Swans 10th Anniversary
by Philip Greenspan
(Swans - May 8, 2006) I became aware of Swans, to the best of my recollection, during the year of 1999, when it was displaying several excellent articles on the then-unfolding situation in Yugoslavia. My wife and I had fallen in love with that country in the early 1970s on our first foreign trip.
Over the years I read a great deal of its history, followed ongoing news events there, and when the country broke apart endeavored to understand why. Accordingly, I browsed the Internet to find Web sites that would satisfy my hunger for reliable news of the country. Swans and perhaps one other site at that time satisfied my needs.
The following year, Yugoslavia as I had known it was no more than a memory. With the demise of the Soviets, the U.S. and its NATO partners no longer regarded Yugoslavia as a suitable ally. Their instigations provoked republics to declare independence from the union. In the resulting chaos, turmoil, and war the U.S. and NATO intervened and carved up some spoils. They employed the usual wartime lies to justify the merciless attacks they unleashed on the Serbs. Their deceptions scapegoating the Serbs and their leader Slobodan Milosevic were readily accepted not only by the gullible but by credible authorities.
Therefore, I was incensed to learn that Amnesty International supported the war crimes trial of Milosevic by a US-created and financed kangaroo court. I shortly sent it the following e-mail.
For several years I have been a member of AI; and was very proud of its human and civil rights positions. However, I was deeply disappointed when I opened the current edition of "amnesty now" to see a circled request for members to urge the transfer of Slobodan Milosevic to the International Criminal Tribunal.
An organization that fights so hard on behalf of those unjustly punished should not be an instigator of just such an injustice. The exaggerated claims of atrocities have subsequently been shown to be completely false. Additionally, the International Criminal Tribunal as a court of justice is as shocking as those false atrocity charges.
So many articles have been published by reliable sources, on both the court and the atrocities (if you are unaware of them, I will provide you with some) that it should have, at least, caused hesitancy.
I may be mistaken to assume you are much too knowledgeable and intelligent to be duped by the lies of governments and their subservient media. It is extremely disheartening to find that a worldwide human rights organization of your stature taking such a reprehensible action.
Additionally, I spread the word of Amnesty's distressing position hoping that others would publicize and counter its effect. Swans, one of the first I thought of, not only took on the task but pressed me to write an essay on what had prompted my aggressive response. I objected that I was not a writer, but Gilles d'Aymery, Mister Swans, could not be deterred. He insisted that I try.
With great difficulty -- writing, editing, rewriting, reediting, etc., etc, etc. -- I completed Gilles's assignment. My efforts apparently met Swans standards, for it was published in the following issue.
I soon received a request for another essay. Having successfully completed my initial assignment I did not offer too much resistance. Although I expected difficultly in writing the essay I foresaw an offsetting benefit as well. Like everyone I had opinions on a variety of subjects, most of which I had never adequately expressed. During discussions, if I were not drowned out by more powerful voices, I would be interrupted frequently before I had completed all details of an argument. By writing I would be afforded the opportunity to thoroughly state the contentions for my opinion.
Almost five years have elapsed since I wrote that initial article for Swans. I still consider myself an amateur, still struggle with writes, edits, rewrites, reedits, etc. Whenever I submit a piece I wait expectantly to find out whether Gilles considers my effort up to par for Swans. To my delight he usually accepts it. Although he may not agree with my iconoclastic opinions his open-mindedness wins out.
Every morning, I take a 30-minute aerobic walk for my health. During that time, I mull over possible topics and supporting points for my next essay. I then do research to substantiate what will be the major premise and to verify facts I will include. Sometimes I discover facts I was unaware of. If they bolster my position I may add them to the essay. If they contradict my position I will reassess. Do my arguments still hold water or am I all wet? Sometimes, after I have written several paragraphs, I discover the piece is going nowhere and a different topic or approach is called for. Usually the completed essay is in some respects, and occasionally in many respects, different from what I originally envisioned.
Have my articles had any effect? Yes. Definitely! They have provided me with a superb education. The extensive research I undertake makes me quite knowledgeable on the subjects I tackle. I have also developed an appreciation of good writing skills. I admire and extol the talented writers who can convey more in a concise paragraph than I can in a page.
