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Volume 55, Issue 02 (June)

June 2003 (Volume 55, Number 2)

June 2003 (Volume 55, Number 2)

Notes from the Editors

The chief, indeed the only, justification that Washington offered for its invasion of Iraq during its build-up for war between September 2002 and March 2003,was the need to “disarm” an Iraqi regime that Washington contended had broken UN resolutions banning weapons of mass destruction in that country. The problem, though, was that there was no hard evidence that Iraq, which had effectively destroyed its weapons of mass destruction in the 1990s under UN supervision, had any such weapons—or if it did that they were functional and constituted a significant threat. Nevertheless, the Bush administration continued to insist (based on speculation, hearsay, and what turned out to be fabricated evidence) that Iraq had such banned weapons in significant quantities and was actually deploying them. In an extraordinary propaganda campaign in which the whole mainstream media took part, the U.S. population was led to believe that they were in imminent danger of attack from these phantom weapons and had no choice but to support a pre-emptive invasion of that country

The ‘Left-Wing’ Media?

If we learn nothing else from the war on Iraq and its subsequent occupation, it is that the U.S. ruling class has learned to make ideological warfare as important to its operations as military and economic warfare. A crucial component of this ideological war has been the campaign against “left-wing media bias,” with the objective of reducing or eliminating the prospect that mainstream U.S. journalism might be at all critical toward elite interests or the system set up to serve those interests. In 2001 and 2002, no less than three books purporting to demonstrate the media’s leftward tilt rested high atop the bestseller list. Such charges have already influenced media content, pushing journalists to be less critical of right-wing politics. The result has been to reinforce the corporate and rightist bias already built into the media system.

Militarism and the Coming Wars

It is not for the first time in history that militarism weighs on the consciousness of the people as a nightmare. To go into detail would take far too long. However, here it should be enough to go back in history only as far as the nineteenth century when militarism, as a major instrument of policy making, came into its own, with the unfolding of modern imperialism on a global scale, in contrast to its earlier—much more limited—varieties. By the last third of the nineteenth century the British and French Empires were not the only prominent rulers of vast territories. The United States, too, made its heavy imprint by directly or indirectly taking over the former colonies of the Spanish Empire in Latin America, adding to them the bloody repression of a great liberation struggle in the Philippines and installing themselves as rulers in that area in a way which still persists in one form or another. Nor should we forget the calamities caused by “Iron Chancellor” Bismarck’s imperialist ambitions and their aggravated pursuit later on by his successors, resulting in the eruption of the First World War and its deeply antagonistic aftermath, bringing with it Hitler’s Nazi revanchism and thereby very clearly foreshadowing the Second World War itself

After Neoliberalism: Empire, Social Democracy, or Socialism?

What comes after neoliberalism? To answer that question we must ask a more fundamental question: What do neoliberalism and neoconservatism have in common with the antiglobalization and antiwar movements? The answer is that all ostensibly share a focus on redefining democracy in the contemporary world system. “Spreading democracy” is the rallying cry of both the Washington Consensus and the Bush Doctrine. The “Washington Consensus” is the claim that global neoliberalism and core finance capital’s economic control of the periphery and the entire world by means of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only realistic alternative to misery and disaster. The “Bush Doctrine” is the bald neoconservative justification of U.S. global military domination and preemptive war—as part of a renewed attempt to make the world safe for democracy. For the antiglobalization and antiwar movements these establishment doctrines, insofar as they profess to be “spreading democracy,” are nothing but window dressing for the global dictatorship of the U.S. and core corporate governing elites. While focusing their attack on the institutions that enforce this dictatorship, these movements also strive to create an alternative, a genuine participatory democracy

‘Let Fury Have the Hour’: The Passionate Politics of Joe Strummer

Joe Strummer, the pioneering punk rock musician, former front man of the Clash, and political activist, died of a rare heart condition at his home in Somerset, Broomfield, England at the age of fifty on December 22, 2002. Barely twenty-five years earlier the Clash burst onto the London music scene to become one of the great rebel rock bands of all time-fusing a mélange of musical styles, with riotous live performances, and left-wing political activism, that inspires many to this day

Back to the Motherland: Cuba in Africa

Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959–1976 (University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 576 pages, cloth $34.95, paper $24.95.

Angola is by most accounts a decimated, nearly hopeless land, ruined by more than three decades of war. But there was a moment in the mid-seventies when this former Portuguese colony shone as a beacon of hope for all Africa. It was here that the mythic power of white military supremacy was smashed by black troops from Angola and Cuba. And though the role of Cuban volunteers in this victory inspired Africans and left internationals everywhere, the details of the story have remained largely hidden and even in Cuba, uncelebrated