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|IF YOU WANT IT...
|WAR IS OVER
|"No matter how cynical you
get, it's almost impossible
to keep up." - Lily Tomlin
|PEACE ACTION YOUNGSTOWN
|More of the Same
Lesson from 9/11
by CESAR CHELALA
Sept 10th, 2014
On a rainy morning on April
1958, in Washington DC, Ezra
Pound -then a seventy-two
year-old man- was declared
“incurably insane” by Judge
Bolitha J. Laws, who set him
free. As he prepared to leave
for Italy Pound declared
“Any man who could live in
America is insane.”
I wonder what Pound –one of
America’s greatest poets-
would think today of the state
of the country, which is
suffering from a long blood-
letting process resulting from
unjust, unjustified wars. This
situation is particularly evident
when one returns to the US
after staying from some time
overseas. What one sees, as
many friends told me, is an
American government bent on
an almost suicidal road to war.
It has been shown almost ad
infinitum that following the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan, to cite
only the most important ones,
that the climate of worldwide
violence has increased
substantially, and shows no
signs of diminishing. And while
we are justifiably horrified by
the recent beheadings of two
American journalists, we were
not equally horrified by the
killings by drones of whole
families in countries overseas.
Nor we were equally horrified
by the hundreds of Palestinian
children and the destruction of
thousands of homes of people
fighting for the right to live in
their own land. In the
meantime, meretricious US
politicians repeated like a
mantra that they supported the
right of Israel to defend itself,
without any mention of
In the meantime, few people
seem to be concerned about
the tortures and humiliations at
Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan
and so many other countries
where prisoners were sent to
be tortured by the US
authorities. And while President
Barak Obama has promised,
even before being elected, that
he would close Guantanamo
this is yet to happen, and the
issue has become one of the
darkest episodes in the US’s
This is happening while more
attacks are being carried out
on Iraq and in Syria, the same
rebels we have armed, are
proving to be a nightmare for
US forces and a huge
hindrance to eventually reach
peace in that region. In the
meantime, the US intervention
in Libya, rather than
democratizing the country, has
left a mess of deadly rivalries of
conflicting armies without a
solution in sight.
And while an agreement with
Iran over its nuclear program is
pursued, new sanctions were
imposed on that country that in
the least are an irritant and at
most an obstacle
to an agreement.
To add to this panorama of
desolation, we see the slow
disintegration of Ukraine, the
hapless country in the middle
of conflicting US and Russian
interests. And rather than
trying to calm the waters of
dissent, the US is slowly
encircling Russia through
NATO, unconcerned that a
similar situation on the US
borders would be
unacceptable to the US.
The “war on terror” has not
defeated it but brought more
terror to the world. As Rami G.
Khouri, a contributing editor to
the Beirut Daily Star, and a
keen observer of international
politics recently wrote, “Dear
Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden and
Prime Minister David Cameron
of the United Kingdom: before
you launch a new global war on
terror and another coalition of
countries to fight ISIS, please
note that the last three
decades of your global war on
terror have sparked the
greatest expansion of Islamist
militancy and terrorism in
modern history. This partly,
maybe largely, because your
military actions in Islamic lands
usually destabilize those lands,
allowing your enemies to
organize and take root, and
also provide the greatest
magnet that attracts mostly
fringe and lost young men to
give meaning to their lives by
joining what they see as a
defensive jihad to save Islamic
societies from your aggression.”
To continue the war on terror is
thus not only counterproductive
and will not bring peace to the
world but will show, sadly, that
the main lesson of 9/11 has not
Dr. Cesar Chelala is a winner
of an overseas Press Club of
America award for an article on
|Workers in Maine Buy Out Their Jobs,
Set an Example for the Nation
By Rob Brown, Noemi Giszpenc
and Brian Van Slyke, Truthout | Op-Ed
t(On remote Deer Isle, Maine, the movement for a more just and democratic
economy won a major victory. More than 60 employees of three retail
businesses - Burnt Cove Market, V&S Variety and Pharmacy, and The Galley -
banded together to buy the stores and create the largest worker cooperative
in Maine and the second largest in New England.
Now the workers own and run the businesses together under one banner,
known as the Island Employee Cooperative (IEC). This is the first time that
multiple businesses of this size and scope have been merged and converted
into one worker cooperative - making this a particularly groundbreaking
achievement in advancing economic democracy.
Getting There: What It Took
When the local couple that had owned the three businesses for 43 years
began to think about selling their stores and retiring, the workers became
concerned. The stores were one of the island's biggest employers and a
potential buyer probably would not have come from within the community or
maintained the same level of jobs and services. Only a worker buy-out could
Because these workers were trying to accomplish something historic, it took
more than a year - and it wasn't always an easy road. But the workers'
strength lay in their own determination, and in the ability to rely on a group of
allies dedicated to growing the cooperative movement. The Independent
Retailers Shared Services Cooperative (IRSSC) and the Cooperative
Development Institute, helped them develop their management, governance,
legal and financial structures. They were also able to secure financing from
Maine-based Coastal Enterprises and the Cooperative Fund of New England,
both Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs).
Without that dedicated technical assistance and available capital, it is doubtful
the IEC would be here today.
