Volume 17, Number 1
October 2002

Web Exclusive: Extra article from Notre Dame student in London:
Bush and Blair: Building a Unilateral ñCoalitionî
John Wojcik

First Amendment Follies
Sarah Edwards

Sex and Secrecy at Notre Dame
Dan Sheerin

Letter from the Editors
Patrick McElwee & Paul Ranogajec

Brainwashing in the US
Ann Pettifer

I am against the War
Neve Gordon

George W. Bush and Company Severing the Ties that Bind
Paul Ranogajec

Iran: A Tough Journey Toward Democracy
Abolghasem Bayyenat

The Case Against the Iraq War
Matthew Rothschild

Playing Skittles with Saddam: The gameplan among WashingtonÍs hawks has been to reshape the Middle East
Brian Whitaker

Witch-hunting in Florida
Joe Napolitano

Inarticulate and Proud of it
James Carroll

Speaking Out: Letter to the Editor
Frank M. Esmonde

Michael Novak, Enron Man: Wealth Creation for the Few
Mark and Louise Zwick

Natural Family Planning: Is There Common Ground?
Andrew Casad

What War Looks Like
Howard Zinn

Father versus Son: Notre DameÍs Alcohol Policy
Colman and Jim McCarthy

Progressive Calendar

Time and Place
Max Westler

Bush and Blair: Building a Unilateral ñCoalitionî
John Wojcik

As Bush continues to beat the war drum, both before the UN and in every other public arena available, stating, in essence, that Iraq will be attacked with or without the approval of the world, the citizens of the United States' most steadfast ally, Great Britain, continue to express tremendous reservations over Tony Blair's unequivocal and unwavering support of Bush and his reckless foreign policy. Recent declarations of support for a U.S. led war on Iraq, such as Blair's affirmation that Britain is willing to 'pay the blood price' (a reference to the commitment of British troops to an attack) required to secure their partnership with the United States, have elicited the ire of Britons and placed Blair squarely at odds with virtually all of the European community.

This opposition, however, has not moved Blair. He continues to plead BushÍs case, even as the latterÍs public statements, most recently in the form of his ïwith or without youÍ ultimatum to the UN, make his foreign policy increasingly unpalatable to those people and nations who wish to preserve international order.

Thus, building the bridge between the US and foreign nations that Blair desires will require overcoming the popular opinion of his nation and that of much of the world. Given the strength of the opposition this seems unlikely. The best he can hope for, under current circumstances, seems to be ostensible ïapprovalÍ in the form of silencing of those who disapprove. Such politics may appeal to Bush but could mean trouble for Blair, who represents a constituency that will likely not see silence as world mandate to destroy Iraq.

The mood of the British Daily editorials suggest that Blair has become little more than America's puppet, willing to turn his back on popular opinion in order to secure Washington's favor. Readers point to the irony of Bush's repeated attacks on Hussein as unwilling to work with the world community, while Bush himself retains his aggressive, unilateralist approach to foreign policy (evidenced most recently in his failure to attend the UN summit on the environment and global poverty and in his insistence that ïwe will attack Iraq with or without the UNÍ).

Additionally, they question the United States' history with respect to brutal authoritarian regimes elsewhere, correctly recognizing self-interest rather than universal amity as the guiding light in US foreign policy. They are unconvinced by BushÍs positing of the US as moral exemplar, and are justifiably reluctant to follow him into another war.

Such an opinion is echoed in recent BBC News polls gauging public sentiment regarding the potential for military action. Roughly 84% of those surveyed currently oppose unilateral military reaction against Iraq. They suggest instead a slower approach that first exhausts all diplomatic possibilities prior to engaging in hostilities. War, they insist, should only be considered with the approval of both parliament and the UN.

Approval from parliament may be difficult to come by, but it is now at least a possibility. Blair, under intense political pressure, bowed to demands to reconvene parliament to debate the issue. This will give each side the opportunity to express its view, but no vote is scheduled. Members of Parliament opposing war, including many in BlairÍs own Labor Party, plan on forcing a vote that they hope will demonstrate strong opposition to unilateral action. A vote, they argue, is the only way to truly receive their approval. They doubt such approval would be forthcoming, as even conservatives have been reserved in their statements of support for Bush, backing ñmoves by the American president and the British prime minister to force Saddam Hussein to destroy his arsenal of weapons,î though never openly declaring support for unilateral military action.

Blair is hoping that BritainÍs dossier of evidence against Hussein, which is to be published just prior to the debates, will swing parliament in his direction, but many have expressed doubts that this will contain any sort of ïsmoking gunÍ to bolster the case against Iraq. Even members from Blair's own Labor party have voiced powerful criticism, stating that the Prime Minister's actions have alienated him from the rest of his party, which, according to BBC statistics, is thoroughly unconvinced of the necessity of war with Iraq. A phone survey of party members revealed that nearly 90% believe that there were currently insufficient grounds to declare war on Iraq. One former Labor party MP, Tony Benn, goes so far as to suggest that a commitment to war without parliament's go-ahead would mean the end of Blair's tenure. But what, in this case, will it mean to speak of ïparliamentÍs go-aheadÍ? Since a vote is unlikely, Blair may proceed only after having ïconsulted parliamentÍ though never receiving their true approval.

The challenge facing Blair from the UN is perhaps even greater. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, echoing the sentiments of many nations, stated, ñIt is only the [UN Security] council that can provide the unique legitimacy that one needs to be able to act.î German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has gone even farther, saying, in remarks that have revitalized his campaign for another term, that he would oppose military action even with the backing of the UN Security Council. Though Germany does not have veto power, two nations that do, China and Russia, remain skeptical, particularly in light of BushÍs demands to Saddam Hussein (which many believe were designed to be rejected by Iraq paving the way for a ïlegitimizedÍ war).

Even if BushÍs feeble attempt at building a multilateral coalition becomes the basis of UN demands (which Hussein will undoubtedly reject), the best possible outcome then becomes tacit ïapprovalÍ from the UN in the form of silence--in essence, an agreement not to stand in the way as Bush effectively bullies the world into the war that he will have with or without the worldÍs help. It would be unilateralism disguised as a world initiative. In such a case Britain would remain the United StatesÍ only true supporter in the war. This perhaps ïbest caseÍ scenario would mean Blair, taking a page from GWÍs guide to politics, bypasses both parliament and, with the help of Bush, the UN.

Such a course of action might not be tolerated.

John Wojcik is a junior biology and philosophy major. A member of Common Sense, he is studying this semester in London.

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First Amendment Follies
Sarah Edwards

ñTo announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.î
   Theodore Roosevelt

While the effectiveness of the war on terrorism is questionable, it is quite clear that the war on the constitution is succeeding, and frighteningly so. President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft have tried to justify this abhorrent assault in the name of homeland security and the need for national unity. Fear has replaced freedom as the dominant theme of American life and values. Peaceful protestors have been set upon by police, respected journalists have been fired for criticizing government policy and actions, the government has interfered with the duties of the media, and previously available information is now being withheld by federal agencies. And many Americans approve of this. But worse, some think that it hasnÍt gone far enough.

Each year, the First Amendment Center conducts a survey of American attitudes towards the First Amendment. The report this year, State of the First Amendment 2002, makes a compelling case that there is ña trend of increased negativity towards the First Amendment.î About half of the respondents to this survey think that the First Amendment gives us too much freedom, especially in the area of freedom of the press. Forty-two percent of those polled think that the press and media have too much freedom. This percentage is more than eight times the number of those who believe it has too little freedom.

Ever since September 11, freedom of the press has been under attack by the government in the guise of upholding national security. When the media ran several warning stories on possible vulnerable terrorist targets such as nuclear power plants and the food and water supply, Dennis Pluchinsky, a senior intelligence officer with the State Department accused them of treason, writing in the Washington Post that ñthis type of reporting must be stopped or censored.î Pluchinsky also added that if al Qaeda were giving out an ñOsama bin Ladenî award, it would be ñawarded to the US news media for their investigative reporting.î This chilling sentiment echoes the attitudes of many government officials and American citizens.

Recently the FAA told the Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram not to photograph FAA official Ruth Leverenz and to cease working on a profile of her. To this request, Paul Mc Masters, First Amendment ombudsman for the Freedom Forum said, ñThis oneÍs a new one and quite frankly, a very scary one.î The government tried to prevent Voice of America radio from airing an interview with Taliban leader Mohammad Omar. After the station ended up airing an edited version, a government spokesperson responded that ñthe defiance would be looked into.î Director Myrna Whitworth was soon replaced and she left a note warning reporters ñnot to fall under the spell of self-censorship. Continue to interview, anyone, anywhere.î

But reporters who have attempted interviews or tried to investigate a story have often been thwarted. They have been denied access to US troops in Afghanistan and discouraged from trying to gather information and deliver it to the public. According to the New York Times, the media has been ñfrozen out of military operations far more than any recent conflict.î Reporters were forced to rely on limited footage and even more limited information. At the end of November, the Pentagon finally allowed the press access to some troops but put restrictions on what they could report. Washington Post reporter Doug Struck tried to investigate reports of civilian casualties and was stopped by soldiers who told him ñif you go further, you would be shot.î The Pentagon even tried to put a clamp on the flow of information by reducing ñdailyî briefings to two times a week but was forced to resume daily briefings after much protest from the press corps.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has stated his intention to launch an investigation in order to find out who leaked information to the press about possible US plans for a war against Iraq. One defense official recently declared, ñWeÍve got to do whatever it takes„if it takes sending SWAT teams into journalistsÍ homes„to stop the leaks.î According to the survey, about one half of respondents might not object to such a drastic and highly disturbing measure. Forty-eight percent believed that the press has been too aggressive in trying to obtain information about the war on terrorism.

In addition to these complications (and now the risk of invasion by SWAT teams), reportersÍ patriotism has come under fire when they call attention to these incidents or simply report the facts. Dan Guthrie of the Grants Pass, Oregon, Daily Courier wrote a column denouncing George W. Bush for hiding out on September 11th, referring to ñthe picture of Bush hiding in a Nebraska holeî as ñan embarrassment.î A week later he was fired and the editor issued an apology saying that ñpolitics and destructive criticism need to be put aside for the countryÍs good.î Tom Gutting of the Texas City Sun was also fired for writing an article critical of Bush. Prize winning journalist Tim McCarthy was also fired for writing editorials against Bush and warning that ñsomeone has to make sure that this war is not waged at the price of our civil liberties.î Many Americans might agree with these actions. In the Freedom Forum report, more than forty percent of the respondents said that newspapers shouldnÍt be allowed to ñcriticize the U.S. military about its strategy and performance.î Luckily, in response, CBS news anchor Dan Rather, in an interview in London, declared that ñpatriotism run amokî was detrimental to the freedom of the press.

Another disturbing limit to freedom of the press has been the lack of information. The government is demanding more information from us but giving us less. The USA Patriot Act allows the FBI broad access to peopleÍs educational, financial, travel, and physical and mental health records and it only has to tell the court that it needs the records for intelligence purposes without having to produce evidence of any criminal activity. Shortly after September 11th, the President issued an executive order blocking a law providing access to presidential records. Many federal agencies have shut down or taken down parts of their websites. The Department of Justice has resisted many attempts by human rights groups to find information about the detainees rounded up in the wake of the attacks, and the exact number of those still in custody is still not known. Under the USA Patriot Act, the Attorney General can subvert FOIA requests. Ashcroft assured federal agencies that they can ñdecide to withhold records, in whole or in partî and that they ñcan be assured that the Department of Justice will defend [their] decisions.î This allows federal agencies to refuse requests for unclassfied information and even public records.

In an address to the nation on September 20, President Bush declared ñThe terrorists hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.î But the terrorists did not establish legislation that tramples our Constitution, stifles our press and misinforms our people, and grants extended spying powers to the FBI. The (so-called) Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act is doing just that. These ñtoolsî wielded by George Bush, John Ashcroft, and their agents„the erosion of free speech, the silencing of the press, the withholding of information, and other infringements of civil liberties„are being used to destroy America and the freedoms it represents, rather than to strengthen it.

If the First Amendment survey is indicative of the general American attitude, then it shows that many people are willing to allow or even assist what the terrorists allegedly set out to do„attack and destroy these precious freedoms. Many have tried to justify these assaults on the Constitution in the name of national security. But security and the rights and freedoms granted by the Constitution„the freedoms that America at its best stands for and that so many have fought and died for are not mutually exclusive. One cannot exist without the other. I hate to use again an overused expression, but it summarizes my sentiments: if we stand by, let alone approve of these threats to our freedoms, then the terrorists will have won.

Sarah Edwards is a sophomore at Saint MaryÍs, a member of Common Sense, and a member of the ND/SMC Peace Coalition.

