Woods Shouldn't Carry Load Alone|
In Augusta dispute, it's unfair to ask him to act as golf's conscience
To listen to some folks, you would think it's Tiger Woods fault that Augusta National has no
female members. I read these diatribes criticizing Woods for not coming out in favor
of women being admitted to Augusta, even though I can think of a half-dozen interviews
in which he has said he favors women being members of Augusta.
But for some folks, that's not good enough; Tiger Woods is apparently supposed to be
the caretaker of women's golf in America.
I read an editorial in Monday's editions of The New York Times that suggested that Tiger
should boycott the Masters, the most prestigious tournament in the world, in April so that
he can send the message that discrimination isn't good for the sport.
Oh, is that right? I'll bet that the editorial pages of the Times never said Jack Nicklaus should
have boycotted the Masters because Augusta National didn't have any black members.
And if we want to make it a little more current, I didn't see the Times suggesting in that same
editorial that Phil Mickelson or Davis Love or Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton--all American
men with wives and daughters--should boycott the Masters, or for that matter as much as open
their mouths in protest.
Why Tiger and not, say, David Duval?
Because Tiger is black. No, the Times didn't say that. But the writer could not have been
more obvious about it. Sure, he is the best golfer in the world, and the most influential,
but even if Sergio Garcia or Ernie Els was No. 1, a whole lot of folks -- like the editorial writer for
the Times (who wrote that Tiger should skip the Masters, Phil Mickelson?) -- would be crouching
and waiting for Tiger. I checked the clips by the Times suggesting that CBS, the U.S.
network, not televise the Masters.
Tiger, the Times suggests, needs to have a social conscience, but other golfers -- read,
white golfers -- do not. The men who run broadcast networks do not. I didn't realize that of
248 golfers who have made money on the PGA Tour this year, only one 26- year old black
golfer is supposed to have a social conscience, and everybody else gets a pass.
The Times ought to write an editorial
explaining why that's so.
In our desperate search to find a clear and unwavering voice on social issues,
particularly as they relate to sports, we've rushed to anoint Tiger Woods.
Partly, this is his father's doing, saying that Tiger is one day going to be as important
as Gandi, which is insane and puts way too much pressure on the son.
Tiger is 26. How many 26-year-olds who grew up middle-class in Southern California
and wanted for virtually nothing because his parents gave him everything could
possibly have a fully developed social conscience and know how to express it
on the world stage? No matter how hard some folks wish it to be, Tiger isn't
Arthur Ashe and isn't ever going to be Ashe, or Muhammad Ali.
Tiger didn't grow up in the shadow of Jim Crow "whites only"signs in the South,
or on the wrong side of the tracks. The set of circumstances that produced the Jim Browns,
Tommie Smiths and John Carloses haven't come within 10,000 miles of Woods.
He has no legitimate reason, not yet anyway, to wake up every morning ín a rage over
the injustices he has faced because he hasn't faced many, If any. He'll get there,
I suspect, in time. But damn if he should be pushed there by The New York Times.
And how is it that Tiger, by boycotting the Masters, absolves white men who play golf from
participating in the national discussion on the exclusion of women at Augusta National?
Maybe the Times hasn't noticed, despite the reporting of its wonderful golf writer,
Clifford Brown, how often the words "no comment" come from the mouths of golfers
other than Tiger who won't go on the record with their feelings.
Generally speaking, I don't look to athletes for social commentary. But on this issue, given that
it's been raging for five months, I would at the very least like to think there's a pulse.
Though I disagree with golfer Len Mattiace's position that he is fine with Augusta
not admitting women, I applaud him for not only voicing what he believes, but
for saying golfers ought to open their mouths and participate in such an emotional
In putting all the pressure on Tiger to settle this dispute by withholding his excellence,
the Times seems to miss the fact that the South African Gary Player has been one of
the great crusaders for racial equality in sports, and that Els, also South African,
has been willing to enter the difficult and emotionally charged discussion.
My only real criticisms of Tiger throughout this debate have been that he had
better not allow marketers to present him as a crusader while backing off in
real life, and that his voice is far stronger than he knows.
Not only can he rock the boat, he can turn it over and shake it like a bathtub
dingy. The chief executives of Citigroup and American Express -- members
of Augusta who have denounced exclusion -- don't have 1/100th the volume
Woods has if he decides to take on an issue.
If Woods wanted to boycott the Masters, I would applaud him. But for the old
grey lady Times to suggest he should, while making no such demands
on anybody else is too arrogant and too transparent for me.
November 21, 2002
Photograph: Peter Gorwin
Poor Grades For Most Of The Sweet 16
By Frank Litsky
The New York Times
A study of how college athletes performed in the classroom showed that the academic
achievements of many of the 16 men's teams remaining in the NCAA tournament did not match their accomplishments on the court.
At many of the 16 universities, basketball players graduated at a rate significantly
lower than for all male athletes on athletic scholarships, and the rates were even more striking for African American male basketball players.
In six of the 16 remaining men's teams, the graduation rate for African American basketball
players was a third to three-quaters lower than the rate for all male athletes.
At only three of the universities - Kansas, Duke and Butler - did at least two-thirds
of African American male basketball players graduate. At seven of the colleges, 30 percent or fewer of all African American players graduated.
In the period studied, no African American players graduated at two universities in the Round of 16:
Syracuse and Oklahoma. In fact, no male players of any race graduated from Oklahoma.
The data measured whether basketball players who entered college between 1992 and
1995 had graduated within six years of beginning college.
The study, published Monday, was overseen by Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for
Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, who has analyzed athletes'graduation rates for two decades.
"Men's basketball is the scandalous problem in college sports, with the worst graduation rates," Lapchick said.
"There are 328 colleges that play Division I men's basketball, and 58 of those that had African American players
did not graduate even one during this last six-year period.
Anthony J. Phillips/Technical Co-ordinator
& Khadija Tarjan McKinney Griffith/Make Up
Fountainhead Tanz Theatre/Black International Cinema/
The Collegium - Forum & Television Program
Of Evil -- In Washington, D.C.
by Edward Herman
d'etat president George W. Bush has designated three poor and unconnected
states as an "axis of evil," reflecting this great moralist's
sensitivity to good and evil. He has been subjected to a certain amount
of criticism for this strong language even in the mainstream press,
but nobody there has suggested that, as so common in this post-Orwellian
world, such language might better fit its author and his associates.
IS a political axis of evil running strong in the United States that
underpins the Bush regime, which includes the oil industry, military-industrial
complex (MIC), other transnationals, and the Christian Right, all important
contributors to the Bush electoral triumph, and each of which has high
level representation in the administration including, besides Bush himself,
Cheney, Rumsfeld, O'Neill and Ashcroft.
REAL axis of evil is using 9/11 and the "war on terrorism"
to carry out its foreign and domestic agenda on a truly impressive scale,
and so far without much impediment at home or abroad.
is notable about their agenda is that it flies in the face of all of
the requirements for peace, global democracy, economic equity and justice,
ecological and environmental protection, and global stability. It represents
the choice of an overpowerful country's elite, determined to consolidate
their economic and political advantage in the short run, at whatever
cost to global society.
are accelerating all the ugly trends of militarization and globalization
that have led to increasing violence, income polarization, and the vigorous
protests against the World Trade Organization, IMF and World Bank.
New arms race:
before 9/11 the Bush government was pushing for a larger arms budget
and that gigantic boondoggle and offensive military threat, the National
9/11 and the collapse of the Democrats, they are allocating many billions
to anything the MIC wants, and with their more violent behavior and
threats abroad, other countries will have to follow. This takes enormous
resources from the civil society, and will exacerbate conflict based
on cutbacks and pain for ordinary citizens. The same will be true across
the polarization of income effects of corporate globalization will be
increased by this diversion of resources to weapons. As Jim Lobe notes,
"Whatever hopes existed in the late 1990s for a new era of global
cooperation in combating poverty, disease, and threats to the environment
seem to have evaporated" (Dawn [Pakistan], Jan. 23, 2002).
complete irrationality and irresponsibility of this arms budget surge
is reflected in the fact that almost none of it has to do with any threat
from Bin Laden and his forces. Weapons designed to combat Soviet tanks
are going forward, as well as advanced new aircraft and a missile defense
system that are hardly answering Bin Laden, but represent instead MIC
boondoggles and a rush for complete global "full spectrum"
The new violence:
Washington Axis has found that war and wrapping themselves in the flag
is just what was needed to divert the public from bread and butter issues,
inducing the public to revel instead in the game of war, rooting for
our side while we beat up yet another small adversary, with perhaps
others to follow.
the great political economist Thorstein Veblen wrote with irony almost
a century ago, "sensational appeals to patriotic pride and animosity
made by victories and defeats...[helps] direct the popular interest
to other, nobler, institutionally less hazardous matters than the unequal
distribution of wealth or of creature comforts. Warlike and patriotic
preoccupations fortify the barbarian virtues of subordination and prescriptive
authority...Such is the promise held out by a strenuous national policy"
(Theory of Business Enterprise ).
