Sunday, December 31, 2006

Christian Jihad

Jihad- For the Western world the word evokes images of mass slaughter, forced religious conversions, and crimes against humanity. But what most Christians forget is that jihad (holy war) also plays a major role in Christianity's own dark history. In this explosive and controversial book, the brothers Ergun and Emir Caner -two former Muslims, now staunch evangelical professors-shine the light of truth on Christians killing in the name of their God. These award-winning authors examine the impact of Christian atrocities on modern personal, cultural, and even international relations, question popular views of just war, and challenge each of us to face our past and redeem our future.

Ergun and Emir Caner have lectured on apologetics, world religions, and theology across the world and have been interviewed on NPR, CNN, The 700 Club, and the BBC, among many others.

A review of their book, Christian Jihad: Two Former Muslims Look at the Crusades and Killing in the Name of Christ, can be found here
I am reading it now and finding it to be very well written and thought provoking.

Here is the review I wrote for Amazon:

I am nearly finished with this book and have found it very enlightening and thought provoking. In other reviews here I have read that there is no such thing as a Christian Jihad. Although that may be technically true with regards to semantics- I would challenge the idea that there is no such thing as a Christain Jihad in spiritual or ideological terms, as an American Indian and Christian who is well versed in history, politics and foreign policy. Christianity itself may not be completely responsible for the acts of Western Statist powers, but often we Christians have both enabled and condoned atrocities and war crimes in the name of patriotism. The dropping of atomic bombs on civilian populations in Japan and the holocaust of the First Nations of the Americas are two quick examples. With regards to the Mid-East we have signed off on policies that have both created and enabled the growth of terrorism for the last several decades. These would include the arming and enabling of Saddam, the brutal reign of the Shah in Iran and the eventual reaction to it, the arming and training of the Mujahideen which became al Quaeda, the enabling of the Taliban, the Iran-Contra scheme and so-on. The West has actively sought for the last 40 years to squelch secular nationalist governments throughout the Mid-East and thus allowed a space for radical Islam to grow in. Again, these things may not be the responsibilities of Christaianity per se...but inasmuch as the U.S. and many of her allies are considered "Christian Nations" with high concentrations of "Christians" in the populace as well as the leadership- the message of the Caner brothers is right on point and very important- if we wish to see a more peaceful and Christ-like world.

As Christians, we are supposed to be outside of and above the worldly mechanisms that help perpetuate the self sustaining cycle of violence, death and revenge. That is what is supposed to be different about us. Our signature message is supposed to be about universal salvation- not about empire building and ridding the world of evil-doers. The Caner brothers offer a fresh and poignant perspective on this.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Greatest Cartoon Ever

By Matt Groening-1983

click on the cartoon to see larger version.

I remember cutting this cartoon out of a magazine and pasting it on the inner flap of one of my school notebooks in 1983. I was 19. My life as a dissident actually started long before that...probably at age 9 or so. I used to read the Native American literature that my Dad had "Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties" by Vine DeLoria, Jr., and "The Way, an Anthology of American Indian Literature".
By contrasting the history I learned from that and other literature with what was being taught as truth in school...I never really was permeable to the usual indoctrination. I was resistant to conventional wisdom since my first years as a reader and thinker. My run as a philosopher and freethinker was compromised for many years after discovering how to dull the sting of living in a world I never made with intoxicants. Of course that did not work in the long term. Now I have become a nightmare of sorts to some....a sober, educated Indian that understands theology and political science.

The Cross is a Radical Thing


The cross of Christ is the most revolutionary thing ever to appear among men.

The cross of the Roman times knew no compromise; it never made concessions. It won all its arguments by killing its opponent and silencing him for good. It spared not Christ, by slew Him the same as the rest. He was alive when they hung Him on that cross and completely dead when they took him down six hours later. That was the cross the first time it appeared in Christian history.

After Christ was risen from the dead the apostles went out to preach His message, and what they preached was the cross. And wherever they went into the wide world they carried the cross, and the same revolutionary power went with them. The radical message of the cross transformed Saul of Tarsus and changed him from a persecutor of Christians to a tender believer and an apostle of the faith. Its power changed bad men into good ones. It shook off the long bondage of paganism and altered completely the whole moral and mental outlook of the Western world.

All this it did and continued to do as long as it was permitted to remain what it had been originally, a cross. Its power departed when it was changed from a thing of death to a thing of beauty. When men made of it a symbol, hung it around their necks as an ornament or made its outline before their faces as a magic sign to ward off evil, then it became at best a weak emblem, at worst a positive fetish. As such it is revered today by millions who know absolutely nothing about its power.

The cross effects its ends by destroying one established pattern, the victim's, and creating another pattern, its own. Thus it always has its way. It wins by defeating its opponent and imposing its will upon him. It always dominates. It never compromises, never dickers nor confers, never surrenders a point for the sake of peace. It cares not for peace; it cares only to end its opposition as fast as possible.

With perfect knowledge of all this Christ said:

Luke 9:23 (NIV) "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

So the cross not only brings Christ's life to an end, it ends also the first life, the old life, of every one of His true followers. It destroys the old pattern, the Adam pattern, in the believer's life, and brings it to an end. Then the God who raised Christ from the dead raises the believer and a new life begins.

This, and nothing less, is true Christianity, though we cannot but recognize the sharp divergence of this conception from that held by the rank and file of evangelicals today. But we dare not qualify our position. The cross stands high above the opinions of men and to that cross all opinions must come at last for judgment. A shallow and worldly leadership would modify the cross to please the entertainment-mad saintlings who will have their fun even within the very sanctuary; but to do so is to court spiritual disaster and risk the anger of the Lamb turned Lion.

We must do something about the cross, and one of two things only we can do--flee it or die upon it. And if we should be so foolhardy as to flee we shall by that act put away the faith of our fathers and make of Christianity something other than it is. Then we shall have left only the empty language of salvation; the power will depart with our departure from the true cross.

If we are wise we will do what Jesus did: endure the cross and despise its shame for the joy that is set before us. To do this is to submit the whole pattern of our lives to be destroyed and built again in the power of an endless life. And we shall find that it is more than poetry, more than sweet hymnody and elevated feeling. The cross will cut into where it hurts worst, sparing neither us nor our carefully cultivated reputations. It will defeat us and bring our selfish lives to an end. Only then can we rise in fullness of life to establish a pattern of living wholly new and free and full of good works.

The changed attitude toward the cross that we see in modern orthodoxy proves not that God has changed, nor that Christ has eased up on His demand that we carry the cross; it means rather that current Christianity has moved away from the standards of the New Testament. So far have we moved indeed that it may take nothing short of a new reformation to restore the cross to its right place in the theology and life of the Church.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

NASA and NOAA Announce Ozone Hole is a Double Record Breaker


The treehugger/media conspiracy has now infiltrated NASA- let's get a petition up for Senator Imhofe, (R) Oklahoma, to outlaw junk science ...sneer (sarcasm).

More evil manipulation of "facts":

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Why We Fight- Jarecki Film

click on the small arrow at the corner of the screen to stay with this page while watching or listening.
pt. 2

pt. 3

pt. 4

"Big Soldier" and the Contrast of Indian and Euro-american Language and Spiritual Culture

"Everything about you is in chains, and you are slaves yourselves."

In 1822, the United States invited a delegation of the Osage people to visit Washington, D.C., the government sought to woo and impress these people from the where the Ozarks meet the Plains with the "glory" and "progress" of white man’s civilization. Akidatonka (or “Big Soldier” as it was mis-translated into English )* gave this statement containing the well- thought- out reasons for his resistance to the official wooing and pressure to assimilate- to the Indian Agent who interviewed him when he returned to his homelands. His words were recorded for posterity by that same Indian agent and are hailed as a perfect example of timeless Indian resistance to assimilation into the Western ideology. Famous indian scholar and author, Vine Deloria , Jr., refers to this response as "the best thing any Indian ever said."

I see and admire your manner of living, your good warm houses, your extensive corn-fields, your gardens, your cows, oxen, work-horses, wagons, and a thousand machines that I know not the use of; I see that you are able to clothe yourselves, even from weeds and grass. In short, you can do almost what you choose. You whites possess the power of [subduing] almost every animal [to your] use. You are surrounded by slaves. Everything about you is in chains, and you are slaves yourselves. I fear if I should exchange my pursuits for yours, i too should become a slave. Talk to my sons; perhaps they may be persuaded to adopt your fashions, or at least recommend them to their sons; but for myself, I was born free, was raised free, and wish to die free. . . I am perfectly contented with my condition.

