See also irredentism

Nationalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jingoism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nationalism is a term referring to doctrine[1] or political movement[2] that holds that a nation, usually defined in terms of ethnicity or culture, has the right to constitute an independent or autonomous political community based on a shared history and common destiny.[3] Most nationalists believe the borders of the state should be congruent with the borders of the nation.[4] However, recently nationalists have rejected the concept of "congruency" for sake of its reciprocal value. Contemporary nationalists would argue that the nation should be administered by a single state, not that a state should be governed by a single nation. Occasionally, nationalist efforts can be plagued by chauvinism or imperialism. These ex-nationalist efforts such as those propagated by fascist movements in the twentieth century, still hold the nationalist concept that nationality is the most important aspect of one's identity, while some of them have attempted to define the nation, inaccurately, in terms of race or genetics. Some contemporary nationalists reject the racist chauvinism of these groups, and remain confident that national identity supersedes biological attachment to an ethnic group.

Nationalism has had an enormous influence on Modern history, in which the nation-state has become the preferred form of societal organization, however, by no means dominant (i.e. France, Spain, Great Britain, none of which are nation-states). Historians use the term nationalism to refer to this historical transition and to the emergence and predominance of nationalist ideology. Nationalism is closely associated with patriotism.

Opposition and critique

See also Xenophobia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tribalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Patriotism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chauvinism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nationalism is sometimes an extremely assertive ideology, making far-reaching, despite often justified, demands, including the disappearance of entire states. It has attracted vehement opposition. Much of the early opposition to nationalism was related to its geopolitical ideal of a separate state for every nation. The classic nationalist movements of the 19th century rejected the very existence of the multi-ethnic empires in Europe. This resulted in severe repression by the (generally autocratic) governments of those empires. That tradition of secessionism, repression, and violence continues, although by now a large nation typically confronts a smaller nation. Even in that early stage, however, there was an ideological critique of nationalism. That has developed into several forms of anti-nationalism in the western world. The Islamic revival of the 20th century also produced an Islamic critique of the nation-state.

In the liberal political tradition there is widespread criticism of ‘nationalism’ as a dangerous force and a cause of conflict and war between nation-states. Liberals do not generally dispute the existence of the nation-states. The liberal critique also emphasizes individual freedom as opposed to national identity, which is by definition collective (see collectivism).

The pacifist critique of nationalism also concentrates on the violence of nationalist movements, the associated militarism, and on conflicts between nations inspired by jingoism or chauvinism. National symbols and patriotic assertiveness are in some countries discredited by their historical link with past wars, especially in Germany. Famous pacifist Bertrand Russell criticizes nationalism of diminishing individual's capacity to judge his or hers fatherland's foreign policy[25]. Likewise George Orwell, though not a pacifist himself, has stated that "The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." [26] William Blum has said this in other words: "If love is blind, patriotism has lost all five senses"[27]

The anti-racist critique of nationalism concentrates on the attitudes to other nations, and especially on the doctrine that the nation-state exists for one national group, to the exclusion of others. It emphasizes the chauvinism and xenophobia of many nationalisms.

Political movements of the left have often been suspicious of nationalism, again without necessarily seeking the disappearance of the existing nation-states. Marxism has been ambiguous towards the nation-state, and in the late 19th century some Marxist theorists rejected it completely. For some Marxists the world revolution implied a global state (or global absence of state); for others it meant that each nation-state had its own revolution. A significant event in this context was the failure of the social-democratic and socialist movements in Europe to mobilize a cross-border workers' opposition to World War I. At present most, but certainly not all, left-wing groups accept the nation-state, and see it as the political arena for their activities.

In the Western world the most comprehensive current ideological alternative to nationalism is cosmopolitanism. Ethical cosmopolitanism rejects one of the basic ethical principles of nationalism: that humans owe more duties to a fellow member of the nation, than to a non-member. It rejects such important nationalist values as national identity and national loyalty. However, there is also a political cosmopolitanism, which has a geopolitical program to match that of nationalism: it seeks some form of world state, with a world government. Very few people openly and explicitly support the establishment of a global state, but political cosmopolitanism has influenced the development of international criminal law, and the erosion of the status of national sovereignty. In turn, nationalists are deeply suspicious of cosmopolitan attitudes, which they equate with eradication of diverse national cultures.

While internationalism in the cosmopolitanist context by definition implies cooperation among nations and states, and therefore the existence of nations, proletarian internationalism is different, in that it calls for the international working class to follow its brethren in other countries irrespective of the activities or pressures of the national government of a particular sector of that class. Meanwhile, most (but not all) anarchists reject nation-states on the basis of self-determination of the majority social class, and thus reject nationalism. Instead of nations, anarchists usually advocate the creation of cooperative societies based on free association and mutual aid without regard to ethnicity or race.

[Dec 23, 2014]  Record 17,000 join nationalist march in Germany

Alex_of_Maine_1  -> Laurence Johnson 23 Dec 2014 00:36

What are their concerns? I watched a report on German TV a few days ago - ARD's Panorama (not to be confused with the crap stunt that RTL recently pulled). They spoke with some of the marchers and I was quite surprised at what these upright citizens were spewing. They said nothing that was based on facts but appeared to be buying into myths and propaganda and, yes, they are scapegoating.
I felt truly embarrassed for them for they did seem to be quite ordinary people.

John Low JEM5260 23 Dec 2014 00:32

Ever been to Bandah Aceh? They have official sharia police roaming around to police their ideas of morality - no young folk of opposite sex are not allowed to be alone anywhere, and as far as opening your christian church at Christmas - good luck with that.

In the less sharia areas, they only have endemic corruption. You could even organise your 'refugee trips' to Aus from a prison in Jarkarta, chaperoned in by the guards.

RichardSydney Laurence Johnson 23 Dec 2014 00:31

It does make them bad people. They are the xenophobic, bigotted ones.

But I and other's like me are accused of being racist bigots.

islam is not a race, it's an all encompassing political system. It's not a religion, it's all about dominating politics and every aspect of life.. and death. Especially death when the non-muslims are involved.

i and many like me do not want any religion in the world, christian or whatever. They are all found on fiction and fairy tales. So, I do not want a fascist system like islam getting a foothold in my country. In the first instance, I'm trying to get rid of christianity, then another bunch of deluded fruitcakes turn up with even more whacko ideas. Seriously, we are sailing on a ship of fools.

We do not need to talk to the immigrants. They need to be told, assimilate. That should be a clause on the immigration form (or their illegal people smuggler should at least tell them).

Laurence Johnson  -> sasboy 23 Dec 2014 00:31

I think most nations in the world would share that view. When jobs are hard to come by, and people are watching immigrants queue up at benefits offices and live in their social housing, and use their free health services, then there is probably going to be a problem. The EU appears to have the view that people are not going to be concerned that they don't have a job, or housing, or timely access to a hospital.

Ignoring the people is what is creating the problem. Discrimination is wrong, but the governments of the EU need to wake up and realise its not possible to create a united Europe were everyone is happy to go without for the common good.


[Apr 7, 2008] Foreign Affairs - Us and Them - Jerry Z. Muller

Existence of ethnic nationalism in Europe is a powerful factor that will help the USA to survive the current mess. We should not underestimate the problem with nationalism and religious intolerance that Europe (and especially Eastern Europe and the countries of the former USSR) have. That means that their will be a flow of highly qualified individual to the USA (as well as Canada , Australia and New Zealand) for this region, the flow that provides significant economic advantages to the recipient country.  In other work Europe has its share of problems.

Summary:  Americans generally belittle the role of ethnic nationalism in politics. But in fact, it corresponds to some enduring propensities of the human spirit, it is galvanized by modernization, and in one form or another, it will drive global politics for generations to come. Once ethnic nationalism has captured the imagination of groups in a multiethnic society, ethnic disaggregation or partition is often the least bad answer.

Projecting their own experience onto the rest of the world, Americans generally belittle the role of ethnic nationalism in politics. After all, in the United States people of varying ethnic origins live cheek by jowl in relative peace. Within two or three generations of immigration, their ethnic identities are attenuated by cultural assimilation and intermarriage. Surely, things cannot be so different elsewhere.

Americans also find ethnonationalism discomfiting both intellectually and morally. Social scientists go to great lengths to demonstrate that it is a product not of nature but of culture, often deliberately constructed. And ethicists scorn value systems based on narrow group identities rather than cosmopolitanism.

But none of this will make ethnonationalism go away. Immigrants to the United States usually arrive with a willingness to fit into their new country and reshape their identities accordingly. But for those who remain behind in lands where their ancestors have lived for generations, if not centuries, political identities often take ethnic form, producing competing communal claims to political power. The creation of a peaceful regional order of nation-states has usually been the product of a violent process of ethnic separation. In areas where that separation has not yet occurred, politics is apt to remain ugly.

... ... ...

Whether politically correct or not, ethnonationalism will continue to shape the world in the twenty-first century.

America Right or Wrong- AsiaSource Interview with Anatol Lieven

December 21, 2004

Anatol Lieven is senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC. A journalist, writer, and historian, Mr Lieven writes on a range of security and international affairs issues. He was previously editor of Strategic Comments published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London.

Anatol Lieven’s journalism career includes work as a correspondent for the Times (London) in the former Soviet Union from 1990 to 1996. Prior to 1990, Lieven was correspondent for the Times in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He also worked as a freelance journalist in India.

Mr Lieven's articles have been published in a number of journals and newspapers, among them The Financial Times, The London Review of Books, The Nation, and The International Herald Tribune.

In this interview with AsiaSource, Mr Lieven addresses the urgent foreign policy issues confronting the United States in the theoretical context laid out in his recent book, America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism (New York: Oxford UP, 2004).

You argue in your book, America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism that American policies following the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, "divided the West, further alienated the Muslim world and exposed America itself to greatly increased danger." You suggest that this response must be understood in the context of the particular character of American nationalism. What are the features of American nationalism that are important in this respect?

In the book I suggested that there are two principal features of American nationalism, both of which were evident in the response to 9/11. These are, in spirit, to a great extent contradictory but they often run together in American public life.

This results in an incredible situation: on the one hand - and I am speaking here particularly of the neo-cons - the Bush administration wants to democratize the Muslim world, while on the other, neo-conservatives do not even bother to hide their contempt for Muslims and Arabs. Sometimes you hear, and even read, phrases like, "The only language that Arabs understand is force," "Let them hate us so long as they fear us" and so on. This is utterly contradictory: people saying they want to democratize the Arab world but displaying utter contempt for Arab public opinion. Of course this is not just a moral failing, or a propaganda failing. It also leads to practical disasters, like the extraordinary belief that you could pretend at least to be introducing democracy, and on the other hand, you could somehow impose Ahmed Chalabi on Iraqis as a pro-American strongman, and that somehow the local population would line up to salute you and happily accept this.