Bush team is threatening to beat up anybody who "harbors terrorists"
or aims to build "weapons of mass destruction" without our
approval. Israel is of course exempt from this rule and has been given
carte blanche to smash the Palestinian civil society.
and his handlers will decide who are terrorists, who harbors them, and
who can build weapons. It is easily predictable that anybody who resists
the corporate globalization process and tries to pursue an independent
development path, will be found to violate human rights, harbor terrorists,
or otherwise threaten U.S. "national security," with dire
the ongoing globalization process is increasing inequality and poverty,
protests and insurgencies will continue to arise. The U.S. answer is
spelled out clearly in the "war on terrorism" and simultaneous
push for "free trade" and cutbacks in spending for the civil
society at home and abroad.
Washington Axis is also pursuing a "war on the poor" that
will merge easily into the "war on terrorism," as the poor
will be driven to resist and resistance will be interpreted as terrorism.
is in a great U.S. tradition, brought to a high level in the overthrow
of the democratic government of Iran in 1953 and installation of the
Shah, the assassination of Guatemalan democracy by Eisenhower and Dulles
in 1954, the war against Vietnam, and the U.S.-sponsored displacement
of democratic governments by National Security States throughout South
America in the 1960s and 1970s. They were wars allegedly against the
"Soviet Threat," but really against the poor and the populist
threat to "free trade.."
Bush team obviously threatens even more violence than we witnessed in
that earlier era. The military force they control is relatively stronger
and without the Soviet constraint. With the help of the more centralized
and commercialized media they have worked the populace into a state
of war-game fervor.
have brought back into the government some of the most fervent supporters
of terrorism and death squads from the Reagan years in Otto Reich, Richard
Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, John Negroponte, Elliott Abrams, and Lino Guterriez;
men who can now work in a more killer- friendly environment.
Escalated support for authoritarian regimes.
United States actively helped bring to power and supported large numbers
of murderous regimes in the years 1945-1990, on the excuse of the Soviet
Threat, but really because those regimes were suitably subservient to
U.S. interests and willingly provided that crucial "favorable climate
of investment" (especially, union-busting). With the Soviet Threat
gone, for a while there was a problem finding rationalizations for the
long-standing and structurally-rooted anti-populist and anti-democratic
bias, but now we have the "war on terrorism," which will do
Washington Axis has already leapt to the support of the military dictator
of Pakistan, the ex-Stalinist boss of Uzbekistan, and it is clear that
willingness to serve the "war on terrorism" will override
any nasty political leadership qualities.
the same time, as with Sharon in his escalated crackdown on the Palestinians
and Putin in Chechnya, cooperation with the war will mean support for
internal violence against dissidents and minorities, forms of state
terrorism that will readily be interpreted as part of the "war
on terrorism." Just as militarization and war do not conduce to
democracy, the effects of mobilization of countries to support the Washington
Axis of Evil's war will damage democracy globally.
globalization has had a major destabilizing effect in the global economy,
causing increased unemployment, civilian budget cuts, large-scale internal
and external migrations, and environmental destruction. The more aggressive
penetration of oil interests, in collusion with local governments in
Nigeria, Colombia, and now Central Asia, and the new war on terrorism,
should intensify destabilization trends.
The fight against democracy at home.
every level the Bush team has fought against the basics of democracy
and attempted to concentrate unaccountable governmental authority in
its own hands. Militarization itself is anti-democratic, but the team
has attempted to loosen constraints on the CIA and police, reduce public
access to every kind of information, and constrain free speech.
have put in place a secret government and are moving the country toward
a more openly authoritarian government, and, if they can keep it going,
their planned open-ended war on terrorism should serve this end well.
The Bush "vision" versus the "End of History."
process does not comport well with Francis Fukayama's vision of the
new peaceful, democratic order that would follow the death of the Soviet
Union and triumph of capitalism.
missed the boat on three counts. He failed to see that the end of the
Soviet Union and termination of a socialist threat would also end the
need to accommodate labor with social welfare concessions--in other
words, that there could be a return to a pure capitalism such as Karl
Marx described in the first volume of Capital.
he failed to see that corporate globalization and greater capital mobility
would make for a global "reserve army of labor" and weaken
labor's bargaining power and political position.
he failed to recognize that without the Soviet Union's "containment"
the United States would be freer to use force in serving its transnationals,
forcing Third World countries to join the "free trade" nexus,
and preventing them from serving the needs of their citizens (as opposed
to the needs of the transnational corporate community).
this entire process will involve further polarization and immiseration
of large numbers, insurgencies are inevitable, justifying more militarization
and an escalated war on "terrorism" in a vicious cycle.
can be more frightening and dangerous to the world than facing the Washington
Axis of Evil as the overwhelmingly dominant holder of "weapons
of mass destruction," which it is seeking to improve and make more
usable, with the elite's longstanding arrogance and self-righteousness
at an all-time high, and with no countervailing force in sight? Bin
Laden's threat is nothing by comparison.
is more, the Bin Laden threat flows from U.S. actions, which played
a crucial role in building up the Al-Qaeda network, and policies which
have made a hell of the Middle East and polarized incomes and wealth
across the globe. The cycle of violence will only be broken if the Washington
Axis of Evil is defeated, removed from office, and replaced by a regime
that aims to serve a broader constituency than oil, the MIC, the other
transnationals, and the Christian Right.
Trona Pan Donald
Photograph: Peter Gorwin
Augustine the African
by James J. O'Donnell
Augustine was born in Tagaste (modern Souk Ahras, Algeria) in
354 and died almost seventy-six years later in Hippo Regius
(modern Annaba) on the Mediterranean coast sixty miles away. In
the years between he lived out a career that seems to moderns to
bridge the gap between ancient pagan Rome and the Christian
middle ages. But to Augustine, as to his contemporaries, that
gap separated real people and places they knew, not whole
imaginary ages of past and future. He lived as we do, in the
present, full of uncertainty.
Augustine's African homeland had been part of Rome's empire
since the destruction of Carthage five hundred years before his
birth. Carthage had been rebuilt by Rome as the metropolis of
Roman Africa, wealthy once again but posing no threat. The
language of business and culture throughout Roman Africa was
Latin. Careers for the ambitious, as we shall see, led out of
provincial Africa into the wider Mediterranean world; on the
other hand, wealthy Italian senators maintained vast estates in
Africa which they rarely saw. The dominant religion of Africa
became Christianity--a religion that violently opposed the
traditions of old Rome but that could not have spread as it did
without the prosperity and unity that Rome had brought to the
Roman Africa was a military backwater. The legions that were
kept there to maintain order and guard against raids by desert
nomads were themselves the gravest threat to peace; but their
occasional rebellions were for the most part short-lived and
inconsequential. The only emperors who ever spent much time in
Africa were the ones who had been born there; by Augustine's
time, decades had passed without an emperor even thinking of
going to Africa.
Some distinctly African character continued to mark life in
the province. Some non-Latin speech, either the aboriginal
Berber of the desert or the derelict Punic the Carthaginians had
spoken, continued to be heard in dark corners. In some of the
same corners, old local pagan cults could still be found. When
Augustine became a Christian clergyman, he found Africa rent by
an ecclesiastical schism that had its roots at least partly in
the truculent sense of difference maintained by the
less-Romanized provincials of up-country Numidia, near the
northern fringes of the Sahara.
So a young man like Augustine could belong irretrievably to
the world Rome had made, but still feel that he was living on the
periphery of that world. Augustine set out to make himself more
Roman than the Romans and to penetrate to the center of the
culture from which he found himself alienated by his provincial
birth. But that was only the beginning of his story.
Augustine was born on 13 November, A.D. 354, in Tagaste, a
town large enough to have its own bishop but too small for a
college or university. His
parents, Patricius and Monica, belonged to the financially
imperilled middle class. They were well enough off to have
educational ambitions for their son, but too poor to finance
those ambitions themselves. The fourth century was an age of
mixed marriages at this level of society, in which devout
Christian women like Monica were often to be found praying for
the conversion of their irreligious husbands. Her prayers were
not unavailing; Patricius accepted baptism on his deathbed.
Though Patricius offered no direct impulse towards Christianity
for his son, he must not have been much more than a passive
Of Augustine's childhood we know only what he chooses to tell
us in the highly selective memoirs that form part of the
Confessions. He depicts himself as a rather ordinary sort of
child, good at his lessons but not fond of school, eager to win
the approval of his elders but prone to trivial acts of
rebellion, quick to form close friendships but not always able to
foresee their consequences. He studied Latin with some
enthusiasm but never loved Greek. While he was leading what he
wants us to think was a rather conventionally boisterous
adolescence (it is best to imagine him in a crowd of conformists,
but edging towards the quieter fringes of the crowd), his parents
were worrying about paying for his education. Finally, with the
help of an affluent family friend, they managed to scrape
together enough to send him to the nearest university town a
dozen miles away, Madaura, the home of the famous second-century
sophist and novelist Apuleius, which was the second city in the
life of the mind in Africa.
After a time at Madaura, the youth's talents made Carthage
inevitable. There he seems to have gone at about the age of
seventeen. Not long after, his father died and his mother was
left with modest resources and nothing to tie her to Tagaste.