More Is Needed
While the creation of the IEC maintained dozens of decent paying jobs and a
remote community's only nearby access to essentials such as groceries and
prescription medications, it also points to a successful model that could be
used across the country to expand ownership and wealth to regular working
people. This experience shows that if only we had more resources to
experiment with grounded, practical economic policies, we could create many
more of the living-wage jobs and community-sustaining businesses we
The Great Recession has led many to consider better ways to organize our
economy, as always happens during economic downturns. But the reality is
that our economy, even during the "good times," has always been failing
working people. So we need to think long term and change our strategies in
order to build a durable, democratic, equitable and just economy.
The Great Recession in Maine: A Bad Situation Gets Worse
In the aftermath of the Great Recession, Maine has won back less than half of
the jobs we lost (ranking us 46th among the states): We are second from the
bottom for total job growth, and we have one of the highest numbers of
part-time workers who want more employment but can't find it. Nearly one-third
of unemployed Mainers have been looking for work for more than six months,
which is more than twice the national average. And what little growth there has
been has occurred almost exclusively in the Portland metro region, in far
But it's not as if our workers were prospering before the Great Recession.
Over the last 30 years, the incomes of the poorest Maine workers grew by only
27 percent, while incomes for the wealthiest Mainers jumped by 67 percent.
Starting in the late '90s, Maine lost more manufacturing jobs per capita than
any other state. Maine workers also have the lowest average incomes of all
the New England states and, of Maine's 16 counties, 14 of them are among
the poorest in the region. As a result, one in seven Mainers overall and more
than one in five children live in poverty. Most shamefully, poverty characterizes
more than one in four young children, and one in three in our poorest counties.
In short, Maine's low wages, limited job prospects, deepening poverty and
growing inequality are not just the result of the Great Recession; it is structural
and long-standing. We've needed to change the way the economy works for
quite a while. And that's exactly why strategies to create sustainable,
democratic businesses like the Island Employee Cooperative are so critical.
The Island Employee Cooperative: A Model for Maine and the Nation
Worker cooperatives hold the promise of fundamentally addressing our long
standing economic woes. Because they give members an equal voice in the
co-op's governance, a worker co-op will almost never pick up and leave
its community. Those jobs are democratically owned by the people
who work and live there.
In addition, in worker co-ops, employees have an incentive to work harder and
smarter, because they benefit from an equitable share of the profits. And
when a worker co-op is facing financial difficulty, the first response isn't to lay
people off. That's because the worker-owners are sharing the risks and
burdens of the business as well. Instead, members often come together to find
democratic solutions to their problems, such as temporarily lowering wages or
cutting hours for all workers, so that no one person has to lose their job. This
is one of the major factors that also make worker co-ops more economically
sustainable in low-income communities.
For the new worker-owners of the Island Employee Cooperative, the
transformation into a co-op will, over time, create profound changes in their
lives as they begin investing some of the business' profits into better wages
and benefits - something that is extremely uncommon for those in the retail
business. The co-op is also already collaborating with the Maine Community
College System to deliver education programs on-site so that the workers can
improve their knowledge and skills. While retail jobs are often depicted as
low-wage and dead-end, these retail workers are now business owners who
will learn to make many hard decisions together. And because IEC is one of
the island's largest employers, the cooperative ownership model will make a
tremendous impact on the community as many more families build wealth
through democratic ownership.
That's a model we can and should scale up.
A New Approach to Economic Development
Unfortunately, successful examples like the IEC are rare in the United States
because worker cooperative development gets little to no support from city,
state and federal governments. Instead, these institutions spend a fortune on
economic development programs that create windfall profits for corporations,
but very few sustainable, living-wage jobs.
The way states have traditionally pursued economic development relies
primarily on "chasing smokestacks" and dreaming up new tax giveaways for
out-of-state corporations. That serves to benefit the 1% while leaving
workers in the dust.
A less costly, more effective and more equitable strategy of focusing on
worker co-op development would drive investments into grassroots initiatives
for economic sustainability. Some support already exists: For example, New
York City just passed its 2015 budget and is investing over $1 million in a
comprehensive program to support the development of worker cooperatives,
including directing existing business-development resources to be more
supportive of worker co-ops. Ohio has provided small grants for feasibility
studies and technical assistance to employees considering a cooperative
buyout of their workplace, using federal funds that are available in every state
(but utilized by only a half-dozen or so). Rural Cooperative Development
Grants from the US Department of Agriculture support state and regional
groups that provide cooperative development services in rural areas (though
not just to worker co-ops).
There are more examples of supportive policies, but they all amount to a tiny
drop in the bucket compared to what is spent on typical economic
development approaches that do little for working people.
In order to begin scaling up worker co-op development, we need to provide
technical assistance and small pre-development grants to people starting
co-ops within their own communities, make available better education on how
to operate a cooperative, provide loan guarantees for groups who would
otherwise struggle to access credit, and offer targeted,
accountable tax incentives.
Communities across the country would benefit from more initiatives that
support development of new co-ops, as well as converting existing businesses
into worker-owned ones like the Island Employee Cooperative.
This approach would allow many more communities to sustain themselves,
cultivate jobs with dignity, improve wages and help more people build wealth
through democratic ownership. And then we might see a transformation into
an economy that truly and sustainably serves the needs of all.
|The Last Letter
A Message to George W. Bush
and Dick Cheney From
a Dying Veteran
To: George W. Bush
and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young
I write this letter on the 10th
anniversary of the Iraq War
on behalf of my fellow Iraq
I write this letter on behalf of
the 4,488 soldiers and Marines
who died in Iraq.
