Check It Out
 
1.Parsi community’s role in development of Karachi
2.Discovering Ashavan
3. Confronting Empire
4.DISINFORMATION ALERT: THE 50-50 LIE
5.Arun Gandhi Gives Timely Talk on War and Peace
6.
Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free)
 
 
 

 A letter of appreciation of Parsi community’s role in development of Karachi

By Rizwan Hussain, a Graduate from NED University

letter of appreciation

 I had always been curious about the activities and practices of the various communities in Karachi. I knew that the Parsi community had played its role in the development of the city, it was only after I went through your book (The Sands of Time) that I realized the extent of the contribution.

This letter is a small expression of appreciation for the services rendered by the Parsi community. I am a NED University graduate, so is my father and two of my uncles. My wife is currently enrolled at the University. I owe my qualifications, the memorable time I spent at the University and a group of very dear friends to the generosity of Mr. Dinshaw. My paternal grandmother was once operated on at the Lady Dufferin Hospital. I was very young at the time, but I know she was very well taken care of and my grandmother still appreciates the high level of attention she received. I went to the Anklesaria Hospital many times and always wondered where the name came from. It was while reading your book that I was able to connect the names (including others I have left out for brevity) and realize what wonderful gifts your Community has given to our city.

 You also mentioned that members of the Mandal feel. that the Community is "forgotten" by everyone. I would just like to say that I am deeply thankful to the Community. The activities of the Mandal'in particular are a source of inspiration for young people, especially women and accordingly I have asked my wife and sister to go through the book.

 I would end with a prayer: may the Mandal continue its good work and continue to inspire the spirit of service and charity in the young generation.

 Sincerely,

Rizwan Hussain
199A Block 2
PECHS
Karachi-75400
September 14, 2005
 
 
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 A Tale for All Ages

Discovering Ashavan


On Saturday 22, 2000, a novel Discovering Ashavan written by Farishta Murzban Dinshaw was launched in Karachi, Pakistan. The book is the second publication launched by the Karachi Zarthosti Banu Mandal (KZBM) but the first to be published through the aegis of its Book Society. Their first publication Manna of the Angels was on Parsi cuisine, and its readers include the Queen of England. The six Libraries of Congress, USA also requested copies of the Manna of the Angels .

The novel Discovering Ashavan is about a 14-year-old orphaned lame boy Ashavan who lived in Iran 4000 years ago. A midnight brawl over a dying bitch snowballs into a chain of events leading him to be accused of sorcery by a malicious man and a superstitious community. During the course of the book, Ashavan comes to deal with his fears and strengths, hence the title of the book.This novel for all ages contains 11 delightful illustrations by Homi Meherhomji.

This is Farishta Murzban Dinshaw’s first novel, but she has co-authored several handbooks for teachers. She has written three plays and numerous skits as fund-raisers for charity. In 1993, she won the Eve Bunting Scholarship awarded by the Highlights Foundation for their Writing for Children programme at Chautauqua, USA. She was the initiatory editor of Funline, Pakistan’s first English magazine for children. Although her primary interest lies in writing for children, she also writes on women’s issues, education and general topics for local newspapers and magazines. Currently, she works with DAWN for their pioneering Newspapers in Education programme.

This is what some readers have to say about Discovering Ashavan:
What I loved about Discovering Ashavan is the clarity and freshness of the story. Through her excellently developed characters and adroit sense of place, Dinshaw gives immediacy to a distant time and brings the past vividly to life. She has also managed to bring Zarathushtra down-to-earth: and, in doing so, makes him accessible. At the same time, the narrative embodies some of the main principles of our faith. It is creditable that Dinshaw accomplishes this without adopting a high moral tone or sounding the least bit preachy. She has adroitly woven myth and magic into a tension-filled, lively and suspenseful story.
Bapsi Sidhwa
Acclaimed author
Houston, USA


…while reading the opening chapters, it feels as if you’ve actually been transported to another time and place. Only a very fine writer can achieve such results. What is more admirable is the way Farishta has written a novel based on a religious/historical subject without detracting from the story.
Ameen Saiyid
Managing Director, Oxford University Press, Pakistan

At every Zoroastrian meet there has been a call for religious literature appropriate for the young. Dinshaw…has not only provided an insight into the life and times of our hoary past but in the 90 pages of Discovering Ashavan, she has done so in a style and imagery that brings history alive.
Arnavaz S. Mama
Managing Editor, Parsiana, India

The relationship between Ashavan and Zarathushtra is beautifully portrayed. Although the latter is the mentor to Ashavan, the tone is never patronising and the author wisely retains an element of playfulness and banter between the two boys. The story itself is an absorbing one and the language well-chosen.
Naziha Syed Ali
Newsline, Pakistan

The book is a gentle narration of young Ashavan’s fears and pains in times of great superstitions, and how he learns to deal with them. The book is very well written and brings to the fore the writer’s gift for the use of words and touching human hearts through beautifully written text.

Perviz Masani
Editor, SHE, Pakistan

I would like to compliment the book designer, artist and printer for producing one of the handsomest volumes to have appeared in Pakistan recently.
James C Armstrong
Field Director, Library of Congress Office – Pakistan

(Recently 18 books have been purchased by the Library of Congress for their libraries in various cities)

The book is available for Rs.400/ only for residents of Pakistan & India

US $12 elsewhere, at the following outlets around the world.

 

Australia Almitra Pestonji at Sydney

 

 
Canada

Jalu Divecha at Toronto
Jamshed Gustavsp at Vancouver
Vahishta Canteenwalla at Montreal

India Meher Panthaki at Mumbai

 

 
Pakistan Toxy Cowasjee at Karachi
 

 

 
UK Malcolm Deboo, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe, London
Darius Motivala, World Zoroastrian Organisation, London

 

 
USA Arnavaz Sethna at Houston
Aban Rustomji at Houston
Rovena Davar at Connecticut
Khorshed Jungalwalla at Boston
Goolu Baria at Standford
Chisty Dadachanji at San Diego
Arnaz Marker at Florida
Nancy Yazdani at Dallas
Anahita Sidhwa at Dallas
Dhunmai Dalal at Los Angeles

Dolly Malva at Los Angeles

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Confronting Empire
By Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy's speech at the WSF (World Social Forum)


I've been asked to speak about "How to confront Empire?" It's a huge question, and I have no easy answers.

When we speak of confronting "Empire," we need to identify what "Empire" means. Does it mean the U.S. Government (and its European satellites), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and multinational corporations? Or is it something more than that?