Augustine himself quickly set up housekeeping with a young woman
he met in Carthage, by whom a son was born not long after. This
woman would stay with Augustine for over a decade and, though we
do not know her name, he would say that when he had to give her
up to make a society marriage in Milan "his heart ran blood" with
grief as she went off to Africa--perhaps to enter a convent. The
son, Adeodatus, stayed with Augustine until premature death took
him in late adolescence.
So far the conventional outward events of Augustine's young
manhood. His intellectual life was a little more remarkable.
The education he had received in Tagaste and Madaura had made him
a typical late Roman pedant, with a comprehensive knowledge of a
few authors (especially Cicero and Vergil) and a taste for
oddities of language and style.
Only at Carthage did his education show any signs of breaking the
usual molds, but even then only in a conventional way. In the
ordinary course of the curriculum, he had to read a work of
Cicero's called the Hortensius.
This book, since lost and known only from fragments quoted by
Augustine and other ancient writers, was a protreptic, that is, a
treatise designed to inspire in the reader an enthusiasm for the
discipline of philosophy. Through all his other vagaries of
interest and allegiance, until the time of Augustine's conversion
to Christianity Cicero would remain the one master from whom the
young African learned the most; Augustine is in many ways the
greatest of Cicero's imitators in point of Latin style.
The zeal for philosophy led first in what may seem a strange
direction. Fired with the love of wisdom from his reading of the
quintessential Roman politician, Augustine immediately joined a
religious cult from Persia that had planted itself in the Roman
world as a rival of Christianity: Manicheism. This sensual but
sensitive young man, brought up around but not exactly in
Christianity, took his Ciceronian enthusiasm with the utmost
seriousness on the moral plane. He knew his own life did not in
fact match his noble ideals. He was torn between the
conventional pleasures of adolescence and the conventional rigors
of philosophy. For this tension, Manicheism offered soothing
relief. Augustine was not to blame that he felt this way, the
Manichees told him, for he was only the pawn of greater forces
that could, because Augustine was lucky and clever, be
propitiated. Security could be had without sacrifice, and guilt
removed without atonement.
The world the Manichees imagined was torn between two contrary
powers: the perfectly good creator and the perfectly evil
destroyer. The world seen by
human eyes was the battleground for their cosmic conflict. The
Manichees and their followers were the few who were on the side
of the good spirit and who would be rewarded for their allegiance
with eternal bliss. In the meantime all sorts of misfortune
might befall the individual, but none of the wicked things he
found himself doing were his fault. If the devil does compel
sin, then guilt does not ensue. A few Manichees, the inner
circle, were said to live perfect lives already, but the claim
was hard to verify since the many disciples were kept busy
waiting on the perfect few hand and foot, to keep the few from
being corrupted by contact with the evil world of matter. The
many were thus kept on a leash with easy promises and a vague
Augustine was too clever to settle for vague theology for
long. His most poignant moment of disillusion is recounted in the
Confessions, when he finally met Faustus, the Manichee sage who
would (Augustine had been promised) finally answer all the
questions that troubled Augustine. When the man finally turned
up, he proved to be half-educated and incapable of more than
reciting a more complex set of slogans than his local disciples
But while Augustine soon dissented privately from the
Manichees, he did not break with them publicly. Even when he had
decided the slogans were nonsense, they still provided the
assurance that all the evil in Augustine's life was not his own
fault and could not be let go of easily. Augustine associated
with Manichees who thought he was one of them as late as 384,
more than a decade after his first involvement with the sect.
Once initial enthusiasm faded, Augustine's attention drifted
from the niceties of metaphysics to the realities of his career,
which preoccupied him through his twenties. At about age
twenty-one, after four years or so in Carthage, he went back to
his home town to teach. He could well have stayed there forever,
but his talent encouraged him to entertain loftier ambitions. He
left again the next year.
From this decisive return to Carthage can be traced a career
to which the adjective "brilliant" scarcely does justice. Seven
years in Carthage matured the young teacher into a formidable
scholar and orator. Education in a university town like Carthage
at that time was a free-market enterprise, with each teacher
setting up independently around the city center to make a
reputation and inveigle students into paying for his wares; it
was a competition in which many young men like Augustine must
have fallen by the way. Augustine prospered, however, for when
he became unhappy with conditions there (the students were rowdy
and tried to cheat the teachers of their fees), he could think
only of one place to which to move--Rome.
Rome of the fourth century was no longer a city with political
or military significance for the Roman empire, but nobody at the
time dared say such a thing. By common consent, the pretense was
maintained that this was the center of civilization--and so the
pretense became self-fulfilling prophecy. Academic prestige, the
emptiest of glories, is a matter of reputation rather than
reality; Rome had a reputation stretching back for centuries.
Understandably it took Augustine a few months to find a place
there, but when he finally found his feet, he could not have done
Some Manichee friends arranged an audition before the prefect
of the city of Rome, a pompous and inept pagan named Symmachus,
who had been asked to provide a professor of rhetoric for the
imperial court at Milan. The
young provincial won the job and headed north to take up his
position in late 384. Thus at age thirty, Augustine had won the
most visible academic chair in the Latin world, in an age when
such posts gave ready access to political careers. In the decade
before Augustine's rise another provincial, Ausonius of Bordeaux,
had become prime minister in the regime of a teen-aged emperor
whose tutor he had been. Our
estimate of Augustine's talents is based largely on his later
achievements; but that judgment together with his swift climb to
eminence as a young professor makes it safe to assume that if
Augustine had stayed in public life, he would have found very few
limits to his advancement.
Augustine saw his prospects clearly. When his mother followed
him to Milan, he allowed her to arrange a good society marriage,
for which he gave up his mistress. (But then he still had to
wait two years until his fiancee was of age and promptly took up
in the meantime with another woman.) He felt the tensions of
life at an imperial court, lamenting one day as he rode in his
carriage to deliver a grand speech before the emperor that a
drunken beggar he passed on the street had a less careworn
existence than he.
Thus the strain of rapid advancement began to tell. His old
perplexities rose again to plague him. He had tried Manicheism
and it had failed; he owed some allegiance to Cicero, but in his
day Cicero stood for little more than style and skepticism. He
settled for ambivalence and prudent ambition. He had been
enrolled as a catechumen (pre-baptismal candidate) in the
Christian church by his mother when he was a child; he
acknowledged this status publicly (it was good for his career) to
conceal anxiety and doubt.
His mother was there to press the claims of Christianity, but
Augustine could probably have held out against her will alone
indefinitely. Because, however, Monica was in Milan, and because
Augustine was in public life and needed connections, he was soon
caught between her and the most influential man in Milan, the
bishop Ambrose. At first their encounters seem to have been few
and perfunctory, but soon (due regard for his career probably
required it) Augustine began to sit through a few of the bishop's
sermons. Here Christianity began to appear to him in a new,
intellectually respectable light. As before, his most pressing
personal problem was his sense of evil and his responsibility for
the wickedness of his life; with the help of technical vocabulary
borrowed from Platonic philosophy Ambrose proposed a convincing
solution for Augustine's oldest dilemma. Augustine had besides a
specific objection to Christianity that only a professor of
belles-lettres could have: he could not love the scriptures
because their style was inelegant and barbaric. Here again
Ambrose, elegant and far from barbaric, showed Augustine how
Christian exegesis could give life and meaning to the sacred
Resolution of his purely intellectual problems with
Christianity left Augustine to face all the pressure society and
his mother could bring to bear. More will be said below about the
inner journey of his conversion, but the external facts are
simple. In the summer of 386, not quite two years after his
arrival in Milan, Augustine gave up his academic position on
grounds of ill health and retired for the winter to a nearby
country villa loaned by a friend in a place called Cassiciacum.
He took along his family (son, mother, brother, and cousins) and
friends, plus a couple of paying students who were the sons of
friends. There they spent their days in philosophical and
literary study and debate. Some of their conversations were
philosophical and religious and come down to us in philosophical
dialogues, and we know that they
spent part of every day reading Vergil together. Though
Augustine says he often spent half the night awake in prayer and
meditation, the dialogues themselves are not dramatically
theological. They seem to have been modest attempts to use the
professional expertise of a rhetorician and philosopher to
clarify technically the questions that had perplexed him. (The
dialogues show a charming modesty about the powers of
philosophical argument. In the midst of a long, abstract argument
among the men, Monica would come into the discussion and in a few
words, often quoting scripture, summarize an argument more
clearly and concisely than the men had been able to do.)
In the spring of 387, Augustine and his friends returned to
Milan for the forty days of preparation for baptism that preceded
Easter. Then at the Easter vigil service on the night of Holy
Saturday Augustine was baptized by Ambrose. Many people at that
time, when Christianity was the fashionable road to success in
the Christian empire, may have taken such a step casually and
returned to their old ways, but Augustine was not one of them.
