Sunday, August 26, 2007

Donald Lowry and British Loyalty in Empire

Donald Lowry and British Loyalty in Empire

Donal Lowry, in his article The Crown, Empire Loyalism and the Assimilation of Non- British White Subjects in the British World: An Argument Against ‘Ethic Determinism’, attempts to challenge the previous imperial historiography that claims that British citizens and their descendants expressed little loyalty towards the British crown and empire. He argues that, in fact, some non-British citizens exhibited a fervor for empire just as genuine as that of the British settler loyalists and their descendants in the colonies. To prove this, the author primarily focuses on the Catholic communities of the settler colonies like Canada and Australia, but also discusses Jewish loyalism.

One of the arguments that Lowry makes is that for many non-British ethnic minorities, loyalty to the crown was not only a necessary defensive measure (“George-etienne
Cartier subsequently became fearful of the threat to property of the ideas of Proudhon and other socialists”) but also presented an opportunity to further their own nationalist interests (“Lafontaine became convinced that french-Canadian heritage would be best consolidated under the crown”). Another theme of the article is religion, which Lowry argues was prominent in consolidating empire loyalism of the non-British subjects in Canada and elsewhere. The crown became a guarantor of religious rights that french-Canadian bishops could depend on, at the time of the “misery and shame of the French Revolution.”

Many non-British subjects even became willing participants in the imperial project as they sought to spread the reach of their catholic religion to the rest of the empire. In other words, the author seems to suggest that as more time passed, the more the non-British populations in the colonies became loyal to the empire, as they sought to appropriate it for their own advantage. Another theme that is introduced in the article is the discord that exists in the ethnic communities regarding their role within the empire and loyalty to it.

While Lowry demonstrates the great contribution that ethnic communities like the Irish Catholics have made to the empire (D’arcy McGee), he also discusses their constant struggles in forging their own identities and the place it ought to occupy within the empire. Henri Bourassa for example, while fearing the threat of potential American annexation, also spoke of U.S. “aggressive imperialism” and the threat this posed to the french nation.

Lowry goes a long way in demonstrating the enthusiasm of many members of the non-British ethnic minorities for empire, as well as their important historical contributions to it. No one can doubt that many Irish Catholics or french-Canadians were willing imperialists and fiercely loyal to the crown. But Lowry, despite a few sparse reminders of the prevalence of French-Canadian nationalism (“monarchist sentiments were greatly weakened by the quiet revolution”), over-emphasizes the empire loyalism that was prevalent at the time. The majority of the sources, secondary in nature, tend to concentrate on the political elites of the non-British peoples. Very few references are made to the loyalty of average citizens, notwithstanding the popularity of the monarchical visits to Montreal and Toronto, hardly evidence of a profound “sense of loyalty to the crown and empire.”

In order to explain empire loyalism, Lowry refers to adoptive nationalism, where “the
monarchy could be imagined selectively by...imperial subjects.” He goes on to see traces of French-Canadian loyalty to empire in as late as 2001. Certainly, this is a redundant argument not worth mentioning. If a modern Quebec MP is making deference to the British monarchical heritage of the Canadian political system, is this truly a genuine loyalism to the British crown or rather mere sentimentalism? If Quebec were to have successfully gained independence, would its first task be to appoint a governor-general? Is it not more likely that immigrant arrivals adopt the prevailing nationalism, but without necessarily sensing a profound duty to a distant Queen?

It is this weakness that pervades Lowry’s earlier analysis of empire loyalism in the 19th and 20th centuries. The author fails to show that empire loyalism, where presumably the subject peoples were prepared to defend the crown in combat if necessary, was anything more than a sentiment present in the minority of the political elite or population as a whole.

Ancient Indian District of Allahabad

District of Allahabad, India

Located in the easternmost portion of the Allahabad division within the United Provinces, the district of Allahabad presents us with with a fairly accurate picture of the lives of most Indians living around the time of the turn of the century.

Geography and Environment

Allahabad is limited to the north by Partabgarh and to the east by Mirzapur with the Banda district representing its southern boundary, and finally Fatehpur to the west. Geographically, we can divide the district in terms of its two major rivers - the Ganges and the Jumna - into three areas. The Doab is the first of these subdivisions. Triangular in shape and land-locked between the two rivers, it is a relatively fertile land with patches of forests on its elevated plains and featureless ravines closer to its mainland.

The second major geographical subdivision of the district is called the Trans-Ganges tract. While well-wooded and more fertile than the Doab and containing many swamp areas near which rice is grown, its southern portion contains some 60,000 acres of barren land; this does not include other uncultivable land permanently occupied by roads, railways, and the such. The final area under consideration is the Trans-Jumna tract of land; this is where the largest presence of barren land (70,000 acres) is to be found, despite also having the widest area of physical attributes. From this brief description, then, we can begin to see a pattern of land scarcity that surely has a guiding role in the organization of economic and social activity among the peoples of this district.

Agriculture and Commerce

The agricultural and commercial activities in the Allahabad district are largely influenced by the geographic and climactic conditions of this region. The one remaining factor that delineates economic activity is the social caste system of India. One recognizable feature of Allahabad is the regularity of the rains that are received, averaging some 38 inches per annum. This ensures that a predictable harvest can happen, one upon which local economic activity is planned. As hinted at earlier, the lack of cultivable land results in high commodity prices due to scarcity to which we must also add a relatively dense population. Rice, wheat, barley and various autumn pulses represent the mainstay of the crops in this district. Opium and hemp is also cultivated in significant numbers.

The district benefits, since the great famine of 1896-7 which was due in part to decreased precipitation, from an extensive network of wells and reservoirs which are needed for the intensive rice cultivation. Farming in Allahabad is also characterized by the Indian caste system. The Kachhi and Kurmi castes are seen as "careful," employing "intensive tillage," where as the methods of the others (mainly higher castes) are described as "scanty tenantry."

In terms of keeping livestock as an economic activity, this is largely present in the Trans-Jumna tract: extensive pastures have been utilized for the breeding of buffaloes and bulls. Fisheries is another important source of food for many, and a primary occupation of the Mollah and Kahar castes, but one that is insufficient due to an inadequate supply. Industry and factory is negligible in Allahabad: metals and the manufacture/repair of military equipment as well as the production of tiles, indigo and bricks make up the majority of the work.

Trade is limited to the bare necessities of the populace. In terms of imports, we can speak of oil-seeds from Banda district (by river), grain from the north in Partabgarh across the Ganges, in addition to metals, salt and piece goods from elsewhere. The main exports are cotton, sugar, grain and ghi. The final remark to be made concerns the "sanctity" of Allahabad as a prime center of pilgrimage within the entire UP. Tradition, therefore, plays an important role for the local population, to which we will now turn.


The population of Allahabad is roughly divided equally between the make and female sexes and total some 1.5 million, 14% of whom are urbanized (largely owing to the size of Allahabad city) while the rest of the people living among some 3,500 towns and villages. Hinduism is the largest religious affiliation with around 1.3 million believers, followed by Islam (200,000) and Christianity (1,300).

The most numerous castes within the Hindu population are the Brahmans (land-holders, cultivators and money-lenders), the Chamars (agriculturalists, cattle breeders) and the Rajputs. While the Rajputs represent only a mere 5% of the Hindu population, they are a dominant caste, owning more land than any other. For example, the Raja of Manda, a Gaharwar Rajput, is the largest landholder of the district. The Raja will then typically lease out the land to cash-paying tenants, the preferred method among landholders.

Literacy in Allahabad district is comparatively high and has made huge progress over the years. As of 1901 some 7.96% of the males were literate, a figure that is surpassed only in Lucknow and Benares as well as some of the hill districts. Female literacy has also steadily increased to a percentage of 0.56 in 1901. Among the Muslims, the literacy rate is slightly higher, roughly 10% for the males compared with 7% among the Hindu's. The main reason for this is the general likelihood for the Muslim population to be residing in cities as opposed to rural areas which present less educational opportunities.

Allahabad City

In terms of administration, Allahabad city is the headquarters of the district and the seat of government of the United Provinces. As such, it is one of the largest urban areas in the entire province. The city is located on the left bank of the Jumna river. The population, as of 1901, was some 172,000 with the majority of them Hindu but with a significant Muslim minority of 50,000. The city is a great point of assembly for religious pilgrimages, with up to a million people bathing and celebrating in the great rivers of Allahabad.

Where the city lacks in terms of trade or recognizable historic buildings it makes up for in its educational institutions. Allahabad is the most important center for education within the United provinces. The Muir College (founded in 1872), the Allahabad Christian College (1902) and the Kayastha Pathshala, with the number of students ranging between 50 and 350, all attest to the importance of higher learning to Allahabad. The city is also home to numerous English language newspapers such as the Pioneer, which is the more prominent among them.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Beginnings: Disney and the F.B.I.

The Beginnings: Disney and the F.B.I.

"Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood." Walt Disney.

The F.B.I. files on Walt Disney begin from 1936 and continue until his death in 1966. The Disney file reveals a complex relationship between these two Cold War actors but is also informative of the process of cultural production taking place during the Cold War and how content becomes a plane upon which a struggle between competing visions of purpose is enacted.