I write this letter on behalf of
the hundreds of thousands
of veterans who have been
wounded and on behalf of those
whose wounds, physical and
psychological, have destroyed
their lives. I am one of those
gravely wounded. I was
paralyzed in an insurgent
ambush in 2004 in Sadr City.
My life is coming to an end.
I am living under hospice care.
I write this letter on behalf of
husbands and wives who have
lost spouses, on behalf of
children who have lost a parent,
on behalf of the fathers and
mothers who have lost sons and
daughters and on behalf of
those who care for the many
thousands of my fellow veterans
who have brain injuries.
I write this letter on behalf of
those veterans whose trauma
and self-revulsion for what they
have witnessed, endured and
done in Iraq have led to suicide
and on behalf of the active-duty
soldiers and Marines who
commit, on average, a suicide
I write this letter on behalf of the
some 1 million Iraqi dead and on
behalf of the countless Iraqi
wounded. I write this letter on
behalf of us all—the human
detritus your war has left
behind, those who will spend
their lives in unending pain
You may evade justice but in
our eyes you are each guilty
of egregious war crimes, of
plunder and, finally, of murder,
including the murder of
thousands of young Americans,
—my fellow veterans—whose
future you stole.
I write this letter, my last letter,
to you, Mr. Bush and Mr.Cheney.
I write not because I think you
grasp the terrible human and
moral consequences of your
lies, manipulation and thirst for
wealth and power.
I write this letter because, before
my own death, I want to make it
clear that I, and hundreds of
thousands of my fellow
veterans, along with millions of
my fellow citizens, along with
hundreds of millions more in Iraq
and the Middle East, know fully
who you are and what you have
You may evade justice but in
our eyes you are each guilty
of egregious war crimes,
of plunder and, finally, of
murder, including the murder
of thousands of young
Americans —my fellow
veterans—whose future you
Your positions of authority,
your millions of dollars of
personal wealth, your public
relations consultants, your
privilege and your power cannot
mask the hollowness of your
You sent us to fight and die in
Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney,
dodged the draft in Vietnam,
and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL
from your National Guard unit.
Your cowardice and selfishness
were established decades ago.
You were not willing to risk
yourselves for our nation but
you sent hundreds of thousands
of young men and women to be
sacrificed in a senseless war
with no more thought than it
takes to put out the garbage.
I joined the Army two days after
the 9/11 attacks. I joined the
Army because our country had
been attacked. I wanted to strike
back at those who had killed
some 3,000 of my fellow citizens.
I did not join the Army to go to
Iraq, a country that had no part
in the September 2001 attacks
and did not pose a threat to its
neighbors, much less to the
I did not join the Army to
“liberate” Iraqis or to shut down
destruction facilities or to
implant what you cynically called
“democracy” in Baghdad and
the Middle East.
I did not join the Army to rebuild
Iraq, which at the time you told
us could be paid for by Iraq’s
oil revenues. Instead, this war
has cost the United States over
I especially did not join the Army
to carry out pre-emptive war.
Pre-emptive war is illegal under
international law. And as a
soldier in Iraq I was, I now know,
abetting your idiocy and your
crimes. The Iraq War is the
largest strategic blunder in U.S.
history. It obliterated the
balance of power in the Middle
East. It installed a corrupt and
in Baghdad, one cemented in
power through the use of
torture, death squads and
terror. And it has left Iran as the
dominant force in the region.
On every level—moral,
strategic, military and
economic—Iraq was a failure.
And it was you, Mr. Bush and
Mr. Cheney, who started this
war. It is you who should pay the
I would not be writing this letter
if I had been wounded fighting in
Afghanistan against those
forces that carried out the
attacks of 9/11. Had I been
wounded there I would still be
miserable because of my
physical deterioration and
imminent death, but I would at
least have the comfort of
knowing that my injuries were a
consequence of my own
decision to defend the country I
love. I would not have to lie in
my bed, my body filled with
painkillers, my life ebbing away,
and deal with the fact that
hundreds of thousands of
human beings, including
children, including myself, were
sacrificed by you for little more
than the greed of oil companies,
for your alliance with the oil
sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your
insane visions of empire.
I have, like many other disabled
veterans, suffered from the
inadequate and often inept care
provided by the Veterans
Administration. I have, like many
other disabled veterans, come
to realize that our mental and
physical wounds are of no
interest to you, perhaps of no
interest to any politician. We
were used. We were betrayed.
And we have been abandoned.
You, Mr. Bush, make much
pretense of being a Christian.
But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder
a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish
ambition sins? I am not a
Christian. But I believe in the
Christian ideal. I believe that
what you do to the least of your
brothers you finally do to
yourself, to your own soul.
My day of reckoning is upon me.
Yours will come. I hope you will
be put on trial.
But mostly I hope, for your
sakes, that you find the moral
courage to face what you have
done to me and to many, many
others who deserved to live.
I hope that before your time on
earth ends, as mine is now
ending, you will find the strength
of character to stand before the
American public and the world,
and in particular the Iraqi
people, and beg for
|In March 2013, Truthdig
columnist Chris Hedges
published an interview with
Young about his worldview and
circumstances.Young was in
hospice care at the time of the
interview, which was conducted
at his home in Kansas City.
