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Share International magazine November 2004

Share Internaional magazineThis is an abridged version of
Share International magazine.
Through these electronic files, the magazine Share International makes available a compilation of its contents. Permission is granted to reproduce these articles in magazine, newspaper or newsletter format, provided that credit is given to Share International and clippings are sent to:
PO Box 41877, 1009 DB Amsterdam, Holland. Copyright (c) 2003 Share International. All rights reserved.


Master's article:

America's choice

by the Master —, through Benjamin Creme

When American citizens go to the polls in November, they will have the opportunity to change the course of history. On their decision largely rests the style and structure of the immediate future. If they choose wisely, they will elect a President committed to fostering the well-being of all who long for peace and justice in our troubled world; who realize that peace and justice are the outcome of trust, and who are prepared to share the vast resources of their country to create that trust.
The alternative is too terrible to contemplate: a mounting programme of war and terror and counter-terror; a tightening grip on the traditional freedoms of the American people; a breakdown of relations with other countries; and a ‘pariah’ reputation among the nations for the proud United States. Who would knowingly make such a choice?

As the day of destiny approaches, the minds of many turn to the beleaguered people of America whom, now, so many despise and hate. They pray for the deliverance of its people from the cruel and crude exponents of illegal, usurped power. They call for every peace-loving American to raise their voice against the war-mongering of the present administration, and to cast their vote in like fashion.

Of course, America is not alone at fault for the inequalities of the world, the basic canker in our midst, the source of all our troubles. It shares the blame with all the developed countries who ride roughshod and cavalier over the poor and struggling, and must awaken to this main source of tension — and terror.
Therein lies the fault of the Western world: these ‘successful’ countries owe their wealth and dominance largely to history, and their ability to manipulate the world’s economy to their own advantage through aggressive ‘market forces’. The world’s poor and destitute now demand their share. If this simple right of justice is not addressed and remedied, the world will know no peace. Terrorism will fester and grow into war, which will threaten the future of the people of Earth.
We, your Elder Brothers, cannot stand aside and watch while the very future of the world is under threat. America is a great nation with much of good to give the world. It must now awaken to its soul’s longing to serve, to live in peace and justice, and, together, in harmony and co-operation, to work with all nations to remake this world.
This election can be a great turning point in the affairs of men. Cast your vote, We beg you, for justice, sharing and peace.

(Read more articles by the Master)

Letter from the Editor

It would seem that some readers are concerned by our degree of interest in, and the amount of space devoted to, the American presidential election in November. Surely, they seem to think, it is not the place of a spiritually based magazine to concern itself with politics, especially American politics, when everyone knows, do they not, that both parties are corrupt, with nothing to choose between them. This is certainly not the case.
I must confess to being puzzled by such a response to the events which have shaken the world for several years. Share International exists to make known the fact of Hierarchy, its return to the everyday world and its plans and concerns now and in the future. In relation to the coming US election, these concerns have been cogently expressed in recent articles by my Master. Let me quote from His article in the current issue. Nothing could be clearer or less ambivalent. Why should the voice of Share International be less honest and true?

“When American citizens go to the polls in November, they will have the opportunity to change the course of history.”
“As the day of destiny approaches…”
“We, your Elder Brothers, cannot stand aside and watch while the very future of the world is under threat.”
“This election can be a great turning point in the affairs of men.”

Benjamin Creme

Message from Maitreya, the World Teacher

The following message was given by Maitreya, through Benjamin Creme, at the end of a television interview in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on 23 September 2004. It is the latest in a number of brief but inspiring messages given in similar circumstances by Maitreya.

“Wait for me a little longer only,
and you will find your dreams fulfilled.
So will it be, and soon My nourishing Love
will strengthen and invest your life with joy.”


Questions & Answers:

Q. (1) Which has more power in the USA — the Pentagon or the White House? (2) Are there other more powerful cliques in the US?
A. (1) Without doubt, the Pentagon. (2) Yes, several.

Q. Do you subscribe to Donald Rumsfeld’s notion that a ‘little bit of democracy is better than no democracy at all’? Perhaps this might be true in terms of Iraq?
A. “A little bit of democracy” might be seen to act as an example, and therefore “better” than no democracy at all, but the question is: what does Donald Rumsfeld mean by democracy in Iraq? The Americans have imposed a puppet administration most of whom will, I presume, be candidates for election if and when elections can be held. Mr Rumsfeld also used the fact that in America, for instance, less than 40 per cent of the electorate actually use their right to vote. So, his thinking extrapolates, if only 40 per cent of Iraqis vote we have democracy! The difference being, of course, that democracy means one has a right to vote, or not to vote, for a candidate of one’s choice. Iraq is so divided into different peoples, religions, aspirations and values that a true democracy emerging from the present chaos created by the American and British invasion must surely be a long-term hope.

Q. The current US administration seems subtly to be preparing public opinion for a possible attack on Syria and Iran by referring to the potential threat they pose. How likely is a US attack on Syria and/or Iran?
A. This certainly seems to be the case — depending on who wins the US Presidential Election. If (God forbid) the present incumbent wins a second term, then it is most likely high on their agenda, if and when some stability can be achieved in Iraq. Iran is large and militarily strong, so Syria seems a more likely target, with the advantage of help from Israel. The attitude to both, at the moment, is that of the bully who keeps others docile by threat of attack.

Q. I’m not a pessimist but what will happen on the international scene if President Bush remains in the White House?
A. As my Master says in His article: the alternative to a victory for Kerry and common sense and peace “is too terrible to contemplate”.

Q. Recently a bomb killed a Hamas leader in Damascus. Could this act be the beginning of an Israeli-US attack on Syria?
A. No, I think not. Israel now believes, under the umbrella of American power and protection, that it can do whatever it sees fit against ‘terrorism’. With Iraq still in chaos, the US would be chary of an immediate attack on Syria.

Q. India, Brazil, Germany and Japan may take their places in the Security Council — do you consider that this would make the Council more representative? Is this the kind of reform you have indicated in past issues of Share International?
A. Of course, it would widen the base from which the Security Council speaks and acts and is a step in the right direction. However, I believe that the Security Council has now fulfilled its original function of keeping the peace, with five member states who had nuclear weapons. Now, openly or not, according to my Master, 24 states have nuclear weapons. The veto which the original members still hold, I believe should be abolished. The true United Nations is the General Assembly of all the nations.

Q. To some people, both inside and outside the groups working for Maitreya, the notion that a Master would take sides as your Master did in His latest article in Share International and speak so politically, is strange and unexpected. Why does your Master think it is so important? And what does Maitreya think about the US elections?
A. It is obvious from the article in this issue that Hierarchy see this coming election in the USA as critical for the immediate future of the world.
(See also Benjamin Creme’s ‘Letter from the Editor’ earlier in this issue.)

Q. The Marshall Plan, which you featured in a recent Share International [July/Aug 2004], was based on the United States giving supplies and aid to war-torn Europe. You indicate that there should be something like the Marshall Plan again. Do you mean that, once again, it’s up to the USA to provide for everyone else? Is the USA supposed to give and the others just take?
A. Ordinary Americans were wonderfully generous in giving aid to Europe on a large scale after the war, but the Marshall Plan was introduced on the basis of ‘lease-lend’ and was the main agent of Europe’s regeneration and reconstruction.
What I would like to see is the USA, which alone uses (and wastes) a quarter of the world’s resources, giving a lead to the other developed nations in sharing these resources more equitably. Plans, developed under the inspiration of Hierarchy, already exist for this new form of distribution — which is at the heart of the world’s economic problems — to be realized.

Q. George W. Bush, as many know, is a ‘Born Again’ Christian. Most Christian fundamentalists believe that the world is going to end and the Christian community will be the only people “saved”. Some fundamentalists go so far as to accept that a nuclear Armageddon will be the way the world will end. (1) Is the current Administration’s belief (or illusion) in this possible Armageddon scenario the reason why they decided to scrap a key nuclear arms agreement between the USA and Russia? (2) In President Bush’s televised speech the night of 4 April 2004, he went on to say words to the effect that God was behind our nation and he was chosen to lead. Does religious fundamentalism have a greater impact on our Administration’s current agenda than most Americans believe? (3) Is that one reason for the conservative right’s standing behind Israel?
A. (1) No. There are those in the Pentagon and Congress (of both parties) who have long had a basic mistrust of Russia (despite agreements and treaties). (2) Yes. (3) No. The conservative right are not alone in their standing behind Israel. This stand has two main causes: it is a relic of the time of the Cold War when Israel and the Arab countries were used by the US and Russia as ‘pawns’ in the Middle East. The other reason is that Jews are very influential in almost every aspect of American life: political, economic, financial, cultural, social. The ‘Jewish vote’, therefore, is taken very seriously in elections. It has been, traditionally, mainly Democrat.

