United States


Randy Black, referring to Bob Gard's posting, asks: " What does the comment about "US presence in Saudi Arabia" refer to? US forces withdrew from Sausi Arabia last summer, if I'm not mistaken. Did I miss something?" RH: There is still a large US presence in Saudi Arabia, much of it connected with oil. Muslim fanatics want all Americans out.

General Gard clarifies: "My comment about US presence in Saudi Arabia was made in response to an earlier posting stating that it had been Osama's main, if not sole, gripe against the U.S. before we pulled our active duty troops out. My point was that one sees very little reference to the fact that Osama also condemned US support of Israel's treatment of the Arab Palestinians. In fact, I believe that, in addition to Americans involved with Saudi oil, we have a contingent (mostly former or retired U.S. military) that continues train the Saudi national guard".

John Gehl said: "Phyllis's jeremiad against the Bushies makes interesting reading -- but since it was written in criticism of a David Brooks column she finds wanting (either because it's a 'crude undocumented hate piece' or perhaps merely a 'skewed assessment'), I hope she'll please re-read her own message and score it on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 represents calm, objective, thoughtful analysis and 10 represents crude, hate-filled rant". Phyllis replies:
"Far from it - I do not believe that David Brooks is anything but a very intelligent, competent op-ed columnist whom I respect but usually (but not always) disagree with. There is no question that I have my own skewed assessments, since I cannot even leave the radio on when Bush is speaking (don't like the pace or timbre of his voice, showing you just how dispassionate I am not). I tend to wildly agree with Paul Krugman and laugh happily with Maureen Dowd, while generally admiring Safire's wit and intellect but wildly disagreeing with him. However, I will read whatever piece I wrote that elicited this email, grading its objectivity or lack thereof on a scale of 1 to 10 if only someone will forward it to me again". RH: Don't worry, Phyllis. I give you a 2. Incidentally, John should speak more respectfully of Jeremiah. His text provided the theme for many eloquent sermons yesterday.

Collin Powell spoke at a Princeton University meeting honoring George Kennan, a Princeton alumnus, on the centennial of his birth, The address, a survey of the world situation and of US foreign policy, was excellent, confirming my assessment of Powell as the government figure I most admire. He would make a good president, and his military bearing and dignity would be a welcome change from the folksy manner of Bush and the Democratic contenders. However, Powell's address contained two sins of omission. He spoke of the long telegram in which Kennan formulated the policy of containment of Soviet communism, which was to be the policy of the US until the collapse of the USSR. However, Powell did not mention that Kennan then adopted a more pacifist policy, allegedly under the influence of his Norwegian wife. The second issue was the problem of Isrel and the Middle East. The first question came from a student, presumably a Muslim. Powell's reply was just a series of platitudes about the policy of President Bush promoting a two state solution, with Israel and Palestine living peacefully side by side, He carefully avoiding the details where the devil is lurking,

Tim Brown comments on the posting about the battle of the Little Big Horn. "My mother worked at the Veteran's Hospital in Reno, Nevada in the early 1950s. One of its best known patients was a very old Indian gentleman who insisted he was a survivor of the battle of the Little Big Horn only to become a US Army scout a few years later, hence the veteran status. His favorite comment on the battle was that "It was a damn good fight, until we ran out of white men."

We carry through life the vision of the world contained in the textbooks we read as children. Thus people born in the American West have a different outlook from those born elsewhere. One of the great joys of life is reading the catalogs of scholarly publishers. Reading Catalog 909 of the Arthur H.Clark Company, which specializes in Western Americana, I was struck by the number of items dealing with the Battle of Little Bighorn. In particular, we now have the final volume, Indian Views of the Custer Fight, of the trilogy by Richard Hardorff. It offers 35 interviews with or statements by Indians, 29 Sioux and 9 Cheyennes who witnessed the battle, from the time the soldiers were detected to the bitter end. The two earlier volumes contain similar testimony. The Battle of the Little Bighorn was fought on June 25, 1876, following the discovery of gold in the Dakotas. Every man in Custer's batallion, including Custer, was killed The Indians won a victory but were expelled from the territory. The site of the battle is now a National Monument. All this fits in with our interest in conflicting versions of history. In the US, school districts normally select textbooks. I wonder how the textbooks in the Dakotas present the story. Does John Allen have any comment?

Bob Gard asks: "Why is it that Osama's statements criticizing US support of Israel's treatment of the Palestinian Arabs are almost universally ignored in the US, and US presence in Saudi Arabia invariably highlighted as his
principal, if not sole, issue?" RH: This is an important question.

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) issued (7/8/03) a very long memorandum on the Cuban spy trial. It was forwarded to WAIS by Alberto Gutiérrez. Here is the introduction : "Appeal Process Exposes the Grave Injustice Surrounding Miami Cuban Spy Trial

Tactics resorted to by U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft in the prosecution of five Cuban "spies" are little better than a scandal; appellate briefs present new evidence of improper legal measures employed by Miami federal prosecutors. Amicus brief shows how refusal by U.S. authorities to crack down on anti-Cuban terrorists, in conjunction with the well-documented and long history of terrorist incidents organized by rightist extremists in the Miami exile community, arguably justified the Cuban Five’s undercover investigation of suspected Miami terrorist groups, as unregistered foreign agents. International community refutes Washington’s Miami-oriented demand that Cuba be judged a “terrorist state,” terming this a groundless accusation meant both to draw attention away from Florida-based terrorism against Havana and to validate further tightening of the U.S. embargo. U.S. indefatigably condemns long prison terms handed out on questionable grounds to Cuban dissidents, but engages in at least equally reprehensible behavior at home.

Plastered across billboards, banners, and t-shirts, the faces of the Cuban Five fill the streets of Havana. As a result of their efforts to infiltrate anti-Castro terrorist groups, these five "spies" were convicted and sentenced to unusually long and severe prison terms during a controversial trial in Miami. Although the Cuban Five have achieved martyr status on the island, only a small percentage of U.S. citizens has even heard of their case. However, this situation is quickly changing as U.S. grassroots organizations create informational websites and host educational meetings on the topic. Mobilizations to free the Five already have occurred in New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco. Likewise, a resolution before the British Parliament has attracted the signatures of 99 members. More than 125 groups from 64 countries in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa have protested the plight of these prisoners. On the legal front, lawyers of the Five filed briefs with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta on April 7, 2003, and on May 13, 2003, to appeal the district court’s denial of their motion for a retrial. The National Jury Project and the National Lawyers Guild, backed by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, submitted amicus curiae or “friend of the court” briefs on behalf of the prisoners. The U.S. government is expected to file its response to the defense attorneys’ briefs on Sept. 15. “Lawyers agree that the law is on the side of these men,” said Leonard Weinglass, the distinguished trial lawyer defending Antonio Guerrero of the Cuban Five, “but as in all political cases, ideological factors are swaying the outcome of the case. Only if there is broad popular support for the Five will the courts be compelled to follow the law.” Needless to say, Washington would prefer to ignore the embarrassing similarities between the grounds used by Havana to prosecute and sentence 75 Cuban dissidents to lengthy jail terms and those used by the U.S. to incarcerate the Cuban “spies” for equally long terms under harsh conditions and on little hard evidence". "

RH: Alberto Gutierrez does not discuss the present state of the dispute. Have there been new developments? What does Alberto think of the whole business?

Ronald Hilton - 01.25.04


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