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Snips of Ike: Eugene Jarecki’s Why We Fight

Snips of Ike:
Why We Fight

by Henry Edward Hardy

Eugene Jarecki’s Why We Fight takes as its framework snippets from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous televised farewell to the nation in 1961, often called the “military-industrial complex” speech. Jarecki is best known for The Trials of Henry Kissinger.

One may or may not be sympathetic to the premise of the film, that the United States has become an American Empire, and as such, is behaving badly in the world. Why We Fight makes clever use of icons of the Republican Party such as John McCain and Eisenhower and neoconservatives such as William Kristol and Richard Pearle to make its points.

Why We Fight is also the title of a series of films made for the U.S. government by Frank Capra during World War II. They were commissioned in response to the Nazi use of mass media in films like Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. Since then the title has been (mis-)appropriated a number of times, such as the book by former “Drug Czar” William J. Bennett subtitled “Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism”, and the name of a popular Danish rock band.

Jarecki’s Why We Fight has not been widely seen in the U.S. It was shown on the BBC in March 2005 and won the American Documentary Grand Prize at Sundance in 2005. The film would be stronger if it were better-organized and had a less transparent point to make. For those unfamiliar with some of Eisenhower’s later and more progressive thinking, this film is an interesting introduction.

A version of this article appeared previously in Current Magazine and on Electric Current

Copyright © 2006-2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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27 February, 2007 Posted by | archives, capitalism, corporations, Eisenhower, Eugene Jarecki, Ike, industry, media, military, military-industrial complex, movies, news, peace, politics, reviews, scanlyze, video, war, Why We Fight | 1 Comment

‘Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid’: Jimmy Carter’s Middle East Peace Plan

Jimmy Carter’s Middle East Peace Plan

Palestine: Peace not Apartheid
Jimmy Carter
Simon and Schuster, 2006

by Henry Edward Hardy

Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, former US President Jimmy Carter’s newest book, is a fair-minded and well-reasoned account and analysis of the past 50 years of Palestinian and Israeli relations. The inflammatory title is unfortunate: not because one could not make a case that there are similarities between the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the former white minority regime in South Africa. Simply though, it’s a case he doesn’t make. The book isn’t about apartheid, and it isn’t really mostly about Palestine per se. Rather, it is a diplomatic perspective of the history leading to the current bloody stalemate, and how in Carter’s view it might be alleviated.In many ways, Carter is an ideal interlocutor to describe and analyze the events, policies and personalities which have shaped the bloody history of Palestine and Israel. His recounting of past events and meetings, based on copious note taken by Carter and his wife Rosalynn, have the ring of truth and authenticity to them that writers like Bob Woodward must rightfully envy.

Carter cannot be justly accused of having an overly sympathetic view toward the PLO, Hamas or their elites. Similarly he clearly understands the different natures of the Arab and Israeli regimes. He says, “Only among Israelis, in a democracy with almost unrestricted freedom of speech, can one hear a wide range of opinion concerning the disputes among themselves and with Palestinians.” By contrast, Carter says, “It is almost fruitless to seek free expressions of opinion from private citizens in Arab countries with more authoritarian leadership.”

Carter begins with a succinct timeline of key events in the post-1948 history of what was previously known as Palestine under the British Mandate. His chapter on “The Key Players” has an informative summary of the narrative of key events as constructed by Israeli, Palestinian, US, and Arab officials and personalities.

Carter is not too immodest in describing the Camp David peace process that led to peace between Israel and Egypt and the Nobel Peace Prize for himself in 2004. He does speak disdainfully of the rather amateurish (in his view) efforts of the Clinton and Bush Jr. administrations, while he speaks approvingly of former Reagan Secretary of State James Baker.

It is clear that Carter has continued to play a behind-the-scenes role in the Middle East. He describes how he and the personnel of the Carter Center overcame significant obstacles in monitoring the elections for the Palestinian Parliament and President. And he describes some interesting detail of how he helped to facilitate the back-channel negotiations which led to the “Geneva Initiative”, an unofficial framework for a comprehensive negotiated solution to the illegal Israeli occupation of the land seized in the 1967 “Six Day War”.

Some of Carter’s most withering criticism pertains to what he calls Israel’s “segregation wall” separating parts of the West Bank from other parts. “Israeli leaders,” Carter writes, “are imposing a system of partial withdrawal, encapsulation, and apartheid on the Muslim and Christian citizens of the occupied territories”. Carter notes that this wall was found to be in contravention of International laws and covenants by the International Court of Justice, but that the Israeli Supreme Court and Israeli government have refused to recognize or implement this decision.

