Letters to the Editor


Regarding Distortions about Yugoslavia's Disintegration by Konstantin Kilibarda

To the Editor:

I have just read Konstantin Kilibarda's piece and found it exceptionally interesting. Is he planning to do any more on the same subject (i.e., the real history of Yugoslavia under Milosevic)? Given the vast quantities of nonsense and fantasy in circulation about this topic, a well-informed and detailed account would be of great political value.

Colin Meade
London, England - March 27, 2003

[Ed. Yes, we are confident that Mr. Kilibarda will contribute further work on this important issue in the near future. You can also check all the work published on Swans regarding the Yugoslav tragedy.]


Regarding Baffour Ankomah's interview of David Hasluck and his other articles on Zimbabwe

To the Editor:

I do appreciate Swans' releases sent to me every second week, and I read the articles with a big interest because they are often telling a different story. In the case of Zimbabwe this is definitely the case. The interview with David Hasluck by Baffour Ankomah is so interesting and I was happy to find it in this last issue. I read it in New African but now I can recommend friends (and foes) to read it on the Internet. Today I got an article sent to me from a person I happened to meet last weekend. I told her about the David Hasluck interview and as an "answer" she sent this attached article by Doris Lessing ["The Jewel of Africa," The New York Review of Books, April 10, 2003]. A very different and colonial story! I thought it might be interesting for Baffour Ankomah to somehow write a comment. Many people take Lessing as an authority and I think a comment from an African perspective would be needed.

Kerstin Björnheden
Klövedal, Sweden - March 31, 2003

Baffour Ankomah comments: I just looked at the first few paragraphs of Doris Lessing's article, and I well agree with Kerstin Björnheden's comment: "A very different and colonial story." Colonial is the word. Perhaps Doris Lessing would want to go to Zimbabwe and see things for herself, before she writes more of those "colonial" stories.


Regarding Julien Benda: The Failure of Imagination and Thought, by Gilles d'Aymery, and the Excerpt from The Treason of the Intellectuals, by Julien Benda

[Ed. This is short e-mail exchange between Edward Herman and Gilles d'Aymery.]

Gilles, I like your piece on Benda and his work very much and appreciated your providing that chapter from Benda. The quote that you put at the top of you article is superb--covering both Israel and the U.S. in one sentence. But Benda is pretty wordy, and I don't agree with him on a fundamental point. He would put the intellectuals too much above the battle and not deigning to put their pure thought into practical application. Somebody like Chomsky seems to me a model, blending the strong and independent pursuit of thought with a pretty steady involvement on the side of the weak as an activist. My impression is that Benda wouldn't approve.


Ed Herman
Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, USA - April 5, 2003

Gilles d'Aymery answers: Ed, you need to place Benda within the context of his time. He was indeed involved and active in the defense of Dreyfus. However when he wrote the Treason of the Intellectuals, as I explained in my piece, he had seen too many intellectual turncoats -- if you will the Hitchens, Ignatieff, Gitlin, etc. of his time -- moving toward raw nationalism. Faced with so much betrayal he advocated a return to a more speculative and spiritual work. At least this is my reading of his work. I don't know whether he would have disagreed with Chomsky's dual approach. Personally, I've always considered that the different approaches are not exclusive; they also relate to the psychological making of individuals. For instance, I am often criticized for not being much of a "political activist" by people who turn around and criticize others for being too much "political activists" themselves. To me, the fundamental point that Benda made, which I truly agree with, is the abandonment of the values of the Enlightenment (universal truth or quest for it, Hellenism, etc.) in favor of values based on self-interested pragmatism, which are heralded and defended by false-intellectuals. There are many good sophists around who can argue ad nauseum the benefits of waging war for -- add whatever qualificative, from oil to "liberation," or "humanitarian" causes, or WMD, etc., etc., etc. It is such a redux of the 20's that Benda is a good reminder of the moral and ethical responsibilities intellectuals ought to espouse. Certainly, Noam would agree with this point. Best, Gilles d'Aymery

Ed Herman: "Thanks for your clarification on Benda, which makes good sense. Best, Ed Herman"


Regarding Jan Baughman's cartoon, Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as Julien Benda: The Failure of Imagination and Thought, by Gilles d'Aymery, and the Excerpt from The Treason of the Intellectuals, by Julien Benda
Good on you both.

