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The Battle Over the Israel Lobby

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"Imperial Crusades: a Diary of Three Wars" by Cockburn and St. Clair

Today's Stories

September 22 / 23, 2007

Alexander Cockburn
On Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine"

Jennifer Loewenstein
Beneath the Hideous Veneer of Security

Linn Washington, Jr.
The Injustice in Jena: Prosecutorial Misconduct More Dangerous Than Racism

Jeffrey St. Clair
Going Down in Dinosaur: Oil, Dams and Whitewater (Part One)

Alan Farago
Genuflecting to China

Brian Cloughley
Of Hate, Hubris and Atrocities

Robert Fantina
The Deadly Pattern of US Imperialism

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Land Tenure and Resistance in New Mexico

Jason Hribal
Fear of an Animal Planet

David Rosen
Slugger Sex: Athletes, Violence and Male Sexuality

Mike Whitney
The Era of Global Financial Instability

John V. Walsh
Who Will Lead a Filibuster of the Iraq War Spending Bill?

Dave Lindorff
Why Aren't We Banning Blackwater Here?

David Michael Green
Hiding Behind a Camouflage Skirt

Fred Gardner
When Claudia Jensen Looked Back in Anger

Cassandra Jones
Support Our Mercenaries

Roger van Zwanenberg
Pluto Press Under Attack by Israel Lobby

Poets' Basement
Buknatski, Davies and Ford

Website of the Weekend
"For the Bible Tells Me So"

 

September 21, 2007

Karim Makdisi
Letter from Lebanon

M. Shahid Alam
A History of Violence

Alan Farago
Who Will Buy My House?

Joshua Frank
The Demise of the Congressional Black Caucus

Dave Zirin
Notre Dame and the Economy of Sports

Kenneth Couesbouc
A Short History of Lending and Borrowing

Dr. Steffie Woolhandler and Dr. David Himmelstein
Mass Health Care Failure

Ben Terrall
The Streets of San Francisco: Where Impeachment is Taken Seriously--By Everyone But Pelosi

Steve Fournier
Ex-Dems, Sign Up Here

Frederico Fuentes, et al
Voices in Defense of Bolivia

Website of the Day
Sabra and Shatila, Remembered

 

September 20, 2007

Kathleen Christison
Whatever Happened to Palestine?

Zoltan Grossman
An Endless Occupation?

Paul Craig Roberts
As the Empire Slips: Greenspan and the Economy of Greed

Stan Cox
and Wes Jackson
Carbon-Free and Still Wrecking the Planet

Russell Mokhiber
AARP to Kucinich: Drop Dead

Charles Modiano
Jim Crow's Children: the Jena 6, Shaquanda Cotton and Blog Power

Raymond J. Lawrence
Bush's Worrisome Use of Religion

Brendan Cooney
Body-Snatched Nation

Website of the Day
Mind Control for Breakfast

 

September 19, 2007

Paul Craig Roberts
Why Did Senator John Kerry Stand Idly By?

Paul Krassner
The Power of Laughter

Sgt. Martin Smith
The New Private Warriors: Blackwater in Iraq

Seth Sandronsky
Living in a Dilapidated Market: To Rent or Own?

Claud Cockburn
Looking back at the Great Crash

Victoria Buch
Israel's Agenda for Ethnic Cleansing and Transfer

Robert Weissman
Oil Warriors: From Greenspan to Kissinger

Mike Ferner
Can We Talk?

Dan Bacher
Schwarzenegger's $9 Billion Boondoggle for Big Water

Website of the Day
Housing Cost Calculator

 

September 18, 2007

Mike Whitney
U.S. Banks Brace for Storm Surge as Dollar and Credit System Reel

Alan Farago
Interviewing Alan Greenspan: How 60 Minutes Blew It

John Ross
America's Great Wall:
Where Will the Workers Go
When They Finish It?

Ron Jacobs
Nooses Hung From Jena, La. to College Park, Md.

Alex Doherty
Britain's 9/11 "Truth Movement": Who's Responsible?

