Note from the Editor

"And finally, America stands for more than the absence of war," said George W. Bush in his address at the 2002 graduation exercise of the US Military Academy, West Point, on June 1st. (Yes, he did say it!) The East Timorese people who after 25 years of mostly non-violent resistance won freedom from the Indonesian yoke financed and armed by the USA -- the object of Michael Stowell's essay -- will be gratified to learn that our compassionate president hopes for a just peace (where's the absence of war?) and a better day when people are lifted out of despair and poverty. Of course, no one will be particularly surprised that we need to wage war before reaching a just peace. Most of his speech was indeed about war. Presumably, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, if asked about the absence of war will answer that the president meant at home, not abroad. The world is a dangerous place, you know, full of "evildoers." The road to lifting poverty and despair is evidently well known to the president: Freedom and democracy which, as Stephen Gowans clearly and cleverly demonstrates, mean property rights; that is, private property rights, or again the right to buy assets and resources at fire sale prices. The predictability of this president is astounding! At least Clinton had an intellect...and Monica.

Then there is the amusing diversion of the FBI, all too happy to take the fall for what was known or should have been known so long as its director, only-one-week-in-the-job Robert Mueller, keeps his position (he will) and gets more money, much more money to reinvent the venerable "civil rights" institution (he will too). This pleasant diversion is bound to further fan the zillion controversies that fester on the Web (to the extent that one should wonder whether those sites are secretly being financed by some of Bush's cronies!). Speaking of conspiracies, we have a piece by guest contributor Jon Phalen on the subject; a piece about which Gilles d'Aymery, in his publishing capacity, felt rather uneasy but was out-voted 7-1 in favor of publishing it. He relented, but it gave him the opportunity to lift a small veil of Swans' inner workings as well as to present his own views about conspiracy theories and theorists; views that undoubtedly will win him few friends! In all fairness, we present another side in the words of Milo Clark. Jan Baughman adds her two cents and we are republishing a recent piece by Stephen Gowans on the same issue. Whichever side you are on, you should find plenty to think about. However, just for the record, Swans has no intention to join the conspiracy legions.

You'll also be amazed at the consequences a tiny typo made, corrected by a friendly and informed reader, once both the reader and the author figured out, to their respective embarrassment, that the correction was...incorrect! Gilles d'Aymery tells the story as well as some lessons he learned. He also talks about good intentions and the law of unintended consequences, using a series of examples to make his point. "Good intentions" can have devastating consequences be it in South Asia or in Colombia. Finally, Alma Hromic writes about books and celebrity endorsements and we are publishing part four of her 10-part poem on Going Home. Yugoslavia may not be in the mainstream news but she is in Gowans' piece. So we thought you may want to read again about Michael Parenti's book, "TO KILL A NATION, The Attack on Yugoslavia." The destruction of Yugoslavia was very much about the kind of freedom and democracy Gowans discusses and very little about conspiracy!

As always, form your OWN opinion and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans. It's your voice that makes ours grow.


Activism Under the Radar Screen
Liberty Through Non Violence

Michael W. Stowell:  East Timor: A Child Is Born

It wasn't a stillbirth -- I was concerned about that for a while -- fortunately, the international public assisted and the world now has a brand new baby who survived a traumatic, almost tragic, gestation period. The child is in remarkably good health though quite frail and tiny, and the parents are relieved yet subdued.   More...


America: Myths and Realities

Stephen Gowans:  The Name For Our Profits Is Democracy

Having on occasion found myself in charge of a riot of obstreperous kids, I know that when talking with children, it's best to speak in simple language, with a lot of emphasis and repetition. You can't talk down to kids, but neither should you overestimate what they're capable of understanding.   More...


9-11, Conspiracy and Anticonspiracy

Gilles d'Aymery:  Conspiracy Caution (Introduction To Jon Phalen's Article)

I am publishing the work authored by Mr. Jon Phalen, "Let's Step Out Of The Box For A Moment, Shall We? A reply To The Anticonspiratorialists" with a mix of ambivalence and apprehension.   More...


Milo Clark:  Digging Through The Morasses (Second Opinion on Jon Phalen's Article)

Do I assume that Grifola8 is Jon Phalen? Overall, the submission is reflective. I would say it appears to be an attempt to dig through the morasses involved. That may only mean that I generally agree with some of his premises.   More...


Jon Phalen:  Let's Step Out Of The Box For A Moment, Shall We?
A reply To The Anticonspiratorialists

Sharing my deep skepticism about 9-11 with others, I can't help but notice the way some people reach frantically for ways to make a conspiracy scenario as implausible as possible.   More...


Jan Baughman:  Conspiracy And Paranoia As Distraction

Perhaps the events of 9-11 could have been prevented, perhaps not. Perhaps you believe in "conspiracy" theories: The administration allowed this to happen to further their agenda; it was not an airplane that hit the Pentagon; the plane that went down in Pennsylvania was actually shot down by US military.   More...


Stephen Gowans:  Conspiracy Theory As Received Wisdom

[Originally published on March 25, 2002]

One person's terrorist is another's guerilla, and still another's patriot. One person's battle for liberation is another's struggle against occupation, and another's terrorism. And one person's conspiracy theory is another's statement of the facts.   More...


American Literati in Oprah Land

Alma A. Hromic:  Oprah Closes The Book

When push comes to shove, people read what they LIKE to read. In the light of this irrefutable truth, it is probably time for the reading public to leave their "reading childhood" behind and step into a mature attitude towards their choice of reading material, not relying on pundits to tell them what their taste ought to be.   More...


On My Mind

Gilles d'Aymery:  A Tiny Typo
From Intellectual Responsibility To The Law Of Unintended Consequences

We all know the law of unintended consequences and have more than once experienced well-intentioned actions turned into nightmarish scenarios; from a straightforward re-roofing of a house leading to thousands of dollars in unforeseen, rot-related expenses, to al Qaeda "blowback;" from "war on terrorism" turning into terror war upon civilian populations and increased risks of "terrorism," from Mutually Assured Destruction becoming potential nuclear madness in South Asia; or, more innocently, from a simple typo and a helping hand to genuine embarrassment and learned lessons.   More...



Alma A. Hromic:  Going Home: iv - Memories of Dreams

[Ed. This is the fouth part of a ten-part poem]

There are times that I wake
with the scent of fresh bread
and the wildflower honey
of my grandfather's bees
lingering in the bedroom
the dream has only recently fled.   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Gilles d'Aymery:  TO KILL A NATION, The Attack on Yugoslavia

[This review of Michael Parenti's book was initially published in February 2001]

No one knows everything and there are always two sides to a story. These two precepts, often unobserved, have been entirely ignored, utterly discarded by our decision makers and our opinion makers, media pundits and anchors, during the dramatic turmoil that engulfed Yugoslavia for the past decade. The absence of these two most basic rules considerably limits the likelihood that a citizenry can reach an informed opinion.   More...


Letters to the Editor

King, People, And Typos

In Gilles d'Aymery's Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Or Is It Dystopia? (May 20, 2002), the author made an error in the quote by Juvenal, the Roman satirist. A loyal reader alerted the author to it. But as it turned out, to the embarrassment of the author and the reader, the correction was itself incorrect! Here is the exchange of e-mails between the two.   More...



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Created: June 11, 2002