The great world of Rome had to be given up. Ambition now
seemed hollow and sterile. Instead, Augustine and his friends
decided to return to Africa, where they could still command a
little property at Tagaste, to live in Christian retirement,
praying and studying scripture. For a time their return home was
held up by military disorders: a usurper came down out of Gaul
and killed the emperor who resided at Milan, with ensuing
disruption to the ordinary flow of commerce and travel in the
western Mediterranean. While Augustine's party was at the port of
Ostia near Rome, waiting for a boat back to Africa, Monica died.
Augustine returned to Africa at about the same age at which
Dante found himself in the dark wood--thirty-five, halfway to the
biblical norm of threescore and ten. He settled down at Tagaste
in 389 with a few friends to form what we call, somewhat
anachronistically, a monastery; it was probably very like the
household at the villa at Cassiciacum in the winter of 386-87,
but without the Vergil. Augustine would gladly have stayed there
But such talent and devotion could not be left alone. Two
years later, while on a visit to the coastal city of Hippo
Regius, he found himself virtually conscripted into the
priesthood by the local congregation. He broke into tears as
they laid hands on him in the church and his fate became clear.
Cynics in the audience thought these were tears of ambition and
disappointment at not being made bishop straight off, but they
were only tears of deeply felt inadequacy. Augustine had for
some time been avoiding cities that needed bishops in fear of
just such a fate.
He soon enough accepted his fate. He asked his new bishop,
Valerius, for a little time to prepare himself for his duties.
Now, if not before, he devoted himself to the mastery of the
texts of scripture that made him a formidable theologian in the
decades to come. His first expressly theological treatises come
from this period, devoted mainly to attacking the Manichees he
knew so well. (Not only did his experience make him an astute
critic of the cult, but it was politic for him to take a stand
publicly, to thwart the inevitable innuendoes from other
Christians that perhaps he had not truly abandoned the Persian
cult but was some kind of Trojan horse sent to subvert the
church.) His abilities were quickly recognized, and by 393 he
was being asked to preach sermons in place of his bishop, who was
a Greek speaker by birth. The old man passed on in 395 and
Augustine assumed responsibility for the church at Hippo. He
would remain at this post until his death thirty-four years
Conventional accounts sketch Augustine's episcopal career in
terms of the controversies in which he took part. This brief
sketch will do likewise; but I must first point out the main
inadequacy of this approach. Augustine's first order of business
through the decades of his episcopate was the care of the souls
entrusted to him. Most of his life was an endless round of
audiences with his clergy and his people. He was constantly
called upon to adjudicate all kinds of disputes that had arisen
in a world where the man of God was more to be trusted as judge
than the greedy magistrate sent from abroad to represent Roman
justice. The real focus of his
activity lay elsewhere still: the liturgy.
The early church was an institution centered upon the worship
of the community. Of a Sunday, every orthodox Christian in Hippo
could be found jammed into Augustine's basilica, standing through
a service that must have lasted at least two hours. We know from
the hundreds of sermons that survive how much care and
imagination Augustine put into preaching, tailoring his remarks
to suit the needs and capacity of his audience. The man who had
been orator enough to declaim for emperors must have been a
But even the homiletics of Augustine did not efface the
dignity of the central act of worship. God was present on the
altar for these people and this event was the center of Christian
community life. Lukewarm believers in the throng attended out of
respect for social pressure and a fear of divine wrath and were
not much moved, but for Augustine, this was his central task. The
controversies were only sideshow, important only when they
threatened to disrupt the unity of the community's worship.
But we know Augustine for his writings, and many of them were
controversial. Three great battles had to be fought: the first
was an ecclesiastical struggle for the very life of his
community, the second a philosophical battle to effect the
Christianization of Roman culture, and the last a theological
quarrel of great subtlety over the essentials of faith and
salvation. The first is the most obscure to moderns, while the
second and third will be treated in more detail in the chapters
that follow. Here we will concentrate on the ecclesiastical war
that Augustine fought and won in his first decade and a half as
Donatism is the movement Augustine opposed, named after a
bishop at Carthage some eighty years before Augustine's time to
Hippo. In those days the
church had just recovered from the last bitter wave of
persecution begun in 303 by the emperors Galerius and Diocletian.
When fear subsided, Christians could breathe again and indulge in
recriminations over the lapses of some of their number in time of
The official position of the church was that those Christians
who had compromised their religion in time of persecution could,
with due repentance and atonement, be readmitted to full
membership in the religious community. But there was a minority
faction of enthusiasts who insisted that cooperation with the
authorities in time of persecution was tantamount to total
apostasy and that if any traitors wanted to reenter the church
they had to start all over again, undergoing rebaptism.
Evaluation of the credentials of those who sought reentry would
be in the hands of those who had not betrayed the church.
The logical result of the Donatist position was to make the
church into an outwardly pure and formally righteous body of
redeemed souls. The orthodox party resisted this pharisaism,
seeing in it a rigorism inimical to the spirit of the gospels.
But Africa was known for its religious zealots and the new
Donatist movement proved a resilient one. Even after official
imperial disapproval had been expressed, the schismatic church
continued to grow and prosper. By the time of Augustine's
consecration as bishop, in fact, it looked as if the "orthodox"
party was on the wane. In Hippo itself the larger church and the
more populous congregation belonged to the Donatists in the early
390s. A constant state of half-repressed internecine warfare
persisted between the communities. Popular songs and wall posters
were pressed into service in the cause of sectarian propaganda.
In the countryside, Donatist brigands ambushed orthodox travelers
in bloody assaults.
Augustine began his anti-Donatist campaign with tact and
caution. His first letters to Donatist prelates are courteous
and emphasize his faith in their good will. He assumed that
reasonable men could settle this controversy peaceably. But
Augustine quickly discovered that reason and good manners would
get him nowhere. In the late 390s, then, Augustine resigned
himself to a course of action others in the church had long been
urging: the invocation of government intervention to repress the
Donatists. Augustine was dismayed at coercion in matters of
religion, but consented to the new policy when he became
convinced that the perversity and obtuseness of the Donatists
were complete. Even charity
itself demanded that the Donatists be compelled to enter the true
church in the hope that at least some would genuinely benefit
from the change. They could not be worse off than they were.
Even when this policy had been settled upon, another decade of
instability remained. Finally, in 411, an imperial commissioner
conducted a detailed hearing into the facts of the matter,
attended by hundreds of bishops from both orthodox and Donatist
factions, and decided in favor of the orthodox party. From this
time on Donatism was illegal and, though the schismatic community
apparently showed some signs of life in remote parts of Africa
until the Moslem invasions centuries later, the back of the
movement had been broken, and at least the security and position
of the orthodox party had been guaranteed.
The principle for which Augustine fought deserves emphasis.
Christianity was not, he claimed, something external and visible;
it was not to be found in obedience to certain clearly-defined
laws. Christianity was a matter of spirit rather than law,
something inside people rather than outside. Most important, the
church had room within itself for sinners as well as saints, for
the imperfections of those in whom God's grace was still working
as well as for the holiness of the blessed. Augustine drew the
boundary of the church not between one group of people and
another but rather straight through the middle of the hearts of
all those who belonged to it. The visible church contained the
visible Christians, sins and all; the invisible church, whose
true home lay in heaven, held only those who were redeemed.
Charity dictated that the visible church be open to all, not
lorded over by a few self-appointed paragons choosing to admit
only their own kind.
In A.D. 410, the city of Rome, with all its glories, was taken
by barbarians under the leadership of the Visigoth Alaric. It is
customary to say that shock waves ran throughout the Roman world
at this event, but it is more correct to say that shock waves ran
through those citizens of the Roman world prosperous enough to
care about expensive symbols of Roman grandeur. A fair number of
wealthy Romans fled the city to country estates in Campania, in
Sicily, and in north Africa. Enough of them showed up in Hippo
for Augustine to warn his flock that they should receive the
refugees with open arms and charity.
Not long after the refugees settled on their African estates
and began to frequent the salons of Carthage, the more
intellectual among them began to wonder aloud whether their new
religion might not be to blame for the disaster they had
suffered. After all, the argument ran, Rome had been immune from
capture for fully eight hundred years; but now, just two decades
after the formal end of public worship of the pagan gods
(commanded by the emperor Theodosius in 391), the city fell to
the barbarians. Perhaps it was true what pagans had said, that
the new Christian god with ideas about turning the other cheek
and holding worldly empires in low esteem was not an efficient
guardian of the best interests of the ruling class. Most of the
people who indulged in these idle speculations were themselves
Christian. The "paganism" of these people was no revival of
ancient religion, but only the persistence of the ancient notion
of religion as a bargain you struck with the gods in order to
preserve your health, wealth, and complacency.
Augustine was invited by a friend, the imperial commissioner
Marcellinus, who was in Africa to look into the Donatist quarrel
for the emperor, to respond to these charges. He knew that it
was more than a question of why Rome fell; here were Christians
who still did not know what Christianity was about, how it
differed from the Roman religions it had replaced. His response
was a masterpiece of Christian apologetics, City of God, whose
composition stretched over fifteen years. The first books,
consoling those the Visigoths had frightened, were published
quickly and seem to have done their job. But the work as a whole
continued to come forth in installments, revealing a broad vision
of history and Christianity.
