Category Archives: Winter 2002 (10/31/02)

End Capitalism – End War

Once again, in an attempt to protect Western control over Middle East oil supplies, the titular head of US corporate capitalism, George W Bush, has presented the world with the vision of well-known bogey-man Saddam Hussein building up weapons of mass destruction.

No doubt, in this world where “might is right”, the Iraq regime would like to arm itself, just like any other state, with the most destructive weapons it can afford, and it would not be at all surprising that it was trying to develop them. In Iraq’s case this would be so as to be able to throw its weight around more in the Middle East. But this is precisely America’s aim too. Hence the clash of interests. Bush and Blair want the Saddam regime out of the way because they see it as a threat to Western capitalism’s continued domination of the Middle East and its oil fields. It’s as simple as that. For them too, might is right, as they are itching to prove.

Some of America’s allies are not convinced that a war with Iraq won’t endanger rather than protect their oil supplies or political stability. Aware of this, Bush is now pursuing his campaign via the UN, clearly hoping that Iraq’s failure to comply with requests from UN weapons inspectors will provide the pretext he needs to justify an attack upon Iraq. He cites Iraq’s refusal to comply with UN resolutions as evidence of Saddam’s contempt for the world. Yet US ally Israel is in breach of as many UN resolutions as the errant Iraq. And the US itself has refused to accept a ruling from the International Court of Justice condemning its “unlawful use of force” during its terrorist war against Nicaragua, and for which it was also ordered to pay substantial reparations. Dismissing that particular ruling and refusing to pay, the US went on to intensify that assault.

That the US is concerned with the chemical facilities Iraq might have is understandable. Saddam certainly has the technological know-how. It came courtesy of the US when they sponsored Saddam in his war with Iran. Back in 1994, the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs produced a report entitled U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War. It concluded:

“The United States provided the Government of Iraq with ‘dual use’ licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological, and missile-system programs, including: chemical warfare agent precursors; chemical warfare agent production facility plans and technical drawings…chemical warhead filling equipment; biological warfare related materials; missile fabrication equipment; and, missile-system guidance equipment”.

We can further observe that the country with the biggest nuclear arsenal on Earth and the biggest stockpile of chemical weapons, and which has a proven track record of having used them, is the United States. Clearly, America doesn’t object to the stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction as such. It just wants it and its allies to have a monopoly of them, not in the interests of world peace but in the interests of its world domination.

There can be no other reason for the US obsession with Iraq than continuing control of Middle East oils supplies. What remains imprecise is the US game plan: to use Iraq as a springboard to capture Iran and thus secure a shorter and cheaper route to Gulf ports for Caspian oil, or maybe to get a tighter grip on Saudi oil lest there be an Islamic fundamentalist blowback resulting from the “war on terror”? You don’t think so? Then ask yourself if there’d be so much US concern if the Middle East just supplied dates.

Someone who has seen through the current charade is Mo Mowlam, once a member of Blair’s cabinet, who has written:

“This whole affair has nothing to do with a threat from Iraq — there isn’t one. It has nothing to do with the war against terrorism or with morality. Saddam Hussein is obviously an evil man, but when we were selling arms to him to keep the Iranians in check he was the same evil man he is today. He was a pawn then and he is a pawn now. In the same way he served Western interests then, he is now the distraction for the sleight of hand to protect the West’s supply of oil.”

A capitalist society is a war-prone society, in that built-in to it is perpetual conflict between rival states over markets, raw material sources, trade routes and investment outlets. You can’t have capitalism without wars, the threat of war and preparations for war.

So if you’re only demonstrating against war, then take my advice and invest in a sturdy anti-war banner, for if you are prepared to oppose war without opposing the very system that gives rise to it, then you’ll be demonstrating for quite some time to come. Alternatively you can join the movement which believes that to end wars we must put an end to capitalism. An uphill struggle? Less than campaigning to end war against the backdrop of the profit system.

We must unite to establish a world community without frontiers where all the resources of the planet would be at the disposal of all the people of the planet. Then we could use them to end world poverty, hunger and preventable disease once and for all and rapidly move towards applying the principle “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”, ensuring that no man, woman or child anywhere on Earth goes without adequate food, clothing, shelter or other amenities. A world where wars and weapons of mass destruction would be things of the past. This can be done. So let’s do it.

Originally an anti-war flyer in England

Call for a Worldwide Week of Action

December 15-21

It has long been clear that those at the helm of global capital are intent on steering us further into endless war. On the horizon, another mass murder, where the poor and powerless of different nations are ordered to kill each other for the benefit of the elite.

Despite the propagandist long knives of the Bush/Blair administrations and their standing armies in the mass media, there is a remarkable degree of worldwide recalcitrance to these “leaders” and their schemes. In addition to numerous massive demonstrations around the world — which are under-reported by the media — military recruiting centers have been attacked and military-industrial corporations blockaded. And these are just two examples of many actions taken by people who’ve enlisted their arms and legs into the battle against unlimited war that so many of us are already fighting with our hearts and minds.

