“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Friday, October 24, 2003

Bollettino

Alterman�s new column excoriates the Dems for their latest Dem failure. Basically, they blew their chance, again, on a no brainer -- using the 87 billion dollar Bush bill to take large, partisan, bloody hunks out of this administration's hide. It's the special Daschle incompetence. That Gephardt, who represents the other half of this losing duo, thinks he has a chance in hell of being elected president shows the astonishing things that can happen to your ego in D.C.

It wasn't always like this. Dem pols were once a byword for hard cases. The Dems, after all, were a streetfighting party � they came out of East coast inner cities with a chip on their shoulders. Bobby Kennedy was this kind of Dem � underhanded, fierce, vengeful. And by and large, successful. The new, kinder Dems are roll-overs for the cannibal Christian wing of the Republican party.

Here's how the issue was manipulated: the question became, how much of the sum was going to be considered a loan. Wrong issue, guys. As any Dem bull from the forties or fifties could have told you, this should have been a vote about the money that has already been spent. And in particular, the billion, two billion, three billion dollars worth of looting that went on, with the smirking compliance of Rumsfeld's military. The Army Corps of Engineers estimated that looting at a billion in May. Who knows what the numbers are. We don't, because no Dem demanded them.

William Proxmire, bless his tin pan soul, would have known in an instant what to do. He would have taken Rumsfeld's words, in his press conference about looting on April 12, and he would have stuffed them down the throats of every administration official who appeared on tv over the last two weeks.

After Rumsfeld made clear, in that conference, that the looting was just a minor annoyance, maybe even a sign of high spirits and freedom, he said this:

Let me say one other thing. The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over, and over, and over, and it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it 20 times, and you think, "My goodness, were there that many vases?" (Laughter.) "Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?"

Could a man paint more of a target on himself? But when you are facing an opposition of bumblers, it doesn't matter. Which is why we watch these things unroll in a certain stuporous horror, out here in the hinterlands, ruled by a brainless faction that is opposed by a spineless one.

Bollettino

My friend H. (who has told me, in the past, to distinguish more rigorously, in this blog, between H., which always refers to H., and Saddam H., which always refers to the meat monster) � my friend H., to begin again, has sent me a piece he wrote for the Iranian on allergies. It�s a clever bit of troping on that sneeze inducing topic, beginning with Juliet�s question, �what�s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.� This phrase has been so trampled over the centuries that it has become a clich� for clich�s. But H. actually sees something in it from an unexpected direction. Nobody that I know has made the connection between names, roses, pollen, and histamines before. H. does.


�Juliet's anxiety stems in part from the contradiction between a name and the reality it represents. Historical enmity between the Capulet and Montague families is an impediment to the desires unfolding in Juliet's body for a reality embodied by Romeo the lover. Juliet wonders: "what is Montague, it's not a hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man...tis his name that is Juliet's enemy."
Now, allergy is widely understood as a reaction caused by the mistaken perception of the body that an otherwise harmless substance is a threat. Once your mind perceives a substance as an invading allergen, then, the immune system tries to eliminate it in a process that makes life a living hell. Either the mind "suspects" and torments the body or the body "knows" and re-educates the mind.

The first reaction might be psychosomatic but it is no less real. What the mind thinks, the body acts on. Allergy is life writ large. Our reaction to a given "reality" -- our perception of it -- is very much linked to what that reality is named. Whether it is called Romeo or a Montague, liberty or licentiousness, a daisy cutter or an incinerator of human flesh, a martyr or a thug blowing up innocent kids, veal parmesan or butchered and mostly burned baby calf topped by her mother's milk -- names will have a lot to do with how we come to perceive a reality embodied.�

Oddly enough, allergies haven�t really figured in great lit like, say, tuberculosis. In fact, who among the great literary characters is seized with insupportable sneezing and watery eyes at just the wrong moment? Not even in Balzac, where all things are dared. Not even among the Russians. Although who knows � there is a back field of Russian literature that contains surprising things. Yes, the Magic Mountain of the Allergy set awaits its author.

It looks like H. will be intermittently essaying for the Iranian. Look for him. Click here for another of his pieces.