Marcellinus, a devout layman, also played a part in the the
last great controversy of Augustine's life. One of the refugees
from Rome had been an unassuming preacher named Pelagius, who had
stirred up a moral rearmament movement at Rome. Pelagius seems to have
appealed particularly to affluent ladies whom he urged to set an
example through works of virtue and ascetic living. He
apparently had a considerable effect for the good on the conduct
of those with whom he came in contact. But Augustine saw in
Pelagius and his followers an extreme position exactly opposite
to the one he had just rebuked in the cultured critics of
Christianity, but one no less dangerous. Pelagianism, as we
shall see in more detail later on, was theologically rather
similar to Donatism, in that it assumed that people could, by
their own virtue, set themselves apart as the ones on whom God
Augustine never met Pelagius, though the latter had passed
through Hippo in late 410. Instead, he had to deal at all times
with the "Pelagians," the most notorious of whom, Caelestius, was
apparently a good deal more tactful and restrained than his
teacher had been. While Pelagius went off to the Holy Land,
where he became an unwilling center of controversy as he visited
the sacred sites, Caelestius and others back in Africa waded into
the fray with Augustine. Whatever the merits of the case,
Augustine's side prevailed in the ensuing controversy. The
authority of the papacy was invoked eventually--not without
difficulty--and later that of the ecumenical council of Ephesus
in 431. Pelagius and his disciples were clearly and soundly
But the controversy did not end with the defeat of Pelagius.
Augustine had to face further questions, as the logical
consequences of the positions he took against Pelagius were
examined by friend and foe alike. Both in Africa and in Gaul,
monks and their leaders protested that the Augustinian theology
of grace undermined their own ascetic efforts in the cloister.
In Italy, the young bishop of Eclanum, Julian, engaged Augustine
in a bitter debate that tainted the last decade of the old
bishop's life. A deep poignancy marks the old man's dogged
defense of himself and his belief against a young, resourceful,
and resilient foe.
Old age and pressing concerns at home eventually delivered
Augustine from the necessity of answering Julian. By 430, a band
of barbarians had found its way even to Africa. The Vandals, who
had first come from Germany into Roman Gaul in 406 and later
passed through Gaul into Spain, had been invited into Africa by a
Roman governor in rebellion against the emperor. The Vandals,
like the Saxons later in the same century, proved to be deadly
allies. In the summer of 430 they were besieging the city of
Hippo as the aged bishop lay dying within. Shortly after his
death they captured the city. Not long after, they captured
Carthage and established a kingdom that lasted a century.
Photograph: Peter Gorwin
TEXAS COUNTS DOWN TO EXECUTION NO. 300
by Bob Herbert
The war trumps all other issues, so insufficient attention will be
paid to the planned demise of Delma Banks Jr., a 43-year-old man who
is scheduled in about 24 hours to become the 300th person executed in
Texas since the resumption of capital punishment in 1982.
Banks, a man with no prior criminal record, is most likely innocent of
the charge that put him on death row. Fearing a tragic miscarriage of
justice, three former federal judges (including William Sessions, a
former director of the FBI) have urged the U.S. Supreme Court to block
So far, no one seems to be listening.
"The prosecutors in this case concealed important impeachment material
from the defense," said Sessions and the other former judges, John
Gibbons and Timothy Lewis, in an extraordinary friend-of-the-court
Most reasonable people would be highly disturbed to have the execution
of a possibly innocent man on their conscience or their record. But
this is Texas we're talking about, a state that prefers to shoot first
and ask no questions at all. The fact that the accused might be
innocent is not considered sufficient reason to call off his
(One of the most demoralizing developments of the past couple of years
is the fact that George W. Bush has been striving so hard to make all
of the United States more like Texas.)
Delma Banks was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of
16-year-old Richard Whitehead, who was shot to death in 1980 in a town
called Nash, not far from Texarkana. There was little chance that this
would have been a capital case if both the accused and the victim had
been of the same race. Or if the accused had been white and the victim
But Banks is black and Whitehead was white, and that's the jackpot
combination when it comes to the death penalty. Blacks convicted of
killing whites are the most likely to end up in the execution chamber.
In Texas this principle has been reinforced for years by the ruthless
exclusion of jurors who are black.
Just two weeks ago the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that
criticized courts in Texas for ignoring evidence of racial bias in a
death penalty case. Lawyers in the case noted that up until the
mid-1970s prosecutors in Dallas actually had a manual that said, "Do
not take Jews, Negroes, Dagos, Mexicans or a member of any minority
race on a jury, no matter how rich or well-educated."
The significant evidence against Banks was the testimony of two
hard-core drug addicts. One was a paid informant. The other was a
career felon facing a long prison term who was told that a pending
arson charge would be dismissed if he performed "well" while
testifying against Banks.
The prosecution deliberately suppressed information about its
arrangements with these witnesses - information that it was obliged by
law to turn over to the defense.
And prosecutors made sure that all the jurors at Banks' trial were
white. That was routine. Lawyers handling Banks' appeal have shown
that from 1975 through 1980 prosecutors in Bowie County, where Banks
was tried, accepted more than 80 percent of qualified white jurors in
felony cases, while peremptorily removing more than 90 percent of
qualified black jurors.
The strongest evidence pointing to Banks' innocence was physical.
He was in Dallas, more than three hours away from Texarkana, when
Whitehead was killed, according to the best estimates of the time of
death, based on the autopsy results.
Prosecutorial misconduct. Racial bias. Drug-addicted informants.
If the authorities walk Banks into the execution chamber on Wednesday,
and strap him to a gurney, and inject the lethal poison into his
veins, we will be taking another Texas-sized step away from a
reasonably fair and just society, and back toward the state-sanctioned
barbarism we should be trying to flee.
March 11, 2003
If George W. Bush and his government were serious about mobilizing support for
the coming war against Iraq, they would make every effort to seize the moral high
ground by proving their political system and society to be superior to others.
That they refuse to do so, and that states such as Texas keep on executing prisoners
whose actual or legal guilt is in doubt, or whose crime was to be of the wrong color,
is just another sign of the arrogance that characterizes the current administration.
This strategically unwise behavior alienates potential allies.
Bert de Bruin, Nesher, Israel
March 13, 2003
Dante's Other View
Photographer: Peter Gorwin
The Iraq debate I
by William Pfaff
THE UN MAY CHECK U.S. POWER
The impending Iraq war has become a watershed event. It will
permanently alter the American relationship to the Islamic Middle
East. It has already provoked serious change in Europe's relations
with Washington. It may have lasting influence on what becomes of
American troops already operate inside Iraq, and President George W.
Bush and his people insist that nothing short of Saddam Hussein's
abdication will now stop them.
Nonetheless, the Turkish Parliament's failure to permit an attack on
Iraq by way of Turkey came as a staggering and unexpected blow to
Even if the Turkish Parliament, under intensified pressure, were to
reverse its decision, an old and important American alliance has
The scale of international demonstrations against the war has shocked
the White House.
No one may have to veto the Anglo-American-Spanish resolution. It
simply will fall short, possibly badly short, of the nine votes needed
Some in the White House are said to argue that the recent capture of a
senior Al Qaeda figure could be spun so as to shift attention away
from Iraq and back to terrorism, while UN inspections were allowed to
continue. This could save Tony Blair, who was reported on Thursday to
want more time for the inspectors. It could mean wider support when
and if the war does come.
But such a backdown before the French, Germans and Russians, after
Washington's six-month buildup to war, and after all that the
president has said, would itself alter the perceived international
Bush, in any case, seems much too committed for anything now to stop
him. Anyway, he doesn't have to go to the United Nations. He claims
the right to go to war without further Security Council action - even
if that would mean too bad for Tony Blair and the president's other
His neo-conservative desk strategists assure him that the geopolitical
consequences of victory in the Middle East and the effect on American
relations with Muslims will be positive. It will promote democracy as
the way to go, while providing an intimidating display of U.S. power.
Pessimists, such as myself, say the consequences will be bad for the
Middle East, for American interests and, in the long term, bad for
Israel (as well as for the Palestinians, as if anyone still cared
about the Palestinians).
On past odds, pessimism is where the smart money should go.
Certainly, the trans-Atlantic relationship will not be the same after
this. If the administration's Iraq gamble succeeds, Washington intends
to divide Europe and build a new alliance with Central and Eastern
Europe as the base for U.S. power-projection in the Middle East and
If the gamble fails, there probably will be a general American
fallback toward an embittered version of the anti-internationalist and
America-first policies with which Bush began his term two years ago.
A policy metaphor recently popular in Washington has been that of
European Lilliputians unsuccessfully trying to tie down an American
Gulliver. The effort supposedly is led by politically craven of
vainglorious Lilliputian politicians, unwilling to share the burden of
global responsibility, ungrateful, longing for lost national glories
The recent Washington-inspired campaign against the motivations,
persons and moral character of individual German, French and even
Belgian leaders has been the most vicious in postwar trans-Atlantic
The whole affair nonetheless has served to clarify a number of things.