Carter understands that the basis for any permanent peace in Palestine must come within the framework of UN Security Council resolution 242, which calls for the return of land seized by Israel during the Six-Day War. Carter notes that Israel itself voted for the resolution.

Carter’s recollection of facts, dates and personalities is such that we can only wish regretfully that the current President, a man 22 years his junior, could be even half as percipient and perspicuous. Palestine: Peace not Apartheid is an admirable primer for the history of the conflict and what has brought it to the current fraught state of affairs. It is a devastating critique of Israeli diplomatic perfidy and double-dealing and of the impossible conditions of privation and despair brought about by the segmentation and fragmentation of the West Bank; the desperate poverty and malnutrition brought on by the Israeli siege, and the counterproductive spiral of suicide bombings and military reprisals it engenders.

Carter borrows from his previous book, The Blood of Abraham (Houghton Mifflin 1985), so not all of the material in this current effort can be considered entirely new. His writing style is pedestrian, although not plodding it by no means sizzles, sparkles, or snaps. He is a bit prim and patrician in his uncharitable evaluation of Clinton’s peace efforts and the current administration’s diplomatic aspirations. And his evangelical background tinges some of his perspectives with an unfortunate, and unnecessarily sectarian cast. Though imperfect, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid is a lucid, thoughtful and important book.

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (wikipedia)

A version of this article was previously published in Current Magazine and on Electric Current.

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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5 February, 2007 Posted by | archives, books, democratic, diplomacy, history, Israel, Jimmy Carter, media, Middle East, nobel prize, nonfiction, Palestine, peace, reviews, scanlyze | Leave a comment

Fairies and Unicorns Online: Everquest II: Echoes of Faydwer review

Fairies and Unicorns Online

Everquest II: Echoes of Faydwer
Sony Online Entertainment

by Henry Edward Hardy

Echoes of Faydwer is the latest addition to the Everquest II online multi-player roleplaying game. Set in the fantasy world of Norrath, the Everquest and Everquest II online games offer the player the chance to portray a fantasy character such as an elf or troll in a fantastic computer-rendered fantasy landscape. Sony’s Everquest game once dominated the online fantasy game industry, but was eclipsed by Vivendi’s World of Warcraft.

Everquest II is now the flagship offering of Sony’s online games. In Everquest II (EQII) the emphasis is on slaying monsters and solving quests. Players may choose to become craftsmen, traders or tinkers in addition to their primary, combat-oriented profession such as troubadour, necromancer, or ranger. Everquest II generally is more rewarding of a more thoughtful, cautious approach to gaming than Warcraft. Warcraft seems to be more international in scope, with a huge player base in China and south-east Asia, whereas EQII players tend to be American. EQII players tend to be older, and less “hard-core” than WoW players.

Guilds of players in EQII are more apt to be “family” type guilds emphasizing social interaction rather than “raiding guilds”, though both types are common.The graphics and sound presentation in EQII are excellent. The musical score for most zones is pleasant and perhaps a bit Aaron Copeland-ish. Server operation and reliability is not ideal , but is above the rather low standard set by most such games. Customer service is a notable deficiency. The new Everquest II has recently moved to an entirely web-based customer support system which is maddeningly difficult to use if one has a default browser different than Internet Explorer or has set any recommended security settings in Explorer higher than the default.

Echoes of Faydwer introduces to the world of Everquest II the continent of Faydark, where butterfly-winged fairies glide among the forest platforms. With its towering forests, white-marbled cities and not to forget OMG unicorns!, EoF seems deliberately aimed to a more social, age and gender diverse audience than the rather saturated 15-25 male age group to which most games appeal.

Everquest II is excellent for family play, casual play and solo play. There are a number of sites offering Everquest II information such as and the official site at A free trial is available for download.

A version of this article was previously published in Current Magazine and on Electric Current.

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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2 February, 2007 Posted by | Everquest, Everquest 2, Everquest II, fairies, games, internet, media, reviews, scanlyze, Sony, unicorns | Leave a comment

The Corporation: Benevolent Giant or Pathological Monster?

The Corporation
Benevolent Giant or Pathological Monster?

by Henry Edward Hardy

Ubiquitous and powerful and yet strangely invisible in our society, the modern corporation is inescapable. We eat, drink, sleep, bathe in, wear and drive corporate products. Their influence is everywhere, but we seldom stop to observe their effects.

