Progressive Calendar 03.17.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2010 07:45:01 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   03.17.10

1, Alliant vigil      3.17 7am
2. Young survivors    3.17 11am
3. Iraq war vigil     3.17 5pm
4. St Pat ceili       3.17 7pm
5. Irish/Black Dog    3.17 7:30pm

6. Eagan peace vigil  3.18 4:30pm
7. Northtown vigil    3.18 5pm
8. Gitmo/Justice dept 3.18 7pm
9. Russia/Putin       3.18 7pm
10. Amnesty Intl      3.18 7:15pm
11. Cuba/film         3.18 7:30pm

12. Ralph Nader  - The filibuster flim flam
13. Seamus Cooke - The anti-teacher hysteria/ Why teachers' unions matter
14. B Cloughley  - They still hate America because nothing has changed

--------1 of 14-------

From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at]>
Subject: Alliant vigil 3.17 7am

Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am
Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday
morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems,
7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie.
We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies?
directions and lots of info:

--------2 of 14--------

From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: Young survivors 3.17 11am

KFAI - 90.3FM-Minneapolis/106.7FM Saint Paul and STREAMING at
BEATING THE ODDS: Rising Above It All

Not all young people can do it, not even all former recipients of the
Childrens Defense Funds (CDF) Beat the Odds awards, given each year to
four true survivors of the adversity so many youngsters experience in the
face of poverty, parental loss and/or abuse and discouraging behavior by
some of the trusted adults in their lives. Last Friday, CDF-Minnesota held
its 18th annual Beat the Odds celebration in Minneapolis. The four
awardees tell stories that make you wonder if anyone could surmount the
obstacles thrown in their paths to adulthood and productive citizenship,
but these four have, at least so far, with no particular reason to fail
now. Well hear those stories straight from the ponies mouths this week,
along with some of the background and history of both the Childrens
Defense Fund and the Beat the Odds selection process itself. The CDF
itself concentrates its efforts on giving voice and assistance to children
in a variety of settings, especially kids in poverty and minority
communities, or with disabilities.

All four high-schoolers join TTT ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN
in the studio Wednesday morning.
 KRISTAL VANG  Harding High School, St. Paul
 JASMINE (JAZZ) CALDWELL  Edison High School, Minneapolis
 AMANDA KELLEY- Johnson Senior High School, St. Paul
 BRIAN ANDERSON  South St. Paul High School
 JIM KOPPEL  Regional Director, Childrens Defense Fund of Minnesota

--------3 of 14-------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Iraq war vigil 3.17 5pm

Special Vigil on the Lake Street/Marshall Avenue Bridge: "War on
Iraq: Seven Years Too Long"
Wednesday, March 17; 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Lake Street/Marshall Avenue Bridge
spanning the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Not One More Death - Not One More Dollar! Withdraw all Troops and Military
Contractors From Iraq and Afghanistan Now! These illegal, endless wars
have not made us more safe, as our government would have us believe.
They have resulted in immeasurable human costs and have fueled the
economic crisis at home; depriving us of the funds needed for investments
in jobs, health care, education, housing and environmental protection.
Join us for this special vigil to say "War is not the Answer." Sponsored
by: the Twin Cities peace Campaign and WAMM. FFI: Call Marie,

[Wars R US
White and black and Rep and Dem presidents agree, Wars are good for the
ruling clASS, so kill on kill on kill on. And they will, and who can or
will stop them? They can do anything they want with total impunity. And
we call ourselves a democracy.  -ed]

--------4 of 14--------

From: mnfolkfestival [at]
Subject: St Pat ceili 3.17 7pm

St. Patrick's Day Irish Ceili Dance
19th Annual Irish Ceili Dance
CSPS Hall - St. Paul, MN
383 Michigan Avenue, St. Paul, MN
(near St. Clair Avenue just off of West 7th Street - Upstairs from the
Glockenspiel Restaurant)

Music:  Barra - Minnesota's Best Loved Ceili Band
Dance Instruction:  Ann Wiberg

7 p.m. - $9.50 at the door.  Seniors, 62+, and children 6 to 16 are $4.75,
children under 5 are free.

