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Atlantic Free Press Book Reviews
Book Reviews from Atlantic Free Press Writers and Bloggers 





Hamas – A History From Within - Jim Miles Book Review
Tuesday, 04 September 2007 09:26
by Jim Miles

Hamas – A History From Within. Azzam Tamimi. Olive Branch Press, Northampton, Massachusetts. 2007. 

Most of the world knows the superficial history of Hamas as presented by western media, the stories of the suicide bombers, the election results that were argued to be a vote against the PLO/Fatah but not for Hamas, the resulting denial of that democratic vote by all western governments, and most recently, the Hamas takeover of the dysfunctional governance of the Gaza Strip. Azzam Tamimi’s book, Hamas – A History From Within, presents a much broader and much more accurate perspective on a group that has had much more significance for the Palestinian people than simply being a militant suicidal terrorist group.

Consistent with the title, Tamimi presents a history that shows Hamas’ development from its roots within the Muslim Brotherhood, from its aspects of international cooperation and denial, and from ‘within’ – the development of the ideas, policies, and implementation of ideas that is rarely seen in western media sources. It is not a fawning sycophantic review, as it also reveals the internal struggles within Hamas between the various people and political institutions involved in its history and development, and further reveals the precarious hold it had on survival, a survival that became ensured only with the advent of more serious Israeli atrocities during the first Intifada.

Arguments have been made that Hamas was assisted in its set-up by Israel in order to counter the power of the PLO/Fatah organization. Tamimi is much more nuanced in his discussion of this, arguing more that Israeli ignorance of what Hamas embodied and what it meant to the mostly poorer and refugee Palestinians allowed it to survive without direct complicity. Beginning with Sheikh Yassin in Gaza, and as a reaction to the defeat of pan-Arabic Nasirism after the 1967 war, the Islamic Brotherhood centred their concerns not on militancy, but “primarily on instilling Islamic values and ethics in the hearts and minds of the young.” At that time, Israel did not support the Islamic Brotherhood (Ikhwan) but the “occupation authorities did not object to this seemingly benign religious activity.”






Stiglitz – a book with major flaws that reveal much truth - Jim Miles Book Review
Saturday, 25 August 2007 00:59
by Jim Miles

Fair Trade For All – How Trade Can Promote Development. Joseph Stiglitz and Andre Charlton. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K., 2005.

In 2003 Joseph Stiglitz published his much acclaimed and critically popular book Globalization and it Discontents. Its overall thesis, arguable particularly to those hidebound within the ‘Washington Consensus’, simply stated that following International Monetary Fund (IMF) rules and regulations – the combination of trade rules, loans, and ‘structural adjustments’ required to receive financial assistance – “the result for many people has been poverty and for many countries social and political chaos. The IMF has made mistakes in all the areas it has been involved in.”

These allegations have become more apparent as truths as time has passed since the publication of Stiglitz’ first book. It is a book that is readily accessible to the public. Stiglitz’ writing is clear and well argued. He does not slip into a frenzy of economic jargon and presents concise historical examples of the different situations that unfolded globally due in part to IMF ministrations (along with other non-governmental organizations and other governmental interference, especially with the EU and the US.). At the end of his arguments he presents what he sees as reasonable ways and means to help correct the faults of the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

For the WTO he argues that “Reforming the WTO will require thinking further about a more balanced trade agenda – more balanced in treating the interests of the developing countries, more balanced in treating concerns, like environment, that go beyond trade.” He follows by saying that “so long as globalization is presented in the way that it has been, it represents a disenfranchisement…” and “…of equal concern is what globalization does to democracy.”

With those positive concerns in mind, it was with positive anticipation that I read his subsequent work, Fair Trade For All. Unfortunately I was fully dismayed by the faults of the book, both of its writing style, and its lack of insightful arguments.

To be fair, Stiglitz is writing in companionship with Andrew Charlton, who has wonderfully impressive credentials as professor at the London School of Economics, but with equally unimpressive results. Also to be fair, the book was written on “behalf of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD), a network of some two hundred economists and development researchers throughout the developed and developing world” and was then presented to various high level economic meetings (World Bank, IMF, WTO, UN Commonwealth Finance Ministers). That perhaps explains it first major flaw: the lay reader will become lost in the economic jargon, research papers, and suggestions of “empirical evidence” that overwhelm the book.

