Campus Watch in the Media
Empire's embedded intellectuals
by Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Empire's embedded intellectuals is a term coined by Prof. Hatem Bazian of University of California, Berkeley to describe persons engaged in the promotion and rationalization of power projects and programs domestically and internationally which is carried out at the expense of the majority of the American public and the world public as well.
In a recent speech entitled "Empire's embedded intellectuals" at the University of California Berkeley, Dr. Bazian, Professor at the Near East and Ethnic Studies Department, explained that the embedded intellectuals are occupied in scholarship for a national or sometimes extra-nationalist goals and often subverting sound scientific methods of research and investigation, while asserting propositions and hypothesis from an already constructed ideological premise. "As such research questions are formulated ideologically and evidence to support the research is shifted for the nuggets that affirm them."
Dr. Bazian said that he has coined the "empire's embedded intellectuals" term with the specific definition of empire meaning a supreme or absolute power held by individual or a configuration of individuals and organizations. " In this sense I define empire to be a configuration between the government elites as well as corporate elite, as the neoconservatives immediately after the victory in Afghanistan began to boast of the American empire. This is not the left terminology, it was the rightwing which began to speak of the American empire and how it is likely to be qualified for it. As such we have to coin a new term, empire's embedded intellectuals."
Dr. Bazian pointed out that the term was born out of the concept of embedded journalists, used for the first time during the war in Afghanistan and used extensively in the Iraq campaign. In the Iraq campaign the military was able to manage access to the battle field and spoon fed the so-called independent media, the stories that it needed the American public to watch.
The coverage of the war was more of an entertainment undertaking and less an honest and direct coverage of what is underway. The question is, should journalist reflect and act as representative of their nation, i.e. they cover the news with the national goals or interests of the ruling elites in mind or should they be observers to the truth and witness to the unfolding history.
It is often said that truth is the first casualty of war but for whom? It is not the Iraqis that truth is kept away from them because they are experiencing truth as it unfolds. It is actually the American public for whom truth is the first casualty of war, because they were kept away from getting the actual information about the war.
According to the Boston Globe, Factual information from journalists in the first days of the war had come overwhelmingly from government briefings and reporters "embedded" in military units. Such briefings were never a source of trustworthy news; reporters had few ways to verify what the military officers and government officials tell them, and history suggests we should expect officials to omit crucial information and fudge on facts. During the Vietnam War, Pentagon spokesmen kept insisting in news briefings that they could "see the light at the end of the tunnel." By accepting the Pentagon system, journalists trade independence for access to troops and a front-row seat to the battles.
Who are the embedded intellectuals?
Further elaborating his new terminology, Dr. Bazian said that the empire's embedded intellectuals are individuals and groups constituted in a number of public and private universities as well as in highly insular think tanks that are outside the public scrutiny.
"Empire embedded intellectuals are wedded into the promotion and rationalization of power projects and programs domestically and internationally which is carried out at the expense of the majority of the American public and the world public as well. They contribute to empire through employing their pen to extol the virtues of power, its goal and mission, while at the same time being diligent towards critics, intellectuals, laymen and elected individuals alike.
"The empire embedded intellectuals assigned themselves the role of patriotic defenders of America, love of their country is the only motivation they assert is their engagement for power; while denying the same type of intention for their critics. In their view all intellectual energies of the society should be directed at maintaining and expanding a highly militarized view of the current American empire, the only remaining super power, which must act, in their view, preemptively on global scale against any or all possible future enemies. Even those who oppose our allies, chief among them is Israel," Dr Bazian said.
On the modus operandi of the embedded intellectuals, Dr. Bazian said that they are engaged in scholarship for a national or sometimes extra-nationalist goals and often subverting sound scientific methods of research and investigation, while asserting propositions and hypothesis from an already constructed ideological premise. "As such research questions are formulated ideologically and evidence to support the research is shifted for the nuggets that affirm them. I maintain that the embedded intellectual approach in research is to provide boost to empire's already constructed ideas or to find answers for pressing challenges on the field rather than engaging in research for the benefit of the truth."
