The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

October 14, 2005


The Word is abandoned to the script. I debated releasing this, created the
quicktime video, still hiding behind one or another masquerade - this yet
another, endless, defeating. One must banish oneself, escape, escapade.
The film was insufficient, deficient. The short program below formatted
this file, allowed me to write the inescapable.

#!/usr/local/bin/perl -w
# biography

$| = 1;
`cp .bio .bio.old`;
print "Would you like to add to bio information? If so, type y.\n";
if ($str eq "y") {print "Begin with date.\n";
print "Write single line, use ^d to end.\n";
open(APPEND, ">> .bio");
print APPEND @text;
close APPEND;}
`sort -o .bio .bio`;

Day in and day out several years ago I would add to the text whenever I
logged on. I became increasingly horrified. Of course! I cannot vouch
for the accuracy of the below, which is at best the fault of memory.
This is what I think happened to the best of my ability.

1943 There are early screen memories of _being carried_ on a medical
gurney past rows of medication bottles; the lighting was fluorescent, a
nurse pushing the cart - I remember everything from the position of
_being behind_ her.
1943-1997 I have had my faults.
1948 Or thereabouts - remembering crying in the car with mother, worried
that if she kept kissing me, she'd run out of kisses; already I was
frightened, gathering security and comfort where I could, this very early
1950 All through childhood I had to take weekly Saturday allergy shots; I
was terrified; my arm would swell up like a molten hive. I had hives as
well in my hair and in camp, once, a huge swollen lip from chewing on a
plant stem. Grotesque.
1950 I was given a small film projector with a crank on the side; it was
crinkled black with a translucent window for viewing the animated
cartoons.  All  of my work has stemmed from this.
1952 I really don't have a date but wonder about my early love for
Theresa who worked for the family and who I think went to an asylum. All
my memories are like this, vague dates, worried and blanked memories. I
remember golden hair.
1952 I remember a wonderful British tricycle with large wheels, painted
black. I remember a red wagon. I remember...
1952 It was around this year that we moved from Reynolds Street to Ford
Avenue. I don't think I was friendly with the Brennans any more. We used
to fight with serrated pieces of wood. The screendoor had a tear in it.
1955 Around this time, I had an operation to have my ears pinned back; it
was traumatic, hideous; the novacaine didn't remain local and I had 70
injections, ended up screaming; always felt I was deformed; still
remember the cutting, the flesh, the sound.
1956 I heard of Elvis. I loved the word "fuck." Someone showed me Elvis'
picture in the paper. At camp, camp.
1956 I watched someone masturbate at camp; I was thrilled. Early
homoerotic memories, not genitally-centered. He masturbated on the
bleachers; I forget his name.
1956 Later this year (or was it this year?), I masturbated ceaselessly in
the shower and bathtub; sperm stuck to me, everywhere. I associated
masturbation with urination, retaining the urine, spurting both on
myself, ecstatically.
1956-60 I cried myself to sleep, etc. I had a small box on the bed table;
I'd keep a list of best friends in it as well as a list of "things to do"
so I could surprise myself - some sort of obscene proxy.
1956-8 I joined the American Forestry Association (or something with a
similar name) and had images of trees on the walls; I flitted from one to
another - I couldn't really identify with them. I also had the runic
alphabet up. I cried myself to sleep.
1958 Johnny Uhl and I were walking late at night and he threw at the neon
inn sign and it fell like smashed glass and I didn't tell but was never
so scared in my life. The world too smashed. I was a coward.
1959 I was probably a Junior at the Blue and White dances at Wyoming
Seminary, hopelessly in love with Platt Townend, yes, dancing breathless
with her, letting her go, fly across the room. She would never have had
me, never wanted me, danced out of pity.
1959 I'd fall asleep dreaming of Platt Townend or earlier Margaret Hall,
always saving them, somehow, desperately, they'd turn toward me, I'd take
care of them, everything would be all right, eternal life and devotion,
tears on my pillow, sentiment...
1960 Ann Welsh or Walsh was my first real girlfriend; we tried to fuck
and didn't succeed and I was impotent until I was 24. I was completely
hysteric and insecure with her; her parents finally broke us up.
1960 Barely made it to the senior prom with Cheri Kanjorski (sp?) who I
think really hated me; we went over to Don Evans' afterwords and the
lights were off and I knew secret sexualities were going on and I was
jealous and Cheri went with me from despair.
1960 I just about flunked my first semester at Brown, collapsing until I
learned to hold myself back, give the faculty what they wanted, hating it
all the time...