This is a call for a week of action against the war apparatus during December 15-21, 2002. It is necessary, for the sake of those who governments long to slaughter, that we take this and every possible opportunity to strike at the executioners’ hearts. Further, a deafening void of resistance to recent warmongering could result in endless war as we careen closer and closer to a probable cataclysmic conclusion. The lives we save may very well be our own.

THE WAR APPARATUS

While a complete and detailed periodic table of the elements of war would cover several volumes, a simple sketch of the war apparatus shall suffice for providing the general shape of our principal targets.

Clearly money is the oil on which the war machine runs. Who stands to profit directly from war? Big-name defense contractors (Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, etc.) are first in line of private organizations to reap their financial rewards from the battlefields. These companies provide an obvious target. Their buildings are often remote and heavily guarded; nonetheless, that didn’t stop a recent sit-in at the Boeing offices from putting a damper, albeit temporary, on business as usual.

Of course, the war machine literally does run on oil, and unlimited access to the oil fields of Iraq is a large priority of this war-to-be. For this reason, the headquarters and assets of oil companies should be considered legitimate targets as well.

The editorial wings of the major media outlets certainly have much to gain from war. In their official capacity as the mouthpiece of government and business, mass media outlets are a natural enemy of all of us in opposition to war. The history of radical action against the media is storied and diverse. Resistors of every stripe have sanitized newspaper boxes and made additions to them; jammed or hijacked radio and television signals; and attacked broadcast towers and damaged equipment. The sheer number of media outlets provides myriad opportunities for action against the war.

Of course, there is the military itself as a target. Who could forget the Air Force billboard altered to read “Aim High: Bomb the Pentagon,” or the Vietnam-era ROTC building attacks? The military uses several mediums to garner recruits, most of which are highly susceptible to some type of action. They know the way in San Jose: recently saboteurs there torched some military vehicles, trashed a recruiting center, and left the words “Pre-emptive Strike” as their only explanation.

ACT, AND DON’T GET CAUGHT

This is a call for an explicit and direct attack upon the war machine. This is a call for resistance, not merely demonstration or advocacy, or scripted acts of “civil disobedience” where all the participants politely go to jail.

December 21st is the date of winter solstice, the day of the most darkness, a legendary time of revolution and change. This is a call for actions that will begin on Dec 15th and culminate on the 21st — under cover of full darkness and with the full force of our spirits.

If we can stop these limitless wars, then we will have accomplished a number of things. We will have halted the mass killing of civilians. We will have shown the world that not all of us are goose-stepping mindlessly behind “President” George W. Bush, Blair & Co. Best of all, we will have proven that creative individuals, dynamic affinity cells, and flexible grassroots groups can still make a difference and redefine what is possible for us to achieve — with an eye towards the kind of world we really want.

Want to endorse the call? circle_day_cell@ziplip.com

In Case of War take Direct Action

As Slingshot goes to press, Congress has authorized Bush to go to war against Iraq, although the bombs haven’t actually begun to fall. Action on the political field within mainstream channels — calling one’s congressperson, lobbying, writing letters — has been attempted and has failed. At this point, there are really two options: turn on the TV and watch the cool video of the smartbombs blowing up Iraq, or prepare to resist and disrupt the war in the streets however you can.

Its easy to get discouraged and figure there’s nothing anyone can do to stop the war. Maybe the war will be like the Gulf war, which happened so fast, and with so few (visible American) casualties that it was over before anti-war activity could really be widely felt. Then on the other hand, even during the long years of the Vietnam war, the war appeared impossible to stop. Yet we know now that those in the seats of power were blocked from fighting the war as vigorously as they wanted, and ultimately forced to pull out, because of the treat of domestic disruption and unrest.

If domestic opposition to the war is to play any effective part in Bush’s decision making on whether or how to wage the war, the opposition must take the form of disruption of the operation of American society. In the period leading up to the actual attack, Bush needs to come to fear domestic chaos and disruption should he invade. He could care less about polite, legal rallies on sunny Sunday afternoons in which liberals stay within the police lines and threaten . . . nothing.

Disruption must be aimed not only at the progress of the war itself, but at any economic activity that contributes to the ability of this country to function. People around the world understand that once the United States, with unquestioned global military superiority, adopts a policy of unlimited military preemptive strikes, as it has now done, a Third World War pitting of the US against the rest of the world is a real possibility. The US is run by an un-elected regime accountable to no one. Its up to those of us here in the belly of the beast to avoid this disastrous outcome by impairing this country’s ability to wage war.