Fair Trade For All certainly is not accessible for all, quite ironic in that Stiglitz and Charlton along with the major groups involved are continually asking for more “transparency” – this book delivers opacity instead. If this work is typical of the trade papers that travel throughout the world of economics, it is no wonder that we are in significant trouble – lots of jargon and rhetoric, very narrow perspective, (although there are some superficial attempts to be more broadminded with a paragraph or two on the environment and labour), and not much real wisdom and intelligence.

There are a few gems contained within, short summary comments, almost like diamonds in a slag pile of kimberlite. The forward indicates, “The world trading system has protected the interests of the rich countries, at the expense of the poor, and entrenched inequalities.” Describing the situation six years after the Doha talks with the WTO, those promises “…lie discarded at the base of a trading system whose credibility is crumbling.” The first chapter, “Trade Can Be Good For Development” says that the few successes over the “…last fifty years have pursued inventive and idiosyncratic policies. To date, not one successful developing country has pursued a purely free market approach to development.” Another gem is their argument that “None of today’s rich countries developed by simply opening themselves to foreign trade,” a relatively well-known position that is historically supported.





The White Man’s Burden - Jim Miles Book Review
Monday, 20 August 2007 14:12
by Jim Miles

This is one of those books that comes so close to getting it right all the way along, and in truth actually does get it right, but not always for the expressed reasons. The reader has to consider the author and the probable intended audience. The author, William Easterly, is a former World Bank research economist; his target should be people similar to himself and those currently in academia. Why else write a book criticizing the global top-down foreign aid/anti-poverty groups (governmental, corporate, or otherwise) if not to target that audience?

Two author comparisons come to mind: Joseph Stiglitz and Thomas Friedman.

Stiglitz is also an ex-World Bank functionary, in a higher position but not there for the same duration. His writing Globalization and its Discontents (W.W. Norton, 2003) is a much more aggressive and hard –hitting work calling for a full reform of the World Bank and the IMF as they are root causes of many of the world’s economic, social, and political problem (they are obviously all inter-related). He arrives at the same conclusion as Easterly, saying “The result [of globalization of the Washington Consensus] for many people has been poverty and for many countries social and political chaos. The IMF has made mistakes in all the areas it has been involved in.”

The comparison to Friedman is more stylistic. Easterly uses personal anecdotes from his many travels around the world and uses analogies to emphasize certain points, but the analogies tend to be “too cute” and are readily overcome with faults if the reader tries to extend them much further than the initial application. Fortunately for Easterly, he does not fit into Friedman’s grand rhetoric of exceptionalism that supports the American empire in all its endeavours. However, there is a continual battle within Easterly himself of not quite wanting to give up on his long years as an avowed “democrat” and “free marketeer”.

The last two points, free markets and democracy are not something I am against - democracy is great, fair markets are, well more fair - but Easterly does not quite get around to defining them directly, but only indirectly through his examples, and his examples do not always fit into the World Bank apron strings that he cannot quite relinquish. The text assumes the reader knows what democracy is. The text also assumes the reader understands free markets and its global complexities in comparison to local free markets. That of course might be appropriate for his audience, but also might presume more awareness than actually exists. Throughout, there is an implicit understanding that democracy equals free markets equals capitalism.





Between the Lines – Readings on Israel, The Palestinians, and the U.S. - Jim Miles Book Review
Saturday, 11 August 2007 09:34
by Jim Miles

Between the Lines – Readings on Israel, The Palestinians, and the U.S. “War on Terror” . Edited by Tikva Honig-Parnass and Toufi Haddad. Haymarket Books, Chicago, Ill., 2007.

