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December 24, 2010

Five Dollar Christmas Eve

For today's Five Dollar Friday I'm giving $5 to Just Foreign Policy in gratitude for them pushing the work of Stephen Kinzer. I read his book All the Shah's Men a long time ago, but it's still the best treatment I've ever seen of the 1953 coup in Iran. And largely due to Just Foreign Policy, I'm in the middle of reading Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, which is a masterpiece in the genre of uncovering lost history.

I have to admit that even someone like me, who spends every waking second trying to destroy Christendom and install an Islamic Caliphate in America, didn't know much of what's in Overthrow. Moreover, Kinzer writes history in a way that's far more human than (say) Noam Chomsky. Everyone Kizner writes about is recognizably human, with human foibles and human choices, rather than just a pawn of Inexorable Grinding Forces (even though Kinzer gives the IGFs their due).

Here's part one of a Just Foreign Policy video with Kinzer. Four more parts to this are available here.

Merry Imperial Christmas!

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at December 24, 2010 08:05 PM

Merry Non-believing Xmas!

Kinzer is very good--good choice.

Posted by: N E at December 25, 2010 09:53 AM

Kinzer is a run of the mill liberal who has pulled his head a little out of his ass. He lies about the deal the us offered iran, he minimizes the us's act by saying their is no malice and he lies about iran being a threat, and the nuclear treaties. Is he better than Maddow or some liberal like that? Sure he is but that is a very low standard. I would never give $5 to a fear mongering lying sack of crap like him.

Posted by: Alec at December 25, 2010 08:49 PM

"Five Dollar Friday" is euphonious, and the low commitment should help people jump on the bandwagon, but... it's such a trivial amount of money, less than 1% of your income over a year, it seems like a waste to even bother identifying the donee and composing a post about it. A "Fifty Dollar Friday" would seem a little ostentatious, I guess.

Posted by: Noumenon at December 26, 2010 07:30 AM

"less than 1% of your income over a year . . .seems like a waste"

. . . from each according to his ability . . .

Posted by: N E at December 26, 2010 09:59 AM

Kinzer was awful when writing about Reagan's terrorism in Nicaragua for the NYTimes. Worse, as the co-author of a book about the CIA coup in Guatemala, Kinzer knew better. Unless he's completely changed in every sense, Kinzer's basically a soft-peddle imperialist -- not that US-backed massacres bother him, but they are less effective in winning hearts and minds than pretending to care about poverty, say.

Posted by: Dennis Perrin at December 26, 2010 02:45 PM

Dennis Perrin: Aren't WE all imperialists here in the USA? Can't run a society on 20% of the worlds resources without it. I LOVE my truck. How about YOU?

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 26, 2010 04:45 PM

Dennis Perrin

I haven't read Kinzer's Bitter Fruit in many years, but long ago I read it and thought it critical of what the US had done. I don't even quite get how Bitter Fruit can be described as you describe it. Seriously, I just looked back at reviews to make sure I'm not going nuts, and Walter LaFeber praised that book as a classic, and all reviews describe it as highly critical of the coup. I wouldn't rank that book as highly as Michael McClintock's The American Connection: State Terror and Popular Resistance in Guatemala, but I remember it as being pretty good and certainly not a whitewash and pack of lies.

As for the NY Times reporting, back in the 80s I didn't bother to read much in the Times with the exception of Mark Danner before he got canned, but of course Kinzer didn't actually get the real truth published in the NYT. He was younger then, as we all were, so I don't know how much he has learned since then. He might have learned plenty.

Saying somebody doesn't care about massacres and is only pretending to care about poverty to me seems about like calling somebody a lying sack of crap, as Alec did, and it reminds me of the old Saturday Night live skits with Jane Curtain that always concluded "Jane, you ignorant slut."

I should have just said Kinzer's books are good in my earlier comment, not Kinzer himself, because I don't know a damn thing about him beyond the books JS mentioned. Those I do think are good and certainly not soft-pedaling imperialism.

Posted by: N E at December 26, 2010 08:05 PM

I came across this comment, by "anonys", at Cary Tennis's advice column at Salon, topic "I'm a Turk's secret girlfriend". It is harshly expressed, but I wonder if it isn't in large part accurate.

The fascists are winning your unmentionable, second Civil war, fool. You may not be able to see that but the rest of the world is quite clear on that and the standard American arrogance is as funny in a sick kind of way as slapstick. Ha, ha, ha. The beautiful thing that was the American dream is now a nightmare....

