative disregard of the North Korean threat is raising questions about whether US foreign policy is inconsistent, or even hypocritical. The Bush administration is considering taking pre-emptive military action against Iraq based only on the unproven suspicion that Iraq has or could develop chemical and nuclear weapons; yet it seems unwilling to threaten any military action against North Korea even after North Korea has admitted to having a weapons program. North Korea also has an "evil dictator" who treats his people extremely poorly, and appears on the US list of countries that support terrorism, yet there is little talk of "regime change" for North Korea. Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, has said that, "Not every policy needs to be put into a photocopier."

But what's the real reason that North Korea isn't high priority? It could be because Iraq has oil, a resource which North Korea lacks. Or it could simply be that the US has already committed so many diplomatic and military resources to an attack on Iraq that it's virtually impossible to back down and focus elsewhere at this point.

However, it's more likely that emphasizing North Korea's threat while not aggressively pursuing military action against the country is serving US strategic interests. How? According to several analysts, the US hopes to use the threat from North Korea as a tactic to push through the building of controversial missile defense systems in the area. Such missile defenses would help contain the growing threat from China, the one country that is developing enough economic and military strength to compete with the US. This is a much more appealing strategy for the US than directly attacking North Korea, which has its own army of 1.2 million and a strong alliance with nuclear capable China.

By admitting that it has a uranium-enrichment program, it appears that North Korea has quite literally called America's bluff. It remains to be seen how the rest of the game will play out.

Journalists and pundits often complain that North Korea's motives are hard to understand. We can guarantee that after reading this article, you will have an excellent grasp on the current situation in North Korea. It provides a clear and comprehensive explanation of the strategies being played out in the region, including the relationship between North Korea, Japan, China, and the US, specific US plans for missile defense systems in the area, and why the broken promises of the 1994 Agreed Framework may have prompted North Korea to admit to having a nuclear weapons program.

From the article: "The Bush administration may not be interested in removing North Korea from the threat list. A perceived North Korean threat is necessary to justify building the Theater Missile Defense (TMD) system, intended to counter China's growing military and political power. With China's economy growing at seven percent, it is only a matter of time before it dwarfs Japan in power and strategic influence. This worries sectors of Japan's government, especially the military establishment, and also concerns the Bush administration, who do not want to see U.S. regional power and economic interests threatened by China. Since neither the U.S. nor Japan are willing to admit to building the new missile system to counteract a Beijing threat, North Korea is currently being used as the primary reason for creating the TMD in Japan."

Includes a map.

Basic information about North Korea (Note: North Korea is actually called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea or DPRK.)

Read this "letter from Pyongyang" for a look inside this secretive and totalitarian country. According to the author, "The one thing that brings foreign diplomats and international organizations to North Korea is nuclear weapons, or at least the threat of nuclear weapons. Without a nuclear program North Korea would be seen as nothing more than a tiny, sparsely populated, hermit kingdom with a totalitarian regime. Although it is starving, there would be little outcry and little attention would be paid. But with a nuclear program in place, North Korea can command the attention of the world, or at least those parts of it willing to trade aid for nonproliferation." Although this letter was written in August, the author accurately predicted that a resumption of the nuclear program would come soon: "The nuclear deal’s problem is that oil deliveries are far behind, construction of the reactors is delayed, and the Bush administration is unwilling to work constructively with Pyongyang, so there is now a greater chance that Kim Jong Il will resurrect the nuclear program for political purposes."

This is an excellent article which traces the military and diplomatic maneuvers between North Korea and the US from 1950 until the last presidential election. The main point of the article is that cooperative threat-reduction works with North Korea. Apparently, North Korea has been trying to reduce its enmity with the US since the '80s; it was a misreading of North Korean strategy that almost led to war in 1994, since the country actually only acts in response to US actions in a sort of tit-for-tat diplomacy. If the US makes a concession, North Korea does so as well. The author warns that although the advisors in the Bush administration regard cooperation with disdain it is the only way to end any threat from North Korea. As he says, "The way to eliminate the nuclear, missile, and conventional threats from North Korea is to put an end to enmity."

In his State of the Union address shortly after the events of Sept. 11, President Bush named North Korea as part of his controversial "axis of evil" along with Iraq and Iran.

According to Foreign Policy in Focus, the "axis of evil" remark was part of a general tendency to ostracize North Korea despite the country's attempts at cooperation. This may be part of the larger plan of using North Korea as an excuse to develop the US military plans for the region, which include building controversial missile defense systems in South Korea. Even though this report was written in February 2002, before the reported nuclear weapons admission, it predicted that 2003 would be the breaking point for US-North Korea relations.

A month after calling North Korea part of the "axis of evil," President Bush traveled to South Korea and laid the blame for lack of peace between North and South Korea on North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. While Bush supported South Korean President Kim Dae Jung's "sunshine policy" of attempted reconciliation with North Korea, for which Kim received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2000, he also said that the policy isn't working.

North Korea is also listed as a supporter of terrorism by the US government; this site explains why.