Q. For years, I have been hearing about the coming economic collapse that will crash the markets and change the world. Today people from many levels of wisdom from economists to intuitives suggest 2005 to be the time we really see some dramatic signs of this collapse. Recent events like the ‘’ crash, the corporate scandals, the outsourcing of jobs overseas, and even the war seem to impact only certain groups of people in America, but there never seems to be any event that really changes our basic standard of living. Can you see any specific events happening in the next year or so that will actually begin to change the American economy and the American standard of living in a dramatic visible way?
A. The year 2005 may well be the year in which many diverse forces come together to create the conditions in which a major market crash in America and Europe can take place. As everyone knows, there has been growing instability in the markets as a whole over many years, despite the success of individual units. Nothing remains the same for ever, and the many examples mentioned in the question, especially the war in Iraq, could drive the American market to its final collapse. The European markets would inevitably follow the same trend.

Q. (1) How likely is the threat of nuclear attack by terrorists? (2) Is the danger of such an attack being exaggerated by the US government? (3) If so, why? (4) What is the effect on a nation’s psyche (and its individual citizens) to be kept in a state of constant fear, anxiety and stress?
A. Not very likely. The launching of nuclear weapons, even if available, is not at all easy for ‘amateurs’ to carry out. (2) Yes. (3) To keep the people alive to the possible danger of terrorist attack and so strengthen the government’s position as ‘protectors’ of the people. (4) The stress created affects the people’s ability to analyze and assess government action, so they become more obedient.

(More questions and answers)

Letters to the editor:

Over a number of years, some of the Masters, in particular Maitreya and the Master Jesus, have appeared, in different guises, to large numbers of people around the world. They also appear at Benjamin Creme's lectures and meditations, giving people in the audience the opportunity to intuitively recognise Them. Some people recount their experiences to Share International magazine. If the encounters are authenticated by Benjamin Creme's Master, the letters are published. These experiences are given to inspire, to guide or teach, often to heal and uplift. Very often, too, the Masters draw attention to, or comment on, in an amusing way, some fixed intolerance (for example against smoking or drinking). Many times They act as saving 'angels' in accidents, during wartime, earthquakes and other disasters. The following letters, previously published in Share International magazine, are examples of this means of communication by the Masters.

Help all the way

Dear Editor,
In January 2001 I awoke to find my car had been stolen the night before. I went into a panic as I had just cancelled my comprehensive [insurance] a few weeks before, and being a Senior, did not have sufficient social security without working part time. Now, no car, no money to buy another. What would I do?
The next two days brought no news from the police, but, strangely enough, I had become very calm and a peace came over me, not having a clue as to why.
On the third morning I got a call from the police in Muskogee, Oklahoma, 140 miles away, telling me my car had been found there, abandoned, out of gas, stripped with tires gone, steering wheel broken and other damage, even a fire had been attempted in the front seat, but failed. Then the tears came! Now what would I really do? How would I get the car home? I only had five miles of towing insurance.
After calming down, I remembered I knew one person, and one person only in Muskogee, a nephew whom I hadn’t seen in 17 years. I called him just to tell him the story, not having any idea of asking for help. He told me he was the president of the local bank and would start contacting people he was sure would help me. One, an auto-salvage dealer who just “happened” to have the same make car and he put those tires on my car for free. Another just “happened” to be bringing an empty flatbed to Oklahoma City and he would transport the car back here for free. And he just “happened” to be driving by the steering-wheel repair place where he would drop my car off and from here I could drive the car home.
I started home, but there was a loud noise coming from the front left tire. Stopping at a gas station, I got out to look at the tire. I was going to drive it to Hibdon Tire, a few miles away, and let them check it, but I was afraid to go that distance. And then a man appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. “Ma’am,” he said, “I am a mechanic and I heard the noise in your car.” I explained the car had been stolen and I was trying to get it to Hibdon’s, but was afraid to go further. And then, he said: “The thieves have driven your car through the mud and it has lodged in your brake pad. Go ahead and drive to Hibdon’s. You’ll be all right.”
When I took the car into Hibdon’s, their mechanic then said: “The thieves have driven your car through mud and it has lodged in your brake pad.” The exact same words!
(1) Who was this man who seemingly appeared and seemingly disappeared without my seeing him? (2) Who orchestrated the people in Muskogee to help me get the car home? I can’t get this experience out of my mind.
BB, Oklahoma City, USA.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms: (1) the man was Maitreya; (2) Maitreya.)

Riding high

Dear Editor,
After manning a booth about the Reappearance of the Christ during the Memorial Day weekend in late May 1999, I was heading home on my bike and suddenly a shower forced me to take cover. As I did so I was approached by a homeless type who introduced himself. His name was rather common and I thought I would never forget it, but promptly did so. He was a rather gregarious type, but I could feel his pain. He said he lost his wife six months ago and was having a difficult time. He missed her so much that he had taken solace in eating and had gained 50 pounds. He was so depressed that he was unable to hold a job. I handed him some money, a rather more generous amount than usual for me to give to a homeless person. He accepted it and went on to talk about his wife. I could tell he was not taking very good care of himself. I have a bit of an aversion to obesity, as I was a fat kid. I told him his wife would want him to take care of himself and that I was sure she would be waiting for him when he passed over. His eyes lit up and he smiled widely and said: “Oh, do you really think so, you have made me so happy ... you have given me such wonderful hope” (or words to that effect).
We talked for some time and each word of encouragement I gave him was followed by a similar almost overly positive response on his part. I remember being high from talking to people all afternoon about Maitreya and the Masters’ imminent return, but talking to himgave me a high I had seldom ever experienced. As I rode home my bike tyres barely touched the pavement. At first I assumed it was just how you feel when you do the right thing, but now I wonder. Who was that unforgettable homeless person? Was it a Master perhaps hinting that I could/should be more tolerant of obesity?
LL, Boulder, Colorado, USA.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘homeless man’ was Maitreya.)

Individual treatment

Dear Editor,
In May 1999 I was at the People’s Clinic, in Boulder, Colorado, USA, for my annual check-up. The waiting room was full of people, and I began to read. A very unusual man with a commanding presence entered the clinic.
His appearance was of someone homeless. He had long black locks of wavy hair pointing in every direction. He had a very dishevelled look, with an old dirty shirt and worn pants. He was quite tall, olive-skinned and had the most amazing, dark, penetrating eyes I had ever seen. I thought he was about 30 years old but retained a certain timelessness. I also noticed his old sneakers were too small for his feet and full of holes. He had no socks on, and a couple of his toes stuck out.
He had no appointment, but the receptionist said that she would do her best to fit him in and would he have a seat. Instead, he approached several people, carrying on odd conversations with them. I could tell by their reactions he was making private comments to them. One woman, obviously startled, said to him: “How could you know that?” After he had finished speaking with them he came and sat directly across from me. We looked at each other and smiled. I suddenly felt enveloped in a feeling of overwhelming love, and became teary-eyed.
He then asked me: “So, what do you think of the world situation?” I replied that God has a divine plan for the world and that He has everything in hand. I then proceeded to tell him that I believed there were two Avatars present now — a cosmic Avatar, Sai Baba, and a world Avatar, Maitreya. He smiled and said: “Oh really? Tell me more.” After explaining what I was learning, I told him about available books and invited him to our local Transmission Meditation group. He said it sounded wonderful. Then he asked if I would excuse him, that he had a few more people to see. I said certainly and watched him interact again with others.
This time he simply went up to some individuals and asked for a cigarette. They gave negative responses, yet he kept smiling in a very caring way. He then came back and sat down. Looking at me and laughing, he said: “You wouldn’t happen to have a cigarette would you?” I laughed too and told him I was sorry, but I didn’t. He said: “I didn’t think so.” Then he asked my name. After telling him my name was Mary, he extended his hand to shake mine. When I took his hand an even more powerful wave of love overpowered me and I became teary-eyed again. He smiled and said: “Goodbye now, I’ll see you soon.”
MH, Boulder, Colorado, USA.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man was Maitreya.)

Pointing the way

Dear Editor,
In September 1999, when I was in a deep emotional crisis, I looked down from the balcony of my flat and saw a gentleman pointing with his stick at the sky while he was talking to the house steward. My intuition told me that he was trying to give me encouragement and support in this sad time. A couple of days later, when I looked down from my balcony exactly the same thing happened.
On 4 October 1999, I think it was the worst day of my crisis. I had just left a public building in my home town and felt very, very bad, when I met a man dressed in white, with a white cap. He smiled at me and his eyes expressed so much love and hope such as I never saw before. I went to my car and looked back to see where he was going but suddenly he had disappeared.
Could you please tell me who this man was?
FH, Hof, Germany.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘man pointing with the stick’ and the ‘man in white’ were both Maitreya.)