In the context of the war on terrorism, traditional methods of disruption carry increased risks. Typical window smashing, rioting and arson are likely to result in a very short period of disruption, since the practitioners of these methods are likely to be quickly apprehended and imprisoned. Likewise, polite “sit in the road” civil disobedience actions are very limited in their ability to cause economically damaging disruption, because they are over so fast, followed by months of court hearings.

The above tired methods, which emphasize self-sacrifice, danger of state repression, and worst yet, boredom, aren’t sufficiently disruptive and should be avoided. Instead, its time for a burst of creativity. The anarchist milieu has a crucial opportunity to contribute disruptive surrealist actions which sustain and amplify disruption, making the disruption ever increasing in its size and economic damage.

In particular, these actions burst the bounds of the expected — permitting self-expression, exploration, discovery, creativity, freedom and fun. Such actions, rather than burning activists out as we trudge through the valleys of tired obligation, have the potential to attract thousands of people new to radical political action. These surrealist actions are effective beyond traditional tactics because the state doesn’t know how to react to something that’s never been done before.

When disrupting business as usual, our main alley is chaos, confusion and uncertainty – the uncertainty of the authorities about what we might do next. If they know what we’re going to do next, our disruptive capacity has already been isolated and limited. Maybe we can block a certain street — but the police are expert in knowing how to reroute traffic around any given street. Maybe we disrupt a whole city — but if pressed, the authorities can just decide to concede us that city until we grow tired.

But when the authorities don’t know what could happen next – where we’ll be next, what we might do next – then they have no ability to make decisions to limit our disruption. Instead, the authorities may panic and amplify our disruption out of fear about what could happen next. Like when the cops seal off a freeway entrance, blocking hundreds of cars, just in case people might try to get on the freeway. The cops just did our work for us. Except with surrealist actions, the ripples of the authorities fears can be far greater.

Logically, practicing disruption where the authorities don’t know what might happen next implies that perhaps even we don’t know what might happen next. If you’re in a group of people participating in a disruptive action and none of you know what’s gonna to happen next, but you’re mobile, militant, fluid, disrupting whatever is at hand in the most creative, joyful, liberated fashion possible, you’re probably being very effective, indeed. You’re running amok.

Here’s some examples of unexpected yet disruptive actions we hope will become popular in the next phase of the struggle. Please think of many, many more yourself.

West Side Story Surrealist Threat

In this highly car-dependent society, blocking major roads is always an excellent disruptive tactic. But things have been getting harder and harder when it comes to taking the streets. New creative thinking is called for.

A few years ago, British activists devised the brilliant Reclaim the Streets tactic of holding a rave in the middle of the street. RTS actions disrupt traffic, and because the blockage is a party, cops have a harder time reacting violently like against a standard blockade. Plus, RTS is fun and beautiful, attracting lots of party-goers/blockaders and embodying our vision for a society based on life and freedom, not money and machines.

The West Side Story Surrealist Threat (Theatre with the letters rearranged) is a theater troop in Berkeley which stages fully costumed performances of the musical West Side Story in the middle of major intersections during rush hour. Like RTS, traffic is immediately blocked and replaced with drama, singing and dancing. A bike-drawn sound system pipes out the songs from the musical without the words. Performers sign karaoke style. Because WSSST emphasizes participatory drama, parts are rotated during performances, and performers have crib sheets with the words to the songs to help them along. Since so many people know West Side Story, commuters are invited to spontaneously throw off their chains and join in the musical! WSSST is even developing rolling, bike-drawn sets (picture the balcony scene on wheels) that can be locked down with bike locks to further block intersections for the duration of the performance, which last about 2 hours plus intermission. Food Not Bombs may eventually be enlisted to serve a hearty meal with home brewed refreshments during the intermission.

WSSST performances literally blow the police’s minds, and they don’t know what to do. Official looking casting directors and directors negotiate with cops once they show up, telling them the whole thing is the newest Americrops project to keep underprivileged 20 somethings out of trouble. If all else fails, the whole cast can break into a rousing rendition of “Officer Krupke” before dancing off snapping their fingers in unison. Cool, Daddy-O!

This tactic, and the resulting severe damage to America’s capitalist / industrial economy should it be replicated all across the country, is just one possible idea for disruptive surrealist anarchist actions. A whole touring drama movement could develop, performing the greater works of Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams plays, and lots of other groovy musicals — from Guys and Dolls to Grease to Hair. See the “Cut Bush” section, below, for ideas to try during the nude scene during performances of Hair.

This is cultural enrichment at its best, not limited to the richest classes of society who are usually the only ones who can enjoy live theatre.

Critical Mess

San Francisco just celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first Critical Mass bike ride in the world. As 10,000 of us rode through the narrow downtown San Francisco streets whooping and cheering in celebration, auto traffic came to a standstill. The ride stretched for 40 blocks, crossing and re-crossing major streets.