Story cited in Spirit and Resistence: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation

Tinker writes, " Having seen the center of euro-american power, having seen the great city of Washington, "Big soldier" came away singularly unimpressed. Osages had already experienced the technological edge- especially military prowess- that euro-americans had developed. And "Big Soldier" to some degree pays homage to the conomic power of the White world, even as he rejects its apparent benefits in favor of his own world and its sense of balance and freedom. Tinker notes later an agreement with a citation by Louis Burns from "A History of the Osage People", that ""Big Soldier" could readily appreciate the material culture of americans but resolutely rejected their spiritual culture. This statement is as true to day for many indigenous folk the world over as it was in 1822 or in the centuries before.

Tinker also writes, "But even the memory of this event is clouded by euro-american mythmaking that moves subtly toward discrediting Osage notions of resistance, harmony and freedom. * The problem here is that "Big Soldier's" name does not really translate as Big Soldier. The translation actually presumes the White euro-western stereotype of indian peoples- namely, that Indians were militaristic societies where all the men were "warriors" or "baves." It perpetuates the euro-american myth that Indian men customarily and recklessly pursued some warrior ideal, living in militaristic societies that gave in to primitive blood thirst with constant warfare. Yet there is really no word for "soldier" or even "warrior' in Osage, a lack that is consistent with all precontact Indian communities in North America.

Thus, a-ki'-da tonka, or big a-ki'-da, is really a problematic name to translate into english. While some want to translate a-ki'-da as "warrior", and the word was used to name the members of a military detachment, there is, as I just said, no word for warrior or soldier in Osage or any other Indian language. Indian war making was relatively nonviolent prior to european contact and ultimately oriented toward the defense of the people. The total destruction or conquest of an enemy was never a military objective. Indeed, the killing of an enemy was not usually accorded the same high honor as "counting coup", or touching an enemy in battle without being touched in return.
A-ki'-da really refers to defense, that is, defense of the village or defender of the people. A big a-ki'-da would undoubtedly be one of the five a-ki'-da appointed by each of the two ga-hi'-ga (chiefs?), who then would have special responsibilities for maintaining order in the town and would have lived immediately around the chief's houses in the center of the village. Thus, they served a political function in each town.
"Big Soldier" should then read as something more like "one who watches over the land" or "caretaker or guardian of the land and people"- instead of an americanized name that denotes a member of a military detachment and/or an enforcer of an ideology.

This post is a continuation to the thread started Here.

Justum Bellum vs. Jihad

This was very good. I have been studying a lot of this. It mentions Constantine- after whom eveything changed regarding the Christian attitude about war and domination (the change in view noted as the "Constantinian Cataract"). The dispensationalist view- which was breeched when we discussed John Hagee and the tenets of pre-millenialism. There's also lots of contemporary ideas and public figures mentioned. A man could spend a lifetime studying these things. In my view- this is the only stuff that matters. I have given a lot of serious thought lately to going back to school- getting one of the degrees I am close to- like journalism and also starting work towards a degree in Theology. The only thing stopping me right now is the need to make a living by working with my hands (I believe this is called "wage slavery"). ;)

Be sure and explore the links in this information.


An Atheist Bullies the Faithful

Oxford University biologist Richard Dawkins reveals his fundamentalist approach to atheisim in his new documentary, The Root of All Evil.


Aroma of Jesus [VIDEO]


An interesting article from AlterNet.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Love Not The Domination System- Repost


from Chapter 5 of Augsburger's "Dissident Discipleship"- "The Practice of Resolute Non-Violence":

sub heading: Love Walks

(There is a)...deeper understanding, a radical wisdom that violence begets violence, which begets violence again.

The common wisdom on the streets of L.A., like the wisdom on the streets of most cities, holds that violence is the ultimate reality. This is the conviction of people in democracies and dictatorships, in "developed' as well as 'undeveloped" countries. Here are its basic assumptions.

1. The world is a dangerous place.

2. Human beings are innately, intrinsically, violent.

3. The enemy is evil, more violent than we are, and beyond change.

4. We have only three alternatives: accomodate violence, avoid violence, or use violence ourselves- go along with it, run from it or do it before they do it.

5. The answer to violence is more violence. Evil is the bottom line, and violence its language, logic and ultimate reality.

6. Violence can solve our problems decisively. Power, domination, and extermination of evildoers will stop the spiral, prevent the violence from feeding on itself, extinguish resentment, intimidate those who would seek revenge, render retaliation against us impossible, allow us to dominate benevolently.

Those are the storm waves of violence , beating on counter-currents of equal violence. each side is willing for the other to die to insure its own safety.

Active non- violence steps out of the pitching boat and onto the pounding waves and does the supra-rational. It walks on the water and finds it firm. It summons its courage and reaches outto the enemy as a person. It thinks of the enemy's needs and fears (motivations); it acts in commitment alloyed with compassion. it chooses the surprising.

sub heading: Love Not The Domination System

The way of the cross is not an inner spiritual surrender as Luther taught, or a profound sentiment of spirituality as pretension holds, or any of the other conceptual, emotional, volitional , spiritual definitions of experience that identify the cross with physical, familial or vocational hardships. The way of the cross is the willingness to die.

The World, in the way Jesus used the word, refers not to geography or place, but to "the domination system" by which human societies control, compute, and conflict. This is biblical scholar Walter Wink's best translation of cosmos The domination system is a set of cultural values, basic survival assumptions, and political structures that actively control, impose upon, and exploit human kind through violence and domination(Wink 1992, 139-55)

Of his disciples Jesus said, "They are strangers in the world, as I am'; in other words "they are strangers to the domination system as I am a stranger to the domination system' (John 17;14,16 NEB)We too live in a domination system of organized fear, institutionalized greed, rationalized violence, and socially accepted hatred, but we are strangers to its creed of greed, fear, coercion, and we-they thinking. There is no true spirituality at the end of the pursuit of greed, none that carries out the practices of hate. These are acts of obedience to the domination system and not the reign of God.

Every violent action is an act of faith in the domination system.

Every commitment that answers violence with violence is an act of obedience to the domination system.

Every allegiance to the values embodied in the domination system is an affirmation that men are superior to women, whites to people of color, and the wealthy to the poor, that the northern hemisphere is better than the southern hemisphere, the West than the Third world, and human beings than nature.

Every surrender to the domination system legitimates the un -questioning validation and justification of the use of force and violence. Then even when violence fails to resolve conflicts, it is merely discredited.

Clarence Jordan, farmer, Bible scholar and translator, and founder of Koinonia farm in Georgia thought deeply about the kinds of retaliation he observed in the tit for tat interactions in Southern society:

Jesus pointed out the stages through which the law of retaliation had passed, and how it finally came to rest in the universal love of the Father's own heart. There were four of these steps, each clearly defined and each progressing towards God's final purpose. First, there was the way of unlimited retaliation; second, that of limited retaliation; third that of limited love; and fourth, that of unlimited love (Jordan 1952)

Obviously, the first is both eyes for an eye, all teeth for a tooth. The second is eye for an eye, a penny for a penny and no more. The third is "love your neighbor and hate your enemy' (matt 5:43 NKJV; see also Lev.19:18). The fourth is to love as God loves, drawing no lines between friend and enemy, between those who reciprocate and those who do not. One loves in this fourth way- not because it works or is guaranteed to change enemies, but so that they will be "children of their heavenly Father" (Matt 5:45)

This is what the modern Church has misunderstood- even among its most prolific "leaders". This is what has been so thouroughly subverted in our culture...this is where it has all gone wrong...where the breakdown of the family and culture began...and how the destruction of our world will commence...unless things change drastically and soon among those who call themselves God's people. This understanding of what the domination system is and refusal to participate in it is true conservatism...the idolatrous faith in the redemptive power of violence is the true secular humanism and liberalism. God gave us freewill- its always been there- from the oldest stories of the Bible. It was when we passed up all of our chances and consistently chose wrongly when we were smitten with collapse and disaster of our own device. A better and more stable and saner world is possible- despite the idea that there will never be peace due to twisted interpretations of the book of Revelation and the end times...eschatology...which we will address next.

Wise Words From The Pope

This was a great speech:


"The community of nations must set ethical limits to what can be done to protect their citizens from terrorism and work to halt the growing threat of a new nuclear arms race, Pope Benedict XVI said in his message for World Peace Day 2007."


Two days ago I heard a right wing radio personality absolutely lambasting the Pope and wondering out loud when the Pope became a "radical-left-wing- extremist- liberal" -a characterization based upon the above statement which is percieved (probably rightly so) as an affront to the Bush administration's legitimization of torture and "Dark Side" politics.

So...when do you suppose that refusing to employ evil to prosecute the "war on terror" became an extreme position? Using terror to fight terror is an absurd paradox and...shall we say "ineffective" strategy.

Also how does this notion of labeling the Pope's thoughts as ridiculous and extreme square with the New Testament teachings of Jesus as in Matthew chapter 5 and the sermon on the mount?