Safety barrier

Dear Editor,
In 1996 a friend was driving me and my children on a little steep road in the Pyrenees mountains. Suddenly, he was dazzled and the car went out of control and hit a small wall edging the road. If it had happened two yards before, there would have been nothing to prevent us falling over the precipice and crashing 50 yards below.
While we waited for help, I photographed (see picture) the wall, and one week later, on getting the photos, this is what I saw. I was so moved that I could not look at them at first, but back in the calm at home, I did. We had been protected.
CF, Salles, France.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirmed that they were saved by the Master Jesus. The photograph shows a light blessing from the Master Jesus.)


After stones, boy sheds thorn ‘tears’

Reports coming out of Nepal involving a young boy are strongly reminiscent of accounts of a young Lebanese girl who wept sharp crystals, and a Saudi Arabian girl weeping tiny stones, which Benjamin Creme’s Master confirmed to be signs or miracles manifested by Maitreya (see Share International December 1996 and April 2004). Now an 11-year-old Nepalese boy, first reported to have wept little pebbles, is said to be weeping thorns.
Mandip Pokarel, who lives in Anandnagar in Janakpur district in the southern Terai plains, has caused a stir as local media report that he has apparently been weeping ‘stones’ from his eyes. More than two dozen chips, the size of a grain of rice, have come out of the miracle boy’s eyes, the state-owned Rising Nepal daily newspaper said. Now it seems that the grains or pebbles have become thorns.
“I feel pain when the thorns start coming out of my eyes,” Mandip said. “After they come out, I feel relieved.” The phenomenon has local eye specialists puzzled. (Source: The Hindustan Times, India)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms this to be a miracle manifested by Maitreya.)

Madonna miracles in Lebanon

In mid-August 2004, a 10-year-old Jordanian boy on a pilgrimage with his family to the Saydet Ras monastery in Baalbek, Lebanon, claimed he saw the statue of the Madonna move. News of the miracle spread, as well as reports of healings, and now thousands of people flock to see the ‘Lady of Beshwat’ statue. President of the monastery, Father Elias Khodatri, reports that many people have witnessed the Madonna open and close her eyes.
Asaad Chamoun, 79, who was disabled following surgery and forced to use a wheelchair for the last seven years, was cured in front of hundreds of people on Sunday 4 September 2004. Chamoun got up from his wheelchair and walked beside his wife Fadwa and his son Joseph. He then walked from the old church where the Lady of Beshwat appeared, to the new church, where he explained how he had seen “a light in front of me and I was compelled to walk. I tried to walk and I could do it.”
With the large numbers of visitors, traffic sometimes comes to a standstill, with some people resorting to arriving on foot. Civil Defense personnel and municipal police ensure the safety of worshippers, while local residents offer coffee, cold water and bread to the people. (Source: The Daily Star, Lebanon)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms this to be part of a series of major miracles; there will be more, manifested by the Master Who was the Madonna.)

Miracle statues weep

In March 2004, at a Roman Catholic church in Medford, Massachusetts, USA, parishioners reported seeing a statue of the Virgin Mary shedding tears.
Churchgoers in Sicily report seeing tears of blood on a bronze statue of Padre Pio, the Catholic priest canonized in 2002 who bore the stigmata, or wounds of Christ, on his hands. (Source:
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the Madonna’s tears were manifested by the Master Who was the Madonna. The tears of blood on the bronze statue were manifested by Padre Pio, himself.)

Photograph of Benjamin Creme with Spanish group workers at his Valencia lecture in February 2004 shows light surrounding his head following the final overshadowing from Maitreya.


Light energy seen around lecturer

Robert Bernatowicz, a Warsaw radio reporter with a strong interest in unexplained phenomena, began investigating the Wylatowo crop circles shortly after they were first discovered. Each summer he has returned to Wylatowo in an attempt to learn more about the circles and other strange events in the area and, in the last year or two, has witnessed first-hand a number of increasingly unusual incidents himself. Although well aware of the cynicism with which many people approach all matters unknown (and perhaps particularly those which might be thought of as possibly ‘spiritual’ in nature) Bernatowicz has become more and more convinced that something truly wondrous — a new, and as yet unrecognized, aspect of ‘reality’ — is being demonstrated through the crop circles and related phenomena.
Light blessing from Maitreya during Robert Bernatowicz’s lecture on the Polish crop circles, Chicago, 4 March 2004. Digital photo: Ted Prejzner.On 14 March 2004 Robert was delivering a lecture in Chicago (US) about the Wylatowo crop circles to members of the Polish community there. A journalist in the audience interrupted him at one point, asking how Robert could prove that the stories he was relating were true. Partly because Robert is not highly familiar with the scientific research carried out in the US, but also because his interest in the phenomenon is more intuitive and metaphysical, he did not reply by referencing the published scientific work. Instead, it occurred to him to answer that people should take photographs of him during his lecture, and that these photos (see picture) would show “something strange” above his head. This idea had never occurred to him before, in other lectures, and in his email to me about this he says, “To tell the truth, I don’t know why I did this.”
As Robert was describing the “wonderful energy” he believes is involved in these phenomena, he suddenly became overwhelmed with strong emotions he could not explain, but which he described as “amazing”, and which brought tears to his eyes.
A professional photographer in the audience began taking digital photos and immediately observed something highly unusual on his camera’s screen — Robert’s upper body was partially obscured by multiple semi-transparent, orangey-red, apparently highly energetic streaks of light which appear to be directed toward and around his head. These are not time-lapsed photos, nor was the photographer using a flash; also, there was no visible source of the strange light streaks on the camera screen. No one present saw the phenomenon — it was only visible through the digital camera. Three photos were taken over a period of a few minutes, from slightly different angles, all of which showed the same energy streaks, the source of which must have been moving very rapidly. The light is in fact directed toward Robert (rather than emanating from him).
For more information:

(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the light blessings phenomena surrounding the speaker and seen on the photographs are manifested by Maitreya.)

"The time to speak out is now"

An interview with Daniel Ellsberg
by Felicity Eliot

The ‘Pentagon Papers’ and US withdrawal from Vietnam — words that evoke instantly the era of the US war in Vietnam, whistleblowing, and the downfall of Nixon. Daniel Ellsberg’s name is synonymous with the Pentagon Papers: as a former US State Department and US Defence Department official he was witness to the layers of lies several administrations told about Vietnam. Daniel Ellsberg is known as “America’s most celebrated whistleblower”, who in 1971 leaked to the press the 7,000-page dossier known as the Pentagon Papers, revealing the full extent of American involvement in Vietnam before the outbreak of hostilities.
What has whistleblowing in the 1960s to do with us now? Today, on the eve of the US Presidential elections, Daniel Ellsberg is making his voice heard again, writing, lecturing and appearing on numerous television and radio programmes. He is also lending his support to other people with truths to tell, such as Katherine Gun in the UK and Danish whistleblower Frank Grevil. Daniel Ellsberg finds many parallels between the Vietnam era and the Iraq War.
It is surely an indictment of the times we live in that we are so inured to lies at the highest levels of government that it does not strike us as odd that many websites exist solely to demand the truth — which should be our common currency. Daniel Ellsberg and others have just such a project and website,* ‘The Truth-telling Project: a call to patriotic whistleblowing’. Felicity Eliot interviewed him for Share International.)

Share International: I have been following your work, the interviews and speeches you have been making lately. I note you say that you find many parallels between the US involvement in Vietnam in the 1960s and in Iraq now.
Daniel Ellsberg: Yes. They are very similar. But the situation now is far more serious. Obviously there were differences, but the deceptions — the process of those deceptions — that led us into the war are very similar in degree and magnitude. There are more similarities, more comparisons that can be made than not — in particular, the layers of lies involved on the part of the administration, both then and now. As I said, I believe that the situation now is much worse.

SI: Worse than Vietnam and Nixon? Why do you think the stakes are higher now?
DE: Simply in range — and by that I mean the magnitude and consequences of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq. I am also referring to the dangers posed to the rest of the world if Bush and his advisers remain in the White House. I would like to come back to that later.

SI: I gathered that you wanted to say something more about the parallels?
DE: One of the most important similarities is Congress’ unconstitutional decision to hand over the power to declare war to the President. In the 1960s you also had some Senators speaking out against the war just as we now have Senator Byrd speaking so powerfully about the dangers and undemocratic and unconstitutional follies of the Bush administration’s current policies. But Congress handed over power unconstitutionally to the President. In terms of the war there is an occupation of the country, just as in Vietnam.

