on copying and pasting, please make sure there are no non-ascii symbols in the text, as the java-script won't publish.. (tristan and isolde.. third time, SJ.. amusing article though: "Bayreuth on the Potomac"- dream on..)
Subcontracting is referred to as industrial restructuring, apparently a result of "globalisation and need for flexibilising and specialising in increasingly sophisticated and fragmented consumer markets".. we're talking fucking bananas here!

In the 1990s the U.S.-owned Del Monte Fresh Fruit and Produce and its Guatemalan Subsidiary, BANDEGUA, began restructuring their banana production operations. Instead of directly controlling production, as it had for the past 50 years, they began to outsource production to independent producers who rent the companies' land, plantations, and facilities. Such was the case in a number of plantations in Guatemala's Izabal Province, where Del Monte/BANDEGUA now subcontracts land and banana production to multiple small, local subcontractors.

According to Annie Bird, codirector of Rights Action, a development and human rights organization, "this makes production a lot cheaper, because it makes union organizing virtually impossible."

These shifts have been devastating for Guatemala's subsistence farmers. In February this year, the UN warned that 73,000 Guatemalan children could die from malnutrition in coming months because of low prices for coffee and a drought that killed corn and bean crops across Central America. In the country's eastern region of Camotan, more than 100 people, including children, have died of starvation and related illnesses this year. Dorte Ellehammer, head of the UN World Food Programme in Guatemala, said that farmers who traditionally migrated from their small plots to seek jobs harvesting at plantations were either unable to find work, or were finding wages too low to justify the trip.
Boom and Bust

'Among economic systems capitalism is the manic-depressive patient: exuberance, unbridled optimism, and euphoria-followed by gloom, listlessness, and depression. But no matter how often the cycle is repeated the patient always believes the latest boom will last forever, only to feel foolish again when the bubble bursts. And no matter how often the patient reverts to manic behavior when taken off medication, the economic “psychiatric” establishment eventually succumbs to the patient's pleas to be taken off medication during the “ups”-freeing the exuberant economy from policy restraints-only to insist on placing the patient back on meds- re-application of necessary policy protections-when the unmedicated patient inevitably “crashes.”'
Some restaurants and pubs in the South Korean capital are refusing to serve Americans amid anger over the acquittal of two US soldiers for the road deaths of two teenage girls.

Beyond Analysis: Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde


Donald H. Crosby,

Professor of German Studies, Emeritus, University of Connecticut.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am about to inflict yet another lecture on Tristan und Isolde on you. I do so with much trepidation, not only because there have been six other lectures on the subject in recent weeks, but also because I'm a bit worried about all of us overdosing on what has become Washington Wagnermania! Even though I don't really believe the rumor I have heard, namely that the Washington Monument, under all that camouflage, is being reconfigured to resemble Siegfried's sword Nothung -- surely somebody must be pulling my leg! --there can be little doubt that our fair city has been transformed, at least temporarily, into Bayreuth on the Potomac! Not only have there been lectures on Wagner, but also seminars, symposia, and round-table discussions, with no end in sight! And of course--last but by no means least--there is the opera Tristan und Isolde, which is now nearing the end of a highly successful "run" here at the Kennedy Center. Once thought to be unplayable, and accessible only to holders of a Ph.D. in German philosophy, Tristan und Isolde has been playing to sold-out audiences--audiences which in my observation have been fully appreciative of the Washington Opera's excellent presentation.

Under the circumstances, I feel that talking about Tristan und Isolde this evening will be--to quote an old Hungarian saying--"like carrying water to the Danube." However: Artur Schnabel, a wonderful pianist and musician of an earlier generation, once defined great music as "music which is greater than it can be performed." By extension, there are operas which are greater than they can be discussed or analyzed, and one of these--as I'm sure we'll all agree--is Tristan und Isolde.

For all its reputation as a formidable opera to produce, Tristan und Isolde was originally intended as a mere trifle, an uncomplicated opera designed to get Wagner's creditors off his back. For some time, the composer had been living off the charity--and on the estate--of a wealthy admirer, the Swiss-American businessman Otto Wesendonk. Some Wagner commentators have called Wesendonk a bad businessman, because he kept throwing money into the black hole which was Richard Wagner. I would argue on the contrary, that Wesendonk was the smartest Swiss businessman who ever lived. For a couple of hundred thousand Swiss Franks he purchased immortality: he is the model not only for King Marke in Tristan, but also for Veit Pogner, that genial merchant with deep pockets we meet in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Although Wagner had no qualms about accepting money from patrons--he once remarked that the world owed him a living in return for his being Richard Wagner (and who could disagree?)-- his long-suffering wife Minna, worn-out by trying to make meager ends meet, and having the inborn German hatred of debts, was constantly nagging her husband to write the kind of opera people would pay to see!

Minna's eagerness to cut the financial umbilical cord to the Wesendonks was motivated by more than just a German Hausfrau's pride, however. It had not escaped Minna's notice that Wesendonk had a pretty young wife, Mathilde, who was constantly gushing over her husband, whose roving eye had more than once brought their marriage to the brink of divorce. Minna wasn't the only person urging Wagner to write a simple opera: the Emperor of Brazil, of all people, was looking for a court composer who could compose a national opera for his developing country, and he, too, wanted it kept simple. Wagner' eventually turned down the Emperor, but the idea of writing an uncomplicated opera was reinforced.

Even though Tristan und Isolde eventually evolved into something more than an uncomplicated opera, in its externals it still betrays the economical features which Wagner conceived as the opera's "selling points" to would-be managersand impresarios. Not only is the number of main characters--some would argue that there only two main characters!--manageable, but decor and costumes are simple, well within the budget of even a provincial opera house. One oddity, for a Wagner-opera, is that not a single blue-eyed, blond-haired German turns up on stage, although all these Celts we encounter seem to have picked up German somewhere!

How then can one account for the paradox that this most un-Wagnerian of operas is at the same time the opera which comes closest to defining Richard Wagner?

First of all, Wagner was deluding himself if he seriously thought that, at this stage of his life and career, he could compose an operatic trifle. Composing a lightweight opera about an "elixir of love" was for the Donizettis of this world, not for the Richard Wagners! Secondly, by 1857, Wagner had reached an astonishing level of compositional development. By the time he committed the Tristan-music to paper Wagner had already completed Das Rheingold, a marvel of composition, and most of Die Walküre, which many critics hail as the greatest of the "Ring" operas. One of the marks of Wagner's "new style" was compactness. Although it may seem ludicrous to speak of compactness in the case of a composer who seems to favor five- and six- hour operas, the fact is that Wagner's compositional technique was aimed at an economy of means.

The famous Prelude which begins the opera is itself a marvel of compactness. The music begins, and within four measures the world of music has been changed forever! Four measures? How about four notes, for properly speaking the famous Tristan-chord, which has bedeviled generations of theorists, consists of only four notes: f,b.d# and g#. There it is, the Tristan-chord. But perhaps you are not impressed: "What?? Is this the chord, which launched a thousand scholarly monographs? Is this the chord that looks ahead to Debussy and even Schoenberg? Just those four notes? Why my cat could jump on the keyboard and produce those four notes!"

Well, yes, ladies and gentlemen, your cat could jump on the keyboard and produce those notes, but it would help if your cat were a tomcat called Richard Wagner! And lest we be too dismissive of four notes, let us remember that every day we entrust our financial lives and our innermost secrets to the last four digits of our social security number. Computers can do marvelous things with four digits, and composers can do wonderful things with four notes! But if truth were told, what Wagner doesn't do with these four notes is as important, historically speaking, as what he does do. The chord itself, as your ears have already told you, is a dissonant chord, especially since I deliberately played it with as much subtlety as--well, a cat jumping on the keyboard! Wagner stresses the harshness of the chord only at moments of high drama, for example just after the lovers have drunk the love potion. When he introduces the historic chord in the Prelude--which we'll hear shortly-- Wagner ingeniously disguises the dissonance by cushioning the chord, floating it in with the woodwinds, and surrounding it with what Thomas Mann once called "a perfumed haze." By so doing, Wagner creates that aura of ambiguity and illusion which is central to the musical and psychological fabric of the opera.

But dissonant chords disguised or otherwise, are nothing new in music. Beethoven, among others, repeatedly uses dissonant chords for purposes of contrast. What IS new about the Tristan-chord is that Wagner does not resolve it, as our ears might expect, but rather leaves it hanging in the air. So now the chord takes on two qualities: it is dissonant, with all that the word implies, and it is unresolved, incomplete, open-ended. The chord thus becomes a musical metaphor for the basic situation of Tristan and Isolde: their love is not consonant with the religious and feudal laws to which they are bound; and despite the intensity of their yearning, their Sehnsucht for one another, their union can never be complete, at least not in this world.

Years ago, in one of his brilliant lectures to young people, the late Lenny Bernstein compared the closed system of tonality to a baseball diamond. In order to score a run, a batter must start out at home plate--which is the equivalent of what in music is called "the fundamental tone"--and then run to first base, second base, third base, and finally come back to "home plate." Seeing a batter cross home plate gives the baseball fan a feeling of visceral and psychological satisfaction--provided of course that the batter belongs to the home team! Similarly, in music, our ears--either for psycho-acoustic reasons, or because that is what we have become accustomed to--our ears want a musical phrase, or a chord, or a scale, to return to the fundamental tone.

What Wagner does with his Tristan-chord-- to continue Bernstein's analogy--is to stop at third base! Eventually, he does continue on to home plate, but that doesn't happen for approximately four hours! And the only reason Wagner's heresy did not create an instantaneous furor was that it was so new, and so unexpected, that not one of the critics even noticed it. At the risk of kicking a very sacred cow, I must add that In my opinion, at least, too much critical fuss has been made of Wagner's break with tonality. The closed system of tonality had been springing leaks even before Beethoven, and if Wagner hadn't made the break, someone else would have. To judge from the evidence, Wagner himself had no inkling that his Tristan-chord would stand the world of music on its ear--if you will permit the pun. If he had, I can assure you that we would know about it.

Wagner, you see, was what in German is called a "Vielschreiber," that is, a compulsive writer, a graphomaniac who had to write down practically everything that came into his head--including, unfortunately, his crackpot ideas about Jews. Wagner left behind sixteen volumes of prose writings, plus ten thousand letters, many of them of essay-length. Yet in all these ink-filled years, Wagner never discussed the Tristan-chord, or the Prelude for that matter, in anything but highly-colored emotional terms. Tristan und Isolde was written from the heart, not the head!

Since the Tristan-chord consists of only four notes, it is sometimes confused with the so-called "Tristan and Isolde-motif" with which the Prelude begins. This motif consists of the first upward leap of the celli, then the ominous turn downward, then the Tristan-chord itself, and then the trailing four-note chromatic phrase--chromatic meaning it moves in half-steps-- which completes the four measures.