September 17, 2007

Marjorie Cohn
Erwin Chemerinsky and the Post-9/11 Attack on Academic Freedom

Paul Craig Roberts
Conservatism Isn't What It Used to Be

Ricardo Alarcón
The Return of C. Wright Mills Amid the Dawn of a New Era

Marc Levy
Fake Vets Chasing Fame

Eva Liddell
In 1969 We Already Knew What 2007 Would Look Like

Website of the Day
Propaganda: Your Job in Germany. Directed by Frank Capra, and written by Theodor Geisel

Sept. 15-16, 2007

Alexander Cockburn
The General Came to Washington

Vicente Navarro
How the U.S. Schemed Against Spain's Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy

Mike Whitney
Plummeting Dollar, Credit Crunch

Herman Mindshaftgap
Has There Ever Been a Surge? If so, Has it a Future?

Ellen Cantarow
Girls! Music! Palestine!

Jordan Flaherty
K-Ville: Fox's New Paean to the N.O.P.D.

Zachary Hurwitz
Julio Cusurichi on Amazonian Development

September 14, 2007

Debbie Nathan
New York Times reporter was a member of an illegal underage porn site, claims he was only "posing as online predator"

Franklin Lamb
Sabra-Shatilla, 25 Years Later

Patrick Cockburn
Greet Bush and Die: The Killing of Abu Risha

Farzana Versey
The World's Richest Muslim Tycoon

Alan Farago
This is Florida, Epicenter of the Housing Bust and of Public Corruption

Hank Edson
Bill's New Book is Giving Me a Headache

September 13, 2007

Patrick Cockburn
Petraeus Confided Presidential Ambitions to Iraqi Official

Scott Vest, former Air Force Captain at Minot
The Barksdale Nukes

Andy Worthington
Guantánamo: "Ghost" Prisoners Speak At Last

Michael Baney
Mr. Fixit of Quake-Stricken Peru Has Death Squad Past

Dr. Susan Block
Is U.S. Run by Secret Homintern?

September 12, 2007

Paul Craig Roberts
American Economy: RIP

Stan Goff
The Petraeus Report

William Blum
When Soldiers Mutiny...Only Those Fighting the War Can End It.

Manuel Garcia
Forgetting 9/11

Debbie Nathan
Why One Sex Survey Didn't Make the Big Time

September 11, 2007

Patrick Cockburn
The Fakery of General Petraeus

Iain Boal
Specters of Malthus: Scarcity, Poverty, Apocalypse

Michael Dickinson
Osama on 9/11

Guerry Hoddersen
Free Speech is Not Given, but Taken

Bill Hatch
Irish Politics in Old Time California

Gary Leupp
The Legacy of Luciano Pavarotti

Website of the Day
Elisa Salasin's "My September 11th"

September 10, 2007

Uri Avnery
A Big Victory Against the Wall

Patrick Cockburn
Petraeus's Closet

Saul Landau and Farrah Hassen
Screwing Up In Iraq

David Michael Green
Why Fred Thompson is Uniquely Qualified to be the GOP's Nominee

Pius Adesanmi
A Solidarity Letter to a Victim of Michael Vick

Betty Schneider
How to Deal With Sex Offenders

 

September 8 / 9, 2007

Alexander Cockburn
Will the US Really Bomb Iran?

Saul Landau
The Irrational Drama of a Declining Empire

Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Hurricane Katrina and Bush's Wars

Ray McGovern
Petraeus, the Westmoreland of Iraq

Matthew Abraham
Finkelstein's Legacy at DePaul

Alan Farago
The Governor and the Growth Machine

Christopher Brauchli
Grand Old Party Animals

Rannie Amiri
Battle of the Camps

Fred Gardner
Will Snoops Get Stopped?

James L. Secor
B-52 Flexing Nuclear Muscles: H-Bombs Over Barksdale

Missy Comley Beattie
Choices: Shall We Stay or Shall We Go Now?

