“P”DA and Medea Benjamin on Benazir Bhutto

Support for “Benevolent” Empire

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has triggered a barrage of commentaries, among them a revealing piece by Medea Benjamin, which has been endorsed and posted by “Progressive” Democrats of America (“P”DA) on whose board she sits. Benazir Bhutto’s death is sad in many ways. She was a charming, intelligent woman – and certainly a courageous one, albeit more representative of dynasty than democracy. But Medea Benjamin’s evaluation of Benazir Bhutto is interesting not for what it says about Bhutto but for what it tells us about the attitude of “P”DA and Medea to the U.S. empire

Most interestingly, Benjamin’s statement declares: “The Bush administration has been a staunch supporter of Musharraf, providing his regime with over $10 billion in financial aid since 2001. … The U.S. government should withhold assistance until Musharraf steps down …” “Until”? “Until” says that once a Pakistani government is in place, which meets with U.S. “democratic” standards and U.S. approval, billions of mostly military U.S. aid should be poured into Pakistan once again. I am sure, if asked, Medea Benjamin and “P”DA would proclaim themselves “non-interventionists.” – well, maybe not “P”DA. But what business is it of the U.S. to determine by its aid what constitutes an acceptable government for the people of Pakistan? Contrast this to the clear call of Ron Paul to stop all military involvement and all aid to Pakistan. Nothing, no more, says Paul. That stance is not only the way to peace but is respectful of Pakistani self-determination, real democracy – in stark contrast to the neocolonial mentality of “P”DA.

The Medea Benjamin statement declares: “Bhutto was perceived by many Pakistanis as too ‘pro-Western,’ especially after remarks that if elected Prime Minister, she might allow U.S. military strikes inside Pakistan to eliminate al-Qaeda.” Those quotation marks around “pro-Western” speak volumes. Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minister for the first time with the backing and assistance of the Reagan administration in 1988. And she was sent back to Pakistan by the empire to help shore up the present Musharaff regime. In the end she paid with her life for that maneuver. When she agreed to work with Musharaff, she was denounced by many Pakistanis, including politician and former cricketer Imran Khan who accused her of “betrayal”. What kind of leader will compromise national sovereignity and allow entry to imperial troops? How is she different from Musharaff on that score? And how can a people enjoy democracy when they are under the sway of foreign forces and money?

Medea Benjamin’s statement states that Bhutto’s assassination is a “blow to women … who took strength from seeing a … woman playing a leadership role in a powerful Muslim country.” But is this not the triumph of identity politics over feminism? Bhutto did not want to enter politics as a young woman; but, according to Tariq Ali, she succumbed to her father’s wishes to continue the Bhutto dynasty. That bit of patriarchy is certainly no example for independent young women throughout the world. More significantly, Benazir Bhutto backed the Taliban, which in most quarters is not considered to be in the vanguard of feminism. Can we praise a woman who thrives personally at the expense of the common woman? Is Medea’s evaluation a harbinger of “P”DA support for Hillary Clinton who gained her “experience” in an administration which regarded the starvation of 500,000 children as “worth it” to make Saddam uncomfortable? Can feminists be proud of such women?

“P”DA’s nostrums are an echo of those that pour forth from the editorial pages of the NYT and the rest of the mainstream imperial punditry. These are more often than not advocates of a “benevolent” empire. But there can be no “good” empire; every empire represents the domination of one people over another. And there is no “good” in restoring billions in military aid to Pakistan once it toes the line, as Medea Benjamin and “P”DA wish. In many respects the propaganda of empire that preys on the good intentions of the common man and woman is the most insidious of all. It has led to countless tragedies; and until it is clearly recognized and firmly rejected, it is sure to lead to many more.

John V. Walsh, @JohnWal97469920, until recently a Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, has written on issues of peace and health care for several independent media. Read other articles by John V..