In October, US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly visited North Korea on the first diplomatic US mission to the country since Bush's infamous "axis of evil" speech. According to the US, when Kelly confronted North Korea with evidence that it had been engaging in nuclear activities, North Korean officials admitted that they had indeed been conducting a uranium-enrichment program. The admission stunned the international community.

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) provides information on North Korea's current weapons status, which includes an outline of the Agreed Framework that North Korea has apparently broken, as well as a general history of North Korea's weapons status.

In retaliation for North Korea's reported admission, in November the Bush administration and its allies in the region announced their decision to stop vital fuel oil aid to North Korea. President Bush demanded that North Korea end its program but stated that there are no plans for military action against North Korea. Unfortunately, the fuel oil aid will be cut off just before the North Korean winter.

Reportedly, during Kelly's visit, North Korea said it would end its nuclear weapons program in exchange for a visit from President Bush, the signing of a non-aggression treaty, a peace accord, and the lifting of all economic sanctions (although this article focuses mainly on the visit from President Bush.) According to Kelly, "If North Korea thinks that the United States will agree to a new framework because it has broken the Agreed Framework, then it is totally mistaken."

While North Korea has admitted to having a nuclear weapons program, no one is sure whether the country has admitted to actually possessing nuclear weapons. The difference in interpretation relies on one syllable of a Korean news report. Amid international debate, a recent announcement from North Korea claims that the original statement was that they are entitled to have nuclear weapons, not that they already have them.

There is a difference between having some enriched uranium and producing an actual bomb, according to respected nuclear physicist Frank Barnaby. According to Barnaby, "A programme could just be a few people thinking about it."

The UN is already calling on the country to accept inspections. On November 30th the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear-monitoring arm of the United Nations, called on North Korea to abandon any nuclear weapons program it may have and accept a senior inspecting team. The statement issued by the agency said that North Korea's claim that it was entitled to nuclear weapons violated its agreements under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. However, no deadline was issued, and the agency has no enforcing powers--any enforcement would need to be done by the UN Security Council.

North Korea has rejected the call to admit inspections. The US continues to emphasize that it will seek a diplomatic solution.

Interestingly, Pakistan may have aided North Korea with its nuclear weapons program back in the '90s, by exchanging its enriched uranium technology for North Korean missile technology. The Bush administration may even have known this and kept quiet about it once Pakistan became its ally in the "war on terrorism."

In a very clear and useful article, CNN lists the "dramatic steps" that North Korea has taken over the past year in an attempt to improve relations with the rest of the world. According to the article, these include:

Creating a capitalist-style "special administrative region" of Sinuijiu on the Chinese border.
Reconciling with neighbor South Korea through talks and the building of railway lines.
Admitting the abduction of Japanese citizens during the 1970s and early 80s, which has helped create trust between the two countries as Japan has worked on normalizing relations with North Korea.
According to CNN, the final goal of North Korea is to end tensions with the US, by using its nuclear weapons program as a bargaining chip--i.e., North Korea will end its nuclear weapons program if the US will normalize relations.
The reported admission of nuclear weapons capability by North Korea could potentially cause two problems for the US. First, "that a new crisis might erupt on the divided and heavily armed Korean peninsula, where 35,000 US troops are stationed. It has been described as 'the most dangerous place on Earth.' " Second, "that the restrained US reaction will lead to accusations that America operates double standards in its dealings with Iraq and North Korea, making the search for a tough United Nations resolution against Saddam Hussein even trickier." The difficulty in pursuing a direct policy in this case is compounded by the difficulty that analysts are having understanding North Korea's motives.

This great article makes the valuable point that the general double-standard of the US is at play in the situation with Korea; namely, that the US is allowed to have weapons of mass destruction, and its allies are as well, but countries that do not support the US are not allowed to have such weapons.

"President Kim Jong Il of North Korea has obviously failed to comprehend that only those countries sanctioned by America and its close allies are permitted to develop nuclear weapons in this unipolar world. Other nuclear powers, such as India and Pakistan, are tolerated as long as they keep their policies in line with those of Washington.

Still, all is not lost as North Korea is not Iraq, does not have oil and further, does not have its sights on Washington's de facto protectorate, Israel. It may, therefore, manage to escape the Bush administration's list of potential targets for enforced regime change."

Research team:
Dean Bellerby, Joanne Comito, Anna Gavula, Keiko Hatch, Russ Juskalian, Maha Mikhail, Vicki Nikolaidis, Kim Plofker, Ben Spencer, Ora Szekely, and Sharon Winn.

Proofreading team:
David Taub Bancroft, Madlyn Bynum, Carol Brewster, Melinda Coyle, Nancy Evans, Anne Haehl, Mary Kim, Dagmara Meijers-Troller, and Alfred K. Weber.