In many countries, Empire has sprouted other subsidiary heads, some dangerous byproducts - nationalism, religious bigotry, fascism and, of course terrorism. All these march arm in arm with the project of corporate globalization.

Let me illustrate what I mean. India - the world's biggest democracy - is currently at the forefront of the corporate globalization project. Its "market" of one billion people is being prized open by the WTO. Corporatization and Privatization are being welcomed by the Government and the Indian elite.

It is not a coincidence that the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the Disinvestment Minister - the men who signed the deal with Enron in India, the men who are selling the country's infrastructure to corporate multinationals, the men who want to privatize water, electricity, oil, coal, steel, health, education and telecommunication - are all members or admirers of the RSS. The RSS is a right wing, ultra-nationalist Hindu guild which has openly admired Hitler and his methods.

The dismantling of democracy is proceeding with the speed and efficiency of a Structural Adjustment Program. While the project of corporate globalization rips through people's lives in India, massive privatization, and labor "reforms" are pushing people off their land and out of their jobs. Hundreds of impoverished farmers are committing suicide by consuming pesticide. Reports of starvation deaths are coming in from all over the country.

While the elite journeys to its imaginary destination somewhere near the top of the world, the dispossessed are spiraling downwards into crime and chaos.
This climate of frustration and national disillusionment is the perfect breeding ground, history tells us, for fascism.

The two arms of the Indian Government have evolved the perfect pincer action. While one arm is busy selling India off in chunks, the other, to divert attention, is orchestrating a howling, baying chorus of Hindu nationalism and religious fascism. It is conducting nuclear tests, rewriting history books, burning churches, and demolishing mosques. Censorship, surveillance, the suspension of civil liberties and human rights, the definition of who is an Indian citizen and who is not, particularly with regard to religious minorities, is becoming common practice now.

Last March, in the state of Gujarat, two thousand Muslims were butchered in a State-sponsored pogrom. Muslim women were specially targeted. They were stripped, and gang-raped, before being burned alive. Arsonists burned and looted shops, homes, textiles mills, and mosques.

More than a hundred and fifty thousand Muslims have been driven from their homes. The economic base of the Muslim community has been devastated.

While Gujarat burned, the Indian Prime Minister was on MTV promoting his new poems. In January this year, the Government that orchestrated the killing was voted back into office with a comfortable majority. Nobody has been punished for the genocide. Narendra Modi, architect of the pogrom, proud member of the RSS, has embarked on his second term as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. If he were Saddam Hussein, of course each atrocity would have been on CNN. But since he's not - and since the Indian "market" is open to global investors - the massacre is not even an embarrassing inconvenience.

There are more than one hundred million Muslims in India. A time bomb is ticking in our ancient land.

All this to say that it is a myth that the free market breaks down national barriers. The free market does not threaten national sovereignty, it undermines democracy.

As the disparity between the rich and the poor grows, the fight to corner resources is intensifying. To push through their "sweetheart deals," to corporatize the crops we grow, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the dreams we dream, corporate globalization needs an international confederation of loyal, corrupt, authoritarian governments in poorer countries to push through unpopular reforms and quell the mutinies.

Corporate Globalization - or shall we call it by its name?
Imperialism - needs a press that pretends to be free. It needs courts that pretend to dispense justice.

Meanwhile, the countries of the North harden their borders and stockpile weapons of mass destruction. After all they have to make sure that it's only money, goods, patents and services that are globalized. Not the free movement of people. Not a respect for human rights. Not international treaties on racial discrimination or chemical and nuclear weapons or greenhouse gas emissions or climate change, or - god forbid - justice.

So this - all this - is "empire." This loyal confederation, this obscene accumulation of power, this greatly increased distance between those who make the decisions and those who have to suffer them.

Our fight, our goal, our vision of Another World must be to eliminate that distance.

So how do we resist "Empire"?

The good news is that we're not doing too badly. There have been major victories. Here in Latin America you have had so many - in Bolivia, you have Cochabamba. In Peru, there was the uprising in Arequipa, In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez is holding on, despite the U.S. government's best efforts.

And the world's gaze is on the people of Argentina, who are trying to refashion a country from the ashes of the havoc wrought by the IMF.

In India the movement against corporate globalization is gathering momentum and is poised to become the only real political force to counter religious fascism.

As for corporate globalization's glittering ambassadors - Enron, Bechtel, WorldCom, Arthur Anderson - where were they last year, and where are they now?

And of course here in Brazil we must ask ...who was the president last year, and who is it now?

Still ... many of us have dark moments of hopelessness and despair. We know that under the spreading canopy of the War Against Terrorism, the men in suits are hard at work.

While bombs rain down on us, and cruise missiles skid across the skies, we know that contracts are being signed, patents are being registered, oil pipelines are being laid, natural resources are being plundered, water is being privatized, and George Bush is planning to go to war against Iraq.

If we look at this conflict as a straightforward eye-ball to eye-ball confrontation between "Empire" and those of us who are resisting it, it might seem that we are losing.

But there is another way of looking at it. We, all of us gathered here, have, each in our own way, laid siege to "Empire."

We may not have stopped it in its tracks - yet - but we have stripped it down. We have made it drop its mask. We have forced it into the open. It now stands before us on the world's stage in all it's brutish, iniquitous nakedness.

Empire may well go to war, but it's out in the open now - too ugly to behold its own reflection. Too ugly even to rally its own people. It won't be long before the majority of American people become our allies.

Only a few days ago in Washington, a quarter of a million people marched against the war on Iraq. Each month, the protest is gathering momentum.

Before September 11th 2001 America had a secret history. Secret especially from its own people. But now America's secrets are history, and its history is public knowledge. It's street talk.

Today, we know that every argument that is being used to escalate the war against Iraq is a lie. The most ludicrous of them being the U.S. Government's deep commitment to bring democracy to Iraq.

Killing people to save them from dictatorship or ideological corruption is, of course, an old U.S. government sport. Here in Latin America, you know that better than most.

Nobody doubts that Saddam Hussein is a ruthless dictator, a murderer (whose worst excesses were supported by the governments of the United States and Great Britain). There's no doubt that Iraqis would be better off without him.

But, then, the whole world would be better off without a certain Mr. Bush. In fact, he is far more dangerous than Saddam Hussein.

So, should we bomb Bush out of the White House?

It's more than clear that Bush is determined to go to war against Iraq, regardless of the facts - and regardless of international public opinion.