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  1. Lloyd Rowsey said on January 3rd, 2008 at 10:49am #

    This backbiting with rhetorical and insulting questions is just the sort of article Dissident Voice should not be printing. I’m fortunate enough to have read Marcelle Cendrars’ piece on Medea Benjamin – just a couple of hours ago – and I recommend that it be printed not only as an exemplary contrast to this…this screed by John Walsh, but as a road sign for the future. If DV’s editors have already decided to put up MC’s article, I congratulate them and recommend that they do it immediately.

    Lloyd Rowsey

  2. john walsh said on January 3rd, 2008 at 12:27pm #

    I notice that Lloyd Rowsey does not deal with any of the arguments I offer – just name calling.
    The fact is that Mainstream Medea and “P”DF are now forces trying to keep progressives in the Dem Party and in the camp of empire.
    What does he think of Medea’s proposal to stop and then resume aid to Pakistan if it lives up to the conditions the US empire sets?
    What has happened to non-intervention? What has happened to self-determination?

  3. John Halle said on January 3rd, 2008 at 12:33pm #

    Excellent article. Exactly what I come to DV for.

    Mr. Walsh should be congratulated and, more importantly, thanked for investing the time, disciplined thought and energy required to produce this piece. Unlike much of what one encounters in the left blogosphere, it is a fully coherent, elegant, and concise statement of an important matter of principle.

    While I may not agree with his entirely negative assessment of Ms. Benjamin’s work and motivations, the essential point bears repeating:

    “The propaganda of empire that preys on the good intentions of the common man and woman is the most insidious of all. It has led to countless tragedies; and until it is clearly recognized and firmly rejected, it is sure to lead to many more.”

    American naivete masking a profound underlying cynicism is a recurrent theme in our political life. Moreso than Benjamin, I would point to the cult of personality surrounding the Obama campaign as a particularly insidious variant.

    In any case, we need pieces like this to reassert that we ignore this tendency at our peril.


    P.S. Editors please note- there is a typo in second paragraph: Walsh’s “emphasis mine” has no antecedent.

  4. Lloyd Rowsey said on January 3rd, 2008 at 12:54pm #

    Mr. Walsh. What do you consider “Mainstream Medea” and “trying” — implying a conscious effort — “to keep…progressives in…the camp of empire”, BUT name-calling?

    And what, john walsh, do you consider the question — what do I (Lloyd Rowsey) think “of Medea’s proposal to stop and then resume aid to Pakistan if it lives up to the conditions the US empire sets?”, BUT a rhetorical question?

    The first of those quotations from your “reply” to my post, which reply accused me of name-calling.

    As for your observation, Mr. Halle. If john walsh’s article is exactly what you come to DV for, I pity you and your enormous confusion. I truly do.

  5. john walsh said on January 3rd, 2008 at 1:19pm #

    OK, they are trying but not succeeding. But they are trying just as is The Nation which turned Nader into an unperson in 2004 and has not even covered Cynthia McKinney’s announcement for the Green candidacy for pres -and they give awards to Tim Carpenter of “P”DA. So to Mainstream Medea and “P”DA add the editorial board of The Nation.
    john walsh

  6. John Halle said on January 3rd, 2008 at 1:36pm #

    One other point on this:

    It takes a fair amount to shock me but I must confess to have been indeed shocked by the extreme, cosa nosta level of thuggishness and wholesale theft which Bhutto’s clan has been not just implicated in, but actually convicted of.

    It is not simply a matter of Bhutto’s husband Zardari (known as Mr. 10% for skimming that amount off of all contracts awarded during Bhutto’s regime) having been convicted for numerous felonies. According to Tariq Ali, he also was likely responsible for the death of Bhutto’s brother who was killed by the police during Bhutto’s term, something which, according to Ali, would never have occured without Bhutto’s tacet approval.

    Then there’s the whole matter of Bhutto’s well documented support for the Taliban and the family having amassed a $1.7 billion dollar fortune etc.