Enter filmmakers Jennifer Abbot and Mark Achbar. Their film, The Corporation (2003) is based on University of British Columbia Professor Joel Bakan’s book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power. The film is a neo-Marxist thesis padded with entertaining clips from archival material such as old corporate training films and cleverly edited cuts from recent news coverage.Weighing in at a hefty two-and-a-half hours, the film, like Fahrenheit 9/11, mimics the documentary style, but exploits it to present carefully edited interviews and video clips to promote a single, if somewhat incoherent, pre-determined view. These are the movie counterparts of editorial cartoons rather than the journalism per se of more traditional and balanced (and ultimately one might argue, more interesting) documentaries, such as Control Room.

The Corporation asserts that 150 years ago, corporations did not play a major role in everyday life in the United States. Without having seen the film, Professor Noel Tichy of the University of Michigan Business School, and editor of book, The Ethical Challenge: How to Lead with Unyielding Integrity, asks skeptically, “Where do they think people were getting their goods?”

Katherine Dodds is director of corporate communications for Big Picture Media, the Canadian for-profit corporation formed for the purposes of financing the film. She explains that The Corporation is really aimed at large, publicly held corporations. Dodds says 150 years ago, corporations had not yet gained their modern scope and powers granted through limited liability and the legal fiction of the “Corporate Individual.” Yet she recognizes the inherent irony that Bakan and Achbar first needed to set up a corporation in order to benefit from exactly those ubiquitous features of the modern corporation — such as limited liability — they identify as part of the problem.

The point they make, she says, is the change in the legal definition of the corporation. “One hundred years ago, the corporation was not a legal person. It did not require people to put profit above everything else.” The Corporation is effective in presenting this thesis through archival footage and talking-head interviews of left-wing pundits, reformed and semi-reformed capitalists, disillusioned journalists and whistle-blowers.

According to Dodds, the project was first edited to be three one-hour TV episodes before the removal of 20 minutes for the theatrical release. Left more or less intact, one still feels the missing commercial breaks in the choppy presentation. Perhaps this snappy and very visual presentation will better capture the minds of the attention-deficient and quasi-literate MTV generations.

The film initially presents a coherent narrative, before breaking up into disparate “case studies” which attempt to prove that if corporations are to be compared to individuals, then these companies, according the World Health Organization standard DSM-IV, should be classified as psychopaths.

Dodds accepts the fact that people are likely to have different reactions to the film. “There could be those who are like, ‘Dude, tear down the corporation, down with all of capitalism all over.’ You can have differing views on whether corporations should exist at all, but I think where we come down is saying, ‘They should not have this kind of power.'”

While maintaining that corporations are “the wealth producing-instrument in society,” Tichy endorses Canadian economist John Kenneth Galbraith’s view that strong democratic institutions, both governmental and private, are needed as part of the necessary checks and balances on strong corporations. In the words of the 1998 edition of the UN Human Development Report, “Strong institutions, free from corruption, are needed to enforce regulations in such areas as rights to land, security of tenure in housing and accurate information on consumer goods to protect the interests of poor people.”

However, the movie compares the modern corporation to the Catholic Church or Communist Party of other times and places. Tichy challenges this notion, saying “Those were monopolies,” noting that corporations do not form a monolithic block in society. Subject to regulation, public pressure and competition, corporations are born and die, or are absorbed, regularly. He says even the very great, such as Microsoft, will be brought down by a combination of consumer preference, competition and regulation in the public interest.

Using as examples AT&T, IBM, Digital Equipment and Compaq, Tichy says the market and the structure of a democratic society will by nature break up unhealthy monopolies and concentrations of political power and wealth.

Tichy also wryly notes that public confidence in corporations as institutions and in businessmen as individuals of good character and public trust is at an all-time low, rivaling the (un)popularity of politicians and journalists.

Resulting from scandals, such as Imclone, Enron and recent cases involving defense contractors, public confidence in business institutions is “terrible,” Tichy says, and that corporations viewing their relationship with the public as “damaged” are “desperate to demonstrate and rebuild trust.”

Dodds warns of companies desperate for that quick fix may use a tactic she calls “greenwashing,” in which a few cosmetic changes are trumpeted and magnified by media manipulation into looking like a whole-hearted reversal of irresponsibility.

Such an example in the film is the designer firm Liz Claiborne, which advertises that proceeds from the sale of a $127 coat go to children’s charities. What the company doesn’t reveal, as the film claims, is that the jacket was produced by women and girls as young as 14, who were each paid approximately eight cents per jacket.

