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Friday, February 28, 2014

[haw-info] FW: NYT Venezuela: It's (Judy) Miller Time!

At the suggestion of several members of the HAW Steering Committee, we are passing along the following message from Robert Naiman of the organization Just Foreign Policy (naiman@justforeignpolicy.org).

Do remember when the New York Times helped start the disastrous Iraq war by letting its reporter Judy Miller act as a front page mouthpiece for Bush Administration scare stories about Iraq WMD without doing any fact-checking?

Now the Times using the same standard of care with its reporting on protests in Venezuela, with food reporter William Neuman playing the Judy Miller role.

We've been in communication with Times editors about their false reporting on Venezuela. But so far, they're blowing us off, refusing to correct the record - just like they blew off people who complained about Judy Miller's reporting on purported evidence of Iraq WMD.

I've been involved with similar fights with the New York Times several times, and my experience is that pressure is often necessary and that pressure can work. We've gotten the Times to run corrections before by piling on sufficient pressure. 
More than 5000 people have signed our petition to the New York Times at MoveOn since we put it up yesterday. Can you help us make this 10,000, by signing and sharing our petition? You can find the petition here:


When you sign our petition, it's automatically delivered to the New York Times. When you tweet our petition from the MoveOn page, it's automatically tweeted to the New York Times. 

Below find the alert that we sent out yesterday. Thanks for all you do - Robert Naiman


Dear Robert,
In the lead paragraph of a recent article on protests in Venezuela, the New York Times reported:
"The only television station that regularly broadcast voices critical of the government was sold last year, and the new owners have softened its news coverage."

Clearly, the New York Times was telling readers not only that the television station in question isn't as tough on the government as it used to be, but that there are no other television stations in Venezuela that “regularly broadcast voices critical of the government.”

Here’s the thing: ijust ain’t so.

Evidence demonstrating that voices critical of the government are regularly broadcast on Venezuelan television is a matter of public record. The New York Times should run a correction of its false report. Urge New York Times editors to run a correction by signing our petition.

On February 24, Center for Economic and Policy Research Co-director (and Just Foreign Policyboard president) Mark Weisbrot noted [2] that data on television coverage during last year's presidential campaign published by the Carter Center [3] indicated that the two candidates were fairly evenly represented.

Weisbrot also noted that there are plenty of examples in the recent coverage of Venevisión, the biggest broadcast television station, where “voices critical of the government” have been “regularly broadcast.” In particular, there was an interview on Venevisión news with Tomás Guanipa, leader of the opposition Primero Justicia (Justice First) party and a representative in the National Assembly, who defended the protests. [4]

Weisbrot also noted that Globovisión, the station that the Times report complained had “softened its news coverage,” recently broadcast a long interview with opposition leader María Corina Machado in which she argued that the opposition has the right to overthrow the democratically elected government. [5]

Given the current situation in Venezuela, falsely claiming that mass media are closed to critics of the government is a dangerous mistake, similar to reporting that "we know that Iran is building a nuclear weapon." The false claim about Venezuela emboldens the fraction of the opposition—and its supporters abroad—that is advocating the use of violence to oppose the government.

Urge the New York Times to fulfill its responsibility to publish a correction to its false report.

Thanks for all you do to help hold the New York Times to account,

Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy

1. "Protests Swell in Venezuela as Places to Rally Disappear," William Neuman, New York Times, February 20, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/21/world/americas/protests-swell-in-venezuela-as-places-to-rally-disappear.html
2. "Does Venezuelan Television Provide Coverage That Opposes the Government?" Mark Weisbrot, Center for Economic and Policy Research, February 24, 2014,http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/does-venezuelan-television-provide-coverage-that-opposes-the-government
3. "Carter Center Issues Report on Venezuela Election," July 3, 2013http://www.cartercenter.org/news/pr/venezuela-070313.html 
4. “Entrevista Venevisión: Tomás Guanipa, secretario general de Primero Justicia,” Venevisión, February 20, 2014, http://www.noticierovenevision.net/politica/2014/febrero/20/89967=entrevista-venevision-tomas-guanipa,-secretario-general-de-primero-justicia

5. “María Corina Machado: El pueblo ha salido a la calle a expresar su derecho a la justicia,” Globovisión, February 17, 2014, http://globovision.com/articulo/maria-corina-machado-ofrecera-detalles-sobre-convocatoria-para-este-martes

Thursday, February 27, 2014

[haw-info] Calling All Vets of Vietnam, Afghanistan & Iraq: Your Stories are Wanted

