"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Thursday, October 14, 2004

"Ghosts of Attica"

Here's a choice quote from this very interesting and chilling documentary revisiting the story of the Attica prison uprising of 1971. There was a great line from one the surviving hostages (prison guards) who said...

"I don't know another employer that could shoot and kill their employees and get away with it. Except the government."

This occured during Rockefeller's time as Governor of New York. It's a long story and deepens the mystery of how most of these people ever came to power (by "democratic" means).



Whats her point?

melanie (melanie phillips of Daily mail and Guardian fame),

In your recent post you proclaim that "These occupations are not illegal." How would you descibe them, when even an Israeli Prime Minister is willing to accept that Israelis have taken the Palestinians country?

David Ben Gurion (the first Israeli Prime Minister): "If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault ? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?" (Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pp121)

Ben Gurion also warned in 1948 : "We must do everything to insure they ( the Palestinians) never do return." Assuring his fellow Zionists that Palestinians will never come back to their homes. "The old will die and the young will forget."

Yours sincerely,


Without seeing the context for these quotes I cannot comment. I expect, however, that Ben Gurion was referring to what the Arabs themselves thought. As for never returning, he was after all talking about people who had tried to kill Jews and destroy Israel against the will of the world. As for your fuirst sentence, I'm afraid this shows your ignorance. It was not the Palestinians' country. At that stage there were no Palestinians, merely Arabs who lived in Palestine and who thought of themselves as part of the wider Arab nation. It did not belong to them at all. It had been run by Britain since 1920 when the League of Nations had given it a mandate to administer Palestine and set up within it a Jewish national home.

Melanie Phillips


It is not my intention to discuss semantics, but if you re-read my original e-mail you will notice my referral to Palestine as a country is not based on my own 'ignorance' but on the words used by then Prime Minister Ben Gurion. When you write "administer Palestine and set up within it a Jewish home", what is this 'Palestine' if not a country? Asserting Palestinians were not Palastinians "merely Arabs who lived in Palestine" is a basic fallacy, was it simply the League of Nations grant of mandate that created Palestinians, using the same logic I could derive the fact that there is no such thing as Iraqis, Sudanese, Iranians etc. I don't dispute the fact that some Palestinians have killed Israeli people, but you know this is far more complex than this acerate condensation of the conflict. In reference to belonging, this is a nonsensical term in this context, do you consider the present israeli inhabitants owners of Israel? If so, where is their 'reciept'?

Yours sincerely,


Dear oh dear. Do learn some elementary history. Ben Gurion referred to it as Palestine because... that's what it was called at that time. It had never been a sovereign country, but was a benighted and largely abandoned part of the Ottoman empire. The Arabs who lived there were not 'Palestinians' any more than the Jews who lived there -- and who had equal claim to the term, not least because the Jews were there first. The point is that although there was a place called for temporary adminstrative purposes Palestine, the Arabs who lived there did not have any ethnic affiliation to the place, no distinctive culture or language or history belonging to 'Palestine' because they were part instead of a fluid and mobile Arab body and moved in and out. If they thought of themselves as anything more particular it tended to be 'southern Syrians' or Egyptians.

This correspondence is now closed.

Melanie Phillips


another, what's her point?

"For many die-hard opponents of the war, this furore must seem like winning the lottery. It enables them to redouble the odious charge that George Bush is as bad as Saddam Hussein. And with the ignominious US retreat in Fallujah and the continuing struggle in Najaf, it lets them claim that the war in Iraq is all but lost and the coalition should now pull out.

Yet this would mean civil war in Iraq, the likely return of tyranny and a renewed threat to the west — quite apart from the enormous encouragement to rogue states and the terror factories they sponsor to redouble their murderous activities."

I'll think you'll find melanie, this is the exact opposite of winning the lottery. This is one of many inflictions (and possibly the least, taking account of death, burns, bullet wounds, loss of family, loss of freedom etc.) the anti-war movement considered.

"No, the gravest peril lies in the possible collapse of nerve in the west itself. The scandal has handed a potent weapon to those gunning for both President Bush and Tony Blair and who have every interest in milking the crisis, however destructive this might prove in Iraq itself.

This faction, dominant among the British and European establishment and now making headway in the US, already has blood on its hands for preaching defeatism and appeasement at every turn, thus encouraging the insurgents in Iraq who know how to turn the screw and divide the coalition still further."

I think you'll find melanie, that the 'gravest peril' lies not within those of us in the west that think maybe (not really maybe) Bush and Blair are greedy, pseudo regnant war criminals who don't deserve to run democratic countries, but in the fact that in all probability the culprits of these crimes will get away scot free. Therefore allowing these horrific acts to continue in US/UK 'detention centres' across the world.

"The result is that an already hostile or queasy public may finally turn against the war and destroy the political will to continue down the long and difficult path to peace. If the scandal destroys popular belief in the justice of what we are doing, defeatism will gain an unstoppable momentum."

I think you'll find melanie, that the only queasiness the public (is this the millions that marched aganist the war, or the 'millions' who got out and marched for the war) may feel is in seeing dead iraqi children in the news each day or iraqi prisoners of war tortured by their 'saviours'.