    Why has all of this been so successfully excised from the MSM coverage? Partly it’s what Mr. Walsh mentions-her being perceived as serving US interests. But more importantly it is that she is seen as “one of us”-a pal of Arianna Huffington at Oxford, (where her son, the dauphin, is currently being educated), a dear friend of Peter Galbraith from Harvard. Did Medea go to Radcliffe-or someplace similar? That would explain what you’re describing here.

    As someone I knew at Yale once remarked of Richard Helms when I metioned that he was responsible for electrodes being attached to the genitals of dissidents in at least four countries: “he’s never do that, he’s a Yalie.”

    The same can be said of Benazir, apparently.

  7. sk said on January 3rd, 2008 at 1:37pm #

    Something from the archives: Tenth anniversary of publication in New York Times of this 5,000 word investigative report on corruption in Pakistani politics.

  8. Deadbeat said on January 3rd, 2008 at 2:48pm #

    David Cobb and Medea Benjamin: Losers of the Left

    By the Glorious Revolutionary Federation of Fortune 500 Killers

    In its ongoing attempt to place deserved blame for the epidemic of Anybody But Bush (more like Nobody But Kerry) that plagued the left and resulted in one of the most disastrous electoral outcomes it has ever experienced, the Federation will continue to identify the foulest specimens and boosters who spread this idiotic ideology.

    Here to inaugurate the first installment are Captain David “I steered the Green Party into an iceberg” Cobb and Medea “I hog the limelight but in fact am useless” Benjamin. We hate you.

    David “The Face of Sex” Cobb

    At the beginning of the year, as the two mainstream parties’ candidates mobilized their campaigns and coffers, those searching for the only principled anti-war alternative looked to the Green Party for guidance.

    They found nothing.

    As the months wore on, prominent Green Party leaders (cough, cough, David Cobb, cough, cough) could not decide whether the party would run a Presidential candidate (regardless of whom). Frustrated, Ralph Nader, the Party’s 2000 Presidential candidate contended he could wait no longer. In February 2004, Nader announced his independent candidacy for President.

    Meanwhile, a handful of state Green Parties—the ones in which the Green Party is heavily concentrated—held nominating primaries. Their selection? More than 70% for Peter Camejo, who aside from Nader, had run the country’s most prominent Green candidacy, including 10% of the vote in the 2000 California governor’s race.

    Democracy posed a problem for Cobb’s ambition. It also marked the start of Captain Cobb’s drive to sink the Green Party. First, he packed other states’ nomination meetings, which traditionallly have been poorly attended (as most Greens are concentrated in a handful of states), with Cobb delegates. Second, he endorsed the anti-democratic Green Party nomination system, which bears resemblance to the Electoral College, and whereby small states have their delegates totals multiplied, supposedly to ensure the voices of smaller state Green Party (even with virtually no members) are heard. By exploiting this latter feature via delegate packing, Cobb secured the Green Party nomination over Ralph Nader (who by then had chosen Camejo for his running mate and sought the Green Party’s endorsement). Thus David Cobb, who had only 12% of the delegates’ support, still walked away with the nomination.

    Captain David “Charisma” Cobb announced that he was “running to build the Green Party.” But did he? Maybe if your idea of “building” a party means not voting for your own party. His running mate, Pat Lamarche, suggested at one point that she might not even vote for her own ticket. Maybe if your idea of “building” a party means not getting votes. Cobb announced to ABB-er Michael Albert: “I am not very concerned with my vote total.” Elsewhere, he declared: “And the way that I think we can accomplish both my primary goal and as well as the secondary is to target the very finite resources of candidate time and money into those states which I call the ‘safe’ states, or the states that are not in play.” This “safe state” strategy, endorsed by the ABB crowd, in effect represented an endorsement of the pro-war Democratic Party and withdrawal of any pressure on it to take better positions. Cobb also uttered hardly a word about the Party’s multi-million dollar campaign to drive from the ballot Ralph Nader, toward whom Cobb seemed to have junior high-levels of jealousy.

    “Hierarchical, individual-centered movement—a cult of personality,” sniped jealous little Davie Cobb at his former buddy Ralph. So much for thanking people who singlehandedly earned the Green Party more than a dozen ballot lines Cobb would squander, and who raised numerous funds for local Green parties between the elections.