Although he has contemplated
suicide on various occasions,
he decided "to go on hospice
care, to stop feeding and fade
away. This way, instead of
committing the conventional
suicide and I am out of the
picture, people have a way to
stop by or call and say their
goodbyes." He later changed
his mind, saying "I want to
spend as much time as possible
with my wife, and no decent son
wants his obituary to read that
he was survived by his mother.
"Young died on November 10,
2014 in Seattle. In November
2014, Hedges wrote a column
on Young's passing, in which
he stated that "Young hung
on as long as he could. Now
he is gone. He understood
what the masters of war had
done to him, how he had
been used and turned into
|Weekend Edition December 12-14, 2014
Bill Alberts, the CounterPunching Minister
Drawing the Line
by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
Americans want to be loved, yet are feared almost everywhere in the world. Americans see
themselves as just and righteous, yet daily countenance harrowing transgressions of
international law and basic human rights.
We believe ourselves to be agents of freedom, yet most of us refuse to reflect on the ethical
consequences of our imperial aggressions. We prefer not to know what is done in our name,
not to see the mounds of corpses that litter the distant rims of the world from American missile
and drone strikes. We don’t want to know, because such an inquiry threatens the essential tenets
of our self-identity, undermines the comforting fabric of our beliefs,
shatters the spectral illusion of our national psyche.
What does it take to excite America’s moral nerve endings?
Bombing kids with cluster bombs or shredding wedding parties with drone attacks doesn’t seem
to do it any more. Nor does torture. Oh, sure, there was a collective gasp when lurid photos of
American soldiers laughing as they prodded naked Iraqi captives with electrodes or threatened
anguished prisoners with snarling German shepherds. But the outrage soon faded, the scenes
soon acquiring the familiarity of a re-run of the Sopranos.
Torture, naturally, is nothing new. One of the darkest threads of US imperial history has been the
CIA’s involvement with torture, as an instructor at the School of the Americas, as a practitioner,
or a contractor to experienced hands in Egypt, South Africa or Honduras.
Since its inception the CIA has taken a keen interest in torture, avidly studying Nazi techniques and
protecting exponents such as Klaus Barbie. The CIA’s official line is that torture is wrong and
ineffective. It is indeed morally bankrupt. However, on numerous occasions it has proved
In the months after the 9/11 attacks, “truth drugs” were hailed by some columnists, such as
Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, for use in the war against al-Qaeda. This was an enthusiasm shared
by the US Navy after the war on Hitler, when its intelligence officers got on the trail of Dr. Kurt
Plotner’s research into “truth serums” at Dachau. Plotner gave Jewish and Russian prisoners high
doses of mescaline and then observed their behavior, in which they expressed hatred for their
guards and made confessional statements about their own psychological makeup.
As part of the MK-ULTRA project, the CIA gave money to Dr. Ewen Cameron at McGill University in
Montreal. Cameron was a pioneer in sensory-deprivation techniques. The doctor once locked a
woman in a small white box for thirty-five days, deprived of light, smell and sound. The CIA doctors
were amazed by this “experiment.” The knew from their own “research” into sensory-deprivation
tanks in 1955 that severe psychological reactions had been induced in less than forty hours. Start
torturing, even in the name of “science,” and it’s easy to get carried away.
In 1968, the CIA got frustrated by its inability to break suspected leaders of Vietnam’s National
Liberation Front by its usual methods of interrogation and torture. So the agency began to adopt
more aggressive methods. In one instance it anesthetized three prisoners, opened their skulls and
planted electrodes in their brains. They were revived, put in a room and given knives. The CIA
psychologists then activated the electrodes, hoping the prisoners would attack each other.
They didn’t. The electrodes were removed, the prisoners shot, and their bodies burned.
(For a full account of these and similar atrocities see Douglas Valentine’s excellent book
on the CIA in Vietnam The Phoenix Program.)
In recent years the United States has been charged by the UN and also human rights
organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International with tolerating torture in
American prisons, by methods ranging from solitary, twenty-three-hours-a-day confinement in
concrete boxes for years on end, to activating 50,000 volt shocks through a mandatory belt worn by
prisoners. Many of the Military Police guards at Abu Ghraib and Bagram prisons earned their
stripes working as guards in alberts federal and state prisons, where official abuse is a daily
occurrence almost unnoted by the corporate press.
Indeed, Charles Granier, one of the chief abusers at Abu Ghraib and the lover of Lynndie England,
the Trailer Park Torturer, worked as a guard at Pennsylvania’s notorious Greene Correctional Unit
and after his tour in Iraq was over went back to work there before being arrest,
tried and convicted for his sadistic activities in Iraq.
Then there is the story of Abu Wa’el Dhiab. Swept up during raids in Pakistan in 2002, Mr. Dhiab
was brutally interrogated numerous times, shuttled from one CIA controlled prison to another,
before being warehoused in the grim corridors of Guantanamo Bay. By that time any suspicions
that Mr. Dhiab might be a terrorist had long been extinguished. In 2009, Mr. Dhiab was cleared for
release, but the father of four remained locked his cell. He has never been charged or tried. Over
his years of confinement, Mr. Dhiab’s health began to deteriorate. He ultimately became restricted
to a wheelchair. With little hope going home and seeing his family again, Mr. Dhiab began a
hunger strike in 2014. He said he’d rather die than continue to live such a confined and hopeless
existence. A few days into his hunger strike, Gitmo guards entered his cell, removed him to a
medical room, shacked him to a gurney, inserted feeding tubes in his nostrils and down his throat
and began force-feeding him liquid nutrition against his will. The force-feeding process has been
condemned by the UN Human Rights Commission and World Medical Association as a painful
and humiliating form of torture.
