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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 2, 2011 12:00pm-3:00pm EST

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everything that happens, 20 months between the last election and this one. >> and what was probably the most fascinating about doing this book for the two of you? >> that our original goal when we had a first conversation about doing the book, we had a goal about what we wanted to be a what we thought might succeed. we executed exactly what we wanted to do. .. >> the next three hours is your chance to participate in a discussion with activist and author phyllis bennis. the institute for policy studies
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fellow and former united nations journalist will discuss u.s. influence on the international body and the status of the wars in this iraq and afghanistan. ms. bennis' works on u.s. foreign policy since 9/11 include before and after: challenging empire, and ending the iraq war. >> host: phyllis bennis, in your first book from 1990, "stones to statehood," you write: being partisan does not allow one to fail in honesty, to fail to tell the truth: >> host: what's your objective in your writings? >> guest: you know, ever since i began doing writing which i first started writing for radio, i was writing radio commentaries first, i felt like it was part of political organizing. i never felt like i was writing a book for history, or i was
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writing an essay for the poet in us all. i appreciate the writing for history, i appreciate poetry, but for me it was always very practical. it was because it was a story that needed to be told. it was an analysis that i thought would help mobilize people to change the world, usually to end a war somewhere. and in the case of that particular book, "from stones to statehood," part of what we were trying to do was to give a voice to palestinians who were living under occupation. this was in the time of what was called the first uprising that started in 1987-88, and i was work aing for a photographer, and we were there for a newspaper. and suddenly decides, you know what? this is really a bigger story than a newspaper story, we should do a book. and it became a photo book with my text, much of which is not mine at all, it's the voices of palestinians we met with, all kinds of people from all over the occupied territories, and
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neil's photographs. and can it was to give voice, in that case, to someone else, really, much more than to me. >> host: where did you gain your perspective? >> guest: ooh, that's a hard one. you know, i grew up jewish in california which was defined much more in the context of being pro-israel than it was about religion. so god really didn't figure into it, but israel figured really big. and i grew up very active in the zionist movement, zionist yiewpt groups, all that stuff. that's how i learned my first organizing skills, i think. so that, in a sense, taught me a certain way of looking at the world politically. but, of course, it was a very different set of politics than what i came to -- later i went away to college, went to university and sort of spent all my time organizing against those last years of the war in vietnam. and i wasn't thinking about the middle east at all. and then when something happened that i don't really remember, something put the issue of the
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middle east in front of me, and i remember thinking, i think i was wrong about that israel stuff. and i went to my father's library and read the founder of modern zionism, and i thought, what was i thinking? this guy was a lunatic. and so that was that. but it was really vietnam that taught me a whole new way of looking at the world. >> host: why? >> guest: partly, i think, i was learning because i had the extraordinary good fortune of being an age where i was with at university in the big years of anti-war organizing. i started at university at 17 in this 968. i was there from '68-'72. mobilization was the top of our agenda. i sometimes say i majored in protest at university because i certainly spent much more time doing that than i did actually studying. and i have no regrets for that, but i think that it taught me,
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it taught me things like how to look at the world from the perspective of somebody else. so i started thinking about what it would be like to be in vietnam, to be a vietnamese facing these bombings and this occupation that was going on. and then trying to think what it would be like for u.s. soldiers. i never got that far with trying to put myself into that position, but i tried. but it was that sense of trying to look at other places in the world that i had never been and thinking about how what my government was doing, evening the things -- especially the things i didn't like, how it was likely to be affecting them more than how it was going to affect me. >> host: well, let's get this question out of the way. does israel have a right to exist? >> guest: you know, it's a funny question. i don't think countries have rights like that. i don't think france has a right to exist. france exists. israel exists. israelis have rights. people have rights. israelis have rights,
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palestinians have rights, i don't think countries have rights. you know, if we look at our country, our country was founded on the basis of slavery and genocide and stealing other people's lands, most of whom we then wiped out. now, does that mean we have a right to exist? i don't see history that way. i think that we stole the rights and be the lives of a whole lot of other people, and we have obligations to make good on those rights. how we do that can change, but i think that the notion of rights is really something that belongs to people more than to countries. >> host: when you travel to the middle east, do you have trouble getting into israel now because of your writing? >> guest: i haven't so far. many of my friends do. i think that if i look at someone like one of my great mentors and friends, richard falk, a noted professor of international law who is
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currently with the united nations, the last time he tried to enter to carry out his u.n. mandate, he was arrested at the tel aviv airport, thrown in an immigration jail cell and held overnight and put on a plane and sent out the next morning, was never allowed to enter israel, was not allowed to do his job. i have other friends who have been turned away at the airport. so it happens a lot. somehow being jewish doesn't provide the protection for that, let's say. leaving the airport i've had my share of being searched, etc., and being treated very roughly. that's kind of of a given. but i haven't had any trouble getting in this yet. >> host: in the last couple of years you've been working on a primer series, ending the iraq war, understanding the u.s./iran crisis and ending the u.s. war in afghanistan. where did this series come from? >> guest: you know, the first of those was the israel/palestine
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one which we deliberately chose reversing it. it's usually called israel/palestine, we chose to name the book understanding the palestinian-israeli conflict. that came out of a project that had actually started several years earlier with colleagues of mine who had asked me if i would put together what they called a primer as a pamphlet. and we weren't sure exactly what form it should take. we wanted something that would be easy and accessible for people who are interested in the issue but didn't necessarily know anything about it. and maybe because they're educated people would be a little bit embarrassed to admit they really don't know some of the basic questions. who are the palestinians? why are they there? are jews is and israelis the same thing? so i did this pamphlet. and then in discussing it with a very close friend and colleague of mine, my publisher who's palestinian, he said, you know, we should do this as a book.
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why don't you expand it and to it as a book. and it turned out that the hardest part of doing that book -- much harder than writing the answers -- was figuring out the questions. we decided to do it as frequently-asked questions. all of them are like web sites disguised as books. you don't have to sit and read the whole book. you can look at the list of questions and say, that's what i wanted to know. just go and read two or three pages to answer that question. so it's really aimed at providing very basic understanding. what is zionism? why did it emerge when it did? those kinds of very basic questions. and, of course, it's my own opinions. those books don't have a lot of footnotes. some of them have more than others. but they're mainly a way -- i sort of imagine it as if i were speaking somewhere, and after you give a speech somebody says, i have a question. and they ask their question, and this is my answer to their question. so i write the way i talk.
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the goal being to make it, again, as accessible as possible. so it's not seen as being the definitive work on x, y or z, but it's a way of of helping people figure stuff out. in some of the later ones, particularly the ones on iraq and on afghanistan, the newest one which i did with a colleague of mine who spends quite a bit of time in afghanistan, we were really aimed very specifically at providing a tool for people who are opposed to those wars which now i just read a new poll last night, in fact, a new cnn poll indicates that only 32% of people in this country support the war in afghanistan. that's a huge drop in levels of support, and it seems that everybody else doesn't pay attention to that in this town, in washington where the decisions get made. nobody's really recognizing the significance of that. and so we wrote that book as a tool for those people who give them answers. when somebody says to you, well,
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that's fine, you want to be against the war, but what would happen to the women in afghanistan? well, there's an answer that we've learned from women in afghanistan who said the war is not helping us. the war is not making our lives better. the vast majority, peter, of women who die too young in afghanistan -- and there's a huge number of women who die too young -- they don't die because they're killed by the taliban, they, in fact, don't even die because they're killed by u.s. bomb bombs. they're killed because they tie in childbirth -- die in childbirth because there's no health care available. and according to the united nations afghanistan, now, is the second worst country in the world for women to survive childbirth. it's the worst country in the world for children. unicef figures are that afghanistan is the worst place in the world for a child to be born and expect to live to her or his first birthday or, then, the fifth birthday. and that's after nine years of u.s. occupation. so can we really say that we're
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doing any good for the women of afghanistan? i don't think so. >> host: should the u.s. have gone into afghanistan in the first place after 9/11? >> guest: not militarily. not the way we did. the crimes of 9/11 were horrific crimes. they were crimes against humanity. but i don't think you solve a crime with by war. and i think that was as true for a massive crime as for a small crime. if we look at those people who have actually been caught, the leadership people of al-qaeda that have ended up in u.s. custody, that sort of thing, we're not seeing that they are caught in bombing raids. we're seeing that it's good intelligence that finds them. it means that we need international cooperation. we need the international criminal court. you know, one of the things i did, it was actually one of the fun things in writing these books, i wrote one book right after 9/11 that was, again, designed to help sort of sort out -- >> host: which one was that?
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>> guest: that was "before and after: u.s. foreign policy on the september 11 crisis." and the goal there was to kind of look at why did the u.s. do what it did, why did it see war as an immediate response to that terrible crime? and was that really so different than earlier decisions that had been made in foreign policy, or was this something very new and different? and the book really tries to look at that. but one of the things i got to do in that book was write the speech that george bush should have written and should have given that night, when he should have ordered the plane to land after he finished reading my pet goat to the children in the school room. he should have given a speech to the american people, and he would have said -- i forget exactly how i wrote it, but some version of we have been the victims of a terrible, terrible crime, and we will do nothing to prevent us from finding and bringing to justice the people responsible for this crime. but we are going to make a commitment here tonight that too many people have already died,
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and we are going to do nothing that leads to the death of more innocents in the name of fighting against this terrible crime to which we have been subjected. and that's why we're now realizing why we need the united nations, why we need the international criminal court, why we need to understand our role in the world this a whole different -- in a whole different way than we ever did. and, unfortunately, he didn't give that speech. he gave a very different speech. >> host: welcome to booktv's in depth. this is our monthly program, first sunday of every month, where we feature one author and his or her body of work. this month it's phyllis bennis of the institute for policy studies and the author of eight books plus two edited books. here's a list of phyllis bennis' work. she began in 1990 with "from stones to statehood." then in 2000 she published
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"calling the shots." "before and after" was published in 2003. "challenging empire" in 2006, and then her primer series began last year. "understanding the palestinian-israeli conflict '09," "ending the iraq war," 2009 and then her most recent, "ending the u.s. war in afghanistan." phyllis bennis, what was your work on "altered states"? >> guest: that was a fun one to do. that was an anthology that i did with my colleague, also my publisher, that was looking at the end of the cold war and what was it going to mean for countries other than the u.s.? so we have authors in that book from an amazing array of countries, from haiti, from eastern europe, from, from france, from several different african countries, from are all the countries in the middle east, from latin america, and we were trying -- what we found was writers who were involved in
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social movements in the their own countries who were involved at the time in trying to recalibrate what their own governments were doing, what their own peoples were doing to respond to this whole new situation in the world where suddenly there was only one superpower. and we called it "altered states: a reader in the new world order," because that was the term that george bush i had coined for that period when suddenly there's this whole different way of thinking about where the u.s. position in the world, but at the same time p there was no attention being paid to all the other people around the world 40 did not -- who did not live in the soviet union or russia in that transition but were engaged in a huge transition of their own. we tried to find people who knew about these countries that we knew very little about. i didn't think anything about concern i didn't know anything about haiti, and we got a fascinating piece. so i think the e effect of the cold war particularly on
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countries of the global south, the countries of africa, latin america, the middle east, asia, the countries that are not the most developed, wealthiest countries of the world. in that very specific period of about 1990-1992, '93 when the transition was still very lively and active, that's what we tried to look at on this book. >> host: if you'd like to participate in our live program, 202 is the area code. 737-0001 if you live in the east and central time zones. 737-0002 for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. you can also send us an e-mail. booktv@cspan.org or send us a tweet, twitter.com/c-span/-- i'm sorry, twitter.com/booktv. it's at booktv is our twitter address. in your primer, "understanding the u.s.-iran crisis," you
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write: despite claims by the bush administration and others, there is also no evidence iran has a military program to build nuclear weapons. >> guest: yeah. that's -- >> host: do you stand by that? >> guest: i stand by that. there is simply no evidence. what the u.n. watchdog, the nuclear watchdog, the iaea, the international atomic energy agency has said is that there are unanswered questions. and iran certainly is in violation of its agreements with the iaea to answer those questions and provide the information. it has not done so, and it should do so. but there isn't evidence that actually exists that people can point to and say that proves that there is, indeed, a military, a military program here aimed at creating a nuclear well. now, iran's nuclear program -- because it's true of any nuclear program -- it's the same technology, unfortunately, which is why i think it's such a problem that countries all around the world including our
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own are doing so much nuclear technology overall. iran is no different. if you do the nuclear technology to build nuclear power plants, it is the same technology to build a bomb. it doesn't mean you can because you may not have enough, it may not be as good enough as it needs to be, but it's basically the same technology. you take unremember itched -- unenriched uranium, and you enrich it to 5% or so for power plants, about 20% for medical uses and up to about 90% for a weapon. now, there's no ed that iran have gone beyond 20% in one reactor for medical isotopes. are they being provocative with some of their nuclear stuff? of course they are. and it may be that the iranian leadership which has said over and over again not only that they are not doing it which, like any government you have to take that very carefully, but they've also said it's the religious requirement which, to me, doesn't mean much.
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but i think to rain -yard lines it -- rain -yard lines it means a lot. if that government were to change that position, they would have a very high bar to reach at home to justify that to their own people, why suddenly it's religiously okay to do what the ayatollah khomeini right from the beginning of the islamic revolution said is not okay. so i think it's certainly possible, for example, that what saddam hussein did in iraq might be what's underway in iran which was to act as if there were massive weapons of mass destruction. because that was what made him appear powerful to his enemies both domestic and in the region. there were none as we know. but there was a claim, there were hints, he made it sound like he was trying to do so, and many people -- myself included -- many people for years said, this is nonsense.