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Sex and Secrecy at Notre Dame
Dan Sheerin

The 10:00 am Mass at the Basilica on September 6th was celebrated by His Excellency, the Bishop of Helena. The Bishop preached to us on the vital importance of telling the moral truth to one another and to our society. He addressed a particular exhortation to the young women and men of the Notre Dame student body. With palm cupped over one side of his mouth, as if sharing an intimacy, he said ñGirls, tell your guys. You know what I mean.î and ñGuys, tell your girlfriends. You know what I mean.î I waited in vain, IÍm sorry to say, for a chorus of young Domer voices to reply: ñNo, we donÍt know what you mean!î and for the audience at large to ask ñDo you know what the hell youÍre talking about?î


Like many institutions, Notre Dame exhibits an addiction to secrecy. An addiction? Yes. Because although the secrecy is not necessary to the institutionÍs welfare and is, in fact, demonstrably damaging to it, the community or dominant parts of it seem unable to function without secrecy. There are many causes for this predilection for secrecy, but they surely include:

1) an assumption that people are so naive and stupid that disclosure of sensitive information will only lead to misunderstanding, and that the ill-disposed will be able to use any potentially scandalous bit of information to manipulate the general run of people and alienate them;

2) an awareness that the UniversityÍs assertions of virtual infallibility, impassability, and overall superiority are pretensions, leading to a tendency to view disclosure of any sensitive information, scandalous or not, as potentially threatening; 3) an assumption that most people outside the clerical or clericalized elite have a headlong propensity towards evil.

This last assumption is most strongly held in regard to the students, with consequent assumptions that if the students learn of an alternative to correct behavior they will grab right onto it, that the students are best protected against sin by the removal of temptation, and that the best method for removal of temptation is to keep the students in a state of supposedly child-like ignorance.

Areas for secrecy at ND include money, power, and, especially, sexual activity and misconduct. Of course, the list of secrets could be extended to include anything that, if known, might raise questions among the naive or unsympathetic about Notre DameÍs being the No. 1 synthesizer of Roman Catholicism and American capitalism „ and we know what webs of secrecy each of these has engendered. But I want to focus here on the dangerous secrecy that attends sexual misconduct and activity, though one could omit the ñand,î for the two have been confused in the worldview of Du Lac.

Sexual Misconduct
The official view of sexual harassment might be summarized as follows: ñWe donÍt talk about it, and, besides, it doesnÍt happen here.î If this sounds like part of the unwritten by-laws of a traditional menÍs club, need we wonder why?

ñWe donÍt talk about it ...î Two justifications for secrecy in this sphere are commonly alleged:

1) the demands of due process „ ñThis case is currently under review so we cannot possibly comment upon it.î; ñThe terms of the settlement of this case forbid any disclosure of ...î;

2) the demands of charity: Malicious, or even negligent revelation of anotherÍs grave faults is a serious sin. Put more positively, confidentiality is an essential element of penitential practice, for it permits confession of faults unimpeded by anxiety about reputation.

But one has to ask to what extent, when legal considerations are alleged as the basis for non-disclosure, the needs of the community are being sacrificed to avoid embarrassment. We must likewise ask to what extent here, as in the Church generally, charity and the opportunity for amendment and reconciliation are used as pretexts for the manipulation or suppression of truth and are sometimes no more than plausible masks produced by a horror of scandal.

ñ... and it doesnÍt happen here.î: LetÍs face it, as a community we donÍt really know what sexual harassment means nor do we know its extent at Notre Dame. Oh, we can spot it in its grosser aspects, the violence of date-rape (when we know about it), or the extortion of ñIf you donÍt oblige me in this way, I wonÍt support you in that.î But weÍve barely begun, if at all, to address the more subtle aspects of sexual harassment, intimidation, and discrimination, and one of the reasons, maybe the reason we have not addressed them is that as a community we donÍt know how to talk about them. Why? Because, through a subtle mixture of constraint and convention, we are prevented from talking about them, i.e., information is controlled through apparently prudent mechanisms of secrecy, discussion is squelched by lack of information, aversion to gossip, and want of suitable venues for discussion, and thus development of language for discussion, concepts for reflection, and of an ethos that might address and correct problems that attend the manifold misunderstandings of human sexuality are inhibited or prevented altogether.

Sexual Activity
When it comes to S-E-X in student life at Notre Dame, the earlier formula applies also: ñWe donÍt talk about it, and it doesnÍt happen here.î

ñWe donÍt talk about it...î: No sex education here at Notre Dame! Do we mean ñKeep ïem dumb to keep ïem goodî? Not that! Here at ND we turn out only the upwardly mobile! No, letÍs keep them immature, keep them naive in this particular respect. We at Notre Dame do not, unlike Bob Jones University, attempt to repress sexuality and sensuality altogether, nor does Student Affairs use every conceivable means to prevent absolutely studentsÍ sexual experiments. No, we keep the students inarticulate and unreflective about their sexuality. Sexuality is not much talked about, save in the discourses of psychopathology, immorality, criminality, or triviality. Therefore there is neither the language acquisition nor the socialization that will support discussion, reflection, and maturation.

ñ... and it doesnÍt happen here.î: Notre Dame offers parents a tacit V.I.V.O. guarantee (ñvirgin-in-virgin-outî), and our thoughts about sex are very rudimentary: ñTo screw or not to screw, that is the question! But the Church teaches that premarital sex is a sin. Therefore, since most of our students are not married, there is no need for us or for them to talk about sex, no need to intrude into the privacy of their imaginations things they donÍt need to be thinking about, well, not for a while yet.î

Just consider what a spectrum of human sexuality and sexual experience, with its capacity to build, perfect, and heal, and its capacity to infantilize, damage, and wound, is left out of reflection and discussion by this sort of attitude. Here is yet another secrecy, a withholding of language, of information, and of insight, an inhibition of growth in understanding, a perilous secrecy that can thwart, alienate, injure, and even kill our students.

The world is very much with us on our campus. We have tried to restrict on-campus access to the publications of Planned Parenthood, but we sell Cosmopolitan at the bookstore. (The latest number of Cosmo does not offer the usual pointers on how to multiply orgasms, but does offer advice about ñ85 Hot New Ways to Wow a Manî and ñHis Secret Moan Zonesî). If Alma Mater does not enlighten her students about their sexuality, the world will teach them instead, for the children of privilege are too often the slaves of fashion. Moreover, through its double messages about alcohol Notre Dame has compounded studentsÍ naivet³ about sexual matters with a similar lack of sophistication and susceptibility to peer pressure in drinking practices. And what a perilous atmosphere we have created!

Secrecy, double messages, and purposeful maintenance of young peopleÍs naivet³ have created on our campus a sexual ethos that has the capacity to turn insecure girls into vulnerable, anorexic, binge-drinking women, and to turn callow boys into drunken predators whom their own families would not recognize. You know what I mean.

Dan Sheerin is Professor of Classics and concurrent Professor of Theology at Notre Dame. He has contributed a number of articles to Common Sense.

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Letter from the Editors
Patrick McElwee & Paul Ranogajec

With the start of a new school year, Common Sense returns to provide the campus community with views and perspectives that challenge the thinking that upholds the status quo at the cost of legitimizing injustice and exploitation. We hope that we add something of value to the campus dialogue, contributing perspectives that might otherwise have no outlet here.

When the first edition of Common Sense appeared, the Berlin Wall was still a potent symbolic and concrete divide between two empires. The ñevil empire,î as Ronald Reagan described the Soviet Union, was the main concern of U.S. foreign policy. Under Reagan and BritainÍs Margaret Thatcher, decades of regulatory measures and safety nets were dismantled in order to unleash the ñfree market,î and the pattern of corporate globalization now firmly entrenched was generated, without much having trickled down to the EarthÍs poorest inhabitants. The AIDS crisis was rising to international consciousness, and apartheid in South Africa was coming under sustained attack. Nuclear weapons build-up was vigorously protested by sane and humane people who understood that such genocidal weapons can have no justifiable use.

In 2002, as Common Sense continues its endeavor to provide an outlet on campus for thoughtful responses to the injustices near and far that scar civilization and humanity, the world appears to be in a more precarious position than at this paperÍs birth. One superpower, acting as if its position of supremacy is divinely ordained and guaranteed in perpetuity, dominates the world. Our well financed, appointed ñleadersî openly encourage and spread chauvinistic, greedy, and aggressive attitudes that lay at the base of our nationÍs current militaristic posturing.

The war on terrorism is used as justification for outrageously simplistic generalizations of good guys and bad guys. Proxy warfare against ñterroristsî has spread across the globe. Guerilla warfare in the Philippines, crop-fumigation in Colombia, illegal occupation in the West Bank—all and more are supported by our government in the name of fighting terrorism. Most ominously, an evil axis has materialized in the Bush administrationÍs calculations, ostensibly ready and willing to promote chaos, atrocity, and all manner of unfavorable behavior lest we fail to be vigilant in our black and white reductions.

Common Sense enters a new year with the imminent prospect of an immoral, illegal, and perhaps suicidal war with Iraq. George Bush and his propagandist Cheney are intoxicated with war fever in the aim of fighting terror, in this case threats to a cheap oil supply that allows the U.S. to continue to be the most wasteful population in the history of mankind. A war would most likely result in the deaths of many thousands of innocent Iraqis„pardon„there would likely be unintended and regrettable collateral damage during the exercise of preemptive military operations. It actually sounds pretty decent that way.

Ironically, the fact that the U.S. is threatening Iraq with imminent invasion without provocation gives Iraq the right under international law to make the first strike, rather than the other way around. As David Cortright recently wrote in The Progressive, first strike ñis the doctrine of imperial arrogance. It is a philosophy little different from that of aggressors throughout history. It is a formula for endless war and military mobilization.î

But flouting international law is nothing new for George W. Bush. In fact, he has made a policy of consistently undermining it. Under Bush, the United States has ñunsignedî the Rome treaty establishing an International Criminal Court, withdrawn from the Kyoto climate treaty, deported foreigners after secret hearings without counsel, and generally acted in such a way as to make clear that the United States can and will act unilaterally to defend its narrowly defined interests.

A look at European opinion polls demonstrates that this arrogant message is being heard. In a Sofres poll in France taken just before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the French were asked what characteristics mark the United States: 73% said ñpower,î 42% said ñwealth,î and 33% said ñimperialismî (all three considerably higher than two years ago) while only 20% said ñliberty,î and a meager 5% said ñgenerosity.î We would do no harm to take such opinions from our friends seriously.

Bush needs war in Iraq to avoid the difficult questions of domestic issues in front of him. Unregulated big business has been dramatically discredited in the wake of huge financial scandals, but the Bush camp continues to have faith in their version of ñfree tradeî and privatization. Upcoming revision of the already stingy welfare policy, under BushÍs direction, threatens to pull even more assistance away from the most vulnerable and defenseless Americans. Bush needs Iraq and perpetual war to mask his continued support for the very rich at the expense of other members of the population.

The recent actions of the United States threaten to ostracize it from the pantheon of nations genuinely dedicated to humane values and the betterment of the human condition. These actions have stemmed from the raw calculation of national interest (i.e. the interests of those at the top) in the short term, with little attention given to long term solutions or to the cause of human progress.

Challenging this system and providing alternatives is a daunting task, to understate the case greatly. Common Sense exists to provide the campus community a medium for the voices of the challengers and demonstrate that alternatives are not only possible, but also practical and necessary. We hope that you will struggle with us.

Patrick McElwee & Paul Ranogajec,

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Brainwashing in the US
Ann Pettifer

Most summers, I manage to decamp for a few weeks to the country where I grew up. Much as I try to avoid them, comparisons between the ancestral place, England, and the adopted one, the USA, do crop up. This year there was a moment of cultural transition when, twenty minutes after leaving Birmingham airport, I stood in the graveyard of a 12th century church which became my parentsÍ final resting place. A fresh notice had appeared directing visitors not to adorn memorials or graves with artificial flowers. They are not a symbol of the resurrection, it said primly. For a couple of weeks there is much grumbling about Britain: at times it feels like a colonial backwater even if the conceit persists, in some quarters, that it plays Greece to AmericaÍs Rome. Inefficiency and rather cavalier attitudes to work are noticeable and I find myself missing the cheerful neighborliness of Americans. The English are fiercely private. Then there is the issue of road manners; those of Americans strike the spouse and me as decidedly superior. Over there the middle finger is always at the ready and imprecations are needlessly hurled.

However, it only takes a few days of exposure to British media—radio, television and newspapers like The Independent and The Guardian—to realize that the country one has just left is in a propaganda straight-jacket, while the United Kingdom is not. Yes, there is a yellow press in London, much of it owned by Rupert Murdoch, which does its damnedest to manufacture consent. But a paper like The Sun is bought by folk more interested in tits and tall stories than the right-wingery urged on its readers. While the Prime Minister, the unctuous Tony Blair (the satirical magazine Private Eye calls him the Rev. Blair) is foolishly satisfied with his new role as a gauleiter in the American imperium, the British media is conducting a no-holds-barred, rigorous analysis of the people and politics behind George W. BushÍs war fever. On the eve of the commemoration of September 11, the BBC World Service broadcast an interview—unthinkable in this country—with Gore Vidal, the brilliant, skeptical chronicler of US history and politics. Americans, he said, cannot look outside themselves: ñthey have no windows on the world, surrounded as they are by a corporate wall of propaganda.î He thinks one of the falsehoods underpinning the propaganda is the notion that America is a uniquely virtuous country. To that maudlin question asked ad nauseam since September 11th, ñWhy do they (meaning Muslims, Arabs) hate us?î Vidal replies, reasonably, that an odious foreign policy in the Middle East is the honest answer.

The self-serving nonsense that the hatred derives from envy of a democratic, freedom-loving nation is mendacious. (At the end of the interview, he briskly predicted that all these quasi-fascist trends in the US will be shaken by the global economic depression we are now entering.)