These gratuitous cruelties were being inflicted for his own good, the government’s lawyers argued.
In other words, Mr. Dhiab should have been grateful for this excruciating experience, he was the
recipient of compassionate torture.
Thus does torture destroy the tortured and corrupt the society that sanctions it.
How much will we tolerate? At what point will Americans draw the line? What will it take to rouse us
from our moral torpor? How is it that one of the world’s most self-consciously religious nations
passively tolerates and rationalizes extreme violations of cherished codes of ethical conduct?
When will we revolt at the horrors committed by our government and seek to reassert popular
control over our fragmenting democracy? These are the core themes raised in this compelling
collection of essays by Rev. William E. Alberts.
Few writers are better positioned to fashion these inquiries than Bill Alberts. A veteran of World War
II, Alberts returned from the Pacific, and became motivated to work for peace and social justice, to
minister to the poor and underprivileged. He received a Masters in Divinity at Wesley Theological
Seminary (right next door to my alma mater, American University, in Washington, DC), followed by a
doctorate in psychology and pastoral counseling at Boston University. In 1965 he was appointed
co-minister of the Old West Church in the heart of Boston, where he directed its social programs.
It was a fraught time in Boston, as both the civil rights and anti-war movements were beginning to
make things uncomfortable for the elites. Bill was right in the middle of it all, reporting on police
violence against hippies camped out on Boston Common, participating in anti-war protests,
providing sanctuary for the pro-Cuban Venecremos Brigade, facilitating a Conference-wide group
calling for the investigation of racism alleged against a member of the Methodist Conference’s
hierarchy itself, and writing articles on these issues, published in The Boston Globe.
In 1971, Alberts performed the same-sex marriage of two women at the Old West Church. Despite
having the backing of the church’s Parish Relations Committee, the ceremony, like certain of his
other involvements, unnerved the hierarchy of the Methodist Conference, who’s Book of Discipline
admonishes that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Even so, two years later Alberts presided over the same-sex marriage of two male church
members, both of whom had been students at the Boston University School of Theology. This
marriage infuriated the bishop of the church and a few months later the Conference instituted
proceedings to forcibly retire Alberts from his position, despite the fact that members of the Old
West Church’s Council on Ministries had rallied to his defense.
That’s when matters turned ugly. Alberts’ bishop and other leaders of the Conference launched a
vicious campaign of character assassination, meant to smear him, not just as a pastor of the
church but as a man. The two church leaders tracked down Alberts’ former psychiatrist, induced
him to breech the confidence of his psychiatric sessions and used these allegations to publicly
brand Alberts as “mentally ill.” Alberts immediately countered this shocking betrayal of his privacy
by offering himself up for examination by two other psychiatrists and a psychologist who
pronounced him in sound mental and emotional health. These assessments were ignored by the
bishop and Alberts was dismissed.
The story didn’t end there. Alberts sued, charging that the psychiatrist and the bishop had violated
his privacy rights. After 12 years of hearings and appeals, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled
in Alberts’ favor, holding both the psychiatrist and the bishop liable for breeching his rights. The
landmark ruling set a precedent; protecting the rights of workers and whistleblowers against
unlawful incursions into their private affairs by bosses attempting to terminate their employment.
This dismal experience only hardened Alberts’ resolve. As minister at the non-sectarian
Community Church of Boston, he helped lead the New England effort to provide sanctuary for
Guatemalan refugees fleeing the US-sponsored death squads that were ravaging their country.
In 1989, Bill was part of a team that went to El Salvador to investigate an army attack on a rebel field
hospital, where 10 people were killed and two medical workers raped.
For nearly 20 years, Alberts also served as a hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center, where he
got a first-hand look at how trauma, illness and death can radically alter the lives of American
families. Alberts wrote about his experiences there in his evocative memoir, A Hospital Chaplin at
the Crossroads of Humanity, released in 2012.
I first encountered Bill in 2004, when a submission landed in my inbox at CounterPunch titled
“Faith-Based Deceptions.” The essay was a calmly-worded, meticulously argued demolition of the
false pieties of the Bush crowd, which was using the cover of religion to pursue a vicious
imperialistic agenda abroad and cruel economic policies at home. Over the next ten years, the
essays kept coming, one after another, on drones, war, torture, health care, economic inequality,
bigotry. Alberts, a grandfather of six and great-grandfather of six, will soon be 88 years old, but his
voice is as clear and resonant as ever.
Bill Alberts is a moralist, but never a moralizer. Alberts understands human weakness and failings.
He’s seen it up close. He has tended to the wreckage. As a witness to the savage history of our
generation, Alberts argues that weakness is not the enemy. Indifference to suffering is the real foe;
indifference, lack of empathy, is what saps us of our moral footing.
The real struggle of our generation is to resist the machinations of a political system that renders
people into a state of powerlessness, into mere objects of exploitation, into things. To abstain from
this struggle is, in essence, to confirm the crimes that are being committed in our name. Our
humanity accrues meaning only to the extent that we defend the humanity of others.