The annual Irish dance for St. Patrick's Day.  This is considered to be
the largest Irish dance that takes place throughtout the year and it's at
the CSPS Hall, a historic vaudeville hall built around the turn of the
century with a wonderful wood dance floor.  CSPS stands for
Czeck-Slovakian Preservation Society and they've done a wonderful job of
taking care of this great building.

All the dances are taught and beginners are welcome.  Beverages (soda,
water, Summit beer) and desserts will be available.

Would you like to be a volunteer to help with the concession area or
tickets?  By helping for 1.5 hours you get in free and have free beverages
and desserts.  If interested, please send me an email at
mnfolkarts [at] or call me at 651-357-0400.

Sponsored by the Minnesota Folk Arts Alliance - with
kind support from the Summit Brewing Company. For more info:

--------5 of 14--------

From: Richard Broderick <richb [at]>
Subject: Irish/Black Dog 3.17 7:30pm

I plan on spending some of the evening talking about the rich
revolutionary tradition of Ireland and the fact that the Easter 1916
insurgents as well as the leaders of the successful uprising a few years
later were well aware of the unbreakable connection between capitalism and
imperialism. -Rich

"The Next Parish Over," March 17, 7:30 p.m., The Black Dog Café, an
evening of music, stories, poetry and food from Ireland and the Irish
diaspora featuring Tim Nolan, Diane Jarvi, Rich Broderick, and Mike
Finley, music by Diane Jarvi, and by The Mighty Fine Wake Band. The Black
Dog Café is located at 308 Prince Street St Paul. (651) 228-9274. On
street parking is limited but available, off-street parking is available
behind the Black Dog for $1 for the entire evening. For more information,
email richb [at]

--------6 of 14--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 3.18 4:30pm

PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of
Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and
candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south
of the river speaking out against war.

--------7 of 14--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 3.18 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------8 of 14--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Gitmo/Justice dept 3.18 7pm

March 18:  American Association of University Women St. Paul Branch
Meeting. 5:30 PM: Social Hour. 6 PM: Dinner. 7 PM: The Guantanamo Review
and Other Pertinent Work of the Justice Department. 990 Summit, St. Paul.

--------9 of 14--------

From: Joe Schwartzberg <schwa004 [at]>
Subject: Russia/Putin 3.18 7pm

Free and open to the public.
Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church,
511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis
(at Lyndale & Hennepin). Park in church lot.
Thursday, March 18, 7:00 - 9:00 pm.


In the wake of Russia's failed experiment with democracy in the
1990s,Yeltsin's successor, Vladimir Putin, has forged a political culture
synthesizing the autocratic and nationalist elements of the Tsarist and
Soviet traditions. Above all else, he has restored in the executive office
- first as President, now and Prime Minister - the traditions of Russian
autocracy as the cornerstone of the state.  His personalization of power
has even extended to the fostering of a "cult of personality" in the
Stalinist style.  In foreign affairs, Putin's priorities fall upon, first
of all, the re-assertion that the core lands of the former Soviet Union
are "a sphere of Russian's special interest" and, secondly, the
restitution of Russia as a global power.

Presenter: Professor Nick Hayes. A professor of history, Hayes holds the
University Chair in Critical Thinking at Saint John's University. He is a
frequent and popular commentator on international affairs for public
television and radio and a contributing writer for
(  His book, And One Fine Morning Memories of
My Father ( memoir.htm) will be
published this March.  He is currently working on a book of his essays on
Russia from the Brezhnev era to the present. Among his scholarly awards
are grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford
Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation.

Sponsors: Minnesota Chapter, Citizens for Global Solutions, United Nations
Association of Minnesota, Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, Social
Concerns Committee of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church

--------10 of 14--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 3.18 7:15pm

AIUSA Group 315 (Wayzata area) meets Thursday, March 18th, at 7:15 p.m.
St. Luke Presbyterian Church, 3121 Groveland School Road, Wayzata (near
the intersection of Rt. 101 and Minnetonka Blvd). For further information,
contact Richard Bopp at Richard_C_Bopp [at]

--------11 of 14--------

From: Minnesota Cuba Committee <mncuba [at]>
Subject: Cuba/film 3.18 7:30pm

Cuban Movie Festival 2010
7:30 p.m. Thursdays, March 4 - April 8
St. Anthony Main Theatre
115 Main Street, SE, Minneapolis
Free parking in ramp at 2nd Street SE and 2nd Avenue SE
Admission: $6; 4 for $20