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Dec. 10, 2002  

|  Boy, it's good to be back. You haven't seen me here much
since my last column, in July of 1999. What happened was, I wrote another
novel. It took two and a half years to write (and much of the material
debuted here at Salon), and then nine months to get it published. People who
want to get published think that publication will give them self-esteem, and
peace of mind, make them feel whole and redeemed. But it's a fantasy, like
thinking that marriage, or weight loss, or money will make you well. You only
look forward to publication and touring the first two times. Then, even
thinking about it is like anticipating periodontal work. It's like weeks and
weeks of labor, waiting to see if your baby book will look like the next
Alice Sebold, or a goat. My publication date was the last day of September,
and I began a national book tour, for much of the five weeks before the
recent election. I did readings, during which I tried to cheer people up,
help them laugh and feel less alone, and trick them into buying my book. And
everywhere I went, when people asked what I was going to do next, I said that
I was going to write for Salon again, and do anything I could to help the

Is there a resistance? you may well ask. Well, maybe it's not quite as
organized or heroic as the French Resistance -- yet. But the plates of the
Earth are shifting. Do you know a single person who supports any of this
administration's policies, in any way at all? I mean, besides your relatives?

People around the country were so scared, and hungry for hope, and for some
reason I seem to have a lot of it, most of the time. If I can get through
these times with my crabby sense of humor and blundering grace, you probably
can too. If we survived one George Bush, we can survive them all. I have hope
because the peace march here was so huge, and because Nancy Pelosi is
terrific. And somehow, Kissinger's appointment to head the investigation into
9/11 is so hilarious that it has given me a new lease on life. You really
gotta love the guy. How many of us could have kept our cool if our boss
referred to us as "the Jew," as in, "Haldeman, get the Jew on the phone." How
many of us could have lived in this country so long, and still sound so
convincingly like Boris Karloff?

So I shared this hope of mine everywhere I went. Hope is costly, as Augustine
said, but not as costly as giving up. And I learned once again that almost
anything is worth doing, as long you get to end up back at home.

My tour began in New York City, with a radio interview for a huge audience. I
waited through the introduction like a dog about to play catch. "Well!" the
host asked finally. "Writing takes a lot of creativity, doesn't it."

"Yes!" I replied enthusiastically. "Quite a lot! How true!"

The next day I did an interview for an important NYC literary radio station
that I had longed to be on. The host said he had read "Bird by Bird" and
"Operating Instructions" a dozen times each, but he must have read the
versions where they took out all the references to my sobriety. Because there
I was, in my golden retriever eagerness to please, with a man who, right off
the bat, offered me a Scotch. "Oh, no thanks," I said nicely, and then
reminded him that I'd quit in 1986. "Sorry, sorry," he said, but at the end
of the show, on air, he offered me tranquilizers as an enticement to be on
his show again. "Valium!" he enthused. "Or Xanax. Or both!" And then he
closed the show by announcing, "You are a delightful little creature."

I was in New York for four or five days, and waited to see if I would get
reviewed by the Times. This is my ninth book and I have never gotten a daily
review in the Times -- not that I am bitter. Nope, nope, nothing could be
further from the truth. It's just that I secretly believe that if Michiko
Kakutani likes your work, it means you are a real writer, and you will be
happy and and wealthy and stable forever. The one little problem with
Michiko, though, is that if she doesn't like your book, she will kill you --
cut your head off with a surgical knife, and play hacky-sack with it until
she grows bored. Then, maybe in the last paragraph, she'll pour acid on it.

So that's definitely a downside.

But there's a book in front of me opened to the page where it says, "There is
One who has all power," and it does not mention Michiko Kakutani. Honest --
I'm looking right at it. But it can sure feel like she does. She's like the
great and glorious Wizard of Oz, and most writers feel terrorized by her. It
does not seem to bring them solace when I remind them that she is going to
get a bad seat in heaven. She will probably have to sit in the Mean People's
Room, with Paul Wolfowitz, and Ann Coulter, and they'll mostly have to live
on aerosol cheese products and lavender Necco wafers.

I had recently read three of Kakutani's brilliant, ugly attacks on three
writers I love -- Zadie Smith, Tim O'Brien and John Updike. Listen, I'm not a
psychiatrist, but I'm beginning to wonder if she may have tiny sadism issues.
So, actually, wanting her to review you is like hoping that Wolfowitz will
ask you out on a date. But I waited, and wonderful things happened for my
book, and I waited, and waited. I composed little ditties like, "Michiko, you
bitchiko, you make us all so twitchiko." And when I never got the daily
review, I knew I had dodged a bullet, but I also felt hurt and hysterical,
like Christopher Guest in "Waiting for Guffman," screaming into the phone, "I
hate you, and I hate your ass face."

Finally I got a Sunday Book Review piece that I loved and I felt great. Then
a friend said it was sort of a mixed review, and I got depressed. Then
another friend said it was a terrific review. Then I got some really
sickening treatment on a radio show, and I felt like Snaggletooth doing
Shakespeare onstage. Up, down, up, down, until finally I remembered what a
priest friend said: "It is exhausting to stay at this level of mental
illness. One needs a lot of rest. We're on your side." It helped. I rested,
overate, called my friends.

I was in Colorado when I made the New York Times Bestseller List, and my best
friend, Martin Cruz Smith, who wrote a great novel called "December Sixth,"
was on it that same day. We called each other from our media escorts' cars,
2,000 miles apart; and I can honestly say this was the happiest moment of my
tour. Then, a bad review arrived, and the jungle drums started beating again.
But luckily, in Colorado, I had something else to worry about: a drowning
fish in my hotel room.