One is that the Bush administration has, without understanding what it
was doing, created a situation in which the majority of nations see
the United Nations as the only institution that has the possibility of
checking American power and limiting the consequences of American
In the future, shifting coalitions of the willing are likely to work
through the United Nations and other major international institutions,
and use the unprecedented means the Internet provides for mass
mobilization (including inside the United States itself) to
counterbalance or contain the United States on many economic and
It may also be that America will no longer be entirely free to set the
international agenda. Rogue states, war against terrorism,
anti-proliferation, trade globilization and other American causes may
not automatically dominate international political and media
Washington only now is discovering that its efforts to override or
divide oppositions to what it wants on Iraq have created a coherent
international opposition that before was not there. It has diminished
rather than affirmed its old international leadership.
March 11, 2003
A Window Rock
Photograph: Peter Gorwin
BUSH'S CALL TO WAR IS INCOHERENT
by Maureen Dowd
You might sum up the president's call to war last week as "Message: I scare." As he
rolls up to America's first preemptive invasion, bouncing from motive to motive,
Bush is trying to sound rational, not rash. Determined not to be petulant, he seemed
But the Xanax cowboy made it clear that Saddam was going to pay for Sept. 11. Even
if the fiendish Iraqi dictator was not involved with Al Qaeda, he has supported "Al
Qaeda-type organizations," as the president fudged.
We Americans are scared of the world now, and the world is scared of us. (It's
really scary to think we are even scaring Russia and China.)
Bush officials believe that making the world more scared of us is the best way to
make us safer and less scared. So they want a spectacular show of American
invincibility to make the wicked and the wayward think twice before crossing us.
Of course, our plan to sack Saddam has not cowed the North Koreans and Iranians, who
are scrambling to get nukes to cow us.
It still confuses many Americans that, in a world full of vicious slimeballs, we're
about to bomb one that didn't attack us on Sept. 11 (like Osama); that isn't
intercepting our planes (like North Korea); that isn't financing Al Qaeda (like
Saudi Arabia); that isn't home to Osama and his lieutenants (like Pakistan); that
isn't a host body for terrorists (like Iran, Lebanon and Syria).
I think the president is genuinely obsessed with protecting Americans and believes
that smoking Saddam will reduce the chances of terrorist's snatching catastrophic
weapons. That is why no cost - shattering alliances, Tony Blair's career and the
U.S. budget - is too high.
Even straining for serenity, Bush sounded rattled at moments: "My job is to protect
America, and that is exactly what I'm going to do."
"I swore to protect and defend the Constitution; that's what I swore to do. I put my
hand on the Bible and took that oath, and that's exactly what I am going to do."
But citing Sept. 11 eight times in his news conference was exploitative, given that
the administration concedes there is no evidence tying Iraq to the Sept. 11 plot. By
stressing that totem, Bush tried to alchemize American anger at Al Qaeda into
support for smashing Saddam.
William Greider writes in The Nation, "As a bogus rallying cry, 'Remember Sept. 11'
ranks with 'Remember the Maine' of 1898 for war with Spain or the Gulf of Tonkin
resolution of 1964." A culture more besotted with inane "reality" TV than scary
reality is easily misled. Greider pointed out that in a New York Times/CBS News
survey, 42 percent believe Saddam was personally responsible for the attack on the
World Trade Center and Pentagon, and in an ABC News Poll, 55 percent believe he
gives direct support to Al Qaeda.
The case for war has been incoherent due to the overlapping reasons that
conservatives give for wanting to get Saddam.
The president wants to avenge his father and please his base.
Donald Rumsfeld wants to exorcise the post-Vietnam focus on American imperfections
and limitations. Dick Cheney wants to establish America's primacy as the sole
superpower. Richard Perle wants to liberate Iraq and remove a mortal threat to
Israel. After Desert Storm, Paul Wolfowitz posited that containment is a relic, and
that America must aggressively preempt nuclear threats.
And in 1997, conservatives published a "statement of principles," signed by Jeb Bush
and several future Bush officals. Rejecting 41's realpolitik and shaping what would
become 43's preemption strategy, they exhorted a "Reaganite policy of military
strength and moral clarity," with America extending its domain by challenging
"regimes hostile to our interests and values."
Saddam would be the squealing guinea pig proving America could impose its will on
With W., conservatives got a Bush who wanted to be a Reagan. With Sept. 11, they
found a new tragedy to breathe life into their old dreams.
March 12, 2003
Photograph: Peter Gorwin
The U.S. and Turkey
by Hakan Altinay
REASSESS THE STRATEGY
When a closely divided Parliament voted this month against allowing the United States to launch an
attack on Iraq from Turkish soil, it stunned this country's leaders and disappointed American military
planners who argue that Turkish cooperation will mean a shorter war.
It also highlighted how the United States haste to subdue Saddam Hussein is claiming other victims.
The North Atlantic alliance may be one casualty. Turkey's bid to demonstrate that Islam, democracy
and the Western alliance are compatible may be another, equally important, casualty.
In November, upstart Justice and Development Party won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections
that eliminated most of the political class of the time. While the bulk of the party's membership has an
Islamist lineage, the party has distanced itself from its religious roots to take a conservative democratic stance.
Immediately after the elections, the party's leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, traveled to European capitals
to lobby for putting Turkey on an irreversible path to join the European Union. Erdogan, despite his Islamist
background, was more energetic in his campaign than his secular predecessors were.
This government's determination to ease restrictions on freedom of expression and lift the immunity
of perpetrators of torture seems stronger than that of any previous government. Last but not least, it has
been working towards a solution of the Cyprus conflict with unprecedented vigor.
The Justice and Development experiment may prove conclusively that a pious Muslim worldview is
compatible with a first-rate democracy. The course the party charts is being closely watched in the
Muslim world - not least by reformers in Iran. Few things would encourage peace in the world and
support long-term American interests more than homegrown democracy thriving in the Middle East.
While much rides on the fate of the Justice and Development experiment, the party itself is still a work in progress.
The leadership, Erdogan and Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, are ahead of the party and pulling it to the center.
But by pressing them to take deeply unpopular positions, the United States runs the risk of thwarting this
invaluable experiment whose results would be in America's interest. The context in which the Parliament
made its decision needs to be understood. As it met in closed session to deliberate whether to allow in
American troops, 100,000 people were demonstrating against the resolution in the streets of Ankara.
The realpolitik argument that the United States will wage war with or without Turkey, so why not join the
winning side and get some money in the bargain? - sounded profoundly immoral.
In short, Washington asked the Justice and Development Party to do something quite extraordinary,
possibly more extraordinary than it may have realized. Pushing it to open Turkey to American troops
could hurt the democratic experiment in one of several ways: The party may lose its resolve to reposition
itself and go back to its old ways, a permanent rift may emerge in the party, or worse, demagogues of the
right may capitalize on the party's difficult predicament. The Turkish Parliament's agony should remind the
United States what is at stake and lead it to reassess its strategy.
The writer is director of the Open Society Institute - Turkey.
March 11, 2003
Photograph: Peter Gorwin
The Iraq debate
by William Pfaff
THE REAL ISSUE IS U.S. POWER
The door to war is not yet opened, but the unexpected has already struck. Donald
Rumsfeld's announcement Tuesday that British forces might not take part in the
initial intervention against Iraq suggests that Britain may be out of the coalition.
The reason is that the United States and Britain will almost certainly fail to get a
Security Council resolution this week authorizing invasion of Iraq. Without that, if
Tony Blair goes to war he could lose the prime ministership. Neither event was
imaginable in Washington as recently as late February.
President George W. Bush finds himself in a huge international controversy that he
thinks is about policy towards Iraq. Everyone else knows that it is about the Bush
administration, and beyond that, about the future place of the United States in the
Washington is unwillingly and uncomprehendingly grappling with the possibility that
the United Nations is not irrelevant. Kofi Annan said on Monday that the United
States really does need the legitimacy Security Council approval could provide.
Without it, the United States may have to well and truly go it alone.
Critics are perfectly right to ask why the United Nations, this organization of
governments, few of them democratic, many if them lamentable in their respect for
civil liberties and human rights, should pass judgment on the United States. The
answer is that the United Nations is the only forum where the world's nations can
make any collective judgment on international matters.
The international system rests on the principle of absolute sovereignty of states,
which has nothing to do with the merits or morality of governments. By trial and
error, this has been found the least bad of international diplomatic and legal
systems. The United nations is the agent of this system for exercising international
The United States, in the Iraq crisis, is proposing to break the system. This is
what the current crisis is really about. The Bush administration says that unless
the Security Council gives the United States what it wants, America will ignore the
United Nations and from now on do whatever it thinks right. In this, a different
international order is implicitly proposed. The United States making a claim to the
sovereign right to intervene in, disarm, and carry out "regime change" in other
countries, subject to no external restraint. In its national strategy statement last
fall, it stated its intention to maintain overwhelming global military superiority
and take whatever action is necessary to prevent the emergence of a rival.