Ben Tripp
Still in the Clover

Francis Boyle
The University of Illinois' Little Red Sambo Show

Joe Allen and Paul D'Amato
Jason Bourne vs. James Bond

Website of the Weekend
Drilling Wyoming: the View from Above


September 7, 2007

Robert Fantina
Those Iraq Reports: Bush vs. Reality

John Ross
Coca-Cola's Raid on a Sacred Mountain

James Brooks
The Occupation Within

Russell Mokhiber
Robert Reich and the Elimination of Corporate Criminal Liability

Joshua Frank
The Green Implosion Continues: Cyberlynching John Murphy

John Walsh
On the Green Party

Mark Brenner
New York Taxi Workers Strike Over Tracking Devices

Mike Ferner
"I Will Salute No More Forever"

Website of the Day
Help Save Osny Zachary's Life

 

September 6, 2007

Kathleen and Bill Christison
Bush, Iran and Israel's Hidden Hand

Allan J. Lichtman
When General Petraeus Speaks, Don't Listen ...

Norman Solomon
The Secret Addiction of Thomas Friedman

Yifat Susskind
Hurricane Felix's First Responders: Courage and Tragedy on the Miskito Coast

Catherine Fenton
Why I Am Going to the Protest

Laura Santina
Can the War Machine be Contained?

Farzana Versey
Fission Kashmir

Yves Engler
Haiti: Where a Wage of $2 a Day is Too Much for the Lords of Industry to Pay

Kelly Overton
Bang Bang; Shoot Shoot: Is Hunting Racist?

Michael Simmons
One Jew's Views: The Strange Genius of Drew Friedman and Kominsky Crumb

Website of the Day
Dams and Genocide in Guatemala

 

 

September 5, 2007

Stan Goff
The End Begins

Michael Dickinson
Working for Mother Teresa: Memoirs of a Rebellious Volunteer

Matthew Abraham
Standing Firm with Norman Finkelstein and DePaul's Heroic Students: a Defining Moment

Patrick Cockburn
The Basra Debacle

Dave Lindorff
Beware the Wounded Beast

Paul Craig Roberts
Who Are the Fanatics?

Clifton Ross
Ecuador and the Struggle for Latin American Unity

Elizabeth Schulte
Katrina's Forgotten Refugees

Joseph Grosso
Labor Day in New York City

Ben Terrall
Where's Nancy? On Trying to Protest Pelosi in San Francisco

Website of the Day
A Guide to Narco Dollars

 

September 4, 2007

Jean Bricmont
Why Bush Can Get Away with Attacking Iran

Patrick Cockburn
Cut and Run in Iraq

Ron Jacobs
The Haditha Massacre: Spinning a War Crime

Tom Kerr
Buried Alive on San Quentin's Death Row

Gary Leupp
The Case of Jose Maria Sison

Sonja Karkar
The Weeping Olive Trees of Palestine

Heather Gray
The Best and Worst of America: 9/11, Joseph Lowery and the Lethal Silence of Billy Graham

Fidel Castro
The Super-Revolutionaries

Jackie Corr
Home Depot Comes to Butte--Begging Bowl in Hand

Sunsara Taylor
Katrina and the Progress of the System

Website of the Day
Colombia Journal

 

September 3, 2007

Patrick Cockburn
Brits Flee from Basra

Eamon McCann
Qana, Derry: The Dead Lie in Familiar Shapes

Joshua Frank
The End of the Green Party?

Chris Floyd
Post-Mortem America: Bush's Year of Triumph

Marjorie Cohn
A Look at Bush's Iran War Plans

Walter Brasch
The News Drones: How Fake Photos Helped Lead the US to War in Iraq

Matt Reichel
Redefining the American Dream

Website of the Day
Don't Get Fooled Again

 

September 1 / 2, 2007

Alexander Cockburn
Entrapment Snares Larry Craig

Andy Worthington
Britain's Guantánamo

Saul Landau
The Tragic Ordeal of the Cuban Five

David Keen
An Occident Waiting to Happen: Intellectuals and the War on Terror

Patrick Cockburn
The Collapse of Iraq's Health Care Services

Diana Johnstone
Back in Uncle Sam's Pocket

George Longstreth, MD
& Karen Longstreth, RN
The Sorrows of Occupation: Life in the West Bank

Linda M. Woolf
A Sad Day for Psychologists--a Sadder Day for Human Rights

Ralph Nader
Wrapping the World with Advertising

Fred Gardner
The Trial of Mollie Fry, MD

Ben Tripp
Enquiry in America Today

David Michael Green
American Indigestion: Why Bush Governs from the Gut

Missy Comley Beattie
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: What the GOP Hasn't Learned About Tolerance