BONUS: The Torture Question

EXTRA BONUS: Take A Walk On The Darkside

What Is the Difference Between Sunni and Shiite Muslims--and Why Does It Matter?

I thought I would post these articles in concordance with my last post.


Understanding Islam



Bonus Article

Bonus excerpt:

According to Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat, the President that began the war was unaware there were multiple sects of Islam in the first place.

"A year after his 'Axis of Evil' speech before the U.S. Congress, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, one of whom became postwar Iraq’s first representative to the United States. The three described what they thought would be the political situation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. During their conversation with the President, Galbraith claims, it became apparent to them that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites.

Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam--to which the President allegedly responded, 'I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!'”

It doesn't matter what party affiliation is in charge - to be so entirely ignorant of the situation in which we've put our troops is absolutely unacceptable at any level. But for Hume to report that a Democrat is so ill informed, without mentioning the person that started the war in the first place was even more uninformed, in what is supposed to be a "fair and balanced" report is intellectually dishonest.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Incoming House intelligence chief botches easy intel quiz


Incoming House intelligence chief botches easy intel quiz
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, who incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped to head the Intelligence Committee when the Democrats take over in January, failed a quiz of basic questions about al Qaeda and Hezbollah, two of the key terrorist organizations the intelligence community has focused on since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

When asked by CQ National Security Editor Jeff Stein whether al Qaeda is one or the other of the two major branches of Islam -- Sunni or Shiite -- Reyes answered "they are probably both," then ventured "Predominantly -- probably Shiite."

That is wrong. Al Qaeda was founded by Osama bin Laden as a Sunni organization and views Shiites as heretics.

Reyes could also not answer questions put by Stein about Hezbollah, a Shiite group on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations that is based in Southern Lebanon.

Stein's column about Reyes' answers was published on CQ's Web site Friday evening.

In an interview with CNN, Stein said he was "amazed" by Reyes' lack of what he considers basic information about two of the major terrorists organizations.

"If you're the baseball commissioner and you don't know the difference between the Yankees and the Red Sox, you don't know baseball," Stein said. "You're not going to have the respect of the people you work with."

While Stein said Reyes is "not a stupid guy," his lack of knowledge said it could hamper Reyes' ability to provide effective oversight of the intelligence community, Stein believes.

"If you don't have the basics, how do you effectively question the administration?" he asked. "You don't know who is on first."

Stein said Reyes is not the only member of the House Intelligence Committee that he has interviewed that lacked what he considered basic knowledge about terrorist organizations.

"It kind of disgusts you, because these guys are supposed to be tending your knitting," Stein said. "Most people are rightfully appalled."

Pelosi picked Reyes over fellow Californian Rep. Jane Harman, who had been the Intelligence Committee's ranking member, and Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida, who had been impeached as a federal judge after being accused of taking a bribe.

Full story from CQ


Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the Texas Democrat tapped to head the House Intelligence Committee, said Monday that despite failing to answer basic questions about al Qaeda's makeup, he is aware of the threat the terrorist group poses.

"The CQ interview covered a wide range of topics other than the selected points published in the story," Reyes said in a statement to CNN. "As a Member of the Intelligence Committee since before 9/11, I'm acutely aware of al Qaeda's desire to harm Americans. The Intelligence Committee will keep its eye on the ball, and focus on the pressing security and intelligence issues facing us."

Reyes drew heat after failing to answer questions about al Qaeda and Hezbollah posed by the Congressional Quarterly

--CNN's Scott Anderson and Brian Todd

Bonus Article

Bonus excerpt:

According to Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat, the President that began the war was unaware there were multiple sects of Islam in the first place.

"A year after his 'Axis of Evil' speech before the U.S. Congress, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, one of whom became postwar Iraq’s first representative to the United States. The three described what they thought would be the political situation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. During their conversation with the President, Galbraith claims, it became apparent to them that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites.

Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam--to which the President allegedly responded, 'I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!'”

It doesn't matter what party affiliation is in charge - to be so entirely ignorant of the situation in which we've put our troops is absolutely unacceptable at any level. But for Hume to report that a Democrat is so ill informed, without mentioning the person that started the war in the first place was even more uninformed, in what is supposed to be a "fair and balanced" report is intellectually dishonest.

SS sez-

I'll bet you five bucks that just about nobody in congress or in the White House could have answered that quiz properly before invading Iraq...probably very few, not including the Prez., can answer it right at present. How else can one percieve this except as incredibly irresponsible, short sighted and flat out ...not very smart?
The invasion of Iraq has set off a chain reaction that may well wipe out most of what we now take for granted. It did not have to be this way.

I read the ISG report in its entirety on Sunday. The things they lay out in there are the things we should have been doing for decades...let alone before invading Iraq.

With no-one willing to negotiate, the extremism in Islam, the flawed policies of the U.S. and the exceptionalism of Israel- a nuclear conflagration is becoming far more likely.

Its time to start shopping for a fallout protection suit.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation


George E. (Tink) Tinker is Professor of American Indian Cultures and Religious Traditions at the Ilif School of Theology and earned his Ph.D. at Graduate Theological Union.

"Tink" Tinker teaches courses in American Indian culture, history, and religious traditions; cross-cultural and Third-World theologies; and justice and peace studies. His publications include Missionary Conquest: The Gospel and Native American Genocide.

An ordained Lutheran pastor, Dr. Tinker continues to work in the Indian community as (non-stipendiary) director of Four Winds American Indian Survival Project in Denver. He is past president of the Native American Theological Association and a member of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians. Firmly committed to the ecumenical movement, he has been active in volunteer capacities with several denominations at the national level, the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. He currently serves as an "Honorary Advisor" to IMADR, the International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism.


"GEORGE TINKER brings a distinctive voice to the conversation on American Indians and Christianity and specifically the debate over whether one can be authentically Indian and Christian at the same time. He also introduces the concept of cultural competency as a test for those who claim an American Indian identity, using the term "thin-blood" for individuals who have a small proportion of American Indian blood but whose cultural competency may qualify them as more Indian than those with a higher proportion of Indian blood."

"U.S. government efforts to promote economic development in Indian communities are Tinker's primary target. Such development, he argues, emphasizes individual enterprise over community. He uses the term "real-development" to characterize the effects of this policy as destructive to values of community responsibility."

Indigenous Mind- Winona LaDuke

Winona LaDuke, Activist-

Favorite Quote by Winona:

"Change will come in society when the white men realize all the chemicals in the environment are shrinking their testicles."


It is absolutely correct for me to demand that the holocaust of my people be recognized. Instead, nobody knows anything about the native people. Why?



Native people have taken great care to fashion
their societies in accordance with the flow and
law of Nature.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES believe that all societies must exist in accordance with natural law in order to be sustainable. Cultural diversity is as essential as biological diversity. Indigenous peoples have lived on Earth for thousands of years, and I suggest that their ways are the only sustainable ways of living. Because of that, there is something to be learned from indigenous cultures.

Natural law is superior to the laws made by nations, states and municipalities. It is the law to which we are all accountable. Nature is cyclical. The moon, the tides, the seasons and our bodies all move in cycles. Time itself is cyclical. Through this cycle of life nature maintains a balance. Our ceremonies are about the restoration of balance. That is our intent: to restore balance.

According to our way of looking, the world is animate. This is reflected in our language, in which most nouns are animate. The word for corn is animate; tree is animate; rice, rock and stone are animate. Natural things are alive, they have spirit. Therefore, when we harvest wild rice on our reservation we always offer tobacco to the earth because, when you take something, you must always give thanks to its spirit for giving itself to you. When we harvest, we practise reciprocity, which means, when you take, you always give. This is balance. We say that when you take, you must take only what you truly need and leave the rest. Because, if you take more than you need, you are upsetting the balance of nature.

OVER THE PAST 500 years our experience has been one of conflict between the indigenous and the industrial world-views. This conflict has manifested itself as a holocaust The industrial world-view has caused the extinction of more species in the past 150 years than the total species extinction from the Ice Age to the mid-nineteenth century. The same industrial way of thinking has caused the extinction of about 2,000 different indigenous peoples in the Western hemisphere alone. The extinction of species and the extinction of peoples are closely linked. And the extinction continues. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, in 1992, declared nineteen different indigenous nations in North America extinct. The rate of extinction in the Amazon rainforest, for example, has been one indigenous people per year since 1900. And if you look at world maps showing cultural and biological distribution, you find that where there is the most cultural diversity, there is also the most biological diversity. A direct relationship exists between the two. That is why we argue that cultural diversity is as important to a sustainable society as biological diversity.