    Cobb didn’t make most national polls. On ones willing to squeeze him in, he earned .05%. As one astute writer remarked: “Last time I checked, such a number didn’t surpass the threshold for bragging rights.”

    Cobb’s campaign barely raised $100,000, even with 600,000 Green Party members. As another writer pointed out, in other words, if every Green Party member had given $1, Cobb would have had six times more money. The figures suggest the pathetic support his campaign roused even from the faithful.

    When all was done, Cobb’s anemic campaign cost the Party dearly. It earned a little more than 100,000 votes, enough for a stunning sixth-place finish behind Nader, the Libertarian Party, and the Constitution Party. Yes, you read that right. Cobb has been bested by the Constitution Party. Goodness.

    What four years ago seemed like one of the country’s most exciting political forces now has the stench of a political corpse. Thanks to Captain Cobb, the Party now has LOST most of the ballot lines it earned in 2000, meaning that it will have to waste thousands of dollars and resources on earning them back in 2008, should it even exist and run a candidate then. Meanwhile, Cobb’s candidacy has caused much bitterness within the Party between the minority faction that hijacked the convention to support him, and the majority who preferred the puritanical veteran consumer advocate to a non-entity from Texas.

    Let’s give a hand to David Cobb. What a person. Thanks for ruining the Green Party and steering it straight into the iceberg of Democratic Party ABB death.

    Medea Benjamin: Famous for Being Counter-Revolutionary and Useless

    One of Captain Cobb’s chief cheerleaders deserves equal scorn: foundation dole Medea Benjamin.

    Medea Benjamin is a faux-radical who first came to fame in 1999. While at the famous 1999 WTO protests in Seattle and mouthing anti-globalization rhetoric, Benjamin chastised protesters who took to the symbolic destruction of NON-CIVILIAN targets like Nike Town, while avoiding destruction of local businesses—clear evidence that this was far from “mindless” property destruction. After defending the property of multinational corporations, Benjamin subsequently issued pronouncements to the mainstream press that assisted in the creation of the “good protester”/”bad protester” dichotomy, later used successfully in years following by mainstream political groups to sedate popular protests and make them as planned, unsurprising, reflective of “good protesters,” and in truth, futile as possible.

    Benjamin became a lead booster of the disastrous ABB strategy. In a widely circulated letter and in a petition, she denounced the candidacy of Ralph Nader and spread lies about his campaign’s alleged bankrolling by REPUBLICANS. But in truth, as a study by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics showed, Republican donors only made up 4% of the Nader campaign’s money, and such funds came from individuals, as the Nader campaign was the only one not to accept money from any political action committees or corporations. This 4% figure contrasted with the 25% of Nader voters in 2000 who were registered Republicans, and was less than polling data indicating how many Nader 2004 voters were Republicans. Moreover, according to the Center, Nader’s funds from registered Republican donors gave more money to Democrats than Nader.

    Meanwhile, Benjamin embarked on a tour of hypocrisy and silliness. While embracing an ever hawkish pro-war candidate in her petitions and denouncing Evil Ralph Nader, the only high-profile anti-war candidate (David “.05%” Cobb doesn’t count), Benjamin simultaneously engaged in anti-war prank activity at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions that had little effect other than to invoke pity on the part of some observers and contempt from others for their showboatish, inconsequential nature. At the Republican National Convention, for example, Benjamin unwrapped an anti-war banner on the floor of the convention. Oooooooh. Medea, between anti-war banners versus NOT SUPPORTING A PRO-WAR CANDIDATE and HELPING BUILD A GENUINE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT; we’ll take the latter.

    Benjamin’s actions indeed helped demobilize the anti-war movement, which in February of 2003 had reached historic levels. But as its “leaders” increasingly succumbed to the ABB epidemic, they found the credibility of the movement severely hampered by their support for a pro-war war criminal. Rather than rectify this contradiction, they instead shut the movement down entirely. Thus there was not a single major anti-war march between the spring of 2004 and the election, and an anti-war, anti-occupation position, now supported by the majority of Americans, remained off the table during the Presidential campaign.