March 18 - The Last Supper (La Ultima Cena) by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

The Last Supper is set on a sugar plantation in late 18th century Cuba
during the Easter Holy Week, and is based on an actual event. The owner of
the plantation is a count (Nelson Villagra), who picks 12 slaves to share
a feast with him in honor of the Last Supper, with himself as the
benevolent Christ-figure, in order to teach the slaves a lesson in the
humility and grace of Our Lord. An audacious undertaking by one of Cuba's
greatest directors (Memories of Underdevelopment), the gamble pays off
handsomely. A brilliant and biting mix of perfumed language and oral
history, hypocrisy and harsh reality, oppression and resistance. 120

General audience discussion with Raudemar Hernandez Abreu, priest of Ifa
and president of Minnesota/Cuba Yoruba Association, and Raul
Marerro-Fente, U of M professor of Spanish literature, who will share
thoughts on Spanish and African impact on racial issues in Cuba today.
Pracna on Main, next to the theater.

--------12 of 14--------

The Filibuster Flim Flam
by Ralph Nader
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The U.S. Senate has become the graveyard of Congress! Dozens of bills
passed by the House of Representatives - to improve the health, safety and
economic well-being of Americans - are locked up in the Senate month after
month. This was not always the case. In the sixties and seventies,
legislation affecting consumers, workers and the environment often started
in the Senate and was sent to the House in the hope that that body would
not weaken or defeat these bills.

Committee chairs like Senators Warren Magnuson, Gaylord Nelson, and Walter
Mondale would move legislation after great public hearings open to the
citizenry. Auto safety, product safety, meat and poultry inspection, gas
pipeline safety in the late sixties, followed by the sweeping air and
water pollution control bills in the early seventies, were examples of
Senatorial initiatives.

Today, the Senate lies paralyzed even as it is controlled by 59 Democrats
- usually enough for comfortable passage of legislation sought by a
majority party that also controls the presidency.

A combination of a few reactionary Democratic Senators, a unified
pro-corporate Republican opposition, anti-democratic Senate rules and the
decades-long weakening of citizen and trade union groups have combined to
produce a constipated Senate.

The usually mild House Democratic Caucus Chairman, John Larson (CT) showed
his irritation recently when he said that people are tired of the House
passing legislation that stalls in the Senate.

Some of the bills passed by the House include the financial reform bill
regarding Wall Street's abuses, the omnibus energy bill, a long overdue
adjustment of Postal Service pension payments, vision care for children, a
job security act for wounded veterans, a paycheck fairness bill, an elder
abuse victims bill, a water use efficiency and conservation research bill,
an act to prohibit the importation of certain low-level radioactive waste
into the U.S., an imposition of additional taxes on executive bonuses
awarded by financial companies under bailout salvation, a mortgage reform
and anti-predatory lending bill, food safety legislation, stronger
enforcement authority for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC),
and a student aid and fiscal responsibility bill.

These are some of the 290 bills already passed in the House - many of them
minor to be sure - that House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (Dem. CA.) has noted.

Granted the major House bills are not as strong as some citizen groups
would like, which is why they try to get them strengthened in the Senate.
Fat chance, as long as Rule 22 - the notorious filibuster mechanism -
exists, and as long as the Senators remain marinated in corporate campaign
cash and prospective jobs for them or their relatives. The filibuster is
now virtual, unlike the traditional filibuster where its practitioners
would have to go on the Senate floor for hours straining their bladders
and the patience of the public.

Presently, all Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (Rep. KY) has to do
is merely notify Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid (Dem. NV) of the
intent to extend debate and, voila, a minority of forty-one Senators
defeats the majority rule of fifty-nine Senators.

So Senator Reid bewails that: "We had to file cloture some seventy times
last year, seventy times. That's remarkably bad. Let's change that."