Three embedded intellectuals
In this context he mentioned three embedded intellectuals, John Yoo, Law Professor of the UC Berkeley, Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University and Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton University.
Professor John Yoo at the UC Berkeley, to whom he described as professor torture, called for the complete dismissal of the international law in the current war on terrorism.
It may be recalled that Professor John Yoo, while working for the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, authored an infamous January 2002 memo in which he argued that terrorism suspects are not covered by the War Crimes Act or the Geneva Conventions. Prof. Yoo's arguments provide legal cover for the use of torture against detainees, and conclude that U.S. soldiers can't be tried for war crimes. He was also central to authoring the USA PATRIOT Act.
Dr. Bazian asked, what is more critical for the foundation of our society, a critique of Abu Ghuraib or authoring legal memos that violate the enshrined laws of this nation, military code of conduct and the four Geneva conventions which is the law of the land?
Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University, has called for the establishment of torture courts in the country where Prof. John Yoo and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez can apply for torture warrants from the judge. In an interview with CNN on March 4, 2003, Dr. Dershowitz argued that torture could be justified with approval by the president of the United States or by a Supreme Court justice.
He said that another embedded intellectual that can be identified is Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton University who is credited with much of the thinking driving the current neoconservatives' views on the Middle East that force being the only language that the Arabs and the Muslims know.
Dr. Bazian again asked what is more threatening to our society is a critique of policies by professors or dumping our founding principles? They argue that this is a different war. But if our laws have served us well for over 200 years, through a civil war, two world wars and almost 100 other military engagements they can serves us well now.
Speaking about the objective and role of think tanks, Dr. Bazian believes that the term think tank is often problematic because much thinking is not occurring in these tanks. "Take for example the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the American Enterprise Institute, the Project for New American Century, the Heritage Foundation, Middle East Media Institute based in Washington, Center for Religious Freedom, Freedom House, Jehad Watch, Campus Watch, among many others, there are almost 50 think tanks, where not much thinking is occurring since they are all engaged in promoting the empire."
While addressing the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC on Feb. 23, 2003, President Bush proclaimed that you are some of our country's best brains that my government employed 20 of you. Well if the best brains were formulating our policy in Iraq then how come we have such a mess? Dr. Bazian asked and added that the best brains do not produce the best policy, we have an experience in Vietnam that was replicated in Iraq now.
He recalled that Senator William Fulbright in 1966 wrote "power has a way of undermining judgment of planting grandeur in the minds of otherwise sensible peoples and otherwise sensible nations." If you don't know, in 1964, Senator Fulbright led the debate in favor of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution but became one of the strongest opponents of the war after discovering that it was total fabrication, just presently is the case with Iraq war and weapons of mass destruction.
Dr. Bazian argued that at the policy level, the choice of a set of responses or approaches to deal with the new enemies are result of particular forces, individual groups and organizations acting on behalf of a developed agenda to bring about the maintenance or furtherance of their defined interest. In addition there is often an attempt to cloud the best interests behind a particular policy recommendation with high moral purpose.
On the societal level the leader of the policy maker groups need to enlist the support of the population on a project that is motivated by pure self interest and greed. This collective rationalization program is applied to make it possible for high moral purpose to be used for pacification of the populace. It is not the Iraqis that need to be pacified, it is the American public to be pacified so that it continues to support the war effort.
At present, he added, the policy options are being advocated by one group to the exclusion of all others including those coming from other areas in the bureaucracy that are calling for re-consideration of the policy options. Consider the infighting related to the Iraq war and exclusion of the parts of the CIA and the State Department from pursuing any alternative policy options in the buildup to the invasion.
A set of individuals and groups have managed to promote a particular set of ideas, making them the effective policy of the only super power, Dr. Bazian said adding: "First, my own interest in pointing this out is centered on the predominance of the Israeli centric individuals, groups and organizations that are effectively exasperating the Palestinian sufferings. Second, the Israeli centric picture is further strengthened by a particular millennium segment of the evangelical Christian right that considers the current period as a stepping stone towards the end of time scenario. Third, a host of corporations representing the military-industrial complex and big oil interests likewise are jumping on the band wagon. The forces mentioned above have managed to wrest the policy making centers in the US and aspiring for their narrow self interest and promoting their self serving agenda at the expense of the much of the world."