In its recruitment drive for allies, The United States is prepared to invent facts.

The charade with weapons inspectors is the U.S. government's offensive, insulting concession to some twisted form of international etiquette. It's like leaving the "doggie door" open for last minute "allies" or maybe the United Nations to crawl through.

But for all intents and purposes, the New War against Iraq has begun.

What can we do?

We can hone our memory, we can learn from our history. We can continue to build public opinion until it becomes a deafening roar.

We can turn the war on Iraq into a fishbowl of the U.S. government's excesses.

We can expose George Bush and Tony Blair - and their allies - for the cowardly baby killers, water poisoners, and pusillanimous long-distance >bombers that they are.

We can re-invent civil disobedience in a million different ways. In other words, we can come up with a million ways of becoming a collective pain in the ass.

When George Bush says "you're either with us, or you are with the terrorists" we can say "No thank you." We can let him know that the people of the world do not need to choose between a Malevolent Mickey Mouse and the Mad Mullahs.

Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness - and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe.

The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling - their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.

Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.


Arundhati Roy
Porto Alegre, Brazil
January 27, 2003


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DISINFORMATION ALERT: THE 50-50 LIE
Cheryl Seal 10:54pm Sat Mar 22 '03

This classic disinformation technique is used to inflate the opinion the corporate media wants to promote, while minimizing any dissent against that opinion. To add an even more egregious dimension of cynical fraud to this crime, it is billed by the perpetrators as "unbiased news."

In the 50-50 lie, instead of reporting the actual fact that the number of people moved to take to the streets to protest the war totally overwhelms those willing to protest in favor, the networks or newspapers report that "protests both for and against the war are being staged." Conspicuously absent from such reports is any mention of comparative numbers of protests and protestors involved. The implication is everything, the truth nothing. Here's a classic example: At the height of this week's international protests involving millions, one headline on AOL's main page (AOL is the FOX of the Internet), described this historic situation as a "Mixed reaction to war around the world." Mixed reaction? That's like calling Vermont, which has the fewest non-white residents of all the states, a melting pot. This isn't unbiased reporting, this is lying by implication and it is a crime.

The reality is, the number of anti-war protestors outnumbers the number of pro-war protestors by, at the LEAST, about 100,000 to 100. The largest protest the pro-war people have mustered is about 6,000, near Valley Forge in PA. And, it was recently revealed that these protests had been funded by the corporate media giant, CLEAR CHANNEL i.e, they were a rightwing corporate sham and hardly a grassroots movement.

On 3/22 as FOX TV showed the hundreds of thousands of protestors in NYC that that filled all of Broadway south of Times Square, across the bottom, the banner headline said "protests for and against the war across the country." On NBC 3/23 nightly news, the footage was so slanted it was stomach-turning. The New York protests - over 200,000 people of all ages, colors, and backgrounds, was juxtaposed in a 50-50 way with a tiny protest in an ultra-rightwing, very white community in California. Then the protest in London - over 500,000 strong! - was (can you believe it?!) downplayed as being not as big as expected...HUH? Then heavily edited clips (edited to slant) of protests elsewhere were shown. A Beirut anti-war protest was billed as "Pro-Saddam Hussein" by the NBC commentator - even though the signs shown in the sea of protestors all read "NO WAR." Then, at the close of this farce, Tom Brokaw says what proof this is of a "world deeply divided." Since when is 6 billion people in several hundred nations united against a few million right swingers in, essentially, two countries, a "DIVIDED WORLD." It isn't - and that is the truth Brokaw and his pals in the Bush Corporate Empire do not want people to see.

Another 50-50 technique is to present an equal number of pro and con statements on an issue - even if the cons (or pros, depending on the case) represent a tiny minority. In truly unbiased, accurate reporting, the number of statements presented reflect the reality of your sample. If your sampling of "men on the street" includes 10 pros and one con, then you present several pros and one con, without spin or judgement. That accurately reflects reality. You do not select the weakest or flakiest pro statement and pair it with the only con - which is what the media now does.
 


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Arun Gandhi Gives Timely Talk on War and Peace
 


As our country enters war with Iraq, many Americans struggle with their feelings about the crisis. What better timing and what better person to deliver the Inaugural Gerson David Lecture than Arun Gandhi, grandson of The Mahatma who gave the world a new way of dealing with conflicts? The University of Houston's Hilton Hotel was the site of the Third Annual Social Work Awards breakfast, March 14, 2003, and Gandhi was there to talk about ''Lessons from my Grandfather.''

The keynote speaker founded the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence with his wife Sunanda in 1991. It is located in Memphis, Tennessee, where Dr. Martin Luther King, a disciple of ''The Great Soul'' tried to bring change using the principles of satyagraha (truth force). Ironically, both men of peace were killed by assassins.

Gandhi began by congratulating the award winners, saying that social work is serving the people, which ultimately is serving God. He then shared two quotations. The first concerned spending money for guns, warships and rockets which leaves ''the cold not clothed and the hungry not fed.''

 
Arun Gandhi
 
The second was ''The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.''

The audience assumed that the pronouncements were made by contemporary peace advocates, but the first was from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the second, from General Omar Bradley.

A South African-born journalist, author, lecturer and social activist, Gandhi told of growing up in a country where he was the victim of Whites because his skin was not light enough and also of Blacks because his skin was too light. As a young boy he was filled with rage, so his father decided the twelve-year-old would benefit by a stay with his grandfather in India.

Mohandas, known as Gandhiji, knew all too well the prejudice the young boy faced, since he had experienced it firsthand. He had been thrown off a train when he arrived in South Africa in 1893. The incident transformed him. He wanted to change the culture of violence and ultimately brought the world a philosophy that not only helped India to win its independence from England, but served as a beacon for world leaders. In addition to Dr. King, others like Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel credit him for the nonviolent methods they used to bring changes to their countries.

''Grandfather taught that there are two kinds of violence: passive, like hate, exploitation and anger; and physical, such as murder, wars and rape. Passive violence often fuels the fire of its active form.'' Arun was told to keep an anger journal which resembled a family tree, placing incidents throughout the day on one side or the other.

The important part was learning how to deal with that anger. His grandfather compared the emotion to electricity. Untamed, it can destroy a person and those around him. Controlled, it can be a powerful force.

He said that by striving to control 50% of our anger, we can bring about positive attitudes. ''Unfortunately negative attitudes currently prevail. Capitalism and materialism are dominant in today's world where we often think of ourselves before others in our eagerness to get to the top.''

