IRAQ–‘CAPITALIST DREAM’

Brookline, Mass.

Surely other Nation readers were puzzled by some of the assertions in Naomi Klein’s November 24 “Lookout” column, on Order 39 of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, which The Economist called “a capitalist dream.” Order 39 (www.cpa-iraq.org/regulations) does some of the things Klein and The Economist claim but not others. For example, it permits foreigners to own all or part of an Iraqi company (but not a bank) and to move resources out of Iraq freely. However, Klein also says that under the order “200 Iraqi state companies would be privatized” and that “foreign firms can retain 100 percent ownership of Iraqi banks.” The Economist further says, “Income and corporate taxes would be capped at 15%. Tariffs would be slashed to a universal 5% rate.” The text of Order 39 does not contain any of these provisions. The bulk of Klein’s article was directed at her claim about privatization. Where in Order 39 did she find that “Iraqi state companies would be privatized”?

CRAIG BOLON


KLEIN REPLIES

Toronto

On September 19, the Coalition Provisional Authority introduced a package of radical financial reforms transforming Iraq’s economy, reforms illegal under international law. Craig Bolon is right that not all those reforms were covered under Order 39. The rest were covered by orders announced at the same time: Order 40 (which opened up six Iraqi banks for full foreign ownership) and Order 37 (which lowered Iraq’s highest tax rate from 45 percent to the flat 15 percent). By eliminating all restrictions on foreign ownership in these areas, the privatization of Iraq’s 200 state firms–previously banned by Iraq’s Constitution–became possible. This was widely reported at the time by sources other than The Economist, including the Washington Post (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “Economic Overhaul for Iraq: Only Oil Excluded From Foreign Ownership,” Sept. 22) and the Financial Times (Alan Beattie, “Radical plan to open Iraq economy,” Sept. 21).

NAOMI KLEIN


MAKING AIDS DRUGS AVAILABLE

Boonville, Calif.

Re Esther Kaplan’s “Dying for AIDS Drugs” [Nov. 3]: Maybe I’m naïve, but why can’t the wealthy nations purchase the patents on AIDS drugs? Then the medicines could be made available to those who need them. Buying the patents may ultimately be cheaper than buying the drugs themselves.

CHARLES HOLZHAUER


KAPLAN REPLIES

Brooklyn, NY

Charles Holzhauer’s idea has actually been floated by Jamie Love of the Consumer Project on Technology (a Ralph Nader group). He’s proposed a government-mandated “patent pool” for lifesaving drugs, which would pave the way for cheap, generic drug production.

ESTHER KAPLAN


DOWN ON THE FARM

Oshkosh, Wisc.

I am not given to emotion, but Barbara Kingsolver’s “A Good Farmer” [Nov. 3] brought a tear to my eye. As she so eloquently points out, sooner or later we must own up to our dependency on the land. We have abandoned our agrarian roots and accepted the notion that it is acceptable to destroy the planet and starve people so a small minority can make a profit. A farmboy at heart, I can only hope that it isn’t too late to turn things around.

MATTHEW FURE


Marlin, Wash.

Thank you for drawing attention to the problems in rural America. Government policies have become a cancer to our family farm and our small town. In the past forty years, we have lost our school, store, tavern, grain co-op and many of our farm neighbors. It is sad to see century-old farmhouses bulldozed because the family farmer was starved out and replaced by a large corporate farm. Politicians must wake up and realize the importance of having a sound rural economy made up of families who still believe in the ideals this country was founded on.

Family farms and businesses keep this a democratic country. When children grow up helping in a family-run business, they learn life lessons that can’t be learned in school. Lately, our area children are learning about getting government assistance, government jobs or working for peanuts for corporations. This is more like communism or oligarchy. My ancestors left their homelands for the American dream. My children are seeing this dream die before their eyes.

KATHERINE R. LESSER


Chetek, Wisc.

Barbara Kingsolver’s story is like the accounts years ago in Mother Earth News. As someone who tried the same thing thirty years ago, I have one comment. First, you need money upfront to buy that lovely little homestead, and you still need an exterior source of income. Or, second, lacking the first, you need the gumption to work like a slave at ball-busting work, sixteen to twenty hours per day, 365 days per year and get lucky to boot. Without a good outside income or great luck, almost unheard of in the farming business, it is a dream that most people will never realize. Farming is a grueling business always at the mercy of Mother Nature.

I wish Barbara and her family good luck. And I wish our system supported people like her who wanted to farm small and nontoxic with hands in the dirt, sowing the seed and reaping a harvest; knowing and loving the animals that will someday feed them.

JOHN M. HARDIN



DERSHOWITZ REDUX

Cambridge, Mass.