This work is a powerful compilation of articles relating the story of the al-Aqsa Intifada, tying it into a broader world vision of the Middle East and American Empire. That serves as the main theme for the book, “the continuation of the Zionist colonial project, which has aspired to…control all of historic Palestine with the full backing of U.S. imperialism.” Expressed similarly from another angle, “Israel plays a key role in enforcing U.S. imperial strategy regionally and internationally, particularly…subsumed beneath the “war on terror.” It is essentially a partnership, not Israel controlling Congress, or the U.S. manipulating Israel, but a more cooperative partnership, perhaps not of equals of power in a military-economic sense, but certainly equals of ideology.

Another strong sub-theme accompanies this over-riding viewpoint - that of the weakening power of Fatah and the PA and the rise of Hamas. The authors are quite harsh on their treatment of Fatah as it became more and more elitist, riven with internal dissent and corruption, and more and more seen as a tool of the Israeli occupiers. Accompanying this is the rising power of Hamas, partly as a result of their own strong organizational skills and ideology, but also because the Palestinians see them as a more reliable alternative to Fatah, not compromised in their association with the IDF and Israeli politics.

Other ongoing minor themes accompany these two main texts. Foremost of these would be the transition of the Israeli Left (Labour Party) into a partner for the Zionist Right (Likud) project of redeeming Eretz Israel and its longer-term goal of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Along with this transition is a similar transition of Israel adapting neo-liberal economic policies, including IMF restructuring ideas that leads inevitably to a larger income gap, lower wages, the use of import labour (rather than the rebellious Palestinians or the poorer Mizrahi Jews from the African diaspora), and a general deterioration of social services for the poor (the Mizrahi and ‘Arab Israelis’) and the increase in wealth of the Israeli elites, generally the Ashkenazi (European Jews). This economic restructuring in turn transferred into the occupied territories, further diminishing the economic abilities and possibilities of a militarized occupied territory.

A third minor theme (none are truly ‘minor’, but play a smaller role in this narrative) is that of the Allon Plan, the “Field of Thorns” which includes all actions combined to assist with the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and how it is really the subtext to all the political manipulations through the Peace Process, Camp David, the “disengagement”, “convergence”, and on into the “war on terror.” Ethnic cleansing brings forth the idea of the “demographic danger” used politically as a rallying point, especially within 1967 Israel.

Along with these themes is the ever-present one of media manipulations. The freedom of “Between the Lines” to publish and the quotes derived from Israeli sources are often quite condemning of Israeli actions, political, economic, or military, yet little of that ever reaches the western press. With the recent emphasis on the “war on terror”, the rise of Hamas, and the strong political turn to the far right, this openness is not nearly as apparent.





The Palestinian Hamas – Vision, Violence, and Coexistence - Jim Miles Book Review
Monday, 02 July 2007 08:43
by Jim Miles

In consideration of current events with Hamas’ military takeover of Gaza, this book on the Palestinian Hamas is very timely. It would have been more timely in its original version in 2000 at the start of the al-Aqsa Intifada. With precise foresight into the possible problems of armed conflict between Hamas and Fatah, aided and abetted by Israel, it is almost prescient in nature. It is not prescient however, but a thorough accounting of the structure and movement (political, social, and military) of Hamas, the apparent prescience deriving from the always present fear by Hamas that their less powerful position vis a vis Fatah and the PLO could one day lead to an armed struggle that their perceptions said Fatah could easily win.

The Palestinian Hamas – Vision, Violence, and Coexistence

It can be argued with a high degree of accuracy that Hamas’ victory in Gaza is technically not a coup, as being caught between two rocks and two hard places (PLO/Fatah and Israel/America) necessitated the move for their very survival as a democratically elected government of Palestine. All of which seems absurd, all of which is absurd, the absurdity pointing directly at the American petard of democracy. It can also be argued, after reading this thoroughly documented and well presented work, that neither the winning of the democratic elections (even if Hamas themselves expected only about thirty per cent of the vote) nor the recent resort to civic violence should have been any kind of surprise. That these two surprises caught western media, pundits, and politicians completely off-guard underlines that they quite simply did not understand Hamas and believed only their own rhetoric about its singular violent, terrorist nature.