Michael Dickinson
Who's Cheating: Remembering Princess Diana

Paul Krassner
Assholes of the Week: From Larry Craig to Wesley Clark

Ron Jacobs
A Sports Nation of Millions

Poets' Basement
Buknatski, Davies and Mickey Z

 

 

 

 

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Weekend Edition
September 22 / 23, 2007

CounterPunch

On Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine"

By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Leftists used to think that at least as a general axiom, if not by a precise deadline, capitalism was doomed. When I first arrived in the United States in the early 1970s, there was enough exuberance in the air even for mild-mannered reformers to be pushing plans for the abolition of the Federal Reserve, World Bank and kindred institutions.

But today most of these same leftists deem capitalism invincible and fearfully lob copious documentation at each other detailing the efficient devilry of the executives of the system. The internet serves to amplify this pervasive funk into a catastrophist mindset. It imbues most of the English-speaking left west of the Atlantic after seven years of Bush and Cheney, and frames Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

At the outset Klein permits herself a robust trumpet blast as intrepid pioneer:

"This book is a challenge to the central and most cherished claim in the official story -- that the triumph of deregulated capitalism has been born of freedom, that unfettered free markets go hand in hand with democracy. Instead, I will show that this fundamentalist form of capitalism has consistently been midwifed by the most brutal forms of coercion, inflicted on the collective body politic as well as on countless individual bodies."

The arc of triumph she is alluding to spans the half century from the Eisenhower administration's onslaughts on political and economic nationalism in Iran and Guatemala in the early 1950s, to the US attack on Iraq in 2003 and its subsequent occupation. These are not decades where official apologetics have been entirely without challenge until Ms. Klein embarked on her researches. There are shelves worth of books on the ghastly consequences of the covert interventions and massacres organized or connived at by the United States in the name of freedom and the capitalist way. Klein's own bibliography attests that there has plenty of detailed work on the neoliberal onslaught that gathered strength from the mid-70s on, marching under the intellectual colors of one of her arch villains, the late Milton Friedman, the Chicago School economist.

Where Klein would presumably claim originality is in identifying the taxonomy of this "shock doctrine", the latest in capitalism's phases of "creative destruction", as Schumpeter described the soul of the system. So she describes the shock of a sudden attack, whether the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 or the bombing of Baghdad in 2003; the shock of torturers using sensory deprivation techniques and crude electrodes to instill fear and acquiescence; Friedman's economic "shock treatment." Methodically combined and elaborated, these onslaughts now amount, on Klein's account, to a new and frightful chapter in the history of capitalist predation.

Klein begins with a chapter on the CIA-sponsored psychic "de-patterning" experiments of that monster, Dr Ewen Cameron of McGill University's Allan Memorial Institute, and states explicitly that torture, aside from being a tool, is "a metaphor of the shock doctrine's underlying logic". To use shock literary tactics to focus attention on the deliberate and sadistic engineering of collective social trauma is certainly no crime. But, as often happens after a shock, one eventually retrieves a sense of proportion, one that is not entirely flattering to the larger pretensions.

Capitalism, after all, as always been a shock doctrine of selfish predation, as one can discover from Hobbes and Locke, Marx and Weber, none of them saluted by Klein. Read the vivid accounts of the Hammonds about the English enclosures of the eighteenth century, when villagers would find nailed to the door of the parish church an announcement their common lands had been privatized. Protesters may not have "depatterned", but were briskly hanged or relocated to Botany Bay. Klein could have used Karl Polanyi to better effect than as an epigraph. The wrenching conversion of peasant societies to cash economics, private property, the job regime, has always been brutal.

The Chicago Boys laid waste the southern cone of Latin America in the name of unfettered private enterprise, but 125 years earlier a million Irish peasants starved to death while Irish grain was exported onto ships flying the flag of economic liberalism. Klein writes about "the bloody birth of counter-revolution" in the 1960s and 1970s, but any page from the histories of Presidents Jackson, Polk or Roosevelt discloses a bleak and blood-stained continuity with the past. Depatterning? Indian children were taken from their families and punished for every word spoken in their own language, even as African slaves were given Christian names and forbidden to use their own, or to drum. Amid the shock of the Civil War the Republicans deferred by several years the freeing of slaves, while hastening to use crisis to arrange a banking and monetary system to their liking.