It was a nice hotel except that someone had decorated my room with a dying
goldfish in a fishbowl. It swam frantically around the bowl, opening and
closing its mouth, its eyes bugging out as if it had a grape stuck in its
throat. It never stopped circling, gasping, all but clutching at its throat.
Sometimes it got trapped in the plastic vines. It was a nightmare. At first I
referred to it in numerous telephone calls as "the poor little guy." By
dinner the first night, I called him "that fucking fish." I kept hoping it
would die, so I could pour it down the toilet. I thought about flushing it,
alive. They shoot horses, don't they?

Eventually I got to go out and do a reading. I love readings and my readers,
but the din of voices of the audience gives me stage fright, and the din of
voices inside whisper that I am a fraud, and that the jig is up. Surely
someone will rise up from the audience and say out loud that not only am I not funny and helpful, but I'm annoying, and a phony. Or they will show a video,
of me at home, alone, in the bathroom. The whistle is always waiting to be
blown, and in some ways, it gets me to do better work. But onstage with a
hundred people watching, it causes me to swing back and forth between
self-abasement and megalomania. It's usually supersonic, like a dog whistle
-- but in a crowd, other dogs might hear.

Being on a book tour is like being on the seesaw when you're a little kid.
The excitement is in having someone to play with, and in rising up in the
air, but then you're at the mercy of those holding you down, and if it's your
older brother, or Paul Wolfowitz, they leap up, so that you crash down and
get hurt. And if it's you holding you down, teasing you, and withholding, and
leaping up, well, where are you going to find any connection and safety?

I usually find it back at the hotel, where there's room service and climate
control, which almost makes up for no kid, no boyfriend, no cat. And no
puttering, which is as close as I get to yoga. The only things you can look
for in a hotel are things you probably left behind. But this time I had to
return to the drowning fish. It was still tearing around the bowl when I got
back, searching for a crumb, gasping for air. I finally called housekeeping.

"I'm very worried about my fish," I said. There was a long pause. "I think
he's hungry. Would it be possible to send some fish flakes up?"

But the fish people had gone home for the night, and I was too embarrassed to
ask for someone to come get the fish. I called a friend. I told him about the
fish, and I started crying, and I finally realized that there were two beings
in the room, and one of us was just fine.

So I did what you can do to help life fill in the holes: I put on my jammies,
ordered crème brulée, arranged my reading material, took a lot of notes,
realized how funny it was going to seem someday, and called a friend.

And the next day I got to come home. Home was a fascinating series of
counterbalances —- back with my family and friends, but blindsided by the
election; grounded by the yoga of puttering, and terrorized by the impending
war. I didn't know quite what to do with myself at first. Then I remembered
what I had told those people who kept asking what I was going to do next: I
was going to work for the Resistance, and do a column at Salon; flex the
muscles of my hope and neuroses, and walk through it again.
by: David Michaelis

As the war approaches inexorably, the divide and polarization between the Arab World and the US increases daily. Beneath the obvious misperceptions about policy goals of the governments involved, lies a gap that has lead to a dialog of the clueless. However this inability to read each others' intentions can be remedied.

One of the hurdles is that only 14% of Americans have passports. Adding to this is a National Geographic survey which revealed last week that more American teenagers knew that the island featured in the last season of "Survivor" on CBS is in the South Pacific than could place Israel on a map.

The Arab world, on the other hand, gleaned most of its information about the US from Hollywood productions seen by satellite in most Arab countries. The UN Arab Development Program has issued a report this year expressing its dismay that only 300 books were translated from English into Arabic for a population of 280 million Arabs. Yet no equivalent report was issued about the fact that about 330 books were translated from foreign languages into English last year for the 285 million Americans. There seems to be an equal lack of literacy on both sides.

These numbers should enlighten the ruling elites, business leaders, and media pundits who do not know how and why America is so misunderstood. The richest country on earth is living under a cultural blockade, making its population unable to decode the messages coming from other countries. This "city on the hill" is proving that even an open democracy can be a closed society that resists outside attempts to reach it through peaceful means. A society that believes that it is a role model for all others to follow cannot remain insulated living on an island informed by corporate media products. The 9/11 tremors are felt still today because most Americans saw more films about aliens landing in the US than they ever saw about people living in foreign countries, sharing the same planet with them. Americans have to realize that isolationism on the cultural level leads to "It's my way or the highway" on the international diplomacy level. A peaceful diplomacy is not possible when there is no recognition of the OTHER as a different and legitimate being.

If Americans perceive their mission in the world to be the definers of evil and the authority on how to eradicate it, then dissent becomes unacceptable and the Patriot Act is the only way to go. For foreigners this one country-one voice message, does not sound democratic at all. If citizens choose to send a message "Don't mess with Texas," they should not be surprised that the US remains a lone star in the world. This is a risky, reckless attitude for the most powerful democracy of the 21st century. As Americans ask themselves what they can do for their country, one of the answers should be to listen to the world and recognize that the two oceans are no longer a barrier. Listening to the world means to translate more books, see more foreign films and dialog via the Internet with the world. If Americans choose not to travel, these are the most practical alternatives. To break through this self-imposed cultural blockade, American citizens must rebel against the rating and market driven culture. Since 9/11, anyone who still believes that "What you don't know won't hurt you," lives in a bubble.