The late Sir George Solti, who was one of our leading Wagner conductors, was once asked how he, a Hungarian Jew, could conduct the music of Wagner, who was a virulent anti-Semite. Solti's reply was: "When I hear, or conduct, the first four measures of Tristan und Isolde, the world of politics doesn't exist for me."

Solti was right: there are no politics in those opening measures, but virtually everything in the opera is: love, yearning, conflict, the German Romantic concept of the Infinite, of open-endedness; even the high priest of gloom, the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, is hiding in there somewhere! In ingenious combinations, harmonizations, and modulations this motif is repeated over 100 times in the opera, and whenever you hear it, you know that Tristan and Isolde are on the composer's mind-- which is practically all of the time! I would like to play for you a recording of the Prelude in a version not commercially available, or least wasn't when I obtained it. Richard Strauss, the composer of the Rosenkavalier and a half-dozen other operas with which you are familiar, had more than just his Christian name in common with Wagner.

Because Strauss succeeded Wagner as the "great German opera composer" and, like Wagner, was an outstanding conductor, he was nicknamed in Germany "Richard der Zweite" --- Richard II. Strauss had rather unusual connections to Tristan und Isolde. At the opera's premiere in Munich in 1865, his father sat at the first horn desk. Later, the conductor of the premiere, Hans von Bülow, took on young Richard as a conducting protege. When Strauss fell ill in his twenties and was thought to be on his deathbed, he told his doctors that they couldn't let him die. . . "Because I haven't conducted Tristan und Isolde yet!" Fortunately for us, the doctors complied with his wishes and Strauss lived for another 60 years!

Since Strauss was considered the foremost Wagner conductor of his day, I thought you might enjoy hearing Richard II conducting a bit of Richard I. The recording is as old as I am, so like me it is full of creaks and pops, and sonically it suffers from tired blood, but as a historical document it is still worth hearing. So from the private archives of the Strauss family, here is a bit of the "Prelude to Tristan und Isolde:"

You may have noticed that Strauss keeps strict time in his reading, probably because of the limitations of shellac recordings. Today, conductors--and this includes Maestro Fricke-- tend to cheat on the quarter rests to increase the tension of the silence. More power to them, for who has ever composed silence as eloquently as Wagner?

To move on: neither a nagging wife or an imperial commission could have inspired a masterpiece as unique as Tristan und Isolde. And although creative genius is inhospitable to analysis, it is the task of the cultural historian to articulate some of the factors which may have sparked the creative impulse. In Wagner's case, the shaping of his material was at least in part motivated by the real-life Tristan und Isolde drama in which he was enmeshed. In his fine article in the program, James Holman quotes Wagner's letter to Franz Liszt in which Wagner compares himself to Tristan and laments the fact that he had never known true love. In Mathilde Wesendonk, however, Wagner, felt that he had found the redemptive female for which his operatic characters always seem to be searching. Unlike his wife, Mathilde seemed to "understand" Wagner, to the extent that in the glow of his inspiration she even composed several poems, couched in unmistakable Wagnerian language. These poems, set to music by Wagner, have come down to us as the Wesendonk-Lieder. Add to this love-- which seems to have been both intense and mutual-- the presence of a legal husband, and the insurmountable obstacle of a marriage which neither spouse had any intention of ending, and one has. . . a modern day Tristan-triangle! Incidentally, much scholarly ink has been spilled over the years regarding the question of whether the love between Wagner and Mathilde was platonic, but absent hidden microphones and DNA testing, we'll never know, which is probably just as well. In his recent lecture at the German Embassy, Wolfgang Wagner, the composer's grandson, suggested that biographers have made too much of the relationship between his celebrated grandfather and Mathilde Wesendonk, and that Richard Wagner needed Mathilde only as a muse, not as an object of physical desire. Such situations are not without parallel, and it is true that Wagner did not impregnate Mathilde under the nose of her husband, as he did three times with poor Hans von Bülow. On the other hand, Wagner did propose marriage to Mathilde, which to me suggests that she might have been a bit more than a muse.

Wolfgang Wagner also maintains that Wagner wasn't in love when he composed Tristan und Isolde. There, too, he may be right, but while Wagner was composing the passionate Second Act, he kept a diary just for Mathilde. The diary runs to hundred of pages, and here are two typical entries. First: "Your caresses are the crown of my life, the blissful roses that flower out of the crown of thorns that is my head's only adornment. " · Then, a bit later, "Thus you dedicated yourself to death in order to give me life, and thus I received your life so that I can now leave this world with you, suffer with you, die with you!" If Wagner wrote that way when he wasn't in love, one wonders how the entries would have read had he really been in love!

Mathilde, by the way, seems to have been something of a celebrity "groupie." After the breakup with Wagner, she tried to establish a relationship with Schopenhauer--and had about as much luck as Wagner did, which is to say: none! Much later, she tried to persuade Johannes Brahms to set some of her verses to music. Brahms demurred, perhaps because the verses were intended to be read at. . . cremations! Having dealt professionally with German medieval literature over the course of a long career, I should probably say a few words at this point about Gottfried von Strassburg's Tristan und Isolt. Every commentator routinely states that Wagner's plot is derived from Gottfried's version, which makes me wonder whether the commentators have actually read Gottfried's epic poem. Certainly I suspect that they haven't had to slog their way through the Middle High German text, line by line, as I did as a graduate student!

In its own right, Gottfried's Tristan is a major work which in form and content surpasses any of the other versions which were then circulating in Europe. His Tristan deserves its place in that great triumvirate of medieval German literary texts which have enriched world literature, the other two being Parsifal and Das Nibelungenlied. Parsifal's quest for the Holy Grail is the prototype of what is called "the quester adventure," a seminal form of fiction which endures even today (think of the adventures of Indiana Jones, or of the "Star Wars" trilogy!)

As for Das Nibelungenlied: it is really two great works in one! Part One provides a literary repository for the mythological figures of Siegfried and Brünnhild; and Part Two, with its fictionalized version of the historical battle between the Huns and the Burgundians, serves as the German Iliad.

Since these three texts, taken together, spawned no fewer than seven Wagnerian operas, it follows that Wagner knew his medieval German literature well! It is all the more surprising, therefore, that there are actually very few touching points between Gottfried's text and Wagner's. If anything, it is the differences between the two versions which are of interest. Take, for example, the key motif of the Liebestrank, or love potion. In Gottfried, the Liebestrank is an aphrodisiac, pure and simple, liquid Viagra brewed by Isolde's worldly-wise mother in order to jumpstart the nuptial activities between an out-of-practice widower and a presumably nervous young virgin. The circumstances under which Gottfried's Tristan and Isolt imbibe the love potion are banal and accidental. Tristan calls for some liquid refreshment, a servant finds a flask filled with what looks like wine, the clueless couple drink the love potion and set out in search of the nearest bed. Richard Wagner, who in this opera--and elsewhere--repeatedly out-Freuds Siegmund Freud, will have none of this. One one level, his Tristan and Isolde pretend that the libation is a drink of reconciliation, on another level, each one thinks he or she is participating in an unspoken suicide pact.

Yet on a third level, the draught is neither a drink of reconciliation nor a fatal poison, but a love potion. To this one may add a fourth level, since--at least to our modern mind--the love potion seems less of an aphrodisiac than a placebo, a dis-inhibitor which, like a round of drinks at a cocktail party, serves as a psychological ice-breaker. In one of his two brilliant essays on Wagner, Thomas Mann, the great novelist and Wagner expert, claims that Brangäne could just as well have brought the lovers "a glass of water." A glass of water seems a bit too Methodist for me, and I would hold out for an extra dry martini, but Mann was on the right track.

When we meet Wagner's Tristan and Isolde in Act One, they are already deeply in love, and all that nasty repartee we hear is nothing but a defense mechanism. Isolde speaks with the scorn of a woman who feels spurned by the man she loves; Tristan's tight-lipped replies spring from an inner struggle to keep his turbulent emotions in check. And all of this, ladies and gentlemen,is Wagner's invention. But even a Richard Wagner would have been hard-pressed to make great music out of Gottfried's Liebestrank. What he does with his own perspicacious version is to give us one of the greatest moments in all his operas: a musical translation of the ambivalence and paradox inherent in the lovers' fateful libation. Since it is a long scene, we have time to hear only the introduction of what in German is called the "Blick-Motif" -- the glance of love. Ushered in by

harp arpeggios--almost a Wagnerian cliche when love is on his mind -- the glance of love is accompanied by the musical signatures of the lovers' names: "Tristan" -- (high-low) --and "I-sol-de", with the strong beat on the second syllable.

In virtually all respects Wagner's version of the Tristan-legend betrays a 19th century sophistication absent from the medieval model. Although it would be an oversimplification to claim that Gottfried's poem is "all about sex"-to use a Washington expression -- his Tristan, Isolde, and Marke do seem to spend a good deal of time playing musical beds--or in Gottfried's version, non-musical beds. With great inventiveness, the star-crossed lovers find ever-new ways of deceiving Marke, even while the suspicious king sharpens his skills at playing a medieval version of "Gotcha!"

By comparison, Wagner's plot would earn nothing worse than a PG if there were a rating system for operas. Even in our own production, where the lovers indulge in a good deal more smooching than I have seen elsewhere--that must be the Washington influence!--the deportment of the lovers is marked by distance and reserve. In a half-hour of rambling discourse in the love duet, they say nothing more intimate than "Let us die together". Why then, you might well ask, has the Second Act been decried as obscene, or pornographic, as if it were a 19th century version of a Times Square peep show. Well, as they might say over on Pennsylvania Avenue: "it's the music, stupid." If I may permit myself a more scholarly explanation: what Wagner achieves in this act is something no composer before him had ever attempted.

Through whatever indefinable, inexplicable means he has at his disposal, Wagner gives musical expression to the chemical and psychological excitement of a perfectly normal human love act. It is all there: the pulse-quickening anticipation, the gradual loss of control, the sense of self-abandonment, the give and take of mutual love, and,yes, of mutual passion, the giddy temporary insanity of sexual fulfillment. And although this may make the auditor feel uncomfortable--few of us want to be confronted with our inner child in front of 3,000 people--by any objective assessment, Wagner works his miracles without ever stooping to the vulgarity of composers who have come after him.