Gilles, our contact with France, gives us a Benda.

Top stuff!

I'll ride with Aquinas,

What I notice is that millenia plus centuries of contrarian thought have yet to impact the successions of Bushies ablaze with desire to harm.

Milo Clark
Pahoa, Hawaii, USA - March 31, 2003


Regarding War on Iraq,

To the Editor:


From the Internet Jerusalem Post, 3/19/2003
(Despite US, UK pressure, Israel not concerned about road map)

- Adressing an emergency debate in Parliament on British participation in military action against Iraq, Blair said he does not believe there is "any other issue with the same power to re-unite the world community than progress in the issue of Israel and Palestine."

Now this is clear analysis from one of the most vociferous warmongerers: what holds the world together now in the interest of the most aggressive imperialism is -- pressure on Israel. Israel will be made the scapegoat, Muslim terrorism will be strengthened against Israel, and the bigger the escalation, the better for the USA, the EU and Arab/Muslim regimes all over the world. This is perfectly consistent with what has been published on this website about Fascist continuities in US politics and institutions.

Let's hope people will get the hint.

Roberto Mantovani
Düsseldorf, Germany - March 19, 2003


To the Editor:

A quote from 1978 and some comments that may help to understand the present terrible situation beyond the oil argument:

"The international expert on the Soviet Union Hélène Carrère d'Encausse evokes the awakening of the one hundred Soviet nations that threatens the very existence of the USSR. Their language, culture and history are different. Nowadays they are looking for their heritage, their identity, instead of fusing in Brezhnev's melting pot. While European Russians are in control of the army (of 101 generals, 97 are Slavs, the rest is Ukrainian [sic]), the Politbureau (where they represent 90%), schools and universities, the media, police, their population actually is in decline, whereas that population of Central Asia is tripling. Did you know that the 50 Millions of Muslims of the USSR soon will be 80 Millions? This coherent bulk includes more than one fifth of the Soviet population. To them, children born of civil marriages are illegitimate. Not only do they follow the law of Islam, but they also make the mountain nomads at the Iranian border converts. They hold that Marx is not more than a half-prophet, somewhere between Buddha [sic] and Jesus. In the same way, the Mongols of old, the Tatars, the peoples in the Caucasus, the Kalmyks, the Samoyedes, the 37 Million Ukrainians are ever more reluctant to support the authoritarian rule of European Russians. These nations insist on their right to autonomy even while they are developing a vivid consciousness of their history, their tradition. Equally can we notice a renaissance of Jewish, Orthodox, Muslim faith among young people. This brooding represents an element of insecurity. Faced with the irreversibly hostile movement in the provinces, central government is helpless. Of all the contradictions facing the Soviet regime, this is the most irreconcilable. Is this the reason why the power currently acts more rigidly within the country at the time the Soviet empire is striving to establish itself in Africa? The Exploded Empire: a book that is central to understanding a capital phenomenon of our times."

(Publicity blurb on the paperback edition of: Hélène Carrère d'Encausse, "L'Empire Éclaté - La révolte des nations en U.R.S.S.," Flammarion, 1978 Printed in France. For French original, see below.)

This publicity text delivers the message more clearly than does Mme herself in the book, also is this resume certainly more effective and gives the "spin" more clearly.

Note especially that Muslims are described as

- a homogeneous bulk

- as being in a phase of demographic expansion that will bring down the Soviet system

If we assume that Madam has not only analyzed a situation but outlined a plan (and as I have witnessed, she was scheduled to give a speech in Sankt-Pektersburg/Leningrad in 1994 on the topic "Does there exist a Russian nation"), here you have the blueprint for

- the promotion of FEUDAL structures of society in order to destroy existing societies

- the promotion of implicitly feudal (or in the extreme consequence, slave-holding) societies as more natural and coherent (and of course, happy) as compared to industrial societies

- the use of the "demographic bomb" (linked to both the promotion of feudalism and the destruction of industrial societies that itself must breed feudalism or slave-holding types of society) in order to destroy the Soviet Union (and later Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Kosovo) and now Israel (and the same can be done in France or Germany, there are many links in Germany between Fascist and Islamist ideologues, no matter what skinheads may do to Turks or Arabs on the streets).