The first reference hinting to Disney's relationship with the Bureau is in a memo dated December 16th, 1954 sent from the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) in the Los Angeles division to Director Hoover. The memo gives a brief summary of Disney's career and notes that Disney had volunteered the use of his studios to representatives of the Bureau. The memo goes on to conclude that Disney would be a valuable asset for the Bureau given his prominence within the entertainment industry and should be accepted as an official SAC Contact. All previous relations between Disney and the Bureau are blacked out in the memo, a pattern that is repeated throughout the Disney file.

Some have speculated that in fact Disney had been an informant for the F.B.I. during the war and that he had received a promotion in 1954 allowing him to operate his own network of informants. While it is difficult to prove such accusations given the current state of the evidence, it remains a probability that Disney had been an informant during the war, given the previous intersecting relationships between the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (of which Disney played a role in), the Bureau and HUAC. Disney's official status as SAC-Contact was granted January 12, 1955.

Notwithstanding the granting of Contact status to Disney, the relationship with the Bureau in this early period was difficult. On January 20, 1956, a representative of Disney dropped by the Bureau office to discuss shooting a video about the F.B.I. for the ABC network. Despite approval by the local Los Angeles SAC, Hoover refused.
On February 6th, it was Disney's turn to decline a request from the Bureau: “Walt Disney [sentence blacked out] declined to furnish signed statements or appear before a security hearing board. On March 7th, SAC Malone visited Disney (his assigned contact in Los Angeles) at the latter's request. Disney again asked for cooperation from the Bureau on a special science exhibition at the Disneyland Amusement Park as well as shooting a video for the Mickey Mouse Club on the ABC network. One week later, Hoover again refused Disney's request in a letter, citing a busy schedule. On March 21st, a request was made, possibly by Hoover, for a background check on Disney. Arguably, this was the beginning of a change of heart on the part of the Bureau in their dealings with Disney.

The summary describes the Night of the Americas Gala, in which Disney was a guest, and that was hosted in 1943. The summary goes on to hint at a potential connection between Disney and Communism when the former helped sponsor a tribute to Cartoonist Art Young, an evening that also happened to be sponsored by the New Masses, a magazine that HUAC claimed was a Communist weekly.

The following year in 1957, an SAC met with Disney and proposed to the latter an idea for a show that would commemorate the twenty fifth anniversary of the FBI crime laboratory. Disney agreed. According to the March 4th memo, an aid to Disney described the motivations behind his acceptance of the project as largely altruistic: “Mr. Disney likes to do films of this type occasionally as a public service.” But this also came as welcomed news for Disney given that two months earlier, the Studios had signed a two year, nine million dollar contract with ABC Television for the production of three new series of programs. Despite a note subsequently written on the March 4th memo admonishing the SAC for going beyond his authority in initially approaching Disney, the Bureau reluctantly accepted to follow through on the project, “on condition that we had the chance to review the film before it is used.” The F.B.I. took great pains in ensuring their image was controlled; in 1954, at the urging of Hoover, Congress passed Public Law 670 giving the Bureau the ability to protect its name from unwarranted commercial exploitation.

Collaborating for America

Filming for the Mickey Mouse Club segments took place in April at the Bureau's Virginia office in Quantico and was done by Hugo Johnson of Walt Disney Productions. The storyline involved the young actor Dick Mertzger narrating a tour of the Bureau's Laboratory operations and even at one point meeting Hoover himself. This scenario was common to viewers of the Mickey Mouse Club, which regularly featured programs outlining professions for the impressionable audience. And for Disney, what could be more honorable than for young people to follow in Uncle Walt's footsteps and become an employee of the F.B.I.?

Disney kept his promise and sent the Bureau a copy of the unfinished film along with the completed script as envisioned by the producers. But in an October memo, despite positive reviews of the film, recommendations for changing a portion of the script were made: “It is recommended that a blind memorandum be sent to SAC [Malone] in Los Angeles” listing the suggested changes. The changes were relatively minor, given the Bureau's conclusion that the film was complimentary of its image, but nonetheless revealing. The Bureau, for example, explained that one purpose of the film was to get “across to youngsters the safe handling of guns.” But the Bureau also felt that the film should not be encouraging young children of Dirk's age to be handling loaded guns - “it is not considered appropriate” - and therefore demanded the deletion of the associated scene. It was a moot point given the film's repeated and deliberate references to the necessity of guns and indeed their glorification: in the first episode, with the young Dirk acting as Narrator, we are told that every agent learns to “shoot fast and straight” and later, the virtues of the Thompson submachine gun are explained.

The film, it must be noted, was very sucesssful in portraying the image of the F.B.I. in a positive light and its subject matter was well-trodden territory within the American cultural landscape; the romanticizing of the G-Men, especially as portrayed to children, went back to World war II. Children saw the FBI as a “grown-up kids gang” and started Junior G-Men Clubs across the country in reverence of them. One youngster wrote a letter to Hoover for help in starting a club: “We need guns, bombs, and other things to surprise the crooks,” he wrote.

The changes were accepted by Disney and the four completed film segments aired on the ABC network as part of the Mickey Mouse Club program in late January, 1958. While the F.B.I. did briefly threaten to cut off cooperation with the Disney Studios because they had not received a completed copy of the updated film on time - “Did we have a definite understanding to see the film before clearance?” - the relationship with Disney was quickly consummated and the project was a success. It seemed that Disney was Hoover's greatest triumph and the most admiring of all his children!
The FBI activity in regards to Disney is reduced in subsequent years. In 1959, the White House asks the FBI for a rush check on Disney in lieu of his proposed appointment to the Advisory Committee on the Arts. And in 1960, Hoover sends Disney an autographed copy of his book Masters of Deceit, to which Disney replied in a letter by thanking Hoover for “defending our way of life.”

In 1961, the Bureau's activity on Disney increased substantially. The Bureau had learned from a Daily Variety newspaper article that Disney recently hired a certain actor to play the role of an FBI agent in an upcoming movie “Moon Pilot,” a live-action comedy about the first American man shot into space; “Discreet inquiries” had been made to secure a copy of the script. A March 1st memo shows that Disney supposedly tried to contact the FBI to inform them of the new film project, sensing that their may be anxiety about the depiction of the G-man in his movie, but no meeting ever took place. Hoover himself was incensed about the way the G-man was portrayed in “Moon Pilot” after he read the script and demanded that the SAC meet with Disney to personally transmit the directors opposition to such representations; “Handle diplomatically,” Hoover reminded the Agent. While Disney did suggest that he was willing to replace the FBI character with one from another agency, he felt it would be inaccurate and unrealistic to do so given the storyline and urged Hoover to wait for a revised script. But Disney relented and replaced the G-man with a generic representation of a security officer. Hoover later questioned Disney's initial representations of the F.B.I. in Moon Pilot – “I am amazed Disney would do this” - and rationalized that Disney “had probably been infiltrated.”

The movie Moon Pilot was released in 1962. While Disney did make the changes requested by the Bureau, probably out of personal devotion to Hoover, the movie in hindsight has come to represent the difficulties inherent when the politics of government intersects with art. In examining a critics review of Moon Pilot at the time of its release, we get a picture of the Cold War dynamic between individual entertainers and government agencies, and more specifically, Disney's relationship to American culture at the time. One reviewer argues that the movie had political motives in that it represented “the bitter struggle between what obviously is the F.B.I. and the NASA security bureau...this is fairly broad comment on sacred cows.66” Disney, in his own mind, saw himself as the one man who had to act and critique the security lapses that were occurring during his time, always mindful of his own role (as he conceptualized it) in the larger Cold War conflict that was taking place. Disney never abandoned that great sense of patriotic duty that he felt towards others. “In fact,” the reviewer continues, “were the sources other than Disney's studio, howls from patriotic organizations would hardly be unexpected.”

Disney's position as mediator and authority figure in American culture had long since been established and this allowed him to play an expanded role in the politics of the time.

Disney’s Involvement in HUAC 1947

Disney’s Involvement in HUAC

By the time the House Un-American Activities Committee called its first witnesses, it had already compiled a list of potential Communist subversives with the help of files from the F.B.I. Walt Disney came to be personally involved in the investigations when HUAC called him to testify (on a voluntary basis) on October 24th.

Disney, along with others like Ronald Reagan, Ayn Rand and Gary Cooper, were collectively known as “the friendly witnesses,” so called because of their willingness to cooperate rather enthusiastically with the committee and whose loyalty and “Americanism is not questioned.” Most were also members of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, the Conservative red-baiting organization that some have suggested actually helped compile the original list of Communist Party members in Hollywood that HUAC used for its investigations.

Disney's testimony before HUAC quickly revealed his bitterness to the 1941 cartoonists strike at his studios as well as his attitudes towards Communism. After an introductory spate of biographical questions, the lead investigator H. A. Smith asks Disney about his wartime propaganda shorts: “From those pictures that you made, have you any opinion as to whether or not the films can be used effectively to disseminate propaganda?” Disney replied that he thought they did. Of course, this question was not a random or insignificant one but rather had a clear purpose: it tried to establish for the public record Disney's credibility and knowledge on such matters as propaganda, which would serve to bolster and legitimate Disney's subsequent testimony regarding Communist influence in Hollywood. Disney continued, explaining how he felt his films were successful: “Well, on the one for the Treasury on taxes, it was to let the people know that taxes were important in the war effort. As they explained to me, they had 13,000,000 new taxpayers...” Disney did go on to assure the committee though that his studio no longer employs propaganda.
Afterwards, the questioning from Smith and Disney's testimony dealt with the heart of the matter.