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this is all just posturing. he's trying to show that he has power in order to gain respect in a region. that is thought to respect power more than anything else. it turned out to not be true. now, one can argue that parts of what the iranian regime is doing may be the same thing. they're deliberately hiding things, deliberately making things a bit more ambiguous rather than saying, here, we're an open book. come and look at everything we've got. instead of doing that, they're leaving open possibilities. but there is no evidence. that's what's key here. the u.s. is threatening at various points. israel is threatening consistently to use military force when there is no evidence as if there were to be a military weapon that somehow a military strike would be an answer to that. it would be even more disastrous. >> host: so iran, no threat threat to the u.s. or to its
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neighbors? >> guest: you know, i think that iran is not a threat. i think that the middle east region, like our own country, is overarmed. i think too much money is spent if you look at the little gulf states some of whom in the wikileaks, for instance, we're hearing how gulf country leaders are telling the u.s. secretly, boy, you really should do something about iran. you know, we won't say it publicly, but we really think -- this isn't new. but those governments are the same governments that are spending billions of dollars, billions, hundreds of billions of dollars of their country's oil rev view at times when -- revenue when there is unemployment rising in those countries to buy massive amounts of the most advanced u.s. weapon systems that the u.s. is willing to sell them. you know, it's u.s. arms exporters that are, quote, making a killing in this business arming the entire middle east. the $3 billion a year that the u.s. gives in military aid to
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israel is only one part of it. it's one of the worst parts because it puts us as directly complicit in those weapons. the other countries are buying weapons. but it's our military producers that are the ones that are making a killing off of this money, and the money instead could be used for infrastructure, for education, for things like figuring out what's the middle east going to do when the oil runs out? what's it going to do when the water runs out? these are huge problems that could be solved if more or resources went there, but instead we're seeing the resources used overwhelmingly for military purposes that are not making anybody else safe. >> host: career wise how did you end up at the institute for policy studies? >> guest: it was one of the great moves of my career, as it were. and one that i never expected. i had known of the institute when i was a kid. ips has been around since the early '60s. it was founded by two extraordinary men who were
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working at the time in the kennedy administration, marcus ratherkin who was in the state department and richard bar net who was in the white house in the national security council. and they quite quickly, they were both very young, and they quite quickly found each other and realized that they were in the wrong place. they didn't like the policies on nuclear weapons, the question of vietnam was looming at the time, and they both managed to escape the white house, escape the state department, and they created something that had never existed before, an independent institute for the rest of us. and that's what it's been ever since. it's an institute that works with social movements. our slogan is we turn ideas into action. it isn't just about producing ideas into the abstract, it's to make possible changing the world. and i had known about this for a long time, things like the vietnam reader when i was a kid. i read it at 17, 18, whatever i was. and i remember that was the
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first book i read about vietnam. and i didn't exactly know what this institute was, a think tank. what's that, exactly? it sounded like something weird, a bunch of people sitting around thinking great thoughts somewhere. i didn't really think about it that much. it was just sort of in the back of my mind. and years later when i was in new york, i was working, actually, on "altered states," and we wanted an article on nuclear weapons and how the standoff between the u.s. and the soviet union was going to change. and i saw an article written by marcus. so we contacted mark, and he was delighted and wrote a terrific piece in "altered states." and later he brought a new book to interlink which i ended up doing some of the editing on, his book "visions and revisions." and then a little while later he knew i was working on a book on u.s. domination of the united nations. and he called me and said, you know, why don't outcome down to
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ips and do a seminar, that would be great. and i thought, well, that's a good idea. and then he told me he actually wanted me to apply for a job. and i thought, jeez, i don't want to move to washington. i hate washington. i go to washington for protests. i'd never really been here except for a protest. and i decided to do it anyway. i was going through some changes just what i was doing in new york, seemed to make sense to at least check it out. i came, i did a seminar, i loved it, and i was hired at ips, and i've been there ever since, and it's been the perfect place to do the kind kind of work i do. i couldn't ask for a more supportive environment. >> host: what were you doing in new york? >> guest: i was freelancing as a writer and radio journalist. i had been working as a journalist at the united nations writing, first, for a small biweekly newspaper in california, a national paper but based in california. and we had decided to send somebody to new york to work at the u.n. not because of the u.n.
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itself. it was funny was i didn't know much about the u.n. as an institution. but it was -- informs the mid '80s -- this was the place where you could meet representatives of liberation struggles, meet the pal stint p yangs, meet representatives of socialist countries, the vietnamese who you couldn't eat anywhere else in the country. they weren't allowed to travel. in this many cases all these socialist governments and liberation movements, the anc from south africa, nelson mandela's organization all had offices at the u.n. and it was the only place that you could meet them. so i had this incredible opportunity to spend years at the u.n. writing about developments in the east rib ration movements, india's struggles, contradictions of u.s. policy, what the u.s. was doing wrong in those areas. but i was doing it at the u.n. and it was during that time that i started looking a little bit for the first time at the united nations. and it was at the time of the
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iraqi invasion of kuwait in 1990, in that summer which was at the same time as the end of the cold war. the soviet union was collapsing. the u.s. made a decision, in my view, based on a cold war analysis. not based on the fact that kuwait had been invaded and that iraq had violated international law. and when i watched that happen, one of the things i was looking at was how the united states was using the u.n. itself as an instrument, as a tool in its own foreign policy. and i started writing about that. i wrote one of the pieces in "beyond the storm," the anthology that we did about the gulf war. and that was, i think, my first major piece on the role of the united nations. and then as i started to investigate further i thought, you know, this is kind of important stuff. i never knew it, and i think most other people that i work with don't know it either. so i decided to write a book about it, and that's what led to "calling the shots: how
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washington dominates today's u.n. " and i did several different updated versions of that. the first one came out in '95 or '96, and then there was another one in 2000 and another in 2004 that was a british edition. that's one that's been translated into, i don't know, five or six different languages, published in different countries pause i think all around the -- because i think all around the world there is a sense of unease and anger both at the public level and sometimes even at the governmental level at what the u.s. has done to the u.s -- to the u.n. you know? and how it's prevented the u.n. from doing what its charter says it's supposed to do, stop the scourge of war. and so often the u.s. has used the u.n. as a fig leaf to cover up its own interventions. another of my great mentors, the great pakistani scholar once said that what the u.s. did with the u.n. in desert storm was using a multilateral instrument to hide a unilateral war.
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which i always thought was exactly the right way to see how the u.s. used the uniat that time. >> host: who were or are your parents? >> guest: my parents have both passed. my parents were extraordinary. my parents were, we grew up in suburban los angeles. my father spent his life working at my mother's father's store. my maternal grandfather. and his brothers had opened a store called levine brothers in los angeles that sold tailoring supplies, ool woolens and thread and pins and needles. every year i remember as a kid all the grandchildren would be brought down to the store, just one day a year, for inventory day. and we would be assigned to counting cards of buttons. it was, it was always very exciting. we loved the store. it was great places for hide and seek. it had one of those old-fashioned elevators with the wooden pull door that you could
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see through as it went up and a chain, you know, a manual elevator. and then my grandfather would take us all out for dinner after that. it was always a great treat. and my father was someone who always wanted to be a writer. he, at times, tried to write poetry and, unfortunately, he really wasn't a very good poet. but it turned out that he was actually a fabulous writer when he wasn't rying to write poetry -- trying to write poetry. his letters to my mother from the war which i came across only after he died was a huge treasure-trove for me. i'm still trying to figure out what to do with them. unfortunately, there aren't too many of my mother's left, of her responses to him. but you see in those letters how he was both trying to abide by the censorship -- he couldn't say very much -- but it was all about the small group of friends he had in the military or, this his unit, and what they were doing, what they talked about, their own lives. and then he also talked about my mother's family.
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he would talk about the people in the neighborhood who he knew she was living with. she had gone back to live with her parents while he was overseas during the war, and it was just this wonderful set of letters about his caring about her and what that relationship had been all about. so it was an amazing thing. my mother was an incredibly strong woman who never knew how strong she was. i think she always thought that my father was the strong one in their relationship when, in fact, it was quite the opposite. she was tough as could be. but incredibly gentle. and she had, she was ill for a long time before she died. she had a very rare form of cancer and was ill for about 14 years before she died and went through a number of experimental treatments, and it was a very rough, a very rough time for a very long time. but she never gave up. she fought and fought, and her
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family was her framework. she wasn't somebody who was that interested in the events of the world. my father was. my mother, not so much. but her family was so important to her. and the two of them together, i was very glad that my mother's death was just after my first book was published, so she was able to know it. and, of course, my father was so thrilled that his daughter had written a book with. he didn't really agree with it, but that was okayment he was so proud of me that it really didn't matter what the book was about. my daughter wrote a book. you know, it was that sense of -- because i think he had always wanted to write a book. and his younger brother, he was a twin, he was an identical twin, and both the twins when they came home from the war, they went to work. they had families quite soon after. their younger brother who was eight years younger was the only one who was able to take advantage of the g.i. bill and went to university and became a noted academic and writer. my dear uncle who i adore and is still with us teaching awz an
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emeritus at usc has his new autobiography just came out -- >> host: what is it? >> guest: it's called "still surprised." i thought it's a great title. >> host: what does he think of your perspective on world issues? >> guest: well, it's very interesting because now he agrees a great deal. i think he didn't always, but he was always a liberal. he was someone -- he was president of cincinnati university, he was vice president of sunni buffalo at the time that i was a student activist. and there was a great collaboration between our fds chapter at santa barbara and sds at buffalo where there were similar protests going on, a great deal of activity, some riots, faculty being arrested, the whole, you know, all of the excitement. and they called one day, i remember to this day. i happened to be in the sds office and got a phone call as we were getting, you know, from campuses all over the country. everybody was collaborating with each other. and i remember someone calling and saying, i'm calling from sunni buffalo.
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what's your name? i said, i'm phyllis bennis. bennis, oh, my god? are you related to warren bennis? yeah, he's my uncle. we call him warren the snake because we don't trust him. it was very funny, and it became a big issue at the time. but i think now he agrees a great deal with my perspective on -- maybe not in every detail, but the idea of changing the world, i think, is very important to him. >> host: this is booktv's in depth. our guest is phyllis bicep in addition. -- bennis. 202-737-0001 for eastern and central time zones. teresa from middletown, connecticut, you are first up. please, go ahead. >> caller: yes, and thank you. regarding afghanistan, i've always had a problem with our invasion of afghanistan. it seemed wrong to punish the people in afghanistan for osama bin laden being there. our military leaders insist we
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must stay and fight in afghanistan because that's where al-qaeda laid the plans for 9/11, but i also found it very hard to believe that a bunch of al-qaeda militants doing boot camp maneuvers in a remote region of afghanistan were responsible for 9/11. but isn't it true that the plans to attack the u.s. on 9/11 were formed in germany? >> guest: yeah, you reached some important points. the notion of going to war in afghanistan, they lived, as you say, in hamburg. they didn't train in afghanistan, they trained in the florida. and they didn't go to flight school in afghanistan, they went to flight school in minnesota. and now, of course, this notion that we are still having 100,000 u.s. troops and another 40,000
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nato troops occupying afghanistan we nor mouse military -- with with enormous consequences. when the cia itself commits there are -- nests there are less than 50-100 al-qaeda members in afghanistan. so we're sending 140,000 troops to go after something like 350 people? it's crazy. the idea that shaw we have to go after the taliban because if they took power al-qaeda would come back, they would be able to train there, it ignores what kind of a threat it isn't. it is a threat, and many people around the world have suffered from terrorism much more than we have. buff i think that what gets ignored -- but i think that what gets ignored is the understanding that, number one, you can't use conventional warfare to stop terrorism.
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we don't need to occupy afghanistan to prevent the taliban from coming back as a way of stopping al-qaeda. al-qaeda doesn't need territory to train, they need a couple of garage-sized laboratories and an internet café with fast connection. that's really all they need. they're not training up a big army that needs territory and space to train. it's just, it's wrong, and i think the ran that we -- reason that we went to war was not to stop the future, it was to avenge the past and to lay the groundwork for the war in iraq. unfortunately, i think the reason we're staying, i don't think it's only because of the potential for pipelines and that sort of thing which is certainly there in the background, but the real reason, i think, that we're staying in afghanistan and what makes it so horrific when you think of the civilian casualties and the military casualties from the u.s. and nato troops, is that we're staying there because neither president obama nor anyone else in congress is
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prepared to say, we were wrong, we have to get out. they're not prepared to say something that looks like we're losing. >> host: well, libero tweets in, how should the u.s. and nato forces get out of afghanistan most effectively? >> guest: that's a very important question. i'm not a military strategist, and i can't say exactly which companies should leave first. i'll leave that to the military. but they got us in, they can get out. declare a unilateral cease fire, declare that we are no longer engaged in this war against anyone in afghanistan, that our troops are putting down their arms, and they are getting out. that means donkeys, trains, trucks, buses and planes, the same way they got in. i think the key is to say our focus now should be on the safety of the people of afghanistan and the safety of our troops. not on making more military
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gains which everyone agrees, it's on the front pages of our newspapers. it's not something you only read online or in the progressive press or you see on some secret show. it's in the mainstream media that the u.s. policy is failing. that, yes, if you send in enough troops, they can clear an require of whoever they want. if it's al-qaeda, if it's taliban, if it's one of the other numerous organizations opposed to the u.s. envision of afghanistan. but -- invasion of afghanistan. because why? they are afghans. this is their country. i don't know if you remember it, peter, some months ago there was an extraordinary moment when in a hearing in congress add mil mullen, the chairman of the vice chiefs, was being asked by someone who was trying to challenge him, and you saw him
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rolling his eyes and thinking, oh, god, do i really have to do this? the question was, can you tell me, admiral, how many tanks does the taliban have? they don't have any tanks, senator. and how many planes? is they don't have any planes either. so can you tell me why they're winning? and he sat there for a moment and said something, something, it's their country. i thought, wow, he gets it. so if he gets it, why is he leading this war? he knows we can't win like this because whether it's next week as i advocate or if it's in 2014 as president obama, unfortunately, is threatening now to stay until at least 2014, at some point we're going to leave. the people of afghanistan are going to have to stay there. it's their country. they're going to have to rewild it. -- rebuild it. are they going to rebuild it in this a way that we feel looks like us? probably not. they have a very different kind of country. the fact that we're trying to
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impose this government, a strong national government that looks like a democracy, has nothing to do with afghan history, with afghan culture. if you look at the history of afghanistan, there's never been a strong government there. the writ of what happens in kabul is limited to kabul. and 80% of the people of afghanistan don't live in the cities. forget about kabul, they don't live in any cities. they live in tiny ham lets scattered over this vast mountainous country. and in that context loyalties are not to a strong national government in kabul. loyalty is to family, to tribe, to clan, to village. maybe to region, maybe sometimes. but mostly not. mostly it's very, very local. and that makes it very, very hard to imagine ever having success at trying to impose on afghanistan the kind of government -- forget about the corruption, forget about the incompetent that we're seeing with this government.