If the British press is exercising the responsibility that we should expect from the Fourth Estate in a democracy, the mainstream media in the US has slipped into the role of purveyor of propaganda for BushÍs proposed war against Iraq. Americans naively assume that they will always recognize propaganda because it will announce itself in Orwellian strategems. In the collective mind, propaganda is still associated with totalitarian regimes, with Nazi Germany, GoebbelsÍ ñBig Lieî and frenzied Nuremberg rallies - so says the spouseÍs godson who has just published a book on AmericaÍs development of weapons of mass destruction in the context of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. He thinks we urgently need a new vocabulary that would educate citizens to understand how propaganda works in modern, democratic societies. Curious about how the word propaganda entered our lexicon, I checked with the dictionary. Collins places it as 18th century Italian and refers to the Sacra Congregatio Propaganda Fide: Sacred Congregation for Propagating the Faith. Here the word conveys a sense of what is to be believed, of proselytizing. Today in the US, propaganda works more to limit the range of discussion and to exclude from the public arena arguments or evidence challenging the prevailing orthodoxy. Former weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, who knows a thing or two about Saddam Hussein, has been travelling around the country arguing against war in Iraq. This former Marine, who reminds us that he is no pacifist, had this to say: ñI think the vast majority of Americans are just tragically ignorant—not just about Iraq, but about the rest of the world. They are susceptible to the kind of propaganda manipulation thatÍs taking place.î

Recently, I had a brush with the manipulation Ritter was talking about. In early September the Nation magazine published a disturbing article by Jason Vest. This carefully delineated the link between the right-wing Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and the zealous champions of a Likudnik Israel—those Zionist hawks in the Pentagon, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith (known to Washington insiders as ñthe Kosher Nostraî). These men have been itching for war with Iraq and saw their chance when George W. Bush was appointed President. They hold as an article of faith, says Vest, ñthat there is no difference between US and Israeli national security interests, and that the only way to assure continued safety and prosperity for both countries is through hegemony in the Middle East.î This of course would pave the way for IsraelÍs Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to realize his dream of establishing a greater Israel by ethnically cleansing Palestinians from the West Bank—driving them into a destabilized Jordan. For the Bush administrationÍs oil men, hegemony offers full control of the Middle EastÍs oil resources. It is a very wicked plan.

A day or two after I had read the piece, Kojo Nnamdi, the host of NPRÍs Public Interest, had open phones for the hour to talk about US plans for war. I managed to get a line. As I conveyed the gist of VestÍs Nation article, Nnamdi turned nasty. He railed against the Nation (the oldest political magazine in the country)—a bunch of left-wingers of the kind who conspire in dark cellars, he called them. All very Conradian, Secret Agent stuff. I was hectored for buying into such ñconspiracy theories.î It was stunningly clear that he felt it his duty to keep this sort of information off the air and, should it slip through, to aggressively discredit it. Israel, after all, has become the third rail in American politics. Touch it at your peril. Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland who went on to be an imaginative and courageous UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has had to learn this lesson. When she voiced criticism of IsraelÍs continued refusal to comply with the 1967 UN resolution requiring it to withdraw from the Occupied Territories, and called for Israelis to abide by the Geneva Convention after they committed human rights abuses in Hebron, pressure from Washington ensured Robinson was not re-appointed.

Besides accusations of conspiracy, there is a new tactic for dealing with IsraelÍs critics: charge them with anti-Semitism. This is the ploy now being used by the President of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, as a small but growing constituency for divestment from Israel has appeared on his campus and others around the country. SummersÍ shamelessness is best answered by a fellow Jew, the Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi. Thomas Laqueur, reviewing three new books on Levi, calls him ñone of the most resonant witnesses to the greatest human disaster of a disastrous age.î However, Levi did not think the Jewish catastrophe should be used to justify ñwhat he regarded as Israeli tribalist and aggressive actions in the name of a sacred history of unique suffering.î Laqueur, (who is also Jewish) writes that the Israeli invasion (under Ariel Sharon) of Lebanon in 1982 greatly disturbed Primo Levi, ñand on the eve of a trip back to Auschwitz, Levi signed a petition, together with other Jewish intellectuals, calling for the withdrawal of Israeli troops and recognition of the rights of all peoples in the region. ïEveryone is someoneÍs JewÍ he was quoted as saying in an interview ïand today the Palestinians are the Jews of the Israelis.Íî

ñAmerica is Hobbesian, unilateralist, realist and driven by self-interest,î so wrote Robert Kagan in The National Policy Review. It is an ugly but accurate description of George W. BushÍs ubermensch America. Before we left England, the spouse and I made a pilgrimage to an old Quaker community at Jordans, about thirty miles from Oxford. William Penn is buried there—he had returned to England after his work in Pennsylvania was completed. PennÍs headstone is simple and identical to all the others in this tranquil, unadorned Quaker graveyard. The inscription bears only his name and date of death. Nearly three hundred years later, one couldnÍt help but feel that AmericaÍs tragedy is that PennÍs civilized and tolerant vision of America has been lost - overtaken by the one Kagan describes.

Ann Pettifer is an alumna of Notre Dame.

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I am against the War
Neve Gordon

I am against the war, the (perpetual) war on terrorism as well as the war against Iraq. I am against empire, the control of nearly 40% of the worldÍs resources secured by the deployment of air, naval, and ground forces in over 800 bases across the globe. And I am against deception; the claim that United States foreign policy is aimed at ensuring freedom, justice and democracy around the world, when in fact its overseas agenda is driven by corporate greed, power and domination.

With the Bush administration determined „ rhetoric aside „ to oust Saddam Hussein and gain control of oil resources in Iraq, in what will most likely become an extremely bloody conquest, and the Democratic Party rambling along without even a murmur of protest, it is high time that ordinary citizens speak out clearly and stridently against BushÍs insane imperialistic aspirations.

My claim is straightforward: in the name of fighting terrorism and spreading democracy around the globe „ which is outright propaganda considering the embrace of PakistanÍs new dictator „ the Bush administration is undermining democratic processes and institutions within the United States. Put differently, Bush is exploiting both grief and fear to ruin the very essence of democratic life.

LetÍs look at the facts. In order to fund his wars, Bush is insisting on a $48 billion increase to the current $335 billion military budget, thus designating 53% of government spending on the military, which is already over twenty-three times the combined military spending of countries identified by the Pentagon as likely adversaries: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

Meanwhile, only 9% of the budget will go towards education and social services, and 6% to health. All this at a time when almost 17% of children in the US live in poverty, 44 million people have no health insurance, and 85% of public schools need repair. Incidentally, the cost of one B-2 Bomber would be enough to repair over 1,000 aging school buildings.

The intolerance towards the plight of the poor is accompanied by a rapid increase in the authoritarian elements of state power. Not enough can be said on the ongoing attack on civil liberties, which began when the USA Patriot Act anti-terror bill was passed in October of last year. Due process has been suspended in many areas of the criminal justice system, including the right to speedy trial, freedom from arbitrary police searches, prohibition against indefinite incarceration and incognito detentions. Surveillance authority has also been widely broadened, whether through wiretapping or through the federal governmentÍs sweeping new powers to investigate electronic communications, personal and financial records, computer hard drives and other individual documents.

In order to justify its foreign policy goals, the administration has been demonizing all perceived enemies and in this way has helped awaken local xenophobic tendencies. Not surprisingly, this jingoistic tactic has had far reaching ramifications for Arabs and Muslims inside the U.S. as well.

BushÍs Manichean worldview alongside his attack on civil liberties and utter lack of compassion towards the poor is done in the name of some distorted notion of patriotism. Anyone who so much as questions the rationality of the policies is immediately shut up and ostracized. All of which amounts to a drastic diminution of what political philosopher Hannah Arendt called the public sphere.

Democracy is, after all, dependent on a plurality of views, on the opportunity of people to express their opinions, debate issues, and persuade each other. Without a decent education, access to health care, basic civil liberties and an atmosphere of tolerance towards the other, the public sphere „ which is necessary in order to express oneÍs views „ shrinks.

Accordingly, I am against the war not only because it will help Bush underwrite the most egregious acts of violence, which will only increase hatred towards the U.S. and encourage international terrorism, but also because BushÍs wars undercut basic democratic practices inside the U.S. One year after the hideous terrorist attacks, U.S. democracy is under assault. The enemy, though, is not Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein; the enemy is within.

Neve Gordon, a Notre Dame graduate, teaches in the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University, Israel, and can be reached at ngordon@bgumail.bgu.ac.il.

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George W. Bush and Company Severing the Ties that Bind
Paul Ranogajec

The Bush administration has demonstrated its incompetency in foreign relations in innumerable ways during its short life thus far, and the post-9/11 era has been especially egregious in this way. Now we learn of a new policy designed to root out Muslim terrorists attempting to enter the United States. A stricter visa application process recently initiated hurts the US by keeping out exactly those foreigners that we should want to have on our side within the logic of fighting terrorism: male Muslim students and businessmen interested in learning from and working with the US.

The new State Department policy on visas for Muslim men has disrupted some studentsÍ plans to study in the US The policy affects any Muslim man between the ages of 16 and 45 from any one of 26 countries, according to a recent article in The New York Times. ñUnder a policy quietly imposed by the Bush administration three months ago,î visa applications from men in this category must be sent to Washington, D.C., for review ñby the F.B.I. and C.I.A.î The local consulate must wait for D.C.Ís approval before issuing the visa. The Times also notes, ñThe delays are now interminable. One American official said there was a backlog of [at] least 100,000 visa applications.î

The Times piece has been one of the few public disclosures of the new policy, despite the effect on education and business it has begun to cause. A number of university newspapers have run stories on the policyÍs effect at their schools, but wider coverage has been lacking.

Coverage by university papers is not surprising, given that many schools across the country have begun to feel the effects of the procedure change, with some international students stuck in their home countries this academic year. A Harvard Crimson article reprinted in The Observer offers the vague line of the State Department: ñA significant backlog prevents new visa applications from getting immediate attention.î A State Department spokesperson ñdeclined to describe the new security procedures for visa applications, saying only that all US security organizations are involved.î At Notre Dame, the new policy has kept a Palestinian man accepted into the masterÍs program in peace studies from travelling to the US. Efforts to determine if other Notre Dame international students have been affected were unsuccessful. (The Office for Foreign Student Visas did not respond to requests for information.) However, this studentÍs case illustrates well the problems with the Bush administrationÍs ill-conceived visa policy.

Zafir Qaswari Mohammad is director of the Palestinian Youth Council, which works ñto ensure youth participation in politics, environmental education, and peaceful democratic development,î according to an article detailing his visa troubles at indymedia.org. This spring he was accepted into the peace studies program and was expected to be on campus by August 7. Mohammad began the visa application procedure with help from the Kroc Institute shortly after acceptance. His application was submitted to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem on May 28 „ about the time the new policy was quietly being implemented „ and was told that his visa would be ready by June 28. In early July, the consulate informed Mohammad that his visa was not ready and that he would have to wait for at least another month. With the peace studies program set to begin in early August, the delay was problematic.

Anne Hayner, an administrator with the graduate program at the Kroc Institute, says that she contacted the Visa Services Office at the State Department in early July to determine the status of MohammadÍs application. That office told her MohammadÍs application was not in their computer system, insisting that he did not submit his application at the Jerusalem consulate.

Hayner was persistent and persuaded the visa office in D.C. to talk to the Jerusalem consulate, which confirmed that Mohammad had applied in May and that his application had been sent to D.C. as required under the new regulations. Visa officials would not give Hayner the names of the bureaus involved in approving applications under the new policy. According to Hayner, the visa application process has always entailed hassles. The difference with MohammadÍs case is that before the stricter policy was implemented, the application procedure was open and channels for finding answers to questions were available. Now, it has become a great challenge to get information on any particular visa case affected by the policy. Secrecy about the process left Mohammad, Hayner, and the Kroc Institute in a waiting game, hoping the visa would be approved before the start of classes.

Hayner was able to determine from visa officials that MohammadÍs visa would not be ready before September 7. Before learning that, the Kroc Institute had given Mohammad leeway to begin the masterÍs program one month late. If he received his visa by September 7, Mohammad could come to the Kroc Institute and play catch-up on a monthÍs worth of work, which he was willing to do for the opportunity to study here.

That time has come and gone. As of this writing, Mohammad has not received word on the status of his visa application, and it seems safe to assume that his application is part of the estimated 100,000 lingering somewhere in the shadows of the US security bureaucracy in D.C. Luckily, only one student at the Kroc Institute was affected by the policy change „ Hayner says that other students from Muslim countries received their visas and arrived on time.

Hayner says this is the first case in the Kroc InstituteÍs history where a foreign student who has pursued his interest in attending despite visa hassles has not been able to come. She worries that more cases like MohammadÍs will adversely affect the peace studies masterÍs program in the coming year, because the program relies on a diverse student body to fulfill its mission of understanding the challenges of achieving peace in a diverse world.

It is obvious that measures such as the new visa policy that affects millions of men simply because of religious affiliation are detrimental to US interests in maintaining and fostering mutually beneficial ties to Muslim nations. In a reactionary response to terrorism, the US has created a strain in relations with a large population throughout the world at a time when we should encourage Muslim students and businessmen to interact with us.