So these are very dangerous aspects of American nationalism. And these aspects by the way used to be very sharply and profoundly analyzed by great figures in the American intellectual tradition, conservative as well as liberal: figures like Reinhold Niebuhr, Richard Hoftstadter, Louis Hartz, George Kennan and William Fulbright. Though most of these figures were strong anti-Communists, they directed their critique at the reasons for the particular anti-Communist hysteria of the early 1950s, and at the reasons which led America to become involved in the war in Vietnam. And their arguments and insights are of tremendous importance to America today in understanding American behavior after 9/11.

But one of the striking and tragic things about the debate leading up to the Iraq war - although one can hardly call it a "debate" - was that the vast majority of it, outside certain relatively small left-wing journals, was conducted with almost no reference to the genesis of the Vietnam war, the debates which took place then, and the insights which were generated about aspects of the American tradition. Instead of analyzing what it was about their own system which was pulling them in the direction of war with Iraq, too many members of the American elite, including leading Democrats as well as Republicans, talked only about the Iraqi side.

Even that, of course, they got completely wrong, but they did not even once ask the obvious question: "What is it about our system that may make this a disaster?" After all is this not a general pattern of American behavior in the whole world by now? This business of a Green Zone in Baghdad, American officials bunkered down behind high-protective walls, with no contact with Iraqis, is this not part of a larger trend? Yet somehow it was assumed that in the case of Iraq it would be different, that America would go in, be welcomed with open arms, quickly reshape Iraq in accordance with American norms, and then quickly leave again.

You have said that, "Belief in the spread of democracy through American power is not usually consciously insincere. On the contrary, it is inseparable from American national messianism and the wider 'American Creed'". You have just talked about some of this, but could you elaborate your definition of American national messianism? And what do you think enables such naiveté - or perhaps cynicism?

As the American historian Richard Hofstadter said, "It has been our fate as a nation not to have ideologies but to be one." What really marks out America from the other Western democracies is not the content of America's democratic creed - because the basic principles are commonly held in all the democracies. Rather, it is the intensity and conformity with which these beliefs are held. This is because, precisely as Hofstadter said, these principles are or are felt to be essential to holding America together; that is, they are an essential part of the American national identity in a way that they are not to the British or the French or the German national identities.

This difference between the US and Europe may change of course because of the huge immigrant populations in Western Europe now. Western European countries too are having to rethink their identities and emphasize common values rather than common heritage or ancestry. But certainly up to now, America has stood out because of the extent of its commitment to this so-called American Creed. I should say here that the word 'creed' was chosen for this advisedly by a series of American thinkers (though the original phrase was G.K.Chesterton's) as suggesting an almost religious form of belief.

The extent to which this is fundamental to the American national identity and is widely believed to keep Americans together means that it is very difficult in this country to challenge these myths. They are also remarkably impervious to experience. Vietnam did not fundamentally change them, it only battered them for a while. Endless lessons in the Middle East have failed to change them. Now, despite the lesson of Iraq, there are still leading Democrats writing about the need to create alliances of democracies and spread democracy in the region. Not to ask what the people of the region actually want, not to ask about a sensible diplomatic strategy, but to use democratization as a substitute for any real strategy. This comes again from a central part of the American national and nationalist heritage.

There is some continuity in American foreign policy, as you suggest, from the Bush Sr. administration through Clinton to the present Bush administration. Although you argue that Clinton's multilateralism was more befitting of a stable hegemonic state, is it not the case that as far as policy is concerned, this was only a change in form rather than substance? And if so, what accounts for this extraordinary unanimity in foreign policy between the only two serious political parties in this country (further evidence of which was the Kerry campaign's inability to offer any policy alternatives to the most pressing foreign policy issues presently confronting the US: Iraq and Israel-Palestine)?

On the Middle East, both of the American parties are, frankly, crippled above all by their inability to confront the question of America's relationship with Israel. Indeed not just to confront it, but even to mention it, as we saw in the presidential debate.

On a range of other issues, though, Bush has not actually been as bad as many people think, or at least he has been much closer to Clinton - whatever that means. In the case of China, for example, the Bush administration came in with a very un-Clintonesque policy of confronting China, of containing China - and this could have led to some extremely dangerous results. But then 9/11 came along and ever since, the Bush administration has been pursuing an extremely Clintonesque policy of engaging China, of putting pressure on Taiwan not to declare independence, and so on. There was that moment in the presidential debates when it was Bush who was saying that the US needs a multilateral policy towards the threat of North Korea with a key role for China; a curious irony given the Bush administration's frequent celebration of its own unilateralism, but not actually wrong. Similarly with Russia, while I would not necessarily describe the Bush administration's policy as multilateralist, they have certainly been pursuing a very traditional, pragmatic, realist policy, and not an aggressive one.

The area where the Clinton and Bush administrations have moved farthest apart is in relations with Europe. Clearly the Bush administration is not nearly as interested in Europe as Clinton was, and it is not nearly as interested in NATO. I should emphasize here that it was not interested even in the eight months before 9/11, let alone afterwards. If Gore had won in 2000, there would have been a very real difference: he would have made a much greater effort to engage NATO and to consult with European governments after 9/11.

That does bring out certain key differences between Bush and the Clinton tradition. Of course they are both interested in expanding America's power in the world; they are both imperialists, in a certain sense. They both profess at least their belief in spreading democracy. But Clinton, I think, was much more of a genuine Wilsonian. Bush in many ways is a fake Wilsonian because while he professes this messianic, democratization line, he has completely ignored the other key aspect of Wilson's strategy: international cooperation, international institutions, creating a web of alliances and so forth. Clinton talked about this a great deal and was savagely attacked by the right-wing in this country for doing so. Clinton's idea was to place "America at the center of every world network" - a position which implies influence, leadership, and even hegemony, but also consultation and negotiation.

So when it comes to the differences between Bush and Clinton, and the similarities, one requires a rather nuanced picture in which in some ways they are closer than it appears, but in other ways, they are genuinely quite different.

In several articles and in your book, you point out that unlike in previous empires, the vast majority of ordinary Americans do not think of themselves as imperialist, or as possessing an empire. At the same time, you mention repeatedly the extent to which the American population is unaware of the policies pursued in its name, is indeed alarmingly ignorant of world affairs. Given this, how could they conceive of the United States as an imperial power? And why is the perception of "ordinary" Americans relevant to understanding the place of America in the world today?

If I remember rightly, according to a poll in Britain in the 1930s, a very small proportion of the British population could remember the name of more than two British colonies. They could remember maybe India and Australia, or probably they remembered the white colonies, but most of them could not remember the name of a single African colony. No one would ever have used that as an argument that the British people did not believe in empire; they were just ignorant.

In the book, I quote C. Vann Woodward on this subject, another great American critic of the past, whose insights I wanted to try to revive for contemporary Americans. Woodward talked about the American people as being bellicose but not militarist, and I think it is also true that they are bellicose but not imperialist. That said, this kind of bellicosity, this instinctive reaction to lash out if attacked or even if insulted, has been repeatedly, and by the way quite explicitly on the part of the neo-cons, used as a way of whipping up nationalist anger, and nationalist commitment to what are in fact imperialist projects.

This is a very old tradition in imperialism. In my book, I cite many examples from history to show that in general even at the height of the Western empires, ordinary Western people were not really very interested in great imperial projects if they were going to be expensive. They liked the idea of power and glory but they were very dubious about losing lives and spending large amounts of money to go out and conquer bits of Africa and so forth. If they could be convinced that this was not simply an imperialist project, but rather part of national rivalry with France or Germany, then it was possible to generate much more support.

In some ways, the American people do fit into this tradition. It is quite clear, for example, that even most of the ones who do consider themselves imperialist would be dead against the reintroduction of conscription in America. Even if it were proved to them that conscription was absolutely necessary in order to maintain America's imperial power in the world, they would not be persuaded. Equally the assorted jackasses who bray in the media about the American empire and the need for great sacrifices in its cause have shown no very ardent desire to go and serve themselves in Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere else.

There is therefore a good deal of lack of underlying commitment to American power on the part of Americans themselves. More commitment certainly than exists almost anywhere else in the world by now but still not enough to generate a really full-scale imperial project. This also explains in part the relative pragmatism of the Bush administration in some areas of the world. After all even this administration recognizes that it cannot simultaneously run its present program in the Middle East and risk war with China and radically alienate Russia. If there were war with China or with North Korea then America would have to reintroduce conscription. Then the end of the American imperial project would be very close indeed.

Another differentiating feature of 19th century empires and the American empire is that the former were characterized by the so-called "civilizing mission" whereas the latter, in its self-conception, is motivated by the purely benevolent aspiration of spreading democracy and freedom. Are these two imperial strategies not more similar than they at first appear?

Well in some ways, yes, of course. The 19th century liberal-imperialist strategy was also enormously benevolent in its own esteem. The European powers conquered most of Africa while assuring their own populations and everybody else who would listen that this was all part of the process of ending slavery, expanding progress, bringing peace, spreading Christianity and so forth. Even the most ghastly European colonial project of all, King Leopold of Belgium's conquest of the Congo, professed benevolent goals: Belgian propaganda was all about bringing progress, railways and peace, and of course, ending slavery. In other words, hypocrisy is completely common to both, as it was to the Soviet or communist imperial project. So in that way they are very close.

But there is a critical difference. There was no absolutely intrinsic or self-evident clash between what the 19th century liberal imperialists said that they were going to do - leave aside what they actually did in terms of massacres, land theft, etc. - in terms of bringing progress and the inherent nature of their project, these were not radically incompatible because the 19th century liberal imperialists never talked about quickly bringing democracy to the countries they conquered. To have done so would have been logically completely counter to the assumptions of Western superiority and "native" cultural inferiority and incapacity for self-rule upon which the entire ideology of the "civilizing mission" was based.

When they did talk of bringing democracy, they only did in the context of the far future, something that might come about after several generations; in Africa, they talked about a thousand years of British or French rule eventually leading to self-government and democracy. In other words, they were absolutely clear and logical. These countries would need a long period, centuries literally, of Western authoritarian, imperial rule before they would be capable of self-government, constitutional rule, democracy and so forth. Indeed to an extent this was the way that it actually worked out: the British had ruled India or parts of India for 150 years before they introduced the first very limited local, district elections with fairly circumscribed powers and a franchise of less than 0.5 per cent of the population. They started doing that only from the 1880s on. They and the other liberal imperialists had a policy of what one might call authoritarian progress, not of democratization.