Our greatest problem in America is that there has been no recognition of cultural extinction. When I ask people how many different kinds of Indian they can identify, they can name scarcely any. America's mythology is based on the denial of the native. Nobody admits that the holocaust of native people took place. Yet it was a holocaust of unparalleled proportions. Bartholomew de las Casas estimated that fifty million indigenous people in the Western hemisphere perished.

It is absolutely correct for me to demand that the holocaust of my people be recognized. Instead, nobody knows anything about the native people. Why? Because this system is based on a denial of native existence. We are erased from the public consciousness because, if you have no victim, you have no crime. In America we do not exist as full human beings with human rights and human dignity.

I'D LIKE TO TELL you about indigenous peoples' efforts to protect our land and restore our communities. I'll use my own community as an example The White Earth Reservation, located at the headwaters of the Mississippi, is thirty-six by thirty-six miles square, about 837,000 acres. It is very good land. A treaty reserved it for our people in 1867 in return for relinquishing a much larger area of northern Minnesota. There are forty-seven lakes. There's maple sugar, there are hardwoods, and there are all the different medicine plants my people use: our reservation is called "the medicine chest of the Ojibways". There are wild rice, deer, beaver, fish every food we need; there is plenty of it. On the eastern part of the reservation there are stands of white pine. The land is owned collectively, and we have family-based usufruct rights: each family has traditional areas in which it fishes and hunts. In our language the words which describe the concept of land-ownership translate as "the land of the people", which doesn't imply that we own our land but that we belong to it. Our definition doesn't stand up well in court, unfortunately, since America's legal system upholds the concept of private property.

The White Earth Reservation is a rich place. And it is our experience that industrial society is not content to leave other peoples' riches alone. Wealth attracts colonialism: the more a native people has, the more colonisers are apt to covet that wealth and take it away, whether it is gold or, as in our case, pine stands and Red River Valley farmland. A Latin American scholar named Eduardo Galeano has written about colonialism in communities like mine. Re says: "In the colonial alchemy, gold changes to scrap metal and food to poison. We have become painfully aware of the mortality of wealth, which nature bestows and imperialism appropriates." For us, our wealth was the source of our poverty: industrial society could not leave us be.

OUR RESERVATION WAS created by treaty in 1867. In 1887 the General Allotment Act was passed on the national level, not only to teach Indians the concept of private property but to facilitate the removal of more land from Indian nations. The federal government divided our reservation into eighty-acre parcels of land and allotted each parcel to an individual Indian, hoping that through this change we would somehow become yeoman farmers and become "civilized". But the allotment system had no connection to our traditional land tenure patterns. In our society a person harvested rice in one place, trapped in another place, got medicines in a third place, and picked berries in a fourth. These locations depended on the ecosystem; they were not necessarily contiguous. But the government said to each Indian; "Here are your eighty acres; this is where you'll live." Then, after each Indian had received an allotment, the rest ofthe land was declared "surplus" and given to white people to homestead. On our reservation the entire land base was allotted except for some pinelands that were annexed by the state of Minnesota and sold to timber companies. What happened to my reservation happened to reservations all across the country.

The government turned our land into individual eighty-acre parcels, and then let the state of Minnesota take the rest of our land. The native people were each required to pay tax on each eighty-acre area. When the Indians couldn't pay the taxes, the state confiscated the land. How could these people pay taxes? They could not read or write English; they could not fill in the tax forms.

By 1920, 99 per cent of original White Earth Reservation lands was in non-Indian hands. By 1930 half of our population lived off-reservation. Three generations of our people were forced into poverty, were forced off our land and made refugees in white society. Now a lot of our people live in Minneapolis. Of 20,000 native people only 4,000 or 5,000 live on the reservation.

Our struggle is to get our land back. But we have exhausted all legal recourse. The implication for native people is that we have no legal right to our land in the United States or in Canada. The only legal recourse we have in the United States is the Indian Claims Commission, which pays you for land; it doesn't return land to you.

When you do not control your land, you do not control your destiny. Two- thirds of the deer taken on our reservation are taken by non-Indian sports hunters. In the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge nine times as many deer are taken by non-Indians as by Indians. Ninety per cent of the fish taken on our reservation is taken by white people who come to their summer cabins and fish. Each year in our region about 10,000 acres are being clear-cut for paper and pulp in one county alone, mostly by Potlatch Tim- ber Company. We are watching the destruction of our ecosystem and the theft of our resources.

The federal, state and county governments are the largest landholders on the reservation. A third of our land is held by them. That land should just be returned to us. It would not displace anyone. A third of the privately held land on our reservation is held by absentee landholders, who do not see that land, do not know it, do not even know where it is. We ask these people how they feel about returning land, on a reservation, to the native people.

PEOPLE LOOK AT OUR reservation and comment on the 85 per cent unemployment -- they do not realize what we do with our time. They have no way of valuing our cultural practices. For instance, 85 per cent of our people hunt deer, 75 per cent hunt for small game and geese; 50 per cent fish by net; 50 per cent garden. About the same percentage harvest wild rice, not just for themselves: they harvest it to sell. About half of our people produce handcrafts. There is no way to quantify this. It is called the "invisible economy" or the "domestic economy". Society views us as unemployed Indians who need wage jobs. That is not how we view ourselves. Our work is about strengthening and restoring our traditional economy, thereby strengthening our traditional culture.

Our stories are stories of people with a great deal of tenacity and courage, people who have been resisting for centuries. If we do not resist we will not survive. In native culture we think ahead to the seventh generation; however, we know that the ability of the seventh generation to sustain itself will be dependent on our ability to resist now.

Winona LaDuke is an Indigenous Rights activist.

The above article is extracted from her Schumacher Lecture, USA. The full text is available from E. F. Schumacher Society, Great Barrington, MA 01230, USA.


bonus excerpt:

"I am against terrorism of any sort, and if you say you're against terrorism you shouldn't fund it," said LaDuke, referring to United States military aid to countries like Columbia where there are "widespread human rights violations" said LaDuke, adding that over 30,000 people have been killed or have disappeared since 1997 due to the activities of various paramilitary groups.

-Winona LaDuke, Activist

Columbus and Western Civilization by Howard Zinn

Columbus "taking posession"



"His [Columbus'] journal was revealing. He described the people who greeted him when landed in the Bahamas--they were Arawak Indians, some times called Tainos--and told how they waded out into the sea to greet him and his men, who must have looked and sounded like people from another world, and brought them gifts of various kinds. He described them as peaceable, gentle, and said: "They do not bear arms, and do not know for I showed them a sword--they took it by the edge and cut themselves."

Throughout his journal, over the next months, Columbus spoke of the native Americans with what seemed like admiring awe: "They are the best people in the world and above all the gentlest--without knowledge of what is evil--nor do they murder or steal...they love their neighbors as themselves and they have the sweetest talk in the world...always laughing."

And in a letter he wrote to one of his Spanish patrons, Columbus said: "They are very simple and honest and exceedingly liberal with all they have, none of them, in the midst of all this, in his journal, Columbus writes: "They would make fine servants. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."

Yes, this was how Columbus saw the Indians--not as hospitable hosts, but "servants," to "do whatever we want."

And what did Columbus want? This is not hard to determine. In the first two weeks of journal entries, there is one word that recurs seventy-five times: GOLD."

Harare and Indigenous Peoples-by George "Tink" Tinker

An Indigenous church building South East Church of Christ helped build.



"Why Are We Still Waiting," asked an Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus in an "appeal" to the World Council of Churches’ Eighth Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe, in December 1998. In a compelling document, the more than three dozen Indigenous delegates, advisors and "Padare" participants making up the pre-assembly Caucus named the character of their common struggles, concerns, needs and hopes. "We are still waiting," they said, "for true partnership, for full recognition of our rights."

Indigenous Peoples, especially those aboriginal nations of lands currently ruled by colonial settler states or states that have unilaterally expanded their territories to include other peoples and their lands, have much in common, both culturally and politically.(1) Most often, Indigenous Peoples are politically in tension with the states that claim hegemony over them and their lands. Their cultures and languages are continually threatened by the imposition of an artificial sense of unity and uniformity. Their access to economic well-being is usually related to their willingness to comply with the cultural and economic norms of the state in control. While state hegemony can be either overt or much more subtly veiled, it is always decisive and firm."

Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation
By: George Tinker

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Meaning and Purpose of Theology

I believe that theology serves several purposes within the Church and also outwardly to the "World". I believe it is the responsibility of any who call themselves Christian to be theologically literate, because ultimately, sound theology serves as the basis for the conscience of the Church. Critical reflection and analysis is not an accessory of the Church- but indespensible to maintain its virtue and position in the "World". Reflection, especially in lieu of current events, is absolutely essential to maintain the integrity of the mission of the church. To paraphrase Georges Florovsky, "The task of theology is none other than to ascertain and to acknowledge the mystery of the living God and bear witness to it in thought and deed."