Thursday, October 23, 2003

Bollettino

Martin Jay, who has spent his life dissecting and explaining the texts of some of the 20th century�s most dialectically challenging thinkers (Adorno, Benjamin), is a strangely hamfisted writer. In this season�s Salmagundi, he has a long, and rather depressing essay entitled "Ariel Sharon and the rise of the new anti-semitism." The newness of the anti-semitism is, we suppose, that there are less accusations of ritual murder this time around � but otherwise, it seems pretty much the old story of Jewish conspiracies, traced by Norman Cohen all the way back to the first century.

First things first. The most depressing part of the essay � depressing because it is so plain silly � is the end.

�One place to begin on both sides would be to declare a total moratorium on comparisons of the actions of the others with the Nazis, which does nothing but close off any possible discussion of real grievances and how to resolve them. Playing the Nazi card discredits the one who resorts to it more than its target. Another would be the recognition that for all its centrality to Jewish identity, Israel as it is presently constituted does not translate into an automatic synonym for Jews in all their variety. Even within Israel, there is, after all, significant opposition to the policies of the present rightwing government,37 as the courageous "refuseniks" in the army who resist service in the occupied territories demonstrate. The identification of all Jews with Israel, which seems to be an excuse for antiSemitism in some quarters, is as troubling as the menacing insistence on the part of some of Israel's defenders that all Jews must rally behind it, right or wrong.�

Does Jay really think that, from the sandbox of the Salmagundi, he can declare a moratorium on Nazi comparisons? This is the dinnertable statement unworthy of being articulated as a serious suggestion. The �sides� are not organized to do things like declare moratoriums. The very idea of some intellectual fatwa is fatuous. The other suggestion is more interesting, but as Jay approaches an idea here, he spins off at a tangent and never quite reaches it. And the reasons he never quite reaches it are spread throughout the article, creating the copula that entitles it: Ariel Sharon and�

We really are experiencing a wave of anti-semitism in the world. The last time the anti-semitic frequency was this loud was in the seventies, when it became ugly in Poland and the U.S.S.R. And surely what is happening in Israel is bound up in the current wave. Jay begins the article with a quote � and of course it is an insulated quote, insofar as we are told that it comes from a Jew:

� "No one since Hitler," my dinner partner heatedly contended, "has done as much damage to the Jews as Ariel Sharon. For the first time in half a century, anti-Semitism is once again legitimated on a worldwide scale." This stunning accusation, made during a gracious faculty soiree in Princeton while the far less convivial occupation of Jenin was underway halfway around the world, was leveled by one of the most admired poets of our day. A man who weighs his words carefully, he is also proudly identified with his Jewish heritage. His sentiments do not sit easily with the truculently pro-Israeli consensus that dominates American Jewry, but they are worth taking very seriously nonetheless. Contained in his charge is a double provocation. First is the assertion that anti-Semitism has indeed returned to become a serious, perhaps even lethal threat to Jews everywhere, including America. And second is its placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of Israel's political leader, whose actions have produced the very insecurity for his people that the founding of Israel was designed to end.�

As so often in the discussion of anti-semitism and Israel, Jay begins by tying the Gordian knot instead of slicing through it. He then proceeds to tug ineffectually at the loops.

When it comes to any analysis of a prejudice, I find it invigorating to ask: why should the speaker be considered free from the prejudice? Why, for instance, should I assume that you assume I am not a bigot, an anti-semite, a homophobe, a sexist? Personally, I have moments in which it would be fair to say all of those things about me. My Grandfather was a traditional anti-semite. That it is possible that my Great Grandfather was passing for Gentile gave my Grandfather�s anti-semitism that tasty pathological twist. On the other hand, he lived in a ninety percent Jewish neighborhood in Syracuse. My father�s inherited this prejudice, but it rather broke down with my Dad. He believed Jews were good with money, and the old story about Jewish bankers. Unlike his father, however, these opinions didn�t really have much to do with his life. If his kids had converted to Judaism, it wouldn�t have made my Dad turn a hair.