The ride started at 6 p.m., permitting most commuters and business traffic to escape before the ride. If Bush invades Iraq, folks could scheduling critical mass bike rides in downtown financial districts around the country, with a small difference — the rides would start at 9 a.m., and proceed throughout the business day. Day after day.

You don’t need 10,000 cyclists to seriously disrupt auto traffic in central business districts. Such auto traffic is normally slow at best, just verging on the edge of gridlock under the best of circumstances. As few as 50 or 100 bikes, carefully obeying all traffic laws and therefore taking only minimal risks, will push these kinds of dense traffic conditions over the edge.

As above, such rides are a perfect way for a tiny portion of the civilian population to disrupt the economic foundations of the war machine way out of proportion with their numbers. Whereas a small street march will be quickly broken up by the police and arrested, a small bike ride, going with the flow of traffic, obeying all traffic laws, and moving from place to place, is much more effective. Because a bike ride can move quickly and easily, its possible to circulate around a business district, tying up lots of it even though the ride is only at a particular location for a few minutes and then moves on. This kind of mobile action is particularly frustrating for the authorities – they don’t know what could happen next, or where.

It is possible police will arrest such a ride even though it obeys all laws, as recently happened in Washington DC. The key will be finding the balance between being disruptive and staying together, and appearing to just be out for a ride on one’s bike. “Hey, its not my fault if there’s a lot of bike traffic today!”

Cut Bush!

Despite the fact that human sexuality is a beautiful, natural experience that connects us all, public sexuality has a vast disruptive capacity that shouldn’t be ignored by those seeking to shut down business as usual. We can think of countless ways in which a small group or people (or even a single person) could create chaos using nudity, public sex, or related actions.

The techno-industrial system relies on moving cargo, workers, raw materials and information quickly and smoothly. Actions should focus on locations, times and situations where disruption and delay can cause ripple effects costing the system millions of dollars in lost productivity. Key freeway interchanges, ocean terminals, rail stations, airports, power plants, water supply facilities, military bases, etc. are all highly vulnerable. Cells engaging in these types of actions don’t even need to identify themselves as protesters or call attention to specific demands. It may be safer or more effective to take action without an overt political message. Even police have been disrupted or distracted by sexual actions. If the cops realized that these acts weren’t merely self-expression (or lust or depravity), but were part of the resistance movement, they might be better able to focus on carrying out their duties.

We have a particular action in mind that could be replicated in communities around the country: pubic shaving or trimming. The message – cut Bush – is implicit in the act. Moreover, your average member of the regime, the economic elite, or the military finds the idea either distracting and titillating, or disturbing and disgusting, hopefully both at the same time, creating a critical moral / sexual contradiction that could cause a spontaneous mental breakdown.

Without checking it out too carefully, we do not believe the government has enacted a law preventing one from mailing one’s pubic hairs to the President. We suspect he would quickly get the message once thousands of pounds of the stuff starts spilling out on the desks of his mail opening staff. From a public relations standpoint, he’s stuck – if he complains, the story will get out and everyone will start doing it, while the whole world laughs its head off.

With advances in DNA technology, its probably better to be careful about this sort of thing. Therefore, we’re proposing that each neighborhood would have collection stations which would mix the hair from various people into less than 1 pound packages. Such packages can be mailed with stamps anonymously from any postbox. Use gloves and other precautions when mailing. Just to spice things up a bit and confuse the DNA folks, mix in some hair or other bodily coverings from your pets (dogs, cats, rats, reptiles, maybe a few bids) and include all of this in your package.

Good luck!

Noam Chomsky Interview

Slingshot asked Noam Chomsky to write an article for us describing his unique perspective on the current war crisis. But he was so busy writing a book every month that he didn’t have time. So instead, here’s some answers he gave to various interviewers’ sage questions.

Q: It is sometimes said that Saddam Hussein wouldn’t be crazy enough to launch a nuclear weapon at the U.S. or (more realistically) Israel, knowing the inevitable consequences. But wouldn’t a nuclear-armed Iraq be able to conventionally attack weaker neighboring states, knowing that his victims could not successfully call on the U.S. (or even the UN) for assistance, because Washington would fear a nuclear strike on Tel Aviv?

A: All sorts of outlandish possibilities can be imagined. That’s kept many people employed at Rand and other think-tanks ever since WMD became available. This is hardly one of the more credible examples. One reason is that the situation will almost certainly not arise. The scenario assumes that Saddam has provided credible evidence that he has WMD available and is capable of using them. Otherwise, such weapons are not a threat or a deterrent at all. But if there ever is any indication that he does have significant WMD capacity, he’ll be wiped out before he can threaten anyone with invasion. Suppose, however, just to play the game, we accept the absurd assumption that the US and Israel will just sit there quietly while Saddam brandishes WMD as a potential deterrent, in advance of the invasion of some other country. Then the US and Israel would instantly respond to the invasion, expelling him (and probably destroying Iraq). His WMD would be no deterrent at all. A sufficient reason is that to allow his invasion to succeed would leave him as a far greater threat. Furthermore, it would be assumed that he would not use whatever WMD capacity he has because that would mean instant suicide, and if he was bent on suicide he would have used his WMD against Israel (or someone else)even before invading another country. The scenario has such slight plausibility that it is hardly worth considering in comparison with real problems that do not have to be conjured up by fevered imaginations.