–this excerpted from the Foreword to Rev. William E. Alberts’ new book: The CounterPunching
Minister (Who Couldn’t be ‘Preyed’ Away).
Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons:
an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin
Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: email@example.com.
|Dr. Roberts Public Service ~ President Reagan appointed Dr. Roberts Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and he was confirmed in office by the
U.S. Senate. From 1975 to 1978, Dr. Roberts served on the congressional staff where
he drafted the Kemp-Roth bill and played a leading role in developing bipartisan
support for a supply-side economic policy. After leaving the Treasury, he served as a
consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense & the U.S. Department of Commerce.
More on Dr. Roberts and his book at paulcraigroberts,org
|Peace cannot be achieved through violence,
it can only be attained through understanding.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Dr Helen Caldicott
The single most articulate and passionate advocate of citizen action to remedy the
nuclear and environmental crises, Dr Helen Caldicott, has devoted the last forty two
years to an international campaign to educate the public about the medical hazards
of the nuclear age and the necessary changes in human behavior to stop
Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1938, Dr Caldicott received her medical degree
from the University of Adelaide Medical School in 1961. She founded the Cystic
Fibrosis Clinic at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital in 1975 and subsequently was an
instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and on the staff of the Children’s
Hospital Medical Center, Boston, Mass., until 1980 when she resigned to work full
time on the prevention of nuclear war.
In 1971, Dr Caldicott played a major role in Australia’s opposition to French
atmospheric nuclear testing in the Pacific; in 1975 she worked with the Australian
trade unions to educate their members about the medical dangers of the nuclear
fuel cycle, with particular reference to uranium mining.
While living in the United States from 1977 to 1986, she played a major role in re-
invigorating as President, Physicians for Social Responsibility, an organization of
23,000 doctors committed to educating their colleagues about the dangers of
nuclear power, nuclear weapons and nuclear war. On trips abroad she helped start
similar medical organizations in many other countries. The international umbrella
group (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) won the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1985. She also founded the Women’s Action for Nuclear
Disarmament (WAND) in the US in 1980.
Returning to Australia in 1987, Dr Caldicott ran for Federal Parliament as an
independent. Defeating Charles Blunt, leader of the National Party, through
preferential voting she ultimately lost the election by 600 votes out of 70,000 cast.
She moved back to the United States in 1995, where she lectured at the New
School for Social Research on the Media, Global Politics and the Environment;
hosted a weekly radio talk show on WBAI (Pacifica)in New York; and was the
Founding President of the STAR (Standing for Truth About Radiation) Foundation
on Long Island.
Dr Caldicott has received many prizes and awards for her work, including the
Lannan Foundation’s 2003 Prize for Cultural Freedom and twenty one honorary
doctoral degrees. She was personally nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by
Linus Pauling – himself a Nobel Laureate. The Smithsonian has named Dr Caldicott
as one of the most influential women of the 20th Century. She has written for
numerous publications and has authored seven books, Nuclear Madness (1978
and 1994 WW Norton) , Missile Envy (1984 William Morrow, 1985 Bantam, 1986
Bantam) , If You Love This Planet: A Plan to Heal the Earth (1992, W.W. Norton);
A Desperate Passion: An Autobiography (1996, W.W. Norton; published as A
Passionate Life in Australia by Random House);The New Nuclear Danger: George
Bush’s Military Industrial Complex (2001, The New Press in the US, UK and UK;
Scribe Publishing in Australia and New Zealand; Lemniscaat Publishers in The
Netherlands; and Hugendubel Verlag in Germany); Nuclear Power is Not the Answer
(2006, The New Press in the US, UK and UK; Melbourne University Press in
Australia) War In Heaven (The New Press 2007); revised and updated If You Love
This Planet (March 2009); and Loving This Planet (The New Press; 2013).
She also has been the subject of several films, including Eight Minutes to Midnight,
nominated for an Academy Award in 1981, If You Love This Planet, which won the
Academy Award for best documentary in 1982, and Helen’s War: Portrait of a
Dissident, recipient of the Australian Film Institute Awards for Best Direction
(Documentary) 2004, and the Sydney Film Festival Dendy Award for Best
Documentary in 2004.
Dr Caldicott currently divides her time between Australia and the US where she
lectures widely. In year 2001, she founded the US-based Nuclear Policy Research
Institute (NPRI), which became Beyond Nuclear. Currently, Dr Caldicott is President
of The Helen CaldicottFoundation/NuclearFreePlanet.org, which initiates
symposiums and other educational projects to inform the public and the media of
the dangers of nuclear power and weapons. The mission of the Foundation is
education to action, and the promotion of a nuclear-energy and weapons-free,
renewable energy powered, world.
The Foundation’s most recent symposium, co-sponsored by Physicians for Social
Responsibility was held at the New York Academy of Medicine in March 2013, It was
entitled The Medical and Environmental Consequences of Fukushima
helencaldicottfoundation.org, at http://www.totalwebcasting.com/view/?id=hcf.
A book – Crisis Without End — emanating from the conference proceedings and
edited by Dr. Caldicott was published by The New Press in the Spring of 2014.
Crisis Without End
The Medical and
Consequences of the
The world’s leading scientific and
medical experts offer the first
comprehensive analysis of the long-
term health and environmental
consequences of the Fukushima
|“The clock cannot be turned back. We live in a contaminated world.”