• Smith: Do you have any people in your studio at the present time that
• you believe are Communist or Fascist, employed there?

• Disney: No; at the present time I feel that everybody in my studio is
• one-hundred-percent American.

• Smith: Have you had at any time, in your opinion, in the past, have you
• at any time in the past had any Communists employed at your studio?

• Disney: Yes; in the past I had some people that I definitely feel were
• Communists.

• Smith: As a matter of fact, Mr. Disney, you experienced a strike at your
• studio, did you not?

• Disney: Yes.

• Smith: And is it your opinion that that strike was instituted by members
• of the Communist Party to serve their purposes?

• Disney: Well, it proved itself so with time, and I definitely feel it was
• a Communist group trying to take over my artists and they did take
• them over.

• CHAIRMAN (Parnell Thomas): Do you say they did take them over?

Beyond the simplified and whitewashed accounts of the 1941 strike, Disney's testimony is quiet revelatory on another account: Disney equated Communism (and Fascism) with the antithesis of everything that was American. In other words, being a Communist or a “fellow traveler” was inherently seditious and anti-American. The testimony also reveals the extent to which much of the anti-communism of Disney (and of many others) was based on faulty assumptions and varied according to personal whims.

Disney identified Herb Sorrell as the individual that was the at the heart of the strike and described an encounter he had with Sorrell in his office. According to Disney's version of events, Sorrell was threatening in the encounter: "I have all of the tools of the trade sharpened," and apparently Sorrell continued to say “that [Disney] couldn't stand the ridicule or the smear of a strike...I will smear you and I will make a dust bowl out of your plant.” And to this, again according to his own testimony, Disney responded: “I told him that it was a matter of principle with me...that I couldn't go on working with my boys feeling that I had sold them down the river.” This account of the encounter, whether historically accurate or not, demonstrates Disney's fundamentally paternalistic attitude towards his employees. But more importantly, it shows Uncle Walt's perception of his idealized self and therefore the idealized person: a man that is bound by duty to protect those under his care; a man whose ideals never wavered under external pressure, no matter how strong.

The fundamentally trivial nature upon which much of the American anti-communism in the post-war era was based is also demonstrated vividly by Disney's response to a question by chairman Thomas: “The first people to smear me...were all of the Commie front organizations. I can't remember them all, they change so often, but one that is clear in my mind is the League of Women Shoppers, The People's World, The Daily Worker, and the PM magazine in New York.” The next day, Disney sent a telegram besieging the Committee chairman to strike from the official record the reference (he had made the day earlier) to the League of Women Shoppers. In fact, it was not a Communist front organization as he claimed. Disney went on to further identify supposed Communists that had worked at his studios. David Hilberman was a Communist “because he had no religion” and had spent time at the “Moscow Art Theater.” Maurice Howard was a Communist and so was William Pomerance too; but then again, “no one has any way of proving those things.”

What is interesting to note about Disney's testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee in general is the language he uses and the imagery that is evoked as a result; the themes of his testimony could have very easily been borrowed from one of Disney's many movie scripts. The workers at the studios were “good, solid Americans.” They were “my boys” just defending “their American rights.” While the accused Communists were often described very differently: “they” were un-American and we are told that we must “fight them,” otherwise, “it” will interfere with the rights of the people. In other words, a language of anonymity was used to great emotional effect, evoking imagery of a David and Goliath struggle, where Disney was the David and the amorphous but omnipresent Communist enemy was the Goliath. “I know that I have been handicapped out there in fighting it,” Disney testified. But in the end, how could he lose?

This imagery of Good against Evil was present and took center stage in Disney's movies throughout his career in animation. The first animated cartoon with a synchronized soundtrack to be released begins to deal with similar themes. Steamboat Willie, released in 1929, opens with the lovable and jovial Mickey Mouse steering his ship when to the viewer's surprise, the large and threatening Captain Pete makes his entry (signaled by an abrupt change in the tone of music) and forcefully removes Mickey from the steer. As the animated short progresses, Mickey must also deal with a loud-mouthed but enviably-positioned parrot who mocks the Mouse's misfortunes endlessly.

In the end, Mickey “teaches” the parrot a lesson but never is able to deal with the Captain. Presumably, this is an attempt by Disney at portraying the “David” but also reminding the audience that a level of authority must always exist and be respected. In his latter career, Disney's movies would be more uncompromising in their representations of the “Davidian” battle that must be waged. In the 1961 release of One Hundred and One dalmatians, the antagonist Creulla De Vil kidnaps a group of lovable Dalmatians in order to be used as fur only to have her plans ruined by the dogs.

The Roots of the HUAC Committee

The Roots of the HUAC Committee

The roots of the House Un-American Activities Committee go back to the 1930's when it was initially known as the Special Committee on Un-American Activity.

Created by the Liberal Democratic Senator from New York Samuel Dickenstein, the main focus of its investigations were domestic American Fascism and Nazism. In 1938, with its status as a committee of the House of Representatives extended and now under the leadership of conservative House member Martin Dies, its new task was to investigate subversive organizations and unamerican propaganda; this quickly took an anti-communist tone under the aggressive leadership of its conservative chairman. The Dies committee, as it was known, also became a convenient conservative tool for reducing many hated New Deal programs by linking them with the taint of Communism.

The Federal Theater Project, a New Deal initiative that kept actors employed, was investigated by Dies for its alleged Communist themes. In 1941, a colleague of Dies', Jack Tenney, started his own commission in California investigating subversive activity, a decision partly inspired by Disney himself. The first person that Tenney called to testify was Herbert Sorell, the man that was responsible for unionizing Disney studio employees.

By the time 1947 came around, HUAC was a permanent standing committee and refocused its efforts once more towards subversiveness in Hollywood. As the authors of The Inquisition in Hollywood have put it:

“Like a beacon in the darkening political night of postwar America, Hollywood attracted the moths of reaction again and again.”

But in 1947, there was also an unprecedented amount of new measures taken to clamp down on Communist influence, with HUAC being but one of them. The Taft-Hartley Act, which sought to reduce the power of Unions and Communist influence within them and the Federal governments loyalty-security programs for federal employees, were both instituted in the same year setting the stage for HUAC.

This is not to say of course that political anti-communism had not existed prior to HUAC. As Ellen Schreker has noted, anticommunist forces would first come to influence national politics during World War I, when “national security became central to the repression of left-wing dissent.” She goes on to document the many political uses of the wartime espionage and sedition laws to stifle union activity and fight the “reds.”28 But it is important to recognize as well that the climate of McCarthyism was reflective of the high level of anxiety in American post-war society and the highly corrosive influence of a minority of powerful Conservative figures who had the ability to push their anti-liberal agenda. These Conservatives included the likes of Eric Johnston, the President of the Motion Pictures Producers' Association, who cooperated with the Hollywood investigations and engaged in self-censorship.

Another more notable Conservative who was only too willing to cooperate with the Hollywood investigations was Walt Disney himself.

Walt Disney - A brief Biography

A Brief Biography of Cartoonist Walt Disney

“It's a Matter of Principle with Me.” Disney testifying before Congress.

Walt Disney, born in 1901 to a Canadian father and German mother, learned the importance of hard work at a very young age. During the Great War, driven by a strong sense of duty, the result of his father's traditional Victorian values as well as an intense jealousy of his older brother's service in the navy, Disney devised a plot to enlist in the war effort by crossing into Canada and signing up there, a necessity in order to circumvent American age restrictions.9 Disney's first experiences in animation and business would go a long way in explaining his anti-communist zeal and willingness to testify before HUAC in later years.

In 1929, Disney was dealt a formative experience when a majority of his employees deserted him and took up employment with a competitor. Again, in 1931, Disney's close friend and lead animator, Ub Iwerks, abandoned him to start his own company. Indeed, Disney very early on concluded that the animation production industry was an “out-and-out cutthroat business” where one would be “putting a knife in your back and he'll be laughing and having a drink with you.”

Disney's later role as a willing anti-communist soldier can also be explained by his keen awareness of and subsequent adaptation to the changing American culture of any given time. As his biographer Steven Watts puts it, Disney “had a visceral instinct for the rhythms and emotions of mass culture.” For example, the animated cartoon The Whoopee Party (1932), as cited by Watts, was representative of the new emerging mass culture in America by its conscious mix of a fast-paced, upbeat musical score along with the portrayal of Mickey Mouse as a hyper-prominent figure, which worked well in the new cultural landscape that saw the rise of the celebrity culture.

Disney's work also included patriotic themes as he enlisted for the war effort during World War II. In 1941, the Lockheed Aircraft Company began a four year collaboration with Disney making instructional films for the war. The Canadian National Film Board enlisted Disney for a series of four animated shorts dealing with, among other things, troop training. The American army was also involved, subsequently taking over Walt Disney studios in California in order to support the war effort; at a certain point, a Navy commander would occupy Disney's personal office for two months, but Disney never did find the courage to say much.

One of the animated shorts that was produced by Disney for the American war effort was Education for Death: the making of a Nazi, based on a previous book by Gregor Ziemer of the same name. The short opens with the narrator asking “What makes a Nazi? How does he get that way?” Later, we see a mock scene from the Sleeping Beauty story with Hitler portrayed as the hero reawakening a slumbering Mother Germany. The short goes on to detail how the Nazis educate their young from an early age to become ruthless killers. According to Disney's view, as represented in the short, Nazis are ruthless enemies much akin to animals who are bred to hate and that such qualities were of a permanent, unchanging nature. This extreme and dehumanizing view of the Nazis demonstrates Disney's tendency to moral absolutism, a behavior that he would exhibit in the future as well.

