American Views Abroad

Friday, August 04, 2006
The carnage continues unabated. It was sickening glancing at the front page of the IHT this morning. The headlines screamed Rockets Rain Down in Israel, Bombs in Beirut and U.S. Generals See Growing Threat of Iraq Civil War and Billions in Trade Gap, Pennies for Workers. To save sanity, the last article was chosen first. There readers learned that a Chinese factory worker is paid by the piece, 'less than a penny for every pair (of boots) she stitches, small or large.' Less than a penny. Boots that sell for $49.99. The biggest earnings in the mass manufacturing business are made by those who market and sell them in the US and Europe.

Under normal circumstances an article like this last one would be upsetting. These days it's a respite from even worse news. What is particularly unsettling is no matter how hard you work to keep up with the facts, it is getting more and more difficult to seep through the spin, falsehoods, holy and not so holy emotions, the layers upon layers of different versions of history, or as one German columnist put it this week, the inability of both sides to forgive and forget anything. To grab a hold on something that might help make some sense of what is going wrong, my mind kept wandering back to two issues of Harpers' magazine shortly before the present Iraq war started. In March 2003 it printed parts of Jonathan Schell's The Unconquerable World which was riveting to read. Schell doesn't start out with a fixed belief against war, but instead he argues against its power and importance. A book or thesis like his cannot be put into any simple nutshell. A convincing review of his book is at
Parts of the Harpers edition can be read at

An update from today's Washington Post indicated that the Democratic primary next Tuesday in Connecticut might indeed see a newcomer, Lamont, defeat a long time Senator and Gore's Vice Presidential candidate, Lieberman, by 13 points. Lamont is running solely because of Leiberman's upfront support of the war in Iraq, a war which is deeply unpopular in that state. This would be an important step in the right direction. It's what voting is all about. What's being done in Iraq is being done in our name.

Zeev Maoz in The War for Israel's Survival at discusses 'Israel's struggle for a war for the heart and soul of the Jewish state. .....It is a war about values, about moral standards, about courage to speak the truth even when it hurts and even when it is unpopular....' Good words particularly about speaking up when it hurts and is unpopular.

Citizens vote, but these days, we get lip attention only when there are elections. The real powers are the lobbyists and in The Nation this week Ari Berman takes on AIPAC's Dangerous Grip on Washington. The alphabet soup stands for American Israel Public Affairs Committee and it is very interesting reading at

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