Sunday, October 23, 2011


Jim: It's roundtable time. This is a war and peace roundtable. Our e-mail address is Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): One of the most important things to me last week was C.I.'s "The Turkish assault on northern Iraq continues" on Saturday. I thought it was important and that it needed to be said. For those who don't know the Turkish military is assaulting the mountains in northern Iraq, has been bombing them since August 17th in the latest wave of attacks, as they attempt to kill off a rebel group of Kurds called the PKK. Because that always works, right? When someone feels they are the victim of injustice, you bomb the hell out of them and they say, "Oh, I feel better now." Then all the problems melt away, right?

Isaiah: And C.I.'s been noting that conflict and applying something more than breathless, "Today . .. the Turkish military . . ." She's getting at the roots of the issue while most are ignoring even the daily events. And in the piece, she's noting that we're not getting that from our so-called left media, that instead Pacifica Radio, The Nation and everyone is wasting our time with horse race coverage of stupid elections when they should be addressing conflicts and how we move towards peace.

Marcia: I agree with what Isaiah and Jim are saying but the point of the piece wasn't just that we're not getting the information and tools we need, it was that we're being distracted and we're being presented with false targets -- misdirected. Jim told us he wanted this to be part of the roundtable as soon as we started planning the edition and I just want to ask Jim, in this roundtable, what exactly spoke to him about the piece?

Jim: I think it was the fact that The Nation could be leading the way towards something other than making excuses for Barack. And they're not leading. We're all on a treadmill, jogging in place, never getting forward. And that was driven home, to me, with the information -- I didn't know this before -- that a Secretary of Peace had been proposed as far back as 1793. That's 17 years after the start of the American Revolution.

Cedric: Benjamin Banneker. That's the person who proposed it in 1793. And that it was proposed in 1793 was as much a revelation to me as the fact that Banneker was a Black man. I had teachers who made a big deal out of Black History Month and really felt like I had a strong grounding in Black History. Obviously, that's not the case and I need to start supplementing what I was taught in school.

Ann: Well most of Cedric's Black history reading is on people from the Civil Rights Era. Such as Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth whose passing Ava and C.I. recently noted in "TV: That Bunny Won't Hop." There's a lot of history.

Cedric: There is but I think Banneker's contribution is sort of swept to the side the same way MLK's calls for peace, an end to war and economic justice get swept to the side.

Rebecca: And that's part of where the C.I. piece fits in. We're on the tread mill, as Jim was saying, we're not moving forward, not by the work of those that are supposedly helping us. I mean, go read Benjamin Banneker's suggestions for a Secretary of Peace. He's talking about how violence isn't the answer. That's 1793. Nearly 220 years later, saying that violence is not the answer still seems fresh which goes to just how little education we've had as a people about peace. The message remains the same, all this time later. Think of Michael Franti's "Bomb The World" with the lyrics, "You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace."

C.I.: I think there's too much focus on that one entry. Certainly Rebecca's "the howling vigilantes" -- which predates mine by two nights -- has a great deal to say as well. She's taking on the embarrassment in the US where gas bags and officials turned into blood lusting zealots. I know Hillary, I like Hillary but she embarrassed herself with remarks about Muammar Gaddafi. She's better than that.

Betty: Amen to that. Yeah, I think I see your point, Rebecca is talking about this blood lust as well. And it is grotesque and it should leave us disgusted. But I do get Jim's point which is that you, as someone with more than one degree in political science, can talk about rebellions and revolutions and attacks in a way that others of us probably couldn't or wouldn't feel we could. And that doubt, going back to your Saturday piece, is fostered in us by the so-called left media which obsesses over Sarah Palin and defending the Corporatist War Hawk Barack while refusing to address issues that actually matter.

Dona: Well let's set up the current conflict just so everyone's on the same page. The Kurds are the largest minority in the world without a homeland. In Turkey, they are among many groups that the government has oppressed over the many years. The PKK is an armed group which fights for Kurdish rights and autonomy. They emerge in 1984. It is their actions, and not the kindness of the Turkish government, that eventually forces a few minor concessions but, following the 2009 elections, those concessions turn out to be less than even meager scraps. One example, 'We won't officially ban the Kurdish language in Turkey anymore.' Okay, but you did that on a national level and did nothing to stop the local governments from banning its use. In addition, the Turkish government thinks it has the right to insist that the KRG, a semin-autonomous region of Iraq, never becomes autonomous and independent. They border northern Iraq and fear that the Kurdish Regional Government becoming independent -- possible were Iraq to become a federation -- means that it would result in calls by Kurds in Turkey for more rights and possibly their own region.

Elaine: What this conflict boils down to, what most conflicts boil down to, is a dispute over access and resources. The US government loves to inflate opponents to Hitler -- whether it's Saddam Hussein or Gaddafi or whomever -- but a true Hitler is less common that White House speak would have you believe. One of the things that we would need to see, in order to resolves conflicts, is that, in most cases, you do not have one side that is pure good and another that is pure evil. You have a side that needs to be included and a side that doesn't want to. A lot of time the fear is that there is not enough to share or that, in sharing, they will lose control of the resource. Using the Palestinian issue, the Israeli government needs more pressure on it and it also needs to grasp -- as does the Palestinian side -- that they truly need neutral brokers to secure a peace. They can't do it on their own as evidenced by the fact that they still haven't. If magazines like The Nation were truly dedicated to peace -- and Katrina vanden Heuvel's a War Hawk, so they're not truly dedicated -- they would be teaching basic building blocks in every issue. Instead, they traffic in demonization. Jim, I want to come back to that later in the discussion, okay? If we had the basic building blocks and they were in use in every day conversations, we could move on to exploring whether the UN or some other body -- temporary or permanent -- could act as neutral brokers in assisting warring countries and bodies in resolving disputes.