Raised in a Georgia suburb, I rather resented the lack of Jews in our lives. To me, as a kid, Jews represented culture. They represented urbanism. They were on the other side of the divide from Southern Baptists and the jock rednecks of my high school.

Because of this upbringing, because of my absurd philo-semitism and the absence of experience that nurtured it, I was simply unaware of certain prejudices against Jews, and really remained so until I moved North, to New Haven, years ago. It was in New Haven that I heard, for instance, that Jews were stingy. I�d never heard that one before. Remarks about Jews being this way or that were shockingly common in the North.

On the whole, anti-semitism is not the prejudice for my subconscious. That prejudice is against blacks, which is the overwhelming and archetypal lesson for a white child in the Southern suburbs. To be less manichean about it -- there was also a lesson in the success of the civil rights movement when I was a kid. So there are two mental energies, there. My mental life, as a product of civilization, is constituted by the biases I overcome. They come back, and I overcome them again. So I have overcome a bias against blacks, a bias that was put there by the whole history of apartheid in this country, but the only way I can say that I am not a racist and make it true -- make it something I believe about myself -- is to continue that struggle. Those whites who segregate themselves into a world of snow whiteness and then condemn the bigotry of rednecks have no sympathy from me.

I am speaking of the phenomenology of bigotry � not its social content. It is one of the oddities of our lives that the subject of prejudice so confusingly compounds feeling and social fact. It is as if social fact were a mere expression of feeling, a vehicle for it. So if the feeling ends � if, magically, Trent Lott wakes up one day and doesn�t feel bigoted against blacks � then the social fact must end. This is nonsense � the social fact is semi-autonomous, and persists for a whole set of reasons that are separate from feeling, including, simply, the systematic advantage conferred by the social fact � but it is very alluring to that American instinct for reducing problems to the dissatisfactions of the self.

So switching to social fact � there is something in the depressing fact that there is a growing anti-semitism on the Left. That is depressing because it is one of the great claims of the Left � really, its greatest claim on my affections � that the Left was especially responsible for freeing Jews from the civil oppressions to which they were subject in Europe. Historically, there wasn�t a rightwing movement on the continent, in the 19th and most of the 20th century, that wasn�t pervaded with anti-Semitic sentiments. They could be mildly Eliotic, or they could be rabidly Hitlerian, but they were certainly part and parcel of what conservatism meant. This, by the way, isn�t true of Britain � D�Israeli being the great counter-example. Why it wasn�t true of Britain is a curious story that, at least to my knowledge, hasn�t been sufficiently explored. When Mosley tried to import continental anti-semitism in the 20s, it flopped. That there was a fund of bigotry among the English upper classes is certainly true, and I think it probably grew in the first half of the 20th century, but it was never as ignoble and systematic as it was among the European elites.

But the truth about the Left is that there was a current of anti-semitism there from the very beginning � the Voltairian inheritance, you might say.

Jay devotes a part of his essay to analyzing a man who analyzed this history, an Albert Lindemann. Lindemann�s book, Esau�s Tears, seems to be about the way an intellectual can talk himself, by insensible stages, into maintaining a bigot�s position. We are going to quote three long grafs:

�Once the door is open to considering the complicity of those who suffer in their own suffering, so the fear goes, it is a short step to its justification. An understandable aversion to giving any satisfaction to the victimizers creates a taboo against even posing the question.
A recent example of this fear can be found in the overheated reception of a flawed, but provocative book entitled Esau's Tears:Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews by the University of California, Santa Barbara historian Albert Lindemann and published by the Cambridge University Press in 1997. Among its many disturbing conclusions, perhaps the most unsettling was the claim that "the rise of the Jews" after the Enlightenment-by which Lindemann meant the achievement of civil liberties, economic success, demographic expansion and intellectual distinction-had ignited the aggression against them, setting ablaze embers of resentment that had smoldered perhaps as far back as the invention of monotheism's jealous God. Although arguing that responses to that rise were by no means uniform in different contexts-Hungary, the United States, Italy and Britain, he shows, were relatively benign-and acknowledging the power of mythic imagery in the minds of anti-Semites, Lindemann nonetheless insisted that "whatever the power of myth, not all hostility to Jews, individually or collectively, has been based on fantastic or chimerical visions of them, or on projections unrelated to any palpable reality. As human beings, Jews have been as capable as any other group of provoking hostility in the everyday secular world."19
As his title suggests, Lindemann urged his readers to understand the point of view of "Esau," the son of Isaac and Rebecca who is tricked out of his heritage in the Bible by his brother Jacob and whose descendants, the Edomites, are figured as gentiles in Jewish lore. Although Jews tended to denigrate Esau as a coarse and hairy brute, anti-Semites often turned him into a hero against the wily and cunning Jacob. While acknowledging the danger in this simple reversal, Lindemann nonetheless wants to get inside of the skin of the Edomites and make some sense of their hostility in relation to a real stimulus from without.