1960 I remember reaching for Ann's breast; I was sick and at her
grandmother's. I couldn't behave myself. At one point we yelled about
breaking each other's arms. I was working at a Settlement House in East
Harlem; her parents had arranged this.
1960 I volunteered for secret army tests as well - checking out reflex
times; I came out extremely high.
1960 I went to Israel for a summer, living largely in Jerusalem, almost
became religious, meandered around the country.
1960 It was around this period that I had my only "attested" psychic
experience, with Patti Rogers. She tried to kill herself at Syracuse; I
was at Brown, and suddenly, walking back to Pembroke, realized I had to
call her; I did, and calmed her down.
1960 It's this summer I first go to Israel and almost have a religious
conversion. I feel relieved that Jew isn't a dirty word, that the blasted
images I received from reading the Nuremberg trials (medical report) have
started to clear out...
1960 The depressions continue for the rest of my life
1960 These dates, these beginnings are obscure to me, and always have
been; I bounced myself off of every wall in existence, barely making it
through the first year, hating the others, but it was at least better
than highschool misery.
1960-1997 Sleeping and waking: insomnia goads me my entire life; there
are days I can't sleep, days I do nothing but; lowered body temperature
is accompanied by horrific feelings of submergence and fuzziness; I never
am fully awake.
1961 I almost flunked out of school. My life was a disaster.
1961-1962 My second year at Brown was miserable. I hated my roommates;
one of them spent a semester making toothpicks out of a log. I felt
tormented. My writing was horrible. I didn't know what I was doing; I
wanted to escape. Hell.
1962 I watched the side of the factory open up in the middle of the night
and a machine (I later identified as an atomic cannon) wheel out, run to
the end of the valley in Jerusalem, its turret revolving, turn around,
and go back. Next day, the factory
1962 It was this year that I got beat up on the campus by two townies who
broke my nose, left me covered with blood; I went looking for a friend of
mine, hoping to scare him. I was an idiot. A guard insisted I go to the
hospital. My nose is still bent.
1962 On a trip through the Negev, I saw, from a distance, an atomic
facility that was, we "knew" intended for the development and production
of nuclear weapons.
1962 Was it during this year, when I was in Israel, that my grandfather
died? That my cat died as well? I returned home at a loss; I hadn't been
told. My other grandfather died, I think, in 1953, the result of a car
accident (maternal).
1962 We managed to get shot at from an absurdly safe distance on the
Galil in Israel, while witnessing a battle between Israelis and Syrians.
At the UN, the former were condemned; in real life, it was all to clear
that the latter had started the attack.
1962 was still, closed up once again. I asked my roommate what it was; he
kept saying "a textile factory." But there was something else gone on...
1962-1963 Went to Israel for a year, living mainly in Jerusalem. Took an
overdose of opium, had jaundice, saw wonders.
1966 Went to Europe for the summer; met Joel Zabor who became the drummer
of the group; stayed at a Borstal in Dover (they thought I was on drugs).
1967 It's around now I'm in Europe. I met you (I forget your name) - knew
you from Israel. You saved me. I wanted to take pills, kill myself. You
gave me some, said take them. Vitamins. I tried to fuck a black woman who
wanted me. I couldn't, cried.
1967 Lost my virginity to Noney; she was 15 at the time and I was 24. She
hung around the music group I was forming. I moved into her parents'
house; they knew. Things began to go very wrong. She'd been abused at the
age of 4. I owned a fire siren.
1967 Paul Geremia ran into the studio screaming Noney's just tried to
kill herself and holding me responsible.
1967-1968 Put out three records with a group, two with ESP, one
independent. Greg Johnson kept things under control (played flute); only
later could I break out. The ESPs got a bad review later in the Penguin
Encyclopedia of Jazz. They sung.
1967-1970 Did I speak of the Great Fear of country and anarchy I had,
that it wasn't my own madness setting in, that it was elsewhere, the
destruction of all good things, that I was doomed, cowardly, unable to
cross the line, conservative secretly?
1968 I bought a red IBM Selectric, my first real electric typewriter,
which I used for years, did An,ode on. Later it went to Jerry and Joe in
Dallas; as far as I know (1997), they still have it, almost worn out... I
loved the feel and the sound and...
1968 I had An,ode published by the Waldrops' Burning Deck Press in
Providence. An,ode was my M.A. thesis - a work of experimental poetry
(so-called); Keith Long from RISD did the cover. It was my first real
publication, however slight.