Dr. Bazian went on to say that one area of interest for the above-mentioned forces has to do with the universities and academia in general since it provides somewhat challenge to the ideas and a possible introduction of the alternative to the existing set of policies at their behest.
The universities and educational institutions in general have presented a challenge to every authoritarian structure, group or individual since the time of the Roman Empire. Empire structures are first defeated at the level of ideas, before their physical demise, since power does not take into account its own descending fortunes and view ideas expounding alternatives at that time a sort of rebellion to its authority which must be defeated and eliminated at all costs.
Thus we are confronting a pacification program directed at academia with the intent of silencing ideas of descending fortunes and policy alternatives to empire's drums.
According to the neoconservatives and Israeli centric cabal advocates, the universities' federally funded programs for Middle East studies have extremist "bias" against American foreign policy which must be remedied through connecting Title VI funding to empire's service.
As the march for empire unfolds and the targeting of Muslims, Arabs, Asians, Africans and anyone expressing solidarity with them, a campaign is focused at academia by the forces mentioned above, the goal of which is to reintroduce a forgone paradigm, a new and improved version of Orientalism.
The agenda is to reclaim the lost ground to the so-called "post-colonial paradigm," in the world of Stanley Curtis, critiquing Said, whose major sin is his argument that "it is immoral for a scholar to put his knowledge of foreign language and culture at the service of American empire or American power."
Dr. Bazian pointed out that what the neoconservatives and their supporters are lamenting is their declining influence in area studies and the emergence of a new crop of scholars no longer wedded to the empire project even by force.
As Curtis once again laments loss of influence in academic circles of Princeton Historian and best selling author Bernard Lewis, Harvard University professor Samuel Huntington and John Hopkins Professor Fuad Ajami. According to him their qualifications is that all support American foreign policy. So the criteria for being a sound intellectual in America is the fact that all support American Foreign policy. What Curtis and other like him are bemoaning is the loss of influence in area studies. But not necessarily in the more traditional departments where the fields overall are still resistant to the new paradigm. However this might change in the next ten years as the old guard is reaching the retirement age.
Dr. Hatem Bazian went on to say that having scored a major success in the embedded journalists program during the Iraq war campaign, a new plan is a foot to create a new version of embedded intellectuals who are ready to serve the empire projects. To nurture the cadre, a congressional hearing was held on Sept. 17, 2003 to formulate a new policy, how to fund the area study centers? In the hearing opening statement, Congressman Pete Hoekstra, the chairman of the sub-committee laid out his intention by stating the following:
"The international study in higher education would increase coordination between these important international and foreign language studies programs to better meet America's national and international security needs."
The bill, that is already passed by the House of Representatives, also clarified that programs under Title VI of the Higher Education Act are to support and coordinate with other federal programs in the areas of language, area studies and international relations, meaning that if you are studying a language, say Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Pushto or any other language that funding should be connected to some national security apparatus.
Dr. Bazian pointed out that for almost two decades Stanley Curtis is saying that the American academy has been busy in undermining America's security not enhancing. So once again the role of the university is to enhance America's security according to the elite definition. Martin Kramer also laments where are the professors with a strong sense of national interest, lots of knowledge in the field, good intelligences, connections, a willingness to recruit their students and an eagerness to serve in this time of war. No such person exists in the Middle Eastern study. Kramer is asking for the development of embedded intellectuals. So professors who are teaching in areas of Middle Eastern Studies should not grade their students A B or C rather if he is good as an agent or he is bad as an agent.
We can see a new charge given to all professors of the Middle Eastern studies and other related fields to become embedded intellectuals serving dutifully to the aspirations of empire, not unlike British or French scholars did some generations ago, Dr. Bazian said.