Now, of course, it is completely different. The liberal imperialists of today, because of the completely different ideological era in which we are living, have to say that what they are bringing is democracy. So they conquer a place and then within a year or two, they have to hold elections, they have to claim to be introducing free government and so forth. That is just, once again, absolutely, manifestly contradictory. There would have been nothing contradictory in the 19th century about imposing Ahmed Chalabi on Iraq; the British and French did that kind of thing again and again. They had some client ruler, some dissident prince or whatever, whom they wanted to make emir of Afghanistan or of somewhere in Africa, and they just marched in and imposed him. People may have criticized it, but there was no suggestion that this was incompatible with what they were setting out to do. Of course, if you say that you are bringing democracy, if you preach about democracy, if you say your whole moral position is based on democracy, and then you impose a puppet leader, then frankly you look not just hypocritical but ridiculous, which is essentially how the US appears in much of the Muslim world.

In the wake of nationalist movements in the colonial world, imperial powers - in particular Britain - slowly ceded a variety of powers to local elites, in effect developing sophisticated ways of ruling through them (what Marxists called a "comprador elite"). Is it possible to say that the US empire runs the Third World - of which the Muslim world is an important part - through such a model of what has been called "indirect rule"?

Yes, to a considerable extent this is the case. Of course the comprador model, in the strict Latin American sense, never quite fits because very few governments elsewhere in the world have been so completely subservient as some of the Latin American elites in the past. After all, Egypt still tries to take a different line on Israel; Jordan supported Saddam Hussein in 1991; Saudi Arabia could be seen as a comprador state in that it exists to produce and export oil, but clearly in its internal arrangements, it is not at all responsive to what America would like.

Perhaps it may be more difficult these days to run such manifestly comprador systems given that, as I suggested earlier, there does tend to be more democratic pressure from below than in the 19th century. A good example is Russia, although admittedly Russia also has its tradition of Great Power status and so forth which prevents it from becoming completely subservient to America. As I wrote in a previous book on the reasons for Russia's defeat in Chechnya between 1994 and 1996, there was a real attempt by America in the 1990s, with tremendous help from the Russian elites themselves, to turn Russia into a kind of comprador state, whose elites would be subservient to America in foreign policy and would exist to export raw materials to the West and transfer money to Western bank accounts. In the end, neither the Russian state nor the Russian people would accept that. The Yeltsin order was replaced by a kind of authoritarian, nationalist backlash under Putin. One sees the same thing in a rather different form in Venezuela, for example.

So I think there are strong elements of this comprador tradition in the present American-dominated international system but at the same time it is a troubled and contested setup.

You have said that the era inaugurated by the attacks of September 11th, 2001, brought out into the open "the complete absence of democratic modernization, or indeed any modernization, in all too much of the Muslim world." What do you mean by modernization, and how is its absence related to the professed motivations for earlier imperial conquests?

How many hours do I have! Modernization is after all such a tricky concept. If we take our canonical attitudes to modernization from Max Weber, as most of us do, unconsciously at least, then of course, as I wrote in the book, America itself today does not conform to Eurocentric patterns of modernization!

Certainly much of the Muslim world - not all by any means, there are exceptions, but certainly large parts of the Middle East - does not conform to many of the criteria laid down by Weber for successful modern states. These countries have clearly not been able to imitate some of the East Asian countries in bringing about radical economic growth and reform. Many of these countries remain ruled by what are essentially clans. The famous unkind phrase of Charles Glass of Arab states being "tribes with flags" is, I am afraid, rather accurate. Syria is a monarchy of the Alawite clan. The Ba'ath started very much as a modernizing fascistic movement, like fascists in Italy, but broke down into a kind of monarchical oligarchy. Then there are the formal autocratic monarchies in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. As East Asia has demonstrated, authoritarian rule as such is not necessarily an obstacle to economic modernization and progress. But then again, this has not worked in the Middle East either.

One of the tragedies is precisely that so many different models have been tried in the region and all in a sense have failed, if not absolutely then certainly to bring the countries concerned up to the economic level of the West or East Asia. The failure to compete successfully with the West has been horribly demoralizing in view of the Muslim world's past cultural and economic superiority, now followed by several hundred years of relative decline. Just as for several centuries Muslim states exploited the relative weakness of the Christian world to expand their power, so later Western states took advantage of Muslim weakness to conquer most of the Muslim world. This was followed by the establishment in the heart of the Muslim world of Israel, a tremendously militarily and economically successful Western surrogate power. Israel's successes, and Israel's oppression of the Palestinians, have underlined various aspects of Arab failure. Israel is in no sense the originator of these historical feelings of resentment and humiliation, but in recent decades has acted as a catalyst and focus for these older and deeper feelings.

If you take the example of Pakistan, the part of the Muslim world that I know best, that country of course is in some ways a vastly more modern society than it was 50 years ago, but then again in some ways it is not. In this context, it is interesting to ask what constitutes "modernity" in the case of political religion. Radical Islam in Pakistan and elsewhere is after all in many ways a modern force. It is not just a reaction to modernity, but also uses modern methods so one certainly cannot say that it is purely reactionary or regressive.

But certainly so far there has been in Pakistan a failure of political modernization in the form of democracy. Pakistan has essentially remained a state that is run by the military and the civil service. The political elites, with the exception of the MQM and to some extent the Islamists, cannot really be described as modern political parties with a serious mass base. The PPP is a cult of personality party presiding over an alliance of big landowners and urban bosses. And while the military and civil service have held the country together, they have obviously failed to develop Pakistan as a successful modern state.

The weakness of political culture, when added to economic and military weakness, lays the Muslim world open to the threat of physical intervention by the new world imperialist power, and it also weakens Muslim states morally and ideologically in terms of resisting such intervention.

You have pointed out several times the authoritarian character of most states in the Arab and Muslim worlds but do not mention the fact that a majority of these regimes depend for their existence on continued American patronage. Is it not the case that a number of these states are viewed as client regimes of the United States and that this is one of the major sources of Muslim resentment against the US? This is particularly true of your comments about Pakistan, where the US supported the Zia regime for over a decade and now supports the military government of General Musharraf.

As I have often said with regard to American and British professed support for democratization: we can all believe in a human capacity for redemption even if we are not born-again Christians, but most of us, not being saints, do not ask reformed burglars to guard our houses! We should not therefore ask Arabs and Muslims, given the British-American record on democracy in the Muslim world, to trust our professions today that we are sincere in our wish to bring democracy.

By contrast, I have always believed and continue to believe in the force of the US and Western example when it comes to spreading democracy. If we can go on demonstrating to the world that our societies are more peaceful, more stable, less oppressive and more economically successful than authoritarian or theocratic states, then there will be a strong tendency for democracy to spread without our having to intervene in other places to bring this about. In this sense, I am a strong believer in the American tradition stretching from President Adams to George Kennan which takes immense and justifiable pride in the American political system, but believes that America spreads democracy best when it maintains the health and strength of its own system. By the way, President Eisenhower said much the same thing at the end of his second term, so this is hardly a radical position, let alone an anti-American one.

As to US (and British) support for dictatorships, and the resentment this has caused, this is true. On the other hand, I think it cuts both ways. Does one believe that if these authoritarian regimes fell then viable democracies would follow? In Pakistan, unfortunately, this did not happen. Of course it is true that the army always stepped in eventually but then again look at the PPP government under Bhutto in the 1970s - certainly not a regime that was strongly supported by Washington - and its extremely brutal treatment of dissent. Look at the fact that when Musharraf took power he was supported by the great majority of the population, because of the outrageous corruption of governments in the 1990s.

I think that is a rather misleading claim. How do we know what proportion of Pakistan's population supported Musharraf's coup?

Quite right. Opinion polls are not necessarily reliable in a country like Pakistan. Let me put it another way: a great majority of the people certainly did not protest against it. If there had been true faith in democracy and its record in Pakistan, they presumably would have done so. My point is that when Musharraf assumed power, he was certainly not acting on behalf of America. Clearly, several of these authoritarian regimes do not stand because of American support but because of local tradition and domestic support: Iran, which is directly opposed to America; Libya; and the House of Saud, which is in some sense America's tool but who also have their own tradition and legitimacy which has nothing to do with American support.

Well the argument could be made that the Americans are only interested in Saudi Arabia's domestic political setup to the extent that it continues to serve their interests: oil, and in the case of the first Gulf war, the provision of military bases. Therefore the present arrangement works rather better for them than any subsequent setup might.

Until 9/11, this was true. But since then, there has been a strong and widespread belief in the US that the Saudi system is incubating terrorism, which of course is a somewhat belated realization. I met Saudi-backed extremists in Afghanistan while I was based in Peshawar in the late-80s and it was already apparent that we were building up a monster for ourselves. Since 9/11 this has been recognized.

I do not believe that America will improve its image in the Muslim world just by abandoning its present allies and preaching democracy, because I do not believe that given its geopolitical and other interests America will ever be truly sincere in this regard. America's professed ideals of democracy and freedom are always likely to come to a screeching halt at Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories but also whenever American ideals seem likely to lead to a result which will be really harmful for American geopolitical interests. One of the images which has been seared into American elite consciousness is what happened to Carter. When Carter tried to pursue a more moral policy, by putting pressure on the Shah over Savak atrocities, by putting pressure on Central American governments, was he thanked for it by the American establishment? No, he was pilloried as naïve, weak, as supporting communism, as giving opportunities to America's enemies, and so forth.

If a US President were to push Saudi Arabia really hard, for example, over democratic reform, and the Saudi regime collapses and there is an Islamist takeover, that American president would simply fall in the next election, as Carter did. Ditto with Pakistan. So America is trapped in this.

Looking beyond the publicly stated goals for the American invasion of Iraq, you said that the neo-conservative nationalists were all more or less unanimous in their agreement on one basic plan: "unilateral world domination through absolute military superiority". To what extent did the Iraq invasion have the intended results and what is the likelihood that such policies will continue to be pursued in the second term of the Bush presidency?

Iraq has been a disaster for their aims. They have gotten away with it of course in that they have been re-elected but it is perfectly obvious that they cannot launch another war of choice, another invasion of Iran, say. They simply do not have the troops. With almost 150,000 men pinned down in Iraq, they could not launch another war on that scale without introducing conscription. That would tear American society apart and for the first time since Vietnam lead to a significant anti-imperialist movement in this country. It would also, for the first time, lead to really serious questions about what America is doing in the Middle East at all.