—Hiroaki Koide, Kyoto University
On the second anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, an international
panel of leading medical and biological scientists, nuclear engineers, and
policy experts assembled at the prestigious New York Academy of
Medicine. A project of the Helen Caldicott Foundation and co-sponsored by
Physicians for Social Responsibility, this gathering was a response to
widespread concerns that the media and policy makers had been far too
eager to move past what are clearly deep and lasting impacts for the
Japanese people and for the world. This was the first comprehensive
attempt to address the health and environmental damage done by one of
the worst nuclear accidents of our times.
The only document of its kind, Crisis Without End represents an
unprecedented look into the profound aftereffects of Fukushima. In
accessible terms, leading experts from Japan, the United States, Russia,
and other nations weigh in on the current state of knowledge of radiation-
related health risks in Japan, impacts on the world’s oceans, the question
of low-dosage radiation risks, crucial comparisons with Chernobyl, health
and environmental impacts on the U.S. (including on food and newborns),
and the unavoidable implications for the U.S. nuclear energy industry.
Crisis Without End is both essential reading and a major corrective
to the public record on Fukushima.
A snappy guide and an
indispensible tool to reclaiming
the right to dissent—perfect for
activist, teachers, grandmothers,
and anyone else who wants to
exercise their constitutional
rights—from the country’s leading
constitutional rights group
“Dissent is the highest form of
patriotism.” —Howard Zinn
Published in conjunction with the
Center for Constitutional Rights
With a preface by Vincent Warren
In the Age of Terrorism, the United
States has become a much more
dangerous place—for activists
and dissenters, whose First
Amendment rights are all too
frequently abridged by the
In Hell No, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the country’s leading
public interest law organization, offers a timely report on government
attacks on dissent and protest in the United States, along with a readable and
essential guide for activists, teachers, grandmothers, and anyone else who
wants to oppose government policies and actions. Hell No explores the current
situation of attacks upon and criminalization of dissent and protest, from the
surveillance of activists to the disruption of demonstrations, from the labeling
of protesters as “terrorists” to the jailing of those the government claims are
giving “material support” to its perceived enemies.
Offering detailed, hands-on advice on everything from “Sneak and Peak”
searches to “Can the Government Monitor My Text Messages?”
and what to do “If an Agent Knocks,”
Hell No lays out several key responses that every person should know in
order to protect themselves from government surveillance
and interference with their rights.
Beginning with a preface by Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center
for Constitutional Rights and a frequent legal commentator on CNN, MSNBC,
and NPR, Hell No also includes an introduction on the state of dissent today
by CCR board chair Michael Ratner and Margaret Ratner Kunstler.
Concluding with the controversial 2008 Mukasey FBI Guidelines, which
currently regulate the government’s domestic response to dissent,
Hell No is an indispensable tool in the effort to give free speech and
protest meaning in a post–9/11 world.
Michael Ratner is an attorney and president emeritus of the Center for
Constitutional Rights. He is well known for his human rights activism and the
author of numerous books, including The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld and Hell
No: Your Right to Dissent in Twenty-First-Century America (co-authored with
Margaret Ratner Kunstler), both published by The New Press.
He lives in New York City.
|How the Vietnam War
Haunted by Vietnam
by STAUGHTON LYND
Christian Appy is the author of two
splendid previous books about the
Vietnam War: Working-Class War
and Patriots. Patriots was
extraordinary in that it offered oral
histories by soldiers on both sides
of the conflict.
The main argument of Appy’s new
book, American Reckoning: the
Vietnam War and Our National
Identity, is that “the Vietnam War
shattered the central tenet of
American national identity,”
namely, faith in “American
Appy defines exceptionalism as
the belief that the United States is
a “unique force for good in the
world, superior not only in its
military and economic power, but
in the quality of its government and
institutions, the character and
morality of its people, and its way
of life.” American presidents tend
to lapse into exceptionalist mode
at the end of important addresses,
as in referring to the United States
as the “indispensable nation” or
otherwise suggesting that ours is
the best country in the world.
This book, with this central theme,
could not have appeared at a more
appropriate moment. The United
States government has initiated a
program, planned to extend over
several years, to celebrate the
Vietnam War. The emphasis, as
Appy incisively observes, will be
not so much on the war itself,
because this country lost that war,
and not at all on the catastrophic
harm inflicted by the American
invasion on the Vietnamese people
and the very ecology of Vietnam.
Rather our government will seek to
stir up positive sentiment about
the valor and sacrifice of American
soldiers. In this way, it is
apparently hoped, the Vietnam
syndrome of disillusionment and
suspicion of government
undertakings abroad can at last
Why Were We in Vietnam?
The antiwar movement was never
able to answer this question.
There were references to rubber,
tin, and oil, but natural resources
simply didn’t–and don’t–seem to
explain the enormity of the
Appy follows the clues left, first,
by the Kennedy administration,
then by the kitchen cabinet of Ivy
Leaguers that surrounded
President Johnson. He fastens on
some notes to himself made by
McGeorge Bundy in March 1965.
“Is our interest economic?” he
asks himself. “Obviously not. . . .
Is our interest military? Not really .
. . .”
What then? According to Appy,
“as always, Bundy returns to what
he regarded as the ‘cardinal’
principal of U.S. policy in Vietnam:
‘not to be a Paper Tiger. Not to
have it thought that when we
commit ourselves we really mean
no major risk’.” Or as JFK had
previously told a journalist: “Now
we have a problem in making our
power credible and Vietnam looks
like the place.”