SI: There is plenty of talk now about the “transition phase” in Iraq.
DE: Transition? From what to what? There is no transition to peace in Iraq. There is no basis for the expectation that there will be peace in Iraq with occupying forces there. There will be dying and killing just as long as we are there.
There are too many people who are willing to die to get rid of the occupying forces. And there are too many people — in fact the vast majority — who sympathize with their own people, who will not inform on them. They may not approve of their (the so-called ‘insurgents’) methods, but Iraqis in general want to see the occupying forces leave their country.

SI: So, where does that leave the US forces?
DE: The upshot of it is that this is an unwinnable war for the US. And it is a war we do not deserve to win. We are on the wrong side. There we are the wrong side.

SI: You believe passionately in the need for the truth to come out, I know. Could you tell me something about your present work? It is really a campaign, isn’t it?
DE: You might have seen our website and the Truth-Telling Project. You will know then that I believe we are in a national crisis, which justifies and requires acts of unauthorized truth-telling. I am calling for such patriotic whistle-blowing to take place right now, before the elections, while such revelations can help voters make informed decisions.
Since August I have devoted myself full-time to encouraging patriotic revelation of the lies, cover-ups, and abuses of the Bush administration. The Truth-Telling Project aims to reach current insiders, as well as journalists, lawyers, lawmakers and the American public with a message transcending party or administration.

SI: Whistleblowers are usually accused of being traitors, or not having the national interest at heart. It is a lonely and courageous stand to take.
DE: It is becoming increasingly clear that a dominant practice of the Bush administration is cover-up, on urgent matters of life and death. The Truth-Telling Project encourages whistleblowing in the national interest. We are urging current and recently retired government officials to reveal the truth to Congress and the public about governmental wrongdoing, lies and cover-up. We are trying to change the norms.

SI: But right now Americans are being made to feel it is unpatriotic to question or criticize.
DE: Which is why we want to change the practices that sustain the cult of secrecy, and to de-legitimize silence that costs lives.

Daniel Ellsberg has written of himself and his own act of leaking what came to be known as the ‘Pentagon Papers’ that he deeply regrets not having acted immediately he discovered corruption, lies and cover-up. He heard later that if he had acted sooner many thousands of lives would have been saved. As he puts it, “that was hard to hear”. His experience then informs his efforts now, and endows them with a quiet urgency and well-controlled passion which resonates in his voice. “Learn from my mistakes,” he says. “Don’t wait until the bombs are falling, till thousands more have died before going to press.”

SI: Shall we look more closely at the issue of lies now?
DE: Did you watch the first debate between Kerry and Bush? One thing that Kerry did not seem to pick up on was the question of the lies. He kept referring to “misleading”. I don’t think he identified the main lies. He didn’t just come out with it and say “Lies!” To say, for instance, that Iraq was a threat to the USA and to its neighbours at that stage was deliberately misleading. A lie. I don’t believe, for example, that Secretary of State Powell believed that Saddam Hussein was the number-one threat to world security and to the USA. That’s an absurd idea. I don’t believe he believed it. He went along with it to protect his job.
Likewise, there was a deliberate effort to link in the public mind — against all evidence — the name of Saddam with the attacks of 9/11. The notion that he was linked with Al-Qaeda went far beyond the evidence; the notion that there was a ‘clear-cut link’ was false.

SI: The problem is that a lot of those lies live on in the minds of the American public even now.
DE: Yes, unfortunately that is the case. They still do, even though some of the lies have been disowned. The President no longer says there were weapons of mass destruction. He has disassociated himself from that one.
Cheney seems alone in asserting that [that WMDs existed in Iraq] and Rumsfeld still manages to be uncertain about it!
Going back to the Kerry-Bush debate, Bush said something that was not true: he said that Saddam had been “refusing to disarm”. But he had disarmed.

SI: You mentioned that you think the consequences of the present situation are much more serious.
DE: There are two factors: we have the possibility of destabilizing the entire Middle-East and added to that is the danger of greatly stimulating terrorist acts in the United States. It has greatly increased the danger of terrorist attacks against Americans at home. The war has made America more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. In terms of conventional weapons we have never really been under threat until now. And now we have the threat of suicide missions. It is a very dangerous situation.

SI: Don’t you think it also has other implications, like the whittling away of civil liberties — freedom of speech, for instance?
DE: Very much so. The undoubted threat is being used … There is the threat of a real loss of civil liberties. And that in turn is very dangerous for the rest of the world. We have the development of an authoritarian theocratic dictatorship; such an authoritarian regime will be even more aggressive in its imperialism and less inclined to co-operate with other countries — and generally more dangerous.

SI: It seems that the stakes are very high right now: would you agree that this is a crucial point in history?
DE: Yes, indeed. Absolutely. And this is why we need the truth to be told now. And, by the way, the current trend in Russia towards more power vested in the presidency and so on is also a worrying sign.

SI: You are urging other potential whistle-blowers to come forward now.
DE: I want people to make unauthorized disclosures in a more timely way than I did. The point is to disclose current documents — don’t wait. In fact, something occurred to me during that [first] Kerry-Bush debate. Bush said that he and Kerry looked at the same intelligence in 2003 and came to the same conclusions. Well, I’d like to see it too. Let the American public see the latest intelligence estimates in their entirety. Bush calls it an “academic think-piece”. Well, let us look at that too — let us see what our conclusions are.

SI: I know you support Katherine Gun, the British whistleblower who leaked documents about the bugging of UN offices.**
DE: Yes, absolutely. I support her and admire her stand and her courage. She is the one person who has done what I have been appealing for: she disclosed documents before the war. I hope that her action will be an example. Hers was a timely intervention.

SI: I read that Katherine Gun is urging people to follow her lead.
DE: Yes, it takes courage — but the truth is compelling.

SI: Here is another angle — thinking back to Vietnam and to the increasing wave of popular protest seen across the globe these days — do you think popular demonstrations and public opinion will force Bush and the clique around him to withdraw troops and change policies?
DE: No. Popular protest, international opinion and pressure will not work on Bush and his advisers, but it will probably work on Kerry. Which is why it is very important to vote, and vote well. Pressure must be put on both, but especially Kerry. If he keeps troops in Iraq I think a combination of continuing chaos and deaths in Iraq plus world public opinion, international pressure, popular protest at home, will get through to Kerry eventually. The reality of the situation in the context of pressure from allies will ultimately make Kerry shift. I think we have little or no chance of influencing the Bush administration.
So much has been covered up, the facts are manipulated and lies are told. There was a cover-up of the real motives for the war and of the foreseeable costs and problems of the occupation; there was a cover-up of Presidential inattention before 9/11 to warnings of imminent attacks by Al-Qaeda.

Daniel Ellsberg:
“Truth-telling to Congress and the public is not disloyal in America: it is an expression of the higher loyalty officials owe to the Constitution, the rule of law, and the sovereign public. It is a courageous, patriotic, and effective way to serve our country. The time to speak out is now.”

**Note: Katherine Gun, a former employee of GCHQ, the UK’s top-secret government eavesdropping centre, was sacked in 2003 after alerting the world to the bugging of the United Nations in the run-up to the Iraq war. She revealed details of a US ‘dirty tricks’ operation to win UN Security Council votes for a second resolution to authorize the use of force in Iraq.
The UK government controversially dropped her prosecution under the Official Secrets Act in February after it was put under pressure to reveal the legal advice that took Britain to war. She has launched a campaign to encourage whistleblowers to reveal evidence of government wrongdoing.
Daniel Ellsberg’s trial, on 12 felony counts carrying a possible sentence of 115 years, was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct against him, which led to the convictions of several White House aides and figured in the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon.
Since the end of the Vietnam War he has been a lecturer, writer and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era and unlawful interventions.

Jewish ethics in the Israel/Palestine conflict

Ending the cycle of violence
An interview with Marc H. Ellis
by Andrea Bistrich

Marc H. Ellis is a Professor and Director of the Center for American and Jewish Studies which he founded in 1999 at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, USA. He has written 15 books, the latest published in 2003, entitled Israel and Palestine: Out of the Ashes, The Search for Jewish Identity in the 21st Century.
Jews of conscience, Jews living in Israel and America recognize the historic Jewish suffering and contemporary Palestinian suffering, and call for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the cycle of violence that once again envelops the region.
Ellis offers a vision of Judaism that testifies to an ethical life based on the principles of justice and community, upon which the Jewish faith was founded. Only by addressing the way in which those original principles are being lost by a militarized state of Israel and a complicit Jewish establishment in America, he argues, can there be hope for peace in the future. Looking beyond the legacy of the Holocaust and beyond the portrayal of Jews as either victims or persecutors, Ellis forges a new vision of what it means to be Jewish today. Archbishop Desmond Tutu describes Ellis as providing “a vital contribution to solving one of the few remaining intractable problems of our time”.