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the people of afghanistan have never had and never indicated any desire for a strong central government. that's not true, for example, in the iraq. these are very different countries. iraq does have a history of strong central governments. afghanistan doesn't. and the fact that we try this one-size-fits-all approach, we're going to go in, we're going to wring in a government in a before bring in a government in a box. they even called it that, so demeaning. doesn't work. what are you going too far, a jumping jack box that the government pops out and says, here we are, we're the government now. surprise, that doesn't work. they don't have the loyalty of the population, they don't know what they're doing. these afghans who were brought in to be the local government in marjah, for example, the place that was supposed to be the practice for going after kandahar for u.s. troops, we're going to go after marjah, and we're going to clear it of the taliban, and then we're going to bring in the government in a box. well, the guy they brought in to be mayor had spent the years of
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war not living through the years of war or the years of taliban repression, he had spent those years in this germany. so what a surprise, he was the same tribal links as the people in marjah, spoke the language, but they didn't see him as one that of their own because he wasn't. he had gone to a university in munich, i'm not sure. but he had lived in the germany for many years, and he suddenly reappears on the back of a u.s. tank and says, hi, i'm here to be your governor in a box. it doesn't work that way. so what we have to do is get out of the way and allow real diplomacy to go on. there needs to be diplomacy. does it have to involve the taliban? of course it does because they're one of many forces in the country. this is one of the great lessons, ironically, of former senator mitchell who has been president obama's special envoy in the middle east. unfortunately, he didn't operate off of it. but he knew from his own experience in ireland that the first lesson of diplomacy if
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you're serious is everybody has to be at the table. why? not because you agree with everybody, but if you exclude some, if you say, well, you can't come because we think you're terrorists, you can't come because you won't put down your arms, you won't come because of whatever, if you do that, the diplomacy's not going to work because all those people who support that one or that one or that one that you took out, they're going to say, you know, we didn't even get a seat at the table. we don't have any stake in this. we're not going to abide by it. if you're serious about diplomacy instead of war, then everybody has to be at the table. what the u.s. is doing is preventing real diplomacy, not insuring it. >> host: judith, you're on booktv with phyllis bennis. new york city, hi. >> caller: hi. ms. bennis wrote the speech she thought that president bush should give after the september 11th atrocity really.
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but i would like to hear now what ms. bennis thinks that president obama should say in his state of the union address this month. >> guest: oh, dear. judith raises a good challenge. i think that president obama's state of the union speech should reflect a decision that i hope that he is in the process of making that is recognizing when it comes to foreign policy, the wars he is waging are wars that not only we cannot win, but we cannot afford. i think president obama knows that the issue of jobs is by far the most important thing facing people in this country. we know that the war in afghanistan, as devastating as it is for afghans, is not the top of anybody's agenda here. when asked, people don't support it. but it's not something that is top of the agenda because people
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are hurting here. people are losing jobs, they're losing homes at a rate that surpasses our imagination of the last, of recent years. things are disastrous here. and i think it's making those links that i wish the speech would be something like we have realized that the war we are waging in afghanistan and the war we are still waging in iraq because we should not forget that 50,000 u.s. troops occupying iraq does not mean an end, it just means a smaller size of an occupation. that's still a war that's being waged. the casualties these days are more iraqi than american, but we are still paying a huge amount and risking the lives of 50,000 troops there -- troops there as well as preventing iraqis from running their own country. we have realized that these are wars that we not only cannot win, but that we cannot afford. the escalation, president obama should say, that i announced last year in afghanistan, the escalation of 30,000 new troops
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has not made the war better, and it has cost us $33 billion. and i think president obama should say in his state of the union address that i'm sorry i made the decision i did, and i want to bring those troops back so that we will have that $33 billion to use because we know with that $33 billion, we could have 600,000 new green jobs here at home and still have $3 billion left over to start rebuilding our own infrastructure and begin to pay reparations in afghanistan and iraq for the devastation that we've brought. for every soldier that i'm sending to afghanistan today, president obama should say, it's costing our country a million dollars, every soldier. not because the soldiers are getting a lot of money. some of them qualify for food stamps. but because it costs so much to keep a soldier in afghanistan. gasoline, fuel, $400 a gallon
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because of where it has to travel. so from now on i'm going to say that for every soldier we bring home, a million dollars, that's enough for a good green middle class job. for that soldier and 19 more, for every one of those soldiers, that will keep our country much safer. so i think judith's challenge to me but also the challenge to president obama is to say, we can't afford this war any long every. longer. the economic challenge for us at home is to say that we're not going to be able to have health care, we're not going to be able to rebuild our education system, we're not going to be able to create the new job requests as long -- jobs as long as we're spending these billions of dollars. if you look, peter, at the military budget this year and add the cost of the two wars, you know, when they do the military budget, they don't include the actual wars we're fighting. so if you add the military budget and the wars in iraq and afghanistan, it's over a
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trillion dollars. if we're wasting that, how do we ever imagine we're going to get out of this economic crisis that we're in right now? so that's what i think president obama should talk about. >> host: red forest tweets in, would you say that life in iraq is better or worse post-saddam? please explain. >> guest: i think that the years of war have been far worse for people in iraq. saddam hussein's regime was terribly repressive. but for ordinary iraqis day-to-day life went on. there were, there were hundreds of thousands of people who were imprisoned at various points, political prisoners, repression. but for most iraqis life went on. iraq had the most advanced health care system anywhere in the region. it's where wealthy saudis would go when they needed heart surgery or brain surgery. iraqis had the best education system, free right up through
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university and postgraduate work. in fact, iraqis traveled all over the world and then went home. they weren't all trying to escape their country. so life was hard in terms of political repression, but the social and economic rights of iraqis at that time were much better than during the war when we've seen over a million people killed as a result of this war. the years of sanctions killed hundreds of thousands. we know, we remember the famous statement from madeleine albright back in 1996 when she was asked on "60 minutes" what about the 500,000 children who have died as a result of u.s.-imposed sanctions, and without missing a beat she said, we think the price is worth it. at that moment i think the potential for the clinton administration to win public support in the arab world was gone. when madeleine albright said those words, we think the price is worth it, that 500,000
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children's lives was worth overturning saddam hussein's regime, i think -- which at that time hadn't even happened militarily but what was being tried through the use of sanctions -- i think that was when the possibility of winning over support for the u.s. was lost. >> host: don in haiku, hawaii. please, go ahead with your question. >> caller: yes, phyllis, good morning. or good afternoon there, i guess. i had heard you earlier say that iran is in violation of the iaea, and i had recently seen a documentary with scott ritter who said, no, iran is not in violation of agreements, and there's a complete balance of all the nuclear material. for one. for two, i had another, i have more questions regarding this 9/11 that the whole world's revolving around and this newest documents out, www www.missing
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links.com, explain more what happened on this fateful day, that two airplanes knocked down three buildings. and i'm just wondering what is it going to mean for jewish people in the united states should it be proven that israel staged a false attack on the united states on 9/11? >> guest: well, you raise a couple of important questions. on the first one, i think what scott ritter was referencing was that there is no iranian violation of the non-proliferation treaty which is the fundamental nuclear treaty that allows, of course, all non-nuclear weapon states, including iran, to build nuclear power plants, nuclear power capacity. and, of course, it also requires in article 6 that the five official recognized nuclear weapon states including the united states are obligated, obligated by law to move towards
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full and complete nuclear disarmament. and i think it's the u.s.' refusal to take that requirement or seriously that has led to so much of the nuclear proliferation around the world. on your second question, i think that -- i haven't seen evidence that there's a false flag issue. for me the question is not so much 9/11, but 9/12. i think what happened around the world as a result of the decision of the bush administration on september 12, 2001, is by far of greater import than the details of what happened on 9/11. the u.s. used that event which i consider a huge crime as an excuse to take the world to war, and we are still seeing the consequence of it. and i think it's stopping those wars that are being launched and waged and continued and expanded in the name of the so-called global war on terrorism whether or not the obama administration has decided not to use that term. they are still using that
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policy. so i think that's really what's the most important part of what we can do, is to stop those wars that are being waged in the name of 9/11. >> host: what should the u.s. do, in your view, phyllis bennis, to protect its national security? >> guest: i think we should start by redefining national security. i think that the united nations, for instance, has done some great work through the u.n. development program in defining human security and the new basis so that national security is no longer defined as what does the pentagon want, and what do your corporations want? unfortunately, in the u.s. that tends to be how we define national security. is the dow jones the highest-ranking stocks in the world, and is the pentagon the biggest and strongest military by such a huge margin that no other government, no other group of governments could ever imagine even matching our military capacity? i've got to say that doesn't make me feel safe, you know?
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i think that we need to start by recognizing that we live in an interconnected world. globalization on every level whether it's information technology, whether it's trade and all the inequalities that that has led to, the reality is that our world is far more integrated than ever before, and one of the consequences of that that i think we miss at our peril is understanding that we need to recognize that we cannot be secure and safe in a world that is not secure and safe. what we're seeing now around the world with the rise of new terrorist attacks, terrorist organizations springing up that never exist bed before -- existed before, it's in response to what is perceived in most cases rightly, sometimes maybe in an exaggerated way, is seen as the u.s. and sometimes its allies, nato, other countries coming in to control other countries around the world. the extraordinary work that's
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been done, for example, by robert pate, the political psychologist at the university of chicago, on the history of suicide bombings. he's looked at the history which, of course, began first in be india. that was the first accounts -- not the first. i mean, there's many earlier ones, but the modern phenomenon of suicide bombings began in sri lanka and then moved to the middle east, that the single most reason that an organization or a community or a country devolves into suicided bombing is foreign occupation. by another country. in most cases, by a democracy. so that's what's extraordinary about this. you see it in iraq, you see it in afghanistan. only after foreign occupation goes forward in other countries. it's something that has e emerged out of foreign
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occupation. not something that emerges out of a culture. this isn't about the 70 virgins or something. this is a political response in the context of a religious framework for political struggle. but it's a political response to a political reality, in this case foreign, foreign military occupation. so if you're serious about ending that horrific phenomenon, you have to start by ending the conditions that lead to it, in this case foreign military occupation. >> host: in her book, "challenging empire," the forward, by the way, by danny glover, actor, phillies bennis writes: in building internationalism, people's movements, dee find governments and the u.n. all have a role to play:
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glx next call for phyllis bennis comes from cal in sacramento. hi, cal. >> caller: hello there. yeah. i was curious about the question of rights and countries having rights. and it was, she's been talking for a while, or you've been talking for a long time about various humanitarian efforts, and i'm just kind of curious what rights do countries have, and are there boundaries to countries? >> guest: it's a very interesting question that cal raises. i think that we do live in a world that's defined by nation-states. is that my preferred way of organizing the world? no. but it is what exists. it is the world we live in. the world's organized by nation-states. those borders are not
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sacrosanct. sovereignty is always a shifting reality. we see that in the rise of what i once called in an article micronationallisms in the places like the former yugoslavia where you kind of imagine that the devolution of a country into several -- in that case seven separate countries -- could continue indeftly. you saw bosnia created and within bosnia the boss any yang serbs were saying they wanted a separate company, and there was a little group who said, well, no, but we -- so this could go on ad infinitum. i think that borders are something that are created as the result of power. .. that we can
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then control and we're going to do it specifically in ways that divide linguistic groups, et cetera, so that we can divide and conquer within each of these colonies. in the middle east, something very similar in 1922, when the vast territories of the ottoman empire, there was no longer an ottoman empire, the victors went in and said, go write a map and they went in and drew lines in the sand and created countries where there had been no countries. they didn't have the same issue of linguistic divergences and they created kuwait to make sure britain would have an independent access to oil in the
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region. when france was given other oil concessions. so it was -- it was things that were done that had nothing to do with people's lives. and where people lived. so i think that the rights of countries have to be understood in the context of the rights to their citizens. i think countries have more obligations than they do rights. >> you told us when we asked you what you were currently reading, you told us one of the books you're reading is steven kinser's latest reset, and you told us why because turkey is transforming the regional and global power dynamics in the part of the world i work on most and i don't know nearly enough about it. >> absolutely. i was in turkey in may and june of last year. i was there for a united nations conference on palestine. it happened just at the moment that the flotilla attack occurred, the israeli commandos
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who assaulted a turkish humanitarian aid ship that was part of a flotilla an international ship flotilla that was trying to break the flow of gaza of course leading to the death of nine turkish citizens one was a dual turkish and american citizen. and being in turkey at the moment that that occurred was an extraordinary experience just in terms of seeing how turks were responding to this. the let me of support of the new turkish government in the last few years is really quite extraordinary. democracy in turkey despite continuing contradictions that exist is flourishing in a whole new way. and one of the things that i've realized in recent years when i've been writing a lot about u.s. wars in the area looking at iraq and iran, for years i could only say there were two countries in the middle east that had the indigenous capacity to become regional powers.