We will listen now to part of the first episode of the love duet. As Isolde waits in the dark for her beloved, the orchestra pours forth music rich in nocturnal ambience: night-blossoming flowers seem to spring to life, cooling zephyrs caress the ear, the mood is one of tingling, even tumescent erotic anticipation. And once Isolde catches sight of Tristan rushing toward her through the darkness, the music increases in urgency, and when the lovers hurl themselves into each other's arms, the music fairly explodes into frenetic, shaking rhythms. Words of caution to anyone here tonight who will experience his or her first Tristan und Isolde: the love duet that ensues at this point does not continue at this frenetic pace. This love duet is, to put it simply: long. 1, 065 measures long, to be exact, or about three times the length of any other operatic duet musicologists have been able to find. Analysts have discerned FIFTEEN episodes in this love duet, most of which move at -- shall we say -- an unhurried tempo! It isn't until the 15th episode, as the lovers resolve to sacrifice their identities to a higher ideal--the metaphysical ecstasy of nirvana -- that the music which has been quiescent and ruminative begins to surge with almost

unbearable intensity. Wagner almost certainly intended these escalating crescendos -- called in German Tristan-Steigerungen -- to signify the lovers' impatience for a mystical union beyond the grave. Audiences however, perhaps not being familiar with metaphysical ecstasies, and hearing the lovers' dialogue dissolve into what sound like erotic whoops, yelps, and shrieks, tend to interpret this frenetical musical agitation as an indication of an activity more earthly in nature.

The Third Act of Tristan und Isolde was written under circumstances which one can only call grotesque. The Second Act had been composed in Venice, in a palace on the Canal Grande, with the rent paid for by Wesendonk, of course. But since Venice was under Austrian control, and Wagner was still under the threat of arrest in neighboring Germany, the composer thought it best to return to Switzerland, a country that had safely harbored him for seven years. Not wanting Wagner on his doorstep again, Otto Wesendonk thought it best to rent a room for him in a hotel in Lucerne, an offer the impecunious composer had no choice but to accept.

Granted: the management did its best to accommodate its famous guest. His grand piano was somehow muscled up the stairway, and no objections were raised when Wagner redecorated his room with the oriental rugs, the silk wall hangings, and the bottles of exotic perfumes he felt were essential to furthering his creative mood. Despite frequent interruptions caused by inebriated accordion players and yodelers, the composer somehow found the energy and focus to commit to score the sublime music which brings the opera to its conclusion.

This music is commonly called the "Liebestod," and although Wagner commentators -- including James Holman -- keep reminding us that Wagner himself didn't use that designation, the word Liebestod has an impeccable Wagnerian pedigree, since it comes from the love duet in the Second Act. And a wonderful word it is! When I use the English translation "love death," the words "love" and "death" are pretty evenly accented, but if I use the German term Liebestod, where does the accent fall? Yes, on the word "Liebe." And that is appropriate, since both in the text, glorious in its own right, and in the music, which is beautiful beyond description, the accent is indeed on Liebe rather than on Tod. For that matter: by the time this opera has run its course, the words "love" and "death" have been so altered in their psychological implications that they are virtually interchangeable.

Perhaps for that reason, there has been a tendency, over the last ten years, for stage directors such as Jean-Pierre Ponelle and Ruth Berghaus to try to bring Tristan back to life at the end of Act Three, and now one of them --Peter Konwitschny -- has succeeded. In the final scene of the current Munich production, there are two white caskets on center stage, while off to the side, in a world of their own as it were, are Isolde and Tristan! And as Isolde pours forth that other-worldly music -- music which, as Thomas Mann once said, is beyond all description and understanding --Tristan nods approvingly and strokes her hand. Rather than keep you in suspense, I can assure you that in the Washington Opera production, Tristan will not be brought back to life. Our director evidently feels that an operatic hero who tries to commit suicide three times in one evening deserves to rest in peace. And so he does.

After a performance of Tristan Richard Strauss once made a terse comment. He said: "Das ist keine Musik mehr" the sense of which would be, in English, "One can't call that music." And what Strauss meant is that that the Tristan-music, such as we have heard this evening, resonates on a different level of consciousness than other music --even great music. That is one key to understanding the extraordinary effect that Tristan und Isolde, unlike any other opera in the canon -- has had on listeners, especially on creative --and re-creative -- personalities.

Of the many conductors, composers, and authors who have been struck to the soul by the Tristan-music one may mention Bruno Walter, Arturo Toscanini, and Karl Böhm; Puccini, Debussy and Mahler; Thomas Mann, James Joyce, and T.S, Eliot. Even the composer himself was not immune to the almost hypnotic power emanating from this matchless score. In letters to Liszt and to Mathilde Wesendonk, Wagner hinted that he had lost control over his own creation, a perfect performance of which, he felt, would drive audiences mad.

Earlier in this long evening, I stated that Tristan und Isolde was one of those operas which is greater than it can be analyzed or discussed. I trust you will agree that I've proved my point. And, because I have failed to unlock all of the secrets of this incommensurable work, I'm afraid that I, too, like Wagner in the Prelude, have left you marooned on third base. But for that I will not apologize, because in a sense great art---and great artists--can only take us as far as third base. If a work of art--be it a poem, a novel, a play, a symphony, or an opera--is to be more than just a vehicle for self-expression, then it demands, for its completeness, an understanding eye, or ear, or brain. Ultimately, the way to "home plate" lies in the effort you and I make to enlist our nerves, our imagination, our sensibilities, and our intellect in order to complement --in order to complete--the artist's vision. It would be very gratifying if my comments tonight have helped point you in that direction.


Partying Daughter Grounded, Foot Nailed to Floor

Wed November 27, 2002 08:52 AM ET
PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - A Cambodian mother took drastic measures to stop her party-loving 13-year-old daughter from going at out night -- she nailed her foot to the floor, officials said on Wednesday.
Mao Savoeun, 36, from Kompong Thom province in central Cambodia, told police she was angry with her daughter for going to a party at a local pagoda during last week's Water Festival, the annual knees-up in the war-ravaged southeast Asian nation.
On the girl's return, and after she went to sleep, her mother drove a two-inch nail through the top of her right foot, pinning it to the floorboards.
"We educated her about human rights and she was shedding tears, but this is a crime and we are going to send her to the prosecutor who will decide whether to charge her," local district chief Srey Puthy told Reuters.
Kissinger, 79, returns from the political grave

Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
Thursday November 28, 2002
The Guardian

Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state who has been accused of war crimes by his critics, was yesterday appointed by George Bush to head the investigation into the September 11 attacks.
It represents the latest in a series of moves by the president to rehabilitate previously discredited or controversial figures.
Mr Bush signed legislation yesterday that creates a new independent commission, headed by Dr Kissinger, to investigate the attacks. The appointment received the backing of both Democrats and Republicans.
"This commission will help me and future presidents to understand the methods of America's enemies and the nature of the threats we face," Mr Bush said at a White House signing ceremony attended by the relatives of September 11 victims.
"Dr Kissinger will bring broad experience, clear thinking and careful judgment to this important task... we share the same commitment."
He thanked Dr Kissinger for "returning to the service of your nation."
Dr Kissinger, 79, said he would take the investigation to wherever "the facts lead us. We are under no restrictions, and we will accept no restrictions. This is not a matter simply for New York, it is a matter for all of America. To the families concerned, there's nothing that can be done about the losses they've suffered, but everything must be done to avoid that such a tragedy can occur again."

His task will be to investigate intelligence failures and whether the attacks could have been avoided.

The 10-member commission will consist of an equal number of Republican and Democratic nominees. They have 18 months to report, although Mr Bush indicated yesterday that he expects much swifter conclusions. "The sooner we have the commission's conclusions, the sooner this administration will act on them."

Kissinger's appointment is a controversial one. Several recent books and a documentary have questioned his honesty and integrity.

Christopher Hitchens's book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, accuses him of war crimes for his activities in Vietnam, Cambodia and Chile and Daniel Ellsberg's new book, Secrets, currently in the best-seller lists, paints a damning picture of his behaviour during the Vietnam war era.

Dr Kissinger's ability to travel abroad is already circumscribed, because of fears that he could face arrest in some countries. He has been asked by Chilean courts to testify about the 1973 coup.

Earlier this week, in a traditional light-hearted ceremony, President Bush spared the life of a turkey which would otherwise have been on a Thanksgiving Day dinner table.

He seems to be adopting the same policy towards many politicians previously thought to have sunk into obscurity.

Vice-Admiral John Poindexter, who was jailed and then pardoned for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, has just been appointed to a new 'information awareness office' charged with compiling intelligence data.

Others returning to the fold include Elliott Abrams, convicted of misleading Congress over Iran-Contra then pardoned by George Bush senior, who now heads the office of democracy and human rights.


just don't get it...

This poem is composed entirely of actual quotes from
George W. Bush. The quotes have been arranged for
aesthetic presentation by Washington Post writer
Richard Thompson. Too good not to share, especially
during National Poetry Month...

by George W. Bush

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential
mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope,
Where our wings take dream.
Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!

well, I suppose it's part of opting out of the system, but I see what you mean, certainly when you are competing with locals for the droppings. Certainly does look different over here, which is why these international conversations are essential to understanding.
Conversation schools are just that, night schools where you teach people english conversation and share your culture. When I started to look at teaching english around the world, I kept having these strange missionary associations, which is true in a way. There are some important differences - for instance I'm not directly espousing any view or trying to convert people to a way of thingking, and of course, they want me here and are paying me to talk with them, as opposed to me forcing myself down throats, but the similarities are greater than they would appear superficially. In a this more modern age, culture force is more subtle and sophisticated - give people a picture of life propogandized to perfection, then say "You know, you do your thing, but if you wanna be like this..." and then get people like me out here so they can do business in America, or just more fully enjoy the Hollywood features (which I believe outnumber local flicks, or at split em halfsies). So, that's what I mean when I say workin at a conversation school is, in some ways, worse. You are more directly affecting the local culture.
Workin in the public schools, I don't feel quite as bad about it, probably because it feels so much more academic and removed (and the kids are not so into it, sorta like most language classes anywhere that is kinda xenophobic, like US, Japan, Britain...) If I end up teachin in china, well, that's gonna be fascinating. About the only communist country I could have good access to, highly oppressive (I wonder if the blog would even make it thru the firewalls?) and all sorts of interesting things will come up. But at the moment I'm still very much in the air...
a leftist joke for all! Phil & Morgan, you'd love it!

Subject: Capitalism is Screwing The Working Class

Son: Dad, I have to do a special report for school.
Can I ask you a question?

Father: Sure son, what's the question?

Son: What is politics?

Father: Well, let's use our home as an example. I am
the wage earner, so let's call me capitalism. Your
mother is the administrator of the money, so we'll
call her the government. We take care of your needs,
so let's call you the people. We'll call the maid
theworking class and your baby brother we will call the
future. Do you understand?

Son: I'm not really sure, Dad. I'll have to think about it.

That night, awakened by his baby brother's crying, the boy went to see
what was wrong. Discovering the baby had soiled his diaper, the boy went
to his parents'room and found his mother sound asleep. He then went to
the maid's room where, peeking through the key hole, saw his father in
bed with the maid. The boy's knocking went totally unheard by his father
and maid, so the boy returned to his room and went back to bed.