The film does champion some elites, such as reformed capitalist Ray Anderson of Interface Carpet. Having gone through some kind of epiphany after reading Paul Hawkins’s book, The Ecology of Commerce, Anderson cheerfully condemns himself and his fellows as “plunderers” who are destroying the earth. His interview has a queer aura to it, as if filmed for a 1970s-era post-apocalyptic science fiction thriller — a sort of Battle for the Planet of Soylent Green, perhaps. Yet one must wonder exactly how sincere he is since he hasn’t given up the business, and has found such an articulate way of deflecting opprobrium with studied and apparently sincere self-criticism.

While the film is quirky, self-referential, humorous and informative, Dodds says a proscriptive solution isn’t offered because many of the people appearing in the film each have their own disparate ideas and ideologies. Michael Moore, she says, is urging people to get involved in the electoral system, while Noam Chomsky is a “Chomskian anarchist.” She also says the movie is intended as a lead-in to the Web site (, where specific multimedia presentations from varying perspectives suggest how viewers can “get involved.”

Had it remained a three-part TV series, The Corporation would have been better. As a movie, it is at once both over-long and maddeningly incomplete, yet still eminently deserving of further examination. Without the blistering white-hot sarcasm of Fahrenheit 9/11 and lacking the balanced view of Control Room, The Corporation still has many virtues that make it worth watching. The sound and video editing are very well done, and Abbott and her crew have done yeoman work in assembling and splicing together various archival and historical clips in a way which is both humorous and engaging, and relevant and informative. While the talking heads are tendentious — and heavily edited — there are worse heads than Howard Zinn, Moore and Chomsky to see talking.

The Corporation (IMDB)
The Corporation (Rotten Tomatoes)
The Corporation (wikipedia)

A version of this article appeared previously in Current Magazine and on Electric Current.

Copyright © 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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24 January, 2007 Posted by | Ann Arbor, books, capitalism, corporations, Jennifer Abbot, Joel Bakan, law, Mark Achbar, media, movies, Noel Tichy, politics, reviews, scanlyze, television, UBC, unions, University of Michigan | 1 Comment

‘Outfoxed’ Exposes Calculated Bigotry of Rupert Murdoch’s U.S. Fox News Network

Exposes Calculated Bigotry of Rupert Murdoch’s U.S. Fox News Network

by Henry Edward Hardy

Outfoxed (2004) is a film that takes on the “fair and balanced” pose of the US-based Fox news network. It is a fast-paced and well-focused expose of the blatant partisanship and meanspiritedness of the leading US “news” infotainment network. Outfoxed is a light snack. In 77 minutes it fulfills its mission to undermine the claims of objectivity and credibility for Fox’s programs and personalities.

What is missing from this video’s “radical lite” presentation is depth or context. One wouldn’t understand from viewing this video that Fox owner Rupert Murdoch is, in the words of the Wikipedia, “generally regarded as the single most politically influential media proprietor in the world.” Nor that this is the man the BBC once compared to Citizen Kane. But no matter.

Here are juicy tidbits of Walter Cronkite, characterizing Fox as a “far right-wing organization.” There is vicious, quivering, snarling righteous bigotry from Fox anchor personality Bill O’Reilly.

Ex-CIA employee and former Fox commentator Larry Johnson explains how, when he tried to give his honest opinion on air regarding the inability of the US to fight another full scale regional war while it is occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, Fox stopped using him for the remainder of his contract.

Other putative Fox tactics include character assassination, a program stacked 5-1 with Republican guests, distracting or misleading graphics, and intimidating the hapless guest by verbally attacking their families, their patriotism and at last shouting, “Shut up!” and cutting their mikes.

Outfoxed is a product of the Disinformation Company. Their website,, explained (09/2004) that the company was founded in 1995 by TCI (now part of Comcast, a premiere competitor of Murdoch’s Hughes Electronics DirectTV subsidiary).

The director of Outfoxed is Robert Greenwald. Greenwald’s earlier projects include the mediocre adaptation of the life of antiwar radical Abbie Hoffman, Steal this Movie, and the Farrah Fawcett film, The Burning Bed.

Greenwald’s TV and B-movie heritage shows in his direct and fast-paced, no-nonsense presentation. But in Outfoxed his crew has assembled great damning clips from Fox broadcasts and a host of disenchanted former Fox workers, along with enjoyable and penetrating comments by pundits such as David Brock, Walter Cronkite and Al Franken. Good infotainment, and good talking points for discussion with your left- or right-wing friends or co-workers.

Outfoxed is available through the website
Wayback Machine for former website associated with this production at*/

A version of this article appeared previously in Current Magazine and on Electric Current,

Copyright © 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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24 January, 2007 Posted by | capitalism, media, movies, news, politics, reviews, Rupert Murdoch, scanlyze, television | 1 Comment