The Mahatma gave his grandson a list of seven blunders that lead to violence in society. They are: Wealth without Work; Pleasure without Conscience; Knowledge without Character; Commerce without Morality; Science without Humanity; Worship without Sacrifice; and Politics without Principles, to which Arun added Rights without Responsibilities.

''The tragedy of 9/11 indicates that some people hate us and want to do us harm.'' Rather than declaring war on people we don't know, Arun Gandhi suggested that we examine our relationship with the rest of the world and find out why they hate us. He felt that instead of going into Iraq unilaterally, we should take a different approach.

''For the short term,'' he remarked, ''we should go to the United Nations with humility, not arrogance--as when we said 'You're either with us or against us. We'll go to Iraq either with or without you.''' He continued, ''For the long term, we should learn how best we can improve relations in the rest of the world.''

He feels we should work together, because, in his opinion, war won't solve problems. Rather, it will result in the loss of American lives, as well as those of innocent Iraqis. In addition, more terrorists will attack us on our own soil and overseas.

''Can we create secure barriers in our country, while the rest of the world destroys itself,'' he asked? ''We should reach out--share our resources and technologies.''

Gandhi agreed that Saddam Hussein is evil. A better strategy than war, he suggested, would be containment. ''It worked in the Soviet Union, which was a greater threat to us, with its nuclear weapons and strong military. We should be able to contain Saddam and his army. Let him be thrown out by his own people.''

In Gandhi's opinion, the silent majority should stand up and be counted. When asked if he shared his message with President Bush, he replied that he's tried to reach the President or anyone else in government via e-mail and internet boards. So far there has been no response.

During the Q & A session, Gandhi replied to a question about Fundamentalists in the Hindu Party today. He said that Fundamentalists made eight attempts on Gandhiji's life before succeeding in 1948. ''Grandfather made a study of all scriptures, believing there was truth in every religion. No religion is perfect. We should take nuggets of truth from each one and incorporate them within ourselves.''

Arun's answer had special meaning, as he was just elected Chair of The Interfaith Alliance (TIA) Board. The non-partisan grassroots organization has more than 150,000 members from 65 faith traditions. Under Gandhi's leadership, the association will have the benefit of the Mahatma's wisdom, passed to new generations. Hopefully, lessons of love, respect and understanding will bring an era of peace to a troubled world.

Ellen I. Goldberg
Houston, Texas

 

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Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free)
by Arundhati Roy

Sponsored by the Center for Economic and Social Rights
May 19, 2003


In these times, when we have to race to keep abreast of the speed at which our freedoms are being snatched from us, and when few can afford the luxury of retreating from the streets for a while in order to return with an exquisite, fully formed political thesis replete with footnotes and references, what profound gift can I offer you tonight?

As we lurch from crisis to crisis, beamed directly into our brains by satellite TV, we have to think on our feet. On the move. We enter histories through the rubble of war. Ruined cities, parched fields, shrinking forests, and dying rivers are our archives. Craters left by daisy cutters, our libraries.

So what can I offer you tonight? Some uncomfortable thoughts about money,
war, empire, racism, and democracy. Some worries that flit around my brain
like a family of persistent moths that keep me awake at night.

Some of you will think it bad manners for a person like me, officially entered in the Big Book of Modern Nations as an "Indian citizen," to come here and criticize the U.S. government. Speaking for myself, I'm no flag-waver, no patriot, and am fully aware that venality, brutality, and hypocrisy are imprinted on the leaden soul of every state. But when a country ceases to be merely a country and becomes an empire, then the scale of operations changes dramatically. So may I clarify that tonight I speak as a subject of the American Empire? I speak as a slave who presumes to criticize her king.

Since lectures must be called something, mine tonight is called: Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free).

Way back in 1988, on the 3rd of July, the U.S.S. Vincennes, a missile cruiser stationed in the Persian Gulf, accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner and killed 290 civilian passengers. George Bush the First, who was at the time on his presidential campaign, was asked to comment on the incident. He said quite subtly, "I will never apologize for the United States. I don't care what the facts are."

I don't care what the facts are. What a perfect maxim for the New American
Empire. Perhaps a slight variation on the theme would be more apposite: The
facts can be whatever we want them to be.

When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey
estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC News poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported Al Qaida. None of
this opinion is based on evidence (because there isn't any). All of it is based on insinuation, auto-suggestion, and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media, otherwise known as the "Free Press," that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests.

Public support in the U.S. for the war against Iraq was founded on a multi-tiered edifice of falsehood and deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and faithfully amplified by the corporate media.

Apart from the invented links between Iraq and Al Qaida, we had the manufactured frenzy about Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction. George Bush the Lesser went to the extent of saying it would be "suicidal" for the U.S. not to attack Iraq. We once again witnessed the paranoia that a starved, bombed, besieged country was about to annihilate almighty America. (Iraq was only the latest in a succession of countries - earlier there was Cuba, Nicaragua, Libya, Grenada, and Panama.) But this time it wasn't just your ordinary brand of friendly neighborhood frenzy. It was Frenzy with a Purpose. It ushered in an old doctrine in a new bottle: the Doctrine of Pre-emptive Strike, a.k.a. The United States Can Do Whatever The Hell It Wants, And That's Official.

The war against Iraq has been fought and won and no Weapons of Mass Destruction have been found. Not even a little one. Perhaps they'll have to be planted before they're discovered. And then, the more troublesome amongst us will need an explanation for why Saddam Hussein didn't use them when his country was being invaded.

Of course, there'll be no answers. True Believers will make do with those fuzzy TV reports about the discovery of a few barrels of banned chemicals in an old shed. There seems to be no consensus yet about whether they're really chemicals, whether they're actually banned and whether the vessels they're contained in can technically be called barrels. (There were unconfirmed rumours that a teaspoonful of potassium permanganate and an old harmonica were found there too.)

Meanwhile, in passing, an ancient civilization has been casually decimated by a very recent, casually brutal nation.

Then there are those who say, so what if Iraq had no chemical and nuclear weapons? So what if there is no Al Qaida connection? So what if Osama bin
Laden hates Saddam Hussein as much as he hates the United States? Bush the
Lesser has said Saddam Hussein was a "Homicidal Dictator." And so, the reasoning goes, Iraq needed a "regime change."