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meaning they had money from oil. they had size of territory and population, and they had water. only two countries had both of those. those were iran and iraq. all the other countries had one or two but didn't have all three. israel has all three except size but it was not indigenous. it was -- the power was accessed from elsewhere. and i think from what we've seen is that with the attack on iraq, the destruction of the government of iraq, the occupation of iraq, iraq is no longer a country to become a regional power. the only one left is iran. iran remains in the crosshairs. it's very much a threat to u.s. hegemony in the region because it has the potential to be an independent power. suddenly without oil for money, turkey has risen with an extraordinary policy of wanting to have no enemies among its neighbors, which is an amazing
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thing to think about as the basis for a foreign policy. and it suddenly has the 17th largest economy in the world. without oil, based on tourism and, unfortunately, a lot of sweatshop labor but it's an economy that's growing enormously. it has a government that has much wider popular support than the earlier militarily based governments ever did. and it is engaged in a creative set of new foreign policies led by an extraordinarily quite brilliant foreign minister who is working to make relations with both europe -- it still wants to join the european union an important priority but not the only priority. it also wants to remain an important part of the middle east. so it's strengthening its ties with all the middle eastern countries and unlike the years of the iraq/iran conflict, which included, of course, the iran/iran war of the 1980s which was so devastating to -- over a
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million people were killed in that war, overwhelmingly young men in both countries, unlike that period, the relationship between turkey and iran is quite collaborative. they're not best buddies, of course. there's lots of contradictions. they have good working relationships. they have lots of trade and they do not see competition with each other as the only part of their relationship. so all of this is reformulating the whole middle east region and i find it fascinating and i don't know nearly enough. so i'm starting to try and study up. >> kurt in alford, new york, you're on with phyliss bennis. >> caller: yes, i was curious with the nuclear situation between pakistan and indiana and the internal conflict that they are experiencing where there is fear of a takeover from al-qaeda and taliban to acquire nuclear weapons or if, in fact, they could acquire them elsewhere?
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>> guest: i think the question of the relationship between india and pakistan, the nuclear relationship as well as the political and economic tensions, is a huge component of what get talked about not enough in u.s. discussion business what our policy should be in that region. and i think it's a very serious issue. what we're seeing in pakistan today -- i don't see the danger that pakistan's government is in danger of being taken over by al-qaeda. i don't think that's in any way a possibility. i think there is enormous -- an enormous set of problems that the government in pakistan faces. it's a very weak government. it's a very corrupt government. it's completely dependent on funding from the u.s. and it has very little support at home. that's a big problem because historically in pakistan, the military has been willing to take over. the military in pakistan is very strong. it's probably the strongest component of power. and so in that context, the notion of the military losing
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support of its nuclear arsenal i don't think is a problem. what is a problem is that the pakistani military continues to see that the best way to defend their potential interest in a post-u.s./afghanistan, is to support the afghan taliban, with whom they had a long-standing, two-decade relationship where we once supported. that's where the hypocrisy of u.s. policy he gets really frustrating at times. if we look back at the 1980s, it wasn't that long ago when russia was occupying, afghanistan and the u.s. was spending in weapons to the afghan mujahedeen through the pakistani military which were the sort of go betweens led by the isi, the pakistani intelligence agency which is the main supporters of the afghan taliban. and the u.s. continues to say as we hear from president obama and
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secretary of state clinton and admiral mullen of the joint chiefs and certainly general petraeus and his predecessors were very frustrated with the pakistani government not doing more to go after the afghan taliban based in their country. well, hello, they are not going to go after them, they are going to support them because they see them as their only possibility for having a surrogate in afghanistan later. now, why is that? it's because the u.s., iran, russia and india, crucially india, have all backed the same side in afghan's long running civil war. meaning, the so-called northern alliance. the non-punjab parts of the afghan government, which now they used to be called warlords. now they're called vice premiers and things like that. and now they are called the government but that's where you have this huge contradiction of u.s. policy. it's asking pakistan to give up the one part -- the one
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component of afghan power where pakistan traditionally has a base. and what pakistan is looking to for the future, to say just give up that. just stop supporting them for no particular reason when india, pakistan's long-standing opponent, long-standing competitor, is in the midst of the u.s./russian/iran center in afghanistan doing very well in afghanistan through its ties to the government. it's not realistic that the u.s. can ask pakistan to give that up without a much broader change in the military situation caused by its own occupation. >> host: this is booktv's "in depth," our guest this month author and activist, phyliss bennis. here's a list of her books beginning in 1990 she wrote from stones to statehood. she edit two books, beyond the storm, and altered states. in 2000, he published calling the shots and before and after was written in 2003. challenging empire in 2006,
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understanding the palestinian/israeli conflict in 2009. it was the first in her four-part so far primer series. included in that is ending the iraq war, also in '09. understanding the u.s.-iran crisis, '09. and then last year, end the u.s. war in afghanistan. richard, hauber hill, massachusetts, good afternoon. >> caller: good afternoon. phyllis, it's an honor to talk to you after that body of work he just showed. in 1961, you know, president eisenhower wanted the military industrial complex and now we've become a military power empire actually. and we have, what, 800 to 1,000 bases all over the world. and once the wall starts, it's just so hard to get out -- because the war profit ears because there's too much money being made by beginning war.
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we have more private contractors and private security all over afghanistan and in iraq. in the meantime, we're collapsing within our own country. everything is falling apart. our educational system -- we don't have the jobs. we're bankrupt. and even i read a piece the other day, even our state parks and national parks are crumbling. even the laboratories in some of these parks are crumbling, so my point is, priorities are way out of whack and isn't this how all empires collapse by expanding and not taking care of our own problems within? >> guest: well, that's a very important challenge for all of us. a good friend of mine and a colleague bobbenson wrote a book a few years ago called citizens of empire. it's been one of the books i go back frequently because i think it raises exactly the challenges that we've just heard, identified. that every time there's an empire, empires fall. empires collapse.
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and in the past, empires have most often collapsed with great fire and violence including to the people of that empire. that was certainly true of the romans and it's been true more recently than that. and what bob jensen challenged us with in his book of citizens of empire. because of the instruments of democracy which in our country which is as flawed as could be and being shredded as we speak, we're losing much of our democracy but we still have major parts of it. we still have democratic capacity in this country and we still have the possibilities for a global movement. we still have the chance for a global -- a global organization to come together and people around the world fighting against wars and empire. that we can do that using the tools of nonviolence. the tools of democracy without the kind of destruction that we've seen. the basis that -- was it richard just now who called?
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>> host: yes. >> guest: we have almost 1,000 foreign military bases. they cost hundreds of billions of dollars of our tax money. do we really think that keeps us safe when we see the opposition -- the fact that in ecuador, the base, after a huge public debate in the country -- because the u.s. said we'll give you more money if you keep the base open. the government not only agreed to cancel the base's lease and throw the u.s. out but said they rewrote the constitution to prohibit any foreign military base from being built in their country. in italy, we're seeing a very wealthy industrial town where there's already been a u.s. base next to a nato base for a long time but they wanted to build another base, another airstrip that goes within 100 meters of the great mansions of the -- oh, god i'm going to forget his
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name. the great renaissance architect whose name will come to me two hours after the show tonight, i'm sure. but it's doing tremendous damage and the very wealthiest citizens of the town have come out to protest, not because they are against war or against nato necessarily but because it's ruining their town. this is happening all around the world. in guam, everywhere in the world, we're seeing opposition to u.s. bases and all that goes with it. if we just shut down half of them, we would be saving hundreds of billions of dollars. we would be making ourselves far more popular in the world and it would be the beginning of dismantling this empire of that when he sees unfortunately, one of the things that makes it difficult is the military industrial complex that richard spoke of, that president eisenhower first identified, has been very, very strategic in how they've gone about their
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business. one of the things they do is how to make sure they continue to get more support in congress. so what do they do? when they build anything, a plane, a bomber, a new bomb technology, they don't build it in one place. they make sure that there are components being built in every congressional district all around the country. so when the decision to give money to that project comes up, everybody in concentration, 435 members of the house and 100 members of the senators are not going to dare vote for it because there's 10 jobs or 1,000 jobs in their district that depend on that new bomber and they've been brilliant at making sure that almost every one of those congressional districts has some job that somebody depends on. that means our work is much harder. >> host: when people ask you how
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you identify yourself politically, how do you? >> guest: oh, dear. >> host: are you a socialist? are you a progressive? are you a liberal? are you a capital? >> guest: you know, i cut my political teeth in an era where there was a great song by the great folk singer phil oaks who wrote some of the great protest songs that was called love me i'm a liberal. and it was this very cynical song about people who call themselves liberal except when it came to them. so there was one line that said, i'll spend all the money you ask for but don't ask me to come on along. it was the liberal that those of us who called ourselves radicals, you know, were thought and selling out. language changes and liberal seems to be the word that's most common. other things i think progressive. progressive is probably the one that's the most useful these days in terms of describing what i actually do. so maybe i would say progressive. i certainly would say left. socialist, it seems like the era of socialism as we once knew it
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is kind of over. we need a new kind of egalitarianism that takes into account the environment, for instance. one of the biggest things that my part of the movement, the antiwar movement, the student movement of the '60s, never really took into account was the environment. and that's huge. that's a huge part -- i remember one guy in my old sds group back when i was probably 17 or 18 saying, if we don't take the environment seriously, class struggle will be the equivalent to changing deck chairs on the titanic and that slogan stayed with me. but i never to my distress now -- i never really took seriously the need to really intergrate environmental understanding and climate understanding, climate justice into every bit of the work we do. we're just starting now to do that. and whether we're too late remains unclear. >> host: freeland, michigan, glenn. you're on booktv. hi. >> caller: hi, yes, thank you, everyone. i have a couple of things to ask
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mrs. bennis, about nato and russia. a few years ago, i think it was ron paul or barney frank or someone like that said that we have -- i think it was 100,000 u.s. troops none of western europe. and you can't find anyone to tell them what they're defending against. i was wondering, does she think -- i know nato is in afghanistan. technically i guess it's in our nato mission here in afghanistan. they don't seem very eager about that. and i understand what the history and everything by some of the eastern european state would like to nato around. but does she think nato is
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relevant and we promised russia we wouldn't expand nato after that. i think it was the first president bush that we would expand nato. >> guest: we have indeed broken that promise and i think you raised a very key question. i don't think nato has any relevance. i think it's a military -- a u.s.-controlled military alliance in search of a mission. we're going to be hearing more and more about that. the nato summit that just occurred a couple months ago in lisbon was taking up that. we saw it back in 1999 when there was the first effort to craft a new -- a new definition for the nato alliance when its whole reason to be was to defeat the soviet union had now happened. whether nato was going to take credit of it or not is not really important.
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what was important instead of acknowledging, we were created to do something. that thing that we wanted to be done has happened. so what do we do now? do we declare victory and go home? apparently not. we decide we'll stay together as a u.s.-controlled military alliance that's expanding and expanding including this notion of how we're threatening russia by expanding through ukraine, right up to the borders of russia in a very hostile manner. when there is no clarity of what's the threat. nato is now the main instrument against al-qaeda. so this is -- we're turning the cold war into the war against terrorism. so everybody gets to be in it who's not al-qaeda? it's all very unclear. i mean, there's talk about whether australia should join nato. should israel join nato. and i'm thinking, what? whatever happened to north atlantic, you know? so i think -- i spent some days last year in april of 2009 at the no to war, no to nato
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protest in stausberg. i haven't been teargassed that badly in a pretty long time. >> host: how many times have you been teargassed? >> guest: i don't know exactly. but in my youth, as a student activist, teargas was fierce and flying a lot. >> host: but back to stausberg. >> guest: but back to stausberg, we were managed to get away from the most of it but it was a pretty bad back. we had to hike back to 8 miles to the hotel because the whole city was under armed control of the military. it was a joint french and german military. they had 30,000 troops there. not police but troops to, quote, secure the city. and we had a legal place for the mobilization but when the teargas started we were blocked off and we couldn't get back to where we needed to go so we had to hike essentially around the entire city. it was a pretty interesting day. but it was -- it was fascinating because there were people from
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all over europe that were there saying not only to the war in afghanistan, which was, of course, nato's major focus at that time and still but no nato as a military alliance saying we don't -- we don't want the u.s. telling our militaries what to do and we don't want our militaries using the existence of nato as an excuse to expand. it's a huge problem in europe as well as it is here. that the military budgets, although they are smaller than here, its much bigger than to protect people. you need some kind of military presence in an era of nation states and the possibilities of war. but you don't need what we've got. these militaries that can go all around the world and wage war in other people's countries. this is not what we should be signing up for. >> host: dan, denver, colorado, good afternoon. you're on booktv's "in depth" with phyllis bennis. >> caller: hi, two questions if
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i may. first of all, in 1964, with a bunch of students started free speech in berkley and they didn't start com list red world and they wanted meaningful dog and while you were young and demonstrating, a lot of people were debating the vietnam war. and the debate was very rational, and very important. so that then by the time the pentagon papers came out, everybody had a sort of common point so they wouldn't be all sorts of hysterics what we do with vietnam. unfortunately, it is internet did not promote. it promotes more monolog and as a result we're having stupid wars that are repeating with the stupid mistakes that occurred with vietnam and nobody can debate them because nobody is interested on debate, they are either on one side or the other. the other point i i'm bringing up. i'm reading jewish state or israeli nation and it brings up a very interesting question.