- the promotion of the image of Islam as a homogeneous bulk as a negatively positive image, in order to strengthen reactionary forms of social cohesion and birthrate at home (not an industrial baby-boom, but birthrate as an element of ethnic warfare, in order to divide what was once called the working class)

So perhaps this may be useful for your current work.

Roberto Mantovani
Düsseldorf, Germany - March 26, 2003

original quote:

- (French original:)

Spécialiste internationale de l'Union Soviétique, Hélène Carrère d'Encausse évoque le réveil des cent nations soviétiques qui menace l'existence même de l'U.R.S.S. Leur langue, leur culture, leur histoire sont dissemblables. Les voici à la recherche de leur patrimoine, de leur identité au lieu de se fonder auf creuset de Berjnev. Si les Russes d'Europe contrôlent l'armée (sur 101 généraux, 97 sont slaves, les autres ukrainiens [sic]), le Politburo (où ils sont 90%), l'enseignement, les media , la police, leur population décroît alors que celle des Républiques d'Asie centrale triple. Sait-on que les 50 millions de musulmans en U.R.S.S. seront bientôt 80 millions? Leur bloc cohérent rassemble plus du cinquième de la population soviétique. Pour eux, les enfants issus de mariages civils, ne sont pas légitimes. Non seulement ils suivent la loi de l'Islam mais ils convertissent les nomades des montagnes à la frontière de l'Iran. Ils estiment que Marx n'est qu'un demi-prophète, entre Bouddha et Jésus.

De même les anciens Mongols, les Tartars, les peuples du Caucase, les Kalmouks, les Samoyèdes, les 37 millions d'Ukrainiens, etc. tolèrent de plus en plus mal l'autoritarisme des Russes d'Europe. Ces nations revendiquent leur droit à l'autonomie tandis que se développe une vive consicence de leur histoire, de leur tradition. On assiste de même à une renaissance de la foi juive, orthodoxe, islamique, chez les jeunes. Ce bouillonnement représente un élément d'insécurité. Devant le mouvement irréversible de l'hostilité des provinces, le pouvoir central est impuissant. De tous les problèmes auxquels doit faire face le régime soviétique, cette contestation est la plus irréductible. Est-ce la raison pour laquelle le pouvoir se durcit à l'intérieur tandis que l'empire soviétique cherche à s'étendre an Afrique? L'empire éclaté: un livre-clef qui permet de comprendre un phénomène capital de notre temps.


To the Editor:

Dear Sir:

You say that we are killing many innocent civilians? That's absurd! For one thing it is not a war on Iraq itself. The specific war is on the evil regime controlling Iraq. Yes, there is murder in Iraq. Did you hear of the 1 million deaths caused by genocide on Iraq commanded by Saddam and carried through with his cousin because the people wanted more freedom? Yes the civil war was practically the same matter be we didn't torched and cause slow painful deaths as Saddam did with mustard gas. And you called these people innocent! Not to mention that we found containers (in testing) that tested positive as being chemical weapons, and Saddam stated that he is going to clear the infidels from the earth (infidels = U.S.). How is this not threatening? Yes of course all war is bad. And for trashing the government for bringing these people liberation you insult them. Before you citizen your countries leader take into consideration that you don't know all the facts. I'm not saying you can't have your own opinion or that war is good (War is never good, but the results are greatly needed), but stand behind your government and country with pride and trust them even if you don't agree with the actions taken by them.

Robert Dieker
8th Grade Magdalen Middle School
Wichita, Kansas, USA - April 10, 2003


We appreciate and welcome your comments. Please, remember to sign your e-mails with your real name and add your city, state, country, address and phone number. If we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country. We are for real. Please be for real. Thanks. (Letters may be shortened and edited)
Previous || Letters to the Editor || Next

Published April 14, 2003
[Copyright]-[Archives]-[Resources]-[Main Page]