"Personally, I never believed the war was justified on the grounds of bringing superior moral values to Iraq, but simply to defend the west against the lethal confluence — exemplified by Saddam’s regime — of rogue states, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. And I still believe that to be true."

I think you'll find melanie, your head is buried in the sand. Purposely.

Thank you for your time. Yours sincerely,


Thank you very much indeed for your remarks, which I have read with great interest. I am sorry you disagreed with what I wrote. However, your message was most illuminating, and I am grateful to you for taking the trouble to write.

Melanie Phillips

Thank you for your swift and open minded reply.

Considering your recent 'illumination' I was wondering if you could explain a few things in reference to your assertion "....defend the west against the lethal confluence — exemplified by Saddam’s regime — of rogue states, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.":

1) United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter "We know we had no information that suggested it was still in existence."

"I, for one, believe that a.) Iraq represents a threat to no one, and b.) Iraq will not represent a threat to anyone if we can get weapons inspectors back in. Iraq will accept these inspectors if we agree to the immediate lifting of economic sanctions. The Security Council should re-evaluate Iraq's disarmament obligation from a qualitative standpoint and not quantitative standpoint."

Edward Herman (Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

"....the United States is well able to defend itself and has overwhelming retaliatory capability, and even Israel would threaten a level of retaliation that precludes Saddam's using those weapons offensively against it even if he had them.

What is more, he has no delivery systems that would allow him to reach U.S. targets. He has used WMD in the past, but only when the United States supplied him with and protected his use of such weapons (against Iran, a U.S. enemy), the United States even going so far as to prevent condemnation of Saddam's methods in the Security Council (for details see the Labour Party "counter- dossier," Sept. 21, 2002: http://www.traprockpeace.org)."

In reference to WMD.

2) President Bush "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

President Bush “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere,”
“No, no weapons over there”
“Maybe under here?”

3) Noam Chomsky "Has Saddam ever posed a threat to the US? The idea verges on absurdity. Up to 1990, when he was committed by far his worst crimes, he was a friend and ally of those running the show in Washington today. Far from seeing him as a threat, they even provided him with means to develop weapons of mass destruction."

4) CDISS "Most biological agents also degrade rapidly, although dry agents such as anthrax spores and some toxins, are persistent. Such agents could also pose long-lasting hazards, (anthrax spores may persist in the soil in deadly form for decades), meaning that areas an attacker wishes to move across or occupy may remain contaminated, necessitating the use of protective equipment and / or decontamination for attacking forces. The weaponisation (storage and delivery) of biological agents also poses technical hurdles."

These facts only make it simpler for biologicals agents to be found. Also due to their natural degradation any weapons that may be found in the near future must have been produced in the recent past.

5) "Bin Laden always loathed Saddam Hussein. He hated the Iraqi leader's un-Islamic behaviour, his secularism, his use of religion to encourage loyalty to a Baath party that was co-founded by a Christian. America's attempt to link al-Qa'ida to the Baghdad regime has always been one of the most preposterous of Washington's claims." Has He Taken Refuge In Saudi Arabia by Robert Fisk The Independent

President Bush "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th."

"We've never been able to develop any more of that yet, either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it," Dick Cheney

In reference to an allegation - doubted by many in the intelligence community - that Mohamed Atta, the lead Sept. 11 attacker, met a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Prague five months before Sept. 11.

In other words, if not to remove an evil dictator, why?

Thanks again for your time,

Yours sincerely,



Exert: "America: Rogue State "

"1991 - Present
American/British State Terrorism of the Iraqi People
Estimated total civilian deaths: at least 200,000 people directly from the 1991 terror campaign;
1,000,000 - 2,000,000 people since then from the combined effects of depleted uranium poisoning, polluted water and sanctions
Like the terrorization of the entire civilian population of Yugoslavia, the so-called Gulf "War" was in fact a cowardly, high-tech slaughter, a total mismatch of military power. 177 million pounds of bombs were dropped on the people of Iraq in the most concentrated aerial bombardment in the history of the world. Sadistic American forces even slaughtered retreating Iraqi soldiers as they tried to flee along a highway back to Iraq."

haven't read it, but there are some more extracts at:



to Andrew Sullivan

You wrote:

"Yes, much of this is myth. But myth matters. A nation that is not
built on race or creed or an ancient history must build itself on
something else. And Americans built themselves on an idea of liberty
and wrapped it in the myth of elsewhere."

I was wondering where the American Indian fits into your land of
'embedded sanctity', how did the American Indian prosper in what you
describe as a place where "Its founders saw....as a place apart" a
place "to escape persecution....where their tormentors could not
follow." What torment did the American Indian escape 'to'. This rose
coloured picture you attempt to paint is understandable in light of
the attrocity of 9/11, but the fact is America has a long history of
minority (in the case of African slaves, the African-American
people, the American Indian, Mexican immigrants etc) persecution,
which, to attempt to pass off as a myth but "a myth that matters. A
nation that is not built on race or creed or an ancient history must
build itself on something else. And Americans built themselves on an
idea of liberty and wrapped it in the myth of elsewhere" is
basically intimating that in your opinion, it is true.

