Why Didn’t You Bring Pinochet?




T

o honor the second anniversary of the occupation
of Iraq, the

Daily Princetonian

on March 3, 2005 ran a David
Horowitz column warning against Princeton University’s appearance
as “a redoubt of antiAmerican radicalism” and “a
promoter of sympathies for our terrorist enemies.”


In its October 5 edition, the university’s wealthiest student
publication, the

Tory,

cried out against pro-liberal “selective
tolerance” among undergraduates, echoing their regular monthly
objections to the vast anticonservative” bias in Princeton’s
intellectual posture in the country. Increasingly, these conservative
critics say, “radicals” like Edward Said and Ralph Nader
are evoked as the truly exemplary Princetonians while Donald Rumsfeld,
Richard Perle, and other right-wing products of Princeton’s
neocon factory are dismissed as (in Perle’s words) “exceptions.”



Sadly, “radicalism” and Edward Said could not be further
from reality. By briefly reviewing the latest “guest lists”—especially
its Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs—we
learn some alarming things about academic integrity in one of the
U.S.’s most influential colleges.


To begin, there was the March 2004 presentation of the prestigious
Crystal Tiger Award to former Secretary of State Colin Powell for
his “transformative impact” on millions of lives. Powell
was presented the award “on behalf of the entire undergraduate
student body,” a decision unknown at the time to the entire
undergraduate student body (with the exception of a few students
on the award committee). Nevertheless, we were reminded by a committee
official, “Princeton University’s motto is: ‘In the
nation’s service and in the service of all nations.’ I
cannot think of an individual who embodies this ideal more than
you [Powell]. Thank you for setting a course of lifelong service
that we can only hope to emulate.”


The “course of lifelong service” worthy of emulation included,
presumably, his promotion of the occupation of Iraq with the following
known results (at the time): an occupied, destroyed country with
over 15,000 dead Iraqis, over 500 dead Americans, over 50,000 injured
or maimed, countless refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP),
a near-civil war state of chaos and instability, a scorn of global
public opinion and the UN, and an assurance that the oil of the
region will go to corporate interests.


Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman—a “liberal”
figure in U.S. academia—took the opportunity to add how “delighted”
Princetonians are “that Secretary Powell has agreed to honor…indeed,
all Princetonians who have served with distinction in the diplomatic
corps.” Tilghman’s praise would probably have been questioned,
for instance, by the thousands of Panamanians who have spent ten
years petitioning for compensation for death or injury to themselves
or family members as a result of the U.S.’s deadly invasion
of Panama in 1989, which General Powell, then chair of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, planned and advocated. It could also have been
questioned by the victims of Powell’s first attacks on Iraq,
which set a precedent in illegally targeting biological and chemical
agents plants (a precedent that was condemned by Amnesty International,
Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations). It might have been
questioned by the surviving parents of the 500,000 children killed
by U.S. sanctions in Iraq, a policy Powell energetically and vocally
championed. At Princeton, however, rather than challenging him on
any of these issues, Powell was thanked for his efforts to “provide
us with a richer humanity and inspire us to pursue it.” Thunderous
applause greeted Powell’s sermon, as the four-star general
told a packed Richardson Auditorium that, “…democracy
and ending of a regional conflict doesn’t mean anything to
people if they got no more food on their table, they’re still
dying from disease, still don’t have access to clean water,
healthcare, a better life for their children. If we don’t do
that, then people will lose faith in all the wonderful things I
talked about.”

 


Words of wisdom coming from someone who backed a policy of economic
warfare that deliberately inflicted “disease, poverty, and
hunger” in order to achieve various “wonderful things”—a
policy correctly labeled “silent genocide” by Human Rights
Watch. This subtle irony went unnoticed by university officials
who chose to compare Powell’s career with that of George Kennan
(a compliment in Princeton circles, mind you). Appropriately enough,
Kennan was a vocal critic of the second Iraq invasion and a firm
believer in diplomatic solutions—the kind that Powell dismissed
as “irrelevant” in the months building up to March 20,
2003, including several initiatives of the General Assembly, a Security
Council draft resolution, and Iraqi offers at an alternative weapons
inspection procedure.


Princeton gave Powell a lot to see during his visit. He saw standing
ovations; photos of hundreds of students waiting for hours in line
to get tickets for his lecture; ROTC military recruiters parading
in his honor; future Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretaries of State
showing their admiration and respect for his accomplishments. What
Powell did not see was a woman screaming, “You killed my son,
you killed my son” at Princeton’s Tiger Park protest as
Powell’s limousine passed by.


Moving on, we recall Princeton’s warm welcome of Robert McNamara
in November 2004. Woodrow Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter
complimented his commendable career as architect of the Vietnam
War and expressed the students’ gratitude for his visit. Thus
one of the people most responsible for bringing the world closer
to nuclear war delighted his audience with a discussion of “The
Folly of Current U.S. and NATO Nuclear Policy.” Soon thereafter,
Princeton embraced George Shultz (an honorary co-chair at the Princeton
Project on National Security) who was part of a celebrated panel
on “National Sovereignty and International Institutions,”
two things he undermined and violated during Reagan’s terrorist
wars in Central America. Under the co-sponsorship of the Woodrow
Wilson School, he delivered a heartbreaking defense of the U.S.
refusal to cooperate with international criminal tribunals.