Greetings. The United States government has initiated a program to "celebrate" the war in Vietnam. This program is expected to last several years (although not as long as the war itself lasted).
A number of us who were in Vietnam at the time, or who protested the war in a serious way at home, or who now oppose similar wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, have formed a network to respond to the government's program. Needless to say, Kill Anything That Moves by Nick Turse will be a major resource in this work.
Nobody knows the truth as well as those who were combatants in the jungles of Vietnam or the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq. We propose to collect stories that vets have not been able to tell and put them on the network's website: http://www.vietnamfulldisclosure.org/
If you are interested, e-mail Carl Mirra at mirrac@optonline.net, or Staughton Lynd at salynd@aol.com, or Jeri Fogel at fogelj@mail.montclair.edu . One of us was in the Marines and after a long struggle was classified as a Conscientious Objector and discharged. Another received an Undesirable Discharge from the United States Army, later changed to Honorable.
If you'd like to chat about things like whether you need to give your name along with your story (you don't), tell us in your e-mail what your phone number is and when you would like us to call.

Carl Mirra, Staughton Lynd, Jeri Fogel, and the Steering Committee of Historians Against War
Note: You are receiving this email because you signed a Historians Against the War statement (see http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/) or asked to be including in HAW's informational mailings. If you no longer wish to receive these occasional messages about HAW's work, send an email to haw-info-request@stopthewars.org?subject=unsubscribe.
haw-info mailing list

Thursday, February 20, 2014

[haw-info] HAW Notes 2/20/14: Links to recent articles of interest

Links to Recent Articles of Interest

By Nick Turse, TomDispatch.com, posted February 18
On the Defense Department's website purporting to give a history of the Vietnam War

By Patrick Cockburn, Common Dreams.org, posted February 17
A short essay on the past year's demonstrations in Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, and Ukraine

By Robert Parry, Consortium News, posted February 16
On private-channel maneuvers to sabotage a Vietnam peace agreement before the 1968 US election

By Stephen F. Cohen, The Nation, March 3 issue

By Jon Wiener, The Nation blog, posted February 14
The author teaches history at the University of California, Irvine.

By Hyder Iftikhar Abassi, Aljazeera, posted February 12
On the experiences of three human rights advocates in Yemen and Pakistan

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, posted February 12
The Intercept is the new on-line publication started by Glenn Greenwald along with Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill.

By Mark Danner, TomDispatch.com, posted February 11
From the New York Review of Books, the first part of an essay based on Cheney's memoirs

By Trita Parsi, Huffington Post, posted February 8
On three defeats suffered by the American Israeli Public Affairs Council in the past year

By William Blum, CounterPunch.org, posted February 7
Argues that President Kennedy would have continued the Vietnam War

Thanks for Steve Gosch, Rosalyn Baxandall, Mim Jackson, Chad Pearson, and an anonymous reader for suggesting articles included in the above list. Suggestions can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The ASA Shifts the Spotlight on Israel and its Neighbors

[The following post is in response to "Debating the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel." Please post responses at https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=36687254&postID=7993621286101952169.]

Paul Croce
The ASA boycott should remind liberals that Israeli political and military actions have been doing the work of conservative ideologies.