Posted by: mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at December 27, 2010 09:49 AM

ANY imperialism IS a hard sell. The genre doesn't really lend itself well to "soft-pedaling". (hint: that's why the guys carry guns)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 27, 2010 12:31 PM

I haven't read Kinzer's Bitter Fruit in many years, but long ago I read it and thought it critical of what the US had done. I don't even quite get how Bitter Fruit can be described as you describe it.

That's because I didn't describe it. I hinted at it being good by saying that Kinzer knew better about the US in Central America when he was helping whitewash US/contra terrorism in Nicaragua. I was a FAIR spokesperson and writer during that time. I read Kinzer closely. He was awful. Not as bad as James LeMoyne's work in El Salvador, but pretty close.

Would you take seriously a Serbian propagandist who tried to downplay the horror of Srebrenica? No? Well, there were at least 10 Srebrenicas in Central America during the 1980s, and Kinzer in the Times helped mute the screams from that abattoir. Love him all you like. Just know what he did.

Posted by: Dennis Perrin at December 27, 2010 03:34 PM

Dennis Perrin

Sorry I misunderstood you. I don't have any feelings about Kinzer personally. I really just read Bitter Fruit long, long ago and some of All the Shah's Men and Overthrow much more recently. I thought those were all good for much the same reasons JS did. But hidden poisons come in books as well as food, so perhaps I wasn't alert enough.

As I said, I didn't read what Kinzer wrote in the Times back in the 80s, let alone study it as you did for FAIR, but I agaree that most of the Times was awful on Central America then, as it consistently is on US war and violence across all decades and wars. I do know some of the ugly truth about those Central American massacres you mention, and back then I knew more, both through books and from having met and in some instances represented victims, mostly here but ever so briefly there too. Devout non-believer that I am, I nonetheless used to read Sobrino and Boff and admire that strain of theology. At that time I was still naive on a more general level, which maybe I still am because damn that's hard to shake.

I wish I could say that I have worked for FAIR, so good job there. I'll pull up some of Kinzer's old articles in the Times database through my library and read a few of them if I get a chance because you've made me suspicious. I'm so tired of getting conned in all the time.

Posted by: N E at December 27, 2010 06:40 PM

While we're talking about worthy, semi-worthy, and unworthy recipients of potential monetary donations from those of us who are liberals, with the canceled checks to prove it, in Lenny Bruce's memorable phrase, have I mentioned before that I've donated to imprisoned soldier Bradley Manning, who is said to have released evidence of war crimes by our very own government? Chris Floyd discusses his situation, and analyzes its context from his less-than-sunny perspective, with a link at the end to ways to support the brave/foolish/treasonous young man:

Posted by: mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at December 28, 2010 09:02 AM

Eisenhower's Farewell Address - 50th Anniversary Celebration - FREE FOOD

You're invited.


50th anniversary commemoration of Dwight Eisenhower's Farewell Address



6:30 P.M.

7:30 P.M.
Screening of original farewell Address

Panel Discussion with:
James Fallows, Dana Priest, and Evan Thomas

Moderated by:

David Gergen, Senior Polirical Analyst for CNN with introductory remarks by
Susan Eisenhower, Chairman of Leadership and Public Policy Programs & Chair Emeritus for The Eisenhower Institute of Gettysburg College.

Post-dessert reception


I intend to attend, under my real name. If any other readers of ATR would like to meet at the reception, please say so. I don't know if questions will be allowed from the audience, or if so, whether I will have a chance to pose one.

One reason I'm going (and I live in the DC area, so it's a local event for me) is to see if anyone will say out loud that Ike's nightmare has come to pass, and instead of the MIC (aka MICFiC) serving the nation-state serving the people, it has become the other way round. If so, will there be any suggestions that something should be done about it? If so, what? If not now, when?

The other reason I want to go is, of course, free food. Even dessert.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at December 29, 2010 09:51 AM

MICFiC Speech Golden Anniversary Event

Karl Weissenbach, Director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, observed: "Eisenhower is consistently placed among the top 10 in presidential ranking polls, and I believe the foresight he expressed in the Farewell Address is a contributing factor."

Susan Eisenhower, public policy analyst and granddaughter of the former president, will provide introductory remarks prior to the speech's screening and the subsequent panel discussion and audience questions.

The reception, catered by Wolfgang Puck, and the event will be open to the public. Registration is required as seating is limited. [emphasis added]

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at December 29, 2010 12:15 PM

mistah charley,ph.d. The answer is STOP PAYING THEM. The "when" is now.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 29, 2010 12:33 PM