Share International: What do you mean when you speak of Jews of conscience?
Marc H. Ellis: I mean Jews who refuse to justify the dispossession of another people — at this moment the Palestinians — of their land and political rights. I use it to ask the question whether Jews who allow this to happen, or even justify it, are using their conscience to fight for justice.
As a Jew of conscience I am trying to understand and act against the injustice that is being committed in the name of Jews and Jewish history. I am fighting, as are other Jews of conscience, against a ‘Constantinian Judaism’ that has overtaken our leaders in America and Israel. Constantinian Judaism is a form of Judaism that, like Constantinian Christianity, attaches itself to the state and power. With the creation of the state of Israel and the need to defend its innocence and territory, Jewish leadership has aligned itself with the power of Israel and the United States.

SI: What are the underlying causes for the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and the Middle East in general? Is it a religious problem?
MHE: It is not a religious problem. It is a struggle over land and political rights. Israel is established. Palestine should be established in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Though problems will remain in the Middle East, this is the first thing one must do to begin to solve other problems.

SI: Having suffered so appallingly in the Holocaust, how can Jewish people today be the oppressors of another people?
MHE: A very good question that seems to have no answer. I approach the question with a fact: we as Jews are oppressing another people and through that oppression are also deepening our own wounds. We, as Jews, cannot be healed of our trauma by causing another people to suffer trauma. Instead of answering the question, I want to end the cycle of violence so we can begin to ask a different question in a new, peaceful context. The cycle of violence can only be ended when a Palestinian state is created and empowered. At that point it can begin a programme of economic and political uplift that will set its own people in a democratic state in peace and fellowship with its neighbours, including Israel.

SI: Is there a lesson for Israel to learn from the ending of apartheid in South Africa?
MHE: I am not sure that there is a lesson. I am sure that we are creating an apartheid situation. Apartheid in South Africa has ended. Apartheid in Israel will have a very long life. When and how it will end is beyond my years. But in my time it has brought to an end the very possibility of maintaining and claiming Jewish ethics. By Jewish ethics I mean the practice of justice grounded in a particular history and struggle. The particularity of Jewish history is the foundation of Jewish ethics, and allows Jews, with other communities, to contribute to a broader front of activism for the sake of justice.

SI: We all agree, of course, that the Holocaust should be condemned, but if Jewish people keep clinging to the memory of the Holocaust, they are surely blind to the possibilities of the future? Does there not come a point when the ‘price’ has been paid?
MHE: The question is how the memory of suffering is used. Are we using the memory of the Holocaust as a blunt instrument against others? Or will we see the Holocaust as a bridge of solidarity to others who are suffering, especially those who are suffering at our hands? Every community has ways of remembering and expressing itself. For Jews, the memory of Jewish experience, including our suffering, is important. Of course, we need to remember that when we have power we tend to use it like any other people. So both kinds of memory are essential to continue our particular journey; the memory of how we have suffered and now the memory of how we are causing another people to suffer.

SI: What is actually happening in Israel — are people demonstrating about the mistreatment of the Palestinians?
MHE: There are Jews of conscience in Israel and, yes, there have been demonstrations against some of Sharon’s policies. Still we need to distinguish between those Jewish Israelis who are serious and those who simply want the oppression to lessen a bit. This is why I make a distinction between progressive Jews and Jews of conscience. An example: for the most part, Rabbis for Human Rights, especially its director Rabbi David Forman, are progressive Jews who argue for human rights for Palestinians rather than full political rights. Though they see themselves as opposed to Israeli policies, they actually function as an arm of the state. Jeff Halper, on the other hand, is struggling to be a Jew of conscience. He is demanding equal political rights for Palestinians. The distinction between progressive Jews and Jews of conscience is essential, because the former are not really serious about justice for Palestinians. Jews of conscience are not interested in maintaining or proclaiming Jewish innocence, and they are serious about Jews and others recognizing Palestinians as equal.

SI: How can conditions change for the better between Israelis and Palestinians?
MHE: Jews and Palestinians of conscience should band together within and outside the state. It will be a long haul, well beyond the next decades. But the long haul is worth it. In the diaspora especially, Jews and Palestinians can demonstrate to themselves and others that racial and cultural bigotry are contextual and, when the offending context is removed, people of different backgrounds can live peacefully together. There is no other way to demonstrate this than by modelling it — in dialogue, study-centers and joint communal action. Jews and Palestinians must begin to live and work together wherever they are and speak with one voice on justice until offence against one becomes an offence against the other.

SI: You have said that the injustice done to the Palestinians not only affects the Palestinians, but also changes Jewish identity. Could you explain this?
MHE: We are witnessing the end of the Jewish tradition of ethics and justice. And in this way we are changing Jewish identity fundamentally. In the long run there is no reason to be Jewish unless it embodies something — especially an ethical system — that is different in the world. The Palestinians challenge our identity at its core. That is why the way to be faithful as a Jew today is to embrace solidarity with the Palestinian people.

SI: Can you see a change occurring in the way Jews perceive the Palestinians?
MHE: Collectively there will be no change in how Jews perceive Palestinians. As a community, Jews are a lost cause on this issue. Jews of conscience, however, are another case altogether. Among them, there is hope for a future. Though the group is not large, there are Jews of conscience everywhere. They are a witness to the future. Whether they will be a political force is another question. Of course, if the power equation between Israel and the Palestinians or the Arab world were to change, or if the United States felt that its own interests were threatened by the continuing expansion of Israel, then Israel might be forced to change. I don’t see this happening, at least in the near future.

SI: What do you see as the solution to create conditions of peaceful co-existence for Israelis and Palestinians?
MHE: Simple. Two real states for two peoples. But it is not going to happen. My own sense is that the struggle has shifted into the realm of civil rights within the expanded state of Israel and a continuing diminishment of Palestinian cultural, geographical and political space. Unless Israel is willing and able to expel hundreds of thousands — perhaps even millions — of Palestinians, then Jews and Palestinians are fated to live together. The political challenge is to show both communities that their fate must become a possibility of a joint and productive life together. Again this is a long term-project and not for the faint of heart.

SI: Recently, the International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled that Israel’s West Bank barrier is illegal, that it impedes the Palestinian right to self-determination, and that it should be stopped immediately. Will Israel ever accept that decision?
MHE: Israel will not accept that judgement. But to be honest, Israel does not need the Wall. They have already conquered the land. With or without the Wall, the facts remain the same.

SI: Can you envision a process of integration for the Jewish and Palestinian people?
MHE: Integration and disintegration are always occurring. All things change, especially when they appear to be static. There will not be two real states and there already is one state, if by one state we mean control of an entire area. Israel controls the territory from Tel Aviv to the Jordan River. That will continue for a long time. Some would say this understanding lacks optimism. I would answer that the reality is important to understand and that hope, real hope, arises from the recognition of reality and the struggle to create a future that moves beyond the present. Slogans that have no contact with reality are detrimental to the future.

SI: Is there any sign of hope to end this cycle of violence and lead both the Jews and Palestinians into a better future?
MHE: The hope is our joint witness — the witness of Jews and Palestinians together — that the cycle of violence and atrocity can be broken in our lives. That means saying “no” to any racist and colonial discourse. Jews and Palestinians must say “no” to any part of their own community that labels difference as ‘other’. Jews of conscience and Palestinians of conscience must continue on, within and beyond the present political situation, and risk physical and cultural exile for it. This means parting ways with the progressive discourse which simply attempts to cover over oppression. It also means confronting the conservative ‘hunker-down’ option that says civilizational clash is inevitable and defining. Many young Jews and Palestinians have already gone beyond the categories of the past. They must be encouraged and supported.

World scan

In this section, Share International reviews current affairs in order to highlight issues which urgently require a new approach and lasting solutions.