If one wants to play such games, why not take some more plausible scenarios. Here’s one. Suppose that the US shifts policy and joins the international consensus on a two-state Israel-Palestine settlement. Suppose, for example, the US endorses the recent Saudi plan adopted by the Arab League. Suppose Israel reacts by threatening the US — not threatening to bomb it, but in other ways. For example, suppose Israel sends bombers over the Saudi oil fields (maybe nuclear armed, but that’s unnecessary), just to indicate what it can do to the world if the US doesn’t get on board again. It would be too late to react, because Israel could then carry out its warnings. That scenario has a certain plausibility because apparently it actually happened, 20 years ago, when the Saudi government floated a similar plan, violently opposed by Israel. According to the Israeli press, Israel reacted by sending bombers over the oil fields, as a warning to the US, but one that was unnecessary because the Reagan administration joined Israel in rejecting that possibility for a political settlement, as it has consistently done. True, Israel might have been facing destruction, but one might argue that Israel’s strategy allows that possibility. As far back as the 1950s, leaders of the then-ruling Labor Party advised that Israel should “go crazy” if the US wouldn’t go along with its demands, and the “Samson complex” has been an element of planning — how seriously, we don’t know — ever since. So we should bomb Israel right away, before it has a chance to carry out these evil plots.

Do I believe any of this? Of course not. It’s nonsensical. However, it doesn’t compare too badly with the scenario about Iraq.

It should be added that there are circumstances under which Saddam might use WMD, assuming he has the capacity. If Iraq is invaded with the clear intention of capturing or more likely killing him, he would have every incentive to go for broke, since he’d have nothing to lose. But it is hard to imagine other circumstances.

Q: What will the implications of war be in the Mideast, and also other parts of the world? Do U.S. elites care?

A: Elites of course care, though the small group that holds the reins of power currently may not care very much. They evidently believe that they have such overwhelming force at their command that it doesn’t really matter much what others think: if they don’t go along, they’ll be dismissed, or if they are in the way, pulverized. The thinking in high places was made pretty clear when Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia visited the US in April to urge the administration to pay some attention to the reaction in the Arab world to its strong support for Israeli terror and repression. He was told, in effect, that the US did not care what he or other Arabs think. A high official explained that “if he thought we were strong in Desert Storm, we’re 10 times as strong today. This was to give him some idea what Afghanistan demonstrated about our capabilities.” A senior defense analyst gave a simple gloss: others will “respect us for our toughness and won’t mess with us.” That stand has precedents that need not be mentioned. But in the post-9/11 world it gains new force. Are they right? Could be. Or maybe the world will blow up in their face, perhaps after a “decent interval,” as it’s called in diplomacy. Again, resort to large-scale violence has highly unpredictable consequences, as history reveals and common sense should tell us anyway. That’s why sane people avoid it, in personal relations or international affairs, unless a very powerful argument is offered to overcome “the sickly inhibitions against the use of military force” (to borrow the phrase of Reaganite intellectual Norman Podhoretz, paraphrasing Goebbels).

Exerpted from an email interview With Noam Chomsky about US Warplans by Michael Albert

and

Exerpted from an email interview With Noam Chomsky about US Warplans by David Barsamian

Bush, Hitler, and Hussein: An Overview

George Bush and his father both loved comparing Saddam Hussein to Hitler. Such comparisons are tempting when you really want to vilify someone – Hitler was one of histories worst butchers. Such comparisons are also severely over-used and have the tendency to insult the memory of the millions Hitler destroyed and trivialize the real horror of fascist world domination. You don’t have to think about it very long to realize that Saddam, ruling a tiny country devastated by sanctions, constant US bombing raids, etc. isn’t analogous to Hitler. But it got us thinking about a few other comparisons, which show how a militarized state apparatus functions in frightenly similar ways across history and around the world. With apologies to good taste, please enjoy the following:

  George Bush Saddam Hussein

Adolph Hitler

Used or seeks to use military force preemptively? Yes Yes Yes
Mustache? No Yes Yes
Uses/used military adventures to distract from domestic economic problems? Yes Yes Yes
Wields or attempted to develop weapons of mass destruction? No No Yes
Narcotics Used Cocaine ? Speed
Imprisons(ed) state enemies without trial justifying it as necessary to preserve national security Yes Yes Yes
Gender Male Male Male
Stages(ed) "terrorist" attacks on significant landmark building later used to justify domestic crackdown? Maybe ? Yes
Uses (used) nationalistic frenzy/images/propaganda to justify blood bath. Yes Yes Yes
Capable of full spectrum dominance Yes No No
Kinky Sexual acts? Not Likely! ? Yes

Repression is Not New

A Short List of Books for the Age of Bush

“In times of universal deceit the truth is a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

With increasing attacks on civil liberties and crackdowns on radicals in the United States now it is as important as ever to understand exactly what we are up against. Following is a list of books to get you on your way. It is in no way complete but consists of the most thorough groundbreaking works written to date.