The next morning:

Son: Dad, now I think I understand politics.

Father: That's great, son. Explain it to me in your own words.

Son: Well Dad, while capitalism is screwing the working class, the
government is sound asleep. The people are being completely ignored and
the future is full of shit.


dear ryan,

thanks for feedback. do think bumming in japan is a bit different to bumming in third world due to gradient of wealth, all i say is if you have college education and you're going for the same few dollars as local glue-sniffing homeless streetkids there's something deeply wrong with you. not sure with economy of scale, or whatever, but the locals are aware of said gradient, its quite literally a different world if you go for semiotics (as in first vs third). socially aware u.s. citizens? yes, of course.

and what exactly is a conversation school?

news from Canada:

OTTAWA -- One of the prime minister's top aides has
stepped down after referring to U.S. President George
W. Bush as a "moron."

"To avoid continuing controversy, Francoise Ducros has
decided to leave her position as director of
communications in the Prime Minister's Office and
accelerate by some weeks her planned return to the
public service from which she had been seconded,"
Percy Downe, chief of staff, said in a statement

See below for text of Ducros and Chretien letters

Ducros sparked a storm last week when she referred to
Bush as a "moron" in a private conversation with a
reporter in the media room at the NATO summit in
Prague. The comment was overheard by another reporter
who published the remark.

Opposition politicians had been calling for Prime
Minister Jean Chretien to dump Ducros, saying the
comment hurt relations with the U.S. They noted that
an Iraqi newspaper had cited the remark as proof the
U.S. president is "the most hated person in the

Ducros apologized for her comment last week and
offered to resign, but Chretien rejected her
resignation at that time.

But in a letter of resignation to Chretien on Tuesday,
Ducros wrote: "It is very apparent to me that the
controversy will make it impossible for me to do my

Chretien accepted the resignation, responding in a
letter: "In your almost four years as director of
communications, you have served the government as a
whole, and me personally, with extraordinary skill and
The controversy spread to CNN, with commentators on a
talk show debating the impact of the insult on
Canada-U.S. relations.

"I understand [Ms. Ducros] offered to resign," said
Robert Novak, a co-host of CNN's Crossfire. "But Prime
Minister Chrétien refused to accept the resignation.
So who's the moron?"

Jonah Goldberg, a syndicated columnist, said Ms.
Ducros' comment, in which she called Mr. Bush a
"moron" in front of reporters in the media briefing
room at the NATO summit in Prague, was indicative of
the government's attitude toward the Bush

"It reflects what the Liberal Canadian government and
liberal elites on the east coast think of the U.S.
government," he said. Mr. Goldberg also criticized
Canada as "remarkably undemocratic," using our
appointed Senate and near-absence of free votes in the
House of Commons as examples.

James Carville, the Louisiana firebrand and Democratic
strategist best known for running Bill Clinton's
presidential campaigns, downplayed the significance of
the communications director's remark.

"Big deal," Mr. Carville said. "[Mr. Bush] has been
called a lot worse by people here."

Mr. Novak then showed a clip from a CBC television
interview in September in which Mr. Chrétien linked
Western "arrogance" and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks. "He said [Sept. 11 was] America's fault for
being greedy," Mr. Novak said.

Meanwhile, calls for the Prime Minister to accept Ms.
Ducros' resignation offer continued in the House of
Commons. The Alliance and the Tories argued that Mr.
Chrétien's decision to keep Ms. Ducros in her position
gives the appearance that he condones the comments.
The Opposition also pointed out that Ms. Ducros'
comments were cited in an Iraqi newspaper as evidence
that the world was against Mr. Bush.

Mr. Chrétien was not in the House of Commons
yesterday, but John Manley, the Deputy Prime Minister,
said it was time to "move on."

Roger Gallaway, a Liberal MP from the border riding of
Sarnia-Lambton, Ont., said many of constituents were
talking about the comments when he was home for the

The general view was: "Of course he's a moron,
but...," he said.

"I heard from a number of people who have
uncomplimentary views of Mr. Bush but who maintain
that he is the President of the United States and that
Canadians, particularly those attending conferences
where he is present, should be extremely circumspect
about their comments and that private views ought not
be expressed by public officials in such places.
A few things I've thought since reading and catching up on back issues of this here blog...
First, really brilliant piece on US military in South Korea, and US military in general, SJ. Really liked it, if that's the right word... and people out here wonder why I so vehemently shake my head when I'm asked if I'm army...
Next, for Phil, I think you'll find a good number of the travelling Americans are more objective and reasonable than you would expect, especially outside Europe (home to the college-baby "ooo look at me, I'm a backpacker daddy" 2-weekers). Also, I'm not sure why you disapprove of the street-hawkers so much. Truth be told, I think what I do is much more damaging than them (aren't I an agent of the culture creep, as opposed to basically on the sidelines?) Yes, they get money for worthless trinkets - they are the gypsies of the age. They aren't forcing anyone to buy their wares, and if it's too expensive, no one buys. Perhaps it's that they are competing against the locals selling handmade things and beating them out thru scale-of-economy measures - it's been a long time since I've been to South America and I'm out of touch with the situation there. I'd appreciate a little more commentary on this, tho I know your time is short so I will understand radio silence as well. All I know is over here there ain't no one sellin that junk but foreigners, the majority of them Israelis fed up with their country lookin for ways to escape. Basically don't interfere with the culture or local population, just give drunk businessmen presents for young girls on their arms in the heat of sake. They use the money to move on to the next port, and I think that's fine... while I routinely question my own mission, especially when I was in a conversation school. By the by, China is starving for teachers - I posted my CV last week on a site and have gotten an average of 5 schools courting me every day. Course, with a billion plus, there should be a lotta schools, I guess...
you're all probably aware of my position on the US involvement in North Korea (ie. they are keen to maintain some kind of conflict using NK in the region to keep South Korea & Japan dependent on the US militarily as well as keeping a military presence to intimidate China) but really, I never thought they'd do so in such a classless, blatant way - and I can't believe not a single domestic newspaper has the guts to stand up & point things out.

SJ - who would find it hard to resist from funding Al-Qaeda should he be offered the opportunity

Koreas begin surveying rail links

North and South Korea have begun land surveys for a cross-border railway across the heavily-fortified Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that has separated since the 1950-53 Korean War.
The work is the latest evidence that the two sides are still co-operating on the goodwill project, despite an international furore over North Korea's alleged admission that it has a nuclear weapons programme.

The two sides began clearing mines from the border in mid-September in preparation for the transportation links.

But the project has been delayed by North Korea's refusal to co-operate in agreed landmine removal verification procedures.

The joint survey which began on Tuesday is aimed at finding the best place to connect the railway and road planned for the east side of the peninsula.

This will conclude on Wednesday, followed by similar procedures along the west coast later in the week, South Korea's unification ministry said.

The two sides will exchange the results of the surveys in early December, South Korean officials said.

The plan is to link the western line to China and the eastern line to Russia, so freight can travel overland to Europe, significantly cutting costs.


The first of the rail links had been scheduled to be re-connected as early as this month.

But a US army general accused North Korea on Tuesday of delaying the project, by demanding two weeks ago that the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) - which supervises the southern half of the DMZ - hand over control of the transportation corridors to the two Koreas.

South Korea's defence ministry said Pyongyang was refusing to deal with the UNC in arranging mine clearing inspections, arguing that the body had no right to be involved in the project.

Major General James Soligan told cable television YTN that North Korea wanted to retain authority over the transport links so "they could move combat forces into this corridor and challenge the security of South Korea".


Just one of the reasons why everyone loves the Americans in Korea...

Korean protests at US military base

South Korean activists have hurled firebombs into a US military base in protest against last week's acquittal of two American soldiers who ran over and killed two South Korean girls.
The attack follows a string of protests over the soldiers' court cases, which demonstrators have denounced as a sham.

The two girls were hit by a mine-clearing vehicle

Monday's protest at Camp Gray, a small US support post in south-western Seoul, caused no injuries or property damage, the US military said.

A US statement said it respected the activists' right to protest but condemned the attack.

"We will not condone violent demonstrations which could cause injuries and damage to facilities or those acts which infringe upon the rights and freedoms of others," the statement said.

In a separate demonstration, a small group of protesters gathered outside the US embassy in downtown Seoul, shouting anti-US slogans.

Legal dispute

The US soldiers' case have fanned anti-American sentiment in South Korea, where 37,000 US troops are stationed to counter threats from the Communist North.

Since the soldiers' acquittals, the country's political parties have called for a revision of the US-South Korean military accord to allow Seoul to exercise jurisdiction over criminal cases involving US soldiers.

At the moment, the US has the right to try its own soldiers.

The South Korean government had asked for jurisdiction in the case of Sergeant Mark Walker and Sergeant Fernando Nino, but the US refused.

They were both cleared of negligent homicide.

US apologies

Shim Mi-sun and Shin Hyo-son, 14, were walking to a friend's birthday party on 13 June when they were mowed down by the US vehicle, which was taking part in a training exercise on the outskirts of Seoul.

The defence for Sergeant Nino argued that he alerted Sergeant Walker to the presence of the girls. The driver says he never heard the warning, because of an apparently defective communications system.

US senior officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, have repeatedly apologised over the case.

Following Friday's acquittal, army commander Lieutenant General Charles Campbell repeated the US military's apology over the deaths, but defended its legal system.

"I want again to express my sincere apology and deepest sympathy to the families of Shim Mi-Son and Shin Hyon-Sun. This was a tragic loss of life and we are deeply sorry," he said in a statement.

"Taken together, the verdicts in the two trials that were rendered by two different impartial panels indicate that what occurred was a tragic accident without criminal culpability."

and something even more interesting about these 'liberators' from the 'freedom loving' country that is 'protecting' us. They really are great folks.

On the town with the U.S. military in Korea

By Kevin Heldman

A mile or so outside of Yongsan U.S. Army Garrison in central Seoul, past the tourist shops and street vendors selling Bulls, Raiders, et al., apparel, past the Burger King and the newly-opened Orange Julius and down a series of narrow roadways packed with American soldiers who are falling in and out of scores of ramshackle clubs--Cadillac Bar, Love Cupid, Texas Club, Boston Club, the King Club, the Palladium, the Grand Ole’ Opry--is one of the 180 GI camptowns that exist outside of every significantly sized military base in South Korea. Or, in the clever catchy jargon of the 37,000 U.S. troops stationed here to help keep the peace--Downrange.

On any given night in Itaewon women prostitutes hang out at club doors soliciting GIs; one part come-on, one part contempt. An old Korean woman, hands clasped behind her back, spends the night strolling up and down Hooker Hill, approaching young GIs and asking "Lady?" as the GI, after questioning How much? and How old? follows her up the hill and down an alley.