The logic in this is open to negative or positive appreciations. The hostile
interpretations are all around us at the moment. The Iraq intervention is said to be
a step towards seizing global engergy control, or hegemonic world economic and trade
domination, or to assure Israel's expansion.
There is even a claim that Bush sees himself acting out prophesies concerning the
Biblical Apocalypse and the Second Coming, as interpreted by certain marginal
American Protestant fundamentalist groups that have his ear.
The positive interpretaion of American intentions, the one made by most Americans
themselves, is that the United States is a responsible nation with benevolent
intentions, and in cooperation with its close democratic allies it would use its
great power to protect democracy and peace.
Iraq is a crisis for the United States because UN members see this prospect of
unchecked American world power being tested. What they have seen is a United States
that insists on its way and no other.
They have seen it unable to provide a rationale for its Iraq policy that can
convince the majority of the democracies, its natural supporters. They have seen it
intemperately denounce those who criticize it, and threaten serious and damaging
material retaliation against the democracies that actively oppose it on the Iraq
issue - France, Germany, Belgium, and Turkey.
They have, in short, seen Washington demand submission, and take steps to obtain
this through force. This, to the rest of the world, is not very reassuring, to put
Unchecked American global power has precipitously lost appeal. From World War II to
the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States exercised international
leadership with responsible policies and sensitivity to the demands of alliance. For
this reason there has until now been relatively little concern at its emergence as
the world's sole superpower. The United States continued to possess the confidence
of the international community. The Bush administration has managed in this Iraq
affair to undermine, if not destroy the American offer of benevolent and responsible
international hegemony. It has made the United Nations seem more relevant than ever.
One may add by so doing, it has perhaps done a favor not only to the world but to
the United States itself. I myself am not of the opinion that the values of the
American republic would survive the possession of absolute power.
March 13, 2003
Photograph: Peter Gorwin
by Bob Herbert
THE WAR MAY BE QUICK BUT STILL NOT WISE
Now that U.S. strikes against Iraq have begun, Americans should get rid of one
canard immediately, and that's the notion that criticism of the Bush administration
and opposition to this U.S.-led invasion imply in some sense, a lack of support or
concern for the men and women who are under arms.
The names of too many of my friends are recorded on the wall of the Vietnam Memorial
for me to tolerate that kind of nonsense. I hope that the war goes well, that
American troops prevail quickly and that casualties everywhere are kept to a
But the fact that a war may be quick does not mean that it is wise.
Against the wishes of most of the world, we Americans have plunged not just into
war, but toward a peace that is potentially more problematic than the war itself.
Are Americans ready to pay the cost in lives and dollars of a long-term military
occupation of Iraq?
To what end?
Will an occupation of Iraq increase or decrease our security here at home?
Do most Americans understand that even as they are launching one of the most
devastating air assaults in the history of warfare, private companies are lining up
to reap the riches of rebuilding the very structures the United States is in the
process of destroying?
Companies like Halliburton and Schlumberger and the Bechtel Group understand this
conflict a heck of a lot better than most of the men and women who will fight and
die in it, or the armchair patriots who'll be watching on CNN and cheering them on.
It's not unpatriotic to say that there are billions of dollars to be made in Iraq
and that the gold rush is already under way. It's simply a matter of fact.
Back in January, an article in The Wall Street Journal noted: "With oil reserves
second only to Saudi Arabia's, Iraq would offer the oil industry enormous
opportunity, should a war topple Saddam Hussein.
"The early spoils would probably go to companies needed to keep Iraq's already
run-down oil operations running, especially if oil-services firms such as
Halliburton Co., where Vice President Dick Cheney formerly served as chief
executive, and, and Schlumberger Ltd. are seen as favorites for what could be as
much as $1.5 billion in contracts."
There is tremendous unease at the highest levels of the Pentagon about this war and
The president and his civilian advisers are making a big deal about the anticipated
rejoicing of the liberated populace once the war is over.
Iraq, however, is an inherently unstable place, and while the forces assembled to
chase Saddam from power are superbly trained for combat, the military is not well
prepared for a long-term occupation in the most volatile region in the world.
What's driving this war is President George W. Bush's Manichaean view of the world
and messianic vision of himself, the dangerously grandiose perception of American
power held by his saber-rattling advisers, and the irresistible lure of Iraq's
enormous oil reserves.
Polls show that the public is terribly confused about what's going on , so much so
that some 40 percent believe Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11
That's really scary.
Rather than correct this misconception, the administration has gone out of its way
to reinforce it.
I think the men and women moving militarily against Saddam are among the few truly
brave and even noble individuals left in U.S. society.
They have volunteered for the dangerous duty of defending the rest of the American
people. But I also believe they are being put unnecessarily in harm's way.
As a result of the military buildup, there is hardly a more hobbled leader on Earth
at the moment than Saddam Hussein.
A skillful marshaling of international pressure could have forced him from power.
But then the Bush administration would not have had its war and its occupuation.
It would not have been able to turn Iraq into an American protectorate, which is as
good a term as any for a colony.
Is it a good idea to liberate the people of Iraq from the clutches of a degenerate
Sure. But there were better, less dangerous ways to go about it.
In the epigraph to his memoir, "Present at the Creation," Dean Acheson quoted a
13th-century king of Spain, Alphonso X, the Learned:
"Had I been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the
better ordering of the universe."
March 21, 2003
Manichaeism, n. the religion founded by Mani (ca. 216 - ca. 276), a Persian who held
that the universe is dually controlled by opposing powers of good and evil, which
had become intermingled in the present age, but at a future time would be seperated
and return to their own realms. Mani's followers were to aid this seperation by
leading an ascetic life. The religion spread widely in Asia and around the
Mediterranean, but died out in the West by the 6th century, although it was a major
religion in the East until the 14th century. It influenced several early Christian
Photograph: Peter Gorwin
Bush planned Iraq 'regime change'
before becoming President
By Neil Mackay
A SECRET blueprint for US global domination reveals that President Bush and his
cabinet were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure 'regime change' even
before he took power in January 2001.
The blueprint, uncovered by the Sunday Herald, for the creation of a 'global Pax
Americana' was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld
(defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), George W Bush's younger
brother Jeb and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled
Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century,
was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New
American Century (PNAC).
The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region
whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says: 'The United States has for
decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the
unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a
substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime
of Saddam Hussein.'
The PNAC document supports a 'blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence,
precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security
order in line with American principles and interests'.
This 'American grand strategy' must be advanced for 'as far into the future as
possible', the report says. It also calls for the US to 'fight and decisively win
multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars' as a 'core mission'.
The report describes American armed forces abroad as 'the cavalry on the new
American frontier'. The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document written by
Wolfowitz and Libby that said the US must 'discourage advanced industrial nations
from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global
A Report of
The Project for the New American Century
ABOUT THE PROJECT FOR THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY
Established in the spring of 1997, the Project for the New American Century is a
nonprofit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global
leadership. The Project is an initiative of the New Citizenship Project. William
Kristol is chairman of the Project, and Robert Kagan, Devon Gaffney Cross, Bruce P.
Jackson and John R. Bolton serve as directors. Gary Schmitt is executive director of
"As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s most
preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an
opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon
the achievement of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a
new century favorable to American principles and interests?
"[What we require is] a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and
future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American
principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global
"Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we
cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership of the costs that are
associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and
security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we
invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century
should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises
emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of the past century
should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership."
PROJECT FOR THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Suite 510, Washington, D.C. 20036
Telephone: (202) 293-4983 / Fax: (202) 293-4572
Photograph: Peter Gorwin
REBUILDING AMERICA’S DEFENSES
Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century
The Project for the New American Century was established in the spring of 1997.
>From its inception, the Project has been concerned with the decline in the strength
of America’s defenses, and in the problems this would create for the exercise of
American leadership around the globe and, ultimately, for the preservation of peace.
Our concerns were reinforced by the two congressionally-mandated defense studies
that appeared soon thereafter: the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review (May 1997)
and the report of the National Defense Panel (December 1997). Both studies assumed
that U.S. defense budgets would remain flat or continue to shrink. As a result, the
defense plans and recommendations outlined in the two reports were fashioned with
such budget constraints in mind. Broadly speaking, the QDR stressed current military
requirements at the expense of future defense needs, while the NDP’s report
emphasized future needs by underestimating today’s defense responsibilities.
Although the QDR and the report of the NDP proposed different policies, they shared
one underlying feature: the gap between resources and strategy should be resolved
not by increasing resources but by shortchanging strategy. America’s armed forces,
it seemed, could either prepare for the future by retreating from its role as the
essential defender of today’s global security order, or it could take care of
current business but be unprepared for tomorrow’s threats and tomorrow’s
Either alternative seemed to us shortsighted. The United States is the world’s only
superpower, combining preeminent military power, global technological leadership,
and the world’s largest economy. Moreover, America stands at the head of a system of
alliances which includes the world’s other leading democratic powers. At present the
United States faces no global rival. America’s grand strategy should aim to preserve
and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possible. There are,
however, potentially powerful states dissatisfied with the current situation and
eager to change it, if they can, in directions that endanger the relatively
peaceful, prosperous and free condition the world enjoys today. Up to now, they have
been deterred from doing so by the capability and global presence of American
military power. But, as that power declines, relatively and absolutely, the happy
conditions that follow from it will be inevitably undermined.