War at Home: Covert Action Against U.S. Activists and What We Can Do About It. Brian Glick, 1989, South End Press. Provides a comprehensive and common sense approach for those who must engage in political activity while facing governmental and right-wing attacks. Includes a cogent analysis of the relationship between the U.S. political economy and domestic covert action.

Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. Ward Churchill & Jim Vander Wall, 1988, South End Press. A chilling account of the murderous tactics used against non-white political activists. 500 pages and an extensive index and footnotes.

COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States. Ward Churchill & Jim Vander Wall, 1989, South End Press. Actual FBI documents and commentary make a strong case for convincing skeptics. Replaces the Counter-intelligence book previously issued by the NLG.

COINTELPRO: The FBI’s Secret War on Political Freedom. Nelson Blackstock, 1976, Vintage Books. The FBI’s campaign to infiltrate and disrupt the Socialist Worker’s Party; good overview of the other Bureau investigations of additional left organizations.

The Age of Surveillance: The Aims & Methods of America’s Political Intelligence System. Frank Donner, 1980, Alfred Knopf. The classic tome documenting surveillance and harassment in the U.S. from World War I to 1980.

Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Political Repression in Urban America. Frank Donner, 1991, Univ. of California. Donner provides a wealth of entertaining yet appalling anecdotes demonstrating how local police intelligence units-often dubbed Red Squads-subverted the Constitution while justifying their actions as preserving democracy in the fight against subversion.

Under Cover: Police Surveillance in America Gary T. Marx, 1988, Twentieth Century Fund/Univ. of California Press. The most thoughtful critical analysis of undercover police techniques currently available.

Political Repression in Modern America, 1870 to Present., 2nd edition. Robert J. Goldstein, 1978i, Schenkman Books, Inc. Government, corporate and other pressures brought to bear on political groups through the years.

The Private Sector: Rent-a-cops, Private Spies and the Police Industrial Complex. George O’Toole, 1978, W.W. Norton. Very hard to find but worth it.

Talking Points Against the War

Its amazing that Bush & Co. have been so successful in whipping up the current war frenzy given the hollowness of their main justifications for the proposed war. While we don’t want to rehash information that’s abundantly available everywhere, we thought a few “talking points” for discussing the war would be helpful as people everywhere continue, in millions of conversations with friends, neighbors, loved ones, co-workers, etc. to turn public opinion against the war. We believe the indications of general public support for the war are a mile wide and an inch deep, if a majority of the public supports war at all. When you really talk to people, its obvious that this is not our war — its a war pushed by elites for their own reasons, not a war necessary to “protect American freedom.” The crucial question is whether the raw public opinion, skepticism or opposition will really make any difference. In times like these, only mass, broad based popular non-cooperation may be capable of blocking the rush to war.

MYTH #1: The government needs to invade Iraq to protect the population of the United States

Governments always claim to act to protect their own populations when going to war, but this is seldom the case. More typically, the real beneficiaries of war are a tiny economic elite who stand to benefit from victory, military contractors, and government officials who increase their powers during time of war.

In the case of Iraq, the justifications for war are especially absurd. Iraq is a tiny country, thousands of miles from US soil. Even the government concedes that Iraq is incapable of directly attacking US soil. Instead, Bush & Co. pull out manufactured dangers — that Iraq will arm terrorists (see discussion below). Bush even argues that Iraq is a threat to US pilots who are flying missions over the no-fly zone in Iraq — not much danger if they weren’t there in the first place!

MYTH #2: The government needs to invade Iraq to free the oppressed people of Iraq and promote freedom and democracy abroad

Governments in general don’t promote freedom and democracy — they are created to constrain individual freedom to permit economic elites to dominate. In the case of the United States, this is especially easy to see. The US has a remarkable history of propping up brutal dictators when it fits US interests, without regard to legitimacy, freedom, human rights or democracy. The crucial question for US government officials is whether the dictator in question is willing to play ball, not whether a particular regime was elected or whether it tortures or murders its own people.