Theology is intended to instruct, edify, clarify, nourish, sustain, illuminate and transform- to give meaning to all existence. It cannot be seperated and compartmentalized from other aspects of life. It is central to every aspect of life.

How Noam Chomsky Helped Save My Spiritual Life

How Noam Chomsky Saved My Spiritual Life

I have been meaning to write about how Dr. Chomsky's body of work helped the scales to fall off of my eyes and thereby corrected my image and understanding of the "World" in the Biblical use of the word.
I have been reluctant to do this. I have been reluctant because I have taken a fair amount of heat for quoting him or using his philosophical constructs. I.E. I have allowed myself to be intimidated. In an effort to be as non-confrontational and as politically correct as my conscience would allow- I have not given his work the credit that I will now acknowledge.
When I first discovered Chomsky- I began to use some tidbits of his analyses in my writings. In turn, I was chided for being un-patriotic or un-Christian, as if patriotism and Christianity are inexorably linked.
I do not believe they are linked at all- and a review of this entire blog will reveal some pretty comprehensive arguments as to why I do not believe they are supposed to be linked.

I was once encouraged to "Put down the Chomsky and pick up the Bible". It is my understanding that a directive like that stems from two places. First there is the fact that Chomsky is not a Christian, and in fact has some harsh things to say about Christianity as it has blended itself with certain ideological philosophies. Secondly, there is a popular notion that when one criticiizes governments and/or the foreign policy of governments, particularly the U.S., they are by extension actually criticizing God, because God has "ordained" governments, particularly the U.S., and thus his arguments are anti-american, anti-rational and hence anti-God or anti- spiritual at the least.

I would endeavor to squelch such ideas at the root. Not to defend Chomsky in particular, but to put down the notions that because govenments are in power that they have the favor of God, that governments should be protected from criticism by wrapping themselves in a kind of quasi-religious nationalism, that America is the "Arm of the Lord", that Christanity is best represented by right leaning political value systems, that Christianity is best represented by liberal leaning political value systems either, that there are two (right and left) ways to interpret history, politics, religion, truth etc.

The Bible speaks quite often about "Worldly" value systems and how they contradict God's intentions. Here are some verses that are pointing to the principle I am getting at as well- distinction between God's people and and the "World".

Do Not Love the World:

15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

James 4:4
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

John 15:19
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

John 17:14
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

John 17:16
They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

John 17:25
"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.

John 18:36
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

1 Corinthians 1:27
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

1 Corinthians 2:12
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

Galatians 6:14
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Colossians 2:8
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Colossians 2:20
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules?

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

1 John 2:17
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 4:5
They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.

1 John 5:19
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

1 Peter 2:11
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

I think it is safe to say that the U.S. is part of the "World" as defined by the Bible and has a value system that is commensurate with such. I find it funny that the folks who would typically defend criticism of the U.S. would also quote the Bible in defending her and also at the same time be the same folks that are highly critical when more "liberal" forces are in if God did not establish or "ordain" them as well. It makes no sense. I have written about this at length and a good online debate in this can be found HERE

Anyhow, reading, watching and listening to Chomsky has helped me tear through the conception that if I was not morally comfortable with the activities and positions of my government- then there was something wrong with me. In my view, Chomsky's statements on the concept of universality sum it all up quite nicely,

"The most elementary (moral principle) is a virtual truism: decent people apply to themselves the same standards that they apply to others, if not more stringent ones."

I believe that ultimately his views are truly conservative, spiritual and in fact are much closer to the understanding of the "World" found in the teachings of Jesus than the jingoism and comfort with political power and dominance that hold sway in the arena of popular opinion today. Chomsky's thoughts have helped bring me much closer to God. This non-Christain has opened up my life and my understanding of my life in a way that no other Christian thinker's offerings have ever been able to. I reckon that to be a good reason and motivation to start writing and speaking out in itself.

Chomsky says,

"The most elementary (moral principle) is a virtual truism: decent people apply to themselves the same standards that they apply to others, if not more stringent ones."

The Bible says,
Matt.7:1; "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Some would turn this passage around and use it to refute the positions Dr. Chomsky lays out- or any judgement that they don't like for that matter...However, Chomsky also asserts,

"(1) Facts matter, even if we do not like them.

(2) Elementary moral principles matter, even if they have consequences that we would prefer not to face."

“WAR ON TERROR"- Noam Chomsky


by Noam Chomsky

Audio version Available HERE

Amnesty International Annual Lecture -- Hosted by Trinity College
Venue: Shelbourne Hall, RDS, Dublin
Date: 18th January 2006

"Terror" is a term that rightly arouses strong emotions and deep concerns. The primary concern should, naturally, be to take measures to alleviate the threat, which has been severe in the past, and will be even more so in the future. To proceed in a serious way, we have to establish some guidelines. Here are a few simple ones:

(1) Facts matter, even if we do not like them.

(2) Elementary moral principles matter, even if they have consequences that we would prefer not to face.

(3) Relative clarity matters. It is pointless to seek a truly precise definition of "terror," or of any other concept outside of the hard sciences and mathematics, often even there. But we should seek enough clarity at least to distinguish terror from two notions that lie uneasily at its borders: aggression and legitimate resistance.

If we accept these guidelines, there are quite constructive ways to deal with the problems of terrorism, which are quite severe. It's commonly claimed that critics of ongoing policies do not present solutions. Check the record, and I think you will find that there is an accurate translation for that charge: "They present solutions, but I don't like them."

Suppose, then, that we accept these simple guidelines. Let's turn to the "War on Terror." Since facts matter, it matters that the War was not declared by George W. Bush on 9/11, but by the Reagan administration 20 years earlier. They came into office declaring that their foreign policy would confront what the President called "the evil scourge of terrorism," a plague spread by "depraved opponents of civilization itself" in "a return to barbarism in the modern age" (Secretary of State George Shultz). The campaign was directed to a particularly virulent form of the plague: state-directed international terrorism. The main focus was Central America and the Middle East, but it reached to southern Africa and Southeast Asia and beyond.

A second fact is that the war was declared and implemented by pretty much the same people who are conducting the re-declared war on terrorism. The civilian component of the re-declared War on Terror is led by John Negroponte, appointed last year to supervise all counterterror operations. As Ambassador in Honduras, he was the hands-on director of the major operation of the first War on Terror, the contra war against Nicaragua launched mainly from US bases in Honduras. I'll return to some of his tasks. The military component of the re-declared War led by Donald Rumsfeld. During the first phase of the War on Terror, Rumsfeld was Reagan's special representative to the Middle East. There, his main task was to establish close relations with Saddam Hussein so that the US could provide him with large-scale aid, including means to develop WMD, continuing long after the huge atrocities against the Kurds and the end of the war with Iran. The official purpose, not concealed, was Washington's responsibility to aid American exporters and "the strikingly unanimous view" of Washington and its allies Britain and Saudi Arabia that "whatever the sins of the Iraqi leader, he offered the West and the region a better hope for his country's stability than did those who have suffered his repression" -- New York Times Middle East correspondent Alan Cowell, describing Washington's judgment as George Bush I authorized Saddam to crush the Shi'ite rebellion in 1991, which probably would have overthrown the tyrant.

Saddam is at last on trial for his crimes. The first trial, now underway, is for crimes he committed in 1982. 1982 happens to be an important year in US-Iraq relations. It was in 1982 that Reagan removed Iraq from the list of states supporting terror so that aid could flow to his friend in Baghdad. Rumsfeld then visited Baghdad to confirm the arrangements. Judging by reports and commentary, it would be impolite to mention any of these facts, let alone to suggest that some others might be standing alongside Saddam before the bar of justice. Removing Saddam from the list of states supporting terrorism left a gap. It was at once filled by Cuba, perhaps in recognition of the fact that the US terrorist wars against Cuba from 1961 had just peaked, including events that would be on the front pages right now in societies that valued their freedom, to which I'll briefly return. Again, that tells us something about the real elite attitudes towards the plague of the modern age.

Since the first War on Terror was waged by those now carrying out the redeclared war, or their immediate mentors, it follows that anyone seriously interested in the re-declared War on Terror should ask at once how it was carried out in the 1980s. The topic, however, is under a virtual ban. That becomes understandable as soon as we investigate the facts: the first War on Terror quickly became a murderous and brutal terrorist war, in every corner of the world where it reached, leaving traumatized societies that may never recover. What happened is hardly obscure, but doctrinally unacceptable, therefore protected from inspection. Unearthing the record is an enlightening exercise, with enormous implications for the future.