The current PLO leader Abbas himself is caught up in this rhetoric, saying, "What happened in Gaza is a bloody and ferocious coup d'etat against Palestinian legitimacy." Unfortunately for him, the elections were very legitimate. As for the coup, what type of reaction could one expect when one’s coalition partner in a unity government is being salaried and armed by both the Israelis and the Americans and making threats to take over all Hamas’ functions? Abbas is trying to create a political solution “on the basis of international legitimacy, the Arab initiative, and [US] President [George] Bush's vision.”[1] Scary thought when that political legitimacy devolves from an international view now presented by arch-warmonger Tony Blair, from a weak coalition of Arab states that are fearful of the same type of democracy that put Hamas into power in the first place, and from, of all things, George Bush’s “vision”. Middle East politics is operating in the theatre of the absurd with all the insanities that corrupt politicians foment; unfortunately, the Palestinians suffer all the consequences.





What Did We Do to Deserve This? Palestinian Life Under Occupation - Jim Miles Book Review
Tuesday, 12 June 2007 08:47
by Jim Miles

A different and realistic view of Palestinian life is presented in What Did We Do to Deserve This?, an original concept by Mark Howell. The Palestinian people present themselves as a compassionate and caring people, for themselves, their land, and were it possible, for their neighbours. The photography of violence and destruction, of maimed bodies and twisted wreckage, could have been shown, but instead what comes through in the portraits and landscapes, which constitute an important segment of the book, is a "quiet dignity of suffering", perhaps not the best words to match the situation, but the phrase that first comes to mind from the photos. Other words could be attributed to the visual images – resignation, friendliness, fear, happiness, and resilience. In essence, the people of Palestine are presented as a very representative group of humanity, with the added complexity of existing under a severely controlling occupation.

The photographs are a major part of the book, accompanying anecdotes and quotations from civilians leading the harsh daily realities of life in the occupied Westbank. The text beginning each section combines the author’s anecdotal experiences along with an essentials summary of the various themes and topics presented. Along with various websites, Howell has used many of the standard ‘revisionist’ histories of the Palestine/Israeli conflict in support of his own impressions concerning the subjugation of a people by a military force operating in the Westbank acting as an authority unto itself. The three formats combined – photography, anecdotes and stories, current research – make the work an excellent entry source for people wishing to understand more fully the situation in the Middle East in general and in Palestine/Israel in particular.

As has become more common in recent works critical of the Israeli-American liaison, the media receives much criticism. With his initial visit to Palestine, Howell expressed shock “by the great difference between media reporting and the reality on the ground,” leading him “to address the void between mainstream media coverage of the conflict,” and that newly perceived reality. He posits three main causes of the strength of this bias: first that the “Israeli government has developed a formidable PR machine;” secondly, knowing what its actions are going to be (in most cases) it “can also plan in advance” to get its own message out; and finally, the news sources “recruit Jewish spokespeople” as the target audience has “more affinity with a white Israeli with a British accent than with a Palestinian Arab.” As always, the media carries its own corporate interests foremost, which should limit the “trust…often given to journalistic reports.”

The media story is that of inverse victimization, of Palestinian terrorists attacking the vulnerable and peacefully democratic peoples of Israel. The testimony attested to here shows the reality, “the substance of Palestinian society whose voice is rarely heard,” the day to day subjugation of an occupied people by a variety of methods - a people that nevertheless remain resilient and determined.

Alongside the photographs are a series of maps, clearly and neatly presented showing the decline of Palestinian territory since 1948. One not so clear map, probably purposefully so, is one used to delineate the various areas of Jewish settlements and the designation of Palestinian (PLO and Fatah) control to varying degrees according to Israeli definitions. Later, another map shows how the ‘wall’ winds and twists around the Jewish and Palestinian settlements in and near East Jerusalem, isolating Palestinian populations from each other and enabling communication and further settlement of Jewish communities on confiscated land.





Michel Chossudovsky's - America's War on Terrorism - Book Review by Stephen Lendman
Tuesday, 19 June 2007 13:29
by Stephen Lendman

Michel Chossudovsky is a noted academic, author, activist and relentless researcher concentrating on America's imperial crusade to control planet earth for its markets, resources and cheap exploitable labor.  He's a Canadian economist by profession having taught at the University of Ottawa as well as at academic institutions in Western Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia.  In addition, he's been an economic adviser to developing countries' governments and a consultant for many international organizations, including the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, International Labour Organization (ILO), and World Health Organization (WHO).  He's also the editor of the Centre for Research on Globalization and its web site, Global Research.ca.

