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Dispatches from Iraq · In Retrospect · Recommended Reading · Words of Inspiration · Hightower Lowdown · Trento Column · Organized Crime... · Editorial page

Click above, for articles in this issue.














A People's History of the United States

by Howard Zinn

ISBN: 0060926430


"Zinn has written a brilliant and moving history of the American people from the point of view of those who have been exploited politically and economically and whose plight has been largely omitted from most histories. Extending its coverage... the book is an excellent antidote to establishment history.  Seldom have quotations been so effectively used; the stories of blacks, women, Indians, and poor laborers of all nationalities are told in their own words.  While the book is precise enough to please specialists, it should satisfy any adult reader."  LIBRARY JOURNAL


"One of the most important books I have ever read in a long life of reading... It's a wonderful, splendid book--a book that should be read by every American, student or otherwise, who wants to understand his country, its true history, and its hope for the future."  HOWARD FAST


"The coming of World War II weakened the old labor militancy of the thirties because the war economy created millions of new jobs at higher wages.  The New Deal had succeeded only in reducing unemployment from 13 million to 9 million.  It was the war that put almost everyone to work, and the war did something else: patriotism, the push for unity of all classes against enemies overseas, made it harder to mobilize anger against the corporations."  (p. 393)


"The CIA now had to prove it was still needed.  The NY Times (Feb. 4, 1992) declared that 'in a world where the postwar enemy had ceased to exist, the CIA and its handful of sister agencies, with their billion dollar satellites and mountains of classified documents, must somehow remain relevant in the minds of Americans.'  The military budget remained huge.  The cold war budget of $300 billion was reduced by 7 percent to $280 billion.  The Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff, Colin Powell, said; 'I want to scare the hell out of the rest of the world.  I don't say that in a bellicose way." (p. 581)

















National Insecurity

ed. by Craig Eisendrath

ISBN: 1566397448


"This book should be required reading by all congressional committees concerned with intelligence policy, surveillance, and appropriations, and by all Americans." Sen. Tom Harkin, Foreword, 1999


When this book was written, the Cold War had been over for ten years and no country threatened this nation's existence, yet, we still spent billions of dollars on covert action and espionage. Even during the Cold War, when intelligence was seen as a matter of life and death, our system served us badly. It provided unreliable information (leading, among other things, to a grossly inflated military budget) as it supported corrupt regimes around the world, promoted the drug trade, and repeatedly violated foreign and domestic laws. And worse, proceed in a shroud of secrecy, it paid no price for its mistakes, but instead grew larger and more insulated and in drastic need of reform.

Ten prominent experts describe, from an insider perspective, what went wrong with U.S. intelligence and what needs to be done to fix it. Drawing on their experience in government administration, research, and the foreign service, they propose a radical rethinking of the United States' intelligence needs in the post-Cold War world. In addition, they offer a coherent and unified plan for reform that can protect U.S. Security while upholding the values of our democratic system.  Many of those recommendations resonate today as predictors of the intelligence failures that helped create the conditions for 9-11.

The contributors include Roger Hilsman, former Assistant Secretary of State, advisor to President Kennedy, and author of The Cuban Missile Crisis; Melvin A. Goodman, former division chief and senior analyst at the CIA's Office of Soviet Affairs; Robert E. White, former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador and Paraguay and president of the Center for International Policy; Robert V. Keeley, former ambassador to Greece, Zimbabwe, and Mauritius; Jack A. Blum, chief investigator for Senator Church's Senate Foreign Relations Committee and for the Senate investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal; Kate Doyle, analyst at the National Security Archive; Alfred W. McCoy, author of The Politics of Heroin; Robert Dreyfuss, a journalist who publishes regularly on intelligence matters; Richard A. Stubbing, who for twenty years handled the intelligence budget for the Office of Management and Budget; Pat M. Holt, former chief of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and author of Secret Intelligence and Public Policy; and the editor.

"What the Central Intelligence Agency has bequeathed to our relations with Central America and the Caribbean is a string of embarassing failures against inconsequential targets.  From the overthrow of the government of Guatemala to the Iran-Contra fiasco of the 1980's, the CIA not only violated solemn treaties but allied us with the most violent, reactionary elements of Latin American society.  In carrying out these operations, the CIA subverted American values at home as well as abroad... Such policies were pursued without adequate safeguards of accountability that characterize a democracy." (Robert White p. 45)


"Official intelligence dealings with criminals, especially criminals who are involved in activity on U.S. territory, raise very difficult questions. Who performs the cost-benefit analysis ? Who has the authority to waive the enforcement of criminal laws ?  Does the government have responsibility for the effect of the sanctioned criminal activity ?" (Jack Blum, p. 88)


















The Meaning of Life

ed. by E.D. Klemke

ISBN: 019512703X



A great anthology of essays that attempt to tackle one of the "great questions" that has faced man since his arrival on Earth; what is the meaning of life--why are we here ? 


Professor Klemke, presents us with three avenues of explanation; God as an answer; a non-theistic answer; and questioning the crux of the question itself.  Essays by Tolstoy, Reinhold Neibuhr and David Swenson present God as the answer to man's existence and purpose. 


Whereas Bertrand Russell, Huxley, Camus, Thomas Nagel, Paul Edwards, Richard Taylor, Kurt Baier, and Klemke pose alternatives that span existentialism, rationalism, humanism,  each arriving at a nontheistic alternative.


In the final group of essays by Kai Nielsen, Paul Edwards, R.M. Hare, and W.D. Joske, they each examine the nature of the question itself: is the question a legitimate one ?


A truly excellent compilation of essays that are sure to engage you.


"On the highly particularized problems of giving meaning to an individual life, philosophy may not have much to say: but it is certainly concerned with what seems to be general threats to meaningfulness arising out of the  human situation as such.  For the non theist, the chief threat may well appear to come from the realization of mortality.  The relation between meaning and mortality is, as we have noted, a focus of attention in current discussions.  On the other side are writers (Tolstoy is again among them--as Flew brings out) who in some contexts virtually identify the question of meaningfulness with the question of immortality: deny immortality and you necessarily deny meaningfulness.  This account plainly distorts the logic of the question about the meaning of life, not least by reducing its complexity to a single issue of fact." (R.W. Hepburn, p. 217) 


"If we see people as naked apes, we cannot but be cynical concerning the superstructure of justification associated with many of the most memorable human enterprises.  Once we accept that many of our political and military endeavors are the working out of a primitive instinct of territoriality, we can no longer regard as fully meaningful the gloss of reasoning and argument which men use in an attempt to show that their undertakings are reasonable.  The words of debate become mere persiflage; the talk a mere epiphenomenon of creatures ignorant of the true springs of their actions.  We begin to undermine our faith in the capacity of human beings to know the truth, discover what causes what, and learn, through self-examination, about the integrity of their own motives." (W.D. Joske p. 257)



Posted  June 01, 2005

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