Disney had also inherited from his father, who was a firm liberal, a politics of egalitarianism and populism. In 1948, Disney signed a letter urging Congress to pass a $300 million education bill which had the support of labor unions and was being stalled by a conservative congress. But he also was a believer in the traditional values of hierarchy and stability in the home, what could today be referred to as “family values.” This resulted in a pervading sense of moralism throughout his cartoons and movies, a point missed by some critics who tend to focus almost entirely on the technical aspects of Disney's cartoons and movies. In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Disney's first full-length animated feature, we are presented with a version of the idealized woman. In the opening scenes of the movie, we see Snow White happily tending to her garden, cleaning and singing, wishing for her prince to come save her. A little further in the movie, we see the seven dwarfs arriving at the cottage only to notice that it has been cleaned. When they finally meet Snow White in the upstairs room, she quickly besieges them to wash up before dinner, as the inside of the cottage sparkles from the workings of an over-enthusiastic but duty bound woman.

Disney's moralizing has indeed left a lasting legacy on the publics imagination until modern times. When the issue of building a Disney historical theme park in Virginia arose in 1995, one critic drew an editorial cartoon of Goofy running along side a Vietnamese girl that had just been struck with napalm, with the caption “I loved hearing Mickey read the emancipation proclamation in his funny little voice.”
In sum, Disney's early business experiences, including the strike of 1941, in addition to his traditional sense of personal duty and morality along with his keen ability to discern the cultural trends of his time, would position him to play a leading role in the institutionalized anti-communism of post-war America. It would also lay the groundwork for Disney's relationship with the F.B.I. as well as his testimony before the HUAC investigations.

Walt Disney and the HUAC Investigations

Disney’s Involvement in the House Un-American Activities Committee

Walt Disney's involvement in HUAC, hearings set up in 1947 to investigate charges that Hollywood was infiltrated by Communists, has its direct roots in 1941 when cartoonists working at the Disney studios and organized by the Screen Cartoonists Guild went on strike for better wages and working conditions.

Disney, described as “a benign dictator” by some and a tyrant by others, never forgot this experience. The problems for Disney started on May 28 in 1941 when the Screen cartoonists Guild, after having had filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board previously, went on strike. The strike, with many bitter moments, ended only with the intervention of the Federal government on September 15th of the same year. Of course, the Disney corporations labor unrest is not an isolated incident and can viewed in the larger context of increased radicalization and politicization of union activity caused in part by the 1930's Depression. But Disney's problems had largely internal roots. Simply put, Disney's own paternalism and the uneven treatment he showed towards his employees led to discontent within the studios.

Disney saw the strike, as was to be expected, in a different light. For example, in a letter to Disney shareholders in 1941, Disney discussed the strike under a brief Labor Relations section. He writes: “For the first time in its history the company was, during 1941, beset by labor troubles. [While] a majority of our employees stayed at work...activities on the part of sympathetic unions [made] it impossible to deliver and exhibit our work.” And he continues: “Repeated efforts by the company to effect a settlement were unavailing.” In other words Disney sought to portray the strikers as a an unreasonable minority who had repeatedly neglected generous offers from Disney. At other times, Disney portrayed the strikers as Communist dupes. According to Art Babbitt, a leading Disney animator and organizer of the strike, Walt Disney “was an America firster [who] saw a Communist behind every tree, every bush.” But by that time, with the hindsight of history, it was clear that the Communist Party had been partially discredited in Hollywood after the coming to light of the secret Nazi-Soviet pact, which served to realign many left-leaning sentiments away from the Communist fold.

Disney's willingness to testify before HUAC in 1947 and therefore firmly align himself with the anti-communist tide of the time, also revealed a certain bias that had other indirect roots which could be traced back to his youth and his early career in animation.

Americans and the Rwanda Genocide

Americans and the Rwanda Genocide

In retrospect, the Rwandan genocide of 1994 exposed the multi-faceted failure of both the United States government as well as the expanded human rights community at dealing with and responding to international humanitarian catastrophes. The following pages will assess some of the reasons for these failures and suggest some action that the Clinton administration and various American-based N.G.O.'s should have taken in response to the Genocide.

Reading the accounts of General Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian head of the United Nations mission in Rwanda, one takes note of the impending disaster that was unraveling in Rwanda after its main impetus - the downing of President Habyarimana's plane - took place. General Dallaire sought very early on to take control of the situation by seizing the known caches of weapons in Kigali. This request was refused by the U.N. bureaucracy. Despite Dallaire's valiant effort at coordinating his team's limited capacities (little water, few military supplies, and even fewer troops) to save as many Rwandans as possible, he could only do so much. Similarly, as Fiona Terry has outlined, the post-Genocide policies of Western governments and human-rights based non-governmental organizations towards the refugee camps in Zaire and elsewhere contained significant failures in that they ultimately served as gathering points for a resurgent Hutu force that subsequently attacked the Kagame regime in Rwanda.

The failures in response to the Genocide and the camps are of a pluralistic nature. Chalk suggests that the Somalia debacle, where an initial humanitarian intervention led to American casualties and a subsequent hasty retreat, did more to inform Clinton regarding his decision-making calculations towards Rwanda than any other. Power, for her part, outlines the many institutional factors that made it that much more difficult for Clinton to engage the Rwanda genocide issue in a more proactive way. Power points to the lack of interest of the Defense Department (p.342) and general lack of involvement of the higher echelons of the government in Rwanda - or Africa, for that matter. And when the U.S. administration did show some vigor in their involvement in the Rwandan Genocide, it was only to look after their own citizens.1
Likewise, the aftermath of the Genocide exhibited failures in response. The refugee camps of Zaire became teeming with ex-Hutu government and militia who had participated in the Genocide and who now were planning their attacks on Rwanda.

The N.G.O. community cannot fully be blamed for this, as Terry makes clear, given that the logistical difficulties, if not impossibilities, of distinguishing between those perpetrators of genocide and the innocent refugees of war. And even if this could be done in an expedient fashion, one can question the appropriateness of starving to death any person. Similarly, the Clinton administration considered it to be politically expedient to have the camps evacuated and the refugees return to Rwanda.

To suggest an alternative course of action to deal with genocide, be it historical ones like Rwanda or those that have yet to happen, is not an exercise in futility as some government officials seem to insist, nor is it an admission of the necessity of a hegemonic imperialism of a country like the United States, as writers like David Rieff would like us to believe. One can only look to the many actions that could (and should) have been taken in order to effect change. Samantha Power points to the military options available to the world's greatest military power at the time of Rwanda but also the many simpler actions available to Clinton. These included denouncing Genocide when it was obviously taking place, calling for the expulsion of the Rwandan government from the Security Council when they had the opportunity to do so and reinforcing the Dallaire mission in a meaningful fashion after the Belgians withdrew.

Similarly, the N.G.O. community could have put aside their (at-times) overzealous commitment to neutrality to better discriminate between the perpetrators of genocide and the innocent at the refugee camps of Zaire and Rwanda. Or alternatively, they could have ended the competition between themselves and cooperated with a single voice and a single vision, one that could have insisted on absolute neutrality in their operations within the camps; a neutrality that would not be sacrificed by their financial dependence on donor countries like the United States. Finally, one can suggest - maybe with a foolish naivety - that western governments take more seriously the crime of Genocide and recognize that it is an immediate national security concern for them.

American Responses to Genocides

American Government Responses to Genocides: Pakistan and Burundi

The Americans and Pakistan

Many factors influenced the decision-making process of the Nixon administration regarding the Pakistani genocide in 1971. The most important of these was the China detente strategy. Authors Morris and Pilkington both argue that Nixon feared his Detente negotiations with China would be jeopardized by taking action against Pakistan for its behavior; not only was Pakistan the go-between but was putting down a secessionist threat, one that China did not want to to see happen in its own country.

Other factors that influenced American foreign policy are of an institutional or bureaucratic nature. Congress and the State Department had lost some influence in setting policy and the Nixon administration's penchant for secrecy further alienated them from any effective power. Thus, Kissinger emerged as the prime theorist and engine of U.S. policy towards Pakistan. On the theoretical plane, bureaucracies also tend to be biased towards the status quo which in turn often help guarantee their own survival. This resulted in a hands-off policy.

Finally, we can point to the American animus towards India as a reason for Nixon turning a blind eye towards the genocide: Pakistan's territorial integrity was valued as a counterbalance to any perceived Indian interests in the region.

American Response to the Burundi Genocide

In Burundi, many of the same factors (and others) were involved. Author Rene Lemarchand has described, as if to emphasize the brutality of the Genocide, that even churches were not spared from the violence. In fact, the U.S. bureaucratic machine sought to placate the many American missionaries in Burundi, who feared reprisals, by not pushing for condemnation of the Tutsi government. Notwithstanding the effort of some scholars, who seek to shift the blame for Burundi from the Nixon/Kissinger executive to the State Department, the president and his advisers generally had little interest in this area of the world, and this was not about to change given Nixon's many domestic problems that were unfolding.

Others have pointed to a subtle racism in their attitudes towards Burundi, that somehow blacks killing each other in such numbers was normal. Most importantly, the lack of any concrete interest in the region as defined by various foreign policy imperatives, guaranteed no effective solutions could be put into place to deter or further prevent the genocide.