"America's War on Terrorism" — An Overview

Chossudovsky's book is a greatly expanded version of his 2002 book titled, "War and Globalization: The Truth behind September 11."  The current newly titled 2005 edition (post-9/11 and the 2003 Iraq invasion and occupation) includes 12 new chapters with those in the original edition updated.  The author states the book's purpose is "to refute the official narrative and reveal — using detailed evidence and documentation (not speculation based on opinion alone)" — the true nature of America's "war on terrorism," that's as relevant now as when the book was first published.

Chossudovsky calls it a complete fabrication "based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden (from a cave in Afghanistan and hospital bed in Pakistan) outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus."  He calls it, instead, what, in fact, it is — a pretext for permanent "New World Order" wars of conquest serving the interests of Wall Street and the financial community, the US military-industrial complex, Big Oil, and all other corporate interests profiting hugely from a massive scheme harming the public interest, in the name of protecting it, and potentially all humanity unless it's stopped in time.

On the morning of 9/11, the Bush administration didn't miss a beat telling the world Al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center (WTC) and Pentagon meaning Osama bin Laden was the main culprit — case closed without even the benefit of a forensic and intelligence analysis piecing together all potential helpful information. There was no need to because, as Chossudovsky explained, "That same (9/11) evening at 9:30 pm, a 'War Cabinet' was formed integrated by a select number of top intelligence and military advisors. At 11:00PM, at the end of that historic (White House) meeting, the 'War on Terrorism' was officially launched," and the rest is history.





Marjorie Cohn's "Cowboy Republic" - Book Review by Stephen Lendman
Thursday, 09 August 2007 22:55
by Stephen Lendman

Marjorie Cohn is a distinguished law professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where she's taught since 1991 and is the current president of the National Lawyers Guild. She's also been a criminal defense attorney at the trial and appellate levels, is an author, and has written many articles for professional journals, other publications, and for noted web sites such as Global Research, ZNet, CounterPunch, AfterDowning Street, Common Dreams, AlterNet and others. Her long record of achievements, distinctions and awards is broad and varied for her teaching, writing and her work as a lawyer and activist for peace, social and economic justice.

Cohn's latest book just published, and subject of this review, is titled "Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law." It provides a thorough, impressive and incisive account of the most important ways the Bush administration defied, defiled and weakened the rule of law and by so doing hurtled the nation toward tyranny. This book is an essential guide to their lawless record, its threat to the nation and world, and the desperate need to confront it, challenge it and remove it from office before it's too late. The stakes couldn't be greater - the fate of the republic hangs by a thread as well as all humanity if people of conscience fail to act and swiftly. Cohn's book lays out the problem clearly. The rest is up to us.

Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, introduces what's to follow in his brief introduction to Cohn's book. In it, he states the most important lesson of the disastrous Iraq war is that "adherence to international law serves the national (as well as) human interest in time of war." More than at any other time, with the nation at war, US presidents can practically operate as dictators outside the normally constraining check and balancing influences of the other two branches of government, when they choose to use them.

For the past six and a half years, they've been nowhere in sight, and George Bush took full advantage. He's defied constitutional and international law with arrogance and impunity including the Nuremberg Principles defining what constitutes a war crime. Falk quotes its chief prosecutor, Justice Robert Jackson, saying ...."the record on which we judge these (Nazi) defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow." Throughout our history, pre and post-Nuremberg, this nation broke the "Nuremberg promise....repeatedly" but never to the degree as under George Bush. That's the legacy he'll pass to future administrations they'll have to live with and confront as an obstacle in an attempt to move ahead. Their job won't be easy.


Cohn begins her book with a definition of "cowboy" applicable to George Bush - one "who undertakes a dangerous or sensitive task needlessly." Other definitions refer to someone who's "reckless, aggressive or irresponsible." Those characterizations pretty much sum up the record of the current President who won't go down in history like the legendary heros who won the West and most dictionaries say are "hired hands who tend cattle and perform other duties on horseback" on the range "where the deer and antelope play."