Listening to the world and decoding its messages is not a matter of investing $30 billion in national intelligence capabilities. There is a difference between hearing and listening to other societies. The dialog of the deaf usually happens between people who pretend to hear but are not listening, as the ongoing crisis in the Middle East proves on a daily basis. Messages of goodwill in one sign language are sometimes misinterpreted as a threat by the other side. Geopolitical literacy is an essential tool to understand today's complex global realities. American society is at a crossroad and has to change its priorities. The dilemma today is - does American want to be an enlightened and informed Athens on the hill or an armed Sparta?

The clouds of war should not lead to demonization of the Arab World, without any shades of different Mid East colors appearing on American television. Terror tends to dictate an dichotomy of good and evil with new cycles of retaliation being the only mode of communication. The recent internal debate between Bush and some of his supporters about whether Islam is a peaceful religion or a warmongering one is a typical result of this labeling syndrome. The opening of the minds and making other cultures more accessible can happen through computers and television in homes around the nation. The information super-highway goes two ways, so does the international road of diplomacy. Citizens diplomacy and open, fast communication should be the road to travel on. This will dispel the fears that are uppermost in peoples' minds. Fear and ignorance are a sure recipe for demonization, making the faces of the "other" into monsters.

Letter from Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts, Fall 2002

Dear friends,

One cannot accuse the Bush administration of any lack of clarity
about its vision for global affairs.

This administration understands very well that in terms of military
force the United States stands alone, beyond any conceivable
challenge. And this administration has made it crystal clear that it
intends to use this power to organize the world to satisfy the
demands of the narrow sector of domestic power and privilege that it
represents. In service of the same interests, Bush and company are
quite openly conducting an assault against the domestic population.
They are seeking to impose obedience by undermining civil liberties
and fostering a distorted brand of patriotism that aims at
suppressing democratic debate.

The Bush administration is also breaking new ground in the brazenness
of its contempt for international law and treaty obligations. The
language and processes of multilateralism, international rule of law,
treaties, and international cooperation have been thrown into the
trash heap of history: the Kyoto protocol, International Criminal
Court, arms control treaties, human rights conditionality on U.S.
military aid—indeed any impediment to unconstrained U.S. force and
coercion. Emboldened by their historically unprecedented and rapidly
escalating military hegemony, leading Bush planners make no secret of
their intention to validate the four-word definition that George Bush
Sr. gave to his new world order, "What we say goe"s.

There is only one deterrent to this mad and destructive course—the
people of the United States."

There can be no more urgent task than to speak truth about power—the
destructive power unleashed in the name of all the people of the
United States. Speaking truth about power entails good research and
analysis by U.S. progressives, and it means listening to those
impacted by U.S. power abroad. Truth about power facilitates the
essential organizing and advocacy needed to ensure that the immense
resources of the U.S. can help create a more decent, livable world.

Since 1979 the Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC, on the
internet, http://www.irc-online.org) has been doing just this. Now
more than ever, the IRC needs your support to continue this important
work, because never before has U.S. power been so widely projected
and unconstrained.

With long experience in U.S.-Latin American relations, the IRC has in
the past year launched its new Americas Program
(http://www.americaspolicy.org). This program is not only critiquing
how the U.S. is wielding its weight in the region—meddling in
domestic politics in Bolivia and Venezuela, supporting
state-sponsored terror in Colombia, funding migrant detention centers
in Guatemala, and pushing its now discredited neoliberal trade
agenda—but is also looking at how citizens are fighting back and
establishing alternatives.

Six years ago the IRC had a vision of creating "a citizen-based think
tank without walls." Today that vision has been realized in the
internationally renowned Foreign Policy In Focus project
(http://www.fpif.org). Over the years, FPIF has demonstrated an
admirable capacity to respond to global affairs crises with expert
analysis based on sound progressive principles. Also, in the past
year I applauded the IRC’s launch of an "Outside the U.S." component
of FPIF, which insures that perspectives from countries impacted by
U.S. policies become part of the public debate.

A new IRC initiative, the Project on the Present Danger
(http://www.presentdanger.org), is a campaign to build support for
international cooperation and law as the proper framework for
managing global affairs. We define the "present danger" as U.S.
unilateralism and U.S. attacks on multilateral frameworks for peace
and security. Over the past six months, the IRC has also covered new
investigative and analytical ground in its focus on the right-wing
front groups and ideologues that are shaping Bush's supremacist
foreign policy.

As a member of the IRC's board of directors—and a long-time fan of
its work—I urge you to make a donation in support of the IRC.

More than ever before, we need groups like the IRC speaking out,
asking hard questions, tabling alternatives, and telling it like it

Noam Chomsky

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They Thought They Were Free
by Milton Mayer

But Then It Was Too Late

"What no one seemed to notice," said a colleague of mine, a philologist, "was
the ever widening gap, after1933,between the government and the people. Just
think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it
became always wider. You know it doesn't make people close to their
government to be told that this is a people's government, a true democracy,
or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little,
really nothing to do with knowing one is governing.