A Few Remarks on American Responses to Genocide

American attitudes towards the genocides was tailored from a series of realist calculations whose ultimate goal was the fulfillment of the government's foreign policy objectives. While humanitarian motives are always a factor that policy makers consider in deciding on a course of action in international affairs, one can argue that they rank low on the priority scale. This observation, while noted throughout the history of American foreign policy making, need not solely indicate a failure in personal devotion to humanitarianism but rather the success of a system that devalues the ongoing "rights revolution," instead favoring absolute self-interest as its overarching end.

American humanitarian intervention can conceivably happen when two conditions are satisfied: first, any potential action must not conflict with (or oppose) the perceived interests of the government as defined by it and second, there must be overwhelming response from other power centers (such as the populace) in support of a particular action, given the inherent government bias for inaction.

American Involvement in Cuba and Philippines

American Involvement in Cuba and Philippines in the 19th and 20th centuries

The years spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries is often referred to as the formal imperial phase of American history. The primary evidence upon which this conclusion is based centers almost entirely on the behavior of the United States towards two main political entities: Cuba and the Philippines. The following pages will discuss the main factors that led to American involvement in these regions and will evaluate their significance within American history.

The primary factor that triggered the events that led the U.S. first into Cuba and then the Philippines, was the Spanish-American war. While many, such as the Anti-Imperialists, had grave reservations as to the motives of the political elites of their time, most Americans agreed that an initial spur of humanitarianism was the prime spiritual mover for declaring war on Spain. Indeed, setting aside the incendiary reporting that came to characterize the "yellow journalism" of that era, Spanish atrocities against Cubans - the reconcentration zones - were well known. The Spanish-American war, as a cause in the eventual occupation of Cuba and the Philippines, is of great significance: it would set a historical precedent by which subsequent American occupations would draw upon, that is through officially declared humanitarian interventions, to achieve foreign-policy objectives.

But while the war may have been a direct cause of the island occupations by U.S. forces, other less tangible and more indirect causes can be identified. One of these can be described as being of a functional nature; factors arising from international political systems and governmental processes. For example, Paterson reviews one school of historical analysis that blames "international anarchy" and the subsequent "insecurity of the great powers," namely the U.S. in our case, as leading to interventionist policies abroad. Paterson also points to the inherent competition in status and power, that make up international rivalry, as a motivation for U.S. policies in Latin America and Asia.

The elite power structure within American society itself is also described as having led the U.S. to war. Historians who examine the roles of individuals, for example, often point to "great" leaders like President McKinley as a prime mover of events. An elite power structure may also include those segments of American society that have disproportionate political influences, such as the press that used exaggerated reports to influence public opinion. We can also talk of business interests as elites who, while were hesitant at first, quickly came to support an expanded occupation of the Philippines.

Another factor leading to the American occupation can be termed Ideological. Humanitarianism, as described earlier and which can be traced in part to the notion of the "City Upon on a Hill," quickly engaged the American spirit. Many historians have also talked of social Darwinism as well as the male ethos as having shaped a cultural context within which an American occupation of foreign peoples could come to fruition. And a final factor, one largely of economics and bred from the Realist school of international affairs, is Imperialism. Briefly explained, fears that free land no longer existed, which was fundamental to the American frontier ethic, for human exploitation increased the necessity of government to turn abroad for more opportunities.

It is worthwhile to mention the "psychic crisis" thesis of Richard Hofstadter. In essence, he argued that a confluence of largely domestic events - the 1890's depression, populist movements, jingoism, humanitarianism and others - resulted in an atmosphere making imperialism and foreign wars more readily acceptable to an American populace, one that had up to now largely shunned unnecessary foreign adventures.
In considering these various factors, we can undoubtedly find merit in all of them, no matter where one considers to be the main source of power to be in national and international politics. But we can also find significance in these factors given that they provide the historian with a window on American life and identity.

For example, the importance of such concepts as duty and destiny combined with a frontier ethic and the humanitarian impulse in greater society all point to a fundamental duality of the American spirit; one that is conservative and rigid, yet progressive and open. Indeed, it is this basic duality that has animated (or split) American society throughout its history. And therefore, we can safely assume that this same pattern will continue to emerge onto the national scene and drive history forward.

Defining Genocide: A legal and social perspective

Defining Genocide: A legal and social perspective

Human activity, from the earliest days of recorded history, has been a showcase for violent behavior of all variations. The capacity for violence by human beings against each other has shown to be limitless. In the case of the 20th century, many agree that Genocide has become one of the greatest sources of destructive human behavior that is of concern. With both the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews and Gypsies and the more recent example in Rwanda, such crimes illicit almost unanimous disapproval. But in terms of defining genocide, this has been subject to less of an academic consensus. It is a worthwhile exercise to note two of the more prevalent approaches to defining Genocide - the legal and social science perspectives - and show how they differ in their respective aims.

Definitions of the crime of Genocide, such as those found within the body of international law or as interpreted within the pages of law journals, tend to emphasize a legal framework of mind, and therefore have unique aims that other members of the academic community would not necessarily prioritize. Take for example the legal definition of Genocide, as contained within article two of the Genocide Convention. The main purpose of such as law, as in all other laws, is to present a practical tool for punishing those that have transgressed a codified set of rules, which in turn is based on a moral imperative agreed upon by members of a society. But such laws also need to be applied fairly. In consequence, a legal definition of Genocide must abide by the spirit of the moral law it purports to represent, but must also be necessarily restrictive in such a fashion that its implementation satisfies the basic requirements of fairness and justice.

The Genocide Convention then aims to present a set of non-negotiable rules by which a strict threshold of guilt must be met in order to punish the accused. And this dichotomy results in a closed and restricted definition of Genocide. This scientific approach has a purpose of creating a regulatory and formal environment for judging guilt.

Given the legal emphasis on punishment, it follows that to determine intent is a major practical aim in considering a working definition of Genocide. Payam Akhavan, in a recent article, discusses at length the concept of Dolus Specialis, or specific intent. In fact, it could be argued that the legal definition of Genocide aims to deal more with the accused party than with the victims involved or any other larger social group or phenomena; this is the domain of the social scientists, which will be discussed below.

The aim of social scientists in defining Genocide, as related to their fundamental purpose, is to relate the moral outrage of such crimes and better place them within the larger societal context in which it is felt they belong. Hence, social science definitions of Genocide aim to be more inclusive, open and preventative in their formulations. Sociologist Helen Fein, for example, provides us with a working definition of Genocide that typifies the social approach; one in which the crime is firmly rooted within the social fabric. Therefore, instead of being content with the codification of genocidal behavior offered by lawyers, Fein insists on recognizing the impact that Genocide has on "the socialization of children in the family." (p.16) The open nature of a social scientists approach to defining Genocide, by virtue of the moral impediment, is also evident in the author's Chalk and Jonassohn's formulations, which merely specify the "group," as opposed to the definitional limitations imposed by the legal community i.e. national, ethnical, racial, and religious.

This definition of Genocide also lends to a more preventative aim given that its open nature makes it more adaptive and inclusive of any future scenario that may arise, such as a genocide that may not fit the strict parameters of a given legal definition.

American Response to the Holocaust

American Response to the Holocaust

The holocaust, the targeted destruction of so many jews and others by the Nazis, continues to live in the memory of the present generations in large part due to the Jewish community itself who has never allowed us to forget. What is also not forgotten and of great relevance especially for scholars, is the reaction of the international community towards the atrocities as they were happening.

Why did the United States not engage all their military and economic might to attempt to effect an end - or reduction - to the crimes of genocide being committed? Historians have traditionally attributed the blame on a confluence of factors relating to international politics, domestic events in America and others. The following pages will summarize the major arguments given explaining the lack of American interest in the unfolding Genocide as well as the jewish refugee crisis and then will go on to suggest other reasons that may explain such behavior.

The Nazi holocaust, and the refugee crisis that stemmed from it, marked the second such mass slaughter within the 20th century, the Turkish annihilation of the Armenians coming earlier. It also was the second missed opportunity for the American political establishment of utilizing its resources for the benefit of the victims during these tragedies. Some historians have sought explanations within international politics. We can infer, for example, that given the close allied cooperation in prosecuting the war, British disinterest in helping the Jews and other victims helped dissuade American policy makers from taking concrete action. Furthermore, the precarious situation in regards to the near east, where U.S. /British interests were allied against the influx of jewish refugees into Palestine and fear of Arab discontent, also solidified American inaction.

A myriad of domestic factors in America have are also given to rationalize the lack of attention paid to Jewish suffering. One that was all too prevalent in the West was anti-antisemitism. Samantha Power seems to suggest that some scholars may have even been sympathetic with the Nazi's, many often engaging in "false equivalencies" comparing atrocities of the Nazi regime with those of the allied effort. In fact anti-antisemitism was prevalent to the extent that the Nazi's used it as a rebuttal for European condemnations of German barbarism.

Another defense of American inaction often cited is the lack of information available at the time to properly gage the accuracy of atrocity reports. This was in fact the preferred argument of the State Department: reports were "unconfirmed and exaggerated." Many Americans simply refused to believe the stories, largely owing to the media exaggerations of atrocities that came before in previous wars. The U.S. press had a role as well; even credible and verified information was given little attention within major publications.