Mike: I know where Elaine's going to go in a bit so I'll stay with the basic building blocks issue. Without them, the left will forever be on the treadmill. But, and this is what I liked about C.I.'s piece, she didn't shy from pointing out that this is where a number of 'leaders' want us. If we were off the treadmill, the leaders might not be mini-power brokers, able to influence an election. That's really all it's about to them. And that's why they act like they are outraged by homophobia from a Republican, but never say one word when Barack brings homophobes on stage to preach homophobia at an official campaign event.

Ty: Exactly. And they seem surprised when the few building blocks they have shared get used against them. For example, FAIR and Amy Goodman hectoring others on the importance of disclosures yet pissy and pissed when their own failures on that issue are called out. There are very few outlets I go to anymore. Forget ZNet. They continue to publish Juan Cole even after he revealed he is paid by the CIA. I won't go there at all. There are very outlets I go to.

Trina: I want to jump in there. That demonstrates just how corrupted the left establishment has become. Juan Cole is on the CIA payroll. He's a contractor for the CIA. And Amy Goodman and ZNet still treat him as a respected critic. A) He's working for the government so he's not independent at all. B) It's the CIA. Even 20 years ago, that would have prompted a huge outrage and they would have been forced to exile him -- as they should. But the CIA is their thing these days. Barack worked for a CIA cut-out after college and, of course, his mother worked with the agency as well. It would appear the Mighty Wurlitzer includes Amy Goodman.

Ruth: Well there has always been the talk, going back to the 50s in my lifetime, that the two sides of the coin politically weren't that different and that they were both about oppression. Looking back on my long life, I can see how each instilled distrust and dislike in the other side. I can't see how any of the real goals were accomplished by either major political party. The older I get, the more it seems as if We The People are just pawns in the game, even to those who supposedly want to speak for us.

Jim: Interesting. We seem to be on the demonization issue that you wanted to pick up later, Elaine, so how about you put it in now?

Elaine: Sure. Last week, C.I. called out Jason Ditz turning the Camp Ashraf issue into "terrorists!" I support that call. I am damn tired of people screaming "terrorist!" at whichever enemy they want to destroy. The MEK is labeled a terrorist organization. They are Iranian dissidents. Going back several decades, members of the MEK were welcomed into Iraq by Saddam Hussein. At the start of the US invasion, they, these residents of Camp Ashraf, were asked to disarm by the US military and, in the exchanges that followed, became protected persons under the Geneva Conventions. They have twice been brutally assaulted by Nouri al-Maliki's troops -- once in 2009, once in April of this year. The United Nations has spoken out against the assualt and they aren't the only ones. Scott Horton, of Antiwar Radio, and the MEK have some back and forth and threats against one another going. And it's been allowed to poison most of, the website Jason Ditz writes at, against Camp Ashraf or fairness for that matter. Which is how the residents of Camp Ashraf being in danger becomes time for Jason Ditz to screech against the MEK and to scream "terrorist!"
I'm sick of it.

Ava: It's a conversation enders and it's meant to be. I agree with Elaine, I expect more from That's really disappointing.

Jess: I'll agree and I'll bring it back to the focus Jim was starting with. If we knew the building blocks needed, would we really need a Katrina vanden Heuvel? Let's be honest that this is why they don't impart real wisdom. They're second-rate columnists, bad writers, and they need an audience. They don't want to teach you anything but dependence upon them. So teaching you how you could impact peace is just beyond them.

Kat: And though this has turned a bit from where Jim probably wanted, it's also true that we have a companion piece for this roundtable that will focus more on what Jim probably wanted. So I think offering the critique, which is really what's come through here, is as important. And as disappointing as Pacifia Radio killing their peace program -- their only national peace program -- while the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War continued, I think it's also disappointing that the host of that program can be found in 2010 doing a 'story' on Sarah Palin's pregnancy with Trig where she and the guest 'explore' how Palin really wasn't pregant. What a bunch of trash. A) I don't believe it. B) Were it true, it would have no impact at all. There are serious issues, that isn't one of them. And even more upsetting to me was learning that the guest on that segment had gone public hours after his interview with the fact that he sent around his talking points about Palin's 'false' pregnancy to several radio hosts and Verna Avery-Brown was the only one to interview him. That's nothing to brag about and the fact that she arranged the interview for that topic should have her fired from Pacifica and all of its outlets because I can't think of a greater waste of air time.

Stan: If The Nation and others spent time talking about peace and how to achieve peace, it would not only inform their own readers, it would lead to recognition from other media. I was thinking about the point that Ava and C.I. made early on when The Nation kept whining about the attention Sarah Palin was getting in 2009. Well who was writing about her non-stop? The Nation. And then they want to whine that big media's doing the same? What you cover can influence what others cover and its past time that people realized that.

Wally: Yeah, that's a good point from Stan. Dona just handed me a note saying she was about to tell Jim to wrap it up and I needed to speak first so I'm speaking. Here's the treadmill, that'll be my contribution: 'You must vote for Cruz. You must vote for him because of A, B, and C that all matter this year. You must vote for him to save the republic, the world, the universe. And 2 years from now, when we tell you that you must vote for someone else and give you a different list of reasons, you must follow that list. Everything is a factoid and there's no ethical underpinnings to what we pimp.' So much time is wasted by these outlets trying to convince you how to vote -- in an election that will soon be forgotten -- that there's never time to address the issues that threaten our very existence.

Jim: Thank you, Wally, for giving us such a strong conclusion as we wrap up. Again, this is a rush transcript.
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