What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by
little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in
secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the
government had to act on information which the people could not understand,
or so dangerous that, even if he people could understand it, it could not be
released because of national security. And their sense of identification
with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and
reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took
place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even
intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true
patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and
reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the
slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter
and remoter.

"You will understand me when I say that my Middle High German was my life. It
was all I cared about. I was a scholar, a specialist. Then, suddenly, I was
plunged into all the new activity, as the universe was drawn into the new
situation; meetings, conferences, interviews, ceremonies, and, above all,
papers to be filled out, reports, bibliographies, lists, questionnaires. And
on top of that were the demands in the community, the things in which one had
to, was "expected to" participate that had not been there or had not been
important before. It was all rigmarole, of course, but it consumed all one's
energies, coming on top of the work one really wanted to do. You can see how
easy it was, then, not to think about fundamental things. One had no time."

"Those," I said, "are the words of my friend the baker. "One had no time to
think. There was so much going on." "Your friend the baker was right," said
my colleague. "The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into
being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for
people who did not want to think anyway. I do not speak of your "little
men", your baker and so on; I speak of my colleagues and myself, learned men,
mind you. Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and
never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental
things to think about - we were decent people - and kept us so busy with
continuous changes and "crises" and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the
machinations of the "national enemies", without and within, that we had no
time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by
little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants
to think?

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it - please
try to believe me - unless one has a much greater degree of political
awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each
step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion,
"regretted," that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the
beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what
all these "little measures" that no "patriotic German" could resent must some
day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in
his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary
men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since
it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta
and Finem respice - "Resist the beginnings" and "consider the end." But one
must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One
must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by
ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have changed here
before they went as far as they did; they didn't, but they might have. And
everyone counts on that might.

"Your "little men," your Nazi friends, were not against National Socialism in
principle. Men like me, who were, are the greater offenders, not because we
knew better (that would be too much to say) but because we sensed better.
Pastor Niemoller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he
spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the
Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist,
and so he did nothing: and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a
little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and
then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier,
but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a
Churchman, and he did something - but then it was too late."

"Yes," I said.

"You see," my colleague went on, "one doesn't see exactly where or how to
move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the
last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait
for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock
comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or
even to talk, alone; you don't want to "go out of your way to make trouble."
Why not? - Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just
fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine
"Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time go
es on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community,
"everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You
know, in France or Italy there will be slogans against the government painted
on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is
not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak
privately to you colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what
do they say? They say, "It's not so bad" or "You're seeing things" or
"You're an alarmist."

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and
you can't prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for
sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the
end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party,
intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or
even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally,
people who have always thought as you have.

"But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or
submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at
meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off
in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in
small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to
yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens
your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent to – to
what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you
must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker.
So you wait, and you wait.
"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will
join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. If the last and worst
act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and the
smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked – if,
let us say, the gassing of the Jews in "43" had come immediately after the
"German Firm" stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in "33". But of
course this isn't the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of
little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to
be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you
did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them,
all rush in upon you. The burden of self deception has grown too heavy, and
some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby,
saying "Jew swine," collapses it all at once, and you see that everything,
everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you
live in – your nation, your people – is not the world you were in at all.
The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the
shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the
holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the
lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live
in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even
know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now
you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The
system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to
sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.

"You have gone almost all the way yourself. Life is a continuing process, a
flow, not a succession of acts and events at all. It has flowed to a new
level, carrying you with it, without any effort on your part. On this new
level you live, you have been living more comfortably every day, with new
morals, new principles. You have accepted things you would not have accepted
five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in Germany, could
not have imagined.

"Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you
have done, or, more accurately, what you haven't done ( for that was all that
was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early
meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others
would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of
hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You
remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are
compromised beyond repair.

"What then? You must then shoot yourself. A few did. Or "adjust" your
principles. Many tried, and some, I suppose, succeeded; not I, however. Or
learn to live the rest of your life with your shame. This last is the
nearest there is, under the circumstances, to heroism: shame. Many Germans
became this poor kind of hero, many more, I think, than the world knows or
cares to know."

I said nothing. I thought of nothing to say.

"I can tell you," my colleague went on, "of a man in Leipzig, a judge. He
was not a Nazi, except nominally, but he certainly wasn't an anti-Nazi. He
was just – a judge. In "42" or "43", early "43", I think it was, a Jew was
tried before him in a case involving, but only incidentally, relations with
an "Aryan" woman. This was "race injury", something the Party was especially
anxious to punish. In the case a bar, however, the judge had the power to
convict the man of a "nonracial" offense and send him to an ordinary prison
for a very long term, thus saving him from Party "processing" which would
have meant concentration camp or, more probably, deportation and death. But
the man was innocent of the "nonracial" charge, in the judge's opinion, and
so, as an honorable judge, he acquitted him. Of course, the Party seized the
Jew as soon as he left the courtroom.
"And the judge?"