1968 I lived for a summer in Minneapolis with June.
1968 I think June and I were married; it was a traditional wedding. I was
afraid of her father's anti-semitism. Our fucking was unsuccessful; I had
forgotten Noney who might have still been in the asylum.
1969 Vito and I in our dismally-cathected relationship, talked about
swapping women (they never would have gone along); I already sensed
something was wrong with June and me...
1973 At the Paris Biennale I put up "The World's Smallest Sculpture"
created with a scanning electron microscope; a piece based on an
assassination of President Nixon; and diagrams relating to the "general
structure" of the world.
1973-1974 I went to Europe with Beth; we lived for a month in Copenhagan
(where we made love with a voyeur watching across, from one empty
apartment to another) and longer in Paris, where I was in the Paris
1974 Around this time, I remember living off and on with Rosemary Mayer;
she left the loft one day, and I said Take care of yourself, and she
said, I always do...
1974 I lectured all over the place, UCSD, Cal Arts, RISD (with Kathy),
Yale (with Kathy), Wesleyan, etc. Kathy and I parted dubious friends.
Later she told Allison I was crazy; Allison told me; I told Allison Kathy
was crazy.
1974 Logic of consciousness worked out, The Book as System of Military
Defense (about Tina Weymouth), The Fourteen Stations of the Cross
presented at St. Mark's Church (influenced by Rosemary Mayer), Two Suites
of Figure Drawings, Acker/Sondheim tapes.
1974 Rosemary warned me about Vito, that he wasn't as good a friend as he
said. He told her I was a pest, told me the same about Dara Birnbaum,
told her the same about me, told me the same about Rosemary. Acconci was
always in control.
1975 Around this period, Laurie accompanied me at a poetry reading at St.
Mark's On-the-Bowery. She borrowed a videocamera from me, and set it up
in her loft, aimed out the window. An image was burned in; she had to
replace the tube.
1975 Rosemary Mayer and I split vowing to remain friends. It didn't
remain that way. During this period, I worked with Laurie Anderson; I was
somewhat in love with her - that same kind of damaging worship that
affected me with Margaret.
1976-1977 I work on the Structure of Reality, a text composed of the
hysteria of information, network theory, annihilation in code-particles.
It's printed in Halifax and Williams College, two editions. Parts surface
later in an article in C magazine.
1977 Around this date I thought that if aliens came from another world,
they would contact me, because I comprehended the world, as much as
possible. I would dream like this, reminiscent of when a child, salvaging
planets, desires, beings, being.
1977 I taught for a year in Hartford, at the Hartford College of Art.
1977 Joanna was born; I was totally unprepared. Everyone's relationship
to me immediately changed; I couldn't handle it, and Ellen wouldn't hear
of a babysitter at this point. Tensions became really difficult; I left
for Irvine, and Ellen came later.
1977 Secretly, I think I know everything.
1977 Tamara Bowers fucking me, the first and only totally rewarding anal
sex, her saying I've had my eyes on you for a long time, later - now, I
remember, having written this before, and then, later, in Tasmania, her
telling me to go to hell...
1977 The Whitney shows the tape Kathy Acker and I made; there's a guard
at the door. My parents go; I've asked them not to. I agree only if they
never mention the show to me. Worlds fall apart. Over the years, Kathy
and I make $2000-$3000 from the tape.
1977-1997 Relating to Joanna; I never see her enough; as she gets older I
can relate more and more to her, an indication of my own failings. I've
always been honest with her, as best I can, only when younger, keeping my
work from her; it's disturbing.
1978 Remembering Laura Hayes, who became an erotic image / imaginary for
me, for almost a decade, remembering her in a garden, wooden house,
parents, sunlight bright in Pennsylvania, her small breasts, intensity,
eyes, eyes, eyes.
1978-1979 I taught for a year at the University of California, Irvine; I
left Ellen and joined Laura Hayes in Hartford, commuting to Montreal
weekly to teach at Concordia University, and University of Ottawa.
1980 I get involved with women who are as crazy as I am; no one saner
would put up with me. My relationships are characterized by extremes of
intensity, hysteria, exhaustion, sexuality. I'm worn out, wear people
out. A bad catch...
1980 I saw Vito for one of the last times, and stopped speaking to him; I
couldn't take his notion of "my generation / your generation" and
remembered all too well his sexism, mild deceit, and the feeling that I
had been used.
1980 The year where my writing began to coalesce; I was 37 already. Lived
with Laura Hayes for part of the year in Montreal and was there for the
Quebecois referendum. I discovered Nicole Brossard, feminin ecriture, and
Hubert Acquin; they resonated.