So why don't the Democrats "change that?" In 1975, Vice President Nelson
Rockefeller, in his role as president of the Senate, ruled that fifty-one
Senators could amend Senate rules. Senator Tom Udall has a resolution to
do just that - predictably languishing in the Senate without even a

Moreover, Senator Tom Harkin proposed a resolution that would require a
series of votes to cut off a filibuster. The first stage would need sixty
votes, the second would need fifty-seven, then fifty-four and finally a
simple majority over a period of weeks. That proposal is going nowhere.

Obviously, the Democrats could end the filibuster with a majority vote but
choose not to because they may wish to use this tool of obstruction should
they be in the minority. In fact, Harry Reid has ruled out any filibuster
reform. Well then, why not end the "virtual" filibuster and make the
Republicans hit the floor with round-the-clock debate televised around the
nation. People are waiting and suffering from corporate-desired inaction.

Chicago lawyer and scholar, Thomas Geoghegan wrote an open letter to
Senator Reid (See it at: urging that he
make the Republicans actually filibuster. Either make them stall the
Senate on a minor bill to generate public ire or generate public outrage
by making them filibuster a popular bill aimed at curbing corporate crime,
waste and abuse or one that would save people money or their health.

Still, no response, other than debilitating talk by the Democrats about
seeking bi-partisan support for their bills.

Face it - the Senate is breaking an already broken Congress into little
pieces which are then sold for a mess of pottage. Organize Congress Watch
Locals in every state, folks, for nobody will save you but yourselves.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent
book - and first novel -  is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most
recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

--------13 of 14--------

The Anti-Teacher Hysteria
Why Teachers' Unions Matter
March 16, 2010

Nowadays a newspaper cannot be opened - or a TV turned on - without one
being subjected to anti-teacher misinformation. The anti-teacher hysteria
looks diverse on the surface, but underneath, this public controversy
seeks to dislodge teachers unions: the right-wing trashes teachers' unions
outright, while the "liberal" media takes a more subtle, sophisticated
approach, blaming the state of public education on "bad teachers" who must
be fired and replaced. Both styles are the same in essence.

The bi-partisan goal is to undermine and dismember public education, so
that public funds may be instead channeled into paying debts racked up by
multiple wars and corporate bailouts. Also, as public education is gutted,
rich investors parasitically benefit from it by opening for-profit
"charter schools," curriculum corporations, or the bevy of new companies
that "certify" teachers for a fraction of the cost or time of
universities, ready to serve at the new corporate McEducation institutes.

[Odious] Obama's Race to the Top campaign enshrines these odious goals
into governmental policy, picking up where Bush.s anti-teacher union
policies left off, and racing frantically in the same direction, to the

The schools that Bush's No Child Left Behind labeled as "failures" are to
be shut down under Obama's Race to the Top. These schools are almost
entirely in poor neighborhoods, where the social disease of poverty is an
easy predictor of a child's poor test scores.

But Obama ignores this obvious fact and blames poor grades and test scores
on the teachers, exclusively.

Thus, Obama cheered when every teacher at a Rhode Island "failing" high
school was fired. He praised the past closures of dozens of public schools
in both Chicago and New Orleans as examples for others to follow. Indeed,
Detroit and Kansas City each have plans to close dozens of schools, while
California is set to fire thousands of teachers. Under Obama's plan,
federal money is awarded to states that fire the most "bad" teachers and
close the most "failing" public schools. [Fire Obama. Impeach him. -ed]

Charter schools are to fill the void, where the rich will have access to
all the amenities offered at public schools, while the poor will be
warehoused in a drab environment lacking resources - without sports and
other extracurricular activities, no art or music, no counseling or
psychological services, etc. The two-party system envisions education
"reform" to mirror free market ideology, where services once deemed
"essential" are now to be sold as commodities to those who can afford

The right-wing has made it clear - for years - that teachers' unions are
the biggest "obstacle" to this education "reform," and they are right.
Consequently, the very existence of teachers' unions are in jeopardy with
Obama's Race to the Top.

If teachers' unions cannot keep schools open, or teachers from being
fired, their power is undermined. If any teacher can be fired when they
are labeled "bad," then one of the fundamental concepts of unionism,
seniority, is crushed. If teachers cannot be protected by seniority, then
pro-union teachers will be targeted and fired, and the union will evolve
into a paper tiger. And if union-protected teachers can suddenly be fired
arbitrarily, then union-protected workers in other fields will soon find
their seniority destroyed, and with it their unions. The struggle of the
teachers is thus the struggle of all union workers. But unions benefit
more than just union workers.