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you know, there's myth of a pure line jewish population that's coming back to the homeland based on a lot of myths and then there's the zionists that's based a lot on what they do on total lies. and tremendous opposition within the jewish community. 70% of world community thinks israel is a nice place to visit but not to live. my question could it be that the behavior of the -- the leaders now is more based on fear of losing the jewish support outside of israel and scaring the israelis through the lennenist concept or polarized or mother-in-lawized or they were polarized jews and have them -- >> >> host: we got the point. phyllis. >> guest: the first question, i think there are still lots of
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educational outlets including a teach-in. we did a big one on the iraq war a few years ago. we brought in people like naomi klein and others to talk about the contractors in iraq. what that was all about. the economics behind it. and we took questions and it was great interactive thing. and the tape of that, the cd of it and the online version of it went viral as people like to say now. was used all over the country by other antiwar organizations. and i think was very helpful in helping to shape some of that dialog. i'll stick to one aspect of dan's second question which is on the divides within the jewish community. i think that there is enormous shifting going on right now in the political discourse the political discussions in this country across-the-board but in the jewish community more than anywhere else. i think that the rise of
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organizations like jewish voice for peace which now has chapters in, i don't know, 10 or 15 different cities around the u.s. have 100,000 members. there's a host of organizations like that. the big coalition that i work with, the u.s. campaign to end the israeli occupation has about 325 organizations. of those there's probably 25 or 30 that are jewish-specific organizations. jews against the occupation, jewish voice for peace, many more. we're seeing extraordinary emotion among young jews. there was a moment just a few weeks ago in new orleans when israeli prime minister netanyahu was speaking -- not to the council of presidents the jewish federation council, one of the biggest of the national pro-israel jewish organizations in the u.s. and when -- in his speech, he began to attack those who would to try to undermine the legitimacy of israel's policies of occupation and apartheid. and as he began, a young jewish
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man in the audience stood up, pulled out from under his shirt a cloth banner that said, it's the occupation that delegitimatizes israel and he began to shout it at netanyahu and people were stunned. this was one of their own, you know, this young jewish man. and as he was hustled out a young woman stood up somewhere else in the room and pulled out another banner that said, it's the -- i forget -- but basically they were saying the same thing. it's the occupation, it's the policies that delegitimatize israel and she was hustled out and there were five of them. one after another. and you saw in the faces of some of the people in the audience, the incredible anger. how dare you. because it was not just opposition. it was opposition from within. and this is why it was so important, i think, that we're seeing this rise in jewish opposition where if they ever could, if they ever could claim that organizations like aipac,
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that say israel right or wrong, ever spoke for the majority of jews, certainly that's not the case now. that discourse has changed democratically and those who are committed to changing the policies is to get that link between the policy shift and how that can come after this shift in discourse. the discourse is already shifting. now what do we do to get the policy to recognize it. >> host: i want to read you a quote from the bestselling nonfiction book of 2010. >> guest: that's not mine, i assume. [laughter] >> host: as i thought more about the turmoil in the middle east, i concluded that the fundamental problem was the lack of freedom in the palestinian territories. with no state, palestinians lack their rightful place in the world. with no voice in their future, palestinians were ripe for recruiting by extremists and with no legitimately elected palestinian leader committed to fighting terror, the israelis had no reliable partner for
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peace. i believe the solution was a democratic palestinian state led by elected officials who would answer to their people, reject terror and pursue peace with israel. and that is from george w. bush's decision points. >> guest: that sounds like like every former official who writes their memoir when they are out of office. the discourse of officialdom in this city where you and i live, peter, is very different than the discourse as people. the discourse of people in power seems to be one that -- number one ignores international law. you know, we hear over and over again, the issue of settlements -- we heard it for a while from president obama, settlements are wrong and there should be a settlement freeze. well, first of all, that was insufficient because they're not just wrong. they are illegal. the israeli answer which gets then accepted and has now been accepted by the u.s. is settlements are one of of a
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number of issues that should be decided by negotiations. well, i wouldn't think you need to negotiate violations of the law. when a robber steals a car, you don't have to negotiate with the robber over what are the terms on which you might return that car? you take the car back and give it to the rightful owners. now, as it turns out, several people in obama's own party believes that. i was stunned by that. one of the most recent polls -- it was during last year's sort of -- the u.s. and israel fighting over settlements which i should say not a real fight over settlements. a real fight to israel, you need to stop fighting over israel and israel say no. you can do what you want but, you know, the $30 billion we've promised you over these 10 years in military aid, you can kiss that goodbye and do you know how we protect you in the security council so that you're never held accountable for violations of international law, we're not
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going to do that anymore. and you know how this year we made sure that in the international atomic energy agency, nobody would even request that you actually sign the nonproliferation treaty and bring your unacknowledged nuclear arsenal under international supervision, we're going to stop that. that's step one towards real pressure. so first of all, there was no real pressure. but there was a bit of back and forth about it. during that time there was a poll taken by one of the big democratic pollsters, the zogby groups and one of the questions they asked was on the issue of settlements. what do you think about settlements? and the question was asked like this, it said the israelis are building settlements in the palestinian territories, which of the following two sentences best describes what you think about that. so sentence number one was, israelis build settlements for security purposes. and they have the right to build wherever they want. sentence number two was, something like israeli settlements are built on palestinian land.
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they should be torn down and the land returned to its original owners. that's a very provocative approach. but those were the two choices. 63% of democrats chose sentence number two. i was stunned to see that it was that high given how provocative the language was. but the key is that it's linked to international law, which it turns out like the united nations, despite what our government would like to believe, our people in this country actually care about international law. actually care about the united nations. u.n. resolutions. we actually don't want our government to act like a rogue state. so on this question of, whether international law should come up when we're talking about israeli-palestinian arrangements this is a fight we shouldn't be having but we do. international law is never in the language. when hillary clinton talks about what our position should be, she never talks about we should be
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standing in favor of international law and whoever violates it should be held accountable. the gold stone report which was decried as being unsided, et cetera, despite the fact that it held both sides for vialses, but clearly there were more violations on the israeli side because that's been the history of that completely unequal conflict. there may well be violations on one side. they should be held accountable but on the israeli is where the massive amount of violations are. they should be held accountable. the u.s. position was, we stand against goldstone. it's biased. it's unacceptable and we're going to do everything we can to get rid of it. i think that's a big problem. because what it says to the world is, we don't care about international law except to protect our own interests. and it goes back to this issue of empires. if we look at the -- at the greeks, the ancient greeks. in the ancient greek writing, when you had the athenians and the armenians, you had the
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artonight. ians who are supposed to be the democrats. they are the more advanced civilizations. they start feeling nervous that their fragile democracy is in trouble so they figure they are going to start to expand and they go to milos and they say we're taking your island and the others say we don't think so. we're taking your island and we're bigger and stronger than you and we're taking it. what can democracy they say. and the athenians come back and say for us there is democracy. for you, there is the law of the powerful. this is what the u.s. is doing. we're saying, international law is what we use to explain why we're going to overthrow saddam hussein but if it's us or our friends, in the case of israel, international law simply does not apply. that's not good. >> host: this is booktv's "in depth" program. our guest this month, phyllis benn bennis. we recently visited her at home to see her writing style.
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>> guest: i live in an amazing part of town, a part of washington that is perhaps the most mixed both economically and racially. it's a lot of latinos, although increasingly some of them are being squeezed out now. it's a lot of kind of everybody. it's jentrifying way faster than we want we're holding back the gentrification part. there's a weekly latino market. all weekend. every weekend. just around the corner from here. and there's a great farmers market on saturday mornings. and it's walking distance to pretty much everything i need to get to. from the zoo to my office to protest at the white house. so it's a pretty great location. i have my books sort of in different places. my own books in one place, books by friends in one place so i can see them. and then books more or less by subject. these are more or less
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israel-palestine, zionism, the whole history of the region. this is sort of my afghanistan books. these are the newer ones because my newest book is about afghanistan. these are about iraq in here. and then they get all mixed up because i'm constantly taking it out and putting it back swlels these are books about vietnam. a lot of them from vietnam. others about vietnam. i spent years of my life working against the war in vietnam in the last few years of the war and then after the war, working on the relationship between the u.s. and vietnam. trying to build some kind of solidarity with people in vietnam. trying to force the u.s. to make good on its commitments, its reparations promises that it never made good on, same as it's doing on iraq and other places. and this photograph actually was from hanoi in 1978, just a few years after the end of the war. i was on a delegation of the national lawyers guild. we were being welcomed by the vietnamese lawyers association. and the prime minister, the
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leader of vietnam at the time -- i mean, it was one of those extraordinary moments of having the opportunity to be there right afterwards seeing how people were still coping, how the bomb-craters were beginning to be made as fish ponds and it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life in terms of seeing a war from the other side. this is from the first anniversary of the war in iraq in 2004. i had been speaking in rome at the big protest center. there was a million people in the streets in rome protesting the war. for me it was a very powerful moment of seeing that mobilization. this was following -- it was a year after the rally when the world said no to war in february of 2003. when there were demonstrations in 665 cities all around the world. and the "new york times" the next day came out and admitted that we had all known at that point. it said on the front page, once
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again there are two superpowers in the world. the u.s. and global public opinion. i tend to write here in this study in the morning. and i tend, as you can kind of sort of see i tend to go the old fashion ways. i clip newspapers. i read the newspapers in the morning. i clip them, i know it's not as easy as using online versions but somehow for me having a stack of clippings that i can leaf through and remember there was something i know that was there and i can go through and find it and i'll go through what i think based on what i've been reading, what i've been thinking about, what i've been talking about with other people for the last six months or the last three years or whatever it is. and i'll just start writing. and i tend to be one of those people who writes in fairly simple language. i write the way i speak. and for me it makes the writing part in some ways the easiest. the harder part is figuring out
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what my framework is, getting all the facts that i need to get in there. once i have all that -- that's the hard part. sitting down and actually writing, a lot of times i'm almost board with it and i want to get it done fast. i do a quick rewrite and i send it off to the editors. you do what you want. you guys take care with it. i'm not possessive about my writin writing. ♪ ♪
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>> host: 30 years of reading pablo memoirs. what is that? >> guest: it's by far the most extraordinary book i've ever read. i think that i got the book shortly after he died, in the middle of coup in chile in 1973. i had known his name only in the vaguest sense. and heard about it, bought the book and thought, oh, my god, what a life this man has led. as a poet, as a communist, as a senator, as a diplomat, as a savior too a bunch of refugees in the spanish civil war and in the midst of it such incredible
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life. his friends, his lovers and his poetry. it's a book that says i can do it and why can't you; i didn't do it all, nobody can. but the discussion -- one part in particular i'll never forget where he envisions the names of cities, beautiful names. he talks about these areas and he talks about the opportunity to go to these places that once were just spots on a map and how excited he is to go there. and he talked about going to mongolia and drinking fermented horse milk which is the national alcoholic drink. well, you can make a face like that. but when i had the opportunity back in 2005 -- '4, to go to mongolia for a u.n. conference which frankly was not one of the more important conferences and if it was held in new york i
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probably wouldn't have bothered but the opportunity to go to mongolia was completely driven by my recollection of pablo's memoirs and after the conference when i had a day and a half to go out and explore the country and see the horses -- of course, the horse ran away with me and i road a camel and the one light, their latern on the top of the stop and the driver had driven off the -- off the road, up the step to meet this incredible family who talked about the challenge of modernity versus their traditional nomadic way of life. their oldest son would inherit the herd. the second son was going to go to school. he had been in school already. and he wanted to go and study in germany 'cause he had learned german, it was just an amazing opportunity to see close up what it means for people to face this kind of transition in their country. and then they gave me a whole bowl of fermented horse milk and said, see how you do with that.
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and i'm glad to see that i did not -- i would not have made pablo embarrassed, i think. i managed to get through about a third of it. >> host: would you drink it again? >> guest: it depends on the circumstances. if i was a family with their hospitality in a minute, in a heartbeat. would i choose it it's not that bad but it sounds rather dramatic. >> host: how did you end up in the sds in santa barbara? >> guest: oh, dear. that's a good question. well, before that, in high school, i had been clean for jean. i had been one of the mccarthy kids as we called ourselves. who was already feeling very engaged politically. i was working -- i did work on the mccarthy campaign in high school, which as we know didn't get very far but it did organize this children's crusade of flower power and all so that i was already thinking in the
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context of the civil rights movement. i was a bit too young to have seen the high points of that firsthand in a conscious way. but i vaguely knew about it. one of my first rabbis was somebody who had supported king and had attacked to us about social justice. so i had grown up with that. very much as part of my life. my parents supported civil rights. so that part was part of it and then when it came to vietnam, as soon as i got to santa barbara, i was originally going to go to berkeley i ended up at santa barbara because of a bureaucratic snafu. and once i was given the chance to go back to berkeley, i thought you know what? i'm already thinking about this i'm just a going to stay here and do it. i think it might have been very different if i went to berkeley i think i might have been much more an academic as i was and not much involved politically because everybody there was and i was trying to be a rebel in a different way perhaps. so in santa barbara, i got involved with sds early, the
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black student union. we worked closely with them and the latino student moment, the coalition of the three groups, the sds, the shicano students and the black students. we ran and won control of student government. so i suddenly was made the chair of the lectures committee, which meant -- i mean, in 1969, 1970, what i knew was who do people want to hear? so we want to hear the chicago conspiracy defendants. and i brought all of them to the campus. i brought angela davis. i brought somebody -- i don't remember his name. somebody from the french student revolt of '68. and that was sort of how i spent my student years. >> host: when we were in the little break that we just took -- and by the way, we're going to get back to phone calls in just a minute. our guest is phyllis bennis. 737-0001 for the east and central time zone. 737-0002 for the pacific and mountain time zones. when we were in a a little break
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you told me you spent 20 years as a private eye. >> guest: i did. that was big part of how i made a living while i was doing all this other stuff. what i considered my real work which was my political work. but i had worked -- i had gone to work for the national lawyers guild as an organizer. the guild is an organization of progressives if we look at which words we use. progressives legal workers and law students. i had been in a legal collective in santa barbara learning some basic paralegal skills and then i went to work as an organizer for the guild and when i came back i went to south dakota. i went out to sioux falls and spent six months worked out of the trials that came out of the wounded knee occupation and i learned a great deal in that -- in that trial, both about native culture and what aim was about, the american indian movement and i also learned about jury investigation which i became very involved in. and i did the jury investigation for the first case where we
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actually got the case dismissed for the inability to impanel a fair nonracist jury in that district. and the judge kept saying, but i'll give you a change of venue, and we said, sorry. we have a right to be tried in our home county with a fair jury. and after six weeks of putting jurors on trial, we were able to prove that you could not get a fair jury for native people in sioux falls, south dakota. and then when i went back to los angeles, i was working with some of the lawyer guilds, lawyers, leonard wineglass in particular who had done the chicago conspiracy trial and the pentagon papers trial and others and i started working with him and doing jury selection in some of those political cases. we did a lot of iranian student cases during the antishah protests. i worked with him on a bunch of political cases. and i remember to him he said one day, why don't you get a license so we can get you court appointment and get you paid directly and i thought licensed as a what? as a private investigator and i
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said you can do that. he said of course you can. just go get your license and i said, okay. and i tried and sure enough it turned out -- it was a sort of silly set of requirements and i started working. and for a while i did work for three years as a public defender investigator which was more of a full-time thing where i did criminal defense in the bay area. but the rest of the time, that is what i did, process serving and jury investigation to make a living while i was doing my political work. >> host: phyllis bennis is our guest. this is "in depth" on booktv. bill, matthews, virginia, you're on the air. >> caller: yes, i have two questions for ms. bennis. the first question is what do you think of the supreme court decision, the money given to organizations designated by the government as terrorists even though it's nonterrorist purposes can be prosecuted and a related question is, the supreme court has decided that money is speech. why isn't this speech?