"Yes, the judge. He could not get the case off his conscience – a case, mind
you, in which he had acquitted an innocent man. He thought that he should
have convicted him and saved him from the Party, but how could he have
convicted an innocent man? The thing preyed on him more and more, and he had
to talk about it, first to his family, then to his friends, and then to
acquaintances. (That's how I heard about it.) After the "44" Putsch they
arrested him. After that, I don't know."

I said nothing.

"Once the war began," my colleague continued, "resistance, protest,
criticism, complaint, all carried with them a multiplied likelihood of the
greatest punishment. Mere lack of enthusiasm, or failure to show it in
public, was "defeatism." You assumed that there were lists of those who
would be "dealt with" later, after the victory. Goebbels was very clever
here, too. He continually promised a "victory orgy" to "take care of" those
who thought that their "treasonable attitude" had escaped notice. And he
meant it; that was not just propaganda. And that was enough to put an end to
all uncertainty.
"Once the war began, the government could do anything "necessary" to win it;
so it was with the "final solution" of the Jewish problem, which the Nazis
always talked about but never dared undertake, not even the Nazis, until war
and its "necessities" gave them the knowledge that they could get away with
it. The people abroad who thought that war against Hitler would help the
Jews were wrong. And the people in Germany who, once the war had begun,
still thought of complaining, protesting, resisting, were betting on
Germany's losing the war. It was a long bet. Not many made it."

How and why "decent men" became Nazis. Written by an American journalist
of German\Jewish descent. Mr. Mayer provides a fascinating window into the
lives, thoughts and emotions of a people caught up in the rush of the Nazi
movement. It is a book that should make people pause and think -- not only
about the Germans, but also about themselves.

Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse.
You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking
occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you
in resisting somehow.

The discrepancy between the kind of society many Germans thought they
were building and the reality of the horror of the Third Reich presents one
of the most intriguing questions of our age. "How could it -- the Holocaust
-- have happened in a modern, industrialized, educated nation ? The genesis
of my interest in the Third Reich lies in my search for an answer to that
enigmatic question.
The excerpt reproduced below is one of the most insightful I have yet
discovered. I share it with you -
Pass it on - Lest
we forget. RCD - Web Host

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them,
all rush in upon you. The burden of self deception has grown too heavy.......

You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you
haven't done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do

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I'd like to remind people that when Jerry Brown was governor, he was castigated for the massive surpluses amassed under his administration. It became and election year issue and led to his defeat by Deukmajian, who true to Republican philosophy, dribbled the surplus out to tax-payers in two and three hundred dollars checks. Shortly thereafter, when the Loma Prieta quake hit, there was nothing in the coffers for a quite predictable emergency. What ever happened to prudence? To saving for a rainy day? Why are elected officials re-elected time and again when they demonstrate gross incompetence and betrayal of the interests of the people who elected them. (See the "Fundamental Reform" piece, mailed out about a week ago for the real answer.) For that matter, why are the San Francisco school board officials who misappropriated and spent the 55million dollar from a voter Bond-issue dedicated to a School of the Arts in San Francisco, not in jail? Here'a another example:

California Is at Fiscal Brink

OS ANGELES, Dec. 8 — When times were good and billions of dollars in income tax payments were pouring in from high-tech millionaires, California lavished raises on state employees, expanded health care benefits for the poor, cut taxes on car licenses and invested heavily in education and transportation.
Those days are over.

With its huge economy stalled and state revenues plunging, California has descended into its worst budget crisis in a decade and is now facing an excruciating round of budget cuts and possible tax increases.

State officials are proposing deep reductions in education, health services and other programs to deal with a budget shortfall that could total $25 billion in the next 18 months.

"That's a hole so deep and so vast that even if we fired every single person on the state payroll — every park ranger, every college professor and every Highway Patrol officer — we would still be more than $6 billion short," said the Assembly speaker, Herb J. Wesson Jr., a Democrat.

Gov. Gray Davis announced a series of steps on Friday intended to save $10.2 billion to plug a deepening hole in the current budget and to serve as a prelude to even deeper cuts in next year's. Mr. Davis proposed freezing pay for state workers and warned of large-scale layoffs. As many as 200,000 people could lose their health coverage under the state Medi-Cal program. Payments to public schools and universities could fall by more than $3 billion.

And that is just the start. In January the governor must propose a budget for the fiscal year beginning in July that needs to address an expected $15 billion shortfall in revenues. Mr. Davis has not yet proposed tax increases, but given the deficit magnitude, they appear inevitable.

Other states are confronting similar problems, but California's size and the bursting of the dot-com bubble make the problem worse here.

The political combatants are entrenching along familiar ideological terrain. The powerful employee and teachers unions are vowing to resist the pay cuts and job losses that the governor's plan will require. Republicans have pledged to reject any new taxes, saying that the Democratic governor and Legislature spent their way into the current morass and must find program cuts to claw their way out.

Democrats respond that the budget shortfall results chiefly from a severe drop in revenue from taxes on capital gains and stock options from the market run-up of the late 1990's and that those lost revenues must be replaced with new taxes.

In 2000, the state received $17 billion from taxes on capital gains and the cashing in of stock options, much of it from the technology industry. State officials estimate that the take from such taxes this year will be less than $5 billion.