  The American Studies Association’s academic boycott of Israel, for “policies that violate [the] human rights” of Palestinians, will have little tangible political significance.  The tremendous reaction to the bold words of a relatively small academic organization is based on a topic central to the concerns of American studies, the clashing political cultures of the US. 
  But the role of American politics in this issue is not immediately clear in the arguments opposing the ASA’s action, which are expressly based on the proper role of an academic organization in relation to political events.  Most critics insist that this organization for the study of United States culture is stepping outside its specialized purview and that the boycott will intrude on proper academic discourse. 
  Critics of the boycott have shown dismay for the singling out of just one nation for boycott, but make no mention of the very large, steadfast American support for Israel whose military has dealt with Palestinians aggressively, most baldly with support of settlements that displace Palestinians. 
  This dynamic is a reminder of the situation in American universities in the mid-1960s.  Higher education was a sector of society as segregated as most American workplaces, and many university activities involved government contracts, often for military work; however, university administrators were largely neutral on the emerging movement for Civil Rights, and mostly indifferent to American military involvements, especially in Vietnam.  Many students with some faculty support asked for a broadening of education to include discussion of race relations and war and peace; most administrators largely rejected these calls arguing that they lay beyond the proper bounds of academic inquiry, labeling them “outside issues,” or even subversive. 
  As in the 1960s, the current debate over the boycott hinges on questions about what constitutes legitimate academic inquiry, with topics at a scholarly remove from politics, or with immersion in such debates? 
   The ASA has repeatedly opted for cultural involvement.  I first learned American Studies from William McLoughlin, a productive scholar in religious and Native American history, and a constant agitator for social justice; he had a poster in his office with a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Action to the scholar is secondary, but essential.” 
  Although an “obscure academic organization” to contemporary readers of National Review, the American Studies Association included members who were vocal critics of Senator Joseph McCarthy and active supporters of Civil Rights in the 1950s and 1960s.  The ASA has continued to be an agent for insisting that intellectuals keep attuned to cultural trends that shape power relations.
  While the recent boycott is in keeping with the organization’s activist history and character, many are also questioning the wisdom of this particular political step, when many nations harbor human rights abuses.  This is a legitimate concern, although it has generally been argued as part of support for militarist power policies with impatience for any objection to such abuses.  
  The ASA declared its focus on Israel because of “the unparalleled military and financial ties between the U.S. and Israel.”  This organization for the study of American culture is pointing to that special relationship, so often assumed or ignored; and it joins a growing minority of scholars and advocates seeking to shift the rhetorical agenda by encouraging debate about Israeli policies and about the US role in support of them.
  The critics of the boycott raise important concerns since boycotts can hamper the free flow of ideas, and the boycott is directed at universities, which are indeed engaged in much cutting-edge scientific research, often with humanitarian benefits.  The ASA addresses this by directing its boycott not at individuals but at institutions that are party to policies undercutting human rights—a Sisyphus task, and further reminder of the limited power of the ASA. 
  The ASA president Curtis Marez has been ridiculed for sounding frivolous when he defended the boycott by saying, “We have to start somewhere,” as if it were an action of feckless meandering.  However, given the prevalent American attitudes about the Middle East, this may actually be the organization’s trump card for its daring to challenge the longstanding inertia about a seemingly impossible situation. 
  The current mainstream US narrative is that the situation in Israel and its environs is a mess, and the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular are untrustworthy.  Add to this, for a significant minority of Americans, Islam is an illegitimate religion, and many even believe that it will fall sway in an epochal battle that will bring the victory, not of Jews, but of Christians.  In fact, a higher percentage of American white evangelicals than of American Jews support Israeli claims to Palestinian land. 
  Within this cacophony, according to the mainstream narrative, Israel represents our team in the region, with its harsh measures fulfilling American interests.  This narrative is often presented as both a moral defense of Jews, and as a practical necessity for sustaining American power in this sector of the globe.  With its lack of attention to the Palestinians, the path also suggests a bleak future for Israeli Jews in tense relations with the other Semites in their midst.  As fear and anger stokes both sides, lack of hope will push peace out of reach, with cycles of displacement followed by terrorism, and large military reprisals spurring more frantic violence, and on and on.  The move to boycott, which emerged in response to Palestinian requests for support, is a welcome turn to nonviolence that should be applauded by all sides—except, of course, for those who find Arab terror useful for maintaining fear and justifying robust military policies.
  The current mainstream narrative generally includes stories of Israel’s democratic qualities and its contributions to science and culture, and finds outrage in cutting off any support, with fear that a boycott may be only the first step.  And indeed, Israel is one of the most Western nations in the region; its Jewish majority is more “like us” in the “Judeo-Christian” US than most Arabs and Muslims who live in majority Third World conditions, and who in their frustration have often turned to tragic and hopeless violence against Israel and the US, even as many of the Arab militants gain support from fellow Arabs grown wealthy from Western oil purchases. 
  But what the mainstream narrative generally does not acknowledge is the massive displacement of Palestinians from their homes, the settlement of half a million Israelis into territory where Palestinians had lived, military control of much of their population, and their loss of civil rights, even with construction of a containment wall (there is graffiti on one portion of the wall saying “Ich bin ein Berliner,” recalling John Kennedy’s defiance of the Berlin Wall in 1963). 
  Harry Truman himself feared, even as he became a hero to Jews for overseeing the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, that the “underdogs” would become the “top dogs,” as John Judis points out in his Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origin of the Arab/Israeli Conflict.  Jews have clearly suffered a tragic and brutal history, a history that encouraged Truman and countless Americans, rightly, to sympathize with their plight, and to support an independent Jewish state as a kind of insurance policy against any future oppression. 
  Now, the contemporary state of Israel is a regional superpower supported by the world’s superpower, and the premium on that insurance policy is coming due with a society in constant fear and unending military actions.    
  What’s your narrative?  There are abundant facts and interpretations on either side: you can emphasize the victimhood of Jews or of Palestinians, or the history of aggressions by Israel or by Arab terrorists.  We can choose to choose the facts that support one side, or we can try to listen to the diverse parts of the whole complexity surrounding Israel and the Palestinians.  Awareness of the whole picture is fostering a groundswell with the ASA joining a few other academic groups, many American Jews, and even some American evangelicals for an international movement to direct forceful non-violence against policies that impose military power against an ethnic group.  Feeling the economic pinch, even some Israeli business leaders have called for more peaceful policies. 
  Are Israelis and Americans willing to risk the moral hazard of maintaining millions of Arabs in stateless subordination, the social hazard of living in constant fear of reprisal terrorism, and the economic hazard of large militaries—funded by the US budget with 40 cents of debt for every dollar spent—to keep this structure afloat? 
  Criticism of these policies is by no means an endorsement of terrorism or of arguments against Israel’s legitimacy.  In fact, the kinds of policies that could emerge from such loyal criticism would be a tactical maneuver deflating support for terror and strengthening the state of Israel—not to mention improving the quality of life for its residents (who are themselves one quarter non-Jewish). 
  The ASA has made an attempt to shine some light on the minority narrative in American discussions.  The fact that the majority narrative and longstanding unquestioning support for Israel are not sustainable does not mean that other suggestions will be perfect or even that any solution is readily apparent; but what is apparent is that certain actions will make the volatile situation worse, especially Arab terrorism and military-enforced Israeli settlements in disputed territories, both of which inflame tempers and make any steps toward peace less likely.  Terrorism is the total war of the powerless, and military crackdowns are the terrorism of the powerful; in fact, when Israel was in formation, many beleaguered Jews resorted to terrorism. 
  I am reminded of a bathroom flood in my office building a few years ago.  With water gushing out of the WC and into the hallway, I waded in, looking for the source of the flow and held my hand on a part that would stop it.  It did.  And someone said: that is hardly a solution.  True.  And I hereby declare the limits to my plumbing skills.  But until a more thorough solution could emerge, the choice of where to place my hand stopped a bad situation from getting worse.  The ASA placed its rather small hand on a hemorrhaging tragedy; there are many opportunities for keeping the situation from getting worse, starting with personal connections, trade among the residents, and the movement for non-violent pressure against militant policies. 
  It would be a tragedy if criticism of the ASA about the proper role for an academic organization would distract from the main purpose of the boycott: to shed light on the way that Israeli policies toward Palestinians have become a chapter in the contemporary American culture war between neo-conservative support of aggressive military strength by contrast with progressive hopes to scale back military action and spending in favor of diplomatic solutions.  Within this American polarization, ironically, the boycott has prompted some academic progressives to affiliate with Israel’s military measures for dealing with a population within its dominion. 
  The American Studies Association has not artificially intruded into a Middle East topic; it has offered a reminder that Israeli political and military actions have been doing the work of conservative ideologies, but in liberal disguise.   
Paul Croce is Professor of History and Chair of the American Studies Program
Stetson University, DeLand, FL, USA 