Anyone involved in politics - from the rank and file "activist" to those
working for liberal-minded causes - understands that unions are the ONLY
source of consistent resources for progressive campaigns, from money
donations, TV advertisement, to door knockers and phone bankers, etc.

For example, the two recent progressive tax measures passed in Oregon -
that increase taxes on the rich and corporations - would have been
impossible were it not for the support of the teachers' unions. Unions are
the only social force capable of combating the constant anti-worker
measures pushed by business groups all over the country, state by state.
They are the only real check to the power of the wealthy and corporations.

Additionally, U.S. unions are strongest in the public sector, making them
a special target of the organized corporate elite. Amongst public sector
workers, teachers are the best organized and most cohesive. The corporate
cross-hairs are thus steadily aimed at the head of the teachers' unions,
with Obama's Race to the Top acting as a high-caliber rifle.

The economic crisis acted as the trigger to Obama's assault on education:
the financial woes of every state were seized by Obama as a tremendous
opportunity to "reform" education; thus, Race to the Top forces
money-hungry states to compete for a measly $4 billion of federal money.
The winners are those states that inflict the most self-harm by firing
"bad" teachers and closing "failing" schools. Obama is accomplishing more
in one campaign than the anti-public education right-wing has accomplished
in decades. [Fire Obama. Impeach him. -ed]

This anti-education carpet-bombing was going unchallenged until recently.
On March 4th, demonstrations across the country were organized to defend
public education. It's no coincidence that the biggest demonstrations were
organized in San Francisco. There, unions took the lead in organizing a
downtown rally, using their resources to turn out 15,000 people. The
non-union led protests elsewhere paled in comparison, showcasing again the
extreme political relevance of unions.

A central demand in the San Francisco protest was "tax the rich and
corporations". This demand is crucially important, for it not only insures
that public education will be adequately funded, but applies to the
sufficient funding of the entire public sector - social services,
transportation, etc.

Taxing the rich and corporations must be the rallying call for the entire
public sector workforce, which remains the bedrock of American labor. If
this demand were to be promoted by the biggest public employee unions, the
vast majority of the community would support it, as happened in Oregon.
The progressive tax victory in Oregon proved that the corporate media lies
about "cuts" being the only solution to the economic crisis. The
corporations and wealthy must pay for the crisis they sparked.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for
Workers Action. He can be reached at shamuscook [at]

--------14 of 14--------

Because Nothing Has Changed
Why Do They Still Hate America?
March 16, 2010

"The demilitarization of Europe - where large swaths of the general public
and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go
with it - has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to
achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st".
 --Robert Gates, New York Times, February 23, 2010

"I'm amazed that there's such misunderstanding of what our country is
about that people would hate us. I am - like most Americans, I just can't
believe it because I know how good we are."
 --George W Bush, October 11, 2001

Many of us hoped and even believed that when Bush was replaced by a person
whom we considered to be honorable, credible and civilized, then the
vicious policies of the lip-curling Cheney regime would not only be
discontinued but replaced by strategies aimed at international
inclusiveness. Terrorism would of course be dealt with by application of
the full force of the law. And there would be firm direction of US foreign
policy, but not with knee-jerk contempt for nations that don't agree with
Washington. The poor of America and even the governments of foreign
countries would be treated rationally.

We starry-eyed optimists were wrong. We have been shaken and disappointed
by Obama and his team because they seem to be near-replicas of the
barbaric bunch of malevolent thugs who ran affairs disastrously for eight
horrible years. The egregious Robert Gates, for example - he of the
undeserved reputation for wisdom - has carried on the policies of the
Pentagon War Department from Bush to Obama seamlessly and without the
tiniest hiccup.

About 300 years ago the nature of people like Gates was caricatured in
verse in the figure of a fictional English clergyman, the majestically
hypocritical Vicar of the imaginary village of Bray, who was intent on
being all things to all rulers. He swapped religions and his allegiance to
monarchs more frequently than he changed his socks. The ditty included the
stanza that

And this is Law, I will maintain
Until my Dying Day Sir,
That whatsoever King shall Reign,
I will be Vicar of Bray, Sir.