In the club eight drunk GIs are huddled together, jumping on top of one another on the dance floor while next to them Korean women dance with each other pretending oblivion. A sergeant holds up his beer mug and says with made-for-TV despair, "This got me here, this is keeping me here."

A Korean woman outside a hostess club is yelling at a young soldier, "Get out, get out of here." The GI has his foot in the door, responding periodically with "bitch," "asshole." When he finally storms away she hisses after him, "Go home, your mommy will feed you."

A GI is in the middle of the street with his buddies, pummeling another GI and screaming, "I'm your worst nightmare," until MPs arrive.

A black soldier who’s a member of NFL (Niggas for Life)--a group complete with NFL baseball caps (banned by the Army command) and a member nicknamed O-Dog, who’s looking for payback over last nights brawl--is outside a club telling the story of how a short while ago some of NFL encountered a group of white soldiers sitting on the curb. The white soldiers made a mock plea for money ("Help the poor"). Words were exchanged. One white soldier used the word "boy." A fight ensued and NFL "Grabbed that white boy by the throat and BAM BAM." He demonstrates how the white soldier, dazed and wobbling, crumpled to the ground, as NFL tae kwon doed him in the face to finish him off. He told parts of the story over and over, occasionally interrupting himself with the exuberant, self-conscious pop psychology riff: "I had my sex tonight."

Since the advent of the all-volunteer military in 1973, the enlisted ranks have been a place for young people with limited prospects; those looking to escape bad neighborhoods, bad families, and bad job markets.

A 1993 survey of new recruits found that they come from homes where 78.4 percent of fathers and 84.5 percent of mothers didn’t have college degrees. They come from the ranks of the unemployed, working in dead-end jobs as cashiers, in factories, at fast food franchises. A 1994 Rand study on Army recruiting trends listed the youth unemployment rate, which has risen almost 27 percent since 1989, as by far the most significant factor affecting the army's ability to attract high quality recruits.

The Department of Defense spends $207 million a year on advertising to reach this market and to pitch life in the military as an amalgam of vocational school, outward bound, and character building camp replete with benefits. A way out and up. But for many of the 176,000 new troops the U.S. military recruits each year, the promise of employment opportunities, education, and a better life often aren't realized. According to a recent Government Accounting Office (GAO) report, one out of every three recruits doesn’t even complete the first term of enlistment. The base pay for a private is $199 a week before taxes and according to a Department of Defense Quality of Life report, in a recent year 11,000 military families overseas were eligible for food stamps.

Military recruiting literature states that offering money for college is the ."..single most important product that they [recruiters] have to entice people into the military these days." Approximately 95 percent of the Army’s new recruits sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill, where you contribute a nonrefundable $1,200 into the program and (if you meet a number of conditions and qualify for certain bonuses) can earn up to $30,000 for college. But a significant number of these men and women are paying into a program they may never use. Though the military spins the numbers a variety of ways, the bottom line, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, is that 2.03 million service members have contributed into the program since it began in 1985, and to date only about 436,000 have actually used the benefits. Of those soldiers who did use it when they left the service, their average payment has amounted to about $7,000 dollars, $1200 of which was their own money. A substantially lower sum than the "$30,000 for college" that the military uses in its advertising.

As for character building, the military model is in vogue today, invoked for everything from rehabilitating youthful offenders in boot camps to graduating wayward high school students. In some cities applicants for the police force are allowed to substitute 2 years of military service for a required 60 college credits. The military also makes a point of grandstanding on morality issues, like the argument that allowing gay soldiers to enlist would be bad for morale, recently defeated legislation that would discharge all soldiers who tested HIV-positive, new legislation intended to ban the sale of pornography anywhere on U.S. military property, and disallowing abortions at military hospitals.

But in actuality, the military is an institution beset by a variety of destructive behaviors in the enlisted ranks. In interviews with scores of soldiers, the predominant theme that emerges is that they feel neglected and betrayed by an institution that hasn’t met their expectations and isn’t concerned with their welfare. And they’ve responded in kind. Soldier after soldier tell stories of assaults, sexual violence, gang activity, serious alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, psychiatric problems, and racial hostility.

The statistics bear these anecdotes out. The military has a rate of heavy drinking for soldiers 18 to 25 years old twice as high as the civilian rate. A recent survey revealed that 5 percent of active duty personnel answered "yes" to the question of whether they've been the victim of actual or attempted rape or sexual assault in the last 12 months. In the last year there were 83 reported homicides and reports of gang activity at over 50 stateside bases.

And there have been a steady stream of incidents: soldiers with white supremacist ties are arrested for killing a black couple in North Carolina; a soldier is sentenced to death for opening fire on a formation, killing 1 and injuring 18, explaining, "I wanted to send a message to the chain of command that had forgotten the welfare of the common soldier"; 10 black soldiers at Fort Bragg beat a white GI into a coma off post near an IHOP; a soldier at Fort Campbell rammed his vehicle into a crowd of fighting soldiers and civilians killing 2 people; 2 soldiers are shot dead, one injured at Fort Riley Kansas, the second double homicide at the base in less than a year; 14 service members are arrested for smuggling cocaine and heroin; 23 women working at Fort Bliss military post file a class-action complaint charging that they have been harassed to pose nude or perform sexual acts; in Japan a service member is accused of exposing himself to a 6th grade girl; 4 others are sentenced for raping a 14-year-old girl; another service member is arrested for slashing the throat of a Japanese woman and stealing her purse; 2 marines are arrested for assaulting and robbing a 56-year-old another Japanese woman; and a 12-year-old girl in Okinawa is raped by 3 servicemen, inciting a protest of more than 50,000 people.

A 1995 study by the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services surveyed male and female soldiers stationed in 18 different installations overseas and found substantial alcohol problems, high levels of physical assaults (men on men), sexual assaults, racial hostility, depression, discipline problems, low morale, and on some bases a high number of suicide attempts and soldiers on anti-depressant drugs.

These are young men and women who are shipped to countries they know little about and have little interest in, who are disconnected from their culture and their families and arrive overseas with a misguided sense of superiority because of their role as a protecting force. Yet they find themselves ghettoized in GI camptowns, on the bottom rung of society economically, denied entrance to clubs, bypassed by taxis, protested against, regarded on the street with wariness or utterly ignored--second-class citizens in their own country, they’re sent overseas to be treated like second-class citizens in other people's countries.

I meet my Pentagon appointed public affairs contact, Jim Coles, Chief of Public Information for U.S. Forces in Korea (to be referred to hereafter as Public Affairs) at Yongsan Army Garrison in central Seoul, Command Headquarters for the Republic of Korea/U.S. Combined Forces.

A civilian employee of the Army, Public Affairs is the official source of information on relations between U.S. soldiers and Koreans and is regularly quoted in stateside newspapers and appears on CNN and NPR as a spokesman for the military. He's an ex-military man who doesn't seem too keen on helping me report. His attitude is basically: Reporter, shut your mouth and listen to me, there are absolutely no problems here.

His attitude is consistent with the army chain of command’s reluctance to acknowledge any type of deviant behavior in the ranks. Every incident is dismissed as an aberration, a few bad apples.

Public Affairs keeps me waiting in his office as he talks openly to his buddy on the phone about where to get a good Korean prostitute nowadays. He complains that some of these girls won't even touch an American guy now, preferring the rich Koreans and Japanese with their BMWs and asks rhetorically if his buddy can imagine how it feels to be snubbed by a whore.

Public Affairs insists that all the problems between GIs and Koreans are caused by the irresponsible reporting of the Korean press. In May 1995 a large brawl broke out among American soldiers and Korean passengers on a subway train, the latest incident in a series of crimes involving GIs and Koreans. Eight months later, when the issue was still resonating in the press, Public Affairs’ stateside newspaper quote was: "The American guys were giving better than they were getting."

He tells me I can only interview soldiers with an escort present and dumps me off to a 25-year-old Second Lieutenant, Maya Danforth, who's been in Korea for 15 months. She's getting out of the Army in 23 days and is supposed to be my PR guide.

A short while into a conversation it turns out Lieutenant Danforth doesn't think much of the Army. "They try to break you and if they can't break you they get rid of you. That's what's happening to me," she says.

Danforth tells me she didn’t get along with her company commander (who's since been discharged from the Army) and who retaliated by sending her for a psychiatric evaluation. She says the commander had half the company in alcohol rehab, the other half seeing psychiatrists.

On being stationed in Korea, Danforth complains that there is absolutely nothing for soldiers to do but drink and there is nobody here who really cares about the welfare of the soldier. "The army doesn't have morality principles," Danforth says, "They have principles based on is somebody going to get killed and am I going to get in trouble because they got killed.

In South Korea, where the U.S. military has been a presence since 1950, there are approximately 98 installations spread throughout the country--from small camps close to the North Korean border to posts that are closer to small towns, complete with golf driving ranges and mini-malls, all closed to non-military personnel.

The hostility and separation between Koreans and American soldiers is palpable, off-post as well as on.

In the barracks the KATUSAs As (Korean soldiers assigned to U.S. military units) and the American soldiers are almost completely segregated, living in different rooms, with little interaction. American soldiers call the KATUSAs gophers, insist they're weird, gay, have no respect for their rank, and are vaguely annoyed by the fact that they speak a different language and eat "strange" food.

American soldiers say Korean men are jealous because they get all their women. They call them gooks and mock their language during protests: "Yankee Go America," "Go Hell."

Last year there were over 861 reported offenses committed by American service members involving the Korean public. The most recent incident was the September 11 arrest of Pvt. Eric Munnich, a 22-year-old soldier, who confessed to strangling Lee Ki Sun, a 44-year-old Korean woman, allegedly over an argument about payment for sex.

And there have been a steady diet of incidents, seldom reported in the stateside press, that have reinforced the tension. In the last year there has been regular protests and demonstrations by Korean nationals outside of U.S. military bases, including 9 days of campus protests involving over 7,000 students, demanding among other things the removal of U.S. troops. There has been a fire bombing of a U.S. housing complex, 8 GIs were accused of beating two South Korean men who were trying to break up their fight with a cab driver, an 18-year-old soldier was arrested for the aggravated assault of a 48-year-old Korean woman outside of a club, another soldier was arrested for breaking and entering and attempted rape, yet another was accused of raping and beating a bar hostess, a civilian employee of the Army was arrested for beating a Korean woman who later died of her injuries and a host of other arrests and accusations.

In 1993, the brutal rape and murder of a Korean woman, Kum E. Yoon, by an American soldier, Private Kenneth Markle--a name now recognized throughout Korea--led to widespread outrage and protests. Her murder led to the formation of a Korean organization called The National Campaign to Eliminate Crimes by U.S. Military in Korea which keeps track of crimes committed by military personnel in Korea, and is involved in activism against military abuses.