Never mind that forty years ago, the CIA, under President John F. Kennedy,
orchestrated a regime change in Baghdad. In 1963, after a successful coup, the Ba'ath party came to power in Iraq. Using lists provided by the CIA, the new Ba'ath regime systematically eliminated hundreds of doctors, teachers, lawyers, and political figures known to be leftists. An entire intellectual community was slaughtered. (The same technique was used to massacre hundreds of thousands of people in Indonesia and East Timor.) The young Saddam Hussein was said to have had a hand in supervising the bloodbath. In 1979, after factional infighting within the Ba'ath Party, Saddam Hussein became the President of Iraq. In April 1980, while he was massacring Shias, the U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinksi declared, "We see no fundamental incompatibility of interests between the United States and Iraq." Washington and London overtly and covertly supported Saddam Hussein. They financed him, equipped him, armed him, and provided him with dual-use materials to manufacture weapons of mass destruction. They supported his worst excesses financially, materially, and morally. They supported the eight-year war against Iran and the 1988 gassing of Kurdish people in Halabja, crimes which 14 years later were re-heated and served up as reasons to justify invading Iraq. After the first Gulf War, the "Allies" fomented an uprising of Shias in Basra and then looked away while Saddam Hussein crushed the revolt and slaughtered thousands in an act of vengeful reprisal.

The point is, if Saddam Hussein was evil enough to merit the most elaborate,
openly declared assassination attempt in history (the opening move of
Operation Shock and Awe), then surely those who supported him ought at least
to be tried for war crimes? Why aren't the faces of U.S. and U.K. government
officials on the infamous pack of cards of wanted men and women?

Because when it comes to Empire, facts don't matter.

Yes, but all that's in the past we're told. Saddam Hussein is a monster who must be stopped now. And only the U.S. can stop him. It's an effective technique, this use of the urgent morality of the present to obscure the diabolical sins of the past and the malevolent plans for the future. Indonesia, Panama, Nicaragua, Iraq, Afghanistan - the list goes on and on. Right now there are brutal regimes being groomed for the future - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, the Central Asian Republics.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft recently declared that U.S. freedoms are
"not the grant of any government or document, but...our endowment from God."
(Why bother with the United Nations when God himself is on hand?)

So here we are, the people of the world, confronted with an Empire armed
with a mandate from heaven (and, as added insurance, the most formidable
arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in history). Here we are, confronted
with an Empire that has conferred upon itself the right to go to war at will, and the right to deliver people from corrupting ideologies, from religious fundamentalists, dictators, sexism, and poverty by the age-old, tried-and-tested practice of extermination. Empire is on the move, and Democracy is its sly new war cry. Democracy, home-delivered to your doorstep by daisy cutters. Death is a small price for people to pay for the privilege of sampling this new product: Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (bring to a boil, add oil, then bomb).

But then perhaps chinks, negroes, dinks, gooks, and wogs don't really qualify as real people. Perhaps our deaths don't qualify as real deaths. Our histories don't qualify as history. They never have.

Speaking of history, in these past months, while the world watched, the U.S.
invasion and occupation of Iraq was broadcast on live TV. Like Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the regime of Saddam Hussein simply disappeared. This was followed by what analysts called a "power vacuum."
Cities that had been under siege, without food, water, and electricity for days, cities that had been bombed relentlessly, people who had been starved and systematically impoverished by the UN sanctions regime for more than a decade, were suddenly left with no semblance of urban administration. A seven-thousand-year-old civilization slid into anarchy. On live TV.

Vandals plundered shops, offices, hotels, and hospitals. American and British soldiers stood by and watched. They said they had no orders to act. In effect, they had orders to kill people, but not to protect them. Their priorities were clear. The safety and security of Iraqi people was not their business. The security of whatever little remained of Iraq's infrastructure was not their business. But the security and safety of Iraq's oil fields were. Of course they were. The oil fields were "secured" almost before the invasion began.

On CNN and BBC the scenes of the rampage were played and replayed. TV
commentators, army and government spokespersons portrayed it as a "liberated
people" venting their rage at a despotic regime. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said: "It's untidy. Freedom's untidy and free people are free to commit crimes and make mistakes and do bad things." Did anybody know that Donald Rumsfeld was an anarchist? I wonder - did he hold the same view during the riots in Los Angeles following the beating of Rodney King? Would he care to share his thesis about the Untidiness of Freedom with the two million people being held in U.S. prisons right now? (The world's "freest"country has the highest number of prisoners in the world.) Would he discuss its merits with young African American men, 28 percent of whom will spend some part of their adult lives in jail? Could he explain why he serves under a president who oversaw 152 executions when he was governor of Texas?

Before the war on Iraq began, the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian
Assistance (ORHA) sent the Pentagon a list of 16 crucial sites to protect.
The National Museum was second on that list. Yet the Museum was not just looted, it was desecrated. It was a repository of an ancient cultural heritage. Iraq as we know it today was part of the river valley of Mesopotamia. The civilization that grew along the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates produced the world's first writing, first calendar, first library, first city, and, yes, the world's first democracy. King Hammurabi of Babylon was the first to codify laws governing the social life of citizens. It was a code in which abandoned women, prostitutes, slaves, and even animals had rights. The Hammurabi code is acknowledged not just as the birth of legality, but the beginning of an understanding of the concept of social justice. The U.S. government could not have chosen a more inappropriate land in which to stage its illegal war and display its grotesque disregard for justice.

At a Pentagon briefing during the days of looting, Secretary Rumsfeld, Prince of Darkness, turned on his media cohorts who had served him so loyally through the war. "The images you are seeing on television, you are seeing over and over and over, and it's the same picture, of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it twenty times and you say, 'My god, were there that many vases? Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?'"

Laughter rippled through the press room. Would it be alright for the poor of Harlem to loot the Metropolitan Museum? Would it be greeted with similar mirth?

The last building on the ORHA list of 16 sites to be protected was the Ministry of Oil. It was the only one that was given protection. Perhaps the occupying army thought that in Muslim countries lists are read upside down?

Television tells us that Iraq has been "liberated" and that Afghanistan is well on its way to becoming a paradise for women-thanks to Bush and Blair, the 21st century's leading feminists. In reality, Iraq's infrastructure has been destroyed. Its people brought to the brink of starvation. Its food stocks depleted. And its cities devastated by a complete administrative breakdown. Iraq is being ushered in the direction of a civil war between Shias and Sunnis. Meanwhile, Afghanistan has lapsed back into the pre-Taliban era of anarchy, and its territory has been carved up into fiefdoms by hostile warlords.