From that point of view, Iraq really has not worked out as they had anticipated and has greatly reduced their plans. After all, in the immediate aftermath of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, all the neo-cons were going around saying: "Next stop: Iran". Or Syria. This kind of rhetoric has not disappeared completely - they are still refusing to talk to the Iranians - but the agenda on Iran has really narrowed just to the issue of nuclear weapons. So Iraq has had a major effect in this respect .

You suggest that various practices and institutions put into place during the Cold War make the constant threat of war a virtual necessity for the American foreign policymaking and security establishment. This may account in part for why Islam came very quickly to replace communism as the great ideological enemy of the United States. Given that Islam has no locus, that there are a billion Muslims spread out across the world, how is the US security establishment likely to continue to deal with this kind of enemy?

I say in the book that what seems essential is not the imminent threat of war, but rather constant belief in the possibility of war. There are all these institutions and economic interests which were put in place by the Second World War and still more by the Cold War. Eisenhower's original phrase apparently was "military-industrial-academic-complex". There are so many people in my world of think tanks in American universities with a deep stake in all these foreign policy agendas. In the book I also point out that - and this has been mentioned in other forms by people like James Mann, Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill and others - one of the reasons why 9/11 was able to happen was that the security elites under Clinton, and very much under Bush, were not looking seriously at the terrorist threat because, due to their Cold War backgrounds, they were obsessed with the very much lesser threat from major rival states.

When the Bush administration came to power, they had radical anti-Chinese agendas of containing China, of rolling back China, of creating a new Cold War with China. On the other hand, now there is this tremendous effort, certainly among the neo-cons, to present Islam or the Muslim world as the new Cold War enemy. You see all this nonsense by people like Norman Podhoretz about the Fourth World War. The interesting thing is precisely because, as you say, Islam is not a superpower like the Soviet Union, nor does it represent a relatively clear set of social, economic, and political principles like communism. One is dealing with an extremely diverse world with different cultures and societies and multiple motivations.

Even if you narrow the war on terror down to Al Qaeda and its allies, which of course the Bush administration and Israeli lobby have deliberately and manifestly failed to do, even then one is speaking of a web, a network of many, many different groups and nodes in this web which sometimes cooperate, sometimes act independently, with varying degrees of relative importance. Zarqawi's group in Iraq, like the international forces fighting in Chechnya, are in no sense subordinate to Al Qaeda.

To combat these groups requires a really detailed and acute knowledge of the societies concerned. Something once again that America failed to generate in the case of Vietnam before going to war there, failed to generate about Iraq before going to war there, and is indeed failing to generate in the case of large parts of the Muslim world. It does seem that there is a natural pull towards concentration on alleged threats from states. This was especially clear after 9/11: the astonishing speed with which the Bush administration turned its attention from the actual terrorist perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks to confront the "axis of evil" states and draw up plans for war with Iraq.

It is clearly much easier to threaten and invade Iraq than to think seriously about how to combat the appeal of groups like Al Qaeda and its allies in the Muslim world. Similarly it is much easier to concentrate on preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons than having to think seriously about the Shia-Sunni relationship, or what to do about the Hezbollah in Lebanon. This is part of the built-in bias of military bureaucracies, but also owes much to the effects of the Cold War and the present intellectual configuration of American academia.

You explain in your book why the Cold War legacy has made it difficult for US policymakers, trained for the most part in the so-called "Realist" tradition, to conceive of a security threat as emanating from somewhere other than a nation-state, an assumption that is rather inadequate for addressing the threat of terrorism, as you just pointed out (and may account in part for why, as you say, quoting Bob Woodward, the Bush administration seemed incapable of staying focused on a terrorist threat, before and after the attacks on the US, and started planning for war on Iraq on November 21st, 2001; that is, 72 days after 9/11). Yet you supported the American invasion of Afghanistan when it seemed clear that Al Qaeda was a diffuse, dynamic network, with no state to claim as its own. Why was Afghanistan, then, a legitimate - morally, but also pragmatically - target for military strike?

The invasion of Afghanistan was justified by absolutely traditional and universally accepted traditions of self-defense. Al Qaeda had launched this attack; this was generally accepted by every rational person in the world. Al Qaeda were quickly and clearly identified as the perpetrators, and indeed subsequently made no real attempt to deny it. When it comes to the responsibility of the Taliban, Al Qaeda after all was functioning very much as part of the Afghan state under the Taliban, and provided the Taliban's praetorian guard.

It is true that, had I been in a position of authority, I would have made a greater effort to get the Taliban to extradite the Al Qaeda leadership if not directly to America then to somewhere else in the Muslim world from where they could be passed on to America. This was partly because I was afraid of what to some extent has in fact happened which is that by going in to Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance, America would alienate the Pashtuns.

Nonetheless, I thought the invasion of Afghanistan was covered by self-defense. Al Qaeda launched this attack, Al Qaeda was functioning as part of the Taliban and was being protected by the Taliban. Al Qaeda had, after all, also launched a series of attacks previously on American targets, which one should not forget: they were responsible for the massacre of very large numbers of Africans and others. I also regarded their Taliban protectors as a genuine "rogue" regime in a way that Iran certainly is not. They really were in the business of spreading instability, radicalism and terrorism (especially of course anti-Shia terrorism) in their area.

On a personal note, I detested what the Taliban stood for, and the damage that they and their allies were doing to Pakistan. Above all, I supported the US invasion of Afghanistan as legitimate self-defense and because of genuine shock at 9/11, shock at the idea that this could happen to a great modern city, and the belief that forces like Al Qaeda are a real threat to modern civilization - Muslim as well as Western. America did also enjoy a general international consensus behind its invasion of Afghanistan. To some extent the US even managed to gain some support in the Muslim world for the invasion, at least as far as states and elites are concerned. This is largely because the Sunni revolutionary element represented by Al Qaeda and the Taliban is of course a threat to every organized Muslim state as well.

So I felt that both on what Kerry called the "global test" and on the traditional test of self-defense, Afghanistan passed. Iraq did not.

You have suggested that radical American nationalists - many of who will continue in the present Bush administration - either wish to 'contain' China by overwhelming military force and the creation of a ring of American allies, or "in the case of the real radicals, to destroy the Chinese Communist state as the Soviet Union was destroyed." Have these radical elements in the present administration been sufficiently chastened by their experience in Iraq to relinquish such aspirations?

Yes, I believe so. Not to permanently relinquish their aspirations in principle: obviously they would still very much like to destroy China if they could, or at least destroy China as a potential future threat to American hegemony. But as long as they are tied down in the Middle East in the way they are, they will not have the military forces to do so.

Therefore, I believe that the Bush administration and future Democrat administrations will continue the existing line. That said of course there is always room for mistakes either on the part of Washington or of Beijing or of Taipei or most likely of all three simultaneously. The Taiwanese can go too far, and the Chinese can overreact, not because the Chinese want war but because they would trap themselves into a position where they would have to do something. If they were sensible of course the Chinese leadership would not react militarily, they would just tell any power that recognized Taiwan that China would break off diplomatic and trade relations the next day. Nobody would in fact recognize Taiwanese independence and then the Chinese could simply declare that these people have declared independence but no one recognizes them so why does it matter. This is by the way what Russia should have done in the case of Chechnya before 1994. But the Chinese could of course miscalculate and use force, and then the US, and particularly the American Congress, have put themselves in such a position that they would be forced to fight as well.

So I certainly do not rule out some kind of stumbling towards conflict. If that happens, of course, then all the old agendas would come back. Then the anti-Chinese hardliners in the bureaucracy, the think tanks and Congress would start roaring again about Communist aggression, they would gain greater influence and the Cold War agenda vis-à-vis China would be re-established. But I do not believe that any really powerful forces in Washington today actually want that.

In a recent article, you say that, "The Bush administration may be stumbling toward an attack on Iran's nuclear program that could have the most disastrous consequences for Iraq, Afghanistan and the entire American position in the Middle East." What is the likelihood of such an attack being carried out in the near future either by the Americans or the Israelis?

It is still a possibility. Not I believe such a strong possibility now because apart from everything else the Iranians do seem very anxious to play along with Europe, and are willing at least to suspend their nuclear weapons plans in response to a mixture of European pressure and incentives with American threats. But if America were to attack Iran, it would be a catastrophe. Poor old Tony Blair has accepted so many shattering blows already maybe nothing will finish him, but having invested so much in this process with Iran, if it were to end in an American attack, it seems likely that there would be a serious revolt within his government and party and he would have to resign. There are leading members of the British government briefing in private that whatever Tony Blair says, if America attacks Iran, that is the end. They will resign. This would almost certainly be the end of Blair's tenure as prime minister. It would also create a massive crisis with the Europeans. Moreover, given the fact that Iran's nuclear sites are dispersed and buried, America would very likely miss, at which point we will have the worst of all possible worlds. As the American military know very well, Iran in these circumstances would have numerous means of retaliation against American forces and plans in Iraq - whereas an American invasion of Iran looks impossible because of America's lack of troops.

So I am less worried on that score than I have been in the past. There is however a wild card involved: this is that the Israeli government appears implacably determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, without themselves offering any concessions in return; and may either attack itself or exert irresistible pressure on the US to reject a deal with the Iranians. The present deal between Iran and the West Europeans could also break down for a number of other reasons. It is not inconceivable that there could emerge some disastrous quid pro quo whereby Israel will make certain concessions towards the Palestinians and in return America go after Iran's nuclear weapons. But of course the consequences might be frightful because of course Iran would then have every incentive to try to really destabilize Iraq. Hezbollah could be reactivated as an international terrorist force. Iran would set out to destabilize Afghanistan, and so forth and so on.

All this is known to the American security elites. The uniformed military is certainly extremely opposed to anything like this. Of course they were also opposed to Iraq, but it still happened.

Could you elaborate on your argument regarding what accounts for the special relationship between Israel and America: namely the parallel between the situation of Palestinians and Native Americans?

This is not the core either of my argument or of the relationship itself, but only a subsidiary factor. At the core of the relationship lie completely legitimate sympathies and identifications between a majority of Americans and the state of Israel. These are rooted in old features of religion and culture, and more recent admiration for the achievements of the Israeli state. I should say by the way that I believe strongly in US support for Israel within the borders of 1967. in my book I express a number of positions which are certainly extremely unpopular in the Muslim world, and on the Left in Europe: support for the Jewish character of the Israeli state, opposition to all but the most limited Palestinian refugee return, and opposition to ideas of a binational state. I also accept that given the tragic circumstances of 1948, and the imperatives created by the Holocaust, a measure of ethnic cleansing was probably inevitable and would also undoubtedly have been carried out in the other direction if the Arab side had won.