These are a few of the relevant facts, and they definitely do matter. Let's turn to the second of the guidelines: elementary moral principles. The most elementary is a virtual truism: decent people apply to themselves the same standards that they apply to others, if not more stringent ones. Adherence to this principle of universality would have many useful consequences. For one thing, it would save a lot of trees. The principle would radically reduce published reporting and commentary on social and political affairs. It would virtually eliminate the newly fashionable discipline of Just War theory. And it would wipe the slate almost clean with regard to the War on Terror. The reason is the same in all cases: the principle of universality is rejected, for the most part tacitly, though sometimes explicitly. Those are very sweeping statements. I purposely put them in a stark form to invite you to challenge them, and I hope you do. You will find, I think, that although the statements are somewhat overdrawn – purposely -- they nevertheless are uncomfortably close to accurate, and in fact very fully documented. But try for yourselves and see.

This most elementary of moral truisms is sometimes upheld at least in words. One example, of critical importance today, is the Nuremberg Tribunal. In sentencing Nazi war criminals to death, Justice Robert Jackson, Chief of Counsel for the United States, spoke eloquently, and memorably, on the principle of universality. "If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes," he said, "they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us....We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well."

That is a clear and honorable statement of the principle of universality. But the judgment at Nuremberg itself crucially violated this principle. The Tribunal had to define "war crime" and "crimes against humanity." It crafted these definitions very carefully so that crimes are criminal only if they were not committed by the allies. Urban bombing of civilian concentrations was excluded, because the allies carried it out more barbarically than the Nazis. And Nazi war criminals, like Admiral Doenitz, were able to plead successfully that their British and US counterparts had carried out the same practices. The reasoning was outlined by Telford Taylor, a distinguished international lawyer who was Jackson's Chief Counsel for War Crimes. He explained that "to punish the foe – especially the vanquished foe – for conduct in which the enforcing nation has engaged, would be so grossly inequitable as to discredit the laws themselves." That is correct, but the operative definition of "crime" also discredits the laws themselves. Subsequent Tribunals are discredited by the same moral flaw, but the self-exemption of the powerful from international law and elementary moral principle goes far beyond this illustration, and reaches to just about every aspect of the two phases of the War on Terror.

Let's turn to the third background issue: defining "terror" and distinguishing it from aggression and legitimate resistance. I have been writing about terror for 25 years, ever since the Reagan administration declared its War on Terror. I've been using definitions that seem to be doubly appropriate: first, they make sense; and second, they are the official definitions of those waging the war. To take one of these official definitions, terrorism is "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature...through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear," typically targeting civilians. The British government's definition is about the same: "Terrorism is the use, or threat, of action which is violent, damaging or disrupting, and is intended to influence the government or intimidate the public and is for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, or ideological cause." These definitions seem fairly clear and close to ordinary usage. There also seems to be general agreement that they are appropriate when discussing the terrorism of enemies.

But a problem at once arises. These definitions yield an entirely unacceptable consequence: it follows that the US is a leading terrorist state, dramatically so during the Reaganite war on terror. Merely to take the most uncontroversial case, Reagan's state-directed terrorist war against Nicaragua was condemned by the World Court, backed by two Security Council resolutions (vetoed by the US, with Britain politely abstaining). Another completely clear case is Cuba, where the record by now is voluminous, and not controversial. And there is a long list beyond them.

We may ask, however, whether such crimes as the state-directed attack against Nicaragua are really terrorism, or whether they rise to the level of the much higher crime of aggression. The concept of aggression was defined clearly enough by Justice Jackson at Nuremberg in terms that were basically reiterated in an authoritative General Assembly resolution. An "aggressor," Jackson proposed to the Tribunal, is a state that is the first to commit such actions as "Invasion of its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, of the territory of another State," or "Provision of support to armed bands formed in the territory of another State, or refusal, notwithstanding the request of the invaded State, to take in its own territory, all the measures in its power to deprive those bands of all assistance or protection." The first provision unambiguously applies to the US-UK invasion of Iraq. The second, just as clearly, applies to the US war against Nicaragua. However, we might give the current incumbents in Washington and their mentors the benefit of the doubt, considering them guilty only of the lesser crime of international terrorism, on a huge and unprecedented scale.

It may also be recalled the aggression was defined at Nuremberg as "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole" – all the evil in the tortured land of Iraq that flowed from the US-UK invasion, for example, and in Nicaragua too, if the charge is not reduced to international terrorism. And in Lebanon, and all too many other victims who are easily dismissed on grounds of wrong agency – right to the present. A week ago (January 13), a CIA predator drone attacked a village in Pakistan, murdering dozens of civilians, entire families, who just happened to live in a suspected al-Qaeda hideout. Such routine actions elicit little notice, a legacy of the poisoning of the moral culture by centuries of imperial thuggery.

The World Court did not take up the charge of aggression in the Nicaragua case. The reasons are instructive, and of quite considerable contemporary relevance. Nicaragua's case was presented by the distinguished Harvard University law professor Abram Chayes, former legal adviser to the State Department. The Court rejected a large part of his case on the grounds that in accepting World Court jurisdiction in 1946, the US had entered a reservation excluding itself from prosecution under multilateral treaties, including the UN Charter. The Court therefore restricted its deliberations to customary international law and a bilateral US-Nicaragua treaty, so that the more serious charges were excluded. Even on these very narrow grounds, the Court charged Washington with "unlawful use of force" – in lay language, international terrorism – and ordered it to terminate the crimes and pay substantial reparations. The Reaganites reacted by escalating the war, also officially endorsing attacks by their terrorist forces against "soft targets," undefended civilian targets. The terrorist war left the country in ruins, with a death toll equivalent to 2.25 million in US per capita terms, more than the total of all wartime casualties in US history combined. After the shattered country fell back under US control, it declined to further misery. It is now the second poorest country in Latin America after Haiti – and by accident, also second after Haiti in intensity of US intervention in the past century. The standard way to lament these tragedies is to say that Haiti and Nicaragua are "battered by storms of their own making," to quote the Boston Globe, at the liberal extreme of American journalism. Guatemala ranks third both in misery and intervention, more storms of their own making.

In the Western canon, none of this exists. All is excluded not only from general history and commentary, but also quite tellingly from the huge literature on the War on Terror re-declared in 2001, though its relevance can hardly be in doubt.

These considerations have to do with the boundary between terror and aggression. What about the boundary between terror and resistance? One question that arises is the legitimacy of actions to realize "the right to self-determination, freedom, and independence, as derived from the Charter of the United Nations, of people forcibly deprived of that right..., particularly peoples under colonial and racist regimes and foreign occupation..." Do such actions fall under terror or resistance? The quoted word are from the most forceful denunciation of the crime of terrorism by the UN General Assembly; in December 1987, taken up under Reaganite pressure. Hence it is obviously an important resolution, even more so because of the near-unanimity of support for it. The resolution passed 153-2 (Honduras alone abstaining). It stated that "nothing in the present resolution could in any way prejudice the right to self-determination, freedom, and independence," as characterized in the quoted words.

The two countries that voted against the resolution explained their reasons at the UN session. They were based on the paragraph just quoted. The phrase "colonial and racist regimes" was understood to refer to their ally apartheid South Africa, then consummating its massacres in the neighboring countries and continuing its brutal repression within. Evidently, the US and Israel could not condone resistance to the apartheid regime, particularly when it was led by Nelson Mandela's ANC, one of the world's "more notorious terrorist groups," as Washington determined at the same time. Granting legitimacy to resistance against "foreign occupation" was also unacceptable. The phrase was understood to refer to Israel's US-backed military occupation, then in its 20th year. Evidently, resistance to that occupation could not be condoned either, even though at the time of the resolution it scarcely existed: despite extensive torture, degradation, brutality, robbery of land and resources, and other familiar concomitants of military occupation, Palestinians under occupation still remained "Samidin," those who quietly endured.

Technically, there are no vetoes at the General Assembly. In the real world, a negative US vote is a veto, in fact a double veto: the resolution is not implemented, and is vetoed from reporting and history. It should be added that the voting pattern is quite common at the General Assembly, and also at the Security Council, on a wide range of issues. Ever since the mid-1960s, when the world fell pretty much out of control, the US is far in the lead in Security Council vetoes, Britain second, with no one else even close. It is also of some interest to note that a majority of the American public favors abandonment of the veto, and following the will of the majority even if Washington disapproves, facts virtually unknown in the US, or I suppose elsewhere. That suggests another conservative way to deal with some of the problems of the world: pay attention to public opinion.

Terrorism directed or supported by the most powerful states continues to the present, often in shocking ways. These facts offer one useful suggestion as to how to mitigate the plague spread by "depraved opponents of civilization itself" in "a return to barbarism in the modern age": Stop participating in terror and supporting it. That would certainly contribute to the proclaimed objections. But that suggestion too is off the agenda, for the usual reasons. When it is occasionally voiced, the reaction is reflexive: a tantrum about how those who make this rather conservative proposal are blaming everything on the US.