Just as there is continuity in capitalist predation, there is continuity in resistance. Here's where Klein's catastrophism distorts the picture. Her controlling metaphor for the attack on Iraq is the initial "shock and awe" bombardment, designed to numb Saddam's forces and the overall civilian population into instant surrender and long-term submission. But "shock and awe" was a bust. It didn't work. Its value even as a metaphor is useless, except as illustration of what parlor wargamers in Washington DC can hype. Having sensibly decided not to fight or die on an American timetable, many of Iraq's soldiers regrouped to commence an effective resistance. Iraqi civilians struggle along as best they can under awful conditions and, un-numbed, tell pollsters that they wish the Americans would leave at once.

"Shock therapy" neoliberalism really isn't most closely associated with Milton Friedman, but rather with Jeffrey Sachs, to whom Klein does certainly give many useful pages, even though Friedman remains the dark star of her story. Sachs first introduced shock therapy in Bolivia in the early 1990s. Then he went into Poland, Russia, etc, with the same shock therapy model. Sachs' catchy phrase then was that "you can't leap over an abyss step-by-step," or words to that effect. This is really where contemporary neoliberalism took shape. And, it wasn't just Sachs.

It was also other slightly left of center mainstream economists, most notably Summers and Paul Krugman as well. To his credit, Krugman has now recanted; Sachs also, but only partially. It's true that you can make a case that this all goes back to Friedman. David Harvey's book, A History of Neoliberalism, actually traces the origins of neoliberalism to Friedman in Chile. It's an interesting perspective. But, as the left economist Robert Pollin remarks, to blame Friedman for the whole thing, and not how the entire economics mainstream went along--including the "liberals" like Sachs, Krugman, and Summers--is to let these people off the hook and to misrepresent history.

As Pollin, a brilliant and creative economist who spends much of his time advancing progressive counter-models--both for African nations and for advanced capitalist countries--emphasizes, "it's important to pummel the Sachs's of the world on this point, because they are changing, slowly. To get the world to change, their 1980s-1990s views need to be totally discredited. It's not enough to just say Milton Friedman was an ultra right winger and leave it at that."

There are huge third world economies that have been ravaged by neoliberalism that haven't endured "the shock doctrine", in the torments that phrase, as defined by Klein. India in the early Nineties was not on the receiving end of physical 'shock and awe' bombardment. Tortures were not inflicted by electric shock devices or techniques of sensory deprivation. Death squads have not rampaged through the countryside. If Friedman counseled the Congress Party or the BJP this is not recorded by Klein, who only gives India one brief mention. Yet the neoliberal policies advanced by the World Bank and other multilateral agencies and also enthusiastically seized upon by home grown politicians and government officials--many springing from a Keynesian (or further left) tradition--have certainly been sweeping and savage in consequence. Month after month on our CounterPunch site P. Sainath has described the immiseration of half a billion peasants from circumstances that were bad in the first place, along with the suicides of ruined farmers--a total now running well above 100,000. India has no place in Naomi Klein's model of the "shock doctrine" and "the rise of disaster capitalism", which suggests that model's limitations.

Capitalists try to use social and economic dislocation or natural disaster--New Orleans is only the latest instance - to advantage, but so do those they oppress. War has been the mother of many a positive social revolution, as have natural disasters. The incompetence of the Mexican police and emergency forces after the huge earthquake of 1985 prompted a huge popular upheaval. In Latin America there has been shock attacks and shock doctrines for 500 years. Right now, in Latin America, the pendulum is swinging away from the years of darkness, of the death squad and Friedman's doctrines. Klein's outrage is admirable. Her specific exposes across six decades of infamy are often excellent, but in her larger ambitions her metaphors betray her. From the anti-capitalist point of view she's too gloomy by half. A capitalism that thrives best on the abnormal, on disasters, is by definition in decline. As Cassius put it, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings".






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