So I am not arguing against sympathy for Israel as such, but only against certain forms of this identification. Sympathy rooted in comparisons between the American and Israeli settlement processes are generally confined to the American Right. Leo Strauss made land-theft the founding principle of every state, which, it must be said, if you go back far enough historically, is actually true to a considerable extent. Admittedly you have to go back in Britain 1,500 years. Certainly in the US there is a very interesting contrast in attitudes to this issue between Americans on the East Coast and in the South or the West of the country. East Coast Americans are either embarrassed about the dispossession of the Indians or have simply forgotten it. For most it is totally irrelevant, since they never encounter any Native Americans and since their ancestors in many or even most cases arrived in the US long after the East Coast Indians were dispossessed. In the South and the West, however, the frontier tradition is so much stronger. There is no real embarrassment over the dispossession; there is basically a celebration of the fact that their ancestors conquered this land and turned it, as the phrase used to be, into a "white man's country".

It does seem to me - and I am not original in pointing this out; there have been leading Israelis like Amos Elon who have done so - that this began by creating a certain community of sentiment between sections of the conservative Christian heartland in America and the rightwing in Israel, or Israel in general. In other words, it is a mistake when looking at this community of sentiment just to look at the apocalyptic element: millenarian religion. This is present but it would not have nearly the resonance that it does if it were not set in a wider context.

Now of course here I am talking about the conservative tradition in the American heartland, the Christian tradition, but of course sympathy with Israel is much broader: it has a great deal to do with the Holocaust, it has to do with the perception of Israel as a modern, democratic society, as a very successful society. This goes together, obviously, with tremendous support from the Jewish community for Israel on the whole. So all these factors work in concert.

There is nothing at all in principle wrong with people here supporting Israel as such, or admiring Israel for its tremendous success as a society. But on the American Right there are very much darker elements to this affinity, one of which is precisely the radical religious one but the other is a kind of sublimated racism.

You have also argued that American nationalism has become increasingly entwined with the nationalism of the Israeli Right. What are the historical reasons for the alliance between Christian fundamentalists in this country and Zionists? In other words, how should we understand the words of Jerry Falwell when he says, "The Bible belt of the United States is the security belt of Israel"?

If one just looks at the Christian fundamentalist issue, leaving the millenarian question aside, American evangelical Protestantism is Old Testament Protestantism - just as its forbearers in English radical Protestantism and Scottish radical Protestantism were in the 16th and 17th centuries. This creates a natural affinity with the Jewish religious tradition. When evangelical Christian Lieutenant-General William Boykin was quoted last year as saying, "My God is bigger than his," in reference to a Muslim, he was directly citing from Isaiah and this is obviously a man who spends a lot of his time in the Old Testament.

It is fascinating the degree to which the Old Testament eclipses the New Testament in the thought of evangelical Christians and this automatically leads one to a sympathy with Israel. Cromwell was the first ruler of England who allowed Jews to settle again in England after the Middle Ages. He was very much influenced in this by his Old Testament-based Christianity. But also it seems, from the time of Cromwell on, there has been this millenarian idea as well: the restoration of Israel is essential to bringing about the Apocalypse. Given the influence of millenarian thought on a minority of Evangelicals, but a very significant minority, one cannot deny this influence. Look at the immense popularity of the "Left Behind" series, for example.

Finally, there is also a considerable element of straight political opportunism. The Republicans are already well on their way to putting the Democrats in a very difficult position from the point of view of political demographics. The Republicans have this tremendously solid base. Mostly white, not just Protestant anymore but Protestant and Catholic conservative, including many Latinos. Unlike the deeply fractured Democrat base, the Republican base agrees on a majority of important issues. The Democrats by contrast are trying to tie together the remnants of the white working classes in the northern cities, the blacks, the Latinos, more progressive women and the various cultural liberals - groups which often detest each other.

If on top of this advantage the Republicans can take away a majority of the Jewish vote and campaign financing from the Democrats, they stand a chance of actually destroying the Democratic Party's chances of power for a generation to come. This hope is not a secret. It has been written about quite openly by conservative commentator Robert Novak and others. If the Republicans can conclusively seize the issue of support for Israel from the Democrats, then they can rule for the foreseeable future. Rightly or wrongly, that at least is the calculation the Republicans are making.

You point out the complicity of the American media in both supporting the government in various foreign policy adventures - you say in fact that the "propaganda program" in the wake of the Iraq war has few parallels in peacetime democracies for the systematic mendacity of its reportage - and for the most part, keeping silent on the excesses of the Israeli state. What accounts for this blindness in the context of a free press in a democratic country?

This is a little stronger than what I actually said. What I said was that the Bush administration's propaganda program had few parallels in peacetime democracies and that the American media had not criticized this. I did not mean to suggest that the American media as a whole were all part of the same propaganda machine. Even in some of the papers which supported the war, dissenting voices appeared.

When it comes to keeping silent on the excesses of the Israeli state, the reporting as such has not been very unfair or inaccurate - certainly if you look at the respectable media: the serious newspapers and some of the serious television channels. Israeli bombing raids are reported, shooting of Palestinian civilians is reported, and the issue of settlements too is reported to an extent. There are two things which are completely missing, as Michael Lind pointed out in Prospect magazine in England last year. The first is historical context and the second is the almost complete absence of analysis or critique. One of the questions I raise in my book has to do with why Palestinians were expected to have peacefully acquiesced to what was being done to them in the 1940s. According to any historical precedent, this would have been absurd. No other people would have ever accepted this. Are we suggesting that the Palestinians should have been insane? This is ridiculous. So that is the context. Secondly, as Michael also pointed out, in terms of analysis, the violence and its causes are always presented as Palestinian "terrorism", not Israeli occupation. Finally the number of opinion pieces seriously criticizing Israeli policies are simply heavily outnumbered, even in the mainstream and liberal media, by expressions of support.

On Iraq, why did the media not stand out against the war? It was partly because of the role of the Israel lobby. It is very difficult to conduct a truly searching analysis of the underlying reasons for American policy in the Middle East, and very difficult to draw up really serious alternatives to existing policies, if you are not prepared to address the question of Israeli policies and the part they play in damaging American interests in the Middle East. This does not mean that Israel must be at the heart of the argument but its influence cannot be denied: it is there not just in the form of the effects of the struggle with the Palestinians but in relations with Iran, Syria and the Muslim world in general. If this is to be swept aside, as it so often is by the accusation of anti-Semitism, it just makes the entire debate here much, much more difficult. You could as well ask why there was no really serious debate in the presidential campaign over the "War on Terror" as a concept. The Israel factor is a part of that too.

I should say by the way that I never wrote about this issue before 9/11. I have no history whatsoever of attacking Israel. But after the terrorist attacks on America, the Carnegie Endowment asked me to concentrate on the war on terror and on aspects of the situation in the Muslim world. After that, it would have been intellectually dishonest and morally cowardly not to discuss this critical issue. I may add, as a British citizen, that it would have been unpatriotic, since my country is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan alongside America and is running the same risks of terrorist attack. British citizens therefore have both a right and a duty to speak out against policies and attitudes which are undermining the war on terror and endangering British security.

Concerning the behavior of the media and intelligentsia in the US, the second point is that after 9/11 people were clearly running scared. There was this tremendous militant nationalist wave sweeping the country. This is not unique to America - the same would have been true in most countries which suffered an attack of this kind. However, in the US the response took certain forms which have precedents in US history. The silencing effects of such a wave have been seen before: McCarthyism most recently, and the anti-German, then the anti-communist hysteria in the First World War and the 1920s. People were to a considerable degree intimidated into silence.

Finally, there was a very good piece by Russell Baker about AJ Liebling in the November 18th issue of the New York Review of Books in which Baker was talking about how journalists used to regard themselves as just hacks. I used to be a journalist myself, essentially writing for money, trying to be accurate in my reporting and as amusing and intelligent as possible. Now there is this ghastly tendency of journalists, particularly those who get to the top of the US media, to regard themselves not as hacks but as pillars of the state. So they begin to behave almost as if they were senior officials not hacks like the rest of us; and not just that, but as if they had occupied a great office of state during some great crisis in American affairs, as if they had been Acheson during the Second World War or the Korean War. So many of these columnists and television journalists are like that now.

One last point, and this may appear at first sight contradictory: the figure of Bob Woodward bridges these two things. After Watergate, on the one hand journalists got an exaggerated sense of their own importance as the Fourth Estate, a political force which makes and breaks administrations. On the other hand, they became more and more addicted to being given enormous dollops of constructed information and "spin" on a plate - instead of doing real fieldwork and investigative reporting like Woodward did. So Woodward is turned from an investigative reporter into a court chronicler. He has fascinating information and very good insights but is nonetheless essentially a praise-singer of the American system. I think a lot of American journalists are like that now. When they depend for leaks and for information on either the government in power or the opposition they are clearly not going to say anything that will wreck their chances of getting what they regard as scoops.

You have said that, "The younger intelligentsia [in the United States] has also been stripped of any real knowledge of the outside world by academic neglect of history and regional studies in favour of disciplines which are often no more than a crass projection of American assumptions and prejudices…. This has reduced still further their capacity for serious analysis of their own country and its actions." In addition, you point out the very close links that exist between relevant university departments and government institutions. What are the implications of this?

Well it contributes enormously to the conformism when it comes to debates like that about the Iraq war or about Israel. As Henry Kissinger pointed out almost thirty years ago, too many people in the academic world are either defending previous records when in government or aiming to be in the next administration. This is not a situation likely to produce radical critiques or really strong alternative policies. These people are not at all anxious to say something which will either lead to them not being selected or to their being vetoed by a Senate committee.

I used to think that it is wonderful that the American state can recruit from people in academia but I have come to find it deeply corrupting. I almost prefer the British system now, of career civil servants who serve one administration after another. But one needs a strong ethos of the independence of the civil service and a very strong ethos that people cannot be sacked or penalized for political views as long as they maintain the discipline of their service. This actually leaves the public debate in the UK freer than in the US, particularly in the strange, solipsistic world of Washington DC. It is amazing in a republic with a strong tradition of individualism and cultural egalitarianism, that in DC the sense of hierarchy, of sometimes obsequious deference, of the court game, who is in, who out, dominates everything just as much as it did in an early medieval court. It does contribute to this lack of debate in America.