While this is certainly a tempting argument, one that is only partially true, intelligence reports and first-hand accounts had long given the allies clear assessments of the organized murders being committed. A more accurate assessment of American thinking can be summarized by quoting a local refugee specialist in the State department: "whether the number of dead amounts to tens of thousands millions is not material to the main problem. The main problem was always winning the war; these were the orders given.

This reasoning leads to one more vital component that pre-determined any American response in helping the victims of genocide, one that is considered to be within the scope of social history. One can argue that fundamental social behavior is the prime molder of any government decision-making process. For example, a persons tendency to favor "the familiar" created an environment that was hostile to any new notions of mass extermination. This basic psychosocial analysis can equally be applied to the European jews who refused to leave their homes insisting they were not targets (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary), as it can to American foreign policy and its adherents. On a more practical level, one can talk of compartmentalization or the excessive bureaucratization of government where self-interest and survival of one's own group is the goal. It follows then that as soon as a bureaucratic structure was created - the U.S. war refugee board - to deal with the problems of Jewish refugees, it was only at this point that the basic self-interest and selfishness of the bureaucratic element came to serve a higher goal.

American Relations with the Khmer Rouge

Relations Between the Khmer Rouge and the American Government

The relations between the Khmer Rouge government of Cambodia and that of the United States, while spanning many decades and involving numerous administrations, were primarily motivated by the national interest as either side came to define it.

For successive American regimes, Cold War politics and the self-interest it engendered guided the foreign policy imperatives of the time. The American policy shift from one end of the spectrum to the other - tentatively opposing the Khmer Rouge initially while supporting them in later years - can easily be viewed as contradictory but in fact both had their roots with one calculus of power: furthering the power of the United States. It is with this starting point that any analysis of American foreign policy must predominate.

The Khmer Rouge was allied early on with the Communists in Vietnam helping them fight a low-level insurgency against the Americans in Vietnam. In the 1970's, the Khmer rouge turned its sights on the American-backed Lon Nol regime that had overthrown the popular government in Cambodia. Helped by the Vietnamese Communists, who had their own interests in seeing a victorious Khmer government take power of Cambodia (the Ho Chi Minh trail being the most vital), the Khmer Rouge finally took the capital Pnem Penh in 1975.

In these initial stages, the American response towards the Khmer was largely anti-communist. The Khmer Rouge were being helped by both the Chinese and the Vietnamese communists who sought to expand influence and power in the region. The Americans were seeking a reliable and expedient partner that could help end the communist sanctuaries on the Vietnam-Cambodia border which were degrading their ability to crush the Vietnamese communists. Hence, the Americans helped orchestrate a coup that brought Lon Nol to power, a fervent supporter of the United states.
The period between 1975 and 1979, when the purist Khmer Rouge regime was in power in Cambodia, the Carter administration's response while anti-communist became more timid that that of previous administrations. This was reflective of the general mood in Congress and the country where a "South-Asian fatigue"set into place precluding any action to help the Cambodian victims of genocide.

But as the geo-political realities on the ground changed, with the invasion of Cambodia by a Soviet-backed Vietnam, so would the American response. While keeping in mind the dangers of engaging in false equivalences between the Khmer Genocide and the Carter's administration's foreign policies, one can take note of the similar genesis of power that underlie both policies in quoting journalist Elizabeth Becker's remarks about Khmer motivations: "The Khmer Rouge approached battle as they approached all other matters, devoted to achieving an objective at whatever cost...'not to worry about how many got killed because it didn't matter.'" If we juxtapose this statement with one from National Security Advisor to Carter, Brzezinski - "I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot. I encouraged the Thai to help the Khmer Rouge. The question was how to help the Cambodian people. Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him. But China could" - then we begin to see the brutality of American Cold War decision-making.

We can also begin to understand why the Americans supported the Khmer after 1979. For Carter and Brzezinski, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia represented the expansion of Soviet influence in South-East Asia, not to mention the flagrant touting of international law and border integrity. The U.S. also wanted to please China who was backing the Khmer. These themes are repeated by Clymer's analysis, who believes that Carter did not want to legitimize the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia by not backing ASEAN and the Chinese.

Brenda Fewster expands on this theme by demonstrating how the unfolding refugee crisis in Cambodia was conveniently exploited by the American administration to not only blame the Vietnamese occupying force for the looming disaster but also to revive the Khmer fighting forces through the humanitarian aid was being delivered to the camps.

Empire Day in Ontario Schools - A Review

Empire Day in the Schools of Ontario: the Training of Young Imperialists: A Review

In Empire Day in the Schools of Ontario: the Training of Young Imperialists, Robert M. Stamp examines Empire Day celebrations in Ontario schools in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The author successfully shows the relevance of Carl Berger’s thesis, that early Canadian imperialism was a form of nationalism, by linking the popularity of Empire day celebrations in Ontario schools with the development of Canadian identity.

The first empire day celebrations took place in 1899, at the urging of Canadians like George Ross, during a period of high Imperialist fervor in Canada. The author correctly demonstrates the dual strain of Canadian identity of this period; both imperial and nationalist. George Ross, for example, believed in instilling in children “a greater love of Ontario, for Canada, and for the Empire.” The conception of Canadian identity as both imperial and nationalist ensured a high level of enthusiasm for Empire Day celebrations. Stamp also points out that imperial exercises served more direct purposes like acting as assimilating agents of the non-white populations and, once a militarist component was introduced, to give Canadians a sense of pride and accomplishment in their ability to defend the empire.
But Empire Day celebrations, starting in the interwar period, would wane and eventually shed its former imperial connotations.

The author successfully argues that the reduction in popularity of Empire day celebrations was linked to the changes in Canadian identity brought on by two central factors: the influence of American culture and the decline of imperial sentiment among Ontarians. The latter resulted primarily due to the economic depression, which forced society to turn inwardly and solve its own problems, as well as the sense of accomplishment felt by Ontarians with their contribution to World War I.
American culture was also reaching a larger share of Ontarians, as Stamp cogently demonstrates, via radio and other media, so that “Empire Day and all that it stood for simply could not compete with the powerful lure of American popular culture.”
The author does admit that World War II would see a renewed interest in Empire Day celebrations, as they were originally intended, but it represented the last gasp of Imperial sentiment in Canadian identity.

The author’s sources are of a contemporaneous nature and draw from mainly primary sources in order to justify his thesis. Of most valuable to the article are those sources taken from the Ontario Department of Education as well as newspapers like the Globe that are capable of offering an alternative view of Empire Day celebrations, one that differs from those expressed by people like Ross who tended to personally benefit from the celebrations.

While it has been over three decades since the publication of Carl Berger’s famed thesis on the nature of early Canadian imperialism, authors like Robert Stamp continue to provide further evidence of the basic soundness of Berger’s arguments. By tracing the rise and fall of Empire Day celebrations in Ontario schools in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Stamp has been able to show to what extent the potency of imperial sentiment in Canada was directly related to the level of development of the Canadian national identity. To put it another way, the imperial enterprise in early Canadian history was supported as long as the national identity was seen as being tied up with Rule Britannia. And as Stamp has shown, once that was no longer the case, the days of imperial celebrations were numbered.

A Brief Biography of Henry Cabot Lodge

A Brief Biography of Henry Cabot Lodge

Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. was born in 1902 to a Boston Brahmin family of immense heritage and pride. Lodge was descended from many prominent families including a founder of the Federalist Party, George Cabot. Lodge’s grandfather was a Republican statesman and noted Historian. Lodge himself demonstrated his independence of mind early on. As senator of Massachusetts, he quit his position in 1944 (the only senator to do so since the Civil War era) to join the army and fight in Europe.

In 1953, as ambassador to the U.N. under Eisenhower, Lodge had knowingly contradicted State Department (herein referred to as DOS) orders and voted no on a key Korean resolution, prompting a quick response from the DOS, to which he wryly retorted: “I take note of the Department’s opinion.” In 1959, Lodge then had the opportunity to accompany the Soviet Leader on his trip to the United States. In a subsequent letter, Khrushchev thanked his host while jokingly referring to Lodge as his “tormentor and protector.”

And then again in 1960, when an American U2 spy plane was shot down over Soviet territory prompting an international crisis, Lodge displayed to a mesmerized crowd at the United Nations the actual U.S. embassy seal which supposedly had been bugged by the Soviets. In many ways then, it is this spirit of independence and strong sense of duty that later convinced Kennedy to look at Lodge as the ideal appointee for the South Vietnamese ambassadorship. But by the same token, as we shall see later, it is these same qualities, combined with the Kennedy administrations lack of leadership in Vietnam, that precluded any opportunity of controlling either the ambassador or the unfolding events.

Vietnam War: The August Memo

The August Memo

While the Diem coup in 1963 did not take place on the 25th as the CIA had warned, American ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge soon became deeply involved in the ongoing intrigue. In a memo to the Department of State, Lodge described a meeting that took place with a top Vietnamese general who intimated that “the U.S. has only to indicate to the generals that it would be happy to see Diem…go, and deed would be done.” Lodge then counseled the State Department to be patient: “Action on our part would seem to be shot in the dark…I believe we should bide our time.” In even considering giving the generals support for a coup, Lodge signaled a stark shift in U.S. policy at the Embassy level, dismissing the earlier approach of “graduated pressure” and strict support of Diem that was practiced by Nolting.