One way Lindemann makes his argument is to employ precisely the same tactic Patai used in citing Ibn Khaldun in his critique of Said: reminding us of critical Jewish statements about their own people that anticipate or echo those of anti-Semites themselves. He notes that Zionists sometimes called diaspora Jews "objectionably detestable" and called for a "reform" of their offensive behavior, and recalls the well-known disparagement of Ostjuden by their German cousins. Whether or not such statements are expressions of self-hatred, to use the category that the German-Jewish writer Theodor Lessing popularized in 1930,(20) or betray identification with the aggressor, they show that a simple imposition from without argument fails to do justice to the complexity of the issue. Even Jacob, it seems, could adopt Esau's perspective at least some of the time.�

Jay�s discussion of Lindemann reminds me of a scene in The Demons. There is a meeting of a political group in the small town in which Dostoevsky�s story is set, and at the meeting someone gets up excitedly and reads paragraphs from a paper he has written that proves, by the iron laws of logic, that a society that is totally free (the revolutionary objective) is identical to a society in which everyone has become a slave. This conclusion is greeted with hoots, boos, and the unexpected approval of the organizer of the meeting.

We�ll talk more about Lindemann in another post.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Bollettino

I love history of science journals. Or, the higher antiquitarianism. So one of my favorite reads is Osiris. The winter issue of the journal is out, and it is all about the polis as the site of scientific research. We�d like to call the attention of readers of Limited Inc to two articles.

The first is by Theresa Levitt, �Organizing sight, seeing organization: the diverging optical possibilities of city and country.� It is the very Balzacian story of two men who engaged in a fierce debate over light in the 1820s in Paris. Here�s Levitt�s establishing graf:

�Francois Arago created the polarimeter in 1811, after discovering that polarized light, when passed through a doubly refracting prism and a piece of mica, divided into two, complementary-colored beams. This new instrument, whose colorful images indicated the presence of polarized light, was at the heart of what is often called the early-nineteenth-century revolution in optics. (1) Most histories characterize this event as a duel between the wave and particle theories of light. These accounts almost always end in 1821, when a very public and nasty debate between Arago and Jean-Baptiste Biot concluded with a decided victory for the wave theory. In the aftermath, as the story goes, Arago and his band of undulationists reigned over Paris, while Biot, the last of the corpuscularians, slunk away in defeat to his country estate in Nointel.�

Even the names could have come out of la Comedie Humaine. We also love the giggle-worthy undulationists � Levitt is being naughty. Arago, it turns out, was a scientist showman. A breed that was thick on the ground in the nineteenth century. Faraday would give Christmas lectures to children on the physics of the candle � not a hobby one can imagine today�s physicists engaging in. Arago, of course, knew that his instrument needed a little theater in order to interest the salons. So this is what he did:
�Into the Parisian salons, Arago took a version of his original polarimeter modified for public viewing. He had instructed his instrument maker, Jean Baptiste Francois Soleil, to replace the thin sheets of mica with pieces of gypsum engraved with decorative images. The carving had been done in such a way that under ordinary light, nothing could be seen. But under polarized light, brightly colored images emerged, showing flowers, butterflies, and even Arago's name surrounded by laurel wreathes. The effect proved sensationally popular among the audiences--people collectively witnessing the visual display.�
Arago�s friend, the father of Prosper Merimee, popularized a system of complementary colors based on the science of the polarimeter. This system penetrated, by way of the salons, to Delacroix and Baudelaire.