The US response to terrorism has been violent first and foremost. The new visa policy contributes to the inevitability of violence as other avenues of peaceful coexistence are precluded.

Zafir Mohammad has been caught in this vicious net of xenophobia, and it is likely that many more men committed to peace have been also. If the Bush administration is serious about establishing good relations with Muslim nations and securing peace for the US and throughout the world, it will reverse this short-sighted policy immediately and embark upon ambitious programs to cultivate bonds between Americans and Muslims throughout the world. Such bonds are the best discouragement to war that we know.

Paul Ranogajec, a fifth-year Architecture student, is co-editor of Common Sense.

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Iran: A Tough Journey Toward Democracy
Abolghasem Bayyenat

July 9 marked the anniversary of the brutal 1999 police and vigilante crackdown on pro-reform Iranian students, who were then protesting the closure of one of the reformist newspapers by the hardliner judiciary.

The event, however, like many other such incidents in Iran, may have been somewhat overshadowed in the turmoil of the great ongoing power struggle between reformists and conservatives, and its main culprits still enjoy impunity. But it can serve to bring IranÍs current delicate political situation to our attention.

Iranian society today, as other observers have noted, serves as a laboratory for the study of social and political change. Iran has recently been undergoing huge social and demographic changes, which have already had significant repercussions in the political sphere. The predominantly well-educated younger generation in Iran, constituting a remarkable 70% of its whole population, has provided a major force pushing for a more open and liberal society.

Over the past few years, Iranian youth have increasingly grown impatient with the slow pace of the reforms promised by President Mohammad Khatami and his reformist allies in the Iranian parliament. Some segments among Iranian university students, who are a major force behind the reform movement, have already begun to question seriously the current approaches and strategies of the reformist politicians. Iranian students accuse the reformers of lacking enough strength and resolve to face and respond to the hardlinersÍ challenges and achieve the political demands of the Iranian people, who have offered their support to the cause of reform over the past five years and shown their strength through their sweeping victories in nearly all major elections.

The adamant opposition of hardline political bodies like the Judiciary and the Council of Guardians to even the slightest changes pursued by the reformers, has undermined any hopes for a smooth advance of social and political freedoms in Iran. Because of the growing impatience among the lower social strata of the country, Iranian society is now on the verge of a social explosion which, if not mediated, will prove a catastrophe for hopes for a peaceful transition to a genuine democracy in Iran.

The current political conflict has also undermined the prospects for long-term sustainable economic growth or any major recovery in the stagnant Iranian economy, which is urgently in need of job opportunities for its 30% unemployed. This situation is exacerbated by the continual action of the Council of Guardians, the watchdog clerical body, in overruling all progressive parliamentary acts aimed at bringing economic reforms and facilitating foreign investment, based on their alleged inconsistency with the Islamic Shariat law.

Many analysts believe that the existing democratic reform movement, triggered by the sweeping victory of Mohammad Khatami in the 1997 presidential election, is the last hope for any peaceful and non-violent change within the Islamic Republic. It is greatly feared that the Iranian public might seek violent alternatives to secure their goals. Widespread street riots in major cities following the July 1997 violent crackdown on the Tehran University studentsÍ protest warned the Iranian political elites of such an outcome.

The failure or success of the current democratic reform movement in Iran is also likely to have an avalanche effect on other Moslem countries in the region. Given the important political and cultural position of Iran among its neighboring Moslem countries, a successful experience in bringing democratic reforms by the Iranian reformers would inspire and precipitate changes throughout the whole region. Given also the religious character of the Iranian reformers, their success in reconciling religion with democracy on a practical level would provide an alternative to radical Islamist movements in the Middle East. There is still hope for peace and security in the whole region.

This very fact highlights the important role and responsibility of the international community in supporting the public struggle for democracy in Iran. No further argument is needed that it is in the interest of the whole world to encourage democratic elements within Iranian society. But this plain fact requires changes in the worldÍs major powersÍ attitudes and approaches towards Iran. The failure by the great powers to differentiate in their foreign policy between the Iranian reformers and the hardliners has proved ineffective and counterproductive over the past five years.

The recent U.S action including Iran in the so-called ñAxis of Evilî is an example of what is counterproductive, as it antagonized the whole of Iranian society and helped the hardliners mobilize the public in their own support. The international community ought to play a far more constructive role in supporting the Iranian peopleÍs efforts to create a genuine democratic society, which is their long-sought goal and what their great civilization and cultural heritage entitles them to.

Abolghasem Bayyenat is completing his MA program in International Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute and continuing research at Notre Dame.

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The Case Against the Iraq War
Matthew Rothschild

IÍd like to discuss an issue of utmost urgency: the impending invasion of Iraq that the Bush Administration is planning.

  • This invasion would be unconstitutional.
  • It would be against international law.
  • It would violate the Christian doctrine of ñjust war.î
  • It would further damage U.S. relations with its allies, relations that are already frayed by BushÍs mindless unilateralism.
  • It would wreak havoc in the Muslim world, where thereÍs plenty of havoc already.
  • It could shake the U.S. economy, which is trembling right now.
  • Most importantly, it could result in the deaths of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of innocent people.
  • Worst case: It could end with the United States dropping a nuclear bomb on Baghdad.

President Bush acts as though he has the right to go attack Iraq anytime he wants to. ThatÍs false, and very dangerous for a democracy. Our founders gave the right to Congress and only to Congress to make the momentous decision of whether to take the United States to war or not. ItÍs all there in Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution. The founders knew that to give the President such power would risk dragging the country and its people into one senseless war after another.

Sadly, since World War II, Presidents have usurped this power of Congress, and Congress has abdicated it. There has not been a Congressional declaration of war since December 1941, though there sure have been plenty of wars since then, most notably Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War, but also Panama, Grenada, the Dominican Republic, and myriad other nations the United States has assaulted directly or covertly over the last six decades.

To this extent, we have a lawless Presidency. And if we are to restore our democracy, we need to insist that the Constitution be followed. That means Congress, not the President, has the sole power to declare war.

In the current circumstance of Iraq, the PresidentÍs apologists argue that he has the authority to wage war by virtue of two Congressional acts. First, in 1991, Congress gave the President the authorization to wage war against Saddam Hussein (though technically it did not declare war). But how open-ended is this authorization? Congress did not intend to give the President a blank check to wage war against Iraq forever, or anytime he happened to feel like it. The Congress did not grant the President the right to change the regime there more than a decade later.

The second Congressional act that BushÍs cheerleaders cite is the September 14, 2001, use of force authorization, which allows Bush to attack any person, group, or country that he believes was involved in the attack of 9/11. Now the Bush hawks have been doing their damnedest to pin some of the blame for that heinous act on Saddam Hussein, but thereÍs hardly a tissue connecting the two.

International law is quite clear: Country A cannot attack Country B unless Country B has already attacked Country A or is about to attack country A. Iraq has not attacked the United States. And itÍs not about to. Saddam, as brutal as he is, loves to cling to power. He knows that attacking the United States would be suicidal.

Actually, under international law, Saddam Hussein may have a better case for attacking the United States today than Bush has for attacking Iraq, since Bush is threatening an imminent war against Iraq. But no one wants to hear that! Furthermore, for the United States to take this aggressive action without the approval of the UN Security Council would be a violation of the UN charter, which the United States has ratified.

To get around this, the Bush Administration is hyping the danger that Saddam poses to the United States. Cheney recently called Saddam a ñmortal threat.î ThatÍs getting a little carried away. The United States has a $400 billion Pentagon budget; IraqÍs military budget is about $4 billion. The United States has thousands of nuclear weapons; Iraq doesnÍt have one yet, much less the means to deliver it. And even if Iraq obtained one nuclear weapon or two, would that present a ñmortalî danger to the United States? Remember, the United States managed to survive for four decades against an enemy with thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at us.

The fact is, there is no justification under international law or under Christian ñjust warî theory for Bush to attack Iraq. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury has said so. There is no causus belli „ no precipitating act that Saddam Hussein has engaged in that would justify it.

Nor has President Bush exhausted all peaceful means to resolve the issue, as required by just war theory. Quite the contrary: Rumsfeld and Cheney are openly disdainful of getting UN inspectors back in, which was and would be the best way to grind down whatever program Saddam Hussein has for weapons of mass destruction. (By the way, we hear a lot about Saddam Hussein kicking out weapons inspectors. But remember, President Clinton is as much to blame for those inspectors having left Iraq as anyone. Saddam did not kick them out. Clinton pulled them out right before he decided to wage his own little bombing attack on Iraq back in December 1998, to deflect attention from Monica Lewinsky.)

In addition, just war theory requires that the risks of doing more harm than good with a war must be minimal. But with this invasion those risks cannot be dismissed lightly. LetÍs look at some of those risks.

First, on the diplomatic front, a unilateral war against Iraq „ or even one with our viceroy Tony Blair on board „ would drive a wedge between the United States and many of its allies in Europe and around the world. The German government has already said it would not support such an adventure. The French are not enthusiastic. Nor are the Canadians, the Russians, and the Turks. And Saudi Arabia, whose kingdom „ all right, whose oil „ the United States fought to defend in the first Gulf War, wonÍt even allow U.S. troops to use its land as a staging ground. Egypt and Jordan are also opposed to this war.

This would be the second Muslim nation the United States has invaded in the last two years. Scenes of innocent Iraqis being killed on Al Jazeera will not, it is safe to say, enhance the image of the United States in the Muslim world, an image already badly, badly smeared by Ariel SharonÍs offensive against the Palestinians and the 11-year embargo the U.S. insists that the UN impose on Iraq, an embargo that has killed thousands of Iraqi kids. Bush can prattle on as long as he wants about the United States not being at war with Islam or the Muslim world, but after a while, many in that world will find the argument harder and harder to swallow.

What will this mean?

Well, for starters, the despotic rulers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, stooges of the United States, may lose their grip on power if the U.S. invasion galvanizes what Robert Fisk calls the sleeping Arab masses. Hard to see how that would be in the interests of the United States, as Bush defines them. And secondly, the more brutal the United States appears in the Muslim world, the more likely it is that suicide bombers will come to roost in the United States. ItÍs a warning that we ignore at our peril.

On the economic front, another war against Iraq is sure, in the short term at least, to spike the cost of oil, since Iraq is a leading oil supplier, and since other big oil suppliers „ Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iran „ are right next door. Now our economy is already in difficult straits. The invasion of Iraq could tip it back into recession.

On the military front, and hereÍs a sobering irony, BushÍs invasion may actually increase the odds that Saddam Hussein would use chemical or biological weapons. Bear with me here. Back in 1991, he had chemical or biological weapons loaded onto missiles. Bush the Elder warned Saddam that if he used those weapons, he would face devastating retaliation. Everyone, including Saddam, understood that to mean the U.S. would drop a nuclear bomb on him. So what did he do? He backed down and didnÍt use those weapons. But today, Bush the Younger is making it quite clear that Saddam is going to be a goner, so Saddam has no incentive not to throw whatever vials of chemical or biological weapons he might have lying around at U.S. troops or at Israel.

Brent Scowcroft made this point in his op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on August 15. ñSaddam would be likely to conclude he had nothing left to lose, leading him to unleash whatever weapons of mass destruction he possesses.î

This could inflict awful casualties on U.S. troops or Israeli civilians, and then what? Then, the worst case could come true and George W. could drop a nuclear bomb on Iraq, the first time in 57 years that the world has seen such a hideous device used in warfare.

The lesson of 1991 should be that Saddam Hussein knows not to use his chemical or biological weapons. What evidence is there that heÍs more reckless and suicidal today than he was back in 1991? He hasnÍt recently invaded another country. He hasnÍt recently gassed the Kurds or the Iranians (which he did, it must be noted, when he was receiving military intelligence from the United States). He is still in that box that Colin Powell said he was in just a few months ago. He hasnÍt exactly been jumping out of it.

The difference is, Bush is more eager than ever to go to war against him. As the PresidentÍs popularity drops, and as the corporate scandals erode Republican strengths, Bush has a crass political imperative to do something popular. And, in the short term, wars boost a PresidentÍs popularity.

Plus, Bush and Cheney are overwhelmingly concerned about the control of world oil supplies. ñMiddle East oil producers will remain central to world oil securityî in the coming decades, said last yearÍs Cheney Report on energy. And in his speech before the VFW on August 26, Cheney noted that Saddam Hussein has ña seat atop 10 percent of the worldÍs oil reserves.î Cheney added that if Saddam acquires weapons of mass destruction, he ñcould then be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East [and] take control of a great portion of the worldÍs oil supplies.î

Back in 1991, the peace movement had a slogan: No War for Oil. ItÍs a slogan thatÍs even more relevant today. Now Bush is dreaming of an antiseptic war, a quick strike that would topple the regime at little cost. This is the so-called ñBaghdad Firstî strategy, but I doubt it will succeed. Instead, it could very well lead to some gruesome door-to-door fighting. And letÍs remember, Baghdad is a city of more than three million people, and they arenÍt all named Saddam Hussein.

This is the biggest reason to fear BushÍs invasion of Iraq, whether itÍs Baghdad First or Baghdad Last: It is likely to lead to the deaths of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of innocent Iraqis.

It is a fundamental moral precept that every human being is of equal value. We, in the United States, cannot turn our eyes from the great mass murder the United States could be committing by waging this war. It is the arrogance of empire to even contemplate such an act.