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

[haw-info] HAW Notes 2/5/14: Boycott discussion; links to recent articles of interest

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,

Last week we sent a message from Van Gosse, on behalf of the HAW Steering Committee. It  passed along two conflicting views (one by Linda Gordon, Alice Kessler-Harris, and Elaine Tyler May and one by Vijay Prashad) concerning boycotts of Israeli institutions as a method of supporting Palestinian rights. The message invited comments, including opinions about whether HAW should take a position on the subject, and if so, what the position should be. Comments are still solicited, either on the HAW Blog or on HAW's Facebook page. Both sites provide the original message with the articles by Gordon et al. and Prashad.

Links to Recent Articles of Interest

By Nicolas J. S. Davies, AlterNet.org, posted February 3
Highlights the increase in terrorist incidents from 208 in 2003 to 5,000 or more every year since 2005

By Peter Beinart, National Journal, posted February 3
Argues that conservative policies, including overseas interventions, have undermined the bundle of beliefs called American exceptionalism,

By Jim Lobe, LobeLog, posted January 31
Primarily on the failure of the lobbying effort for a Congressional resolution aimed at sabotaging negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Calls and emails to Congressional offices ran heavily against the resolution.

By Greg Grandin, TomDispatch.com, posted January 26
The author teaches history at New York University.

By Stephen Zunes, National Catholic Reporter, posted January 25
Traces the current conflicts largely to US policies during the occupation

By Eric Schlosser, The New Yorker, posted January 23
January marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Kubrick film.

Thanks to a reader who wants to remain anonymous for suggesting one of the articles included in the above list. Thanks also to Rosalyn Baxandall, Steve Gosch, Mim Jackson, and Rusti Eisenberg for their helpful suggestions for many of these lists. Suggestions can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.