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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cowardly European foils terrorist

The recent terrorist attempt to bring down an American civilian aircraft brings to light an interesting anomaly: The first passenger to react decisively and try to restrain and stop the terrorist was a Dutchman (see http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/us/27plane.html?_r=1&th&emc=th). This runs quite counter to the narrative in the film United 93 which portrayed the only European passanger on board the plane as the one who is cowardly and passive (see http://atlanticreview.org/archives/396-German-911-Victim-Defamed-in-United-93-Movie.html).

The 2006 film clearly put the individual actions of the passengers into the wider context of the "war on terror," assigning them roles parallel to their nations' policies. The Americans play the courageous ones willing to risk all to fight for what is right while Europe stands by passively, hoping everything will work out in the end, pretending that evil isn't real and that negotiation and appeasement are the best approach. Films based on real historical events always have an artistic element to them. They have to fill in the gaps, make up scenes and dialogue. The best they can hope for is to not contradict known facts. United 93 went beyond that, contributing actively and intentionally to a particular narrative and American self-portrayal. On Christmas day 2009 Jasper Schuringa, a Dutch film director no less (not only an appeasing European, but part of the "liberal media elite" no less!) put a lie to stereotypes.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

[haw-info] Historians Against the War Panel and Discussion at the AHA in San Diego, Jan. 9

HAW Members and Supporters,

If you are going to the American Historical Association Meeting in San Diego,
please note:

Please join us and spread the word!


For a larger version of this poster, please go  http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/aha10


For those whose email systems can't load the poster, here is the text:


What Went Wrong, and What Can Historians Do about It?


A panel and open discussion



Nelson Liechtenstein (UCSB)

Enrique Ochoa (CA State/LA

Margaret Power (IIT/Chicago)


Introducer and chair:

Andor Skotnes (Sage Colleges/Troy, NY)


Saturday, January 9

5:00-6:30 p.m.

New York and Orlando Rooms


Panel sponsored by Historians Against the War

With the support of the Radical History Review-MARHO

Monday, December 21, 2009

[haw-info] links to recent articles of interest

This is the eighth in our biweekly series of links to articles of interest on HAW-related topics. Suggestions for inclusion in these lists are welcome:  they can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.  Members of the working group for this project are Matt Bokovoy, Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, Jim O'Brien, Maia Ramnath, and Sarah Shields



"New War Order: How Panama Set the Course for Post-Cold War Foreign Policy"
By Ted Galen Carpenter, American Conservative, February 1, 2010 issue


"In War, Winners Can Be Losers"
By Lawrence S. Wittner, History News Network, posted December 21


"Grinding Down the U.S. Army"
By William Astore, TomDispatch.com, posted December 15

The author is a retired Air Force colonel who now teaches history at the Pennsylvania College of Technology


"With Obama's Strategy, Afghanistan Looks Like Another Vietnam"
By George McGovern, Washington Post, posted December 13


"Beware Presidents' Use of History"
By John Prados, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, posted December 8


"Afghanistan: Mirage of the Good War"
By Tariq Ali,
New Left Review, March-April 2008
This breaks our rules of only recent articles, but one of us ran across this article recently and found that it provides valuable background to today's events.


[haw-info] HAW Steering Committee statements related to the Afghanistan war

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,

The HAW Steering Committee has voted to adopt the following two statements related to the war in Afghanistan.



Statement on military resistance:


This statement was submitted by Staughton Lynd and approved by the HAW Steering Committee.  Correspondence on it should be sent to another member of the Steering Committee, Carl Mirra, a former military resister and author of Soldiers and Citizens: An Oral History of Operation Iraqi Freedom from the Battlefield to the Pentagon.  His e-mail address is carlmirra@aol.com.


Historians Against the War supports soldiers in the United States military who refuse to fight in Afghanistan, either as conscientious objectors or on the grounds that the United States is committing war crimes forbidden by Nuremburg and the Army Field Manual, such as the use of drone aircraft in Pakistan.



Statement on Escalation in Afghanistan


This statement originated in a draft suggested by Herbert Shapiro, emeritus history professor at the University of Cincinnati.  It was amended somewhat in discussions within the Steering Committee and adopted.