Even with careful sanitization of discussion, dilemmas constantly arise. One just arose very recently, when Luis Posada Carriles entered the US illegally. Even by the narrow operative definition of "terror," he is clearly one of the most notorious international terrorists, from the 1960s to the present. Venezuela requested that he be extradited to face charges for the bombing of a Cubana airliner in Venezuela, killing 73 people. The charges are admittedly credible, but there is a real difficulty. After Posada miraculously escaped from a Venezuelan prison, the liberal Boston Globe reports, he "was hired by US covert operatives to direct the resupply operation for the Nicaraguan contras from El Salvador" – that is, to play a prominent role in terrorist atrocities that are incomparably worse than blowing up the Cubana airliner. Hence the dilemma. To quote the press: "Extraditing him for trial could send a worrisome signal to covert foreign agents that they cannot count on unconditional protection from the US government, and it could expose the CIA to embarrassing public disclosures from a former operative." Evidently, a difficult problem.

The Posada dilemma was, thankfully, resolved by the courts, which rejected Venezuela's appeal for his extradition, in violation of the US-Venezuela extradition treaty. A day later, the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, urged Europe to speed US demands for extradition: "We are always looking to see how we can make the extradition process go faster," he said. "We think we owe it to the victims of terrorism to see to it that justice is done efficiently and effectively." At the Ibero-American Summit shortly after, the leaders of Spain and the Latin American countries "backed Venezuela's efforts to have [Posada] extradited from the United States to face trial" for the Cubana airliner bombing, and again condemned the "blockade" of Cuba by the US, endorsing regular near-unanimous UN resolutions, the most recent with a vote of 179-4 (US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau). After strong protests from the US Embassy, the Summit withdrew the call for extradition, but refused to yield on the demand for an end to the economic warfare. Posada is therefore free to join his colleague Orlando Bosch in Miami. Bosch is implicated in dozens of terrorist crimes, including the Cubana airliner bombing, many on US soil. The FBI and Justice Department wanted him deported as a threat to national security, but Bush I took care of that by granting him a presidential pardon.

There are other such examples. We might want to bear them in mind when we read Bush II's impassioned pronouncement that "the United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support them, because they're equally as guilty of murder," and "the civilized world must hold those regimes to account." This was proclaimed to great applause at the National Endowment for Democracy, a few days after Venezuela's extradition request had been refused. Bush's remarks pose another dilemma. Either the US is part of the civilized world, and must send the US air force to bomb Washington; or it declares itself to be outside the civilized world. The logic is impeccable, but fortunately, logic has been dispatched as deep into the memory hole as moral truisms.

The Bush doctrine that "those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves" was promulgated when the Taliban asked for evidence before handing over people the US suspected of terrorism – without credible evidence, as the FBI conceded many months later. The doctrine is taken very seriously. Harvard international relations specialist Graham Allison writes that it has "already become a de facto rule of international relations," revoking "the sovereignty of states that provide sanctuary to terrorists." Some states, that is, thanks to the rejection of the principle of universality.

One might also have thought that a dilemma would have arisen when John Negroponte was appointed to the position of head of counter-terrorism. As Ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s, he was running the world's largest CIA station, not because of the grand role of Honduras in world affairs, but because Honduras was the primary US base for the international terrorist war for which Washington was condemned by the ICJ and Security Council (absent the veto). Known in Honduras as "the Proconsul," Negroponte had the task of ensuring that the international terrorist operations, which reached remarkable levels of savagery, would proceed efficiently. His responsibilities in managing the war on the scene took a new turn after official funding was barred in 1983, and he had to implement White House orders to bribe and pressure senior Honduran Generals to step up their support for the terrorist war using funds from other sources, later funds illegally transferred from US arms sales to Iran. The most vicious of the Honduran killers and torturers was General Alvarez Martínez, the chief of the Honduran armed forces at the time, who had informed the US that "he intended to use the Argentine method of eliminating suspected subversives." Negroponte regularly denied gruesome state crimes in Honduras to ensure that military aid would continue to flow for international terrorism. Knowing all about Alvarez, the Reagan administration awarded him the Legion of Merit medal for "encouraging the success of democratic processes in Honduras." The elite unit responsible for the worst crimes in Honduras was Battalion 3-16, organized and trained by Washington and its Argentine neo-Nazi associates. Honduran military officers in charge of the Battalion were on the CIA payroll. When the government of Honduras finally tried to deal with these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Reagan-Bush administration refused to allow Negroponte to testify, as the courts requested.

There was virtually no reaction to the appointment of a leading international terrorist to the top counter-terrorism position in the world. Nor to the fact that at the very same time, the heroine of the popular struggle that overthrew the vicious Somoza regime in Nicaragua, Dora María Téllez, was denied a visa to teach at the Harvard Divinity School, as a terrorist. Her crime was to have helped overthrow a US-backed tyrant and mass murderer. Orwell would not have known whether to laugh or weep.

So far I have been keeping to the kinds of topics that would be addressed in a discussion of the War on Terror that is not deformed to accord with the iron laws of doctrine. And this barely scratches the surface. But let us now adopt prevailing Western hypocrisy and cynicism, and keep to the operative definition of "terror." It is the same as the official definitions, but with the Nuremberg exception: admissible terror is your terror; ours is exempt..

Even with this constraint, terror is a major problem, undoubtedly. And to mitigate or terminate the threat should be a high priority. Regrettably, it is not. That is all too easy to demonstrate, and the consequences are likely to be severe.

The invasion of Iraq is perhaps the most glaring example of the low priority assigned by US-UK leaders to the threat of terror. Washington planners had been advised, even by their own intelligence agencies, that the invasion was likely to increase the risk of terror. And it did, as their own intelligence agencies confirm. The National Intelligence Council reported a year ago that "Iraq and other possible conflicts in the future could provide recruitment, training grounds, technical skills and language proficiency for a new class of terrorists who are `professionalized' and for whom political violence becomes an end in itself," spreading elsewhere to defend Muslim lands from attack by "infidel invaders" in a globalized network of "diffuse Islamic extremist groups," with Iraq now replacing the Afghan training grounds for this more extensive network, as a result of the invasion. A high-level government review of the "war on terror" two years after the invasion `focused on how to deal with the rise of a new generation of terrorists, schooled in Iraq over the past couple years. Top government officials are increasingly turning their attention to anticipate what one called "the bleed out" of hundreds or thousands of Iraq-trained jihadists back to their home countries throughout the Middle East and Western Europe. "It's a new piece of a new equation," a former senior Bush administration official said. "If you don't know who they are in Iraq, how are you going to locate them in Istanbul or London?"' (Washington Post)

Last May the CIA reported that "Iraq has become a magnet for Islamic militants similar to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan two decades ago and Bosnia in the 1990s," according to US officials quoted in the New York Times. The CIA concluded that "Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat." Shortly after the London bombing last July, Chatham House released a study concluding that "there is `no doubt' that the invasion of Iraq has `given a boost to the al-Qaida network' in propaganda, recruitment and fundraising,` while providing an ideal training area for terrorists"; and that "the UK is at particular risk because it is the closest ally of the United States" and is "a pillion passenger" of American policy" in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is extensive supporting evidence to show that -- as anticipated -- the invasion increased the risk of terror and nuclear proliferation. None of this shows that planners prefer these consequences, of course. Rather, they are not of much concern in comparison with much higher priorities that are obscure only to those who prefer what human rights researchers sometimes call "intentional ignorance."

Once again we find, very easily, a way to reduce the threat of terror: stop acting in ways that – predictably – enhance the threat.

Though enhancement of the threat of terror and proliferation was anticipated, the invasion did so even in unanticipated ways. It is common to say that no WMD were found in Iraq after exhaustive search. That is not quite accurate, however. There were stores of WMD in Iraq: namely, those produced in the 1980s, thanks to aid provided by the US and Britain, along with others. These sites had been secured by UN inspectors, who were dismantling the weapons. But the inspectors were dismissed by the invaders and the sites were left unguarded. The inspectors nevertheless continued to carry out their work with satellite imagery. They discovered sophisticated massive looting of these installations in over 100 sites, including equipment for producing solid and liquid propellant missiles, biotoxins and other materials usable for chemical and biological weapons, and high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear and chemical weapons and missiles. A Jordanian journalist was informed by officials in charge of the Jordanian-Iraqi border that after US-UK forces took over, radioactive materials were detected in one of every eight trucks crossing to Jordan, destination unknown.

The ironies are almost inexpressible. The official justification for the US-UK invasion was to prevent the use of WMD that did not exist. The invasion provided the terrorists who had been mobilized by the US and its allies with the means to develop WMD -- namely, equipment they had provided to Saddam, caring nothing about the terrible crimes they later invoked to whip up support for the invasion. It is as if Iran were now making nuclear weapons using fissionable materials provided by the US to Iran under the Shah -- which may indeed be happening. Programs to recover and secure such materials were having considerable success in the '90s, but like the war on terror, these programs fell victim to Bush administration priorities as they dedicated their energy and resources to invading Iraq.