At one camp I sat with Specialist Jim Ahnefeld, and Private Skaarup on a curb outside their office on post. They say they're not working their MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) and that they basically do nothing all day.

"Ninety-eight percent of E-4's and below are dissatisfied, this place is a joke," Ahnefeld says, and ridicules the idea that the army wants a smarter recruit today, "We run around mopping floors, cleaning things; they want a smarter army so we can really think about that floor."

After high school Ahnefeld spent 3 years as a civilian where he said he worked 15 to 20 dead end jobs; supermarkets, warehouses, Sears, construction, driving a school bus, a tow truck. He thinks the government has too much control and that the military tries to brainwash people about humanitarian missions when it's really about oil and economics. He also feels he's been treated unfairly by the army and complains "I'm an American, I don't have to take being treated like a dog."

Skaarup, who is white, recently got into a fight with a black GI and admits in front of his black superiors that he used the "N word" but he didn't mean it, just the heat of the moment. As a result Skaarup had to go to drug and alcohol counseling where he said all they do is ask you how much you drink. He said he lied. He said that he came in the army for his people not the Korean people, complains that because of regulations he can't hit Koreans in a fight, he can't defend himself, that we shouldn't be over here and refers to South Korea as the property of the United States.

On another post in the city of Taegu, I met members of the RATT (Radio, Telephone and Teletype) Platoon, a group of mostly white enlisted soldiers who work an MOS which they've imbued with a certain pride. Before the military they worked as managers at Burger King, at McDonalds, as roofers and laugh about being stoned when they took the ASVAB (the military entrance exam). When they get out they want to be police officers and have vague plans about college.

They're against welfare, okay with gays in the military, talk about "fag bars" being off limits and the whole hall full of dykes that used to be in the barracks and constantly direct Mexican jokes to the one Mexican soldier in their unit.

"I'm in it for something, and it's not for patriotism. I'm in it to get mine, just like they're in it to get theirs," says Specialist Joseph Eatman, a 26-year-old soldier and one of the founders of NFL.

I first met members of NFL, who number about ten, on a Saturday morning in the barracks in Yongsan. In addition to Eatman there is Specialist Bill Smith, 23-years-old with four years in the Army, and Specialist Kenyett Johnson who is 24-years-old, has 5 years in the Army and a wife in the states. Johnson and Smith both repair communication security equipment.

I ask who joins the army today.

"People with nothing better to do," Eatman says.

Smith, an intelligent, funny kid who occasionally feels obligated to pretend he is or was a criminal, says that after he graduated from high school he sat around and did nothing, briefly working as a cashier at Target. He says he didn't really attend high school, joined the Army to "stay out of jail, stay out of trouble."

"The army traps you in a certain way too, "Eatman says, "because you get in the Army and you can get all the credit in the world, and by the time it's time to get out you can't, you gotta have a job to pay off all these bills. You get started partying all the time, you don't go to school. I'm going to school right now, I'm not even using my GI Bill or College Fund and they're giving me tuition assistance. There's a lot you can take advantage of, but you have to ask, you have to know, you have to look into it yourself, because they're not going to tell you."

I ask about drinking in the Army.

The room erupts into laughter

Eatman and Smith both said their recruiters encouraged them to lie about their civilian drug use when they enlisted and they did.

"In the states, oh, man, our unit, we had them [urine analysis tests] every other week and they were kicking people out right and left," Eatman says. "We were supposed to go support Panama but we couldn't because we were too high on the drug blotter," meaning there were too many soldiers who had tested positive for drugs.

As for gangs in the military, Eatman says, "This is just like home, people trying to go international and get a rep," alternately amused and a bit worried that NFL evolved from fraternity to the quasi gang that it is now.

They do tell me that they know a lot of people who were in gangs, joined the military and continue to live the lifestyle.

Eatman offers a few examples, "I was in situations at Fort Carson [Colorado] at a club on post. I had a red RIP T-shirt on and a corporal came up to me wanting to fight, saying this is 111 neighborhood, you know, it's on. He's still claiming his old set. I told him I gave that up a long time ago, I don't bang no more...[In another incident] We were at this club, The Step, and these 2 military guys they drew guns on each other outside. One had a silencer on a Mac 10, another had a 9 millimeter."

He says one of those soldiers who pulled a gun was involved in another dispute. "This guy came back with a whole bunch of people, they were all getting out of the car. And with no qualms, my friend just got out, just started shooting. And he was Army. They still got that mentality. He didn't hit nobody, he didn't get caught, and he's still boxing at Ft. Carson."

Eatman was recently called in by the Sergeant Major to sign a statement against a 26-year old white soldier who threatened to kill his First Sergeant, the staff in the First Sergeant’s office, and the colonel. The soldier first made the threat to Eatman and showed him the knife he was going to use. He’s now committed to a psychiatric ward on post.

NFL describes him as "country," and says he always talked about making bombs and was in the historic cavalry in his last unit. They call him McVeigh and laugh. Although just the other night NFL was involved in a brawl at a club Downrange over soldiers throwing gang signs, in actuality, NFL is less a gang than a group of young men with not a lot to engage them, who are in an environment that lends itself to going Downrange and playing warrior.

In the Army, where 41 percent of the enlisted personnel are non-white, the allegiances tend to fall across racial lines. Beside NFL, there are white groups like the Wild Ass Cowboys and the Silver Star Outlaws, Latinos in La Raza and throughout the camptowns in Korea and on base, the clubs are de facto segregated, racially divided by terms like "hick night" and "R&B night."

An NFL soldier from Watts says, "I know there's something that goes on behind closed doors. I can hear how white folks talk about Koreans. I could just hear them talking about black people like that. They talk about Koreans like, ‘Look at them, look at these people’."

In one camptown I run into a soldier who's wearing a leather jacket covered with biker patches and an FTW patch. I make small talk with him, tell him who I am, what I'm doing, and he tells me he's a 29-year-old sergeant in the military police, stationed at the nearby base (this was confirmed when he ran into several of his MP colleagues who were on duty and addressed him as such). We spend some time talking, going to different bars. After a while he tells me he rides with a 1 percent (outlaw) motorcycle club back home, which he refers to generically as the Brotherhood. He says he pledged before he joined the military and always lets the club know where he’s stationed.

After some more time together he tells me he was CID (the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division) and spent four years undercover in the States and Europe, with long hair, civilian clothes, and a fake ID card, working drug interdiction. He says he took down about 19 MPs who were dirty, and arrested officers and First Sergeants for dealing and trafficking drugs. He quit when they wanted him to inform on the Brotherhood.

On military crime statistics he says, "They bury so much shit you can't tell what's true," adding that the unit commander can deal with some crimes through non-judicial punishment (issue what is called an Article 15, which can include reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay and confinement to post or barracks), and the incidents wouldn’t show up in the crime statistics.

On his post he estimates there's about three assaults a day, 1 suicide attempt at least every other week and a sexual assault or rape every two weeks. He said at his last duty station in the States, in a typical week they'd confiscate 22 to 25 knives and guns like Tech-9s, Mac-10s and sawed off shotguns, usually from soldiers’ cars.

He gave me his name but I agreed not to use it. He said, half-jokingly, that when he gets out he wants to grow his hair long, kick back, get stoned and talk bad about the government.

The cynicism, the antipathy toward the military and the level of dysfunction is pervasive among the American soldiers in Korea. The place where this is most in evidence is also the place that is the center of military force in Korea: Camp Casey.

Casey is home to the 2nd Infantry Division, a high security combat arms post, located about 12 miles from the Demilitarized Zone. It’s a 19,000 acre expanse of nondescript brick buildings and Quonset hut-like structures that resembles the grounds of a penitentiary, housing close to 8,000 soldiers. It’s been visited by Presidents Bush and Clinton, who referred to it as, "The frontier of freedom." It’s where soldiers have kept telling me I should go because that's the real Army, the infantry, hard-core.

Casey is a place that has been involved in a variety of incidents, including where Pvt. Markle was stationed when he murdered Kum E. Yoon in Tongduchon. The recent murder of Lee Ki Sun also took place in a room near the base. A month before I arrived there was a midnight curfew downtown. A short time afterward, about 400 local merchants scuffled with riot police during a protest outside of the gate to the base. Soldiers have nicknamed a club outside of post the "Stab or Jab."

Public Affairs denies me access to Casey, saying that the General in charge is one of those old military men who still view the press as the enemy (when Clinton spoke at Casey, reporters were not allowed to interview any soldiers except those hand-picked by the military public affairs office).

I got somebody to sign me on to the post with his temporary military ID.

On the base I met Brandon Sexton, a 20-year-old from East Tennessee who just arrived in Korea. We walk across the post to his room in the 2nd Battalion 72nd Armor barracks. I sat down with him and PFC James Lewis, a shy 20-year-old from Rhode Island.

Sexton joined the Army three months after high school. "I never did think about anything else I could do," he says. He tells the familiar story of his recruiting process: "He [his recruiter] asked me [if I smoked marijuana] and I said ‘Yeah.’ He looked at me and he asked me again and I said ‘Yeah.’ Then he looked at me and asked me again and I said ‘No,’ and he wrote down ‘No.’ I thought that was kind of weird."

Lewis has been in country 10 and a half months and says he used to go to church all the time before he got to Korea. He's on a two year tour and is not going to reenlist. "After basic I was like fuck this shit, I want to go to college," he says. He also says when he gets out he wants to do something in law enforcement. "Maybe FBI or something...I'm an adventurous person, I want to do something that's a little bit crazy like a cop in DC or drug trafficking patrol, SWAT team, something like that."

About the rape case in Okinawa they both feel strongly that the military shouldn't turn the defendants over to the Japanese government. Lewis didn’t know the victim was 12-years-old. When he finds out he’s disgusted. "That's pretty bad, just go get a friggin' whore," he says, unknowingly echoing the comments of Adm. Richard Macke commander of all U.S. military operations in the Pacific who was forced to take early retirement for making a strikingly similar remark.

Their daily routine consists of waking at 5:30, doing physical training, cleaning their rooms and the common areas and after breakfast going to nine o’clock formation. Afterward, they go to the motor pool where they sit inside their tanks every day, all day, doing nothing or sleeping, occasionally acting busy if someone comes by. Or they go up to their rooms and play Nintendo.

Word spread in the barracks that there was a reporter present and soon there was a steady stream of soldiers coming into the room, all extremely eager to make it known that life in the military is not what people think it is, not what they thought it was.

Specialist Sean Pruitt joined the Army at 20, after he spent two years after high school "Drinking, smoking and getting in trouble." He said he was on the streets, staying with friends and had to do something with his life. He was in the Marines delayed entry program where he got waivers for LSD use, but while he was waiting to ship out, he told the recruiter he experimented with crack cocaine and they rejected him. He then joined the Army. He said he told the recruiter about the Marines incident, but the recruiter told him not to mention it.