This is compounded by the tremendously strong power of American national myths. As previous American authors like Loren Baritz pointed out, Vietnam knocked these myths off their pedestal, but many Americans spent a whole generation resuscitating them. Reagan was elected very much to do just that, to restore America's image of itself. It would seem that these myths are so important to America's national identity and image of itself that the American political and intellectual establishment is simply incapable in the end of seriously examining them and asking what flaws they may embody. Of course, there are dissidents - even some very senior ones like Senator Fulbright; but it is striking how little influence they seem to have had in the long run.

In consequence, there are all these people running around Washington - very much among the Democratic intellectual elites as well as the Republicans - who really believe that all America has to do is try harder to generate and display a sense of will. If only America wants something badly enough, anything can be achieved. Any society in the world can be transformed, irrespective of the wishes and traditions of its people. Any country can become not just a democracy, but a pro-American democracy, irrespective of its own national interests or ideals.

This is part of a deep inability to see America as others see it. It is incredible but again and again I have found myself at meetings discussing Russia and China in Washington at which I have been the only person to point out that America does after all have its own sphere of influence in Central America and the Caribbean. Not just that, but a sphere of influence which is not doing very well either economically, or to a great extent, in terms of real democracy either. The rest of the world sees this perfectly well, and as a result, develops a belief in American hypocrisy which is itself very bad for American prestige and influence.

After all, how much did Haiti get after floods which killed thousands of people and devastated the country? Peanuts. A mere fifty million dollars or so from America. And Haiti is only a few hundred miles from America's own shores. Haiti also has a very large population here in the US and they got virtually nothing. Yet when I point this out to people in DC, and suggest that pouring money into the Middle East when countries close to America's shores and within America's old sphere of influence are suffering so badly, they often become furious. There is this strange moral bubble, it seems, and of course it is particularly bad in Washington, but then again, outside Washington and the universities, nobody thinks about these issues at all!

You end your recent article in The Nation with the following quote from Arnold Toynbee: "Great empires do not die by murder, but suicide." Is that the present trajectory of the United States?

I must state very strongly that in principle, and when thinking of the historical alternatives, I do not want the American empire to end. I have never been against a moderate, civilized and rational version of American hegemony. I certainly would not want to replace it with Chinese hegemony!

But it is easy to see how a combination of different events could bring American hegemony down over the next generation. America at present has no serious strategy for the Middle East. It has a series of ad hoc strategies for dealing with bits of the terrorist threat, and for trying to contain Iran, and manage Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It does not however have anything approaching a general strategy. If America continues to infuriate more and more Muslims, if then there is either a revolution elsewhere in the Middle East or a terrorist attack on the American mainland again, then it is very easy to see America lashing out in a way which will not only spread chaos and instability still further, but will lead to a complete breakdown of the alliance with Europe.

If America gets involved in another major war of occupation, then conscription will be back. When conscription comes back, Americans will come out on to the streets and start demanding answers: maybe even about energy saving and about the relationship with Israel.

Even given the profound weaknesses of America's strategy and position in the Middle East, however, the American empire has immense underlying strengths. In the Far East, for example, as long as the US does not grossly overplay its hand, most of the East Asian states actually want America to stay there as a balancer against China. In Europe, East Europeans in particular are anxious for the US to remain strongly present, whether out of continued fear of Russia or resentment at French and German domination. In Central America and the Caribbean, the US will always be predominant through sheer force of economic and military might.

But if the Bush administration were feeling suicidal, and were actually in the mood to throw itself over a cliff, like the Hapsburgs in 1914, there are a number of ways it could do that. It could invade Iran, that would do it very quickly. Or it could invade Saudi Arabia. Or it could support Taiwanese independence. I don't believe they will actually do any of those things. Unfortunately, one can much more easily imagine the Bush administration doing something like bombing Iran, which would not lead to immediate disaster but which could begin a spiral of retaliation leading ultimately to catastrophic conflict.

It has become increasingly clear that world oil reserves are depleting and their exhaustion is within sight. In addition, global oil and energy resources have formally been a "national-security" concern of the United States since Carter. How, and to what extent, will the geopolitics of oil determine US foreign policy in the coming decade?

To a great extent, they already do. One has seen the tremendous attempt to build up the Caspian as an alternative to the Persian Gulf as a source of oil. But the striking thing is that this has to a great extent failed. It has failed both because there is not enough oil in the Caspian really to compete with the Persian Gulf but also because there are other buyers: a great deal of that oil will go east to China and even to Japan. If the Chinese economy continues to grow, it is likely that oil prices will rise and rise - until, perhaps, environmental disaster destroys the present world economy and forces the world to limit its consumption.

So America's presence in the Middle East is of course not just about Israel. A tremendous amount of it is about oil - and not just the interests of the oil companies, but genuinely, in the view of many Americans, the preservation of the American way of life. It will be interesting if one sees serious instability in several of the major oil-producers simultaneously. If there were major instability in the Persian Gulf and some kind of meltdown in Nigeria, which is entirely possible, and in a very different way of course serious instability in Venezuela, then there is the possibility that somewhere at least America would intervene with its own troops on the ground to guarantee its oil supplies. Then once again we will be confronted with the whole question of whether America has enough troops, what this will lead to, etc. In some places in Africa American intervention could be presented as a peacekeeping operation, and indeed could even have genuine elements of that.

I am not saying that any of this will happen, but the geopolitics of oil will be absolutely central to America's global strategy in the years to come. Of course what I would like to see would be an approach to the same issue from the other end which is simply to reduce America's dependence on oil. This has been one of the very worst things that Bush has done, or rather not done: his complete failure to use 9/11 to make an argument for decreasing America's reliance on oil. Instead we have just seen American consumption going up and up. There is a strong possibility in future that just as in Iraq, America could again be drawn into occupying a country (or countries) in a way that would be perceived by the rest of the world as just about keeping its grip on oil supplies. The thing that might discourage a US administration from this however is that as Iraq has demonstrated, there is nothing easier to blow up than an oil pipeline.

Such a contingency has been widely discussed in the case of Saudi Arabia. If the US were to occupy other countries in order to secure its oil supplies, then every suspicion of the rest of the world concerning the US and its motives for the invasion of Iraq would essentially be confirmed. The US would begin to shed its last elements of true international idealism. It would become much more like a classical empire preoccupied with seizing raw materials and controlling them, irrespective of the wishes or the well-being of the populations concerned. In this case, America's ancient and very positive role as a beacon of democracy and progress for mankind would be destroyed. We should all pray, therefore, that this does not happen.


Interview conducted by Nermeen Shaikh of AsiaSource


[Jan 1, 2008] The battle of ideas By Daniel L. Davis

The United States is currently locked into a global war whose primary battleground is not Iraq, Afghanistan or the tribal areas of Pakistan but in that ill-defined terrain of the mind where the beliefs, convictions and passions of men reside. As difficult and unpleasant as it is to admit, America is not winning on this psychological battlefield; if we do not reverse this trend quickly we may someday find ourselves in danger of losing on a physical battlefield.

In a recent interview, Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli — the senior military adviser to the secretary of defense and a highly decorated combat veteran — told me he believed only 40 percent of winning a war was based on the "kinetic fighting" at which American Forces excel, while fully 60 percent was predicated on winning the battle of ideas. "Look at our enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan," the general explained. "He is cutting people's heads off, murdering women and children, blowing up religious sites — and yet we say he is winning the information war? That's got to change."

Another highly decorated veteran of combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Col. Lee Fetterman, said of this battle of the mind, "Wars are won in the will, and if someone or a group of someone's hates another group with enough passion, it can be a very long and difficult struggle."

If some of the Army's most accomplished battle leaders of today understand the critical value of ideas and how important they are to winning wars, why do we seem to be lagging behind an enemy who, as Gen. Chiarelli points out, butchers women and children? Many in the United States shake their heads in incredulity, particularly when American efforts to care for the dispossessed are contrasted so sharply against such brutality. Upon closer examination, however, we find the reasons may not be so hard to understand.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when America possessed considerable admiration and respect in the minds of people across the world. But over time that prestige has tarnished while at the same time our domestic condition improved to unprecedented heights. It seems we began to believe all the stories about how great we were while inversely showing less and less consideration, respect and appreciation for those beyond our borders. This undesirable condition has worsened over the past decade, and as is now becoming very clear, works against our self-interest.

Shortly after Desert Storm, when the Soviet Union dissolved and the Cold War ended, instead of working to further diminish tensions and develop a partner relationship with Moscow, we took the unnecessary step of expanding the NATO military alliance toward a weakened Russia, we unilaterally abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty because it suited our preference and in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom we diplomatically bludgeoned longtime allies France and Germany, completely disregarding their opinions and concerns.

Today, we need Russian diplomatic help with North Korea and Iran, but now that Russia is no longer weak, Moscow is much less inclined to act in ways that benefit the United States. We need French and German help in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and true to our historic friendship they have helped — but that help was much delayed in coming and has been less than it could have been as a result of the way we ignored them in the run-up to the Iraq war. And, ominously, because of perceived double standards, even popular opinion in Turkey — one of our most critical allies in that part of the world — has turned sharply against the United States.

I could offer a number of specific policy and organizational recommendations for reform, but frankly none of that will matter unless there is first a fundamental change in the mind of Americans. If we do not accept that along with our many and substantial virtues we are also guilty of sometimes not insignificant pride, arrogance and hubris, no reform is even possible. It is imperative that our national leaders concede the fact that part of the reason we're not winning the global battle of the mind is our past behavior, our insistence on having things our way and our unwillingness to compromise on non-critical issues to our friends and allies.

We can't undo the past, but we most assuredly can change what we do from here forward. Perhaps a slice of "humble pie" with a holiday meal would be in order to facilitate a fresh start in the new year.

Our success on future battlefields could depend on it.

West Wing How Dangerous Is America - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

I do not believe that someone who disagrees with me should be criticized for that reason alone," Schmidt said at a ceremony to celebrate his 85th birthday in 2003. And he added: "But he must be criticized if he states an opinion that is not real." Let us subject the various opinions to a reality test. Schmidt says: "Russia poses far less of a threat to world peace today than, for example, the United States. You can go ahead and print that." These were the words Schmidt uttered in an interview with his own paper, the weekly Die Zeit. He also said that, although he does not view Russian President Vladimir Putin as a flawless democrat, he does consider him an "enlightened potentate."