California prides itself on its progressive income tax, with people earning high incomes paying a huge share of state taxes. The top 10 percent of filers pay 75 percent of personal income taxes. But when their income drops, as it did when the technology boom went bust in early 2000, the state treasury crashes.

"Nobody expected the loss of revenues due to the drop in the stock market to be as severe as it has been," said B. Timothy Gage, the state finance director. "Nobody anticipated the truly staggering extent of the hit we took. States have not seen such drops since World War II."

California, which generates $1.3 trillion in annual output, is the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world. (The state is just above or just below France, depending on the state of the Euro.) The current general fund budget of $78 billion represents about one-sixth of all state spending nationwide, but its current-year budget shortfall of $6.1 billion is fully a third of the cumulative state deficits across the country, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Only five states — Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Nevada — are in worse fiscal shape than California as measured by deficits as a percentage of the budget. In dollar terms, no other state comes close.

Because the California state constitution was amended in 1988 to protect spending on education and because of rapidly rising health care costs, the state has few options for reducing spending to plug the gap.
Mr. Wesson, the Assembly speaker, said it was "mathematically impossible" to balance the state budget without raising taxes.
"The way you do it is to put absolutely everything on the table, every conceivable cut, every conceivable way to raise taxes," he said. "Then you sort out what is the least painful and what is the most fair."
James L. Brulte, the Republican leader in the State Senate, said that raising taxes would not only be insufficient to stanch the red ink but would also throttle growth when the economy is sputtering.
State output fell by 2.3 percent in 2001, according to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. The group estimates that the state economy will grow by a listless 0.8 percent this year. The unemployment rate is 6.6 percent (the national rate is 6.0 percent) and is expected to be worse next year. Slow economic growth and rising joblessness cause state tax revenues to plummet and increase costs for social services.
"You can raise the alcohol tax, the tobacco tax, the car tax, the income tax and sales tax and you still have a multibillion-dollar deficit," said Mr. Brulte, who represents Rancho Cucamonga and other bedroom communities east of Los Angeles.
He said the only thing keeping the state afloat was consumer spending, which continues to grow, modestly.
"Raising taxes on consumers clearly would be counterproductive," he said. "Raising taxes on business, when we actually need business to step up and start investing more so we can continue the expansion, would also be counterproductive. Anything that has the tendency to restrain either consumer spending or business investment will lead to an even larger deficit in California."
The problem is especially acute for county and local governments, which administer the programs that consume the bulk of the state budget — schools, Medicaid (known here as Medi-Cal), welfare and public safety.
Local officials fear that they will be hit hard by reductions in state revenue-sharing payments and in shifts in costs now borne by the state.
"They just expect us to make up the difference," said Pat Leary, the lobbyist for the California State Association of Counties.
Ms. Leary said she hoped Sacramento would rescind the cut in vehicle license fees that was passed in the dot-com boom. The cut amounted to $4 billion a year, money the counties now badly need to provide essential services.
"We use it to pay for sheriffs and foster care and others things, and if we lost that, it would be devastating to counties, absolutely devastating," Ms. Leary said.
Local school officials are worried, too. While the constitution guarantees public schools roughly 40 percent of state tax revenue, the state has been spending more than that share in recent years, and Governor Davis said on Friday that the overpayments were about to stop.
Wayne Johnson, president of the California Teachers Association, said the state already ranked 38th in spending per pupil, with class size among the largest in the country. Any additional reductions "would just push us further down in those rankings," he said.
Governor Davis took office at the beginning of 1999, with the high-tech industry roaring and unemployment at about 5 percent. He used the increased state revenues to invest heavily in schools and highways and to expand state-financed health services for children and the poor. The number of state employees grew from 282,000 at the beginning of his tenure to nearly 326,000 in 2001, according to the California Department of Finance. The biggest job growth came in two areas, prisons and state universities.
Republicans argue that this spending spree caused the current fiscal crisis. Davis administration officials say that half the spending was on projects that did not permanently add to the size of state government. Yet the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office projects that revenues are so far short of spending that the state will run deficits of $12 billion to $15 billion for the next five years even if the economy recovers.
In September, Mr. Davis and the Legislature approved several one-time economic fixes, including restructuring state debt and borrowing against anticipated revenue from the industrywide tobacco settlement of 1998. But those were just stopgap measures that offered no help for next year or beyond.
"Given this, there is really no easy way out of the current predicament," said Elizabeth G. Hill, the Legislature's chief budget analyst, "and this makes it all the more important that the Legislature take advantage of the alternative budget-balancing approaches and options available to it."
Those include deep cuts in programs, suspension of pay increases for state employees, elimination of special tax breaks for business and consideration of tax increases on businesses and individuals. Property taxes, which were capped by Proposition 13 in 1978, are not an option for new revenue, so many analysts expect increases in so-called sin taxes on alcohol, tobacco and gambling.
"California has a very liberal legislature and their easy answer is to pile more taxes on the business sector, which is already struggling," said Jack Kyser of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. "And it's not just business that is nervous," Mr. Kyser said. "County and city governments are scared half to death.
"It's not a pretty sight."