Moreover, the United States has a terrible history when it comes to using covert or overt military force for “regime change.” More often than not, the US installs extremely brutal dictators who will create stability for US economic interests. For example, the CIA assisted in the coup that deposed the democratically elected (but leftist) government of Salvador Allende in Chile. Following “regime change” Augusta Pinochet ruled Chile with an iron first for decades.

US officials have tacitly admitted that following “regime change” their main interest will be installing a government to keep Iraq from splitting apart. Iraq was artificially created by colonial powers and includes Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and Kurds — competing ethnic groups that could splinter the country without a strong central authority. The US is not going to let democracy prevail in a post invasion Iraq if that means civil war and turmoil in the region, threatening the security of US ally Turkey and aiding US enemy Iran.

MYTH #3: The government needs to invade Iraq to prevent another September 11 because Iraq has ties to Al Qaeda

Bush administration officials have repeatedly claimed that Iraq has ties to Al Qaeda, but have refused to provide evidence or have provided misleading evidence. On October 7 Bush claimed: “We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We have learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb making, poisons, and deadly gases.”

In response to these claims, Rahul Mahajan, author of The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism, notes “Saddam Hussein sees the radical Islamist terrorist networks like al-Qaeda as a huge potential threat to his own rule, something that concerns him far more than any unrealistic ideas of revenge against the United States. Anything that could allow al- Qaeda (which, in its turn, is likely more concerned with replacing regimes in the Middle East with new radical Islamist regimes) to blackmail him would be the last thing he would give them.”

James Jennings, president of Conscience International, further observed “The claim that al-Qaeda is in Iraq is disingenuous, if not an outright lie. Yes, the U.S. has known for some time that up to 400 al-Qaeda-type Muslim extremists, the Ansar al-Islam, formerly ‘Jund al-Islam,’ a splinter of the Iranian-backed Islamic Unity Movement of Kurdistan, were operating inside the Kurdish security zone set up under U.S. protection in the North of Iraq. For some reason this was kept quiet and has not been much reported in the mainstream media. Finally last Spring the Kurds themselves attacked and killed most of the terrorists in their territory, sending the rest fleeing for their lives across the border into Iran. Since this area was under U.S. protection, and not under Saddam Hussein’s rule, it’s pretty hard to claim that al-Qaeda operates in Iraq.”

The reality is that if Bush could show ANY concrete ties between Iraq and the September 11 terrorists or Al Qaeda in general, he would be anxious to offer specific evidence as justification. Unfortunately for Bush, Saddam and al Qaeda aren’t cooperating because they aren’t allies. Just because people are anti-American doesn’t make them friends.

MYTH #4: The government needs to invade Iraq to protect people in the United States from weapons of mass destruction held by Iraq

In fact, there is abundant evidence that a pre-emptive attack on Iraq will endanger, not protect, US citizens from the use of WMD because Saddam would have “nothing to lose” should he be pre-emptively attacked .

October 8, Senator Bob Graham, the chairman of the Senate panel, read from a letter sent to him by CIA chief George Tenet. In that note, Tenet reported the CIA had concluded that “Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW [chemical and biological weapons] against the United States.” The CIA, according to Tenet, also had determined, “Should Saddam conclude that a US-led attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions.” And the Agency found, “Saddam might decide that the extreme step of assisting Islamist terrorists in conducting a WMD [weapons of mass destruction] attack against the United States would be his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him.” The bottom-line: Saddam is not likely in the near future to hit the United States or share his weapons with al Qaeda or other anti-American terrorists, unless the United States assaults Iraq, because his main priority is protecting his own power in Iraq.

Its also crucial to point out that a US attack is likely to destabilize the middle east, if not the whole world. Latent tension between Arab states and Israel could easily be inflamed as the bombs fall.

MYTH #5: The US has no alternative to attacking Iraq because they are tying to develop weapons of mass destruction

In fact, many countries around the world have developed or are developing weapons of mass destruction, yet Bush is only pushing an attack on Iraq. North Korea’s recent announcement of their weapons of mass destruction program is particularly instructive — no preemptive US strike is under consideration. If possessing nuclear weapons were such a concern, the U.S. would be pushing the UN to authorize weapons inspectors to enter Pakistan, Israel, China, France and Britain. Its also interesting to note that the US has the world’s largest stockpile of all forms of WMD. These weapons — no matter which government possesses them — are a huge threat to human beings seeking to live in peace everywhere. Bush doesn’t care about removing weapons or limiting militarism generally — just using it as a pretext when its convenient.

The Sad History of Iraq’s WMD Program

Its outrageous that Bush argues its necessary to preemptively attack Iraq because of the dangers posed by its development of Weapons of Mass Destruction when the US government was so instrumental in helping Iraq develop its weapons of mass destruction program in the first place.

