Hello -- we are going through hectic, demanding, trying, and most
importantly very promising times -- and to keep pace, here is another
ZNet Free Update.

As always, you can remove or add addresses on the ZNet top page --

And I hope you will consider the ZNet sustainer program, also available
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Yesterday I sent a message about the new Parecon book from Verso. Your
response caused the book to go from number 2,423,754 on the Amazon sales
list to number 38 and still climbing on that list in less than twenty
four hours. 

Thank you for the tremendous support -- and here's hoping it grows and

And for those who haven't yet visited the book page for Parecon: Life
after Capitalism, please do give it some of your time at


Among new materials placed on ZNet even just since yesterday are a
powerful call to conscience by veterans
(http://www.calltoconscience.net) and antiwar essays by Herman,
Johnstone, Cockburn, Weisbrot, Steele, and Monbiot, among others.

But I am sending this message to convey the following piece from Edward
Herman...and to urge you to visit ZNet, of course...


By Edward S. Herman

One of the most dramatic features of the Bush-Blair drive to
war--actually, "massacre" given the imbalance of forces-- has been the
split and struggle between governments and their citizenry. It might be
argued that this ongoing struggle demonstrates that democracy works. But
such struggles occur even in authoritarian systems, where there are
frequent protests and strikes. 

In democracies governments are supposed to represent the people, so that
there shouldn't be a need for massive protests to get the government to
do what the public wants done. We shouldn't see "democratic" governments
trying furiously to drag their country into actions that people
oppose--and that many oppose passionately- -even after being subjected
to intense propaganda and disinformation.

The same split was evident in this country at the time the North
American Free Trade Agreement was being debated (1993-1994). The Clinton
administration fought hard and invested huge political capital to gain
passage of this agreement, although a majority of the public and an even
larger majority of Democratic voters opposed it (as consistently shown
by polls). 

The Republicans are the extreme and undisguised business party; but the
Democrats have in the past shown flashes of representing a broader
constituency from which they derive most of their votes. But in this
important case (and it is not unique) Clinton worked very hard on behalf
of the business community, with the almost unanimous support of the
mainstream media. 

Even with the media propagandizing furiously on behalf of NAFTA, polls
continued to show hostile majorities. But in this plutocratic democracy,
the corporate interest prevailed and the elite-class-money basis of U.S.
democracy was made crystal clear.

War is extremely useful to elites, not only for carving out
opportunities for business abroad, but for its internal effects. As
Thorstein Veblen explained 99 years ago, war provides "the largest and
most promising factor of cultural discipline....It makes for a
conservative animus on the part of the populace. During war time, and
within the military organization at all times...civil rights are in
abeyance; and the more warfare and armament the more abeyance." 

And, crucially, war "directs the popular interest to other, nobler,
institutionally less hazardous matters than the unequal distribution of
wealth or of creature comforts." (The Theory of Business Enterprise
[1904], pp. 391-3). 

Rightwing business administrations gravitate quickly to war and fear-
mongering to help cover over their service to their principals (i.e.,
making income distribution more unequal): Immediately upon taking office
in the early 1980s Reagan mounted a war on terror and on the "evil
empire," and his clone George W. Bush has done the same two decades
later. They have both pressed for soaring arms budgets to meet inflated
or manufactured threats, and both have been given aid and comfort by the
Free Press.

The public is more vulnerable to propaganda on a foreign policy issue
like Iraq than something like NAFTA. With Iraq the propaganda system can
play on patriotism and alleged national security threats that are not
available in selling NAFTA. 

Four-fifths of the U.S. public believe Saddam was involved in acts of
terrorism against the United States (according to a December 2002
Tribune/WGN-TV poll), and a majority today fear him and think that this
regional bully, who has been almost entirely disarmed and who the Bush
gang is toying with like a Bengal tiger might play with a malnourished
mouse, actually poses a military threat to the pitiful giant. This is
the ultimate propaganda system at work.

But despite these irrational and manipulated fears, almost a third of
the public (29 percent) remains opposed to the war and a solid majority
(59 to 37 percent in a recent NYT/CBS poll) favors giving the UN and
inspections more time. 

On the basis of this opposition and these doubts a major peace movement
has come into being to oppose the war--and it has come into existence
and grown at a far quicker pace than during the Vietnam war. The
February 15th demonstrations here and abroad were possibly the largest
ever, to the consternation of the war party.

This peace movement could stop the war if it had any kind of support
from the mass media in focusing on the illegality of the Bush plan, the
serial lies used by the war party, its compromised position in prior
support of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, the hidden agenda (oil,
support of Sharon, coverup for Bush's internal policies), and the
recklessness and human and material cost of this forthcoming aggression.

But the U.S. mainstream media are currently serving as propaganda arms
of the state, which is helping the war party maintain just enough
support and public inertia to sustain their political position (Blair in
Britain is in a less favorable position as war-maker).

The dichotomy between governments and people as regards the Iraq
war-massacre is a global phenomenon, reflecting both the power of the
United States to coerce and bully and the fact that democracy in the New
World Order is increasingly an undemocratic facade. 

Bush himself is a coup d'etat president, who garnered fewer votes than
his main rival even with an immense treasure chest from his corporate
backers and the illegal disenfranchisement of large numbers in Florida.
He was obliged to fall back on a corrupt Supreme Court to anoint him and
a "liberal media" to swallow this coup without complaint (see Greg
Palast's account in The Best Democracy Money Can Buy). 