Ferdinand Lundberg's "Cracks in the Constitution" - Book Review by Stephen Lendman
Monday, 06 August 2007 18:18
by Stephen Lendman

Ferdinand Lundberg (1905 - 1995) was a 20th century economist, journalist, historian and author of such books as The Rich and the Super-Rich: A Study in the Power of Money Today; The Myth of Democracy; Politicians and Other Scoundrels; and the subject of this review - Cracks in the Constitution.

Lundberg's book was published twenty-seven years ago, yet remains as powerfully important and relevant today as then. Simply put, the book is a blockbuster. It's must reading to learn what schools to the highest levels never teach about the nation's most important document that lays out the fundamental law of the land in its Preamble, Seven Articles, Bill of Rights, and 17 other Amendments. Lundberg deconstructs it in depth, separating myth from reality about what he called "the great totempole of American society."

He does it in 10 exquisitely written chapters with examples and detail galore to drive home his key message that our most sacred of all documents is flawed. It was crafted by 55 mostly ordinary but wealthy self-serving "wheeler dealers" (among whom only 39 signed), and the result we got and now live with falls far short of the "Rock of Ages" it's cracked up to be. That notion is pure myth. This review covers in detail how Lundberg smashed it in each chapter.

The Sacred Constitution

Lundberg quickly transfixes his readers by disabusing them of notions commonly held. Despite long-held beliefs, the Constitution is no "masterpiece of political architecture." It falls far short of "one great apotheosis (bathed) in quasi-religious light." The finished product was a "closed labyrinthine affair," not an "open" constitution like the British model. It was the product of duplicitous politicians and their close friends scheming to cut the best deals for themselves by leaving out the great majority of others who didn't matter.

The myths we learned in school and through the dominant media are legion, long-standing and widely held among the educated classes. They and most others believe the framers crafted a Constitution that "powerfully restrained and fettered" the federal government and created "a limited government (or a) government of limited powers." It's simply not so because through the power of the chief executive it can do "whatever it is from time to time" it wishes. In that respect, it's no more precise and binding than The Ten Commandments the Judaic and Christian worlds violate freely and willfully all the time. Even so-called "born-again" types, like the current President, do it, along with Popes, past and present, and the former Israeli Sephardi chief rabbi, Mordechai Eliyahu, who advocates mass killing by carpet bombing Gaza to save Jewish lives.

The "supreme Law of the Land" here deters no President or sitting government from doing as they wish, law or no law. The Constitution is easily ignored with impunity by popular or unpopular governments doing as they please and inventing reasons as justification. Lundberg is firm in debunking the notion that America is a government of laws, not men. It's "palpable nonsense of the highest order," he said. Governments enacting laws are composed of men who lie, connive, misinterpret and pretty much operate ad libitum discharging their duties as they see fit for their own self-interest.

It was no different in 1787 when 55 delegates (privileged all) assembled for four months in the same Philadelphia State House, where the Declaration of Independence was signed 11 years earlier, to rework the Articles of Confederation into a Constitution that would last into "remote futurity," as long as possible, or until others later changed it. None of them were happy with the finished product but felt it was the best one possible under the circumstances and better than nothing at all.

The document is "crisply worded" and can easily be read in 20 to 30 minutes and just as easily be totally misunderstood. The sole myth in it is stated in its opening Preamble words: "We the people of the United States....do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." In fact, "the people" nowhere entered the process, then or since.





Linda McQuaig's "It's the Crude, Dude" - Book Review by Stephen Lendman
Thursday, 02 August 2007 11:30
by Stephen Lendman

Linda McQuaig is a prominent, admired, and award-winning Canadian journalist writing about vital issues of concern to everyone. She was a national reporter for the Toronto Globe and Mail before joining the Toronto Star where she now covers Canadian politics with her trademark combination of solid research, keen analysis, irreverence, passion and wit. She's easy to read, never boring, and fearless. The National Post called her "Canada's Michael Moore."