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and i'll take my answer off the air. thank you. >> guest: you raised some very important points. the supreme court decision in citizens united last year was, i think, by far the most significant, wide ranging and damaging, horrifying decisions that we've had in a very long time. that gives corporations unlimited right to influence our elections. which means given their economic control, the right to control our elections. it's a very incredibly dangerous development. the earlier question about the ruling in the case of the humanitarian law project case, it was called humanitarian law project versus holder, that case was a very dangerous case because what it says is not only that it's illegal to give money to an organization that's been defined as a terrorist organization. that's bad enough if the money is to be used for a school or health care or something else. but it also says that it will be
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illegal to provide services up to and including legal representation. so a lawyer fighting to get them off the terrorism list, for example, could be charged with terrorism. something like the teaching a class in how to do nonviolent activities, to be an alternative for an organization that perhaps has used violence in its past. that will be illegal. training people in how to access the united nations human rights system would be illegal under this ruling. so it's a devastating ruling that expands way beyond any -- what i would consider any kind of legitimate concern about the real threat of terrorism. >> host: linda, pennsylvania, good afternoon. caller: you bring up so many possible things to say. but the main reason that i called was to recommend a book to add to your list of books to
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read. and for everyone to read was an interview -- it was held yesterday on c-span by a former pentagon advisor about the military industrial complex's power in this country. and the book was written by a man named buck mccann. it's called prophets of war of war. and he talks about from the beginning of this -- this was back in the 30s when this -- a man named gross, bob gross, i believe, began a little plane company that became a huge
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business all the way up until today. and i'm going to get the book and read it because the detail it goes into and the ridiculous amounts of money are just so easily talked about and gotten by these companies, lockheed martin among them, is just -- it just makes your blood boil. >> guest: yes, you raise a very important point, linda. i would have thought the title was profits of war, spelled the other way, which i think is one of the biggest problems we face right now which is the wars are profitable. the wars in iraq and including the expansions that we're seeing in yemen and somalia and pakistan, et cetera -- these are the first wars in u.s. history since the civil war that were not accompanied by a law to prevent war profiteering.
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colleagues of mine at ips, particularly my colleague sarah anderson every year does a report on ceo pay levels in the u.s. and each year the report indicates things like the number of times greater than the average worker salary, ceos are making -- it's been a high at more than 500 times worker salaries. now it's slightly lower than that. it's about 250 or so. 250 times the average salary of a worker. but besides that, it always targets a certain set of poster children if you will and a couple of years ago, the poster boys for this set of ceos that were ripping off people so badly were the ceos of the war
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industries that were reaping a killing from what they were producing for the war efforts in iraq and afghanistan. and it's -- it's a horrifying thing to read. it's frightening to see the power that these corporations have, that the most -- the best paid, the most lavish -- not just lifestyles but the amount of economic power goes to the people whose companies are producing weapons of death and destruction. >> host: phyllis bennis is our guest on "in depth." here's a list of her books. 1990, from stones to statehood. she then edit two books, beyond the storm and altered states. in 2000, calling the shots was published. before and after was written in 2003. challenging empire in 2006. then she began a primer series. and the first one in that series was understanding the palestinian-israeli conflict
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2009. following by ending the iraq war. in 2009. understanding the u.s.-iran crisis. are there parallels to be drawn between the vietnam protests and the buildup to the iraq war in 2003? .. >> guest: when people all around the world held protests on the
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street on the same day, in 665 cities across the world with. it began as the sun rose in the south pacific in australia, new zealand, some of the small island states, and then essentially followed the sun throughout the day and in capitals around the world there were the largest demonstration ever held in, whether it was -- and it was particularly true in the countries where troops had been mobilized, governments forced by the u.s. to join what was known as the coalition of the willing, places like london, , in mad kid, in barcelona. these were governments that were going to war with the u.s. and, of course, in the u.s. in new york at the foot of the united nations and also in san francisco there were millions of people. the guinness book of world records said that it was the largest protest ever held in the history of humanity on one day, and it was somewhere between 12 and 14 million people. and it was one of the most extraordinary things.
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i think by that time, peter, i think most of us who had been involved in organizing -- and it had been over just a six week period, it's been a very rapid decision at a global movement, a global meeting of the world social forum had decided we should all do a protest on february 15th. and lo and behold, it actually happened that way just six weeks later. i think most of us knew the war was going to happen anyway, but there was this scrap of hope somewhere that if there was a massive enough mobilization and, indeed, what we saw that day -- i was in new york. the day before was the day the security council had met, february 14th. and that day amazing things had happened. in the council for the fist time when the french foreign minister -- this is after the two u.n. inspectors had come in and said we don't have evidence of mass destruction, we can't move it yet, but we have no evidence.
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and in response the french foreign ministers said the united nations must be an instrument of war -- i'm sorry, an instrument for peace and not a tool for war. and the security council burst into applause. it had never happened. and the next morning before the rally began i went with a very small group led by bishop tu tu of south africa to visit kofi annan, then the secretary general of the united nations, and we got through this frozen zone isolated by the police where we weren't allowed to be, but we had a police escort. and we got up to the 38th floor and bishop tutu said we are here on behalf of the people marring in 665 cities around the world, and we're here to tell you we claim the united nations as our own. and it was this amazing moment of, oh, my god, this is what things could look like. and later that day -- and we had gone back out. it was the coldest day of the year, it was 18 degrees in new york. there was this bitter wind off
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the east river. back stage they were passing out little hand warmers to put in your gloves because people were shaking so much. and i went out to speak, everyone went out to speak. 30 seconds was what -- no, 60 seconds we were given to speak. it was sort of ridiculous. then backstage all of a sudden somebody got a call on their cell phone that a wire story had just come across the ap wire, and the story was just two lines. but they thought it was important, and can they called it back to us. i had scribbled it down on a flyer, and i convened the lead people and said, i don't know what we should do, should we tell people this? maybe it's not true, but the story's important. the story said: stunned by the outpour being of global criticism of the war, the u.s. and british authorities today announced they would no longer seek a second resolution for war, that their resolution in the u.n. would not call for war. of it was huge. because it meant that it worked. and so i was pushed back out on stage a second time.
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somebody said, you're the u.n. person, phyllis, go take this and read it. and i looked out at this crowd that was now at about half a million, 500,000 people shivering and be another couple hundred thousand we heard later the police hadn't allowed into the area because there was no more space or for whatever other reasons. i just added one line. i said, for anybody who thinks our protests don't matter, listen up. and i read this little two-line clip from ap. and the crowd just roared. it was one of the most extraordinary things that anybody ever gets to participate in. and at the end of the day we didn't get to stop the war, but it did transform things. it made sure that everyone in the world knew that this war was illegal. it made clear that whatever the u.s. did, it did not have global support, that this was not a war that the people of the world supported. and that the governments who supported it were going to pay a price. as we saw the government of spain fell less than a year
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later as a result of it. so it was one of those amazing moments i'll never forget. >> host: ina, dallas, texas. you're on with phyllis bennis. >> caller: i'm overwhelmed, phyllis, to be able to talk to you. it's been so long since i have heard anyone articulate what i really think and feel. it's just amazing to hear you. you've just done so much. i live in dallas, texas, and you can imagine that might be a conservative state. they elected this governor again. but in dallas county we have a lot of progressives. and in dallas county we are electing progressive individuals. and i belong to a group of women called, that call ourselves the democratic divas. we get together, we protest for health care and other things, and we have a lot of fun. and i'm going to have to tell
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them all about you. but i just wanted to say thank you for articulating what you have and letting us know that there are people out there like us that feel this way, and i would like you to put down your e-mail address again so that everyone can keep in touch. and can i'd like you to tell us what we, as individuals or as groups, can do to bring these wars to an end and bring the money home so that -- and, of course, the lives that are being lost is just, oh, horrendous. and we need to bring the money home and use it in our country, provide jobs and fix the infrastructure and provide -- >> host: all right, ina, we got the point. i don't think we put your e-mail address up, but i do think we put up your -- >> guest: web site. >> host: web site. and we will put that up again, ina, and they can contact you through that? >> guest: absolutely. thank you, ina, so much for what you said. i think right now particularly in this next period when the congress is going to be very,
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very difficult for people who are trying to end wars and deal with unemployment, for instance, i think that we're going to see more and more of our political work focused at the local level. the kinds of work we did in the run up to the war in iraq that was called cities for peace. i think we're seeing that now where we're going to see efforts to get city council resolutions saying we want to bring the money home, that we don't want to use it on more soldiers, we want to use it for more jobs. i think that's going to become more and more a feature of what's going to -- what that's going to look like in this new period. >> host: k.p. in morehead, minnesota. good afternoon. >> caller: good afternoon. i really admire ms. bennis for what she has embodied in this show. i have a few statements that i would like ms. bennis to make a comment. can you draw an analogy between the u.s. policy for not withdrawing or its continued
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occupation in afghanistan with churchill's speech on 18th march, 1931, and i quote: to abandon india to the rule of -- [inaudible] would be an act of cruel and wicked negligence, unquote. and also would like to also make -- wish to, wish her to make a comment on the state of affairs of today's india in spite of the bloodshed that occurred in 947. >> guest: well, thank you. these are very complex questions. i think that there certainly is a claim that the u.s. makes that we can't leave afghanistan because of what will happen if taliban comes back. and the answer is, i think, we are making it worse, not were the. not better. we are encouraging people to join the taliban, we are strengthening the taliban. when the u.s. attacks, the taliban fades away, it moves somewhere else and emerges
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somewhere else. the military part of it is a game of what can a mole. but the bottom line is the taliban are an indigenous organization of afghanistan. when they won power in 1996 after several years of a devastating civil war, it wasn't only because they won militarily. they did, but they also won massive popular support because they promised to end the fighting among the war lords. and they did so. they did so brutally and with tremendous repression socially, particularly for women, but they did end that fighting. and that was what so many people in afghanistan wanted. kabul had been brought to ruin in that war on the warlords. and it was the promise to end it that got the taliban so much support. so i think that we hear that, but we have to recognize that what the u.s. is doing does not match that rhetoric. if goal of the u.s. is to allow the afghans to establish their own government based on their own traditions, their own
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culture, their own kind of government, we have to get out of the way and let them do that. we have to insure that there is regional negotiations going on, that there are regional diplomatic moves but without controlling it, without trying to impose our own government whether it's karzai or somebody else. the u.s.-imposed government is not going to work. the repression of the taliban is terrible, but these warlords in the government are no better. we sometimes think it's a question of there's the taliban bad, government good. the reality is the cultural things that we respond to, i think, in a visceral way -- particularly some of the horrific attacks on women -- did not start with the taliban. one of the most horrific and i think, peter, you've heard of these cases where young girl students have had acid thrown in their face by islamist factions that don't want them to go to school. that practice didn't start with the taliban. that started back in 1976 by a
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young afghan student attica bull university at at the time who became somebody who in the 1980s was one of the lead members of the mujahideen who was brought to the white house by president reagan, introduced as one of the newfound being fathers of the new afghanistan, introduced to the world as a great hero. that same person was the one who went back to afghanistan and is now part of the resistance -- not the taliban, another organization of his own -- but he was the one who first invented this horrific idea of throwing acid in the face of girl students. so the problems that face women in afghanistan are much broader than just the taliban. there's one great story and we'll take other calls. there's a young woman from afghanistan who became the youngest member of the new parliament.
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she was in strasbourg at the time of this anti-nato protest that i was at last year. we were tear gassed together, in fact. and this extraordinary young woman who has faced death threats, who can go back to afghanistan now only in disguise -- she can't go openly because there have been several assassination attempts against her, several of them too close -- but she said something that i found very important. she said, you know, in civil society in afghanistan we women, we face three enemies that create chaos and bloodshed in our country. we face the taliban, we face this horrifying government of warlords, and we face the u.s. occupation. if you can get rid of the u.s. occupation, we'll only have two. and i thought, that's a very good way to put it. it doesn't mean that ending the u.s. occupation of afghanistan is going to turn afghanistan into switzerland. it does mean that it's a step towards allowing the afghans to reclaim their country. >> host: here's an e-mail, what
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is your view on the extraordinary silence of american foreign policymakers and the administration on pakistan's role in the horrific terrorist attacks in india? >> guest: i think that the u.s. is facing this very tricky foreign policy challenge. on the one hand, they're trying to build a strategic relationship with india because they see india, appropriately, as one of the rising new economic powers along with china. so the relationship with india is partly to bolster a u.s. presence vis-a-vis china, not quite against china, but certainly as an alternative, an asian alternative to china in a sense. and at the same time they have to continue some kind of strategic connection to the afghans -- sorry, to the pakistani government and military because that's the only way they can continue even this charade of a war that's killing people in real world but whose victories are a charade. they need to maintain that tie
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with pakistan. so they have to balance this rhetorically. they can't certainly focus on the role of the pakistani-backed guerrillas who are thought to be behind the mumbai attack, for instance. at the same time, they have to make career to india that -- clear to india that they are saying something about who's responsible for that horrific attack that killed 1467 people -- 167 people. so it's a very tricky business. the problem is the u.s. policy is not based on international law or real internationalism. it's based on u.s. interests being superior to all others, and we're going to build our relationships based on what are our strategic interests when they contradict the strategic interests of our so-called friends like india and pakistan. >> host: lou tweets in, what is your position on the wikileaks
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revelations and your position on policy and corporate whistleblowers in general? >> guest: for some of these i'd ask you to check our web site. i wrote a piece that's up on the huffington post also on wikileaks. a few weeks ago we had a seminar/debate/discussion about wikileaks at ipf that emerged -- ips that emerged when we realized we had quite significant differing opinions of the process. my own view is that democracy requires sunshine. democracy requires openness. war requires secrecy. and i don't like war, so i don't like secrecy. i think the more we know, the better empowered we are to fight against wars and wad -- bad policies. having said that, i think we have to be clear that any of these wikileaks documents, and we're only seeing -- we've seen
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about 2,000 so far out of, apparently, the 250,000 in this cache, but i think that any individual one that we're seeing may or may not be true. it may or may not reflect actual government policy. it may reflect the goal of some young and ambitious junior diplomat who's trying to impress somebody back home. all those things come into account. but at the end of the day what we know is on that day this is what the embassy in x country told the state department whether it was true or not we don't know, but we know that was what they were told. that become withs very important. becomes very important. we heard there were a number of arab leaders, for instance, in the small gulf countries who told the u.s. privately that they supported u.s. military action against iran. well, that's not new. i mean, they've said things that made that clear publicly as
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well. but what it did tell us is just how far apart those governments and their position bees are from the -- positions are from the vast majority of the people many their countries. that's useful for people to know. i had somebody ask me the other day about something that came up recently about zimbabwe, that there was, apparently, a, an indication from -- i'm forgetting his name -- the leader of the opposition in zimbabwe, the leader of the movement for democratic change who's in this very fragile, precarious coalition government. and he, apparently, told u.s. diplomats privately that he actually supported the crippling economic sanctions that the u.s. has imposed on zimbabwe which are opposed by the vast majority of the population including his own party. and somebody said to me, well, do you think that makes the possibility more difficult of reaching a -- and there was or actually an article saying this,
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that it makes the possibility of pressuring the leader of zimbabwe who is, no doubt, seized nationalism in the interest of a very repressive regime at this point. does it make the solution more difficult? i said, well, i'm not sure, but i think it is important that people in zimbabwe know that chang rye is saying one thing to them in public and another thing to u.s. diplomats. it may make it more difficult for him to arrange the kind of political solution he wants, but it's important the people know that he doesn't necessarily represent what they thought he represented. so i think it is good. i think it is important that there be whistleblower protections. >> host: we have about 40 minutes left with our "in depth" guest this month, phyllis bennis hartford, connecticut, thanks for holding. you're on the air. >> caller: hi, how are you? happy new year to you. my question, i'm originally from pakistan.