According to this site, Arago's life story was taken as a model by Jules Verne for one of his tales. Oddly, Levitt doesn't mention this.

What about M. Biot, our corpuscularian? Alas, he went the way of Bouvard and Pechucet. Here�s what Levitt has to say about him:
�In 1822, when Biot purchased an estate near the small town of Nointel in Beauvais, he joined a widespread rush of French nobility back to the countryside following an 1821 law restoring property claims to emigres. (31) Biot's own move was hardly a restitution of family privilege. He was born and raised in Paris, the son of a midlevel functionary. Yet he was not shy about acting the part of the local notability, and throughout the 1820s, he engaged in a virtuoso self-reinvention as country gentleman, even signing his name "Biot, proprietaire." Soon after moving to Nointel, he ran for mayor of the town; once elected, he began presiding magnanimously over the local population.
Biot also began cultivating his land and making pronouncements on the proper relationship between agriculture, industry, and the central state. Indeed, breaking off his string of several-hundred-page memoirs on the physical sciences, the only item he published in the twelve years from 1822 to 1834 was an open letter in 1829 to the director of the Revue Britannique, expressing dissatisfaction with the Paris-centric agricultural system.�
To crown Biot�s retreat from enlightenment to reaction, he started hanging around with suspect Jesuits who were heavy on the light rhetoric. As in the light of reason dimmed by the light of God, and the secrets of God being darkness to the rational mind. Etc. etc. And, in a truly inspired move, he started rotating his polarimeter. Not for him the Arago stasis, so characteristic of urban decay. No, Biot, was set on discovering hidden rotary powers within the �lan vital itself.

Levitt�s essay is, among other things, a nice counteweight to critics, like Bloom, who have no use for the New Historicist school � among other matters, she sheds some light on Stendhal�s use of color that wouldn�t be shed by intuiting psychoanalytic causes for composing titles out of colors.

After Levitt, we liked Jens Lachmund�s Exploring the city of rubble: botanical fieldwork in bombed cities in Germany after World War II. Again, the title is rich in allusions. One thinks of Koeppen. Or of Grass.

Here are two grafs that present the problem:

�After 1945, rubble was a feature of virtually all German cities. Dresden, Stuttgart, Darmstadt, Hamburg, and Kiel were among the most destroyed. The largest fields of rubble, however, existed in the center of the city of Berlin. According to a contemporary survey, about 28.5 square kilometers (the size of the city being 72) of the built-up area had been bombed. In all cities, steps toward reconstruction began soon after the war. Bombed areas were cleared and leveled, creating open spaces awaiting eventual construction projects. Sometimes kiosks or provisional storage places were erected in these spaces; sometimes they were fenced off with billboards. Following the example of Kiel and its Gayk Waldchen, the newly constructed park named after the city's mayor, Andreas Gayk, some cities decided to plant trees and bushes in the bombed areas and thereby turn ugly wastelands into parks. Often no larger than a single plot or an earlier block of houses, they, like the Gayk Waldchen, were supposed to be temporary places that would eventually be built over. As already mentioned, in Berlin the pace of this urban reconstruction was much slower than in other German cities. Not only was it less attractive to invest money in a politically isolated city whose economic future remained uncertain, but many areas of rubble were located on the borderline dividing the two Berlins. These were reserved as potential construction ground for rebuilding the center of Berlin should reunification ever occur.
Rubble mounds became another feature of postwar cities. When they cleared the bombed areas, the cities used a large amount of the rubble for construction work; but there remained a lot of material, which had to be disposed of within the urban area or its surroundings. (5) Due to the size of West Berlin and the extent of destruction, the amount of rubble was tremendously high and the problem of disposal became particularly pressing. Unlike elsewhere, carrying the rubble out of the city was rarely possible. The western part of Berlin not only lacked efficient transportation facilities but also was politically separated from its surroundings. After abandoning plans to pour a layer of rubble over the city's largest inner-urban forest, the Tiergarten, the government constructed several centralized dumping grounds, mostly on existing parklands and forests. Shaped as natural-looking hills and planted with dense vegetation, they were meant to enrich the landscape of the surrounding parks or forests.�
That they even considered paving, or rubbling, over the Tiergarten blows my mind.