Throughout the world corporate and financial power has drained
democracies of substance and made them plutocracies. It is a matter of
course now to find that "democratic" leaders systematically carry out
important economic, social and arms/war policies that their people
disapprove. The people increasingly have no effective choices--all the
"practical" candidates (i.e., those electable in a plutocratic political
system, as Ralph Nader was not) offer little or no alternative and
regularly betray their promises to ordinary citizens when they had
campaigned with populist messages.

So the lineup of governments versus people across the globe in joining
the Bush massacre program is entirely comprehensible. The "old Europe"
resistance to the Bush war-massacre program is exceptional, and reflects
some residual responsiveness of French, German, Belgian and other
leaders to mass popular demands, along with national self-interest in
avoiding a potentially devastating war and feedback from that war. 

Many other Western governments have gone along with Bush-Cheney despite
massive public opposition (polls show oppositional votes of 75 percent
in Italy, 74 percent in Spain, 70 percent in Britain, majorities in
opposition across the board).

In Eastern Europe also, while the governments line up in support of
massacre, polls show massive public opposition--in Hungary, 80 percent,
in Latvia 74 percent, a majority in Croatia. 

It is notable that even the Voice of America acknowledged on February 6
that the ten East European countries that endorsed Colin Powell's
position at the UN Security Council "are seeking to join the NATO
alliance." It was implied that perhaps the desire to avoid jeopardizing
entry might have affected their vote. It is well-known that the United
States bullies, bribes and threatens allies who step out of line, and
they often succumb. 

Today, Germany and France are vilified in the United States and even
these strong states are threatened with retaliatory action for opposing
U.S. plans. Lesser and weaker countries are even more vulnerable.

Poor Turkey, for example, a U.S. client, military base, debtor, and
aid-dependent, is under heavy U.S. pressure to allow the stationing of
Iraq invasion forces on its soil, when 85 percent or more of its
population is opposed to the war. Prime Minister Abdullah Gul stalls for
time, but in one account, "Washington told him unequivocally that it
expects full cooperation without restrictive conditions..." (Ha'aretz,
Feb. 6, 2002). 

The United States will get its way, because "The Turkish government and
its military will not hide behind public opinion," according to an
official in the Turkish Foreign Ministry. In other words, what the
people want will not affect government policy, which, according to this
same official, "is what makes Turkey America's most valuable ally"
(Catherine Collins, "Turkey Juggles Dueling War Demands," Chicago
Tribune, Jan. 14, 2003).

The February 5 letter of the ten Eastern European governments most of
whom hoped to get into NATO, which cited Colin Powell's "convincing
evidence" for war, was written BEFORE he gave his speech, and an earlier
letter of eight European leaders on "United We Stand" (including Blair,
Aznar, Berlusconi) called for support of the Bush position and "full
compliance" with Security Council resolutions to "maintain credibility"
(as regards Iraq, not Israel, Turkey and Morocco, but no doubt these
leaders will soon produce a letter covering those cases). 

This letter by the eight had been organized by the Wall Street Journal
to give a lift to the war party, and it was noted in the "news" column
that this effort threatens to "isolate the Germans and French" and may
"smooth a path to war" (Marc Champion, "European Leaders Declare Support
For U.S. on Iraq," Jan. 30, 2003). Featured on the front page and with
the letter reproduced along with photos/bios of these eight leaders on
the editorial page, this is a pretty illustration of an integration of
news and editorial operations in service to the propaganda needs of

This "parade of vassals" (as one European Parliament member called it)
was greeted in the United States as a triumph of moral force. As noted,
the "people" in those states did not go along with their eager vassal
governments, but Robert Kagan, for example, described as "moral courage"
their leaders willingness to ignore the people they represent in order
to join their master's crusade against evil. 

The Journal piece touting the eight leaders' support of the war notes
deep in the article that those leaders all face "strong opposition to
the war" at home, but this betrayal of their obligation to serve their
people is a small aside for the paper as it celebrates the leaders'
service to the Bush war.

The moralist leaders of the vassal governments show a certain lack of
independence of thought. Poland's president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, for
example, a minister in the former communist regime, says that "If it is
President Bush's vision, it is mine." 

Mark Almond notes that "other prominent ex-communist apparatchiks across
the region repeat oaths of fealty to America as once they parroted the
Brezhnev line. Slovakia's long-serving foreign minister, Eduard Kukan,
is always in the front row of those backing the US use of force, but
received his diplomatic training in communist Czechoslvakia, and became
ambassador to Mengistu's Ethiopia." ("The Master's Faithful Servants,"
New Statesman, Feb. 3, 2003).

A major difference between the "old" and "new" Europe is between
relatively strong and relatively weak states, the former better able to
resist bullying and more responsive to public demands; the latter, more
needy, dependent, and with leaders handed down from a corrupt and
authoritarian tradition. 

Russia falls into the last class, with Putin jockeying to maintain good
relations with his dear friend and patron George Bush while trying to
keep an image of minimal independence and preserve rights to Iraq oil.
Seamus Milne is surely referring to Putin when he writes of the U.S.
strategy as giving assurances of "oil contracts here and nods to ethnic
cleansing there" ("Direct Action May Become A Necessity: The UN is being
used as a fig leaf for war in the face of world opinion," Guardian, Jan.
16, 2002).

The people are fighting back everywhere against the DC Axis of Evil and
its plans. The people's surge on February 15 is a set-back for the war
party. Even further pressure is needed, however, to stop the war
machine. High priority should be given to pressing the media to cease
their unquestioning service to the war-makers. With even a modest change
by the mainstream media in the direction of fairness and openness to
views that are held by the global majority, the tide could be turned.


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