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my thinking, i've read about afghanistan war, but i haven't read your week, and i will -- book, and i will definitely. >> guest: good. >> caller: my assessment that afghanistan war right now is a war by proxy within a civil war. do you agree with that assessment, and how you see it ending? what you see as end game? >> guest: yeah. >> caller: how and where and when? >> host: phyllis bennis. >> guest: thank you. it's a very hard question. i think there is a civil war underway in afghanistan at this point. the u.s. is one of the players. it's one of many military players, by far the most powerful. it's calling the shots for the government in, in kabul as well. the question of how it will end, i think, is very complicated. not because it has to be, but because of the politics of it. i think that president obama and his administration and most of congress is simply reluctant to say, we've got to pull out. it's not working, we have to do something else to help bring stability to this country that
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we have destabilized so badly. the military version isn't working, we have to do something else. they're not prepared to say that because it implies they know they've lost. they know that they -- they're doing the wrong thing, and they don't want to be called on it. so i think the problem that we face is a political problem, not a military problem. there will never be a moment -- and i just wrote a new piece about a week ago with my colleague, kevin martin, who's the head of peace action, the largest of the peace organizations working in the u.s. and he and i did a piece together analyzing president obama's most recent afghanistan speech. and we started by saying -- i forget exactly how we said it, but some version of it seems there's nothing the u.s. can do militarily that won't signify a victory in the rhetoric of the obama administration. if violence is up, it's because we're bringing the fight to the enemy. if violence goes down, it's because our strategy is working. and the problem is the military part isn't working. we hear it over and over again, there is no military solution.
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but yet we hear from the military this is all we can do because we have to keep doing it even though it's not working. so the problem is political, not military. the military we know is going to lose, the military is not going to win. the question is, how many more people have to die? how many more afghan civilians, how many more young u.s. soldiers, how many more nato troops have to die before we acknowledge that the military's not going to work and we're going to have to do something different? it's a political challenge which means it's a challenge for those of us who live in this country much more than the possibility that it's going to change on the ground in afghanistan. >> host: shirley in 'em mets metsburg, iowa, good afternoon. >> caller: hi, phyllis. >> guest: hi. >> caller: i've agreed with most of what you've said, but i'd just like to make a suggestion for you with a couple of caveats. if somebody asks you if you're a liberal, why not answer, compared to what?
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[laughter] because for myself i'm liberal compared with the radical right that we have in this country. but if you were to call me a communist, i am definitely not a communist. i'm a former ceo of a small business who was put out of business by some foreign corporations. and i think that's one of the our biggest problems is the more than half of our businesses in this country have no patriotism to this country because they are foreign-owned. and two of my sons have worked for foreign-owned businesses and found them not very good bosses. one of them was an executive, the other was a manager for these businesses. so i'm wanting to ask you, also, have you read general butler's book, "war is a racquet"?
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he named which corporations he went to way back in the early 1900s. he named which corporations he went to, which countries on behalf of this corporation in this country and that corporation this that country, and we still have the same things going on, but we don't name the corporations that we're going in there for. >> guest: thank you, shirley. i think that the issue of what you call patriotism, i guess that's the right term, for corporations is a huge issue. for me, the most unpatriotic corporations tend to be american corporations like aig, like goldman sachs, like these banking companies, like bank of america. these are the companies that i consider to be unpatriotic because their interest is of their ceos and stockholders, not of people. not of people who depend on their services, not people in the country where they live and where they work. the companies like british
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petroleum is not patriotic in britain or here. not because they're british, but because of their destruction of people's lives and of the environment. so i think that i would define it a little bit differently, but i agree with you that the biggest problem we face is the lack of concern of corporations for people's rights, for the rights of the environment. and these are the struggles we have ahead of us as we struggle to end wars. we have to look at who's profiting from those wars. >> host: next call comes from louise in johnson city, tennessee. louise, you're on the air. >> caller: well, thank you. thank you for c-span and thank you so much, ms. bennis, for what you are doing. please, keep doing it. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: keep doing and saying what you are. without c-span i would drown in beautiful east tennessee. i do not understand why our congress allows the corporations
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and the military industrial complex, why they're allowing them to destroy us. >> host: all right, louise. let's, if we could, take that and talk about the new congress that is coming in and your views on what could possibly occur. >> guest: yeah. let me just say one thing to louise first, and that is on the question of the media. i think the corporate control of our media is a huge, huge, huge problem, and the existence of things like c-span is very important. but i would also say that we have a vibrant and growing independent media sector which i would urge louise and others to look at as well ranging from college radio stations, pacifica radio, democracy now on both television and radio, laura flanders' terrific new show, grit tv. all of these are important outlets for new media as well as the internet. now, the question of congress. oh, yes. congress is going to be a struggle.
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i think that it's very interesting to read about how these new tea party members who are political neophytes, who didn't come up through local governments and end up in congress but who suddenly end up in congress without much experience, how they are finding their way in washington where the assumption is that they're going to be bought off like everybody else. it'll be very interesting to see how that process happens or doesn't happen. what i think is very interesting is that the left/right divide in congress, this next time around, is going to look much more like a republican/democrat split than it used to. mainly because the right-wing democrats, the so-called blue dogs, what are known as moderates but, in fact, are quite right wing, what they used to call the reagan democrats, they're the ones who lost in the overall scheme of how the democrats laos seats. overwhelmingly it was not the progressive caucus who came out of this very well.
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almost all of them were reelected. the loss in the senate, of course, of russ feingold is a huge loss, the great voice of liberalism after the at the deaf teddy kennedy. but in the house, the progressives did very well and came out much closer. so i think what we're going to see now is that the right wing is going to be much more the republicans, and the progressive side is going to be much more the democrats. it's not entirely that way, of course. et never is. but -- it never is. but it'll be closer to than than it ever has been. i think despite the tact that the economy -- fact that the economy remains the key issue particularly for the newcomers in congress, those who want to stop government spending, most of them have not yet been challenged on are you willing to say we should stop spending a trillion dollars on a military policy that is failing and use that money to provide jobs. are they willing to do that?
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we don't know yet. we haven't seen how that's going to play out. on the question of support for the israeli occupation which has remained a kind of third rail issue, i don't yet see whether there's going to be much change there either. i think the fact that there is a $30 billion commitment made by the bush administration in the last weeks of president bush's presidency and agreed to in the first weeks of president obama's term that he would implement it, $30 billion over ten years, that's enough for 600,000 new i green jobs. now, is the new congress going to be more willing than the old to say we're not keeping anybody safe, we're not stoning terrorism -- stopping terrorism. we're not doing anything but antagonizing people throughout the region and don't make israelis or palestinians or americans any safer. maybe there will be some new ideas, new energy on that issue as well. i don't think we're seeing it
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yet, but it's early yet. >> host: arnold, new york city. good afternoon to you. >> caller: good afternoon. thanks for taking my call. i'd like to hear ms. bennis' comments on the obama justice department's opinion where they can hold you indefinitely and not charge you and not put you on trial. >> guest: i think that one of the most disappointing noncommitments of the obama campaign, one of the things that was violated so quickly, was the commitment to shutting guantanamo, ending torture and all the of the things related to that. what we're seeing is quite the opposite. we're seeing guantanamo continuing, we're seeing the expansion, as you say, of the right of the u.s. government to imprison potentially forever anyone deemed a threat who for whatever reason cannot be put on trial including u.s. citizens. we're seeing this effort to, for the kill or capture list that
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now includes an american citizen in yemen without judicial oversight. so this whole range of expansion of the rights of the executive branch to, essentially, wage a secret, unaccountable war. unaccountable to the congress, unaccountable to the courts. this is a serious violation to the division of power that's supposed to characterize our democracy, and it's one of the ways in which we can see how shredded our democracy is becoming, how endangered our democracy is becoming. fighting to protect what remains of our democracy, remains, i think, one of our most important obligations. >> host: linda in santa barbara e-mails in, in order to combat gentryification of your d.c. neighborhood, might i suggest that she move out and give her condo to five latino families. incidentally, having just returned from the middle east, it is just as likely that the israelis will move out of their
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settlements and let palestinian families move in. one man's occupation is another man's homeland. perhaps the u.n. can sort it out. they have done such a wonderful job in africa solving their problems. oh, i forgot. it is bill gates who are solving their problems. p.s., i was in israel in 1969 when she was burning down the bank. >> guest: well, first of all, the bank burned down, not by me, in 1970, not 1969. but small, small problem. okay. first of all, i live in a cooperative, not in a condo. also not very relevant. but i think that the issue of gentryification in washington is a huge one. i have fought against it and continue to do so. i don't know how much of her comments were serious and how much were sarcasm. but i would say one thing, i will take it seriously whether she meant it seriously or not, the question about -- i'm not sure why she said one man, but one person's homeland being
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another person's occupation. i think that's absolutely right. the question is, what's the homeland? and what happens to the people who actually have a home, who actually live somewhere? when someone else comes in and claims that biblical claim, for example, makes it their homeland? i have no claim to israel being my homeland. for me as a jew, it's not my homeland. i don't come from there. no one in my family comes from there. my family was from russia and the areas around latvia and be lithuania for as far back as anybody knows. i don't think even for those who believe that biblical claims have some validity, i don't think god writes real estate contracts. i don't think it works that way. and i think leaving out the indigenous people who live somewhere because someone else comes in and says we have a moral claim but based on what someone else did to us somewhere
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else doesn't work. i don't think it works. >> host: john robert e-mails in, i listened to your response regarding whether people in iraq were better before saddam hussein was deposed than now. i understood your response to be that although the iraqi populace endured severe political repression, that millions lived better lives which i took to mean that it would have been better not to depose him. >> guest: i think the answer is it would have been better, i think, for most iraqis if they had deposed him themselves. that could have started if, for example, the u.s. had stopped its military and economic support of saddam hussein. one of those other things that we don't like to talk about very much, throughout the years, for example, of the 1980s when the iraqis were at war with iran, the u.s. was providing, among other things, money, seed stock for biological weapons that came from a little firm called the america type culture collection right outside of washington here in rockville targeting
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information to go after, to use chemical weapons. so the u.s. has a lot of obligations that kept saddam hussein in power. if we had stopped that, i think it's quite likely that the government that remained in power in be iraq would have been a very different kind of government. that would have been much better for the people of iraq. >> host: next call for phyllis bennis, beaverton, oregon. go ahead, josephine. >> caller: hi, ms. bennis. i want to complement you, first, on your high intelligence and your knowledge of the issues. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: and, but i would like to know more of a personal question, is if you believe in a god, and if you do, do you believe that people that do believe in a god should be in control of the world, or do you think that it should be more people who would like to control
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the world because of their intelligence or their knowledge of the issues and of that sort? >> guest: that's a different kind of question than i'm used to getting, i suppose. i don't believe in god. i believe in people. i have a great deal of faith. i consider myself a person of faith in a sense, but what i mean by that is that i have faith in people. in people's movements, in what, how people can change. i believe in the history of this country as being something that, despite starting as a government and a country based on genocide and slavery, it's also a country that has a history, an incredible history of social movements to challenge genocide and slavery and the lack of rights. and i think that both of those exist side by side. it's why i'm always so grateful to howard zinn for his people's history of the united states and what that taught us about what
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our real history is. that it's not just who's elected to be the governor this week, but it's what are the movements that change our world. so for me that's what's most important, and i think who runs the world needs to be those people. the forms of government are going to be different everywhere. i don't think we've done such a hot job in finding the best ones, but i have a lot of faith. i have a lot of faith in people that we're going to figure that out. >> host: over the course of the last several years on booktv we've featured several that auts who are atheist. is that a movement? >> guest: i guess it is although i frankly don't see it so much as a movement. christopher hitchens and some ores who are sort of making that their self-definition which, to me, is kind of irrelevant. i'm more interested in what do you do? you know, what do you do to make the world a better place? if you don't believe in god, fine. if you do believe in god, fine. i'm not that interested one way or the other. but i'm interested in what you do. and i make judgments about what
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i think works, who i think is a good person. based on what they do more than what they profess to believe. >> host: cover bin, omaha, nebraska. on with phyllis bennis. >> caller: hi there. c-span's great and thanks for having me. madam bennis, my big question and then i'd like to tack one on, but my big question is this: in a rational, not mud-slinging sense how would you defend yourself to the middle if someone way over there on the right claimed that you always blame america first? >> host: okay, that's your big question. what's your follow-up? >> caller: okay. my follow up would be -- you mentioned something about the tea party folks being neophytes, and you wondered how that was going to play out. i think we've got an example because isn't obama kind of a neofite? >> host: all right. thanks for calling in. >> guest: good questions. how would i defend against the charge that i always see america
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being most responsible? i think there's two parts to that. one is that i think in the history of the world of the last, say, 40 years maybe more, the u.s. has been by far the most powerful country in the world. militaryically, economically, socially, politically, diplomatically, in every way. hasn't been the best be country, it's within the most powerful country. -- it's been the most powerful country. and it means it has had more responsibilities when things go bad in the world whether it's responsible for making them go bad, whether it's responding badly or in the wrong way, responding militarily rather diplomatically. so often in my view it is a problem of the u.s. the other problem, though, is i'm an american. this is my country, and i love this country. and i want this to be a different kind of country. so i spend my time focusing on what our country does wrong and
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needs to do better. i've worked on the issue of ending the israeli occupation, for instance, for, well, way longer than i care to remember. basically, since i stopped supporting it when i stopped being a kid, i guess. but would i do differently now what i've done differently through these last two years is keep the focus on u.s. policy rather than focusing on israel's doing this. yes, they are, and we have to stop that. but what i'm concerned about is what is the u.s. doing. we're paying money for israeli violations. we're providing protection in the security council. we're making sure that israeli nuclear weapons are not talked about in the discussion of proliferation around the world. those are really big problems, and i want to keep my work on my country, my government where i pay taxes. what's done in my name. so to me that's a big part of why i keep the focus on the united states. >> host: bill lis bennis, in the last couple years you've been
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writing a primer series, "understanding the palestinian-israeli conflict," "ending the u.s. war in afghanistan," "understanding the u.s.-iran crisis, "ending the iraq war." are there more in the series to come? >> guest: there's another one that i didn't write on islam, "understanding us -- islam." i think there are more to come. i don't think i'm going to write another primer for a while. i'm a little tired of the genre. i think they're important and useful tools for activists, for people trying to understand hot issues as they emerge. i think my next book is likely to be something a little more challenging for me rather than another primer. >> host: have you started the next book? >> guest: i haven't. i've got some ideas. i want to do some study. i have the honor of getting -- i've been invited by the lennon foundation to do a writers' retreat in martha, texas, in, later this spring, and i'm
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looking forward to having five weeks to read and to study and to maybe begin some writing. >> host: that's -- talk a little bit more about that foundation and that texas connection. i mean, it's kind of an odd, odd thing, isn't it? >> guest: i depress it is. >> host: or unique is probably a better word. >> guest: it is unique. the foundation is based in santa fe, new mexico, and it's historically done a lot of work in supporting the arts and supporting poetry. but patrick lennon, who's one of the key people in the foundation, has also been very interested in the middle east and in the question of palestine. he was a great, developed a great relationship with edward saeed, one of my great mentors and challengers, if you will. i learned more from edward challenging me on things than, perhaps, anyone else. and they, among other things, he was this extraordinary opportunity for writers to go to
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martha, texas, for weeks at a time to write if they're working on a book, to study or to read if they're not in the middle of a book, to think about their next book, plan and get away from their day-to-day work. so i'm greatly looking forward to that. >> host: what is olive branch press which published the primers? >> guest: olive branch press is the, what would i call it, the political arm of interleague books which is the publishing company in, now in northampton, massachusetts. and they publish a huge amount of work from politics of the middle east, a lot on the palestinian/israeli conflict, a lot on arab churl -- culture. cookbooks, artbooks, great fiction and translating including the most comprehensive amount of fiction in translation in arabic in this country.