In response to Lodge, the State Department approved what became known as the “August memo,” a highly controversial shift in policy that elicited disagreements immediately after it was first drafted and denials years later. The memo, drafted August 24th, is quoted here extensively given its importance in narrowing the plane of possibilities and subsequent rhetoric, from tolerance of the Diem regime to a Coup as an only acceptable alternative:

"U.S. government cannot tolerate situation in which power lies in Nhu’s hands. Diem must be given chance to rid himself of Nhu and his coterie and replace them with best military and political personalities available. If, in spite of all your efforts, Diem remains obdurate and refuses, then we must face the possibility that Diem himself cannot be preserved…Concurrently with above, Ambassador and country team should urgently examine all possible alternative leadership and make detailed plans as to how we might bring about Diem’s replacement."

It did not take long before sharp disagreements erupted within the top echelons of the Kennedy administration, primarily from the military establishment. General Maxwell Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1962-1964), thought the memo did not give enough opportunity for Diem to reform, that the various departments did not have enough input into the writing of the memo and finally, that the memo reflected “the well-known compulsion of Hillsman (assistant Secretary of State) and Forrestal (member of the National Security Council) to depose Diem.” Indeed, this memo hinted at a schism that would exist throughout the Kennedy administration’s involvement in Vietnam: the State Department and other civilian officials on the one hand, with the Military leaders and the CIA on the other.

Lodge himself addressed the memo later by offering a partial repudiation of it. Writing in his memoir The Storm Has Many Eyes in 1973, Lodge referred to a 1967 Defense Department study which quoted the August memo, concluding that the U.S. had “variously authorized, sanctioned and encouraged” a coup. Lodge denied this, claiming that that memo had not been approved “at the highest levels” and that in any case, a subsequent memo on August 30 had in effect cancelled any previous instructions about launching a coup. Lodge did not specify in his memoir which memo he was making reference to. But surveying the documents from the day in mention, one can find no such repudiation; in fact, one memo dated August 29th sent to Lodge from the DOS specifically stated that the United States government would support a coup if it had a good chance of succeeding. Furthermore, there really was no doubt whether the memo had been approved “at the highest levels,” given that President Kennedy himself subsequently regretted having approved it to begin with.

The August memo, in retrospect, was a point of no return. While concretely, it could have been easily reversed by a simple pronouncement from the President (this would never be forthcoming in any event), it had done its damage by legitimizing a Coup as a possible course of action to be taken. The rhetoric of a Coup had now been introduced and it served to remove any remaining psychological barriers to its use. The irrevocable slide towards the events of November 1st began and Ambassador Lodge wasted no time.

Henry Cabot Lodge and the 1963 Diem Coup

Henry Cabot Lodge and the 1963 Diem Coup

By the beginning of October 1963, American Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge had long reached the point of no return in supporting a coup and where the U.S. administration in Washington could effectively restrain Lodge’s behavior. On October 3, Lodge authorized a meeting between his trusted CIA contact Lucien Conein and South Vietnamese Generals Don and Minh. The next day, the CIA chief in Saigon John Richardson was transferred out of the country and replaced. Some have subsequently made the claim that the Richardson re-assignment was done at Lodge’s request, while others have argued that it was unrelated to the Ambassador but rather was meant as a sign to the Vietnamese. Lodge did make a request for removing Richardson as CIA station chief in Saigon a month earlier, but that request had been refused. No conclusive answer can be given.

On October 5, President Kennedy issued a final policy directive that remained in effect until the Diem coup on November 1:

“President today approved recommendation that no initiative should now be taken to give any active covert encouragement to a coup. There should however be, urgent, covert effort…to identify and build contacts with possible alternative leadership…Essential that this effort be totally secure and fully deniable.”

On October 24, Lodge sent CIA contact Conein to meet with General Don one more time to discuss progress of the coup, which now was planned for the week leading up to November 2. The coup had entered its final stage and Lodge had one more meeting to attend to: that with the President of the Republic. Lodge met Diem on October 28. He described him as “very likeable.” In an act of extreme duplicity Lodge responded to Diem’s accusations, that anti-GVN activity was being conducted by agencies of the American government, by coldly insisting that should he have any proof of “improper action by any employee of the U.S. government…I will see he leaves Vietnam.” Presumably, he was not referring to himself.

On October 30, Lodge sent one more cable about an imminence of a coup, concluding once more that the U.S. was in no position to stop or delay a coup. While the President’s security adviser William Bundy cabled a response denying that this was the case, the window for action had been closed and the coup was imminent. On November 1, General Harkins received the first report of the coup taking place, with “with the central police station being seized. Diem, upon hearing of the coup, called the ambassador asking him what the opinion of the U.S. government was:

• Diem: Some unites have made a rebellion and I want to know: What is the attitude of the U.S.?
• Lodge: I do not feel well enough informed to be able to tell you. Also, it is 4:30 a.m. in Washington and U.S. government cannot possibly have a view.
• Diem: But you must have some general ideas. After all, I am a chief of state. I have tried to do my duty.
• Lodge: You have certainly done your duty…I admire your courage and your great contributions to your country…Now I am worried about your physical safety…
• Diem: You have my telephone number?
• Lodge: Yes. If I can do anything for your physical safety, please call me.
• Diem I’m trying to re-establish order.

After the phone call with Diem, Lodge sent a cable to Washington describing events so far. Diem never did re-establish order. He escaped with his brother Nhu from the besieged Presidential palace and fled to a hideout in Dalat, the same city where Lodge and Diem had dedicated a nuclear reactor only three days earlier. Diem was subsequently captured by the army at a Catholic church in Dalat. He was killed soon after.

President Kennedy, upon hearing the death of Diem, “leaped to his feet and rushed from the room with a look of shock and dismay on his face…he always insisted that Diem must never suffer more than exile. In a taped recording on November 4, President Kennedy took personal responsibility for the death of Diem and added that Lodge had been inclined from early august to remove Diem from office. For Lodge, the coup provided him an opportunity to reflect on the events of the past three months in Vietnam. It also allowed Lodge to defend his role to the Kennedy administration and to reassure himself that he had made the right decisions:

“At the time of the pagodas raids of August 21, U.S.G. and GVN seemed to be totally deadlocked…We were being totally taken for granted by the GVN...There is no doubt that the coup was a Vietnamese and a popular affair, which we could neither manage nor stop after it got started…But it is equally certain that the ground in which the coup seed grew into a robust plant was prepared by us and that the coup would not have happened [when] it did without our preparation…All this may be a useful lesson in the use of U.S. power for those who face similar situation in other places in the future…Perhaps the U.S. government has here evolved a way of not being everywhere saddled with responsibility for autocratic governments simply because they are anti-communist…Clearly the coup has brought about change; let us hope it will turn out to be a great improvement…Our actions were not ‘colonial’ and when Madame Nhu accused me of acting like the Governor General of Indochina, it did not ring true.”

In the next three years, South Vietnam experienced four more coups. Relative stability returned only with the regime of Thieu in 1967. President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. And Ambassador Lodge continued his term as ambassador until 1964 and was re-elected to that position by President Johnson in 1965.

Criticism of Post-Colonial Historical Methodology

Criticism of Post-Colonial Historical Methodology

Dipesh Chakrabarty, a member of the Subaltern Studies Group and Arif Dirlik, a critic of postcolonial historical accounting, have sought to examine less the histories being produced by postcolonials, than postcoloniality itself as s system of knowledge and representation.

Chakrabarty argues, in a self-reflective tone, that the postcolonialists (more specifically the Indian historians) have failed in their attempts of writing "history from below" because the essential idea of Europe - here he refers to the idea with all its accompanying notions of modernity and progress as opposed to any geographical reference - continues to be the dominating discourse of their works. The idea of "Europe as a silent referent in historical knowledge" is how he describes it and such assumptions are inherent in the institutions of higher learning. Indeed, for Charkrabarty, there appears to be no redemption capable for these scholarly institutions, to which he seems to attribute a permanent imperialist stranglehold whereby no fair postcolonial accounting of India's past can ever be achieved within their realm.

Arif Dirlik, for his part, argues that postcoloniality as a study is itself a mere representation - a developed and sophisticated discourse - of a history from below, whose practitioners are the products of elite power systems that they themselves benefit from but yet do not acknowledge so. In other words, Postcoloniality has become an end for itself with elite Indian historians perpetuating the very system of hegemonic values that they claim they are reversing, historians he adds, who bear no similarity in scholarship and tone to the majority of historians in India. Dirlik succeeds in utilizing these same postmodern techniques of analysizng power and discourse against the postocloniasts themselves and correctly outlines the dangers of academic homogeinety.

Dirlik also shows how the postcolonialist ideological imperatives of giving the subaltern classes agency for which these scholars feel is their due, ends up overemphasizing the local to the detriment of acknowledging the historical agency of the colonialist meta narratives such as Capitalism. But despite Dirlik's severe criticism, his analysis is remarkably similar to Chakrabarty's when he states that "I think it is arguable that the end of Eurocentrism is an illusion because capitalist culture...has eurocentrism built into the very structure of its narrative;" in other words, he is giving theoretical backing to the postcolonialist marginalization of capitalist meta narratives.

The recent attacks on postcolonial histories, if taken on the whole, demonstrate the shifting sands upon which the work of the historian rests upon. While such debates often spawn new methodologies of their own, they can also serve to de-legitimize the process of historical investigation and the search for new ways to tell our collective histories. It is this willed ignorance that must be guarded against for the sake of history itself...or the telling of history.