He went on to say that the role model presented by Martin Kramer of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy is none other than T. E. Lawrence, that his role model and his mentor who according to Kramer says "It was David Hogarth, Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, who saw potential of young Lawrence and helped recruit him to the service of British empire." Hogarth later appeared as Lt.-Commander in the Royal Navy and a key figure in British intelligence in the Middle East during the first world war.
Being nostalgic to such service Kramer recalls that it was Hogarth who arranged his (T. E. Lawrence) traveling scholarship, employed him before the war at his archeological dig in northern Syria and directed the wartime intelligence branch known as the Arab Bureau in Cairo in 1916. Lawrence acted on his behalf in Arabia, meaning that he was engaged in the archeological dig, he was funded by the Oxford University and he was acting in the Arab Bureau in Cairo in 1916.
Not content with providing with historical role for the Middle Eastern studies, Kramer's attention shifts to the modern hero in the service of empire, he is non other than Harvard's Nadat Safran, noted professor of Middle Eastern Studies who is given credit for Abi Zaid Master degree in the field of Middle Eastern Studies.
Prof. Nadat Safran works for the Rand Corporation, he got funding by the CIA for his Saudi project and conference on Islamism.
The Rand Corporation
Dr. Bazian said that the Rand Corporation is a non-profit institution founded 50 years ago to "improve policy and decision making through research and analysis," and its policy recommendations are reflective to service to power and in the most recent period has turned its attention to bring about "a reformation in the Muslim world."
Its researchers pre-occupied with the question of Islam include Cheryl Benard who is recommending a civil war among the various parts of the Muslim community. She hopes that the end result will be that those who support their world view would prevail through our help.
Cheryl Benard suggests this in a research recommendation, highlighting various components of the global Muslim community, highlighting the group that we need to support and highlighting the groups that we oppose. Placing the various groups against each other with the hope that, as she defined, the moderates will prevail through our own support. And their definition of modernists is that they support our world view essentially.
It may be pointed out that the Rand Corporation issued two reports about Islam and Muslims last year. One report was issued in March 2004 entitled: "Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies," is written by Cheryl Benard, a sociologist and fiction writer. It issued another 600 pages report in December 2004 entitled " US strategy in the Muslim World after 9/11." The first report suggested support of the so-called moderate Muslims while the other study suggests that Sunni, Shiite and Arab, non-Arab divides should be exploited to promote the US policy objectives in the Muslim world.
Dr. Bazian said that Cheryl Benard ideas are a mirror image of those coming out from "done it all intellectuals" and all at hand for the service of empire, like Prof. Bernard Lewis, who provided much advice, as an embedded intellectual to the Pentagon, justifying the policies by his research. In Bernard Lewis view the Arabs only understand the language of power, and don't pay attention to Arab public opinion since it is an irrational behavior not based on any reaction to our policy. Because if you connect to policy then it means that the people are reacting to policy.
Similarly, Foad Ajmi, a Lebanese, a native Arab, affirms the already constructed view and paradigm, Dr. Bazian went on to say. The Arab predicaments and other writings that point to the inherent failures of the Arabs and Muslims to embrace modernity and democratic institutions, not that modernity and democratic institutions were not one of our interest for the past 50 years and we supported most of the authoritarian regimes in not only in the Middle East but in Africa, Central and Latin America.
Dr. Bazian asked, how come we don't say that the predicament of the Christianity in central America relative to their lack of democratic institutions but we only frame it according to Bernard Lewis and Foad Ajmi in the pathological understanding that there must be inherently wrong with Muslims and Islam?
Looking at the success of the neoconservatives paradigm in the past three years and its contribution towards preparing public opinion for an Iraq invasion, we can talk of their think tanks, intellectual foundations, position papers by scholars in the field, he said. And if you look at the individuals who promoted the Empire Project, you have Daniel Pipes, Kramer, Bernard Lewis. From the political arena you have Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz , Dick Chenny, Stanley Kurtz, Foad Ajami etc. All belong to the group of neo-conservatives.
Dr. Bazian argued that the neoconservatives' view of the Middle East and their paradigm shift was formulated as a policy initiative first and foremost for Israeli leadership which then was imported and locked into the American process. As such the criteria by intellectuals of neoconservatives paradigm was maintaining within the defined scope.