If youÍre opposed to this war, for any of the reasons IÍve sketched just now, I urge you to do whatever you can, nonviolently, to express yourself. Yes, write your Senators and Representative. But also talk to your friends, family members, neighbors, colleagues. YouÍd be surprised how many people agree with you that this war in the making is a foolÍs and a bullyÍs errand.

And donÍt stop there: You and those who agree with you should organize rallies, teach-ins, and demonstrations in your community, at the nearest high schools and colleges, and in the union halls and churches and mosques and synagogues close by. Bush wants to take us off a cliff. And itÍs up to us to stop him, using our words, our arguments, our morality, and our nonviolent activism to prevent this horrendous war before it starts.

  • And we must do it together.
  • One person is a crank.
  • Two persons a curiosity item.
  • Three persons a cabal.
  • Four persons a sect.
  • But ten people, and youÍve got a decent picket line.
  • A hundred people is a good demonstration.
  • And a thousand people: thatÍs practically the Paris Commune.

As the great poet and essayist June Jordan, who died just a few months ago, wrote: ñWe are the people weÍve been waiting for.î


©The Progressive magazine, http://www.progressive.org. August 28, 2002.
Matthew Rothschild is editor of
The Progressive.

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Playing Skittles with Saddam: The gameplan among WashingtonÍs hawks has been to reshape the Middle East
Brian Whitaker

In a televised speech recently, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt predicted devastating consequences for the Middle East if Iraq is attacked. ñWe fear a state of disorder and chaos may prevail in the region,î he said. Mr Mubarak is an old-fashioned kind of Arab leader and, in the brave new post-September-11 world, he doesnÍt quite get the point.

What on earth did he expect the PentagonÍs hawks to do when they heard his words of warning? Throw up their hands in dismay? „ ñGee, thanks, Hosni. We never thought of that. Better call the whole thing off right away.î They are probably still splitting their sides with laughter in the Pentagon. But Mr Mubarak and the hawks do agree on one thing: war with Iraq could spell disaster for several regimes in the Middle East. Mr Mubarak believes that would be bad. The hawks, though, believe it would be good.

For the hawks, disorder and chaos sweeping through the region would not be an unfortunate side-effect of war with Iraq, but a sign that everything is going according to plan. In their eyes, Iraq is just the starting point „ or, as a recent presentation at the Pentagon put it, ñthe tactical pivotî „ for re-moulding the Middle East on Israeli-American lines. This reverses the usual approach in international relations where stability is seen as the key to peace, and whether or not you like your neighbours, you have to find ways of living with them. No, say the hawks. If you donÍt like the neighbours, get rid of them.

The hawks claim that President Bush has already accepted their plan and made destabilisation of ñdespotic regimesî a central goal of his foreign policy. They cite passages from his recent speeches as proof of this, though whether Mr Bush really knows what he has accepted is unclear. The ñskittles theoryî of the Middle East „ that one ball aimed at Iraq can knock down several regimes „ has been around for some time on the wilder fringes of politics but has come to the fore in the United States on the back of the ñwar against terrorism.î

Its roots can be traced, at least in part, to a paper published in 1996 by an Israeli thinktank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Entitled ñA clean break: a new strategy for securing the realm,î it was intended as a political blueprint for the incoming government of Binyamin Netanyahu. As the title indicates, it advised the right-wing Mr Netanyahu to make a complete break with the past by adopting a strategy ñbased on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism ...î

Among other things, it suggested that the recently-signed Oslo accords might be dispensed with „ ñIsrael has no obligations under the Oslo agreements if the PLO does not fulfil its obligationsî „ and that ñalternatives to [Yasser] ArafatÍs base of powerî could be cultivated. ñJordan has ideas on this,î it added. It also urged Israel to abandon any thought of trading land for peace with the Arabs, which it described as ñcultural, economic, political, diplomatic, and military retreat.î

ñOur claim to the land „ to which we have clung for hope for 2,000 years „ is legitimate and noble,î it continued. ñOnly the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights, especially in their territorial dimension, ïpeace for peaceÍ, is a solid basis for the future.î

The paper set out a plan by which Israel would ñshape its strategic environment,î beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad. With Saddam out of the way and Iraq thus brought under Jordanian Hashemite influence, Jordan and Turkey would form an axis along with Israel to weaken and ñroll backî Syria. Jordan, it suggested, could also sort out Lebanon by ñweaningî the Shia Muslim population away from Syria and Iran, and re-establishing their former ties with the Shia in the new Hashemite kingdom of Iraq. ñIsrael will not only contain its foes; it will transcend themî, the paper concluded. To succeed, the paper stressed, Israel would have to win broad American support for these new policies „ and it advised Mr Netanyahu to formulate them ñin language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the cold war which apply well to Israel.î

At first glance, thereÍs not much to distinguish the 1996 ñClean Breakî paper from the outpourings of other right-wing and ultra-Zionist thinktanks ... except for the names of its authors. The leader of the ñprominent opinion makersî who wrote it was Richard Perle „ now chairman of the Defence Policy Board at the Pentagon. Also among the eight-person team was Douglas Feith, a neo-conservative lawyer, who now holds one of the top four posts at the Pentagon as under-secretary of policy. Mr. Feith has objected to most of the peace deals made by Israel over the years, and views the Middle East in the same good-versus-evil terms that he previously viewed the cold war. He regarded the Oslo peace process as nothing more than a unilateral withdrawal which ñraises life-and-death issues for the Jewish state.î

Two other opinion-makers in the team were David Wurmser and his wife, Meyrav. Mrs Wurmser was co-founder of Memri, a Washington-based charity that distributes articles translated from Arabic newspapers portraying Arabs in a bad light. After working with Mr. Perle at the American Enterprise Institute, David Wurmser is now at the State Department, as a special assistant to John Bolton, the under-secretary for arms control and international security.

A fifth member of the team was James Colbert, of the Washington-based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a bastion of neo-conservative hawkery whose advisory board was previously graced by Dick Cheney (now US vice-president), John Bolton and Douglas Feith.

One of JINSAÍs stated aims is ñto inform the American defence and foreign affairs community about the important role Israel can and does play in bolstering democratic interests in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.î In practice, a lot of its effort goes into sending retired American military brass on jaunts to Israel „ after which many of them write suitably hawkish newspaper articles or letters to the editor. JINSAÍs activities are examined in detail by Jason Vest in the September 2 issue of The Nation. The article notes some interesting business relationships between retired US military officers on JINSAÍs board and American companies supplying weapons to Israel.

With several of the ñClean Breakî paperÍs authors now holding key positions in Washington, the plan for Israel to ñtranscendî its foes by reshaping the Middle East looks a good deal more achievable today than it did in 1996. Americans may even be persuaded to give up their lives to achieve it. The six-year-old plan for IsraelÍs ñstrategic environmentî remains more or less intact, though two extra skittles „ Saudi Arabia and Iran „ have joined Iraq, Syria and Lebanon on the hit list.

Whatever members of the Iraqi opposition may think, the plan to replace Saddam Hussein with a Hashemite monarch „ descendants of the Prophet Muhammad who rule Jordan „ is also very much alive. Evidence of this was strengthened by the surprise arrival of Prince Hassan, former heir to the Jordanian throne, at a meeting of exiled Iraqi officers in London last July. The task of promoting Prince Hassan as IraqÍs future king has fallen to Michael Rubin, who currently works at the American Enterprise Institute but will shortly take up a new job at the Pentagon, dealing with post Saddam Iraq.

One of the curious aspects of this neo-conservative intrigue is that so few people outside the United States and Israel take it seriously. Perhaps, like President Mubarak, they canÍt imagine that anyone who holds a powerful position in the United States could be quite so reckless. But nobody can accuse the neo-conservatives of concealing their intentions: they write about them constantly in American newspapers. Just a few weeks ago, an article in the Washington Times by Tom Neumann, executive director of JINSA, spelled out the plan in clear, cold terms:

ñJordan will likely survive the coming war with US assistance, so will some of the sheikhdoms. The current Saudi regime will likely not.î

ñThe Iran dissident movement would be helped enormously by the demise of Saddam, and the Palestinians would have to know that the future lies with the West. SyriaÍs BaÍathist dictatorship will likely fall unmourned, liberating Lebanon as well.

ñIsrael and Turkey, the only current democracies in the region, will find themselves in a far better neighbourhood.î Would anyone like to bet on that?

©The Guardian, UK. September 3, 2002.

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Witch-hunting in Florida
Joe Napolitano

Dr. Sami Al-Arian has not worked since last September. He hasnÍt been able to return to his office. In fact, he hasnÍt been allowed anywhere near it. And if his boss has her wish, he wonÍt ever set foot in it again.

No, Dr. Al-ArianÍs place of employment was not in or near the World Trade Center. But his case is a strange side-effect of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Dr. Al-Arian, an Arab and a Palestinian, is a computer science professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa. And he has been on paid leave „ and suspended from the USF campus „ since last September because „ well, because he is Arab and a Palestinian.

In the past year, college campuses seem to be one of the last safe places to voice dissent. Academics have been some of the only Americans willing to voice that dissent. USF president Judy Genshaft is doing everything she can to fire Al-Arian and send that dissent packing. Dissent, you see, is bad for business.

Dr. Al-Arian, a permanent United States resident, has taught computer science at South Florida since 1986, earning tenure in the fall of 1992. In 1988, Dr. Al-Arian founded the Islamic Committee for Palestine, and in 1990 he formed the World Islamic Studies Enterprise Inc, an Islamic think tank he operated out of Tampa. These organizations immediately brought speculations that Al-Arian might have ties to international terrorists and eventually led to several rounds of federal investigations. A grand jury, however, brought no charges against Al-Arian, and in early 1996 Judge R. Kevin McHugh found no evidence of any connection to Palestinian Islamic Jihad. ñTo the contrary,î McHugh declared, ñthere is evidence in the record to support the conclusion that WISE was a reputable and scholarly research center and the ICP was highly regarded.î

But Genshaft wonÍt take no for an answer. She placed Al-Arian on paid leave and suspended him from campus last September 28th, two days after he appeared on Fox News ChannelÍs OÍReilly Factor. Al-Arian thought that he would be going on air to discuss Arab responses to the terrorist attacks (for the record, Al-Arian organized an emergency blood drive and presided over an ecumenical prayer vigil) but instead was bombarded and badgered with allegations by OÍReilly, televisionÍs answer to John Ashcroft. Genshaft, under pressure from the public, pounced on this opportunity to suspend Al-Arian. Her justification? She claimed that Al-Arian was disrupting the university and speaking on its behalf when he shouldnÍt have been. Pretty slim, considering that Al-Arian at no point claimed to be representing the University while on air. And disrupting the University? Apparently free speech need not apply.

Professor Al-Arian says regarding his case:

ñIn a number of ways my case is indicative of the status of civil liberties in post-9/11 America. In the wake of the attacks against our country, it is conceivable that public reaction to the misinformation about me would be frantic. It is distressing, however, that many in this country seized the moment of widespread fear to rehash accusations that a federal judge already had thrown out of court. Recent charges by USF are clearly politically motivated attacks on freedom of speech.î

St. Petersburg Times, August 25th

Last month, however, Genshaft showed her true colors „ and began changing her tune. She had initially been expected to fire Al-Arian outright, but she and the Board of Trustees were well aware that this would have brought censure from the American Association of University Professors and a probable lawsuit from Al-Arian „ both of which equal bad publicity, GenshaftÍs sole reason for wanting to get rid of Al-Arian in the first place. So, rather than having a spine and running the risk of bad press, Genshaft filed a ñdeclaratory relief claimî in Hillsborough Circuit Court and asked a judge to determine whether firing Al-Arian would violate his first amendment and constitutional rights. Loosely translated, this declaratory relief claimed begged, ñPlease tell us we can throw civil liberties out the window and fire that outspoken Arab man without anyone raising a stink.î

What gave Genshaft the guts to go through with her seemingly shaky lawsuit? A whole host of wild new grievances, including allegations that Al-Arian raised money for terrorist groups, brought terrorists into the United States, founded organizations that support terrorism, and incited people to break the law. These allegations again focus exclusively on Al-ArianÍs activities in the late 80s and early 90s, despite the fact that a federal grand jury decided over five years ago that there was no substantial evidence to support these claims. GenshaftÍs ammunition? She claims to have ñpreviously classified documentsî which will prove Al-ArianÍs guilt. Borrowing a page from AshcroftÍs book, Genshaft has refused to share these mysterious documents with the public. All of which begs several questions „ if these ñpreviously classified documentsî which so conclusively prove Al-ArianÍs guilt exist, why hasnÍt the federal government done anything with them? And why in the world would it hand them over to Genshaft just so she could fire him when they could use them to incarcerate him?

Despite these puzzling questions, Genshaft and her buddies are absolutely giddy over their stroke of legal genius. The new twist could force Al-Arian to answer questions under oath, and his responses could then be used against him in future criminal proceedings. No problem if Al-Arian is innocent and has nothing to hide, right? Wrong. Former federal prosecutor John Fitzgibbons speaks candidly in the August 22nd edition of the St. Petersburg Times: ñDr. Al-Arian is going to have one of the toughest decisions of his life. I wouldnÍt want to be tried in this country right now on terrorist charges, innocent or not.î The odds are stacked against Al-Arian, and USF is willing to bet that he wonÍt raise the stakes. Even when Al-ArianÍs lawyers suggested that they might request a move to federal court, Dick Beard, chairman of the USF Board of Trustees, seemed delighted. His reasons? Federal judges tend to be more conservative. Oh, so this is a conservative witchhunt after all! Why didnÍt they just say so from the get-go? At this point, who could stop them? ñHe is falling right into our trap,î Beard gloated.