But why are the Americans more dangerous than the Russians? Why should we be more afraid of the cradle of democracy than of a potentate, no matter how "enlightened" Schmidt says he is? And is it even relevant whether the censor is educated, disadvantaged, harsh or amiable? What is important, however, is that the censor engages in censorship, while the potentate gives arbitrariness free rein.

Isn't precisely the opposite of what Schmidt says true? That the experienced American democracy is fundamentally less dangerous than Russia, which, after surviving czarism and communism, has experienced only a few years of Putin-style democracy? Even the loud and sometimes insufferable America of President George W. Bush is already significantly less dangerous than it was when he came into office. Today Bush is a dog that barks but can no longer bite. He is limited by four factors, which, in their absoluteness, are foreign to Putin: his own people, the US Constitution, the independent judiciary and the free press. All four factors lend legitimacy to the United States -- and withdraw it again. This is precisely the beauty of a democracy: the people have the first and last word.

Schmidt rightfully characterizes the Iraq war as "a war of choice, not a war of necessity." But even this choice is no longer available to the outgoing president. Another ground war is no longer an option. Even the military is tired of war. "We are overstretched," the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff recently said. Preparations are already underway for a partial withdrawal from Iraq. The man in the White House may be gritting his teeth, but he is bringing the first troops home -- reluctantly and gruffly -- but bringing them home he is.

Bush would be truly dangerous if he could do as he wished. But he can't. This is precisely the difference. In a democracy, the will of the individual is answerable to the people, and not the other way around. I, in any case, prefer narrow-minded democrats over enlightened potentates any day. Of course, enlightened democrats -- the kind of person Helmut Schmidt once was and will hopefully remain for a long time -- are the best thing for the country.

US is ‘worst’ imperialist -- archbishop -Times Online

Генри Миллер: США между гениями и лунатиками ("La Jornada", Мексика)

Мы с самого начала проводили геноцид! Долой всех тех, кто с нами не согласен!

Генри Миллер / Henry Miller, 16 марта 2007
4 года назад, 16 марта 2003 года, США начали военную операцию против Ирака. Публикация из архива ИноСМИ.Ru


Последние два столетия, пролетевшие как единый миг, мы словно скатывались по водосточной трубе. Там-то мы и сломаем себе шею! И никто не всплакнет по нам; даже те, кому мы помогли выжить. В какой-то момент нашей истории мы просто стали отравлять весь мир. Мы отравляли его нашими идеями о прогрессе, продуктивности и механизации. Наших сильных духом пионеров-первооткрывателей мы превратили в роботов. Мы провели дегуманизацию мира, в котором живем.

Aборигены, прежде населявшие наш континент, сначала приняли колонизаторов из Старого Мира за богов. Но очень скоро разочаровались. Очень скоро они научились бояться и ненавидеть нас (именно мы, бледнолицые, научили индейцев рубить головы своим врагам!). Точно с такой же жестокостью поступали и мы сами с теми, кто не разделял наших взглядов на жизнь. Именно мы уничтожили удивительную общину Онейда, так же как и многие другие религиозные общины. Мы отобрали у индейцев их земли и сделали все возможное, чтобы уничтожить эти народы. И мы ни разу даже не попытались компенсировать им наши деяния.

Кажется, что все мы были зачаты среди ненависти и насилия, и рождены, чтобы грабить, насиловать и убивать. Книги по нашей истории стараются залакировать все те жестокость, мерзость и аморальные поступки, совершенные нашими предводителями. Достаточно привести единственный пример - один из самых великих людей, рожденных нашей нацией, Томас Джефферсон (Tomas Jefferson), имел незаконнорожденного сына от своей чернокожей рабыни. Почти все великие политики, что возводили здание нашей демократии, были рабовладельцами. Это они придумали для нашей нации названия республика и демократия, но на самом деле их у нас никогда не было, даже сейчас. Этой страной управляет всего лишь несколько патрициев из влиятельных семейств. Еще во времена Уолта Уитмена (Walt Whitman) вся эта территория была поражена коррупцией. Поэзия Уитмена в «Листьях травы» - великолепная песнь во имя «Я», но все его прозаические произведения - это обвинительный приговор в адрес американского общества.

Не так давно мне на глаза попались фотографии всех наших вице-президентов, помещенные в одну рамку: они могли бы стать прекрасным примером для иллюстрации дурного вкуса. Кто-то из них походил на преступников, кто-то - на тупиц, а кто-то и просто на идиотов. По правде говоря, президенты выглядели не намного лучше. Вот уж точно, что государственные мужи всего мира кажутся тупоголовыми и пройдохами. И Черчилль (Churchill) не был исключением.

К имени Линкольна (Lincoln) многие относятся с благоговением, хотя, по моему мнению, именно он во многом несет ответственность за начало гражданской войны, потому как в его силах было не допустить развязывания войны между Севером и Югом. Та гражданская война, как и все прочие, подобные ей столкновения, стала примером страшной жестокости, от которой страна по-прежнему полностью не оправилась.

Участие в первой мировой войне было - как бы так помягче сказать - страшным безумством. Достаточно лишь вспомнить, что стало с тем прежним, страшным врагом всего человечества!

Война, война-. С самых ранних лет своего детства я помню то, что было связано с войной между Испанией и Соединенными Штатами, русско-японской войной, войной на Балканах - и так без конца. Как написал в своем «Отказе от повиновения» («Refus d'Obeissanse») Жан Жионо (Jean Giono), войны питают капитализм, без них он вообще не может существовать.

Сегодня все партии ведут войну: партии либеральные, партии реакционные, партии какие угодно. Коммунисты такие же убийцы, как капиталисты или фашисты. Кажется, что человек рожден, чтобы убивать. Наша страна занималась тем, что учила весь оставшийся мир заниматься самоуничтожением, умерщвляя все, в том числе флору и фауну.

В какой-то момент общество заинтересовалось полетом на Луну. Сейчас складывается впечатление, что тот эксперимент не преследовал никаких благих целей - все плоды собрал Пентагон. Очень скоро окажутся ненужными ни форма, ни военная подготовка, ни военные дисциплины. Мы усядемся там, где нам будет удобно, и со своего места сможем управлять самым смертоносным оружием. И все войны будет проходить вдалеке от нашего кресла-качалки! И не будет никакой необходимости в генералах, адмиралах и прочих командующих. Все вместе и каждый в отдельности - будь то мужчина, женщина или ребенок - превратятся в потенциальные бомбы.

Когда я говорю, что мы катимся по водосточному желобу, я имею в виду и всех наших последователей во всем мире. Мы упадем все вместе. Холокост, возможно, смогут пережить самые примитивные организмы и некоторые представители диких тварей. И лишь тогда, возможно, мы станет свидетелями зарождения нового человечества. Мы - те, кто в настоящее время и составляет общество, на самом деле пока не готовы привести в порядок корабль Государства. Любое преследование прогрессистской идеи уводит нас все дальше и дальше в прошлое.

С самых первых лет своего существования у нас были свои гангстеры, свои убийцы и свои же коррумпированные политики. Когда мы жили в счастливые, добрые и чистые времена? Согласно моим подсчетам - никогда. Я был еще ребенком, когда впервые услышал рассказы о Таммани-Холл. Когда я был еще ребенком, то видел, как конные полицейские разгоняли толпу безоружных людей на Юнион-Сквер (они походили на хорошо тренированных казаков). Когда я был еще совсем маленьким, мне рассказывали о таких «героях» как адмирал Дьюи (Dewey) - настоящий простак - и Тедди Рузвельт (Teddy Roosevelt) , участвовавший в сражении при Сан-Хуан Хилл. Но мне ничего не рассказывали об Эмерсоне (Emerson), Торо (Thoreau) или Уитмене. В те времена моим «героем» был Уильям Дженнингс Брайан (William Jennings Bryan) - «оратор с серебряным языком». Уже позднее я узнал о тюрьмах Синг-Синг, Даннемора, Ливенворт и прочих, им подобных. Самым любимым моим писателем в юности был О'Генри, но никто при этом не рассказал мне о человеке, который подтолкнул его к писательству - Але Дженнингсе (Al Jennings) - с которым писатель-кумир моей юности сидел в одной камере в тюрьме в Огайо.

В нашем районе не было ни публичных библиотек, ни книжных магазинов. Только в двадцать один год мне повезло и я встретил в Калифорнии, в Сан-Диего Эмму Голдман (Emma Goldman), открывшую мне существование такого слова как культура. И лишь благодаря ей, я смог совершить поворот от Марка Твена (Mark Twain) к Фридриху Ницше (Friederich Nietzsche).

И не только наши вице-президенты были толпой тупиц и простаков, но и - почти вся страна в целом. Скольких великих писателей, художников, музыкантов породила наша страна за эти два столетия? Гораздо легче вспомнить количество знаменитых бездельников, порожденных ею!

Стоит вспомнить весь тот цирк под названием Уотергейт. Если судить по реакции нашего общества, так может сложиться впечатление, что наши политики могут совершать лишь самые тривиальные ошибки, что они не совершили ни одного преступления. Мы много раз поступали так, словно были твердо убеждены, что зло можно искоренить раз и навсегда.

Когда Линкольн (Lincoln) издал свою «Декларацию об освобождении», мы решили, что положили конец рабству. Мы и представить себе не могли, что на севере существуют гораздо более серьезные расовые проблемы, чем на юге. Мы не только создали черных рабов, мы придумали и рабов белых - рабов эры господства машин. Ку-клукс-клан существует до сих пор. И до сих пор существует мафия! У нас не бывает погромов, но антисемитизм по-прежнему растет и крепнет.

И вполне очевидно, что из-за всей этой нашей болтовни о прогрессе мы страдаем узостью сознания, всяческими предрассудками и жажда крови в нас сильна так же, как и прежде. Одного лишь упоминания военного ведомства - Пентагон! - достаточно, чтобы напугать.

Война во Вьетнаме была настоящей низостью! Тамерлан (Tamerlane) и Аттила (Attila) - младенцы по сравнению с монстрами наших дней, вооруженных атомными бомбами и напалмом. Если Гитлера (Hitler) обвиняют в геноциде, то в чем же обвинять нас?

Мы проводили геноцид с самого начала! Долой всех тех, кто с нами не согласен! Мы проводили геноцид в отношении индейцев, негров, мексиканцев. А затем появились кино и телевидение, и там можно увидеть все, что угодно. Дети растут и видят, как на экранах совершаются преступления, убийства, грабежи, пытки и все мыслимое и немыслимое, что связано со злодейством, обскурантизмом и жестокостью. Все, что является частью столь любимого нами «прогресса». И мы по-прежнему задаемся вопросом, почему мы (как нация и как народ) разваливаемся.