    As for Benjamin’s showboating, Kevin Zeese had the following to say: “She can keep dropping her anti-war banners and playing her anti-war pranks. They’re entertaining, but people should remember that when it came to elections she urged people to vote for a candidate who said we have to win the war. She supported a candidate who said he would send more troops and could manage the war better Kerry’s mantra was the complete opposite of a peace message. The bottom line is this: when it comes to elections don’t follow Medea Benjamin, follow peace advocates who refuse to support war candidates.”

    On the anti-war movement for which Benjamin served as a “leader,” Zeese added: “People like Medea Benjamin did great damage to the peace movement and I’m not sure it can recover. Her misleadership led them down the path of being taken out of the presidential race. How do you recover from that? The direction of the country is set during the presidential debate—especially on issues like war and peace. Half the country wanted our troops home, more than half thought the Iraq invasion was wrong, yet the peace movement, thanks to misleaders like Benjamin, was led into the Valley of Death for all movements, the Democratic Party.”

    Recently, after the disastrous election results stemming from Kerry’s inability to provide any positive economic or political alternative to Bush, Benjmain expressed regret in the pages of the liberal-bourgeois ABB rag, The Nation, for her Kerry support. But rather than issue an apology to Nader, Benjamin instead promised to build the Green Party for the future.

    Good luck trying to “build” from ruins, Benjamin. And as for your apology, well, thanks, two months afterwards, when it has a total meaning and influence of precisely zero.

    Medea Benjamin, thanks for killing your political children and people who
    looked to you for leadership. You make us all want to puke.

    The Glorious Revolutionary Federation of Fortune 500 Killers is a Columbia University-based anti-capitalist, anti-racist student insurgent group. To learn more about the group, e-mail gro.htaedoecnull@htaedoec, or visit its site at http://www.ceodeath.org.

  9. Michael Kenny said on January 3rd, 2008 at 3:19pm #

    The whole world is sick and fed up with Americans of all political persuasions asserting the right to barge into other people’s countries uninvited and push the population around as if we were no better than talking apes. When the Right does it, we say “what would you expect from them”! When the Left does it, it is shocking. The master race mentality pervades the whole of American society.

    I am particularly shocked by earlier comments in which the whole thing is perceived as an American debate! The idea that what happens in pakistan might not be anybody’s business outside, which I think is the main point of Mr Walsh’s article has just vanished completely!

    A bit of advice from one of the 95%of mankind who is not American. Yankee go home! Yankee stay home! Yankee keep your nos eout of other people’s business! Anything else is racist arrogance, whether it comes from the Right or the Left!

  10. Lloyd Rowsey said on January 3rd, 2008 at 5:50pm #

    My point is not that Ms. Bhutto was uncharacteristic of her generation. After all she graduated from Harvard in the 1970’s. (Could John Halle actually be unaware of that fact, and be inquiring out of simple ignorance whether Medea Benjamin went “to Radcliff-or someplace similar”?)

    My point is that we radical Americans need to be increasingly less sectarian, and especially when it comes to American foreign policy. Because the biggest job facing politically active non-DemsRepubs is to persuade the American public that it can, and absolutely should, determine the outcomes of this country’s most critical foreign policies. And this, in both national and local contests.

    Name-calling, inuendo, backbiting, and rhetorical questions amongst ourselves does not facilitate that job.

  11. sk said on January 3rd, 2008 at 6:04pm #

    Michael, your lack of faith in America’s mission to spread Democracy is disturbing.

  12. Allan Stellar said on January 3rd, 2008 at 7:05pm #

    Poor Medea. With friends like John Murphy, why have enemies?

    Take Medea to task. She can be a bit shrill. But Deadbeat forgets her excellent defense of the Sandinistas in the early 80’s. And her rather excellent piece she just ran in Alternet ( I think it is still posted).

