Friday, May 05, 2006

Eso Won Books event

The event at Eso Won last night was fantastic (especially considering that we were up against a Lakers game!). The bookstore itself is I think the only African-American owned independent bookstore in the LA area. It has a wide and deep selection of excellent books. I couldn't help but pick up a few while there: Mark Mauer's Race to Incarcerate (another New Press title), the first Chris Abani novel, Graceland, the first Walter Mosely (who by the way has a super new essay out called Life Out of Context [Nation Books] that is an urgent call to action for independent politics), and the new documentary on DVD, the Untold Story of Emmett Till. All this and more incongruously housed in a bookstore on a strip mall on S. La Brea.

James Fugate, one of the owners, gave a short and simple intro, praising The New Press's list and emphasizing the importance of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal. I'll give the highlights of the discussion after Anthony's talk:

What's the level of the soldier's rebellion today (as compared to what happened during the Vietnam era)?

- check out GI Special and Traveling Soldier newsletter
- outright refusals to obey orders few, but significant
- the use of the internet among soldiers and the expression of dissent on websites and email mentioned above parallels the underground newspapers (of which more than 300 existed in the late 60s and early 70s)

As we witness the decline of US empire, how do we counter the rise of an Islamic empire?

- more likely that China presents the most realistic potential to be an economic rival to the US and reemphasizes the importance and centrality of oil as a global economic force
- fears about Islamic dictatorship act more as a smokescreen to give credibility to US intervention in the Middle East

If the US is fueling civil war by being in Iraq, how does that benefit the US?

- the US is not following the initial script. In fact, displaying a great degree of imperial arrogance...the US troops are not greeted "as liberators with sweets and flowers" but a massive insurgency.
- it wanted a stable client regime but because of the above mentioned arrogance of the planners—pushing to install unpopular and disconnected exiles, disbanding the Iraqi Army—has instead created a number of disenfranchised, angry and armed groups, which have lead to increased instability and chaos.

What would be the outcome of a US defeat in the Middle East?

- profound. it would mean an Iraq syndrome that would hinder the ability of the US to intervene around the world, but especially in the Middle East.

Mansoor Sabbagh of Global Voices for Justice recorded this reading and discussion and hopes to air it on KPFK soon.

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