1980-1982 I taught at UCLA for two years, in the art and art history
departments. I met Sungja Lee and we lived together for a year, traveling
back to Montreal. Allison Rossiter said I mistreated her. She spoke
English badly, accusing me of everything.
1982 Allison and I left for Queenstown in the eastern center of the
island. We were warned we might be killed; we got off the bus and traffic
stopped. People pulled over to the side of the road and watched. We ran
back in, dressed as punks, terrified...
1982 I left for three and a half years - to teach in Tasmania - lasted
three and a half months, returning with Allison Ritch; I was asked to
resign. The only time in my life I drank, and the closest I've come to a
nervous breakdown.
1982 I went to Tasmania where I met Allison Ritch and returned with her;
before that, I wrote Tamara Bowers (who I had slept with at Irvine and
who wrote back telling me to go to hell) and June, who never wrote back
after the first letter.
1982 In Queenstown we end up at the home of a Belgian hairdresser on the
outskirts of town; the home is made of television set cabinets. He gives
us whatever we look at. All of us I think are very close to breakdown. I
don't remember where I got the time.
1983 I take over the curatorial position at Nexus Contemporary Arts
Center. Allison and I move to Atlanta. I get drunk at the first
opening/function I attend, go home and have a horrific breakdown, putting
my head through the wall. Allison freaks.
1983-85 After teaching for a semester at Ontario College of Art, with
Allison staying in Amherst, New York, because she couldn't cross the
border (we fought, were depressed), I took up the curatorship at Nexus in
1984 At Nexus, we began the Atlanta Biennale; the first exhibition cost
only $800. One of the few times I felt I did "good" for people. The show
was hung salon-style and involved an alternative arts community that had
rarely shown.
1985-6 Later Paul Celan's poetry would take off from where Theresa began;
his poetry of elegy and holocaust related to the pure milk skin memories
of desire I still retain - perhaps an afterthought, afterbirth,
1985-87 I left Nexus, Allison left me, I went to University of Texas at
Dallas, under Dean Robert Corrigan's multi-disciplinary program; fourteen
of us arrived and eleven left by the end of the two years. I met Denise.
1986 I first met Denise at a punk/industrial music night; her musicians
didn't show up and she played with our group (Damaged Life). She moved in
a week later. Her voice was incredible; she immediately replaced our
singer and all the other musicians.
1987 Denise tied me up, spread her period across me; she urinated on me;
another time, she drew a perfect cunt between my asshole and prick. I was
ecstatic, transported; I sucked her tampax. Images made a perfect grid on
the wall, counterpoint to music.
1987 When she left me, Denise had worn a sore into her forehead, out of
pure tension. She never disagreed with anything I said; we were both
frustrated and mad with each other. She left suddenly; she had to. We
were devouring ourselves.
1988 And I had never been treated so badly as I was with Nancy. She
threatened to kill me when we split, after I had met Margaret, and had
become all too close to Shellie Fleming, the film Curator at Image in
Atlanta. I didn't behave well with Shellie.
1988 I also met Nancy Golden while at Hallwalls; this was the beginning
of another disaster. She moved in the day we met, upon my invitation; we
got along for the first two weeks or so, before psychosis and hysteria
set in. I never behaved so badly.
1988 I became Artistic Director at Hallways Contemporary Arts Center. The
job was a disaster, and the position undefined. I fought it all the way,
having arguments in particular with Chris Tebes, the new executive
director. By April I had resigned.
1988 I took up the Artistic Directorship of Hallwalls Contemporary
Artcenter in  Buffalo, of which I have already written.
1989 At the end of the year, Margaret and I left Atlanta for New York. I
thought we'd last forever. We felt hounded out of town; everyone we knew
"sided" with Nancy and condemned our relationship. People went silent
when we walked in the room...
1989 Margaret and I are driving through western North Carolina; it's
summer or spring and I start crying. I've never been so happy; I know
I'll never be so happy again. She's behind the wheel of the red Civic.
I'm watching _everything._
1989-91 During the years with Margaret I had the feeling we could get in
the car and go _anywhere_ and we did. Even with depression, fighting,
silences, the trips were ecstatic and moments of intense work for me -
hours of video, film, audio, and writing.
1991 Or so, found out the ESP records had been reissued as CDs by ZYX
records who never got in touch - how could they? I didn't even have a
contract with Bernard (Bernie) Stollman for the second; it didn't matter.
The stuff was out there, remembered.