Which sums up Gates pretty well.

The recent Gates' criticisms of NATO governments have gone down like lead
balloons in Europe's capitals and especially among ordinary citizens - the
you and me team - of the countries he disparaged, many of whom, of course,
have friends or relatives fighting in America's doomed and disastrous war
in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon, backed to the dripping dagger-hilt by Obama's White House,
has got countless trillions to spend on war, so Gates insists that
European governments must do likewise because they are in an unhappy
alliance with the world's prime Imperial Power.

And to back up his demands, as the LA Times recorded, he said that NATO
troops in Afghanistan are incompetent. He declared that "Our [American]
guys in the east, under General Rodriguez, are doing a terrific job.
They've got the [counterinsurgency] thing down pat. But I think our allies
over there, this is not something they have any experience with". This was
reported round the world. The oafish and self-satisfied Gates cannot
possibly deny that he said what he did. He tried to make a "clarification"
later, but his real opinion - the outright and undeniable policy of the US
government - was evident in his insulting declaration that the soldiers of
US allies are inferior to American soldiers.

His fatuous and insulting comment went round two national contingents (and
probably others), very fast, and I have had some communications indicating
extreme annoyance on the part of soldiers who have lost comrades in this
unwinnable war. It looks as if Gates actually wants to destroy the morale
of these hard-fighting army contingents.

Can it be argued otherwise? Because if he doesn't mean to be insulting,
why did he declare that they are incompetent?

Is this any way to get and keep people on the side of the United States?

It is a fact that some NATO countries have to keep their soldiers in less
dangerous areas, simply because if they take serious casualties in this
fatuous American war then their governments will fall, just as the Dutch
government did recently on the matter of Holland's 1700 soldiers in
Afghanistan. It is a matter of political pragmatism - of reality - with
which Mr Gates appears to have little if any association. He is very
intelligent, make no mistake about that: brilliant, even. But he has no
common sense and no knowledge of the world or about how ordinary people
think. Surrounded for so many years by academic, military and political
sycophants - clever ones, of course - there is little wonder he considers
himself a water-walker.

But when the citizens of European Nato countries read and see reports
about the US defense secretary telling them that their soldiers are
incompetent they begin (or continue) to dislike Gates and, by association,
America. This loathing and contempt is growing in Europe, almost as much
as it is in the rest of the world.

The pronouncement by Gates that in Europe "large swaths of the general
public and political class are averse to military force" is absolutely
right. And in Europe there is a system of government that permits and
encourages the general public to make their voice heard against militarism
so that the political class will act in their behalf.

It's called democracy.

Sometimes, however, democracy falters, as happened when the moron Bush
went to war against Iraq. Then, to their shame, most European countries,
with the major and honorable exception of France, obeyed Washington's
orders rather than paying attention to their own citizens, who were proved
to be absolutely right in their "aversion to military force" because the
war on Iraq was a disaster.

It has been forgotten that two million British people demonstrated against
the war on Iraq, and that their now discredited prime minister brushed
aside their well-founded opposition and sent soldiers to their deaths in
order to curry favor with the most disastrous president in America's

There were similar expressions of opposition to the war in many European
capitals and round the world, but the only important national leader to
take note of what was thought by the citizens of his country, was Chirac
of France, whose brilliant foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, told
the yawning UN and the contemptuous US that "to those who think that the
scourge of terrorism will be eradicated through the action in Iraq, we say
they run the risk of failing in their objective. The eruption of force in
this area which is so unstable can only exacerbate the tensions and
divisions on which the terrorists feed".

He was so right.

But Washington, in the shape of the new regime, epitomized by Gates and
other holdovers, continues to believe that force will work. "We will
prevail" wailed Bush; and his doctrinal successors think the same way.
They pay lip-service to the lessons of the Vietnam War debacle and imagine
that because they are trying to change their tactics in mid-war in
Afghanistan they will win the Hearts and Minds of the people.

The Vietnamese - even the non-Communist ones _ hated America because they
were treated as second class people. Exactly as Afghans are, now.

Just like America's reluctant allies.

No wonder they hate America.

Brian Cloughley's website is


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