Governor Jeb Bush, for his part, provided new evidence that he and his brother share a brain. ñThe guy has ties to people who want to undermine the United States of America,î Bush droned. Translation: ñThis man must be an evildoer, so letÍs smoke him out of a job.î Bush, of course, failed to offer up any support for his accusation.

As far as I can tell, Al-Arian has made two major mistakes in all of this. While participating in a conference in St. Louis fourteen years ago, Al-Arian muttered the words ñDeath to Israelî in the midst of an empassioned defense of Palestinian causes. Not a smart move, but neither is it evidence of any terrorist activity. His other mistake? Agreeing to appear on the OÍReilly Factor and subject himself to OÍReillyÍs abuse. In an editorial on August 22nd, the St. Petersburg Times captured the absurdity of the situation. Throughout all of this, ñno one has produced evidence that Al-Arian has engaged in any improper activity since his think tank was shut down in the mid-1990s „ unless one counts his bumbling appearance on a cable talk show a few days after last SeptemberÍs terrorist attacks,î mused the Times.

A day after the lawsuit was filed, Dr. Al-Arian posed a simple but poignant question. ñIÍm an Arab. IÍm a Palestinian. ThatÍs not a popular thing to be these days. Do I have rights or donÍt I have rights?î Unfortunately, that question still needs answering.

Joe Napolitano, Notre Dame ï01 and a former Common Sense editor, lives as best one can in Port Richey, Florida.

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Inarticulate and Proud of it
James Carroll

ñIÍm a patient man,î President Bush said the other day. He was dressed in cowboy clothes. ñAnd when I say IÍm a patient man,î he added, somewhat impatiently, ñI mean IÍm a patient man.î The president was responding to reportersÍ attempts to make sense of the administrationÍs scorching but confusing rhetoric about Iraq. His declaration of patience amended his declarations of war, seeking to douse expectations of imminent attack while promising that hostile action will come eventually.

The nation is beholding something that can only be called weird. Ever since Bush announced his new doctrine of preventive war last spring, his administration has been engaged in an unprecedented war of words aimed at Saddam Hussein. In the beginning, the justification for ñregime changeî in Baghdad was entirely a matter of the threat Hussein represents, but no more. Now the justification includes protecting the integrity of threat. We have to go to war now because we said we would. Language is no longer an expression of purpose but the shaper of purpose.

The United States, in fact, is in a crisis of language. This is what it means to have a president who, proudly inarticulate, has no real understanding of the relationship between words and acts, between rhetoric and intention. Consider his heated boast about his own patience. I saw his declaration on the evening news, and it was clear that, as he began that second sentence, seeking to emphasize the first, he meant to find another way of displaying his determination. But he was, as usual, at a literal loss for words. And so he fell back on empty repetition. ñWhen I say IÍm a patient man, I mean IÍm a patient man.î

Bush mistakes tautology for explanation, a habit of mind marking his entire administration. Bush governs by assertion instead of persuasion. Whether the United States seeks to exercise power over the Taliban, or over Sharon and Arafat, or over Russia, or over its European allies, or even over its own citizens, the method is the same. Washington doesnÍt waste a moment trying to persuade the Taliban to side with us against bin Laden. Washington rejects Arafat as a dialogue partner and forgoes any effort to influence Sharon. Washington presents Moscow with ultimatums on arms control treaties.

Washington rejects the International Criminal Court instead of trying to help shape its development. On the home front, Washington claims emergency martial law exemptions from traditional court procedures. In every case, Washington is avoiding the need to explain its position with the clarity and logic necessary to change minds and win support. Instead of convincing, Washington coerces. And why?

Obviously, because Washington apes the style of a president who has no capacity for the use of language as a mode of leadership.

The problem comes when, having sought to lead through the imperative voice instead of the exhortatory or the explanatory, nothing changes.

The world is beginning to act like AmericaÍs sullen teenager, refusing to obey orders. Bin Laden at large. The Middle East in escalation. A nuclear arms race on the cusp of resumption. A global summit in Johannesburg enraged at U.S.-arrogance. Even Europe openly contemptuous. And at home, anthrax killer unidentified. Citizens at risk. Economy shaken.

In the face of such failure, there is nothing for the imperative voice to do but grow louder. ñThe level of threats has increased dramatically,î a Human Rights Watch official observed, concerning recent us attacks on the ICC. ñAnd threat inflation is a sign of a policy gone amok.î

The post-9/11 mantra is ñUnited we stand.î But not so. The United States is a splintered, lost country where words have been emptied of meaning. That is a symptom of post-traumatic stress syndrome, our national malady. We have been unable to give expression to terrible experiences. Our worst fears remain subliminal, but we recognize them in each otherÍs eyes. In mirroring this unarticulated desperation, our tautological president has been the perfect emblem of the American condition. He is the maestro of disconnect between words and experience. Having emptied the word ñevilî of meaning (Iran is evil, but perhaps also our ally), Bush is now „ incredibly „ emptying the word ñwarî of meaning, too.

His vacuous reflection of our mute anguish can be consoling because familiar „ hence the high poll numbers „ but it is the last thing the country needs. Mawkish bluster in cowboy clothes does nothing to nurture a community of purpose. It does the opposite.

As a candidate, Bush openly displayed his willful illiteracy. At a loss for words, and proud of it. Many voters were charmed. Others were appalled. Few understood, however, that this abdication of leadership by the intelligent use of language would be dangerous to democracy at home, a grievous threat to peace abroad.

© James Carroll. First published in the Boston Globe, August 27, 2002.

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Speaking Out: Letter to the Editor
Frank M. Esmonde

Dear Editor,

I am writing to say that I was both impressed and delighted with Ann PettiferÍs article, ñNatural Family Planning and Other Scamsî (Common Sense, May 02). I am an 84-year-old cradle Catholic, the widowered father of seven who bought the ChurchÍs sexual abstinence line „ including the hook and sinker „ both before my marriage and well into it. Eventually I came to realize that the ñGod would provideî message I heard every week from the pulpit pertained more to the men who mouthed the message than the dues-payers in the pews who had to listen to it. But, having been steeped in Jesuit Natural Law theory, I/we never did anything about it. So, one pregnancy followed another „ three foeti spontaneously aborted.

PettiferÍs writing on the matter of contraception is very much in tune with Elizabeth Price, an English family counselor and a Catholic, who wrote a long open letter to the Bishops of England, Scotland and Wales. It is entitled ñSeeing Sin Where None Isî ( available at www.c-c-c.freeserve.co.uk) and was written for Catholics for a Changing Church, an organization similar to our Call to Action. Price and other progressive theologians, many of them women, have not only embraced the licitness of contraception but the necessity for it in a world in which 20% of the people (us) consume 80% of the worldÍs resources, and 80% (them!) get to share the remaining 20%.

Finally, it is always good to have oneÍs theory validated, as mine was about John Paul IIÍs psycho-sexual makeup. He was not the first or only child to endure the loss of a loving mother in childhood. But to have actually grieved her death for ten years? I am aware that such children are often angry with the parent who left them bereft, and I can see how the Pope could come to embrace the Virgin as a surrogate mother. Nevertheless, this, coupled with the ChurchÍs anti-sex, anti-women message he would have ingested in the seminary, led him to give talks on sex in marriage which would start out praising sexuality as God-given, but always end up with a No Contraception edict. This, as Pettifer shows, forces good Christian/Catholic people into HobsonÍs Choice between expressing mutual love in coupling and risking another pregnancy, or going long stretches without the comfort and support of each otherÍs bodies. And this is what the good God who put all those delicious nerve endings in breasts and groins, wanted? Hah!

Yours sincerely,
Frank M. Esmonde
Merion Station, Pennsylvania

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Michael Novak, Enron Man: Wealth Creation for the Few
Mark and Louise Zwick

We couldnÍt believe our eyes when we saw an article just written by Peggy Noonan in The Catholic World Report. At first it seemed right on decrying the greed and terrible practices of CEOÍs of the last decade which are giving capitalism such a bad name. It turned out, however, to be simply a defense of the system, criticizing a few bad apples who didnÍt apply it correctly.

When Noonan declared that none of the thievery, false accounting, corruption and favoritism, etc., would have occurred if only capitalists had listened to guru Michael Novak, super-capitalist and ñmoralist,î we fell off our chairs. In the years that these horrendous events were taking place, one never heard Michael Novak criticize them.

Novak is an underwriter of Enron capitalism, giving permission to create wealth in any way that the market allows. He gave the greedy all permission in the name of the Church. In his many talks and books he told them wealth creation was a virtue, that the Fathers of the Church were dead wrong when they said avarice was a capital sin. He said CEOs deserved as much money as they could get because they worked hard and creatively. He even compared the behavior of these corrupt CEOs to the creative work of God, without any criticism of their approach.

We heard Novak speak to leaders of huge multinationals, those who took advantage of the ñprivatizationî of all in poor countries to buy up electricity and water systems of whole countries (as Enron did in Argentina, for example, to the detriment of the people), and who moved their factories offshore to take advantage of the worst of slave wages. He told them that those workers who received only $.05 to $.50 an hour in their factories under terrible conditions had no right to complain when the CEOs raked in many millions „ that the sin of envy was condemned in the Book of Deuteronomy and those poor workers sinned against God and their wealthy bosses by even mentioning the discrepancies. For Novak the sin was not paying slave wages, but any attempt to moderate the market to allow a living wage.

He told them they didnÍt have to worry about the common good. Adam Smith, after all, had said that idea was too complicated for modern economics or that modern economics was too complicated to admit such a concept.

There is a serious crisis in the credibility of the Catholic Church because of pedophilia. However terrible the crimes of pedophilia (and they are devastating), we have to note that the victims, while they have suffered very much, are still alive. The premature deaths of the victims of Novakian capitalism around the world cannot even be counted „ the children who have died of malnutrition and disease all over the world as the CEOs and their companies have raked in millions. Catholic neoconservatives have given a ñtheologicalî underpinning for the capitalist corruption which has played out in the press in recent months and devastated the stock market. In order to do this, like Enron, WorldCom, etc, they had to work closely with international banks and financial institutions. Where have the criticisms from the advocates of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism been in regard to the crimes of these banks?

We speak to people each day whose economies have been destroyed by the ñstructural adjustmentî policies (including the requirement to grow food for export instead of for oneÍs own people and the destruction of local agriculture in favor of enormous agribusinesses) enforced by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and now the World Trade OrganizationÍs rules in favor of rich countries.

The Houston Catholic Worker recently received a book from Hungary, where a Catholic described the tragedy of his country. Having been exiled to Australia during many years of Communist rule, he was overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation that with the fall of Communism his country would return to faith in God and love and veneration for the Blessed Mother. He was heartbroken to find that when he returned to Hungary, the bankers from the IMF (hand in glove with multinational corporate interests) had gotten there first and destroyed the country. His book, entitled The Robber Banks of Wall Street, shows the catastrophic economic decline which followed the imposition of rules by the IMF. Novak, George Weigel and Fr. Richard Neuhaus gave talks in several countries emerging from Communist domination encouraging exactly the approach which has ruined their economies. They promised that if only their type of ñCatholic capitalismî were followed, in the future things would be much better.

Unfortunately, some of the international bankers who enforced the devastating policies on countries all over the world „ while repeatedly, over and over, without any justification, raising interest astronomically on loans „ were Catholics formed in the Novakian tradition. Some of these men have since realized the errors of the IMF and World Bank and left their employ. The effects of their policies, however, continue to devastate country after country „ witness the African nations and Latin America.

Did Peggy Noonan read NovakÍs books? At the height of the excesses of the 1990s, he published a small book called On Corporate Governance, and in the ensuing years went from college campus to college campus, especially Catholic universities, giving talks with the same title, ostensibly on business ñethics.î In the preface to that book, in what he calls a theology of the corporation, Novak combatively takes on those who want to ñhumanizeî the huge corporations, that ñtiny minority of publicly owned firmsî which ñproduce more than half of AmericaÍs economic output.î We read this supposed theology and ethics of corporate governance from cover to cover. It was impossible to find even the slightest echo of the Gospel or of the great teachings of the popes of the last two centuries.

NovakÍs presentation of ñThe Corporation as it Ought to Beî might have been written by Machiavelli. He goes to great lengths to explain why there should be no checks or balances on the power of a CEO. Power is what he most needs to do his job and power he must have: ñExecutives must be allowed to excecuteƒ They must be propelled to step forward to create wealth.î Novak responded to questions about the terrible economic discrepancies in our society and in our world in On Corporate Governance in the same way that he does in several other books „ by bringing out his oft repeated phrase, the ñgreen worm of envyî: ñEnvy never travels under its own name; it prefers prettier names, good names to which it has no right: ñjustice,î ñfairness,î and the like.î

Novak has actually written that we have to abandon Catholicism as we know it. ñDemocratic capitalism calls forth not only a new theology, but a new type of religionî (The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, American Enterprise Institute). This new religion emphasizes wealth creation, which neo-conservatives say the Catholic Church has neglected for so long. Like Novak, George Weigel was writing in 1990 demanding to know what the leadership of the Church was doing ñthat could be construed as a moral, theological, and spiritual legitimation of efforts to create wealthî (ñCamels and Needles, Talents and Treasure: American Catholicism and the Capitalist Ethics,î in Peter Berger, ed., The Capitalist Spirit: Toward a Religious Ethic of Wealth Creation.)