    Critics expect folks to bat a thousand. And, as always on these sorts of sites, the Left eats their young. Catch a phrase. Twist it. Turn a page. Burn it.

    I’m glad Medea is on our side. And she looks good in Pink.

  13. Marcelle Cendrars said on January 3rd, 2008 at 7:08pm #

    Thanks for the huge plug, Lloyd. The title of the article is “Is It Okay to CONSTRUCTIVELY Criticize Medea Benjamin Just A Little Bit?”. If DVoice chooses not to post it, perhaps interested readers will request a copy directly from me, moc.oohaynull@ardnecb. Best, Marcelle P.S. Good fortune with this crowd, Lloyd. Still looking forward to going over –in more detail– the fine points you made respecting my piece.

  14. dan elliott said on January 3rd, 2008 at 9:25pm #

    Poor Allan Stellars,

    Unable to free himself from the illusion that he has something relevant to say about politics. What a shame, he seems like such a nice fellow, in an Eisenhower-era sort of way?

    Have a nice night, Allan, enjoy those dreams!


  15. Hue Longer said on January 4th, 2008 at 1:41am #

    I don’t know Dan, I think you’re all full of beans and would ask you to write to DV’s editors to allow my paper explaining why to be published

  16. JE said on January 4th, 2008 at 10:33am #

    batting a thousand in politics isn’t that hard…all one has to do is have a coherent and rational framework from which to operate…Medea clearly doesn’t and it’s good that John points this out.

  17. Marcelle Cendrars said on January 4th, 2008 at 11:34am #

    Yes, it’s very good that John points out MB’s downside. However, it’s not very different than pointing out Bush’s “downside.” In the sense that it’s been done ad infinitum, without “follow through” in terms of action. Again, I wonder what DVoice people and other like-minded citizens think about the fact that so much energy goes into bringing down easily deflatable strawmen/strawwomen. And what they think about regarding their own action/inaction…that has some connection with “undeserving icons” getting so much ongoing support. I put George and Medea together here for a very good reason. For one, to get beyond Bush and to get beyond the kind of “false hope” represented by Medea (see her recent ZNet horror of an article on “positive achievements for The Left” in 2007 OR ask DVoice editors to post my “Is It Okay to CONSTRUCTIVELY criticize Medea Benjamin Just A Little Bit?)…we have to drop hitting the “easy targets” so often in lieu of jamming about what we can do that’ll improve matters. There’s entirely too much blah blah concerning The Obvious. In my piece, btw, I don’t just put Ms. Global Exchange down; I attempt to at least hint at what we can DO. That is, one of the first steps we all have to take is to acknowledge that we haven’t made much progress to speak of…instead of clinging to the notion that there’s lots of significant efforts/accomplishments out there from which to draw upon. That’s a big, essential challenge that’s being virtually ignored here. Loving best, Marcelle Cendrars

  18. Mike Hersh said on January 4th, 2008 at 1:37pm #

    Medea Benjamin put herself on the line in Pakistan in defense of their self-determination. By doing so, Medea expressed in deeds and through personal risk a profound respect and solidarity with the Pakistani people. No defender or apologist for empire she.

    Medea’s willingness to lead by example, to stand up for principles, to confront oppression directly, and to help build coalitions to effectively achieve progress earn her my deepest respect and admiration. I can’t and won’t try to speak for anyone else, but I wish we had a million Medeas–or that she truly were “main stream.” Unfortunately, she’s one in a million.

    Is Medea perfect? No, but she is pretty close in my eyes. No petty innuendo or misconstruction of her words can diminish or tarnish her courage or achievements. Actually, this carping reminds me of the lonely pro-war hecklers who chanted silly epithets at Medea as she and Cindy Sheehan led a march from Arlington Cemetery to the House office buildings to demand progress. A few right wingers chanted weak insults directed at Medea.