Appy challenges us to consider
whether “[a]n aggressive
masculinity shaped American Cold
War policy, and still does.” He
concludes that policymakers “were
afraid to appear weak.” Lyndon
Johnson’s personal style was
crude compared to that of the
privileged men around him.
But they, too, were every bit as
concerned as was LBJ to
demonstrate their manly resolve.
It was an astonishingly
homogenous group. Their ideas
about manhood were forged in a
common set of elite, male-only
schools, Ivy League secret
societies and fraternities, military
service in World War II, and
metropolitan men’s clubs.
What About Capitalism?
Does this mean that we should set
Marxism aside and look to neo-
It does not. But the point to
understand about the Kennedys,
the Bundys, the Rostows, Arthur
Schlesinger, Jr., Richard Bissell
(the Yale professor who was chief
strategist for the Bay of Pigs), and
their cohorts, is: They were not
personally greedy. They didn’t
need to be. They
americanreconlooked down on
individual money-grubbing but
considered themselves entrusted
with managing the system as a
American capitalism, as they saw
the world, was essential to
preserving freedom. Hence
Vietnam was critically important,
not as a market for American
exports, but as a market for goods
produced in Japan lest Japan fail
in its function of offering a
counterweight in Asia to the
expansion of Communist China.
In practice, so Appy continues his
analysis, “the United States has
been far more consistent in its
support of capitalism than
democratic rights.” The Cold War
“provided a powerful ideological
cover for economic goals.”
Ironically, as things turned out,
while “the war brought big profits to
some American corporations, the
profits of U.S. businesses and
banks as a whole actually
declined in the late 1960s.” In
Vietnam, the war did not produce
solid capital investment but a
South Vietnamese economy in
which “commodities, not capital
goods, were the quickest and
safest way to make money.” The
economy became “oriented to
services catering to foreign
soldiers.” Indeed, what was
characteristic of South Vietnam’s
economy during the war became
the shape of things to come in
America as well, beginning in the
1970s as manufacturing fled to
lower-wage settings outside the
What About the Grunts
and the Veterans?
Appy says that Daniel Patrick
Moynihan “viewed the military as a
vast, untapped agent of upward
mobility with the potential to train
the unskilled, employ the young
and the poor, and bring self-
esteem to the psychologically
defeated.” During “the years of
massive escalation in Vietnam
(1965-1967), many articles touted
the military as a bastion of
particularly for African Americans.”
Thus Time magazine declared,
“the integrated military vindicated
Appy, in contrast, argues that
Vietnam was not only a working-
class war but a war that gave rise
to a significantly working-class
peace movement. He provides a
vivid account of the marauding
construction workers who attacked
antiwar protesters in New York
City. But he also reminds us that
protesters were killed at Jackson
State as well as at Kent State,
and adds an account of the highly
suspicious death of Hispanic
journalist Ruben Salazar in Los
Three days after Kent State and
two days before his own death in
an airplane crash, Walter Reuther,
president of the UAW, who had
refused to condemn the war while
Democrat Lyndon Johnson was
president, sent a telegram to
President Nixon protesting “the
bankruptcy of our policy of force
and violence in Vietnam.”
And if it was working-class young
men who were disproportionately
drawn into military service, it was
presumably that same
demographic group who
predominated in the army that by
1971 was reported in the Armed
Forces Journal to be “in a state
approaching collapse, with
individual units avoiding or having
refused combat, murdering their
officers and noncommissioned
officers, drug-ridden and dispirited
where not near-mutinous.” Appy
In the army, desertions jumped
from 14.9 per 1,000 soldiers in
1966 to 73.5 per 1,000 in 1971.
applications submitted by active-
duty soldiers jumped from 829 in
1967 to 4,381 in 1971.
I can offer one small vignette from
my own experience suggesting
caution when it comes to ascribing
to the working class a blind belief
in American exceptionalism.
Shortly before the United States
invaded Iraq in 2003, a group that
called itself Labor Against the War
held a founding meeting in
Chicago. I took the Greyhound bus
from Youngstown with two friends,
a Teamster shop steward and a
man who had been chemically
poisoned working at General
Arriving in the Windy City, we were
astonished to learn that the street
address we had been provided was
the location of a Teamsters local
union. The International
Brotherhood of Teamsters is not
known for its opposition to United
States foreign policy. I sought out
a couple of shop stewards and
asked them what was going on.
“It was the Vietnam vets,” I was
told. “They hit the mic at the local
union meeting and said that they
had seen this movie before.”
Staughton Lynd is an American
conscientious objector and tax
resister, Quaker, peace activist
and civil rights activist, historian
and professor, author and lawyer.
His book Doing History from the
Bottom Up: On E.P. Thompson,
Howard Zinn, and Rebuilding the
Labor Movement from Below was
published in December 2014 by
Haymarket Books and a new
edition of his Solidarity Unionism:
Rebuilding the Labor Movement
from Below, with an introduction
by radical labor scholar and
activist Immanuel Ness, will be
published by PM Press in Spring
2015. He can be reached at
|Noam Chomsky, author and Institute Professor
Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
where he taught for more than 50 years.
He is author of dozens of books.
An updated edition of his book 9-11
has just been published, called
9-11: Was There an Alternative?