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published in english, many of them for the first time. the first sudanese book published in english. the first yemeni novel published in english was published by interlink, so i think these are -- it's a great, important contribution particularly at moments as it's been for the last so many years that our country is at war either militarily or through the use of sanctions against so many peoples in the middle east. and we understand so little of who these people are and what their culture is, what these countries are about. and it's often through fiction that we can learn that. so interlink books has been a huge gift. unfortunately, not as many independent bookstores exist these days, and it's harder to be sold in the chains. but you have bookstores like, for example, the teaching for change bookstore which is a nonprofit bookstore at pus boys and poets -- busboys and poets, one of the great cultural centers here in washington, d.c., that pushes, that sells
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all kinds of books from interlink and other publishers. all of the howard zinn books. the question of publishing and be selling books becomes so important. in the internet era when books are becoming passe to some people, i think they're very far from passe. i think they're very, very important, and i think publishing books that are not otherwise available is a key part to getting people to understand what it means when we go to war in iraq. what is iraq? where is iraq? who are the people who live there? what are their aspirations, their history, their dreams? some of that you can do in a primer. not very much of it. much of it you need to read the poetry, you need to read the novels, and you need publishers that are willing to publish that stuff knowing it might not make a lot of money, but it's important to have access to it. >> host: if people are interested in buying any of your books, are they available at the constitute for policy studies web site? >> guest: they are. they can get them online at
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interlink.com. >> guest: next call for phyllis bennis. about 15 minutes left. michigan, harrison. go ahead. >> caller: hello, c-span. thank you for taking my call. my question is concerning the israeli occupation. i happen to be -- [inaudible] secular jew who who's had his heart with israel since this whole thing began. and i know very little about everything concerning it, but i have one question that plagues me, and that is israel took occupation, and my understanding is they became occupiers because they were attacked by either just the palestinians or a consortium of arab states. why are they so criticized for the occupation in view of the
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fact that they were attacked? >> guest: well, thanks for your question. it's a very good one. i assume that you're talking about the 1967 occupation. there's a school of thought that also says that when israel was created in 1948 that that was also a kind of occupation of palestinian land, albeit approved partly by the united nations. israel, of course, ended that war in 1949 with 78% of historic palestine rather than the 55% they had been granted. but in 1967 they took over the additional 22% that was left. there is a, what i consider a myth in this country. it's a popular one that says that israel was attacked in the 967. in fact, it was not. in fact, israel attacked first. they attacked the egyptian and syrian air forces first. they wiped out the entire egyptian air force in the one day in what became the six-day war. it was in response to egypt having told the u.n. that they wanted the u.n. troops, the
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border observers to be removed which was their right. it was a provocative move, but it was their right. but they had not attacked israel. israel attacked first. so part of the criticism is for that. but the larger part is for holding on to the territory, and that's why resolution 242 of the united nations is very clear in its preamble. it says that it prohibits the acquisition of territory by force. it says there can be no acquisition of territory by force. so the whole point is that in a war, in a battle, in a fight war creates changes in territory. somebody ends up with land they didn't have before. the point is, you can't keep it. it's the keeping it that now is the major violation. and if you look at u.n. resolutions, if you look at the international law, you look at the geneva conventions, the
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obligations of an occupying power are based on the idea that occupation is a temporary phenomenon. so if you look at the most recent reports of the u.n.'s special reporters on the question of human rights in the occupied territories, for instance, they are to proposing that the international court of justice examine the question of whether this kind of long-term occupation in the case of the '67 war we're now looking at 43 years of occupation of that territory which the u.n. itself said is illegal, that that should be considered as something different. it's a different kind of violation than what the geneva conventions anticipated back in 1948, '49, '50 when they were being drafted which was the idea that there would be a short-term occupation during which time certain obligations applied. that there's an entirely different new, more significant violation at stake here when the land has been annexed and stolen and permanent buildings put up,
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walls, villages knocked down to build israeli settlements. and that's continuing day by day. so when we hear from the obama administration we want a settlement freeze, for instance, to me that's simply not sufficient because it doesn't deal with the ongoing violation of having half a million illegal israeli settlers, illegal because the geneva conventions, article 33 says -- i'm sorry, article 49 says that the occupying power, israel, may not place its own population in the occupied territories. that's illegal. we now have 500,000 israeli-jewish settlers living on these illegal settlements breaking the law simply by waking up in the morning. that's a huge problem that goes way beyond do we stop the settlement activity now, what do we do about what already exists? that's why this thing becomes so
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complicated. >> host: greg e-mails in, as a peace activist, what, if anything, have you done to secure the release of the idf soldier kidnapped from a southern nation by hamas, a terrorist organization? >> guest: i have repeated oh and over -- over and over again that every prison should have immediate access to the international committee of the red cross. i would ask mr. harrison, was it? >> host: garrison. >> guest: similarly, i'm curious what work e he has done to secure the release of the 11,000 palestinian political prisoners currently being held by israel. i hope that all of them can be psychiatried by the red cross -- visited by the red cross. >> host: go ahead, you're on with phyllis bennis. >> caller: phyllis, let me say i never heard about you until about a week ago, and it's so refreshing to hear such honesty, i must tell you. it truly is. anyway, as an outset here, a little background, i am liberal, and i am republican.
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and anybody that wants to know what loneliness is all about, try wearing those two hats. [laughter] i'd like to get away from the wars, if you don't mind. i have a question for you. i'm suffering from war fatigue, i think, like a lot of fellow americans. phyllis, i remember being a freshman in college in washington, d.c., 1980, 2:00 in the morning a couple friends of mine and i we went to the grounds of the washington monument, we had a picnic, we brought champagne. you know, i think we saw one security person. likewise, when the hostages were released from iran and president reagan was giving that speech, we were literally outside one of the white house gates. now, you couldn't see anything and this gate was, a lot of cement and metal, but we were within probably 50 yards of the president. now, of course, today you know if i was in be either one of those spots today physically, i don't think i would remain vertical for -- >> host: phillip, can you bring this to a conclusion? >> caller: this is my question for her. looking down the road, phyllis, with all the increased security
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we have today in combination with all this technology, is the spirit of activism, can that still be enhanced by these powers, or do you see it being diminished? >> guest: i think that the security issues have created huge problems logistically for protest in the street, but i also think that we've come to a point where protest in the street are not our only form of protest. demonstrations are still very important, but they're not the only thing. getting a city council resolution passed, saying that we want our war dollars to stay home, that has a huge impact. getting the governor of montana to say we want the montana national forward brought home, we don't want it wasted in iraq, that's huge. these kinds of local activities become very important, and i will challenge you with just one point. i'm not prepared to say it's acceptable for anyone in this country who pays taxes and especially someone who votes for either party, for any party or for no party to say they have war fatigue. it's our tax money that's preventing the end of wars in
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afghanistan and iraq and too many other places around the world. we don't have the right to say we're tired. the people against whom our troops are fighting, against whom our money is buying our bonds to drop, they're the ones who are very, very tired of war, much more than any of us could ever be. >> host: e-mail, do you see any difference between the bush administration and the obama administration's foreign policies? >> guest: on many issues, absolutely. and i think the s.t.a.r.t. treaty, although it's weak and limited and doesn't go very far, it probably couldn't have been passed under the bush administration. it's an important step. it doesn't go far enough, but i think on other issues as well, i think on some of the relations in latin america have been very different, relations with china, even relations with iran, i think, have been significantly different. they're not good with iran. but they're better than they would have been under the bush administration. on the question of the issues
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that are the most urgent, unfortunately, we have seen far too much consistency and far too little distinction. >> host: do you see your next book possibly breaking out from the middle east? >> guest: maybe. i don't know exactly what i would write about because i don't know very much about anything else. [laughter] i'm not sure i'm enough of a generalist. i, i think -- as i said earlier, i'm very interested in turkey which is not only a middle east question, it's also a european question. but i, i've had people urge me to write, you know, fiction, to write memoir, whatever. i don't think of myself as a writer in that sense. i mean, i write a lot, but i think of myself more as an activist, and my writing is what i do to help build social movements. it's like ips is a think tank, but it's a think tank whose goal is to change the world which means our audience is not
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necessarily congress. i mean, sometimes it's congress, but not very often. more often social movements who are then going to try and be influence congress because if you believe as i do, and i think at my institute we all do, that social change is made by people and movements, not by individual policymakers who suddenly get the light, i think we've got a lot of work to do to build those movements. that's what i think we have to do. >> host: how is ips funded today? >> guest: with great difficulty. [laughter] we're funded, we take no government money and no corporate money by the terms of our charter. we get money from individuals and from foundations and private foundations. it's a big struggle. our projects have to raids their own -- raise their own funds, and it's not an easy haul. anyone listening who's interested in helping to fund ips, you're welcome to go to our web site and hit the donate button. but it's all about private foundations and private funders, private individuals who are able
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to put some of their money into a nonprofit educational institution whose goal is to provide movements with the kind of educational work they need to do their work better. >> host: rockville, maryland. david, you're on. please, go ahead. >> caller: thank you for taking my call, and c-span is great. i've always loved you guys. on one specific thing you ought to try and bring another person in to talk about the legality issues of the settlements and all that. because i do think, i do think she is misstating the facts about the restrictions onset element. that's why the u.s. has never said they were illegal. she said they're not helpful in bringing about the solution. but as a more general thing phyllis has always used the term ending the occupation. but doesn't there have to be another symmetry to this? you can't end the occupation without ending the war against
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israel. when israel signed a treaty we egypt, she gave up land for peace. when israel signed a treaty with jordan, she gave up land for peace. the problem is the palestinian authority, the plo formerly and now hamas are obstacles to peace, and if israel were to give up land like they did in gaza, it would lead to a disaster. >> guest: well, i appreciate the comments. first of all, the u.s. government has on occasion said that the settlements are illegal. and they, in a legal finding by the state department back in i believe it was about 1986, i'm not sure of the exact date, there was a whole finding on the illegality of the entire settlement process. but i think that the point is that israel has an obligation to withdraw from territory that it illegally occupies which includes all of the west bank, all of gaza and all of arab east jerusalem. and i think that on the
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political side right now the pa and hamas have both indicated their willingness to accept a two-state solution, hamas on what they call a long-term basis which they said could last up to 100 years. the cease fire with hamas, for instance, was holding. the ceasefire in 2008 was holding until it was violated on november 4th of of that year by israel which led to the deterioration of the cease fire and then the gaza war. so under international law israel still has to end its occupation. >> host: phyllis bennis has been our guest on in depth. once again, here is her list of book withs. beginning in 1990 with "stones to statehood." edited two books. "calling the shots" was published in 2000." before and after," 2003. "challenging empire" she wrote

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