    Google Medea Benjamin and note the hysterical rhetorical attacks against her from the right wing goon squads. Clearly the REAL pro-empire force know who she is, and they demonize her because of what she does. It’s tragic that some who claim they oppose imperialists adopt the tools and techniques of imperialists to undermine an accomplished agent of progress: Medea Benjamin.

    This backbiting and coalition-breaking plays into the hands of those who promote empire and oppression. We don’t have to all agree and we don’t have to hold each other to impossible standards of perfection. I hope we can cooperate well enough build a movement which can and will accomplish more than this!

  19. Barbara said on January 4th, 2008 at 5:52pm #

    a few questions:

    Is it true that, as Mike Hersh states, “Medea Benjamin . . . expressed in deeds and through personal risk a profound respect and solidarity with the Pakistani people” ?

    How do we factor — into Marcelle Cendrars’s wish for us “to get beyond Bush and to get beyond the kind of ‘false hope’ represented by” the operations Global Exchange sponsors, by ceasing to aim at “‘easy targets’” and instead work out “what we can do that’ll improve matters,” — the acquiescence by UfPJ’s supposed peace-movement leadership, in February 2004, to demeaning and punitive restrictions on demonstrators in NYC (where local contingents, expecting to report in harsh weather along extensively barricaded detours, denied use of toilets, waited futilely for Democracy Now’s microphones — nor were they even, as promised, included in the program’s credits)?

    Why was that beautiful manifestation, of a popular will to perpetuate in memory, not the war crimes committed in disregard for near-universally shared desires for Peace, but the dramatic enactment in February 2003 of a positively tumultuous worldwide opposition to war, instead diverted to annual mid-March* marches of disregarded/belittled “masses”?

    *serving in addition to obscure general memory of the remarkable life of Rachel Corrie, young US citizen killed in an act of state terror, in March of 2002 (the murder weapon a US-taxpayer-purchased machine) by a foreign power uniquely susceptible to US influence; yet this act of terror, one the US Congress has responsibilty to prosecute (as in the case of the kidnapping, secret trial, and imprisonment of Lori Berenson), it has declined even to investigate.

    Also in 2004, many, many involved in grassroots work put their energies into electoral politics, resulting in over 80% of delegates to 2004 Democratic party’s national convention being pledged to a Peace platform. Why then did Dennis Kucinich, the candidate on whom many of them depended to put forward that platform, conform to the nomination of war-enthusiast (and candidate, or spoiler?) John Kerry?

    Perhaps we would do well to remember Einstein’s rigorous warnings against the “leader-society” — a phenomenon he recognized from his experience of Germany under Hitler?

  20. Michael Donnelly said on January 4th, 2008 at 6:22pm #

    Medea (Media?) and Cobb are consumate self-promoters. And just how does being on the board of PDA “build the Green Party” anymore than Cobb’s inane run did? We all now which Party both efforts end(ed) up supporting.

    I was at Seattle WTO; got gassed and shot with a goddamn rock-hard superball thing. I and thousands of others did no property damage, just were there to register our protest. I was incensed when Medea made her jackboot statements to the NYT.

    Since their limelight days, Cobb has done little more than continue his self-promotionalism. Folks in Arcata, CA tell me he shows up at every progressive grassroots meeeting and bores and bullies until folks just give up. He has the reverse Midas touch – everything he touches turns to shit.

    Medea, on the other hand, has redeemed herself some in my mind with her efforts to hold Pelosi and Feinstein’s war-profiteering feet to the fire. But then, I give most of the credit for that to CODEPINK’s Jodie Evans and others, not the self-absorbed Medea. Medea’s continued efforts to keep progressives on the Dem Reservation sure don’t seem like Green Party building…unless that is all the GP is about these days. Hmmm?

  21. John Halle said on January 4th, 2008 at 7:08pm #


    In general, I agree with you about the tone and content of even some of the articles and many of the comments on DV. You’re absolutely right that the knee jerk, hippe/leftier than though cynicism on display here is profoundly demobilizing. I’d go further and profess my suspicion that some of these posting are plants by right wing provocateurs who know very well how easy it is to undermine left coalitions with precisely these sorts of tactics. The only reason why I don’t really suspect it is that the genuine article would be better written and less factually challenged than most of the posters here are capable of writing.