The purpose of this historically eulogistic piece is not evident
until you mention the "demons" who "have done....something that
reflects not an ignorance of America. The war they have launched is
based on a fierce insight into the American psyche." This is not
disputable, the actions of those responsible for 9/11 and the
bombing in Madrid is unforgivable, but as the piece continues the
terrorists become more general, until it becomes clear that
terrorists are the Arab people, "They have seen that, as Israel has
been pounded by the same murderous thugs." Your coloured view of
history continues with "This country is at its heart a peaceful one.
It has done more to help the world than any other actor in world
history. It saved the world from the two greatest evils of the last
century in Nazism and Soviet Communism" where you fail to even
envisage a reason why these terrorists commit such acts. The US is
not the peaceful omnipotance you entertain, but one envloved in
dirty dealings, arms sales, government coups, dictator support etc,
American politicans are not infallible, neither are histories most
famous (not in-famous) leaders (Churchill "I do not understand the
squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using
poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes.").

You are right to assert that "they have no ability to match American
military force, they chose to use no weaponry at all". Then you
begin to realise that terrorism is closer to home "The Muslim sect
that pioneered the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993
was connected to Osama bin Laden, but had as its inspiration a
demonic mullah who lived in New Jersey," but you fail to connect the
dots between the terrorists and those who trained the terrorists.
The CIA are much closer to home, perhaps too close.

I would also like to bring to your attention two other things
Abraham Lincoln stated, "Those who deny freedom to others, deserve
it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain
it;" "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This
expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the
extent of the difference, is no democracy."

On a final note, do you think it appropriate to refer to dropping
two atomic bombs (resulting in 260,000 civillians killed, wounded or
missing) on Japan as getting "down to business."

and, on April 23rd 2004


After reading your article "hope for iraq" I was stumped by the use of the word "hyped" in reference to news emanating from Iraq in the last few weeks. I wonder how infact the news of "fierce fighting" as some newspapers like to describe could possibly be "hyped." I don't wish to linger on this one word, but hype insinuates "sensational promotion" which is far from the truth. The truth for that matter is that the reporting of events in Falluja has been, for the most part, biased towards the anguish endured by coalition troops. Further confusion arises when you refer to the Iraqi "insurgents" as only trying to appear to cause chaos. In this line of thinking, do Iraqi civillians only appear dead, half mutilated or burnt beyond recognition. Because if this is case then thank you for informing me, I will cease feeling any remorse for countries role in this war. This critisim may seem glib, but that is not my intention. The ongoing violence in Iraq is claiming the lives of many innocent civillians (to amend your figures, the actual ratio of 10 to 1 was Iraqi civillians and insurgents to US troops, the order here representing the most casualties to the least) which is not being fully realised in the popular press. Thank you for your time.



Hash makes people kill (other people)

in response to:

December 09, 2003
Marijuana madness
Yet more evidence that cannabis -- far from being the soft, relatively harmless drug we are constantly told it is -- can be a killer. That is to say, it can make users kill other people. A teenager, Jamie Lee Osbourne, stabbed a milkman to death using a 12-inch blade after having 'delusional fantasies' as a heavy smoker of cannabis. His barrister told the court that Osbourne's personality changed as he took cannabis and turned to alcohol. 'Cannabis is a great disinhibitor. He began to have less inhibitions and almost delusional fantasies about getting money'.

Indeed. There is ample evidence about the link between cannabis and psychosis, and more and more evidence that cannabis is implicated in violent death. It is not so much that users turn to crime to feed their habit; it is more that the drug 'disinhibits' them by destroying those parts of the brain that deal in cognition and produce any kind of moral sense. All this is quite clear from the research evidence. Yet the government has reclassified cannabis to be on a par with slimming pills, and has all but decriminalised it. That's surely another kind of madness.

Posted by melanie at December 9, 2003 04:55 PM


Having just read your latest post, I was surprised to read you linking a seriously violent crime with the use of cannabis. Have you any factual evidence concerning violent behaviour and cannabis use/miss-use. Would it not have been more responsible to reason that the violence may have been aggravated by the consumption of alcohol, which it is widely known and scientifically proven to cause increased levels of aggression.
Alcohol may encourage aggression or violence by disrupting normal brain function. According to the disinhibition hypothesis, for example, alcohol weakens brain mechanisms that normally restrain impulsive behaviors, including inappropriate aggression (1. By impairing information processing, alcohol can also lead a person to misjudge social cues, thereby overreacting to a perceived threat (2). Simultaneously, a narrowing of attention may lead to an inaccurate assessment of the future risks of acting on an immediate violent impulse (3).
Alcohol is the main cause of violent acts commited in England.
"During the 1997 General Election Mr Jack Straw, now Home Secretary, pointed out that "every year, there are almost 1.5 million victims of violent attacks committed by people under the influence of drink. Every weekend, people avoid their home and city centres for fear that they will be attacked or intimidated by drunken youths. This cannot continue."
If you personally believe cannabis to be the offender in this incident a balanced perspective would allow the reader to make up their own mind.
Thank you for your time.