By scanning the archives I realized how remarkably Swans had grown over the years. Only two or three essays were published in some months during the early years. Its output expanded and its format improved quite quickly. Since I have first hand knowledge of the dedication of Gilles d'Aymery and Jan Baughman -- the publishing and editing team responsible for each biweekly edition -- I am not surprised that it blossomed into what it is today. That I came on board, lasted this long, and turned out acceptable pieces is traceable to their encouragement and assistance, for which I am most grateful.
Rewriting, reediting, and rereading each piece over and over again before submission causes a loss of perspective that usually troubles me. Did the essay end up as I originally intended? As I scanned the archives and reread some of my old pieces I realized they turned out properly and I was pleased. Of course I was pleased. I'm biased. What would you expect from some character who is judging his own work? Honesty? Objectivity? No way!
Nevertheless, I'll express some thoughts as I contemplate my prior output. I pick as my best effort, a shocker, "A Belated Apology To Adolf," February 11, 2002. It reveals that the most abominable practices of the Nazis -- genocide, slave labor, concentration camps, sterilization, destruction of civil rights -- were carried out years earlier by the US government and lasted for longer periods.
As my next best effort I choose "A Genocide Museum For The U.S.," September 1, 2003. It contends that the numerous Holocaust museums do not properly belong in the U.S. The U.S. was neither the villain nor the representative of the Jewish victims. Germany and Israel -- the two countries directly involved -- should properly maintain such museums. The U.S., one of the many bystander countries that closed their immigration gates to the threatened victims during those tragic years, was directly involved in an earlier and more deadly genocide that continues to this day. That genocide should be acknowledged and a Holocaust museum that rightfully and fittingly belongs in the U.S. should commemorate the tragedy of the Indian Nations (aka, Native Americans)!
Another favorite of mine is "Transforming Reality Into Mythology," October 4, 2004. It points out that Abraham Lincoln, the president whom historians rate as the best, violated more laws and was despised by more of the citizenry during his terms in office than the current occupant of the White House. By preventing the secession of the southern states, democracy -- the voice of the people in those states -- was negated. His war resulted in over a million casualties in a country of less than thirty-one and a half million. He was willing to condone slavery to preserve the union and only freed the slaves in the rebelling states over which he had no control as a tactic late in the war. He revoked civil liberties and increased the power and authority of the federal government from a loose confederation of states.
Also a favorite is "Founding Father's Formula Fulfilled," July 7, 2003. This one shatters the frequently invoked myths of the founding fathers commitment to civil rights. Their desires were more in line with the Bush crowd's espousal of property rights and rule by the chosen few who rightly know how to govern -- i.e., the wealthy. Their expertly designed Constitution was intended for just such a government. When they realized that ratification was doubtful they reluctantly permitted a series of amendments known as the Bill of Rights -- amendments that the founders did not want -- to give ratification a chance. And only through villainy and chicanery was it ratified.
"Will the Favorite Go the Distance?", April 14, 2003, was published shortly before Bush confidently proclaimed "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. Among the lines I wrote are the following: "Now that Round 2 seems to be almost over the hawks will have to confront more formidable challengers for the following rounds in the War against Terrorism. . . . But here's a tip: In spite of the all the hype, don't bet on the favorite. The champ won't go the distance!" I did not expect back then that the seemingly invincible sole superpower would get bogged down, so soon, in round 2. Although the Bush belligerencies have not ended as yet, that long shot tip seems a more likely payoff.
I was not so prescient in "Latest Epidemic: Gas Pain Syndrome!", June 7, 2004. I wrote "[O]n Tuesday, June 1, world oil prices rose to new highs. Crude prices in New York ended above $42 a barrel. If these ominous conditions continue, $50 or more may soon be reached, entailing a possible major economic recession -- and without any doubt further destabilizing the entire world, . . ." As I write on May 1, 2006, prices are approaching $74 dollars a barrel. No recession seems imminent. Consumers complain, congresspeople playact, gas tanks keep filling, and overall fuel consumption has not decreased.
The above essays and others seem almost as timely as when I wrote them and with minor changes could be recycled. Being that I'm getting lazier and lazier I may try it when Gilles is least suspecting!
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