On April 8-9, 2005 the Woodrow Wilson School staged a prestigious
colloquium entitled “Rethinking the War on Terror.” Its
mission was to “bring together leading practitioners, academics,
and policymakers from a range of disciplines, backgrounds, and countries
to examine both the concept of a war on terrorism and the practical
strategies being used to fight it.” In attendance was the State
Department’s Director of Recruitment Diane Castiglione, the
leader of Bush’s war recruiting efforts at hundreds of U.S.
universities. CIA inspector general Frederick P. Hitz was also there
(Princeton ’61). When he isn’t traveling around campuses
enlightening students, he spends his time denying the CIA’s
involvement in the Latin American drug trade and defending the U.S.’s
support for the Contras. After much denial, Hitz reluctantly admitted
before Congress that there had been “instances where CIA did
not, in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships
with individuals supporting the contra program who were alleged
to have engaged in drug trafficking activity, or take action to
resolve the allegations.” Needless to say, the issue was never
brought up during his Princeton visit. Hitz’s colleague, Peter
Probst, a former CIA, Pentagon, and Office of the Secretary of Defense
employee, also attended. In the 1990s Probst served on an advisory
board of the Middle East Forum to advocate and lobby for U.S. intervention
in the Middle East and worked on what is euphemistically called
“special operations and low intensity conflict.” Another
panelist was Col. Thomas F. Lynch III, director of the Commander’s
Advisory Group at United States Central Command (USCENTCOM). In
this capacity, he participated in war and occupation management
in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

 


Those
in attendance with the most credentials were without a doubt two
keynote speakers, Giora Eiland and Anthony Zinni. Israeli Defense
Forces superstar Giora Eiland earned his rightful place in a report
to the UN Commission of Inquiry on “Grave Breaches and Other
Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law.” Namely,
he was condemned by the Commission for a plethora of war crimes
and terrorist acts committed by the IDF under his leadership. Throughout
his career Eiland advocated the use of F-16 fighter jets to bomb
Palestinian targets, civilian and otherwise. He also championed
regular IDF use of U.S. military helicopters to kill dozens of civilians.
From September 2000 to May 2001, under Eiland’s leadership,
the IDF killed over 450 Palestinians, more than half of whom were
later confirmed as civilians. Eiland also supported the construction
of the Israeli wall against the ruling of the International Criminal
Court (ICJ, July 2004).

 


Rather than being exposed to any of this information, Princetonians
listened to Eiland’s pleasant narrative about his experiences
at the massacre in Jenin, in which capacity he found, according
to Amnesty International, that “bulldozing” and “destroying
houses” was “the most humanitarian way to deal with the
situation.”


Keynote speaker General Anthony Zinni was formerly the head of the
operations Restore Hope, Continue Hope, and United Shield in Somalia.
In July 1995

Foreign Policy

revealed that, under his command,
troops slaughtered from 7,000 to 10,000 Somalis, according to the
CIA. Zinni also has experience in maintaining illegal no-fly zones
in Iraq and, the International Red Cross found, bombing civilians
in unprovoked U.S. attacks, such as one in al-Jumhuriya. Interestingly,
Zinni was the Woodrow Wilson School’s main “dissenter”
and his presence affirmed the university’s dedication to critical
thought. Zinni broke with “neocons who didn’t understand
[the Middle East] and were going to create havoc there.”


The break was, however, strictly about tactics and only about Iraq.
“I’m not saying there aren’t parts of the world that
don’t need their ass kicked,” he said. The thousands of
dead in Afghanistan from the U.S. bombing and invasion are not an
issue: it was “the right thing to do.” Of course, “one
of Zinni’s responsibilities while commander-in-chief at CENTCOM
was to develop a plan for the invasion of Iraq. Like his predecessors,
he subscribed to the belief that you only enter battle with overwhelming
force.” The problem, Zinni felt, was that we needed 300,000
troops to carry out the illegal occupation, rather than a “mere”
180,000. That is the closest thing to “rethinking the war on
terror” that the university had to offer.



The grand finale of Princeton’s so-called intellectual integrity
was the Woodrow Wilson School’s 75th anniversary festivities
on October 1, 2005 when the university hosted Lt. General David
Petraeus, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice.