Я действительно пытаюсь понять, существует ли что-то в американской «цивилизации», достойное похвалы. И не могу ничего вспомнить. Тюрьмы - это гнездилища порока. Знание в школах добывается лишь высиживанием на заднице, но что это может быть за знание, когда учителя боятся своих учеников?! Каждый кого-нибудь боится и так, по цепочке, этот страх передается самим зародышам. Ни один смельчак не отважится выйти на улицу ночью в одиночку и уж тем более безоружным. И потому, само собой разумеется, что тот, кто ночью оказывается на улице, вызывает подозрение.

Теперь опять все чаще обсуждаются такие темы, как венерические заболевания и культура потребления наркотиков. Болезни, передающиеся половым путем, получают все большее распространение среди подростков. То же самое происходит с наркотиками и алкоголем. Целая нация алкоголиков и наркоманов! О чем можно говорить, если напиваются даже бабушки!

Ну а что сказать о наших доблестных полицейских, наших предполагаемых защитниках? В скольких преступлениях они виновны! Они навязывают нам подозрения и ненависть!

Коррупция - вот подходящее жесткое слово, чтобы охарактеризовать их! Где они, все эти наши герои? Стоит поискать среди спортсменов, и тогда мы найдем там Мохаммеда Али (Mohammed Ali). Потом ими станут какой-нибудь игрок американского футбола или пинчер-левша. Да, у нас были настоящие герои, но большинство из них либо оказались в тюрьме, либо были убиты. У нас было много безымянных героев. Но воспоминания о вьетнамской войне вызывают у меня приступы тошноты. А ведь до сих пор некоторые называют «героями» ветеранов той войны. Да простит их Господь.

И хотя мои слова могут казаться едкими, я не испытываю ненависти ни к Соединенным Штатам, ни к американцам. Оглядываясь на наше бурное прошлое, мы могли бы то же самое сказать и о других, так называемых, цивилизованных странах. Я не могу думать о гражданах любой великой страны мира, что рассуждают как пигмеи: «Мы счастливы оттого, что мы такие как есть. Нам не надо ничего менять». И среди всех цивилизованных стран мира американская нация кажется мне самой беспокойной, самой неудовлетворенной, тем идиотом, который стремится изменить мир по своему образу и подобию. И вот занимаясь этим, как ему кажется, улучшением мира, он не понимает, что разрушает и отравляет его. Поэт Уолт Уитмен осознал это более ста лет назад и назвал нас нацией идиотов. Возможно, именно Уолт Уитмен и является самым великим американцем, жившим на нашей земле!

Вот слова самого Уитмена, написанные им больше стал лет назад: «Вперед, мои возлюбленные американцы, еще дальше гоните своих коней - волнение! деньги! политики! Открывайте все затворы, пусть они раскачиваются и дальше, давя всех остальных. Очень скоро и ты окажешься там, и захочешь сдержать их, но только не сможешь. Вы лишь вовремя отдайте указ (старым и новым странам), чтобы строили тысячи сумасшедших домов. Потому как вы выбрали лучший путь для создания нации идиотов».

Писатель Генри Миллер, автор таких произведений, как «Тропик Рака» и «Тихие дни в Клиши», скончался 7 июня 1980 года.


Scientific American Arachnophilia! And War...What Was It Good for (in Human Evolution)

Bowles: Exactly. Or if you look at the emergence of ethnic nationalism in the former Soviet Union, I spent a lot of time in the Soviet Union when it was still the Soviet Union, traveling, and I was astounded at the speed with which these ethnic hostilities emerged during that period. And it's also true that you can have a transformation of attitudes, for example, as it's going on right now about the question of race in America where people of European descent are markedly less racially prejudiced than they were when I was growing up. Nations and Nationalism since 1780 Programme, Myth, Reality (Canto) E. J. Hobsbawm Books

Nationalism Nations and Nationalism since 1780 Programme, Myth, Reality (Canto) E. J. Hobsbawm Books

5.0 out of 5 stars A worldview of pan-nationalism?, September 30, 2002
By  Miguel B. Llora (Honolulu, Hawaii USA) - See all my reviews
In this timeless and enduring book, Hobsbawm dispels the sentiment that national identity as we perceive it today is natural, primary or essential as to be apart from history -- in effect his stance is anti-primordial. For Hobsbawm, who, at least it appears to this reader, as a Marxist, the rise of "world communism" will transcend the petty provincialism of nationalism. Taking a page out of Benedict Anderson's "Imagined Communities"... a new world order will emerge. Is this Francis Fukuyama in sheep's clothing? OK, fair enough, where is there a space for the prevention of tyranny that Hobsbawm speaks of in this book? My guess is that a dynamic tension is formed around the Fukuyama notion of a new world order centered on a liberal democracy and capitalism while Hobsbawm is still dreaming of a world order around the notion of "people of the world unite!" The notion of "Nationalism" seems to be a hindrance in terms of the new world order by both writers. Hobsbawm wishes us to come to the conclusion that nationalism is wrong, dangerous and ugly. Nationalism is based on myth. Effectively, he sees that the "imagined community" or the myth of the nation is used "to fill the emotional void left by the retreat or disintegration of real human communities. As if to contradict himself, he does not flesh out what these "real" communities are. Are they real or are they "imagined"? If this is all much ado about nothing, then why do people spend so much time, energy and resource to arrange themselves in this fashion?

According to Hobsbawm, a particular group of people, an intelligentsia of some nebulous configuration forced nationalism on everyone else. It seems to me that he is suggesting that it is a result of an agenda. The core of this new imagined community has to reach back to a form of ancient or imagined past that will bind those in the hear and now. The new "community" is constructed around the ruins of the past. What is important to consider when it comes to Hobsbawm is the triviality with which he attaches the notion of "imagined" as if it is doomed to fail. As if not making the distinction of when nationalism becomes chauvinism, he lumps them together as a phenomenon whose dusk is approaching. The book is extremely relevant with the rise of globalization.

Hobsbawm is particularly keen when he asserts " A world of nations cannot exist," he posits "only a world where some potential national groups... excludes others." It is insightful that Hobsbawm points this out, however, must we throw away the baby with the bathwater and look instead for some notion of pan-nation that will see the end of diversity? If Hobsbawm is right, then his book is usefull to help us work toward some accommodation of diversity. Do we just become "people" then? If the cross migration continuous, are we "determined" by forces outside our control to decide who we are and what we become? Hobsbawm must be read and analyzed and I am grateful for experience and highly recommend this to all readers interested in the area of nationalism -- an idea that people use but rarely fully understand. This is your first step.

Miguel Llora

5.0 out of 5 stars Suberb, arguably Hobsbawm's best single book., April 26, 2001
By (Edmonton, Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
" serious historian of nations and nationalism can be a committed political nationalist...Nationalism required too much belief in what is patently not so. As Renan said: `Getting its history wrong is part of being a nation.' This bold and principled comment, which is duly qualified in the ellipsis I left out, is near the beginning of one of the most liberating books on modern nationalism. This is a vital book which puts nationalism into its historical context, and it reminds us of the vital truth that Yugoslavia and Rwanda were not doomed by something called "irreconcilable ethnic strife," to fall into the hell that the First World has done its part to condemn them to.

"The basic characteristic of the nation and everything with it is its modernity." Even the very vocabulary of nationality is relatively new. Especially invaluable is Hobsbawm's chapter on popular proto-nationalism as he discusses all the elements that supposedly "cause" nationalism and finds them all insufficient. Many Central and Eastern European peasants did not view themselves so much as members of particular nationalities but as peasants. The term "Estonian" for instance only came into use in the 1860s. Languages appear stronger, yet dialects were so common up until the late nineteenth century that only half of the French in 1789 spoke the language, while only 2.5% of pre-unification Italy spoke what is now Italian. Nationalists often had to write their own grammars and dictionaries, and in the process the various Yugoslav groups turned three major dialects into the language we now know as Serbo-Croat. And where "there are no other languages within earshot, one's own idiom is not so much a group criterion as something that all people have, like legs." Ethnicity is not an undisputed concept: some of the most clearly defined ethnic groups are those like the Scots highlanders, or the Berbers or Afghan Pushtus who are hostile to any state. Many of the greatest fighters for Greek independence were Albanians, while Hungary's greatest 19th century poet, Petofi, was in fact a Slovak. Religion has its own ironies: many of the leaders of the Arab independence movement were Copts, Maronites and other Christians. Religions try to be universal so often they will separate Lithuanians from Russians, but not from Poles. The Catholic Church was the only all-Italian institution in 1859, but Italian nationalism had to make its way without it. Many pre-modern revolts against foreign invaders are less nationalistic than social and religious. When the citizens of Berlin offered to defend that city, Frederick the Great told them to mind their own business and let professionals handle the job.

Hobsbawm goes on to discuss how the modern state in the nineteenth century had its own reasons to encourage patriotism and national consciousness. He discusses how nationalist movements in Georgia, Armenia and Finland were dominated by socialists. "What would the future of Hebrew have been, had not the British mandate in 1919 accepted it as one of the three official languages of Palestine, at a time when the number of people speaking Hebrew as an everyday language was less than 20,000?" After discussing the rise of fascism, the Popular Front and the end of the Cold war, Hobsbawm ends memorably with this image: "The owl of Minerva which brings wisdom, said Hegel, flies out at dusk. It is a good sign that it is now circling round nations and nationalism."

3.0 out of 5 stars Not a good introduction to the study of nationalism, May 5, 2000
By  Edward Bosnar (Zagreb, Croatia) - See all my reviews
Hobsbawm's contribution to the study of nationalism is, I believe, overrated, simply because it has become something of a starting point for people who want to familiarize themselves with this complex subject. Not to criticize Hobsbawm excessively; I think he's one of the finest living historians who writes in the English language, and his four "Age of..." books are among the finest historiographical works on the last two centuries. But in this book his anti-nationalist bias shows, and the work suffers for it, especially the conclusion. Hobsbawm has an explicitly critical stance on nationalism, and his entire argument in this book seems to be aimed at showing that as a historical phenomena nationalism is on its way out. While I share, to some extent, Hobsbawm's distaste for nationalism, I can't agree with this conclusion--and the events of the last decade definitely contradict this view. Whatever one may think of nationalism, it is a very important political and social phenomenon, and it deserves more serious and careful consideration than it gets in this book. Even so, I give it a three-star rating, because like all of Hobsbawm's books, it is very well written and engaging, and he provides some interesting insights into the ways nationalism became a political force during the late 19th century.