One of the more influential works of the postcolonial historical approach is Orientalism by Edward Said. In his work, Said (who is of Palestinian origin and readily admits to wanting to compile "an inventory of orientalist traces and influences upon himself...") examines not so much the colonized as the colonizers themselves. Indeed, Said's definition of Orientalism, traditionally associated with the academic study of the Orient or as part of larger East/West dialectical thinking, becomes for him a representative organism of the west's hegemonic attempts at dealing with the Orient. As any organism, Orientalism is fundamentally "alive": it is actively shaped by western intellectuals for their ends but also develops to have agency of its own, as a perpetrator of ideology.

Said describes Orientalism as a functioning system, a science of representation that must be studied as a "live" discourse, one that is intimately connected to power mechanisms and that is self- defining and self-perpetuating (as opposed to a strictly utilitarian tool used by the power elite to obtain advantage); a self-delusionary yet wholly satisfying ideology agreeable with western imperialism that effectively institutionalizes the Orient as the "other," in a negative sense. Said went further by claiming that Orientalists represented the "other" (the Orient and its inhabitants) in their own image, a people and a culture who invariably aspired to Western standards and measures of progress and modernity.

Said's theories were self-admittedly informed from Foucault's analysis of relations between power and knowledge, and affirmed their inherent interconnectivity but nonetheless rejected Foucault's elaborations of omnipresent and mystified sources of power. Rather, Said reverted to a knowable and well-articulated power structure, giving back agency to the dominant orientalist discourse, one that, while was being manipulated by colonialists, was also a self-perpetuating and fundamentally repressive regime of representation that reinforces colonial perspectives. For Said, Western intellectuals had power and shaped the outlook of the Orient for their generations.

Why focus on discourse and representation of the Orient as opposed to the accuracy of the information that the British and the French were generating? Said acknowledges the material basis of Orientalism - of being rooted in real events in the region of interest - but argues that one must study the "exteriority of orientalist cultural output" because of "the reality of discourse; language is highly representative itself, an encoded and organized system" which transforms into a cohesive system that actively seeks to perpetuate itself.

Some criticisms can be levied against Said's conceptions of Orientalism as inherently a repressive and selfish tool. One can point to the breadth of British and French scholarship that portrayed the Orient in a variety of ways, ones that avoided Said's essentialist western characterizations of Orientals as being violent, exotic, static etc. Also, Said does not go into detail about why ideological constructions are made, whether they are necessary or necessarily negative. And what of the positive representations of the "Other" that Orientalists have produced?

One example is the British idealizations of the masculine and hardy Muslim in India as opposed to the effeminate and weak Hindu. Overall, Orientalism is a masterful theoretical abstraction of the ways in which knowledge can be appropriated and transformed into self-sustaining systems of power and end up furthering the Colonial hegemony, both for the object and the subject.

Postcolonial History - A Brief Discussion

A Postcolonial Historical Approach

With overt European colonialism now long behind us, many historians from the former colonies, and beyond, have arguably engaged their work with a view of achieving increasing substantiveness in their process of historical redefinition; a revision of many of the central tenets of the historiographies of the colonized. Often, the aggregate of these historical methodologies have been simply described as Postcolonial.

The Subaltern school within Indian historiography, Edward Said's Orientalism and its subsequent applications by a variety of historians as well as other formulations, all share comparable Postcolonial attributes. Notwithstanding the plethora of claims and counterclaims by its practitioners (and others) that invariably come to the surface whenever a new "school" of history appears to have reached the critical stage of being somewhat accepted worthy of such categorization, one can identify a few major preoccupations of postcolonial historians.

First, the relations of knowledge, power and discourse, drawing partially on the analysis of Foucault and Marxian language. Second, the desire to revisit the historiographies and histories of the colonially-subjected peoples and their colonizers in order to shed new light on events. And third, the need to empower or at least recast the roles of the many colonized peoples that have hereto, they would persuasively argue, been largely neglected or marginalized - here they are referring to the non-elites within these colonial societies or the subjected classes.

The Annales School of History

The Annales School of History

The writings and methods of history in the 20th century, in many ways, underwent a paradigmatic shift due in large part to a group of French scholars who are now universally identified as belonging to the "Annales school" of historians. This new shift in historical writing centered around the journal Annales d'Histoire Economique et Sociale, founded by Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre in 1929, both professors at the University of Strasbourg. In later decades, names like Braudel, Le Goff and Ladurie came to represent both a crystallization as well as, subsequently, a fragmentation of the Annales school of historical interpretation.

More contemporary scholars like Iggers and Hunt have insisted on reducing the Annales historians' revolutionary ideas to a proper definable school, one that like any other, can be periodized and therefore be made historically fashionable - or not- depending on the moment in time we find ourselves in. I believe that interpreting the Annalistes in such a rigid fashion - which is itself symptomatic of the rigidity of the historical status quo - is to ultimately deny their greatest contributions to the field; namely, the ability to free ourselves from our own paradigmatic constructs and in doing so, remove any limit to historical imagination in serving a shared historical end.

The methodological imperatives of the Annalistes framework is best exemplified by analyzing the many classical texts produced by the historians themselves. In many respects, Lucien Febvre's History and Psychology (1938) solidified the themes that came to preoccupy the future Annalistes. It helped delineate between the history of the past and that of the future by identifying what he considered to be the maladies of the status quo and by proposing for the historian a new set of tools.
Febvre believed that traditional historians unknowingly projected their own beliefs and psychological peculiarities onto the subjects of their historical research and hence, misinterpreted historical figures. Given His belief that "an individual is only what his period and social environment allow him to be," Febvre argued for a re-application of a personal psychology - one that was part of a larger interdisciplinary approach to research - in order to enlighten the "mental processes" of the social groups in their own time. This was done by reassembling the physical, moral and intellectual existence of every generation that represent the object of our study, which could only then give credibility to the historical application of psychology.

Based on this recognition of the changeability of particular historical times, Fernand Braudel picked up the mantle of Febvre and further expounded a set of tools that the historian must utilize to better tell the story of history. Braudel sought to remove the impediments of "generational" history that his predecessor had described by introducing the concept of the Long Duree: a history of centuries, of the long-time span, of the more permanent realities that constrained a particular society. Braudel gave the example of Mercantile Capitalism, a coherent societal-level and structural paradigm that both defined and restricted the potential for action of that generation, notwithstanding the "ruptures and reversals" inherent in time. In this sense, Braudel argued for the predictability of history and time and thus represents, in my view, a strengthening of the historians profession: it begins to describe in concrete terms a larger set of goals for historians than simply describing the facts of the past.

By the 1970's, with Jacques Le Goff and others, the concept of Mentalites was introduced - or one can say reintroduced. Mentalites represented the unconscious patterns that guided the actions of individuals in society. This can be related to Braudel's three-tiered conception of time: the short-term events-oriented level of time, equivalent to the mentalites; the medium-length time span or the Conjenctures; and the Long Duree already discussed. These conceptual tools allow any historian to open new roads into historical research and represent a timeless contribution by the Annalistes to our field.

One example of the effectiveness and indeed, necessity, of such tools can be found by referencing Jacques Le Goff's 1982 work Merchant's Time and Church Time in the Middle Ages. In it, Le Goff uses Annalist conceptions of the multi-layering of time to explore the impact that medieval historical actors - the merchant class and the church - had on society, in view of their new conceptions of time. Le Goff is able to provide a feasible alternative explaining the rise and strengthening of the merchant class: by virtue of their new conceptions of time, they were able to free themselves from the restraining and "unpredictable time" of the natural environment imposed on them by the Church. Therefore, Le Goff's analysis managed to put into practice the Annalistes tool of time-dimensions in order to pioneer a new explanation of the fundamental changes taking place at the base of Medieval society, changes that from a modern vantage point, arguably have come to symbolize a new Long Duree, that of merchant capitalism.

Iggers and Hunt correctly outline the developments over time of the Annalistes and give concise summaries of their basic constituents and beliefs. The problem with their analysis, especially Hunt's, is their insistence on formalizing the Annalistes' diverse conceptions of historical methodology into a school of thought. A school involves specific common doctrines and methodologies, an inherent level of rigidity that certainly the Annalist thinkers never sought to enforce. One can only accuse the Annalist of failing to give institutions a central role in history (Iggers) if one defines them as a particular school of history, such as Marxism or any other. Historical interpretations can only disintegrate under their own weight (Hunt) if they are initially defined as a rigid and cohesive set school of ideas.

For the Annalist, then, we should only view them as a group of disparate historians and scholars who used a particular methodology for historical research as put forth by the likes of Braudel and others before him. A school is by nature constraining; the Annalistes put forth a set of tools that many historical schools can utilize in pursuit of their own interpretations. Therefore, these tools are timeless, beyond the limiting boundaries of any school. This, of course, is best reflected in the historical outputs of the Annalistes themselves. The constant shift over time in the emphasis of different social science disciplines; the variety in the subject matter; the emphasis on methodology; all these should discredit the attempts of the revisionist scholars at collapsing the Annalistes into a predictable school of history.

Herein lies the danger to the profession of History: in our haste to revise and discredit, the useful tools of writing history are lost to us and succeeding generations, until a new batch of enterprising historians learn, that they too, necessitate a new way of thinking in their profession, and the tools to make this happen. Otherwise, history will remain a simple compendium of fact, one that is written by the powerful and victorious.