McQuaig is also a prolific author with a well-deserved reputation for taking on the establishment. In her previous seven books, she challenged Canada's deficit reduction scheme to gut essential social services. She explained how the rich used the country's tax system to get richer the way it's worked in the US since Ronald Reagan and then exploded under George Bush. She exposed the fraud of "free trade" (never called fair because it isn't) empowering giant corporations over sovereign states while exploiting working people everywhere.

She also showed how successive Canadian governments waged war on equality since the 1980s, and in her latest book, "Holding the Bully's Coat - Canada and the US Empire," she takes aim at the conservative Stephen Harper administration's allying with George Bush's belligerent lawlessness and phony "war on terrorism." Canada chose not to be part of Washington's concocted "coalition of the willing" in Iraq but partnered in its war of aggression and illegal occupation of Afghanistan.

Her last book before her latest one is another important tour de force and subject of this review. It's titled "It's the Crude, Dude: war, big oil, and the fight for the planet." It's no secret America's wars in the Middle East and Central Asia are to control what a Franklin Roosevelt State Department spokesman in 1945 called a "stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history" - the huge amount of Middle East oil with most of it believed to be in Saudi Arabia then. With it goes veto power over how it's distributed, to whom, at what price, for whose benefit and at whose expense. Today, one country above all others may be that "greatest material prize" making it target number one America intends to control for the strategic power and riches it represents.

The country is Iraq, and it's the reason US forces invaded and occupy it. McQuaig's book explained it stunningly, beginning on her opening page: The "oil motive" drives America's wars "given oil's obvious geopolitical significance, and the fact that Iraq is the last easily harvested oil bonanza left on earth." More on that below and also on the fact that with less than 5% of the world's population and 3% of its oil reserves, the US wastefully consumes one-fourth of all oil production with no plan to cut back. It means a reliable outside source is essential pointing directly at the Middle East where two-thirds of all proved reserves are located. They're not inexhaustible, however, as oil is a finite resource. It means a crunch ahead is inevitable.





Linda McQuaig's "Holding the Bully's Coat" - Book Review by Stephen Lendman
Wednesday, 27 June 2007 14:47
by Stephen Lendman

Linda McQuaig is a prominent, award-winning Canadian journalist, sadly less well known in the US because she writes about her own country. She was a national reporter for the Toronto Globe and Mail before joining the Toronto Star where she now covers Canadian politics with her trademark combination of solid research, keen analysis, irreverence and passion. She's easy to read, never boring, and fearless. The National Post called her "Canada's Michael Moore."

McQuaig is also a prolific author with a well-deserved reputation for taking on the establishment. In her previous seven books, she challenged Canada's deficit reduction scheme to gut essential social services. She explained how the rich used the country's tax system for greater riches the way it happened in the US since Ronald Reagan, then exploded under George Bush. She exposed the fraud of "free trade" empowering giant corporations over sovereign states while exploiting working people everywhere.

She also showed how successive Canadian governments waged war on equality since the 1980s, and in her last book before her newest one she took aim at why the US invaded and occupied Iraq. It's catchy title is "It's the Crude, Dude: war, big oil, and the fight for the planet." It's no secret America's wars in the Middle East and Central Asia are to control what Franklin Roosevelt's State Department in 1945 called a "stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history — the huge amount of Middle East oil alone and veto power over how it's disbursed and to whom.

"Holding the Bully's Coat — Canada and the US Empire" is her eighth book. She writes about a country slightly larger than the US in geographic size with around one-tenth the population and one-twelfth the GDP. It also shares the world's longest relatively open, undefended border extending 3145 miles. In her book, McQuaig explains how corporate-Canada, its elitist "comprador class," the Department of National Defense (DND), and mainstream commentators want Canada to be Washington's subservient junior partner. The result is Ottawa abandoned its traditional role in peacekeeping, supporting internationalism, as a fair-minded mediator and conciliator, and it's continuing downhill from there.