Undaunted by all this, on the 2nd of May Bush the Lesser launched his 2004
campaign hoping to be finally elected U.S. President. In what probably constitutes the shortest flight in history, a military jet landed on an aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, which was so close to shore that, according to the Associated Press, administration officials acknowledged "positioning the massive ship to provide the best TV angle for Bush's speech, with the sea as his background instead of the San Diego coastline." President Bush, who never served his term in the military, emerged from the cockpit in fancy dress - a U.S. military bomber jacket, combat boots, flying goggles, helmet. Waving to his cheering troops, he officially proclaimed victory over Iraq. He was careful to say that it was "just one victory in a war on terror Ö [which] still goes on."

It was important to avoid making a straightforward victory announcement, because under the Geneva Convention a victorious army is bound by the legal
obligations of an occupying force, a responsibility that the Bush administration does not want to burden itself with. Also, closer to the 2004 elections, in order to woo wavering voters, another victory in the "War on Terror" might become necessary. Syria is being fattened for the kill.

It was Herman Goering, that old Nazi, who said, "People can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders... All you have to do is tell them they're being attacked and denounce the pacifists for a lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

He's right. It's dead easy. That's what the Bush regime banks on. The distinction between election campaigns and war, between democracy and oligarchy, seems to be closing fast.

The only caveat in these campaign wars is that U.S. lives must not be lost. It shakes voter confidence. But the problem of U.S. soldiers being killed in combat has been licked. More or less.

At a media briefing before Operation Shock and Awe was unleashed, General
Tommy Franks announced, "This campaign will be like no other in history." Maybe he's right.

I'm no military historian, but when was the last time a war was fought like this?

After using the "good offices" of UN diplomacy (economic sanctions and weapons inspections) to ensure that Iraq was brought to its knees, its people starved, half a million children dead, its infrastructure severely damaged, after making sure that most of its weapons had been destroyed, in an act of cowardice that must surely be unrivalled in history, the "Coalition of the Willing" (better known as the Coalition of the Bullied and Bought) - sent in an invading army!

Operation Iraqi Freedom? I don't think so. It was more like Operation Let's
Run a Race, but First Let Me Break Your Knees.

As soon as the war began, the governments of France, Germany, and Russia,
which refused to allow a final resolution legitimizing the war to be passed in the UN Security Council, fell over each other to say how much they wanted the United States to win. President Jacques Chirac offered French airspace to the Anglo-American air force. U.S. military bases in Germany were open for business. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer publicly hoped for the "rapid collapse" of the Saddam Hussein regime. Vladimir Putin publicly hoped for the same. These are governments that colluded in the enforced disarming of Iraq before their dastardly rush to take the side of those who attacked it. Apart from hoping to share the spoils, they hoped Empire would honor their pre-war oil contracts with Iraq. Only the very naive could expect old Imperialists to behave otherwise.

Leaving aside the cheap thrills and the lofty moral speeches made in the UN during the run up to the war, eventually, at the moment of crisis, the unity of Western governments - despite the opposition from the majority of their people - was overwhelming.

When the Turkish government temporarily bowed to the views of 90 percent of
its population, and turned down the U.S. government's offer of billions of dollars of blood money for the use of Turkish soil, it was accused of lacking "democratic principles." According to a Gallup International poll, in no European country was support for a war carried out "unilaterally by America and its allies" higher than 11 percent. But the governments of England, Italy, Spain, Hungary, and other countries of Eastern Europe were praised for disregarding the views of the majority of their people and supporting the illegal invasion. That, presumably, was fully in keeping with democratic principles. What's it called? New Democracy? (Like Britain's New Labour?)

In stark contrast to the venality displayed by their governments, on the 15th of February, weeks before the invasion, in the most spectacular display of public morality the world has ever seen, more than 10 million people marched against the war on 5 continents. Many of you, I'm sure, were among them. They - we - were disregarded with utter disdain. When asked to react to the anti-war demonstrations, President Bush said, "It's like deciding, well, I'm going to decide policy based upon a focus group. The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security, in this case the security of the people."Democracy, the modern world's holy cow, is in crisis. And the crisis is a profound one. Every kind of outrage is being committed in the name of democracy. It has become little more than a hollow word, a pretty shell, emptied of all content or meaning. It can be whatever you want it to be. Democracy is the Free World's whore, willing to dress up, dress down, willing to satisfy a whole range of taste, available to be used and abused at will.

Until quite recently, right up to the 1980's, democracy did seem as though it might actually succeed in delivering a degree of real social justice.

But modern democracies have been around for long enough for neo-liberal capitalists to learn how to subvert them. They have mastered the technique of infiltrating the instruments of democracy - the "independent" judiciary, the "free" press, the parliament - and molding them to their purpose. The project of corporate globalization has cracked the code. Free elections, a free press, and an independent judiciary mean little when the free market has reduced them to commodities on sale to the highest bidder.

To fully comprehend the extent to which Democracy is under siege, it might be an idea to look at what goes on in some of our contemporary democracies. The World's Largest: India, (which I have written about at some length and therefore will not speak about tonight). The World's Most Interesting: South Africa. The world's most powerful: the U.S.A. And, most instructive of all, the plans that are being made to usher in the world's newest: Iraq.

In South Africa, after 300 years of brutal domination of the black majority by a white minority through colonialism and apartheid, a non-racial, multi-party democracy came to power in 1994. It was a phenomenal achievement. Within two years of coming to power, the African National Congress had genuflected with no caveats to the Market God. Its massive program of structural adjustment, privatization, and liberalization has only increased the hideous disparities between the rich and the poor. More than a million people have lost their jobs. The corporatization of basic services - electricity, water, and housing-has meant that 10 million South Africans, almost a quarter of the population, have been disconnected from water and electricity. 2 million have been evicted from their homes.

Meanwhile, a small white minority that has been historically privileged by centuries of brutal exploitation is more secure than ever before. They continue to control the land, the farms, the factories, and the abundant natural resources of that country. For them the transition from apartheid to neo-liberalism barely disturbed the grass. It's apartheid with a clean conscience. And it goes by the name of Democracy.

Democracy has become Empire's euphemism for neo-liberal capitalism.