Historians Against War (HAW) expresses its opposition to the escalation of the Afghanistan War announced by President Obama in his December 1 speech at West Point. One again we are told the United States must increase its commitment of human and material resources in support of a government, steeped in corruption, that fails to demonstrate support of a majority of its country's population.

In his speech, President Obama took issue with any claim that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. The two conflicts are not carbon copies of each other but there are distinct similarities. And if we go on with the Afghan War it may be that we have not fully learned the lessons of Vietnam. 

The Vietnamese would not yield to a counter-insurgency that believed sending increasing numbers of troops, dropping more and more napalm upon them, and flying more bombing runs was a formula for victory. They would not yield to a strategy that could not distinguish between soldiers and civilians and pretended that a discredited Saigon regime had the support of the people over whom it ruled. 

In Afghanistan we once more follow the path of escalation, inflicting "collateral" damage on a civilian population and propping up a corrupt government. In the present war we once more adopt a "guns not butter" policy, making war while undermining our ability to devote the resources needed to make the economic reforms so urgently needed at home.

Afghanistan's own recent history provides further reason for opposing the Obama administration's current course of action. The Soviet experience of the late 1970s and early 1980s dramatically reinforced Afghanistan's role as the "graveyard of empires." At the same time, U.S. intervention in the form of aid to the most reactionary anti-Soviet forces helped lay the groundwork for the emergence of al-Qaeda.

HAW urges a change in direction. We need an Afghanistan policy that includes a full, early, and orderly withdrawal of U.S. military forces, economic assistance to Afghani civil society, and a relinquishment of any project for permanent U.S. bases.



Thursday, December 03, 2009

[haw-info] HAW Notes (including links to recent articles of interest)

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,


Here are a few notes, followed by the latest in our series of biweekly mailings of links to article of interest.


1.  HAW will have a session (details are still being planned) at the AHA convention in San Diego, Saturday, January 9, at 5:30 – 7:00 pm.  It will be in the secondary convention hotel, which is not being boycotted.  Margaret Power (power@iit.edu) and Andor Skotnes (skotna@sage.edu) are coordinating plans for the session.


2.  Michael Zweig of U.S. Labor Against the War, who has been a strong ally of HAW, is also the coordinator of the How Class Works 2010 conference, June 3-5 at Stony Brook University.  The proposals deadline is December 14 and information is at http://www.stonybrook.edu/workingclass/conference/2010/cfp.shtml.


3.  Veterans for Peace is looking for an executive director.  Information is at http://www.veteransforpeace.org/Position_available_executive_director.vp.html



Links to Recent Articles of Interest


"Obama's Folly


By Andrew Bacevich, War in Context website, from the Los Angeles Times, December 3


"The President Has Drawn the Wrong Lessons From His Understanding of the History of War"


Interview with Andrew Bacevich on Democracy Now, posted December 2


"Obama's Surge: Has the President Been Misled by the Iraq Analogy?"


By Juan Cole, Salon.com. posted December 1

A detailed analysis of circumstances that gave the Iraq "surge" the appearance of success, and of how circumstances in Afghanistan are different.


"Afghanistan: The Roach Motel of Empires"


By Zoltan Grossman, AfterDowningStreet.com, posted December 2


"Afghanistan Fact Sheet: The Numbers Behind the Troop Increase"


By the National Priorities Project, posted December 1


"A Better Way to Kill?  Human Terrain Systems, Anthropologists and the War in Afghanistan"


By David Price, CounterPunch.org, posted December 1


"It's Obama's War Now"


By Gary Leupp, CounterPunch.org, posted November 30

The author teaches history at Tufts University; despite its title, the article is mainly historical.


"The Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan Through CIA Eyes: Lessons for the United States Today"


By Bennett Ramberg, Huffington Post, posted November 24


Bill Moyers' Journal, November 20 – on escalation in Vietnam


Public Broadcasting System, November 20

On Lyndon Johnson's decision making on Vietnam in the mid-1960s, using excerpts from President Johnson's taped phone conversations with top advisors.  The video of this program can be accessed at http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/11202009/watch.html


"Why Liberals Kill"


By Thad Russell, The Daily Beast, posted October 17

a broad-brush analysis of the liberal foreign policy tradition


Suggestions for inclusion in these lists are welcome:  they can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.  Members of the working group for this project are Matt Bokovoy, Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, Jim O'Brien, Maia Ramnath, and Sarah Shields