Lachmund goes on to make up a word � ruderal � and talk, at systematic length, about the biologists who studied the flora that grew up in the rubble areas. Send this article to the Pentagon: they can include the study of ruderal flora as another sign of the happy, happy progress that is making life for Bremer�s Iraqis better and better.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Bollettino

You have read this before: the news story or opinion column that surveys the European scene and emphasizes the spooky number of Europeans who believe that 9/11 was a set-up. And you�ve read this before: the news story or opinion column that surveys the Middle Eastern scene and emphasizes the spooky number of Muslims who believe that 9/11 was the work of the Jews, or was planned by the Bush administration. Such exposes of mass gullibility have become a fixture in the American press, one answer to the perennial question: why do they hate us? Answer: they are cretins. A good example of this kind of thing is linked here: Anne Applebaum�s column about the Frankfurt Book fair for the Washington Post. She knits together the two popular motifs, moving from the claim that a German translation of Thierry Meyssan�s L�effroyable imposture, the most famous of the conspiracy books, had mounted to best seller status in Germany, to a news story about some German group that was demanding a victim status for the German dead in World War II and the period afterwards equal to the status of the Jews.

It is odd that Applebaum, who is as conversant with contemporary Russian history as any American journalist, should take for granted the sufficiency of this news story type. We feel there is something missing here. For surely the willingness to see conspiracy in the events of 9/11 is conditioned, in the European and Arab world, by a set of attacks that happened between September 3rd and 13th in 1999. This set of attacks has sunk into the background for most Americans. The attacks consisted of explosives planted at various apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk along with a string of explosions outside of Moscow, resulting in more than 300 deaths. These attacks are still used today to justify that second Chechnian war. The outrage that followed them allowed Putin to outdistance any electoral rival, thus providing Boris Yeltsin�s court with a loyal successor who, it turned out, went along with his part of the deal: none of the Yeltsin family, for instance, is in jail for massive peculation. The butchers, one might say, have covered the thieves.

The odd thing about these bombings is that there is very good reason to think they were not planted by Chechen terrorists at all. There�s very good reason to think that there was a conspiracy, directed by Russian security forces, to create a reason to go to war in Chechnya and � killing two birds with one sugar sack full of explosives � also creating an air of hysteria that would ensure the selection of Putin to the presidency. That very good reason isn�t hidden from Europe, or the Muslim world. The use of Chechens as a useful ethnic bait, the cynical manipulation of extreme Islamicists by forces close to Yeltsin in order to split Chechen nationalism, or at least discredit it, and the subsequent slaughter in Chechnya � which goes on, by the way; the latest reports say that the casualty figures for the Russians in the last year in Chechnya are the highest since the war began in 1999 � have not been obscured behind some veil.

The bombings of September, 99, were, from the start, rather murky affairs. Especially odd was the fact that the FSB, the Russian successor to the KGB, seemed so clueless about catching the perps. That did not prevent the wholesale arrest and deportation of the Chechen community in Moscow. But as to the evidence at the explosion sites � well, that was treated with an almost criminal negligence.

Rumors soon began to fly that FSB incompetence was motivated, to say the least. And they concentrated on an incident that happened in Ryazan. This incident is explained by an ex FSB officer, Aleksandr Litvinenko in a book entitled The FSB is blowing up Russia. The book is the most detailed account of the curious incidents of September 22-23. On that night, two men and a woman in a track suit planted a sugar sack in the basement of an apartment in Ryazan. The sugar sack almost surely contained an explosive, hexogene. Luckily, the men were spotted. The apartment building was evacuated. The sacks were taken out of the basement. They were tested and found to have hexogen. Then the men who planted the sacks were found. Here�s where things get interesting � the men were FSB men. Suddenly, the FSB gets involved in the investigation. The first thing that it finds is that the sacks contained sugar alone. How about the tests that showed hexogen? That came from the hands of the investigator, who, it was claimed, a week before, had somehow touched hexogen. And apparently not washed his hands in a week. What were the FSB men doing? It was an �exercise.� A preparedness drill.