In countries of the first world, too, the machinery of democracy has been effectively subverted. Politicians, media barons, judges, powerful corporate lobbies, and government officials are imbricated in an elaborate underhand
configuration that completely undermines the lateral arrangement of checks and balances between the constitution, courts of law, parliament, the administration and, perhaps most important of all, the independent media that form the structural basis of a parliamentary democracy. Increasingly, the imbrication is neither subtle nor elaborate.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, for instance, has a controlling interest in major Italian newspapers, magazines, television channels, and publishing houses. The Financial Times reported that he controls about 90 percent of Italy's TV viewership. Recently, during a trial on bribery charges, while insisting he was the only person who could save Italy from the left, he said, "How much longer do I have to keep living this life of sacrifices?" That bodes ill for the remaining 10 percent of Italy's TV viewership. What price Free Speech? Free Speech for whom?

In the United States, the arrangement is more complex. Clear Channel Worldwide Incorporated is the largest radio station owner in the country. It runs more than 1,200 channels, which together account for 9 percent of the market. Its CEO contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bush's election campaign. When hundreds of thousands of American citizens took to the streets to protest against the war on Iraq, Clear Channel organized pro-war patriotic "Rallies for America" across the country. It used its radio stations to advertise the events and then sent correspondents to cover them as though they were breaking news. The era of manufacturing consent has given way to the era of manufacturing news. Soon media newsrooms will drop the pretense, and start hiring theatre directors instead of journalists.

As America's show business gets more and more violent and war-like, and America's wars get more and more like show business, some interesting cross-overs are taking place. The designer who built the 250,000 dollar set in Qatar from which General Tommy Franks stage-managed news coverage of Operation Shock and Awe also built sets for Disney, MGM, and "Good Morning America."

It is a cruel irony that the U.S., which has the most ardent, vociferous defenders of the idea of Free Speech, and (until recently) the most elaborate legislation to protect it, has so circumscribed the space in which that freedom can be expressed. In a strange, convoluted way, the sound and fury that accompanies the legal and conceptual defense of Free Speech in America serves to mask the process of the rapid erosion of the possibilities of actually exercising that freedom.

The news and entertainment industry in the U.S. is for the most part controlled by a few major corporations - AOL-Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, News Corporation. Each of these corporations owns and controls TV stations, film studios, record companies, and publishing ventures. Effectively, the exits are sealed.

America's media empire is controlled by a tiny coterie of people. Chairman
of the Federal Communications Commission Michael Powell, the son of Secretary of State Colin Powell, has proposed even further deregulation of the communication industry, which will lead to even greater consolidation.

So here it is - the World's Greatest Democracy, led by a man who was not legally elected. America's Supreme Court gifted him his job. What price have American people paid for this spurious presidency?

In the three years of George Bush the Lesser's term, the American economy has lost more than two million jobs. Outlandish military expenses, corporate welfare, and tax giveaways to the rich have created a financial crisis for the U.S. educational system. According to a survey by the National Council of State Legislatures, U.S. states cut 49 billion dollars in public services, health, welfare benefits, and education in 2002. They plan to cut another 25.7 billion dollars this year. That makes a total of 75 billion dollars. Bush's initial budget request to Congress to finance the war in Iraq was 80 billion dollars.

So who's paying for the war? America's poor. Its students, its unemployed, its single mothers, its hospital and home-care patients, its teachers, and health workers.

And who's actually fighting the war?

Once again, America's poor. The soldiers who are baking in Iraq's desert sun
are not the children of the rich. Only one of all the representatives in the House of Representatives and the Senate has a child fighting in Iraq. America's "volunteer" army in fact depends on a poverty draft of poor whites, Blacks, Latinos, and Asians looking for a way to earn a living and get an education. Federal statistics show that African Americans make up 21 percent of the total armed forces and 29 percent of the U.S. army. They count for only 12 percent of the general population. It's ironic, isn't it - the disproportionately high representation of African Americans in the army and prison? Perhaps we should take a positive view, and look at this as affirmative action at its most effective. Nearly 4 million Americans (2 percent of the population) have lost the right to vote because of felony convictions. Of that number, 1.4 million are African Americans, which means that 13 percent of all voting-age Black people have been disenfranchised.

For African Americans there's also affirmative action in death. A study by the economist Amartya Sen shows that African Americans as a group have a lower life expectancy than people born in China, in the Indian State of Kerala (where I come from), Sri Lanka, or Costa Rica. Bangladeshi men have a better chance of making it to the age of forty than African American men from here in Harlem.

This year, on what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 74th birthday, President Bush denounced the University of Michigan's affirmative action program favouring Blacks and Latinos. He called it "divisive," "unfair," and "unconstitutional." The successful effort to keep Blacks off the voting rolls in the State of Florida in order that George Bush be elected was of course neither unfair nor unconstitutional. I don't suppose affirmative action for White Boys From Yale ever is.

So we know who's paying for the war. We know who's fighting it. But who will benefit from it? Who is homing in on the reconstruction contracts estimated to be worth up to one hundred billon dollars? Could it be America's poor and unemployed and sick? Could it be America's single mothers? Or America's Black and Latino minorities?

Operation Iraqi Freedom, George Bush assures us, is about returning Iraqi oil to the Iraqi people. That is, returning Iraqi oil to the Iraqi people via Corporate Multinationals. Like Bechtel, like Chevron, like Halliburton.

Once again, it is a small, tight circle that connects corporate, military, and government leadership to one another. The promiscuousness, the cross-pollination is outrageous.

Consider this: the Defense Policy Board is a government-appointed group that
advises the Pentagon. Its members are appointed by the under secretary of defense and approved by Donald Rumsfeld. Its meetings are classified. No
information is available for public scrutiny.

The Washington-based Center for Public Integrity found that 9 out of the 30 members of the Defense Policy Board are connected to companies that were
awarded defense contracts worth 76 billion dollars between the years 2001 and 2002. One of them, Jack Sheehan, a retired Marine Corps general, is a senior vice president at Bechtel, the giant international engineering outfit. Riley Bechtel, the company chairman, is on the President's Export Council. Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who is also on the Board of Directors of the Bechtel Group, is the chairman of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. When asked by the New York Times whether he was concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest, he said, "I don't know that Bechtel would particularly benefit from it. But if there's work to be done, Bechtel is the type of company that could do it."

Bechtel has been awarded a 680 million dollar reconstruction contract in Iraq. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Bechtel contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican campaign efforts.