One wonders to what kind of ethics Noonan is referring when she recommends NovakÍs ethical approach as an antidote to Enron, etc., and especially his book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. In that book Novak writes that it is ñinappropriateî to bring religion to the marketplace in a pluralistic society. Instead of the Bible and the great papal social encyclicals, Novak taught economic ethics with Adam SmithÍs The Wealth of Nations and Max WeberÍs The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in hand, evangelizing by the promotion of self-interest.

The results might have been predicted.

The authors are editors of the Houston Catholic Worker. Printed with permission: Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXII, No. 5, September-October 2002.

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Natural Family Planning: Is There Common Ground?
Andrew Casad

In the last issue of Common Sense, Ann Pettifer contributed an article entitled ñïNatural Family PlanningÍ and Other Scams,î in which she claims that the ñChurchÍs hostility to birth controlî represents an element of the superstitious on the part of Church leaders. Furthermore, she argues that the ChurchÍs continued opposition to artificial birth control and support of Natural Family Planning comes from a ñneurotic drive to control its flock.î While I agree that the teachings of the Church regarding artificial birth control, as promulgated in the 1968 papal document Humanae Vitae, created a level of division between the leaders of the Church and the faithful never seen before, this is not due to an incorrect teaching. Rather, the failure of the teaching on artificial birth control to be accepted by the Catholic faithful as their own belief is due to the way in which the teaching was and continues to be promulgated.

During the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI called together a commission to examine the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the regulation of birth by artificial means. In 1967, The National Catholic Reporter published the official report of the commission, in conjunction with two other working papers: one representing the majority position and the other prepared by a small minority. The majority paper, as well as the official report of the commission, advocated a change in the Catholic ChurchÍs teaching on contraception. It came as a great shock to many Catholics, especially the married laity whom this teaching affected, when Humanae Vitae appeared one year later and reaffirmed the ChurchÍs condemnation of artificial birth control. The alienation that this caused many laity resulted in their total disregard for the teaching, and thus the creation of a fissure between the laity and hierarchy of the Church. The issue of the rift stemmed in large part from the lack of involvement of the laity in the decision making process, not the teaching itself. Thus, it is the lack of discussion by either party that has left the conversation dead in the water and made permanent the rift between the leaders of the Church and the Catholic faithful.

Is the ChurchÍs teaching on contraception then to be seen as an invalid or wrong teaching? Or, on the contrary, perhaps we should see Humanae Vitae as a prophetical document, but we still cannot deny that the faithful are not responding to the teaching. In 1974, a poll showed that 83% of Catholics disagreed with the Church teaching regarding contraception. Despite this, many married couples make recourse to Natural Family Planning. For many of these couples, the appeal of Natural Family Planning is not found in the teachings of Humanae Vitae. If the Catholic Church is to demonstrate to young married couples that Natural Family Planning is an encouraged method to regulate births, success will not be found in simply restating the same outmoded Scholastic reasons for the ChurchÍs opposition to contraception as stated in Humanae Vitae. Those who reject the teachings of Humanae Vitae refuse to consider the issue in other lights, while those who promulgate the teachings make no effort at improving the way in which the prohibition of artificial birth control is conveyed.

This article is an attempt to bridge that gap. It is often claimed that a true teaching of the Church must be universal: the teaching must be able to be widely accepted by all Christians and perhaps others as well. Thus to argue that one must follow a teaching simply because the Pope says so is not going to carry universal weight and we must, as Pettifer contends, allow ñreason to overcome superstition.î Unfortunately PettiferÍs way of doing this is to simply ignore the teaching. I believe a more fruitful way is to engage the teaching, seek to understand the truth that it embodies, and be creative about the ways in which it is conveyed to individual people in their particular situations.

There are many reasons for advocating Natural Family Planning that have not been exploited by the Church or others such as a growing number of physicians who are concerned with the unquestioning use of contraceptives (see Barbara Seaman, The DoctorsÍ Case Against the Pill). I will not detail them here, but simply raise three points as areas for future development and fruitful discussion.

First, NFP is ecologically sound. There is no waste generated in either the production or disposal of drugs, physical barriers, and their packaging that are heavily laden with petroleum products. In this same area of ecological wisdom, the practice of NFP does not require women to ingest chemicals whose full effects one can never know. In living lives that respect the environment, practicing NFP is but one component.

The economic justification for NFP is simple and straightforward. Natural Family Planning does not force people to be controlled by the Church, as Pettifer contends, but allows couples to be liberated from large companies that have created within our culture the notion that fertility is a medical condition itself needing to be controlled. This same mentality gave rise to the promotion of hormone replacement therapy that saw menopause as a medical condition likewise needing to be controlled. Rather than seeking to control our bodies, we should seek to understand them and work within the limits with which we are created. Natural Family Planning is one such method that seeks not to medicalize fertility, but to understand it. NFP frees couples from the necessity of supporting large corporations that mass-produce chemicals or physical barriers, preying on natural human sexuality for their profit. They need only to receive personalized instruction that most local dioceses offer. The free availability of NFP may be the reason for its failure to receive wider support outside the Catholic Church. Large companies have the money for advertisements, which insure their future ability to earn a profit from the sale of contraceptives, whereas dioceses and NFP proponents do not have large advertising budgets.

Lastly, I think that many people diminish the importance of mutual responsibility associated with practicing NFP. Quite often artificial birth control places the responsibility of regulating or preventing pregnancy solely on the woman, leaving the man free to act as he wishes, not ever needing to worry about the possible outcomes. NFP requires both partners in a sexual relationship to continually make choices about their future. This sense of responsibility to oneÍs partner replicates the sense of responsibility to oneÍs environment that practicing NFP embodies.

While I agree with the prophetic teaching against the use of contraception that Pope Paul VI promulgated, the arguments of Humanae Vitae need to be abandoned and rethought. I would like to see the arguments that have clearly failed to influence the lives of the faithful in any way (other than creating distance between them and the hierarchy), replaced by justifications based on ecological, economic, and holistic models.

Unfortunately, those who oppose the teachings of Humanae Vitae would never admit the possibility that there could be truth in the teaching that condemns artificial birth control. And those who continue to promulgate Humanae Vitae will not concede to rework the teaching, declaring that the final word has been spoken. We thus remain locked in a stalemate, not because the teaching is wrong, but because those who have taken their sides will not accommodate the other. It is my hope that others will find different creative ways to explore the truth embodied in Humanae Vitae, by engaging the experiences of those whose lives are effected by the teaching, and seeking to sift out the language of superiority that is so off-putting to those who hold Humanae Vitae in disdain.

Andrew Casad is a graduate student in Theology and a member of Common Sense.

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What War Looks Like
Howard Zinn

In all the solemn statements by self-important politicians and newspaper columnists about a coming war against Iraq, and even in the troubled comments by some who are opposed to the war, there is something missing. The talk is about strategy and tactics, geopolitics and personalities. It is about air war and ground war, weapons of mass destruction, arms inspections, alliances, oil, and ñregime change.î

What is missing is what an American war on Iraq will do to tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of ordinary human beings who are not concerned with geopolitics and military strategy, and who just want their children to live, to grow up. They are not concerned with ñnational securityî but with personal security, with food and shelter and medical care and peace.

I am speaking of those Iraqis and those Americans who will, with absolute certainty, die in such a war, or lose arms or legs, or be blinded. Or they will be stricken with some strange and agonizing sickness that could lead to their bringing deformed children into the world (as happened to families in Vietnam, Iraq, and also the United States).

True, there has been some discussion of American casualties resulting from a land invasion of Iraq. But, as always when the strategists discuss this, the question is not about the wounded and dead as human beings, but about what number of American casualties would result in public withdrawal of support for the war, and what effect this would have on the upcoming elections for Congress and the Presidency.

That was uppermost in the mind of Lyndon Johnson, as we have learned from the tapes of his White House conversations. He worried about Americans dying if he escalated the war in Vietnam, but what most concerned him was his political future. If we pull out of Vietnam, he told his friend Senator Richard Russell, ñtheyÍll impeach me, wonÍt they?î

In any case, American soldiers killed in war are always a matter of statistics. Individual human beings are missing in the numbers. It is left to the poets and novelists to take us by the shoulders and shake us and ask us to look and listen. In World War I, ten million men died on the battlefield, but we needed John Dos Passos to confront us with what that meant: In his novel 1919, he writes of the death of John Doe: ñIn the tarpaper morgue at Chalons-sur-Marne in the reek of chloride of lime and the dead, they picked out the pine box that held all that was left of John Doe, the scraps of dried viscera and skin bundled in khaki.î

Vietnam was a war that filled our heads with statistics, of which one stood out, embedded in the stark monument in Washington: 58,000 dead. But one would have to read the letters from soldiers just before they died to turn those statistics into human beings. And for all those not dead but mutilated in some way, the amputees and paraplegics, one would have to read Ron KovicÍs account, in his memoir, Born on the Fourth of July, of how his spine was shattered and his life transformed.

As for the dead among ñthe enemyî „ that is, those young men, conscripted or cajoled or persuaded to pit their bodies against those of our young men „ that has not been a concern of our political leaders, our generals, our newspapers and magazines, our television networks. To this day, most Americans have no idea, or only the vaguest, of how many Vietnamese „ soldiers and civilians (actually, a million of each) „ died under American bombs and shells.

And for those who know the figures, the men, women, children behind the statistics remained unknown until a picture appeared of a Vietnamese girl running down a road, her skin shredding from napalm, until Americans saw photos of women and children huddled in a trench as GIs poured automatic rifle fire into their bodies.

Ten years ago, in that first war against Iraq, our leaders were proud of the fact that there were only a few hundred American casualties (one wonders if the families of those soldiers would endorse the word ñonlyî). When a reporter asked General Colin Powell if he knew how many Iraqis died in that war, he replied: ñThat is really not a matter I am terribly interested in.î A high Pentagon official told The Boston Globe, ñTo tell you the truth, weÍre not really focusing on this question.î

Americans knew that this nationÍs casualties were few in the Gulf War, and a combination of government control of the press and the mediaÍs meek acceptance of that control ensured that the American people would not be confronted, as they had been in Vietnam, with Iraqi dead and dying.

There were occasional glimpses of the horrors inflicted on the people of Iraq, flashes of truth in the newspapers that quickly disappeared. In mid-February 1991, U.S. planes dropped bombs on an air raid shelter in Baghdad at four in the morning, killing 400 to 500 people „ mostly women and children „ who were huddled there to escape the incessant bombing. An Associated Press reporter, one of the few allowed to go to the site, said: ñMost of the recovered bodies were charred and mutilated beyond recognition.î

In the final stage of the Gulf War, American troops engaged in a ground assault on Iraqi positions in Kuwait. As in the air war, they encountered virtually no resistance. With victory certain and the Iraqi army in full flight, U.S. planes kept bombing the retreating soldiers who clogged the highway out of Kuwait City. A reporter called the scene ña blazing hell, a gruesome testament. To the east and west across the sand lay the bodies of those fleeing.î That grisly scene appeared for a moment in the press and then vanished in the exultation of a victorious war, in which politicians of both parties and the press joined. President Bush crowed: ñThe specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula.î The two major news magazines, Time and Newsweek, printed special editions hailing the victory. Each devoted about a hundred pages to the celebration, mentioning proudly the small number of American casualties. They said not a word about the tens of thousands of Iraqis „ soldiers and civilians „ themselves victims first of Saddam HusseinÍs tyranny, and then of George BushÍs war.

There was no photograph of a single dead Iraqi child, no names of particular Iraqis, no images of suffering and grief to convey to the American people what our overwhelming military machine was doing to other human beings.

The bombing of Afghanistan has been treated as if human beings are of little consequence. It was been portrayed as a ñwar on terrorism,î not a war on men, women, children. The few press reports of ñaccidentsî were quickly followed with denials, excuses, justifications. There has been some bandying about of numbers of Afghan civilian deaths „ but always numbers.

Only rarely has the human story, with names and images, come through as more than a flash of truth, as one day when I read of a ten-year old boy, named Noor Mohammed, lying on a hospital bed on the Pakistani border, his eyes gone, his hands blown off, a victim of American bombs.

Surely, we must discuss the political issues. We note that an attack on Iraq would be a flagrant violation of international law. We note that the mere possession of dangerous weapons is not grounds for war „ else we would have to make war on dozens of countries. We point out that the country that possesses by far the most ñweapons of mass destructionî is our country, which has used them more often and with more deadly results than any nation on Earth. We can point to our national history of expansion and aggression. We have powerful evidence of deception and hypocrisy at the highest levels of our government.