"This place is a shithole," Pruitt says. "You get that many people over here angry, fucked up, feed them some alcohol, people are bound to fight. Plus you got to live with these people, smell their shit. I mean you see the same people every day."

Pruitt continues, "I roped this guy the other night...this punk who lives across the hall. I tried to pull his fucken head off."

"He almost killed him," Private Michael Waldron says, "I thought he was gonna' break his fucken neck" and adds that a number of people had to come in and pull Pruitt off, to stop him from choking the other soldier.

Sexton describes a recruit in basic training who was suspected of being gay and was given what’s called a blanket party. "He was kind of tubby and always lagging behind on runs, couldn't do his work right...Drill Sergeants would call him fat ass and all kinds of shit," he says.

"He got pretty messed up. They shoved a pillow on his head and they just went to punchin' on him," Sexton says. The next morning the soldier went on sick call and two weeks later he left the Army.

Waldron, 23-years-old, joined the Army because "When I got out of high school jobs sucked." He served for two years and extended for six months because of the Gulf War.

He got out, joined the National Guard, got married and lived in a trailer in Georgia where he was working in construction, roofing, aluminum siding. He got divorced from his wife, his car died, he failed the police officer test, had to move back with his parents and after being out of active duty for two years, reenlisted.

"I hate Korea, I hate this fucken place," Waldron says. "We're not really appreciated here by the nationals. We don't want to be here and they don't want us here but yet the military wants us here."

Waldron, who says, "The majority of Korea that I've seen was the inside or the outside of a Budweiser beer can," just lost a rank for coming on post a few minutes after curfew and said he's been getting "hammered" every night because he just had his drinking privileges reinstated.

"They look to fuck you any way they can," Waldron says of the Army.

"That's why I'm getting out, they don't care about us, we're as disposable as fuck to them," Pruitt says.

They all complain about not having equipment or having shoddy equipment, about training accidents like the tank that rolled down a hill a few months ago, crushing a barracks and killing a soldier sleeping in his room.

"Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, the Army's the nation's fuckin security system,’ and shit--it's a fucken joke," Pruitt says. "When you wait for nine months for a part to come in, to get your weapon, vehicle or anything off of deadline status and you're supposed to use this thing in a war... then when you get the part, half the time it's the wrong fuckin part," says Matt Czaja, a 22-year-old infantryman.

Czaja is not the typical disgruntled soldier. He and his twin brother Mike, joined six months apart. Matt says he joined the Army to make his father proud, because he was patriotic and to repay a debt.

Matt says his first roommate at Fort Lewis was a self described neo-Nazi with an SS tattoo who talked about killing the chairman of the North Carolina NAACP. The soldier’s friends would come to the room ("white males, hate-because-of-reverse-discrimination" types, Matt says) to drink beer and watch neo-Nazi propaganda videos.

Mike says when he was stationed at Ft. Stewart in Georgia he was assigned to parking lot patrol because soldiers were breaking into cars and stealing radios. One night four or five M.P. cars pulled up and ordered him to get out of the area because there was some GI running around in boxer shorts and shower shoes, wielding two nine millimeters.

This wasn’t the Army they expected and Mike, who originally joined for a career, realized the military life wasn’t for him and is getting out, as is his brother. "These are the only two experiences that I've had here in Korea that made me actually feel like, whoa, some people actually do care for the fact that I'm wasting a year and a half of my life...these two guys were the only ones who seemed like they actually gave a fuck." he says. He finally reduces all the political and cultural issues surrounding the experience of the GI overseas to what it often comes down to, the personal: "Koreans think we're good enough to fight their war, they think we're good enough to die for their country, but we’re not good enough to date their women."

When he told a sergeant that he wasn’t reenlisting the sergeant asked him mockingly, "What are you gonna’ do when you get out, go work at McDonalds?"

And Mike Czaja, the good American boy who loves his country, who joined the Army for all the reasons described in the brochures, who even bought his own tools for his track-vehicle and is leaving them so the next soldier will have them, responded with what he probably had no intention of ever saying before he joined, "When I get out, if I was flipping burgers at McDonalds at least I'd be wearing a uniform I was proud of."

'Animal Farm' Survives China Censors

Monday November 25, 2002 6:40 AM
BEIJING (AP) - Director Shang Chengjun worried censors would ban his stage version of ``Animal Farm,'' George Orwell's anticommunist satire of a barnyard revolution gone wrong.
His anxiety was misplaced.
The government culture officials who regularly suppress books and movies quickly approved his script about animals who take over their farm, then let a murderous pig called Napoleon make it a dictatorship. The problem isn't the officials, though; it's the audience.
``They don't get it,'' said a disappointed Shang, 30. His play, performed nightly since mid-November, has attracted audiences that fill barely half of a 715-seat theater.
Shang's problem places him squarely in the intricate, often unforeseeable mix of political and cultural risks for the arts in China as the nation opens economically and socially but retains sweeping government controls on expression.
Artists complain that publishers and other arts promoters, no longer state-supported, are more reluctant than ever to back potentially sensitive books, movies and other projects. They need to make a profit and fear that an official ban could bring on bankruptcy.
Those, like Shang, who reach an audience, find that despite surging popularity of Western movies and music, China is still learning modern global culture after decades of isolation and propaganda.
Communist leaders imprison democratic activists but c


this is apparently the latest letter from Bin Laden to America, taken from the Guardian. He's a religious fundamentalist & a nut for sure, but a lot of his indictments are secular & are in harmony with other non-fundamental opinions around the world. He certainly ain't no fool. I have to admit, out of the two murdering idiots in power (George W and Bin Laden), Osama seems like the more interesting one. Might even turn out to be a sound guy should he drop the religious fundamentalism!

Full text: bin Laden's 'letter to America'
Online document: the full text of Osama bin Laden's "letter to the American people", reported in today's Observer. The letter first appeared on the internet in Arabic and has since been translated and circulated by Islamists in Britain.

Observer Worldview

Sunday November 24, 2002
The Observer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,

"Permission to fight (against disbelievers) is given to those (believers) who are fought against, because they have been wronged and surely, Allah is Able to give them (believers) victory" [Quran 22:39]

"Those who believe, fight in the Cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight in the cause of Taghut (anything worshipped other than Allah e.g. Satan). So fight you against the friends of Satan; ever feeble is indeed the plot of Satan."[Quran 4:76]

Some American writers have published articles under the title 'On what basis are we fighting?' These articles have generated a number of responses, some of which adhered to the truth and were based on Islamic Law, and others which have not. Here we wanted to outline the truth - as an explanation and warning - hoping for Allah's reward, seeking success and support from Him.

While seeking Allah's help, we form our reply based on two questions directed at the Americans:

(Q1) Why are we fighting and opposing you?
Q2)What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?

As for the first question: Why are we fighting and opposing you? The answer is very simple:

(1) Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.

a) You attacked us in Palestine:

(i) Palestine, which has sunk under military occupation for more than 80 years. The British handed over Palestine, with your help and your support, to the Jews, who have occupied it for more than 50 years; years overflowing with oppression, tyranny, crimes, killing, expulsion, destruction and devastation. The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals. And of course there is no need to explain and prove the degree of American support for Israel. The creation of Israel is a crime which must be erased. Each and every person whose hands have become polluted in the contribution towards this crime must pay its*price, and pay for it heavily.

(ii) It brings us both laughter and tears to see that you have not yet tired of repeating your fabricated lies that the Jews have a historical right to Palestine, as it was promised to them in the Torah. Anyone who disputes with them on this alleged fact is accused of anti-semitism. This is one of the most fallacious, widely-circulated fabrications in history. The people of Palestine are pure Arabs and original Semites. It is the Muslims who are the inheritors of Moses (peace be upon him) and the inheritors of the real Torah that has not been changed. Muslims believe in all of the Prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all. If the followers of Moses have been promised a right to Palestine in the Torah, then the Muslims are the most worthy nation of this.

When the Muslims conquered Palestine and drove out the Romans, Palestine and Jerusalem returned to Islaam, the religion of all the Prophets peace be upon them. Therefore, the call to a historical right to Palestine cannot be raised against the Islamic Ummah that believes in all the Prophets of Allah (peace and blessings be upon them) - and we make no distinction between them.

(iii) The blood pouring out of Palestine must be equally revenged. You must know that the Palestinians do not cry alone; their women are not widowed alone; their sons are not orphaned alone.

(b) You attacked us in Somalia; you supported the Russian atrocities against us in Chechnya, the Indian oppression against us in Kashmir, and the Jewish aggression against us in Lebanon.

(c) Under your supervision, consent and orders, the governments of our countries which act as your agents, attack us on a daily basis;

(i) These governments prevent our people from establishing the Islamic Shariah, using violence and lies to do so.

(ii) These governments give us a taste of humiliation, and places us in a large prison of fear and subdual.

(iii) These governments steal our Ummah's wealth and sell them to you at a paltry price.

(iv) These governments have surrendered to the Jews, and handed them most of Palestine, acknowledging the existence of their state over the dismembered limbs of their own people.

(v) The removal of these governments is an obligation upon us, and a necessary step to free the Ummah, to make the Shariah the supreme law and to regain Palestine. And our fight against these governments is not separate from out fight against you.

(d) You steal our wealth and oil at paltry prices because of you international influence and military threats. This theft is indeed the biggest theft ever witnessed by mankind in the history of the world.

(e) Your forces occupy our countries; you spread your military bases throughout them; you corrupt our lands, and you besiege our sanctities, to protect the security of the Jews and to ensure the continuity of your pillage of our treasures.

(f) You have starved the Muslims of Iraq, where children die every day. It is a wonder that more than 1.5 million Iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, and you did not show concern. Yet when 3000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet sat down.

(g) You have supported the Jews in their idea that Jerusalem is their eternal capital, and agreed to move your embassy there. With your help and under your protection, the Israelis are planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque. Under the protection of your weapons, Sharon entered the Al-Aqsa mosque, to pollute it as a preparation to capture and destroy it.

(2) These tragedies and calamities are only a few examples of your oppression and aggression against us. It is commanded by our religion and intellect that the oppressed have a right to return the aggression. Do not await anything from us but Jihad, resistance and revenge. Is it in any way rational to expect that after America has attacked us for more than half a century, that we will then leave her to live in security and peace?!!

(3) You may then dispute that all the above does not justify aggression against civilians, for crimes they did not commit and offenses in which they did not partake:

(a) This argument contradicts your continuous repetition that America is the land of freedom, and its leaders in this world. Therefore, the American people are the ones who choose their government by way of their own free will; a choice which stems from their agreement to its policies. Thus the American people have chosen, consented to, and affirmed their support for the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, the occupation and usurpation of their land, and its continuous killing, torture, punishment and expulsion of the Palestinians. The American people have the ability and choice to refuse the policies of their Government and even to change it if they want.