Escalation of suffering for Palestinians

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency says Israeli restrictions are severely affecting its ability to provide food and aid to the Gaza Strip.
An UNRWA spokesman in Geneva said that Israel’s new security measures were delaying the delivery of food to almost 1 million people in the occupied territories — 700,000 of them in the Gaza Strip. He added that both staff and supplies have to cross checkpoints on foot, which is prohibited under UN security rules. UNRWA was most worried that containers carrying food supplies were being blocked so that only half the normal amount of food was getting through.
The agency also expressed its deep sorrow over the death of a 10-year-old Palestinian girl, who died after being hit by a bullet from Israeli defence forces while at her desk in an UNRWA school. The agency said it was a tragic and senseless death, and it reminded all parties to the conflict that schools were specifically protected under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The latest Israeli retaliatory attacks are some of the bloodiest assaults seen in the Gaza Strip in years. Hundreds of Palestinian homes, swathes of agricultural land, roads and other infrastructure have simply been bulldozed flat. The death toll is high. About 50,000 Palestinians are caught in areas taken by hundreds of Israeli troops supported by about 200 tanks and armoured vehicles. Thousands of people spent days without basic services such as electricity and water. The sewage system has also been destroyed, allowing dirty water to contaminate the water supplies in some areas. Over the past three years the army has levelled 60 per cent of Beit Hanoun’s agricultural land, destroying its wealth and the main source of citrus fruit and olives in the Gaza Strip.
Six days after a Hamas rocket attack killed two Israeli children, Israeli forces responded by killing more than 80 people in northern Gaza. According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the dead included 31 civilians. Nineteen were under 18 years of age, including a teenage girl shot in her home and a four-year-old boy.

“All with presidential blessing”

In an interview for Haaretz newspaper a week after the incursion into Gaza, Dov Weisglass, the senior advisor to Ariel Sharon, said: “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.” He added: “The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”
(Source: UNRWA; Haaretz, Israel; The Guardian, UK)

Former President Carter sounds a warning

Former US President Jimmy Carter, as Chairman of the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, has in recent years monitored elections throughout the world to ensure that they are free and fair, offering all citizens an equal opportunity to exercise their democratic rights. It is an uncomfortable irony therefore that in the United States the Presidential election in 2000 was neither fair nor truly democratic. Writing in The Washington Post, 27 September 2004, the former President made plain his concerns, referring in his opening sentence to the “debacle in Florida four years ago”.
In a trenchant article entitled Still Seeking a Fair Florida Vote President Carter writes: “The disturbing fact is that a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely, even as many other nations are conducting elections that are internationally certified to be transparent, honest and fair.”
As he points out, the Carter Center has monitored more than 50 elections, often in difficult and dangerous situations, and yet a frequent question he faces, in the United States and abroad, is: “Why don’t you observe the election in Florida?” and “How do you explain the serious problems with elections there?”
The answer lies partially, says Carter, in the fact that “some basic international requirements for a fair election are missing in Florida”. To ensure that elections are corruption-free certain basic factors must be in place — for instance an unbiased team of organizing officials to oversee the entire process, from preparatory phase to post-election supervision.
This was not the case four years ago in Florida. “Florida voting officials have proved to be highly partisan, brazenly violating a basic need for an unbiased and universally trusted authority to manage all elements of the electoral process,” he writes, going on to name names such as those of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who was also the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney state campaign committee. What is equally disturbing is that her successor, Glenda Hood, was a “highly partisan elector” for George W. Bush in 2000. Carter also notes: “Florida’s governor, Jeb Bush, naturally a strong supporter of his brother, has taken no steps to correct these departures from principles of fair and equal treatment or to prevent them in the future.”
While recent election history is disturbing, what may alarm voters even more now is that there are worrying signs that the November 2004 elections present similar dangers for a fair election. “It was obvious,” Carter writes, “that in 2000 these basic standards were not met in Florida, and there are disturbing signs that once again, as we prepare for a presidential election, some of the state’s leading officials hold strong political biases that prevent necessary reforms.”
Another fundamental requirement in an election is a uniform voting procedure allowing all citizens equal access to the democratic process, regardless of race or ethnic background, social standing or personal finances. All votes need to be verifiable. The former President is not against the use of modern technology including electronic voting, providing paper ballot printouts are also made available to voters. However, what happened in Florida was that “several thousand ballots of African Americans were thrown out on technicalities in 2000, and [now in 2004] a fumbling attempt has been made recently to disqualify 22,000 African Americans (likely Democrats), but only 61 Hispanics (likely Republicans), as alleged felons”.
“It is unconscionable to perpetuate fraudulent or biased electoral practices in any nation. It is especially objectionable among us Americans, who have prided ourselves on setting a global example for pure democracy. With reforms unlikely at this late stage of the election, perhaps the only recourse will be to focus maximum public scrutiny on the suspicious process in Florida.”
(Source: The Washington Post, USA)

Open letter to George W. Bush

Controversial film-maker and activist Michael Moore has written and published an open letter to President George W. Bush.
The letter, entitled Mr Bush and his 10 ever-changing different positions on Iraq: “A flip and a flop and now just a flop”, is combative, cynical and punchy. Whatever one may think of its tone, all the contradictions and misinformation put out by the Bush administration and cited by Moore are factual.
The ‘letter’ documents the many directly self-contradictory statements made by the President and influential figures in and behind his administration. Moore gives dates and quotations which illustrate how the Bush regime has constantly changed its tune and stance with regard to Iraq, Saddam Hussein, bin Laden, pretexts for pre-emptive attacks, and so on.
Moore gives 10 examples of U-turns in policy, starting in the 1980s when President Bush Senior, on good terms with Saddam Hussein, encouraged Iraq to invade Iran.
“All of this resulted in the US providing credits and loans to Iraq that enabled Saddam to buy billions of dollars worth of weapons and chemical agents,” Moore writes. “The Washington Post reported that your dad [Bush Senior] and Reagan let it be known to their Arab allies that the Reagan/Bush administration wanted Iraq to win its war with Iran, and anyone who helped Saddam accomplish this was a friend of ours [the USA].”
Many claims and counter-claims have been made about why the US led an attack on Iraq. However, a vital piece of information that US voters may wish to investigate and bear in mind is that the attacks of 9/11 provided the neo-conservatives and the current administration with the pretext they had been looking for since 1998. An attack on Iraq had long been planned – before 9/11 – as the following makes clear:
“In 1998, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and others, as part of the Project for the New American Century, wrote an open letter to President Clinton insisting he invade and topple Saddam Hussein.”
In a section headed ‘Mission not accomplished’, Moore quotes George Bush who recently described the invasion of Iraq as a “catastrophic success”. Moore continues: “Over a thousand US soldiers have died, Iraq is in a state of total chaos where no one is safe, and you [the US President] have no clue how to get us out of there.”

Economic growth under various US presidents

Steve Forbes ran as a Republican candidate for president in 1996 and 2000. Forbes magazine is a “right-leaning business publication” published by him. In July this year its on-line version ran an analysis which compared the economic performance of the top 10 post-war presidents with the best economic record. The criteria used as indicators were: GDP growth, real disposable personal income, employment, unemployment, inflation, and deficit reduction — all easily accessible mainstream benchmarks. To Forbes magazine’s credit it published its findings in an entirely non-partisan line-up of straight facts. These are facts US citizens may care to weigh up as they go to vote.
In Robert Freeman’s Evaluating Bush’s Economic Performance: A Field Guide for the Perplexed (published by it is clear that “the top three performing presidents, Clinton, Johnson, and Kennedy, were all Democrats. The bottom three performers, Nixon, Eisenhower, and Bush the Elder, were all Republicans.”
However, Freeman includes what Forbes left out of the comparative study — President Bush’s economic record — and compares it with Clinton’s record. Freeman also makes the point that many of Clinton’s advisers are now working for Kerry, a fact which could act as a future indicator for an administration led by Kerry.
In Evaluating Bush’s Economic Performance Freeman simply gives the facts using Gross Domestic Product (GDP), disposable personal income and employment as indicators.

  • GDP: “In Clinton’s first 3.5 years, real GDP grew by 3.2 per cent. Over the similar period for Bush, the number was 2.4 per cent, substantially less.”
  • Real disposable personal income is what a person’s income actually buys after inflation and taxes. It is one of the most meaningful measures of economic well-being. “During Clinton’s first 3.5 years, real disposable personal income rose by 10.4 per cent. Over a comparable period under Bush, it rose by 9.3 per cent,” writes Freeman. “But the real gap in performance is actually understated. The reason is that ‘real disposable personal income’ doesn’t indicate how the income is distributed. It simply measures total income in the economy and divides by the number of workers. Since Bush’s tax cuts skewed after-tax income to the wealthy those Americans not in the highest bracket are actually less well off than Bush’s number would suggest.” writes Freeman.
  • Employment was the third criterion used by Forbes to judge economic performance. In other words, how many people hold full time jobs? “When Clinton took office there were 109 million jobs in the US. Three-and-a-half years later, there were 120 million, or a net growth of 11 million jobs. In raw numbers, this is the most prodigious record of job creation in modern history. In percentage terms, it trails only Jimmy Carter’s accomplishment of adding 10 million jobs in the late seventies.”