Alexander Cockburn realizes that, as one columnist characterized him, “as an accuser, Joe McCarthy was more responsible.” So he has invoked a purported neutral academic expert to lend credence to his preposterous plagiarism charge [“Beat the Devil,” Oct. 13; “Exchange,” Oct. 27]. It turns out, however, that his “expert” is as biased, irresponsible and wrong as he is. Sayres Rudy is not a “professor.” So far as I can determine, he has no PhD. He has no permanent teaching job. He is an academic vagabond with little experience and even less knowledge about academic disciplinary matters. He is also, not coincidentally, an ideological soul mate of Cockburn on Israel, having signed petitions that accuse Israel but not Palestinian terrorist organizations of war crimes. I have read the disciplinary and plagiarism codes that he cites and cannot find anything even close to what Cockburn has falsely accused me of doing. More important, Harvard Law School’s extremely demanding definition of plagiarism makes it clear that what I did was entirely proper. Moreover, I did it completely in the open. In the galley proofs that were sent to hundreds of reviewers, I included an instruction to my research assistant to cite several sources I came upon in Joan Peters’s book. I also instructed my research staff to check these sources against the original. The experts I consulted–real experts, with vast experience and no ideological ax to grind–know of no case in which a student or faculty member was ever disciplined for doing what I did. I challenge Prof. Rudy to come up with a single case in which he participated at the universities he mentions that resulted in any kind of discipline for a student or professor who cited original rather than secondary sources for a handful of quotations (out of hundreds) that he or she originally found in a secondary source with whose conclusions he disagrees, checked them against the originals and then cited the originals. Although the names of students are generally kept confidential, the charges are often made public so that students can learn from the “common law.” He will be unable to do so, because what I did was absolutely proper and routine. And he knows it. His claim that he can say “unequivocally” that any student who did what I did would be disciplined for plagiarism is a deliberate lie made out of whole cloth to serve his ideological agenda. Like Cockburn, he doesn’t like the substance of my book and so has joined forces with those seeking to deligitimize it with false charges. This is a form of literary McCarthyism of which he should be ashamed, even if Cockburn is shameless.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ


COCKBURN REPLIES

New York City

First let me give the floor to Sayres Rudy: “Alan Dershowitz thinks I’m too inexperienced to assess his plagiarism because I’m not a professor but a vagabond. When I finish my dissertation this year, I will have three advanced degrees: Johns Hopkins, SAIS (MA 1990), Columbia (MA 1996; PhD 2004). How many does Dershowitz have? What he calls vagabondage I call teaching. Since 1993 I’ve taught political science at Columbia, Amherst and Mount Holyoke, and political philosophy at Harvard (six years). I served on and chaired Davidson College’s Honor Council (1983-86), whose hearings are confidential and outcomes sealed. At Davidson as elsewhere, Dershowitz’s technique–citing unchecked sources in any given footnote as his own research findings when they’re in fact taken from uncited sources–is an honor code violation: either plagiarism or, worse, stealing. Dershowitz also implies that I’m politically motivated. I do deplore inhumane and intellectually absurd apologias for political domination. But whether in defense of Saudi, Palestinian Authority or–as in this case–Zionist criminality, Dershowitz’s tactics constitute plagiarism. If not, why would he use me as a red herring rather than answer Alexander Cockburn’s (and Norman Finkelstein’s) charges directly?”

On the plagiarism charges Dershowitz is dead in the water. We now have the “smoking gun” proof that he copied Peters’s sources without checking them. A correspondent has sent Finkelstein the advance uncorrected proofs of D’s book. Many of the footnotes are not yet filled in, and instructions are left for D’s research assistants on how to complete the text. Here’s footnote 19 on p. 13: “Holly Beth: cite sources on pp. 160, 485, 486, fns 141-145.” Notice the wording: D doesn’t say “check” sources on pp.__; he says “cite” sources on pp.__. All the page references are to Peters’s book citations, which correspond to those in D’s book. Holly Beth is one of his research assistants, acknowledged in the final version of the text. Dershowitz knows the smoking gun has surfaced, hence the hastily inserted bluster on the matter in this latest letter.

McCarthy? In his ghastly book D claims that the International Solidarity Movement are supporters of terrorism; that Rachel Corrie “threw herself” in front of the oncoming Israeli bulldozer; that female Palestinian suicide bombers were raped by “terrorist operatives”; that an “independent investigation” proved that a Palestinian killed during torture by Israel died from unrelated causes; that Israel doesn’t currently torture Palestinian detainees; that the Marines in Beirut 1983 were killed by “Palestinian terrorists”; that no Palestinian was deliberately killed during Operation Defensive Shield; and on and on. As Finkelstein remarks, It’s simply not possible to address the “substance” of D’s “book,” because the book lacks substance. It’s a flat-out fraud, from the author’s name forward. Finkelstein promises to demonstrate this in a forthcoming book, from the New Press, titled Letters to an Old Shyster: How Professor Alan Dershowitz Concocted a Ludicrous Hoax and Why Harvard University Should Expel Him for It. Dershowitz should be kicked out of his Felix Frankfurter chair for being a plagiarist, and then he should sue himself for incompetency of counsel.

ALEXANDER COCKBURN