The FSB cover story is so weak that it was surely compounded as an afterthought. That the security forces could be so sure of impunity that they created a story that wouldn�t fool a moron indicates the astonishing level of cynicism here. Who, after all, is going to tell?

There was a reason for that cynicism beyond the mere accretion of power on the part of the FSB. The people who knew about the explosives at a higher level knew � and were part of -- the whole web of connections that tied Yeltsin�s court to various factions in Chechnya. Most notoriously, there was a seemingly inscrutable connection between oligarch Boris Berezovsky and various Chechen Islamicist groups. The group that launched the raid on Daghestan from Chechnya in 1999 was headed by a group who seemed to be entirely funded by Berezovsky. Since 99, Berezovsky has fallen out with Putin � who, it turns out, is the kind of godfather who doesn�t tolerate competing oligarchs. Berezovsky�s various lootings are now on the docket in the Moscow judiciary, while the man himself is on the lam, claiming that he has evidence of the link between the FSB and the bombings in Moscow.

How has the Russian govenment responded to these accusations? By condemning Litvinenko as a traitor in court -- an old and familiar gesture. This is an excerpt from an interview with Litvinenko:

�In an unexpected development, an official Russian government newspaper, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, in its March 30 issue, published a lengthy interview with Aleksandr Litvinenko, a former lieutenant colonel in the FSB, who recently received political asylum in Great Britain. Some excerpts:
Interviewer: "You took part in preparing the film 'Assassination [Attempt] against Russia,' in which the participation of the FSB in the explosions of the [apartment] houses in Moscow and Volgodonsk and the preparing of an explosion in Ryazan' are discussed. Do you seriously believe that?"
Litvinenko: "I have direct proof in relation to the attempt to blow up an [apartment] house in Ryazan. I am in possession of facts that not sugar, as the FSB maintains, but [the explosive] hexogen was placed under that house, and that it was employees of Patrushev [the director of the FSB] who placed it there."
Interviewer: "Are you prepared to present this proof?"
Litvinenko: "I am prepared. Not to the [Russian] procuracy--that is, a criminal organization. And not to the FSB--that is a terrorist organization. When the public commission which is presently being formed by [Duma deputy] Sergei Yushenkov has been created, then under the condition that honest people make up that commission I will give them all the materials which I have in my hands concerning the crimes committed by the leadership of the FSB.... Yesterday through the Internet I appealed to all officers of the FSB who participated in the 1999 explosions to come forward and admit it."


For us, the interesting thing is that hints of most of this information had leaked out by 2000. It didn�t take long. And yet, in the West, Putin, like Yeltsin before him, was treated as an ally. The tepid condemnations of Russia�s moves against Chechnya � moves that were every bit as savage as Milosovic�s moves against Bosnia � was a liner note to the more important harmony between the Russian regime and the American. That harmony has been strengthened, even, during the Bush period. Oddly enough, an administration that seems to want, not so subconsciously, to bomb Paris, is incredibly chummy with Putin, who is as anti-war as any major leader.
What does this say to the Arabs, the Germans, the Indonesians, etc.?
This is my guess: it says that the West will condone a high degree of fraud, even amounting to the creating atrocities against one�s own citizens, in order to perpetrate foreign policies that are directed, by some coincidence, against mainly Islamic ethnic groups.

The fraud in the system of governance that is continually generating references to itself as democratic can�t help but be ultimately crippling. I have yet to see any connection made between the Muslim reception of 9/11 and the Muslim reception of the war in Chechnya. I would, however, guess that the frauds of September, 99, have had a strong bearing on the idea that the attack in September, 2001 was of an all too familiar shape and form. This isn�t to discount overt anti-semitism. It isn�t to discount anti-Americanism. But to dwell on these as the sole generators of the belief in super-power fraudulence is to blind yourself to a significant, although underinvestigated, piece of recent history.