Voices of sanity

The American election: the voices of sanity grow

Below we have gathered a selection from the many calls for sanity and change. The voices are growing louder and more insistent as the importance of choosing wisely becomes clearer by the day.

Soros: “President Bush is endangering our safety”

Billionaire businessman George Soros, who has given, and continues to give, billions to support democracy, is also an activist and author championing the causes of liberty and justice. The following is extracted from his ‘Personal Message’ on his website, from a speech delivered at the National Press Club, Washington DC, September 2004. George Soros condemns President Bush for the war in Iraq and invites responses from readers:

“I chose America as my home because I value freedom and democracy, civil liberties and an open society,” he writes. “This is the most important election of my lifetime [because] President Bush is endangering our safety, hurting our vital interests and undermining American values.

“… If we re-elect him now, we endorse the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive action and the invasion of Iraq, and we will have to live with the consequences. We are facing a vicious circle of escalating violence with no end in sight. But if we repudiate the Bush policies at the polls, we shall have a better chance to regain the respect and support of the world and to break the vicious circle.

“… President Bush silenced all criticism by calling it unpatriotic…. We are losing the values that have made America great.

“… the President committed a fundamental error in thinking: the fact that the terrorists are manifestly evil does not make whatever counter-actions we take automatically good. What we do to combat terrorism may also be wrong. Recognizing that we may be wrong is the foundation of an open society. President Bush admits no doubt and does not base his decisions on a careful weighing of reality. For 18 months after 9/11 he managed to suppress all dissent. That is how he could lead the nation so far in the wrong direction.

“… War and occupation create innocent victims. We count the body bags of American soldiers; there have been more than 1,000 in Iraq. The rest of the world also looks at the Iraqis who get killed daily. There have been at least 20 times more. Some were trying to kill our soldiers; far too many were totally innocent, including many women and children. Every innocent death helps the terrorists’ cause by stirring anger against America and bringing them potential recruits.

“Immediately after 9/11 there was a spontaneous outpouring of sympathy for us worldwide. It has given way to an equally widespread resentment.
There are many more people willing to risk their lives to kill Americans than there were on September 11 and our security, far from improving as President Bush claims, is deteriorating. I am afraid that we have entered a vicious circle of escalating violence where our fears and their rage feed on each other. It is not a process that is likely to end any time soon. If we re-elect President Bush we are telling the world that we approve his policies — and we shall be at war for a long time to come.

“I realize that what I am saying is bound to be unpopular. We are in the grip of a collective misconception induced by the trauma of 9/11, and fostered by the Bush administration.”

“… President Bush likes to insist that the terrorists hate us for what we are — a freedom loving people — not what we do. Well, he is wrong on that. He also claims that the torture scenes at Abu Ghraib prison were the work of a few bad apples. He is wrong on that too. They were part of a system of dealing with detainees put in place by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and our troops in Iraq are paying the price.

“… His [Bush’s] campaign is based on the assumption that people do not really care about the truth and they will believe practically anything if it is repeated often enough, particularly by a President at a time of war….
I want to shout from the roof tops: “Wake up America. Don’t you realize that we are being misled?

“President Bush has used 9/11 to further his own agenda which has very little to do with fighting terrorism. There was an influential group within the Bush administration led by Vice President Dick Cheney that was itching to invade Iraq long before 9/11. The terrorist attack gave them their chance. If you need a tangible proof why President Bush does not deserve to be re-elected, consider Iraq.
“The war in Iraq was misconceived from start to finish — if it has a finish. It is a war of choice, not necessity, in spite of what President Bush says.

“… We went to war on false pretences. The real reasons for going into Iraq have not been revealed to this day. The weapons of mass destruction could not be found, and the connection with al Qaeda could not be established. President Bush then claimed that we went to war to liberate the people of Iraq. All my experience in fostering democracy and open society has taught me that democracy cannot be imposed by military means. And, Iraq would be the last place I would choose for an experiment in introducing democracy — as the current chaos demonstrates.
“… But Iraqis now hate the American occupation.… We should have provided protection not only for the oil ministry but also the other ministries, museums and hospitals. Baghdad and the country’s other cities were destroyed after we occupied them. When we encountered resistance, we employed methods that alienated and humiliated the population. The way we invaded homes, and the way we treated prisoners generated resentment and rage. Public opinion condemns us worldwide.

“The Bush campaign is trying to put a favourable spin on it, but the situation in Iraq is dire. Much of the Western part of the country has been ceded to the insurgents.… The prospects of holding free and fair elections in January are fast receding and civil war looms. President Bush received a sombre intelligence evaluation in July but he has kept it under wraps and failed to level with the electorate.
“Bush’s war in Iraq has done untold damage to the United States. It has impaired our military power and undermined the morale of our armed forces. Before the invasion of Iraq, we could project overwhelming power in any part of the world. We cannot do so any more because we are bogged down in Iraq. Afghanistan is slipping from our control.

“… By invading Iraq without a second UN resolution, we violated international law. By mistreating and even torturing prisoners, we violated the Geneva conventions. President Bush has boasted that we do not need a permission slip from the international community, but our actions have endangered our security — particularly the security of our troops.

“… Many of our troops return from Iraq with severe trauma and other psychological disorders. Sadly, many are also physically injured.

“There are many other policies for which the Bush administration can be criticized but none are as important as Iraq. Iraq has cost us more than 200 billion dollars so far — an enormous sum. It could have been used much better elsewhere. The costs are going to mount because it was much easier to get into Iraq than it will be to get out of there…. because we are caught in a quagmire.

“It is a quagmire that many predicted. I predicted it in my book, The Bubble of American Supremacy. I was not alone: top military and diplomatic experts desperately warned the President not to invade Iraq. But he ignored their experienced advice. He suppressed the critical process. The discussion about Iraq remains stilted even during this presidential campaign because of the notion that any criticism of our Commander-in-Chief puts our troops at risk. But this is Bush’s war, and he ought to be held responsible for it. It’s the wrong war, fought the wrong way. Step back for a moment from the cacophony of the election campaign and reflect: who got us into this mess? In spite of his Texas swagger, George W. Bush does not qualify to serve as our Commander-in-Chief.

“There is a lot more to be said on the subject and I have said it in my book, The Bubble of American Supremacy.

“… I am eager to engage in a critical discussion because the stakes are so high.”

(Extracts from:

The mounting costs of the Iraq War

Analysts are predicting that, if the Bush administration continues in the White House, further military action in Iraq is a sure bet. Gloomier warnings say that military intervention will not be limited to Iraq.
The latest report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) makes it abundantly clear that the facts coming out of Iraq should make any administration think twice. The new report Foreign Policy In Focus finds that the so-called ‘transition phase’ is the deadliest so far. The report also presents facts and figures that the American people will need to know as they go to the polls. This report is a comprehensive assessment showing that casualties increased for both Iraqis and US forces after the transfer of limited sovereignty on 28 June 2004.
Once again the spectre of Vietnam hangs over the Bush regime: “This is a re-run of the Vietnam War on fast-forward,” said the Institute’s director John Cavanagh. “It’s astounding that the number of monthly US casualties is higher during this so-called ‘transition’ to Iraqi rule than during the initial six weeks of the US invasion.”
The report details the number of deaths in Iraq so far.

US military deaths:

  • Between the start of war on 19 March 2003 and 22 September 2004, 1,175 coalition forces were killed, including 1,040 US military.
  • Of the total, 925 were killed after President Bush declared the end of combat operations on 1 May 2003.
  • Over 7,413 US troops have been wounded since the war began, 6,953 (94 per cent) since 1 May 2003.

Civilian deaths:

  • An estimated 154 civilian contractors, missionaries, and civilian workers have died since 1 May 2004 (as of 22 September 2004). Of these, 52 have been identified as Americans.
  • Forty-four people working as journalists or associated with the international media have been killed in Iraq, including 33 since President Bush declared the end of combat operations. Eight of the dead worked for US companies.

The Institute’s report states that, since the attack on Iraq, terrorism, deaths due to terrorist attacks and the threat of terrorism have all increased. “According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, Al-Qaeda’s membership is now at 18,000, with 1,000 active in Iraq. The State Department’s 2003 Patterns of Global Terrorism documented 625 deaths and 3,646 injuries due to terrorist attacks in 2003. The report acknowledged that ‘significant incidents’ increased from 60 per cent of total attacks in 2002 to 84 per cent in 2003.”
The US is losing credibility throughout the world: polls show that the war in Iraq has damaged the US government’s status and credibility abroad. Polls in eight European and Arab countries indicated broad public agreement that the war has hindered, rather than helped, the war on terrorism. At home, 52 percent of Americans polled by the Annenberg Election Survey disapprove of Bush’s handling of Iraq.