Evangelical Christian Right
According to him, the initial success of the neocons is partly due to the many of the think tanks which are proliferating in Washington while the other half of this success points somewhere closer to home which is his second point – the Evangelical Christian Right.
The Evangelical Christian Right coalition is espousing a messianic agenda of the Middle East. What is most profound is the marriage that was struck between the Evangelical Christian Right and the Israel centric forces in the US and abroad. As often the case, politics makes strange bed fellows. But no one from the time of Moses and Jesus would have thought such a wedding possible even if it was a shot gun wedding.
Dr. Bazian pointed out that the Evangelical Christian Right coalition while powerful in many political and social circles, fundamentally lacks the intellectually formulation necessary to shape public opinion across party lines and across generations when it comes to the Middle East. The theological argument behind the Evangelical Christian Right is the imminent return of the Messiah, but that cannot be moved towards policy recommendations. However, once it is wedded with the Israel centric approach then the needed rationalization for this world view can be actualized.
It should not come as a surprise to many that there is an inherent conflict between the Evangelical Christian Right and the Israel centric individuals that the return of the Messiah, would usher in the conversion of Jews into Christianity and those who refused would be killed, according to this Messianic view.
However, real politics moves many neoconservatives who are pro-Israel to this alliance and their current support regardless of its foundation, theological or otherwise. Supporting the existence of Israel for the right wing evangelical coalition position is a pre-condition for the return of Messiah which is a welcome news for the Israeli supporters.
Furthermore if many pro Israel supporters don't believe in this theological position but if the Evangelical Christian Right is ready to give an unquestionable support to Israel then they will take it and use it against their enemies in this current period.
On college campuses, the Evangelical Christian Right has been active hand in hand with many of the Israel centric supporters and individuals attempting to silence debate and prevent a change to the existing paradigm, Dr. Bazian concluded
The use of feminine paradigm
In the Question-Answer session after his speech Dr. Bazian spoke about the use feminine paradigm against Muslims.
The use of feminine paradigm is to attack the Muslim world and furthering the US agenda. I will say that the war on Afghanistan was promoted by means of the Burqa. It is the Burqa that sold the war. Event at one point a congressional aid was calling around Muslim organizations in Washington, if they can borrow a Burqa to war at a press conference and show the oppression in Afghanistan. Now there is no story about Burqa anymore although the Afghan women are still wearing the Burqa. It was the mater of generating the interest.
There is an oppression of women in the Arab and Muslim world. Wherever there are men and women there is a level of oppression. It exists not because of Islam, it is just because you have men and women. That is the normative structure. But when we use it in relation to the Middle east and the Arab world, we think that we are dealing with some kind of pathology and try to follow ways to explain it that it must be Islam that is causing oppression.
My response is the following:
Every three minutes we have a woman raped in the US. It is because we have a large number of Muslims in the country? If that is not the rationale then what is the rationale. The rationale is that the society has a particular aspects to it that generate all these types of behaviors including battery and other types of repressions.
It exists in the Muslim world, it exists in many other places, but here we use it as a way of advocating the agenda because it casts us as completely good and pure, we are the pinnacle of civilization and they are the barbarians that need to be civilized. So the white man's burden is articulated in new terminology and not realizing that actually it is the white man who has been the burden on the world for the past so many years.
So the woman issue is in the forefront, how they deploy it for public relations purposes, this is just a master-slave narrative that is taking place at global level.
This is not a defense of Muslim or the Arab society, we have problems that are not dissimilar to the rest of the world. If you live in a glass house don't go and through stone on others. Don't show others how women needs to be treated, when women in this country are still given 77 cents on the dollar.
If you got raped, most likely the person who raped you is not going to jail as the legal system will find ways to hook him off the legal process.
So once again this process to teach and civilize the barbarians is a paradigm that existed in the 1500 and now is being articulated in far more sophisticated Madison Avenue style dynamic and we need to be aware of it.Note: Postings in "Campus Watch in the Media" do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch.
Campus Watch contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org