Arcing across this subterfuge, dwarfing it by the sheer magnitude of its malevolence, is America's anti-terrorism legislation. The U.S.A. Patriot Act, passed in October 2001, has become the blueprint for similar anti-terrorism bills in countries across the world. It was passed in the House of Representatives by a majority vote of 337 to 79. According to the New York Times, "Many lawmakers said it had been impossible to truly debate or even read the legislation."

The Patriot Act ushers in an era of systemic automated surveillance. It gives the government the authority to monitor phones and computers and spy on people in ways that would have seemed completely unacceptable a few years ago. It gives the FBI the power to seize all of the circulation, purchasing, and other records of library users and bookstore customers on the suspicion that they are part of a terrorist network. It blurs the boundaries between speech and criminal activity creating the space to construe acts of civil disobedience as violating the law.

Already hundreds of people are being held indefinitely as "unlawful combatants." (In India, the number is in the thousands. In Israel, 5,000 Palestinians are now being detained.) Non-citizens, of course, have no rights at all. They can simply be "disappeared" like the people of Chile under Washington's old ally, General Pinochet. More than 1,000 people, many of them Muslim or of Middle Eastern origin, have been detained, some without access to legal representatives.

Apart from paying the actual economic costs of war, American people are paying for these wars of "liberation" with their own freedoms. For the ordinary American, the price of "New Democracy" in other countries is the death of real democracy at home.

Meanwhile, Iraq is being groomed for "liberation." (Or did they mean "liberalization" all along?) The Wall Street Journal reports that "the Bush administration has drafted sweeping plans to remake Iraq's economy in the U.S. image."

Iraq's constitution is being redrafted. Its trade laws, tax laws, and intellectual property laws rewritten in order to turn it into an American-style capitalist economy.

The United States Agency for International Development has invited U.S.
companies to bid for contracts that range between road building, water systems, text book distribution, and cell phone networks.

Soon after Bush the Second announced that he wanted American farmers to feed the world, Dan Amstutz, a former senior executive of Cargill, the biggest
grain exporter in the world, was put in charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq. Kevin Watkins, Oxfam's policy director, said, "Putting Dan Amstutz in charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq is like putting Saddam Hussein in the chair of a human rights commission."

The two men who have been short-listed to run operations for managing Iraqi oil have worked with Shell, BP, and Fluor. Fluor is embroiled in a lawsuit by black South African workers who have accused the company of exploiting and brutalizing them during the apartheid era. Shell, of course, is well known for its devastation of the Ogoni tribal lands in Nigeria.

Tom Brokaw (one of America's best-known TV anchors) was inadvertently succinct about the process. "One of the things we don't want to do," he said, "is to destroy the infrastructure of Iraq because in a few days we're going to own that country."

Now that the ownership deeds are being settled, Iraq is ready for New Democracy.

So, as Lenin used to ask: What Is To Be Done?

Well...

We might as well accept the fact that there is no conventional military force that can successfully challenge the American war machine. Terrorist strikes only give the U.S. Government an opportunity that it is eagerly awaiting to further tighten its stranglehold. Within days of an attack you can bet that Patriot II would be passed. To argue against U.S. military aggression by saying that it will increase the possibilities of terrorist strikes is futile. It's like threatening Brer Rabbit that you'll throw him into the bramble bush. Any one who has read the documents written by The Project for the New American Century can attest to that. The government's suppression of the Congressional committee report on September 11th, which found that there was intelligence warning of the strikes that was ignored, also attests to the fact that, for all their posturing, the terrorists and the Bush regime might as well be working as a team. They both hold people responsible for the actions of their governments. They both believe in the doctrine of collective guilt and collective punishment. Their actions benefit each other greatly.

The U.S. government has already displayed in no uncertain terms the range and extent of its capability for paranoid aggression. In human psychology, paranoid aggression is usually an indicator of nervous insecurity. It could be argued that it's no different in the case of the psychology of nations. Empire is paranoid because it has a soft underbelly.

Its "homeland" may be defended by border patrols and nuclear weapons, but its economy is strung out across the globe. Its economic outposts are exposed and vulnerable. Already the Internet is buzzing with elaborate lists of American and British government products and companies that should be boycotted. Apart from the usual targets - Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds - government agencies like USAID, the British DFID, British and American banks, Arthur Andersen, Merrill Lynch, and American Express could find themselves under siege. These lists are being honed and refined by activists across the world. They could become a practical guide that directs the amorphous but growing fury in the world. Suddenly, the "inevitability" of the project of Corporate Globalization is beginning to seem more than a little evitable.

It would be naive to imagine that we can directly confront Empire. Our strategy must be to isolate Empire's working parts and disable them one by one. No target is too small. No victory too insignificant. We could reverse the idea of the economic sanctions imposed on poor countries by Empire and its Allies. We could impose a regime of Peoples' Sanctions on every corporate house that has been awarded with a contract in postwar Iraq, just as activists in this country and around the world targeted institutions of apartheid. Each one of them should be named, exposed, and boycotted. Forced out of business. That could be our response to the Shock and Awe campaign. It would be a great beginning.

Another urgent challenge is to expose the corporate media for the boardroom bulletin that it really is. We need to create a universe of alternative information. We need to support independent media like Democracy Now!, Alternative Radio, and South End Press.

The battle to reclaim democracy is going to be a difficult one. Our freedoms were not granted to us by any governments. They were wrested from them by us. And once we surrender them, the battle to retrieve them is called a revolution. It is a battle that must range across continents and countries. It must not acknowledge national boundaries but, if it is to succeed, it has to begin here. In America. The only institution more powerful than the U.S. government is American civil society. The rest of us are subjects of slave nations. We are by no means powerless, but you have the power of proximity. You have access to the Imperial Palace and the Emperor's chambers. Empire's conquests are being carried out in your name, and you have the right to refuse. You could refuse to fight. Refuse to move those missiles from the warehouse to the dock. Refuse to wave that flag. Refuse the victory parade.

You have a rich tradition of resistance. You need only read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States to remind yourself of this.

Hundreds of thousands of you have survived the relentless propaganda you have been subjected to, and are actively fighting your own government. In the ultra-patriotic climate that prevails in the United States, that's as brave as any Iraqi or Afghan or Palestinian fighting for his or her homeland.

If you join the battle, not in your hundreds of thousands, but in your millions, you will be greeted joyously by the rest of the world. And you will see how beautiful it is to be gentle instead of brutal, safe instead of scared. Befriended instead of isolated. Loved instead of hated.

I hate to disagree with your president. Yours is by no means a great nation. But you could be a great people.

History is giving you the chance.

Seize the time.