(b) The American people are the ones who pay the taxes which fund the planes that bomb us in Afghanistan, the tanks that strike and destroy our homes in Palestine, the armies which occupy our lands in the Arabian Gulf, and the fleets which ensure the blockade of Iraq. These tax dollars are given to Israel for it to continue to attack us and penetrate our lands. So the American people are the ones who fund the attacks against us, and they are the ones who oversee the expenditure of these monies in the way they wish, through their elected candidates.

(c) Also the American army is part of the American people. It is this very same people who are shamelessly helping the Jews fight against us.

(d) The American people are the ones who employ both their men and their women in the American Forces which attack us.

(e) This is why the American people cannot be not innocent of all the crimes committed by the Americans and Jews against us.

(f) Allah, the Almighty, legislated the permission and the option to take revenge. Thus, if we are attacked, then we have the right to attack back. Whoever has destroyed our villages and towns, then we have the right to destroy their villages and towns. Whoever has stolen our wealth, then we have the right to destroy their economy. And whoever has killed our civilians, then we have the right to kill theirs.

The American Government and press still refuses to answer the question:

Why did they attack us in New York and Washington?

If Sharon is a man of peace in the eyes of Bush, then we are also men of peace!!! America does not understand the language of manners and principles, so we are addressing it using the language it understands.

(Q2) As for the second question that we want to answer: What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?

(1) The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.

(a) The religion of the Unification of God; of freedom from associating partners with Him, and rejection of this; of complete love of Him, the Exalted; of complete submission to His Laws; and of the discarding of all the opinions, orders, theories and religions which contradict with the religion He sent down to His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Islam is the religion of all the prophets, and makes no distinction between them - peace be upon them all.

It is to this religion that we call you; the seal of all the previous religions. It is the religion of Unification of God, sincerity, the best of manners, righteousness, mercy, honour, purity, and piety. It is the religion of showing kindness to others, establishing justice between them, granting them their rights, and defending the oppressed and the persecuted. It is the religion of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil with the hand, tongue and heart. It is the religion of Jihad in the way of Allah so that Allah's Word and religion reign Supreme. And it is the religion of unity and agreement on the obedience to Allah, and total equality between all people, without regarding their colour, sex, or language.

(b) It is the religion whose book - the Quran - will remained preserved and unchanged, after the other Divine books and messages have been changed. The Quran is the miracle until the Day of Judgment. Allah has challenged anyone to bring a book like the Quran or even ten verses like it.

(2) The second thing we call you to, is to stop your oppression, lies, immorality and debauchery that has spread among you.

(a) We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest.

We call you to all of this that you may be freed from that which you have become caught up in; that you may be freed from the deceptive lies that you are a great nation, that your leaders spread amongst you to conceal from you the despicable state to which you have reached.

(b) It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind:

(i) You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms Absolute Authority to the Lord and your Creator. You flee from the embarrassing question posed to you: How is it possible for Allah the Almighty to create His creation, grant them power over all the creatures and land, grant them all the amenities of life, and then deny them that which they are most in need of: knowledge of the laws which govern their lives?

(ii) You are the nation that permits Usury, which has been forbidden by all the religions. Yet you build your economy and investments on Usury. As a result of this, in all its different forms and guises, the Jews have taken control of your economy, through which they have then taken control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense; precisely what Benjamin Franklin warned you against.

(iii) You are a nation that permits the production, trading and usage of intoxicants. You also permit drugs, and only forbid the trade of them, even though your nation is the largest consumer of them.

(iv) You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom. You have continued to sink down this abyss from level to level until incest has spread amongst you, in the face of which neither your sense of honour nor your laws object.

Who can forget your President Clinton's immoral acts committed in the official Oval office? After that you did not even bring him to account, other than that he 'made a mistake', after which everything passed with no punishment. Is there a worse kind of event for which your name will go down in history and remembered by nations?

(v) You are a nation that permits gambling in its all forms. The companies practice this as well, resulting in the investments becoming active and the criminals becoming rich.

(vi) You are a nation that exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools calling upon customers to purchase them. You use women to serve passengers, visitors, and strangers to increase your profit margins. You then rant that you support the liberation of women.

(vii) You are a nation that practices the trade of sex in all its forms, directly and indirectly. Giant corporations and establishments are established on this, under the name of art, entertainment, tourism and freedom, and other deceptive names you attribute to it.

(viii) And because of all this, you have been described in history as a nation that spreads diseases that were unknown to man in the past. Go ahead and boast to the nations of man, that you brought them AIDS as a Satanic American Invention.

(xi) You have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gases more than any other nation in history. Despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and*industries.

(x) Your law is the law of the rich and wealthy people, who hold sway in their political parties, and fund their election campaigns with their gifts. Behind them stand the Jews, who control your policies, media and economy.

(xi) That which you are singled out for in the history of mankind, is that you have used your force to destroy mankind more than any other nation in history; not to defend principles and values, but to hasten to secure your interests and profits. You who dropped a nuclear bomb on Japan, even though Japan was ready to negotiate an end to the war. How many acts of oppression, tyranny and injustice have you carried out, O callers to freedom?

(xii) Let us not forget one of your major characteristics: your duality in both manners and values; your hypocrisy in manners and principles. All*manners, principles and values have two scales: one for you and one for the others.

(a)The freedom and democracy that you call to is for yourselves and for white race only; as for the rest of the world, you impose upon them your monstrous, destructive policies and Governments, which you call the 'American friends'. Yet you prevent them from establishing democracies. When the Islamic party in Algeria wanted to practice democracy and they won the election, you unleashed your agents in the Algerian army onto them, and to attack them with tanks and guns, to imprison them and torture them - a new lesson from the 'American book of democracy'!!!

(b)Your policy on prohibiting and forcibly removing weapons of mass destruction to ensure world peace: it only applies to those countries which you do not permit to possess such weapons. As for the countries you consent to, such as Israel, then they are allowed to keep and use such weapons to defend their security. Anyone else who you suspect might be manufacturing or keeping these kinds of weapons, you call them criminals and you take military action against them.

(c)You are the last ones to respect the resolutions and policies of International Law, yet you claim to want to selectively punish anyone else who does the same. Israel has for more than 50 years been pushing UN resolutions and rules against the wall with the full support of America.

(d)As for the war criminals which you censure and form criminal courts for - you shamelessly ask that your own are granted immunity!! However, history will not forget the war crimes that you committed against the Muslims and the rest of the world; those you have killed in Japan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Lebanon and Iraq will remain a shame that you will never be able to escape. It will suffice to remind you of your latest war crimes in Afghanistan, in which densely populated innocent civilian villages were destroyed, bombs were dropped on mosques causing the roof of the mosque to come crashing down on the heads of the Muslims praying inside. You are the ones who broke the agreement with the Mujahideen when they left Qunduz, bombing them in Jangi fort, and killing more than 1,000 of your prisoners through suffocation and thirst. Allah alone knows how many people have died by torture at the hands of you and your agents. Your planes remain in the Afghan skies, looking for anyone remotely suspicious.

(e)You have claimed to be the vanguards of Human Rights, and your Ministry of Foreign affairs issues annual reports containing statistics of those countries that violate any Human Rights. However, all these things vanished when the Mujahideen hit you, and you then implemented the methods of the same documented governments that you used to curse. In America, you captured thousands the Muslims and Arabs, took them into custody with neither reason, court trial, nor even disclosing their names. You issued newer, harsher laws.

What happens in Guatanamo is a historical embarrassment to America and its values, and it screams into your faces - you hypocrites, "What is the value of your signature on any agreement or treaty?"

(3) What we call you to thirdly is to take an honest stance with yourselves - and I doubt you will do so - to discover that you are a nation without principles or manners, and that the values and principles to you are something which you merely demand from others, not that which you yourself must adhere to.

(4) We also advise you to stop supporting Israel, and to end your support of the Indians in Kashmir, the Russians against the Chechens and to also cease supporting the Manila Government against the Muslims in Southern Philippines.

(5) We also advise you to pack your luggage and get out of our lands. We desire for your goodness, guidance, and righteousness, so do not force us to send you back as cargo in coffins.

(6) Sixthly, we call upon you to end your support of the corrupt leaders in our countries. Do not interfere in our politics and method of education. Leave us alone, or else expect us in New York and Washington.

(7) We also call you to deal with us and interact with us on the basis of mutual interests and benefits, rather than the policies of sub dual, theft and occupation, and not to continue your policy of supporting the Jews because this will result in more disasters for you.

If you fail to respond to all these conditions, then prepare for fight with the Islamic Nation. The Nation of Monotheism, that puts complete trust on Allah and fears none other than Him. The Nation which is addressed by its Quran with the words: "Do you fear them? Allah has more right that you should fear Him if you are believers. Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of believing people. And remove the anger of their (believers') hearts. Allah accepts the repentance of whom He wills. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise." [Quran9:13-1]

The Nation of honour and respect:

"But honour, power and glory belong to Allah, and to His Messenger (Muhammad- peace be upon him) and to the believers." [Quran 63:8]

"So do not become weak (against your enemy), nor be sad, and you will be*superior ( in victory )if you are indeed (true) believers" [Quran 3:139]

The Nation of Martyrdom; the Nation that desires death more than you desire life:

"Think not of those who are killed in the way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive with their Lord, and they are being provided for. They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them from His bounty and rejoice for the sake of those who have not yet joined them, but are left behind (not yet martyred) that on them no fear shall come, nor shall they grieve. They rejoice in a grace and a bounty from Allah, and that Allah will not waste the reward of the believers." [Quran 3:169-171]

The Nation of victory and success that Allah has promised:

"It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad peace be upon him) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it victorious over all other religions even though the Polytheists hate it." [Quran 61:9]

"Allah has decreed that 'Verily it is I and My Messengers who shall be victorious.' Verily Allah is All-Powerful, All-Mighty." [Quran 58:21]

The Islamic Nation that was able to dismiss and destroy the previous evil Empires like yourself; the Nation that rejects your attacks, wishes to remove your evils, and is prepared to fight you. You are well aware that the Islamic Nation, from the very core of its soul, despises your haughtiness and arrogance.

If the Americans refuse to listen to our advice and the goodness, guidance and righteousness that we call them to, then be aware that you will lose this Crusade Bush began, just like the other previous Crusades in which you were humiliated by the hands of the Mujahideen, fleeing to your home in great silence and disgrace. If the Americans do not respond, then their fate will be that of the Soviets who fled from Afghanistan to deal with their military defeat, political breakup, ideological downfall, and economic bankruptcy.

This is our message to the Americans, as an answer to theirs. Do they now know why we fight them and over which form of ignorance, by the permission of Allah, we shall be victorious?

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