But, as we contemplate an American attack on Iraq, should we not go beyond the agendas of the politicians and the experts? (John le Carr³ has one of his characters say: ñI despise experts more than anyone on earth.î)

Should we not ask everyone to stop the high-blown talk for a moment and imagine what war will do to human beings whose faces will not be known to us, whose names will not appear except on some future war memorial?

For this we will need the help of people in the arts, those who through time „ from Euripedes to Bob Dylan „ have written and sung about specific, recognizable victims of war. In 1935, Jean Giraudoux, the French playwright, with the memory of the first World War still in his head, wrote The Trojan War Will Not Take Place. Demokos, a Trojan soldier, asks the aged Hecuba to tell him ñwhat war looks like.î She responds: ñLike the bottom of a baboon. When the baboon is up in a tree, with its hind end facing us, there is the face of war exactly: scarlet, scaly, glazed, framed in a clotted, filthy wig.î

If enough Americans could see that, perhaps the war on Iraq would not take place.

©The Progressive magazine. October 2002. Howard Zinn, a columnist for The Progressive, is the author of A PeopleÍs History of the United States.

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Father versus Son: Notre DameÍs Alcohol Policy
Colman and Jim McCarthy

Colman McCarthy, father
On returning to the University of Notre Dame from spring break in El Salvador, Maria Ochsner felt her emotions swing between chagrin and disgust. Large numbers of her schoolmates were staging demonstrations to protest the schoolÍs new alcohol policy: a ban on hard liquor in residence halls.

While some 600 alcohol-deprived students chanted and vented at a gathering on the quad, others among the irate took to the pages of the campus newspaper to fume. One student denounced the ñmiddle-aged celibate white menî who run Notre Dame. They ñhave totally lost touch with the student body and reality.î Another: administrators see students as ñuncouth youngsters that [sic] must be monitored and controlled in every way.î

Maria Ochsner wasnÍt buying: ñI had just spent a week in El Salvador surrounded by poverty and injustice. I came back to campus. What are students rallying against? They canÍt drink hard alcohol in their rooms. It was a disgrace.î

By chance, I was visiting Notre Dame days after the ban was announced. The student groups that invited me had close ties to the schoolÍs well-regarded Peace Studies program and the Center for Social Concerns, both of them the soul of Notre Dame. Like Maria Ochsner, they had a deep awareness that in a world mired in militarism, hunger, poverty and violence, an overheated protest about a ban on booze signals a dive into triviality.

Much praise to Notre DameÍs administrators for acting. But not total praise. Beer and wine are still allowed in dorms, which means the ABCs of higher education „ abusing, boozing, cruising „ will continue.

George Hacker, director of the alcohol policy project at WashingtonÍs Center for Science in the Public Interest, says that Notre Dame has ñtaken a half-step. Beer is a much larger problem on college campuses than hard liquor. It is the drug of choice. ItÍs cheaper, more available, more used in binge drinking, and is consumed in more hazardous amounts.î

The half-step might be only a quarter-step. If the Holy Cross priests who run Notre Dame are serious about the dangers of alcohol „ the most destructive drug in America with a negative economic cost of $80 billion „ then they should announce that alcohol will no longer be consumed in their residences. Nor will it be allowed at the University Club where the faculty dines, or the Morris Inn „ the campus hotel „ or at the tailgating parties on football weekends when thirsty alums pour in.

Without these restrictions, students are getting a mixed message from the Holy Cross clergy: the hard stuff is poison for you but itÍs fine for us and everyone else. Plus a second mixed message: whiskey, gin and vodka are out but keep guzzling your Buds.

While a total ban on alcohol seems, at first, extreme, officials at the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention in Newton, Mass., report that many schools have taken such stands and are glad they did. They point to the University of Rhode Island as a national example for enlightened thinking and bold action. Since adopting a no-alcohol policy ten years ago „ including no campus drinking for the faculty „ applications have increased, alumni giving has risen, trustees are pleased and students with higher SATs are enrolling. When I spoke at the university last year „ the school has a stellar peace studies program „ students repeatedly told me how pleased they were not to have to put up with drunken roommates and puking jerks.

Due to imprecise reporting, or refusals to report, the exact number of alcohol-related deaths on U.S. campuses is not known. In the general population, it is around 100,000 annually. Despite Notre DameÍs rapid decline in recent years as a football power, its top ranking as a drinking school remains secure. Administrators report that alcohol abuse is so pervasive that ña third of Notre Dame students report missing classes because of drinking.î

The solution wonÍt be found in tepid moves to eliminate hard liquor. The schoolÍs administrators have convictions but not much courage to back them up. With the beer and wine still flowing, the university might as well put in its admissions brochures for prospective students: come to Notre Dame, swallow one for the Gipper. Then another. And another. And another.

Colman McCarthy, a former Washington Post columnist, directs the Center for Teaching Peace. He is a frequent contributor to Common Sense and lectures periodically at Notre Dame. His email is colman@earthlink.net.

Jim McCarthy, son
Even casual observers of Notre Dame have long known that the schoolÍs social scene looks more like a prep school in the 1950s than a modern college campus. There are no co-ed dorms, clergy live side-by-side with the students, you canÍt bring your date to your room after midnight and sex is strictly forbidden. ThatÍs why Notre DameÍs new and much stricter social policies „ and the ease with which they were imposed „ are so galling.

Although the school has arguably one of the most morally upstanding, intelligent and religiously devoted student bodies in the country, the priests who run Notre Dame seem bent on restricting students as though they were the cast of Animal House. Issuing a report that calls for an alcohol crackdown at a Washington, D.C., press conference, Father Malloy said ñAll you have to do is look at a couple of cable television channels that cover spring break, where endless groups of drunken students get up and say ïIÍm having the greatest time here,Í and then you recognize...[why these restrictions make sense].

Father Mark Poorman, who wrote Notre DameÍs new policy, used similar hyperbole in a recent letter to students, saying ñour study also confirmed the perception that a significant percentage of Notre Dame students engage in abusive drinking.î

MalloyÍs report, it should be pointed out, is based not on actual incidences of alcohol abuse but instead extrapolates dubious statistics from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, one of the nationÍs foremost temperance groups. And though Poorman says his policies are based on two years of ñresearch and focus groups,î he refused to let students either craft or see the results of those studies.

But applying a fair and reasoned standard when it comes to drinking has never been a strong suit for the clergy. Though anecdotal evidence „ to use MalloyÍs MTV standard „ abounds that alcohol abuse among the clergy is widespread, Church officials have long resisted any clinical attempt to study their own drinking patterns. And for those who think Notre Dame clergy will lend moral guidance to the students by taking a pledge of temperance themselves, donÍt hold your breath-a-lyzer.

ThatÍs because the conceit that you can force others to be good has this corollary: that you yourself are beyond reproach. Do some Notre Dame rectors have drinking problems? Does binge drinking take place at Moreau Seminary? Do the unique pressures of a life in the clergy create a greater risk of alcoholism? WeÍll never know because to the ears of Notre DameÍs clergy, the questions themselves are, well, intemperate.

DonÍt doubt for a moment, however, their eagerness to intrude on even the most private aspects of student life. A few weeks after PoormanÍs alcohol edict there appeared a startling letter in the Observer by a student whose rector had overheard a dalliance she had with her boyfriend. Was the student outraged? Nope „ she was hauled up on charges and scared stiff: ñI clarified [to the rector] that those were the noises they had heard, and then I told her that my boyfriend and I had had sex for the first time that night. This was followed by the talk with my rector and assistant rector and then by a meeting with my boyfriend and both of our rectors in which we both retold the story of what had happened, how we felt about the whole thing and where things should go from there. Through the whole process, my boyfriend and I came to very important realizations.î

IÍll bet she did. Such as: Apparently Notre Dame knows neither restraint nor shame when it comes to imposing antique moral codes on students.

WouldnÍt it be a far greater virtue for individual responsibility to prevail in students? DonÍt young people build stronger character when they shoulder the burden of morality themselves? Somehow I doubt these questions exist even as echoes in the Administration Building.

Notre Dame students are fighting back, however, and have issued a call to action of their own „ a petition promising never to donate money to the school until it includes students in the policymaking that affects their personal lives. As an alumnus, I signed it.

ThatÍs because when Church leaders are this far out of touch and wonÍt live up to the same standards they force on others, you stand up to them. At least thatÍs what Colman McCarthy, who I am proud to say is also my Dad, always taught me.

Jim McCarthy is a 1990 graduate of Notre Dame.

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Progressive Calendar

Fair Food Friday: Taco Bell leafletting
Friday, October 4, 5:30pm in South Bend
Sponsored by the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA). Contact Brigitte Gynther at

ñChildren in Warî
Wednesday, October 9, 7pm at the Hesburgh Center Auditorium
Film on childrenÍs reactions to war and violence in Bosnia, Israel, Rwanda, and Northern Ireland. Sponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

Death Penalty Awareness Night
Wednesday, October 9, 8-10pm at Reckers
The evening will include death penalty information, student speakers, and campus bands. Sponsored by Amnesty ND.

Kensington Welfare Rights Union Bus Tour
Thursday, October 10 in Chicago
Trip sponsored by the PSA. Contact Cecilia Garza at cgarza@nd.edu.

Solidarity Sunday
Sunday, October 13 on campus
All campus masses will highlight the Notre Dame communityÍs Spirit of Inclusion for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students, faculty, and staff. Special prayer cards will be available. Sponsored by the Standing Committee for Gay and Lesbian Student Needs (SCGLSN).
Ongoing SCGLSN Education Initiative for campus dorms: visit http://www.nd.edu/~scglsn/edinitiative.htm for dates and times.

Free Trade Area of the Americas/Taco Bell 4 Days of Action
October 31-November 4
Sponsored by the PSA. Contact Mary Patzer at mpatzer@nd.edu.

Discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Alan Dowty
Saturday, November 2, 11am at the Hesburgh Center Auditorium.

ñStruggling Unionsî
Monday, November 4, 4pm at the Hesburgh Center Auditorium

Film on democratic struggles in unions. Sponsored by the Higgins Labor Research Center.

The Social Responsibilities of a Business Person
Tuesday, November 5, 6:30pm in the Jordan Auditorium, College of Business
CEO from El Salvador discusses corporate ethics.

ñThe Option for the Poor in Christian Theologyî
November 10-13 at the Center for Continuing Education (CCE/McKenna Hall)
Conference sponsored by the Theology Dept.

School of the Americas protest
Nov. 15-17 at Ft. Benning, GA
Contact Mike Zawada at mzawada@nd.edu.

Tuesday, November 19, 7pm at the Hesburgh Center Auditorium
Film and discussion with Fr. Robert Pelton. Sponsored by the Kellogg Institute, Institute for Latino Studies, and La Alianza.

Feel Isolated? YouÍre Not! Check out These Progressive Student Groups

Amnesty International, Jonathan Buechler, peace@nd.edu, Mon., 7:45 p.m. at the CSC.
Our mission is to affect human rights internationally while promoting awareness locally.

Notre Dame Green Party, Andrew Casad, ndgreens@nd.edu.
The Green Party offers a valid alternative to the two-party political system that seeks only to please the interests of the wealthy and the powerful. We seek to promote democracy, care for others and the environment, all with a concern for future generations.

Pax Christi, paxchris@nd.edu, Mon., 8:30 p.m. at the CSC
A faith-based advocacy group promoting the ñPeace of Christ.î

Peace Coalition, Sarah Brook, 233-4248, brook.6@nd.edu, Wed., 9 p.m. at the CSC
A group formed in response to 9/11, focused on peace and justice. We seek to educate people on the side of issues the mainstream media does not normally cover.

Progressive Student Alliance, Martha Patzer, mpatzer@nd.edu, Tues., 7:45 p.m. in 115 OÍShag.
The PSA opposes all forms of oppression and is working for social justice by raising awareness of social issues, cooperating with existing groups, empowering students, and encouraging action.

OutreachND, Christine Carey, ccarey@nd.edu
OutreachND seeks to maintain a viable, visible community among the gay, lesbian and bisexual population at the University of Notre Dame.

Note to groups: If you would like your information to appear here, e-mail Patrick McElwee at pmcelwee@nd.edu.

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Time and Place
Max Westler

I often misunderstand you, time

and space. Like, drawing closer,î
or ñpulling away.î Like, ñitÍs time to go now,î
or ñweÍre almost there.î Far away. Long ago.

Like a field of red poppies seen once in France. Outside
Cahoors, where the wine is eminently drinkable,
but doesnÍt travel especially well. Because thereÍs no going back

to fields of yellow goldenrod in France, the shadows of
crooked poplars striding over the road. At camp once
the waterfront director (whose air of authority

was greatly enhanced by a pith helmet
and a whistle) said that the secret in this
and all other things is to evenly distribute

your weight about the boat so it would never capsize
and you would never drown, but it was no good, no good
at all, for every time I stood up, I could feel the flat

bottom rocking back
and forth, bobbing up
and down: hello,

goodbye. Far away. Long ago. And so the light that even now
is making its way toward us from across
the universe is light

from a dying star; an angel come to tell us what time
eternity is. He looks like me only lots sadder;
and when he lifts his hand, it bursts into flames red

as poppies, crooked as poplars. And what can you do
with a burning hand but wave hello,
goodbye. But in this life here, the one weÍre living now

itÍs never a mistake to say goodbye

Max Westler teaches English at Saint MaryÍs and is a regular contributor to Common Sense.

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