 


The
anniversary included a playful “mock National Security Council
meeting” with an impressive array of corporate executives (including
RAND Corporation senior analyst Steven Simon) and prominent U.S.
militarists (including Colonel Robert Gordon III). They spent the
hour role-playing an NSC meeting hypothetically dealing with an
imminent nuclear disaster. Princeton’s Dean Slaughter made
sure that issues worthy of discussion about the actual disasters
in the real world were left outside, as were most students. A speech
by “one of our most distinguished alumni,” as Slaughter
called Petraeus, followed. In front of former Defense Department
elites and several senators, he delivered a sophisticated block
of propaganda about the occupation of Iraq and beyond. Petraeus’s
years of war management from Bosnia to Haiti recently reached a
peak with his central role in destroying Fallujah and driving out
250,000 people. Dean Slaughter made sure that only selected members
of the audience directed questions to the general, none of which
dealt with his fresh military accomplishment. She found it appropriate,
nevertheless, to crack a joke about how amazing it was that Petraeus
responded so quickly to her email during the battle of Fallujah.
Petraeus returned the compliment by calling Slaughter “the
jewel of the crown” of Princeton University and thanking her
for her close ties to Washington.


The pinnacle of the imperialist festivities came with Condoleezza
Rice. “I cannot imagine a better person to launch our 75th
anniversary celebrations,” said Slaughter, explaining that
Rice “exemplifies those values” of Princetonians “serving
the nation and the world.” Her values had been explicit since
her involvement in the first Bush administration, the root of her
allegiance to the Reaganite clique (Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz,
Colin Powell). At that time she was promoting George I’s friendship
with Saddam Hussein, as well as the invasions of Iraq and Panama.
Her values were also made clear when she assisted the execution
of an illegal coup in Haiti and the abduction of the popularly elected
president, JeanBertrand Aristide. In March 2004, as she was persistently
refusing to testify in front of the 9/11 Commission, she threatened
that Jamaica would face consequences if it did not expel Aristide
from the western hemisphere. A year later, Rice traveled to Pakistan
and India to promote sales of F-16 fighter jets to both countries,
a gesture of endorsement for the existence of nuclear weapons in
the two states. Soon thereafter, she dismissed Amnesty International
reports calling for an end to U.S. torture practices and upheld
her government’s violation of the Geneva Conventions and the
UN Convention Against Torture. She also served “the nation
and the world” in her consistent diplomatic support for Israel,
Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other repressive
regimes that compete with North Korea for the most brutal record
of suppressing dissidents and democratic movements.


Finally, Rice’s values crystallized most in her advocacy of
the occupation of Iraq. As is now well-understood (even in Princeton),
lying for the sake of loyalty has become a job prerequisite for
Rice. Highlights of her deceit include:


  • backing Bush’s State of the Union speech claim that Iraq
    was attempting to acquire uranium from Niger

  • connecting Hussein’s regime to the 9/11 atrocities

  • connecting Hussein’s regime to Al Qaeda

  • denying that she had knowledge of the possibility of a terrorist
    attack on the U.S. prior to 9/11

  • rejecting the proven claim that the White House knew of the U.S.
    intelligence community’s uncertainty and skepticism about
    Iraq WMD claims

  • guaranteeing the existence of Iraq’s WMD program, as well
    as Hussein’s intent to abuse it


In all of the reviewed cases, not a single
speaker represented the majority of world opinion on issues of recent
U.S. wars. In all of the reviewed cases, there was not a single
independent analyst, academic, journalist, historian, or activist
included. In all of the reviewed cases, the speeches and speakers
were left largely unchallenged and unquestioned by students and
faculty alike.


Some complaints did surface. For instance, on the second day of
the “Rethinking the War on Terror” colloquium, around
a dozen students gathered to protest in front of the Woodrow Wilson
School. The group’s signs included: “The university should
be preventing war, not supporting it”; “You put three
war criminals in a room, what do you get? A Princeton conference”;
and “Why didn’t you bring Pinochet?” The students
were quickly herded to the other side of the street for being “disruptive,”
i.e., strolling silently around the WWS building, holding signs,
and denoting “No War” with duct tape letters on their
clothing. Their offense, Princeton’s Public Safety officer
explained, was being on private property without permission. After
much criticism for their failure to get required university authorization
for a demonstration, the protest was ignored by all Princeton publications.


After the fact, the Rice-Chertoff-Petraeus propaganda blitz was
also challenged. Although Dean Slaughter could not “imagine
a better person” than Rice to grace the campus, some Princetonians
could. Over 100 undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members
signed a public letter that “question[ed] the university’s
motives in inviting Rice” and condemned the “institutional
endorsement of a position that is elsewhere being questioned for
its disregard of international codes of conduct, treaties and laws.”
Slaughter and Tilghman responsed without addressing the substance
of the letter, the

Daily Princetonian

dismissed it for failing
to see the “great value in inviting the people who run our
country,” and the

Tory

suggested that the letter’s
authors (“liberals”) should quit whining and focus on
getting elected for a change.


Sadly, other major U.S. academic institutions are increasingly refusing
to allow independent voices to be heard, preferring instead to support
government spokespeople who use universities like speaker phones.
If students do not stand up to this, the so-called “military-industrial-academic
complex” will become painfully real.

 





Danilo
Mandic is an undergraduate in the sociology department at Princeton.
He is the editor of



Dollars & Sins

,
Princeton’s only anti-corporate publication, and president
of the Princeton Coalition Against Capital Punishment. Photos courtesy
of Danilo Mandic.