During the 1980s, the Reagan and first Bush Administrations sought to “contain” Iran by funding and supporting Iraq’s war of aggression against Iran. The support included intelligence assistance and the facilitation of arms sales. The US also helped Iraq obtain international loans to finance the war. As part of this effort, the US government permitted Iraq to purchase computer controlled machine tools, computers, scientific instruments, special alloy steel and aluminum, chemicals, and other industrial goods for Iraq’s missile, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

Much of this purchasing was from private US firms who profited from the slaughter of Iranians and Iraqis alike. Moreover, many of the persons involved with this deadly trade are now ironically pushing for war against Iraq. For example, Secretary of Defense and war hawk Donald Rumsfeld traveled to Baghdad in 1985 and met with Saddam Hussein as a private businessman on behalf of the Reagan administration.

In the 1980s, Brent Scowcroft, chairman of the president Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, served as Vice Chairman of Kissinger Associates until being appointed as National Security Advisor to the first President Bush in January 1989. Congressperson Henry Gonzalez concluded that “Until October 4,1990, Mr. Scowcroft owned stock in approximately 40 U.S. corporations, many of which were doing business in Iraq.” Scowcroft’s stock included that in Halliburton Oil, also doing business in Iraq at the time, which was until recently run by current Vice President Dick Cheney. Scowcroft companies, according to Gonzalez, “received more than one out of every eight U.S. export licenses for exports to Iraq. Several of the companies were also clients of Kissinger Associates while Mr. Scowcroft was Vice Chairman of that firm.”

Kissinger Associates helped US companies obtain US export licenses so Iraq could purchase US weapons and materials for its weapons programs. US government approved sales of large varieties of chemical and biological materials to Iraq. These included anthrax, components of mustard gas, botulinum toxins (which causes paralysis of the muscles involving swallowing and is often fatal), histoplasma capsulatum (which may cause pneumonia, enlargement of the liver and spleen, anemia, acute inflammatory skin disease marked by tender red nodules), and a host of other nasty chemicals materials.

The contemplated war on Iraq is just another example of the US belatedly seeking to destroy the dictator/security threat which it, in fact, created. The US corporate, military industrial machine favors dictators because they provide internal political stability for US economic interests, as well as sources of cheap labor and materials. As was the case in Afganistan, the US policies of the 80s are now coming back to haunt the world, once again showing how the cure is worse than the problem, or at least just as bad.

The United States government sees it all as a big geo-political game, in which dictators and bullies get armed to fight other dictators, and then must be knocked down. People, life, human rights, democracy — none of it really seems to matter as the US deals death and destruction like it was boxes of widgets.

The real danger to world security — to your personal safety as you sit at home in the United States — is the United States government. The US has the world’s biggest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, and we’re supporting nuclear armed regimes around the world who oppress their people, just like Saddam. When you play violent games that emphasize power and violence and death, you create a world in which the chickens may come home to roost.

Trans Dude Figures Out Why He Cut Off His Tits!

Natural gender

This is the third in a series of diary entries written by trans folks for Slingshot about their experiences.

Transsexuals’ use of hormones and surgery is particularly misunderstood within the anarchist community and without. Changing one’s gender to man, woman, androgyne, etc. is perhaps somewhat understandable as some hip anarcho-queer phenomenon, but physically, permanently changing one’s body seems like a capitulation to patriarchal views of the body, little more than the ‘beauty myth’. Perhaps transsexuals really are just a product of 20th century plastic surgery and endocrinology, confused souls who are taking their resistance to traditional gender roles a bit too far. Shouldn’t we strive towards erasing gender roles from our minds, instead of modifying our bodies? In fact, by changing bodies, are transsexuals actually perpetuating traditional relations of gender to body type? Can’t you just accept your body and be yourself, naturally?

The desire to change gender and/or sex is probably a combination of genetic and cultural factors. In a utopian anarchist world, some of these factors, like strict gender roles, would not exist. Even these days, surgery and hormones are not the answer to silly ideas of binary gender. But people are pressured by the requirements of gender in existing society, to conform for safety, using existing tools. Society holds on to gender ideals strongly; people are very threatened by breach of these ideals. Even people who would like an ambiguous or self-defined body, may be forced to modify body for safety to fit current realities. To ask people not to do this, in the name of revolution, is asking people to face potential violence, gang rape and death. Activists who feel conflicted about a person’s use of surgery, hormones, and other body modifications should direct their critical energy at the society that forced confinement within specific gender roles and body types, rather than at the person trying to break free and respond to their true self. We should understand ourselves beyond our survival aids.

People have always changed their gender and bodies in response to both personal feeling and cultural beauty standards. Instead of seeing people as the norm or the other, a revolutionary vision should consider a whole spectrum of body types, of ways of being human. In a revolutionary society people would have complete control over their own bodies and have full responsibility for modifying, creating, and destroying them as they see fit. We have to subvert western allopathic medicine and the system that dictates gender and sex roles. Isn’t surgery just one more body modification, one more art?