Today Canada's allied with the Bush administration's belligerent lawlessness in its phony "war on terrorism." It's not part of the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq but joined Washington's war of aggression and illegal occupation in Afghanistan. In February, 2004, it partnered with the US and France ousting democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, then became part of the repressive Blue Helmet MINUSTAH paramilitary force onslaught against his Lavalas movement and Haitian people under cover of "peacekeeping."

More on that below.





Noam Chomsky's New Book: "Interventions" - Book Review by Stephen Lendman
Thursday, 14 June 2007 10:30
by Stephen Lendman

Noam Chomsky is MIT Institute Professor Emeritus of linguistics and has been a leading political and social critic of US imperial policy for over 40 years. He's also one of the world's most influential and widely cited intellectuals on the Left. He's the author of many hundreds of articles and publications as well as dozens of books including his latest one and subject of this review - "Interventions."

The introductory Editor's Note explains that post-9/11 Chomsky began writing short, roughly 1000 word, concise articles distributed by The New York Times Syndicate as op-eds. They were widely picked up overseas but rarely in the US and only in smaller regional or local papers. They never appeared in the New York Times that circulated them worldwide but not to its own readers. It shows how the Times and all the corporate media suppress views contrary to dominant mainstream thinking. They're verboten in a nation where A.J Liebling once said "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."

Imperfect as the European press is, Chomsky's essays appeared in the International Herald Tribune and London Guardian and Independent among others. Even one of Mexico's leading national newspapers, La Jornada in Mexico City, frequently publishes Chomsky's articles.

"Interventions" is a collection of 44 op-ed pieces, post-9/11, from September, 2002 through March, 2007. Included is one written specifically for the New York Times in February, 2004 titled "A Wall is a Weapon." Chomsky added notes at the end of each one briefly expanding on and updating what he wrote earlier up to the book's recent publication. In all his political writings, including the op-eds in "Interventions," Chomsky has always been a fierce critic of US foreign and domestic policy and the dominant US media's practice of "manufacturing consent" for it assuring criticism never exceeds what political elites allow. It means there's never enough of it, what's most needed, or anything diverging from general consensus views corporate America and Washington-based rulers of the world agree on.





Alexander Cockburn's and Jeffrey St. Clair's "End Times" - Book Review by Stephen Lendman
Wednesday, 16 May 2007 15:36
by Stephen Lendman

Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair are both veteran journalists and authors doing the kind of muckraking political and other investigative writing only found in the US online and in out-of-the-mainstream publications and political newsletters like the one they co-publish and edit - CounterPunch with its counterpart web site of the same name.

Cockburn is also a regular columnist with The Nation magazine, and his writings appear regularly in the New York Free Press and Los Angeles Times. He formerly wrote extensively for numerous other publications as well including the Wall Street Journal's far right editorial page oddly in the 1980s when its late editor Bob Bartley decided to have an alternate point of view and certainly got an exceptional one the mirror opposite of the array of extremist hard right contributors he allowed regular space to all the time as does his successor today. Cockburn's also authored, co-authored and co-edited 18 books, the latest one being "End Times - The Death of the Fourth Estate," along with co-author St. Clair, and subject of this review.

St. Clair has authored, co-authored and co-edited 10 books including his powerful and extraordinary post-9/11 2005 expose of war profiteering - Grand Theft Pentagon - Tales of Corruption and Profiteering in the War on Terror. He's also worked as an environmental organizer and activist, writes for the environmental magazine Forest Watch, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, and has written for Friends of the Earth, Clean Water Action Project and his native state Hoosier Environmental Council. In addition, he's a contributing editor of In These Times magazine and has written for The Nation, The Progressive, New Left Review and other publications.

End Times - A Collection of Essays from Cockburn and St. Clair On the Dismal State of the Dominant Print Media

"End Times - The Death of the Fourth Estate" is a collection of 50 wide-ranging essays written in recent years under six topic headings, mostly by Cockburn and St. Clair with a few by other contributors, on the dismal state of the corporate print media today. They were dominant at their zenith in the mid-1970s Pentagon Papers - Watergate era but now, the authors say, are in an inevitable state of decline agreeing with media mogul (Cockburn-labeled "WORLD-SCALE MONSTER") Rupert Murdock's characterization of a long twilight at best.
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