Elsewhere in the Mideast too terror is regarded as secondary to ensuring that the region is under control. Another illustration is Bush's imposition of new sanctions on Syria in May 2004, implementing the Syria Accountability Act passed by Congress a few months earlier. Syria is on the official list of states sponsoring terrorism, despite Washington's acknowledgment that Syria has not been implicated in terrorist acts for many years and has been highly cooperative in providing important intelligence to Washington on al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups. The gravity of Washington's concern over Syria's links to terror was revealed by President Clinton when he offered to remove Syria from the list of states sponsoring terror if it agreed to US-Israeli peace terms. When Syria insisted on recovering its conquered territory, it remained on the list. Implementation of the Syria Accountability Act deprived the US of an important source of information about radical Islamist terrorism in order to achieve the higher goal of establishing in Syria a regime that will accept US-Israeli demands.

Turning to another domain, the Treasury Department has a bureau (OFAC, Office of Foreign Assets Control) that is assigned the task of investigating suspicious financial transfers, a central component of the "war on terror." In April 2004, OFAC informed Congress that of its 120 employees, four were assigned to tracking the finances of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, while almost two dozen were occupied with enforcing the embargo against Cuba. From 1990 to 2003 there were 93 terrorism-related investigations with $9000 in fines; and 11,000 Cuba-related investigations with $8 million in fines. The revelations received the silent treatment in the US media, elsewhere as well to my knowledge.

Why should the Treasury Department devote vastly more energy to strangling Cuba than to the "war on terror"? The basic reasons were explained in internal documents of the Kennedy-Johnson years. State Department planners warned that the "very existence" of the Castro regime is "successful defiance" of US policies going back 150 years, to the Monroe Doctrine; not Russians, but intolerable defiance of the master of the hemisphere, much like Iran's crime of successful defiance in 1979, or Syria's rejection of Clinton's demands. Punishment of the population was regarded as fully legitimate, we learn from internal documents. "The Cuban people [are] responsible for the regime," the Eisenhower State Department decided, so that the US has the right to cause them to suffer by economic strangulation, later escalated to direct terror by Kennedy. Eisenhower and Kennedy agreed that the embargo would hasten Fidel Castro's departure as a result of the "rising discomfort among hungry Cubans." The basic thinking was summarized by State Department official Lester Mallory: Castro would be removed "through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship so every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba in order to bring about hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the government." When Cuba was in dire straits after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington intensified the punishment of the people of Cuba, at the initiative of liberal Democrats. The author of the 1992 measures to tighten the blockade proclaimed that "my objective is to wreak havoc in Cuba" (Representative Robert Torricelli). All of this continues until the present moment.

The Kennedy administration was also deeply concerned about the threat of Cuban successful development, which might be a model for others. But even apart from these standard concerns, successful defiance in itself is intolerable, ranked far higher as a priority than combating terror. These are just further illustrations of principles that are well-established, internally rational, clear enough to the victims, but scarcely perceptible in the intellectual world of the agents.

If reducing the threat of terror were a high priority for Washington or London, as it certainly should be, there would be ways to proceed – even apart from the unmentionable idea of withdrawing participation. The first step, plainly, is to try to understand its roots. With regard to Islamic terror, there is a broad consensus among intelligence agencies and researchers. They identify two categories: the jihadis, who regard themselves as a vanguard, and their audience, which may reject terror but nevertheless regard their cause as just. A serious counter-terror campaign would therefore begin by considering the grievances , and where appropriate, addressing them, as should be done with or without the threat of terror. There is broad agreement among specialists that al-Qaeda-style terror "is today less a product of Islamic fundamentalism than of a simple strategic goal: to compel the United States and its Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries" (Robert Pape, who has done the major research on suicide bombers). Serious analysts have pointed out that bin Laden's words and deeds correlate closely. The jihadis organized by the Reagan administration and its allies ended their Afghan-based terrorism inside Russia after the Russians withdrew from Afghanistan, though they continued it from occupied Muslim Chechnya, the scene of horrifying Russian crimes back to the 19th century. Osama turned against the US in 1991 because he took it to be occupying the holiest Arab land; that was later acknowledged by the Pentagon as a reason for shifting US bases from Saudi Arabia to Iraq. Additionally, he was angered by the rejection of his effort to join the attack against Saddam.

In the most extensive scholarly inquiry into the jihadi phenomenon, Fawaz Gerges concludes that after 9/11, "the dominant response to Al Qaeda in the Muslim world was very hostile," specifically among the jihadis, who regarded it as a dangerous extremist fringe. Instead of recognizing that opposition to Al Qaeda offered Washington "the most effective way to drive a nail into its coffin" by finding "intelligent means to nourish and support the internal forces that were opposed to militant ideologies like the bin Laden network," he writes, the Bush administration did exactly what bin Laden hoped it would do: resort to violence, particularly in the invasion of Iraq. Al-Azhar in Egypt, the oldest institution of religious higher learning in the Islamic world, issued a fatwa, which gained strong support, advising "all Muslims in the world to make jihad against invading American forces" in a war that Bush had declared against Islam. A leading religious figure at al-Azhar, who had been "one of the first Muslim scholars to condemn Al Qaeda [and was] often criticized by ultraconservative clerics as a pro-Western reformer, ruled that efforts to stop the American invasion [of Iraq] are a `binding Islamic duty'." Investigations by Israeli and Saudi intelligence, supported by US strategic studies institutes, conclude that foreign fighters in Iraq, some 5-10% of the insurgents, were mobilized by the invasion, and had no previous record of association with terrorist groups. The achievements of Bush administration planners in inspiring Islamic radicalism and terror, and joining Osama in creating a "clash of civilizations," are quite impressive.

The senior CIA analyst responsible for tracking Osama bin Laden from 1996, Michael Scheuer, writes that "bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us. None of the reasons have anything to do with our freedom, liberty, and democracy, but have everything to do with U.S. policies and actions in the Muslim world." Osama's concern "is out to drastically alter U.S. and Western policies toward the Islamic world," Scheuer writes: "He is a practical warrior, not an apocalyptic terrorist in search of Armageddon." As Osama constantly repeats, "Al Qaeda supports no Islamic insurgency that seeks to conquer new lands." Preferring comforting illusions, Washington ignores "the ideological power, lethality, and growth potential of the threat personified by Osama bin Laden, as well as the impetus that threat has been given by the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Muslim Iraq, [which is] icing on the cake for al Qaeda." "U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, [Scheuer adds,] it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden's only indispensable ally."

The grievances are very real. A Pentagon advisory Panel concluded a year ago that "Muslims do not `hate our freedom,' but rather they hate our policies," adding that "when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy." The conclusions go back many years. In 1958, President Eisenhower puzzled about "the campaign of hatred against us" in the Arab world, "not by the governments but by the people," who are "on Nasser's side," supporting independent secular nationalism. The reasons for the "campaign of hatred" were outlined by the National Security Council: "In the eyes of the majority of Arabs the United States appears to be opposed to the realization of the goals of Arab nationalism. They believe that the United States is seeking to protect its interest in Near East oil by supporting the status quo and opposing political or economic progress." Furthermore, the perception is understandable: "our economic and cultural interests in the area have led not unnaturally to close U.S. relations with elements in the Arab world whose primary interest lies in the maintenance of relations with the West and the status quo in their countries," blocking democracy and development.

Much the same was found by the Wall Street Journal when it surveyed the opinions of "moneyed Muslims" immediately after 9/11: bankers, professionals, businessmen, committed to official "Western values" and embedded in the neoliberal globalization project. They too were dismayed by Washington's support for harsh authoritarian states and the barriers it erects against development and democracy by "propping up oppressive regimes." They had new grievances, however, beyond those reported by the NSC in 1958: Washington's sanctions regime in Iraq and support for Israel's military occupation and takeover of the territories. There was no survey of the great mass of poor and suffering people, but it is likely that their sentiments are more intense, coupled with bitter resentment of the Western-oriented elites and corrupt and brutal rulers backed by Western power who ensure that the enormous wealth of the region flows to the West, apart from enriching themselves. The Iraq invasion only intensified these feelings further, much as anticipated.

There are ways to deal constructively with the threat of terror, though not those preferred by "bin Laden's indispensable ally," or those who try to avoid the real world by striking heroic poses about Islamo-fascism, or who simply claim that no proposals are made when there are quite straightforward proposals that they do not like. The constructive ways have to begin with an honest look in the mirror, never an easy task, always a necessary one.