At present the United States faces no global rival. America’s grand strategy should
aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as
Preserving the desirable strategic situation in which the United States now finds
itself requires a globally preeminent military capability both today and in the
future. But years of cuts in defense spending have eroded the American military’s
combat readiness, and put in jeopardy the Pentagon’s plans for maintaining military
superiority in the years ahead. Increasingly, the U.S. military has found itself
undermanned, inadequately equipped and trained, straining to handle contingency
operations, and ill-prepared to adapt itself to the revolution in military affairs.
Without a well-conceived defense policy and an appropriate increase in defense
spending, the United States has been letting its ability to take full advantage of
the remarkable strategic opportunity at hand slip away.
With this in mind, we began a project in the spring of 1998 to examine the country’s
defense plans and resource requirements. We started from the premise that U.S.
military capabilities should be sufficient to support an American grand strategy
committed to building upon this unprecedented opportunity. We did not accept
pre-ordained constraints that followed from assumptions about what the country might
or might not be willing to expend on its defenses.
In broad terms, we saw the project as building upon the defense strategy outlined by
the Cheney Defense Department in the waning days of the Bush Administration. The
Defense Policy Guidance (DPG) drafted in the early months of 1992 provided a
blueprint for maintaining U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power
rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles
and interests. Leaked before it had been formally approved, the document was
criticized as an effort by "cold warriors" to keep defense spending high and cuts in
forces small despite the collapse of the Soviet Union; not surprisingly, it was
subsequently buried by the new administration.
Although the experience of the past eight years has modified our understanding of
particular military requirements for carrying out such a strategy, the basic tenets
of the DPG, in our judgment, remain sound. And what Secretary Cheney said at the
time in response to the DPG’s critics remains true today: "We can either sustain the
[armed] forces we require and remain in a position to help shape things for the
better, or we can throw that advantage away. [But] that would only hasten the day
when we face greater threats, at higher costs and further risk to American lives."
The project proceeded by holding a series of seminars. We asked outstanding defense
specialists to write papers to explore a variety of topics: the future missions and
requirements of the individual military services, the role of the reserves, nuclear
strategic doctrine and missile defenses, the defense budget and prospects for
military modernization, the state (training and readiness) of today’s forces, the
revolution in military affairs, and defense-planning for theater wars, small wars
and constabulary operations. The papers were circulated to a group of participants,
chosen for their experience and judgment in defense affairs. (The list of
participants may be found at the end of this report.) Each paper then became the
basis for discussion and debate. Our goal was to use the papers to assist
deliberation, to generate and test ideas, and to assist us in developing our final
report. While each paper took as its starting point a shared strategic point of
view, we made no attempt to dictate the views or direction of the individual papers.
We wanted as full and as diverse a discussion as possible.
Our report borrows heavily from those deliberations. But we did not ask seminar
participants to "sign-off" on the final report. We wanted frank discussions and we
sought to avoid the pitfalls of trying to produce a consensual but bland product. We
wanted to try to define and describe a defense strategy that is honest, thoughtful,
bold, internally consistent and clear. And we wanted to spark a serious and informed
discussion, the essential first step for reaching sound conclusions and for gaining
New circumstances make us think that the report might have a more receptive audience
now than in recent years. For the first time since the late 1960s the federal
government is running a surplus. For most of the 1990s, Congress and the White House
gave balancing the federal budget a higher priority than funding national security.
In fact, to a significant degree, the budget was balanced by a combination of
increased tax revenues and cuts in defense spending. The surplus expected in federal
revenues over the next decade, however, removes any need to hold defense spending to
some preconceived low level.
Moreover, the American public and its elected representatives have become
increasingly aware of the declining state of the U.S. military. News stories,
Pentagon reports, congressional testimony and anecdotal accounts from members of the
armed services paint a disturbing picture of an American military that is troubled
by poor enlistment and retention rates, shoddy housing, a shortage of spare parts
and weapons, and diminishing combat readiness.
Finally, this report comes after a decade’s worth of experience in dealing with the
post-Cold War world. Previous efforts to fashion a defense strategy that would make
sense for today’s security environment were forced to work from many untested
assumptions about the nature of a world without a superpower rival. We have a much
better idea today of what our responsibilities are, what the threats to us might be
in this new security environment, and what it will take to secure the relative peace
and stability. We believe our report reflects and benefits from that decade’s worth
Our report is published in a presidential election year. The new administration will
need to produce a second Quadrennial Defense Review shortly after it takes office.
We hope that the Project’s report will be useful as a road map for the nation’s
immediate and future defense plans. We believe we have set forth a defense program
that is justified by the evidence, rests on an honest examination of the problems
and possibilities, and does not flinch from facing the true cost of security. We
hope it will inspire careful consideration and serious discussion. The post-Cold War
world will not remain a relatively peaceful place if we continue to neglect foreign
and defense matters. But serious attention, careful thought, and the willingness to
devote adequate resources to maintaining America’s military strength can make the
world safer and American strategic interests more secure now and in the future.
Donald Kagan, Gary Schmitt - Project Co-Chairmen, Thomas Donnelly - Principal Author
Photograph: Peter Gorwin
Peter Gorwin - Artist
by Gunter Grass
The Moral Decline Of A Superpower
A war long sought and planned is now under way. All deliberations and warnings of the United
Nations notwithstanding, an overpowering military apparatus has attacked preemtively in violation
of international law. No objections were heeded. The Security Council was disdained and scorned
as irrelevant. As the bombs fall and the battle for Baghdad continues, the law of might prevails.
Based on this injustice, the mighty have the power to buy and reward those who might be willing
and to disdain and even punish the unwilling. The words of the current American president --
"Those who are not with us are against us" -- weigh on current events with the resonance of
It is hardly surprising that the rhetoric of the aggressor increasingly resembles that of his enemy.
Religious fundamentalism leads both sides to abuse what belongs to all religions, taking the
notion of God hostage in accordance with their own fanatical understanding. Even the passionate
warnings of the Pope, who knows how lasting and devastating the disasters wrought by the
mentality and actions of Christian crusaders have been, were unsuccessful.
Disturbed and powerless, but also filled with anger, we are witnessing the moral decline of the
world's only superpower, burdened by the knowledge that only one consequence of this
organized madness is certain: Motivation for more terrorism is being provided, for more violence
and counterviolence. Is this really the United States of America, the country we fondly remember?
The generous benefactor of the Marshall Plan? The forbearing instructor in the lessons of
democracy? The candid self-critic? The country that once made use of the teachings of the
European Enlightenment to throw off its colonial masters and to provide itself with an exemplary
constitution? Is this the country that made freedom of speech an incontrovertible human right?
It is not just foreigners who cringe as this ideal pales to the point where it is now a caricature of
itself. There are many Americans who love their country too, people who are horrified by the
betrayal of their founding values and by the hubris of those holding the power. I stand with them.
By their side, I declare myself pro-American. I protest with them against the brutalities brought
about by the injustice of the mighty, against all restrictions of the freedom of expression, against
information control reminiscent of the practices of totalitarian states and against the cynical
equations that make the deaths of so many innocents acceptable, so long as economic and
political interests are protected.
No, it is not anti-Americanism that is damaging the image of the United States; nor do the dictator
Saddam Hussein and his extensively disarmed country endanger the most powerful country in the
world. It is President bush and his government that are diminishing democratic values, bringing
sure disaster to their own country, ignoring the United Nations, and that are now terrifying the
world with a war in violation of international law.
We Germans are often asked if we are proud of our country. To answer this question has always
been a burden. There were reasons for our doubts. But now I can say that the rejection of this
preemtive war by a majority in my country has made me proud of Germany. After having been
largely responsible for two world wars and their criminal consequences, we have made a difficult
step. We seem to have learned from history.
The Federal Republic of Germany has been a sovereign country since 1990. Our government
made use of this sovereignty by having the courage to protect Germany from a step back to a
kind of adolescent behavior. I thank Chancelor Gerhard Schroeder and his foreign minister,
Joschka Fischer, for their fortitude in spite of all the attacks and accusations.
Many people find themselves in a state of despair these days, and with good reason. Yet we must
not let our voices, or No to war and Yes to peace, be silenced. What has happened? The stone
that we pushed to the peak is once again at the foot of the mountain. But we must push it back
up, even with the knowledge that we can expect it to roll back down again.
Gunter Grass was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize for literature. This comment was translated from
German by Daniel Slager. April 10, 2003
Please see the
Black International Cinema Berlin
Interdisciplinary / Intercultural
for film/video submissions and other information
"I may not make it if I try, but I damn sure won´t if I don´t..." - Oscar Brown Jr.
"Mankind will either find a way or make one." - C.P.Snow
"Whatever you do..., be cool!" - Joseph Louis Turner
"Yes, I can...!" - Sammy Davis Jr.
"Yes, We can...!" - Barack Obama