    That said, I went back to Benjamin’s original article which Walsh refers to:


    Walsh is correct that it is indeed truly vile. A representative quote from Bhutto passed on by Benjamin without comment.

    “Militancy and greed cannot become the defining images of a new century that began with much hope. We must refocus our energy on promoting the values of democracy, accountability, broad-based government, and institutions that can respond to people’s very real and very urgent needs.”

    Not eve the glimmer of recognition on Benjamin’s part that (for example) Bhutto was a convicted felon who accumulated a $1.7 billion fortune during her time in office, not to mention is likely implicated in the death of her own brother.

    I agree that Benjamin has done some good work. However, if we’re going to have leaders we should hope that they have the ability to pierce the veil of mystification which elites always erect to protect their own privilege, and in this case, their truly appalling criminal exploits.


  22. Marcelle Cendrars said on January 5th, 2008 at 7:28pm #

    Barbara’s comment regarding the dangers of a “leader-society” is germane. Much else too. I have just submitted an article to DVoice titled, “Bye, Bye Obama-like Blah Blah: Toward An End to Presidential Talk”…which I trust the editors will post shortly. It is, in great part, about that very point. All talk about the pros and cons of Medea, however, is truly a waste of heartbeats now. The organizations which she fronts and associates with are much too much invested in the basics offered up by the powers that be. And anyone who speaks about how she or those organizations have held the feet of Pelosi and/or Feinstein to any fire whatsoever…is sadly misinformed. Neither one of those players have budged an inch…where it counts. And that goes ditto for virtually all of Medea’s targets over the years. It’s not that she hasn’t made a beautiful contribution at times. It’s that providing “more of the same” ad infinitum does worse than go nowhere; it drags us backwards by suggesting that that’s where our energies should go…to battling with The Leaders. And by insisting that we must play within the parameters that they allow…on top of all else. I’d like Barbara to get in touch with me at moc.oohaynull@ardnecb. Others are welcome too, of course. Blessings, Marcelle Cendrars

  23. Mike Hersh said on January 9th, 2008 at 11:24pm #

    Note Medea went to Pakistan. She saw with her own eyes and risked her own neck to make a difference. I admire and respect that. She’s been to Iraq over and over–not in the Green Zone or gazing from a safe distance just to say she was there–but to work with those at risk.

    Then she brought some of her friends back to the US with her, and she took these women to the halls of Congress. I was there with Medea, Maxine Waters and others working to help people in danger. They raised money to build health clinics to save lives in Iraq. That’s the sort of organization Medea “fronts.” To that I say, “Go Medea!” She also drives the right wingers even crazier than her critics on the left.

    Is Medea perfect? No. I respect critics disagree with Medea’s analysis of the Pakistan situation. But it’s wrong to leap from a line in one essay to unfounded assumptions about Medea. I know her. She deserves better. She pitches in. She carries the weight. She works hard and provides thoughtful leadership. She’s always working to make the situation better, more hopeful, more positive for people. That’s an example I wish more would follow.

    So as as for Medea, Tim Carpenter, PDA and the editorial board of The Nation, I’ll gladly work with them to get things done. As for me, I’d rather do that than pick fights that divide progressives against each other. In my view, griping like some indulge in only drives us apart, sabotages cooperation on the left, and thereby helps the forces of empire triumph.

  24. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 7th, 2008 at 9:09am #

    Very nicely put Mike Hersh. I carried $50,ooo in cash to la gente cuban y Fidel in 1998 with a Reality Tour, without of course having told anyone I was doing it. Subsequently, I have followed Medea’s activites a little, and I agree with you.

  25. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 23rd, 2008 at 10:03am #

    Correction: I told two persons about my trip before taking it. See my story with my comment at:


    almost at the bottom.