Low morale

Early in 2004 the US army conducted a survey which found 52 per cent of soldiers showing low morale, and three-quarters reporting that they felt they had poor leadership. Those surveyed said that the army did not fully equip soldiers with bullet-proof vests until June 2004, which meant that many families were forced to equip their sons out of their own pockets.
So far the war has cost the USA far more than initially planned. The Institute’s report refers to the fact that Congress approved $151.1 billion for Iraq. Congressional leaders expect to be asked for an additional supplement of $60 billion to be freed up after the election.
The average American family might be shocked to learn that economist Doug Henwood has estimated that the war bill will add up to an average of at least $3,415 for every US household. Another economist, James Galbraith of the University of Texas, predicts that while war spending may boost the economy initially, over the long term it is likely to lead to a decade of economic troubles, including an expanded trade deficit and high inflation.
Oil prices in August peaked at their highest since 1983. Estimates say that if crude oil prices stay around $40 a barrel for a year, US gross domestic product will decline by more than $50 billion.

Iraqi deaths and injuries:

  • As of 22 September 2004, between 12,800 and 14,843 Iraqi civilians have been killed as a result of the US invasion and occupation.
  • About 40,000 Iraqis have been injured.
  • In large battles between 4,895 and 6,370 Iraqi soldiers and insurgents were killed.

Depleted uranium weaponry was used in Iraq. The Pentagon itself estimates that US and British forces used between 1,100 and 2,200 tons of weaponry made from toxic and radioactive metal during the March 2003 bombing campaign.
The $151.1 billion spent by the US government on the war could have been used to halve world hunger and to fund HIV/AIDS medicine, childhood immunization and the clean water and sanitation needs of the developing world for more than two years.
(Source: Institute for Policy Studies)

“America less safe in Bush’s hands”

“The plain fact is that George W. Bush and his team have succeeded in making our country and our people less safe, and more vulnerable to new terrorist attacks, by an unnecessary war against a threat that did not exist.”
Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change is a Washington-based group of 50 former top-level diplomats and retired military. They have just released a statement which declares President Bush has made the United States less safe and calls for him to be ousted. Most of the former diplomats and military personnel worked under President Reagan and President George Bush Senior.
Signatories include two former US Ambassadors to Israel, Samuel Lewis and William Harrop, and Dennis Jett, previous Ambassador to Peru and Mozambique, currently the Dean of the University of Florida’s International Center; and retired Colonel Mary Ann Wright (also former Deputy Chief of Mission to Afghanistan), and career diplomat John Brady Kiesling, both of whom resigned in protest over the Iraq war.
The group says President Bush should not be trusted to lead America. “The claim that we are safer is the biggest lie of this campaign season,” states the group. “Now we are bogged down in a quagmire with no solution in sight.”
The diplomats and military commanders are available for interviews. (Source:

Conservative US politicians criticize the war

Prominent members of the US Republican Party have publicly criticized the Iraq war. Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said: “A crisp, sharp analysis of our policies is required. We didn’t do that in Vietnam and we saw 11 years of casualties mount to the point where we finally lost. The fact is, we’re in trouble. We’re in deep trouble in Iraq.”
Senator John McCain of Arizona said: “The situation has obviously been somewhat deteriorating, to say the least.” McCain was asked: “Is the president being straight with the American people? Is he levelling with them about just how tough the situation is in Iraq?” He replied: “Perhaps not as straight as maybe we’d like to see … I’d like to see more of an overall plan articulated by the president.”
Another influential Republican Senator, Richard Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the reason so little of the Iraq reconstruction money has been spent is because of “incompetence in the administration”. Lugar previously said at a Senate hearing: “Our committee heard blindly optimistic people from the administration prior to the war and people outside the administration — what I call the ‘dancing-in-the-street crowd’ — that we just simply will be greeted with open arms. The nonsense of all that is apparent. The lack of planning is apparent.”
(Source: The Boston Globe, USA)

America’s sons in Iraq write home truths

A new book about to be launched just ahead of the US elections is bound to touch the hearts of Americans citizens, whether their children are serving in Iraq or not, and raise many questions. The book is a collection of letters written from Iraq and compiled by Michael Moore.
Entitled Will They Ever Trust Us Again? Letters from the Warzone to Michael Moore, the book is as much a catalogue of misery and disillusionment with the current US leadership as a reflection on the harm caused to the Iraqi people and the millions of dollars made by US companies in Iraq.

We offer here a selection of excerpts from some of the letters.

From: KW, February 27 2004 2.35am
“As we can all obviously see, Iraq was not and is not an imminent threat to the United States or the rest of the world. My time in Iraq has taught me a little about the Iraqi people and the state of this war-torn, poverty-stricken country.
“The illiteracy rate in this country is phenomenal. There were some farmers who didn’t even know there was an Operation Iraqi Freedom. This was when I realised that this war was initiated by the few who would profit from it and not for its people. We, as the coalition forces, did not liberate these people; we drove them even deeper into poverty. I don’t foresee any economic relief coming soon to these people by the way Bush has already diverted its oil revenues to make sure there will be enough oil for our SUVs.
“We are here trying to keep peace when all we have been trained for is to destroy. How are 200,000 soldiers supposed to take control of this country? Why didn’t we have an effective plan to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure? Why aren’t the American people more aware of these atrocities?
“My fiancee and I have seriously looked into moving to Canada as political refugees.”

From: Anonymous, April 15 2004 12.41am
“I am a truck driver right now in Iraq. Let me give you this one small fact because I am right here at the heart of it: since I started this job several months ago, 100% (that’s right, not 99%) of the workers I am aware of are inflating the hours they claim on their time sheets. There is so much more I could tell you. But the fact is that millions and millions of dollars are being raped from both the American taxpayers and the Iraqi people because of the unbelievable amount of greed and abuse over here. And yes, my conscience does bother me because I am participating in this rip-off.”

From: SH, March 28 2004 7.56pm
Subject: “Dude, Where’s My Country?”
“I am an LCPL [Lance-corporal] in the US Marine Corps and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mr Moore, please keep pounding away at Bush.….
“I saw more than a few dead children littering the streets in Nasiriyah, along with countless other civilians. And through all this, I held on to the belief that it had to be for some greater good.
“Months have passed since I’ve been back home and the unfortunate conclusion I’ve come to is that Bush is a lying, manipulative …. who cares nothing for the lives of those of us who serve in uniform. Hell, other than playing dress-up on aircraft carriers, what would he know about serving this nation in uniform?
“His silence and refusal to speak under oath to the 9/11 Commission further mocks our country. The Patriot Act violates every principle we fight and die for. And all of this has been during his first term. Can you imagine his policies when he doesn’t have to worry about re-election? We can’t allow that to happen, and there are so many like me in the military who feel this way. We were lied to and used. And there aren’t words to describe the sense of betrayal I feel as a result.”
Michael Moore, Will They Ever Trust Us Again? Letters from the Warzone to Michael Moore. Allen Lane, London, October 2004.

‘Catastrophic results’

Fellow of the Institute of Policy Studies Phyllis Bennis has been a writer, analyst and activist on Middle East and UN issues for many years. In 2001 she helped found, and currently co-chairs, the US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation. She works closely with the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition, and since 2002 has played an active role in the growing global peace movement. Share International asked Phyllis Bennis the following question:
SI: What do you believe the consequences will be for the world if President Bush remains in office? How do you see the impact on the Middle East?
Phyllis Bennis: People around the world have expressed the dire fear that four more years of a consolidated Bush administration would bring about catastrophic results in the world. Many believe that they are essentially ‘subjects’ of the rising US empire, who have no power or influence over the policies that determine so much about their lives; as a result, I think that we here who are ‘citizens’ of the empire, and have at least some influence over its policies, have to vote to change those policies that have been so deleterious internationally.

The Bush administration has based its foreign policy on the claimed legitimacy of pre-emptive, and even preventive, war, both of which are prohibited under international law and the UN Charter. Four more years means the possibility of expanded, even greater wars in ‘hot spots’ elsewhere in the world, with the same kind of death and destruction that has characterized Washington’s so-called “liberation” of Iraq.
In the Middle East, the US embrace of the Sharon government’s most extremist efforts — including assassinations, building the Apartheid Wall with its resulting land grab and division of Palestinian communities from each other, demolition of houses, and especially the US-backed plan to annex huge swathes of the West Bank as the real goal of the ostensible “disengagement” from Gaza — means that the US will remain complicit in the international law violations of Israel’s occupation. (See also The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War, IPS Reports)

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First published April 1999,