1992 Margaret walked out after my severe depressions; she told me she was
committed to me the day she left. I remember the truck pulling away, the
expression on the face of her mother. I was stunned... She met her future
husband within the hour.
1993 Finally started on the Internet with an IBM XT. My first post was to
the Derrida list. I met Michael Current after going on Future Culture
through a recommendation by John Frost (through Robert Horvitz
advertising the Art Papers issue).
1993 My first cyber-relationship experience with a grad student in
Toronto; I met her on Chris Keep's postmodern list. (Maybe it was
Kingston?) She asked me if we were cyber-fucking. Later we met in the NS
library and didn't get along - depressing.
1996 At the end of November, attended the Cybermind96 conference in
Perth, Australia, where I was keynote speaker and participated in a
number of panels; I also showed video and spoke at Murdoch, met Kim,
Antonio, Jason, and Summa, among others.
1996 I meet Allison in Sydney after the Perth conference. She begins by
telling me I treat women badly. I said I treated her badly possibly but
she shouldn't generalize; she agrees. I said she treated me badly. Seeing
her was intense.
1996 I think Allison and I worked through some of our differences, but it
was/is very shaky.
1996 Worked through Mike Gurstein in Sydney, Nova Scotia, on pilot
projects wiring up the province for community development (Internet);
fell in love with Natalie MacMaster and her music; the woman never knew...
1996 thought of this program as a way to begin to create an
autobiography, everything ordered through dates...
1997 After the book launch party, Doctress Neutopia took photographs of
me masturbating while having Net Sex; she said she'd place them on her
Web Site - I never wanted to speak to her again.
1997 Back in Sydney again for a second round, dealing with a wider range
of issues, but less grass-roots...
1997 But when Robert apologized, it was too late, and our friendship,
which had existed from the early seventies, was over.
1997 I lived at 4-7-7 Chiyo, Hakata-Ku, Fukuoka-Shi 812, Japn,
1997 I return over and over again to this, in an attempt to reduce the
noise in my head, clarify the strands of incomprehensible thinking. I
think: "my life's like gnarled sinew." I think: rhizomatic. And: "I owe
everything to you."
1997 I think I'm so smart.
1997 January 7-22 worked with C\CEN in Sydney for economic development
vis-a-vis the Internet, listened to Lisa MacArthur play strathspeys,
wrote about freighters while staying at Kristin's and Jason's, returned
to comparative emptiness.
1997 Late, I think, my brother Mark comes over and joins Lexie and me for
four days
1997 Lexie and I make a tour down the coast of Oregon; she had come to
meet me in NYC for lunch, stayed for a few days, and I joined her two
weeks later. Then after two weeks, returned to NY; two months later, to
1997 Met Lexie Don and fell in love with her hard, in 2 days, in New
York. Now I try to understand this, and will meet her in Seattle, travel
with her to Victoria to my brother's family.
1997 November went to Fukuoka to join Lexie Don
1997 Stromatolites, cyanobacteria, tendrils.
1997 Today I received a carton of my older work from Ted Byfield; it was
sent to Robert Horvitz over the years. Horvitz and I had a falling out
when Ellen and I split; he felt that I treated her badly, treated him
badly, and used him. Later he apologized.
1997 Wrote the first version of The Case of the Real in Fukuoka; the
Jennifer book is published; rewrote the book for Saul Ostrow in November
1997 z, I use you "z" for coda, denouement. This is the jargon of
autobiography, screen or peripheral memories, asides, eyes or bodies
locked. I think I've learned nothing. I remember dates poorly. I haven't
grown up. I endure the stories.
1997 za, They're partial or transitional accounts. They come and go. No
matter how much you condemn me, I further condemn myself; I love and work
in corners. That I haven't learned: to navigate. That I've lost custom.
That I've never had.
1998 April 30 left Fukuoka to return jobless to New York
1998 August 15 to beginning of September, Lexie comes
1998 Finally around November, divorce comes through with Allison Ritch
1998 Kathy Acker and Christine Tamblyn die
1998 Late April trip to Kyoto with Lexie; Feb 20-March 20 in Australia
with her
1998 Met Azure Nicole Carter, 22, in Huntington Beach - we begin an
amatory correspondence...
1998 November 2-15, tour of Southern California then in Dec., MLA Conf.,
1998 Potes and Poets brought out The Case of the Real, which I then
revised online; earlier, I visited Jerry in Canberra, and considered
going for the Phd. I begin to work on ideas of 's/ms' and develop Nikuko,
who started in 1997
1999 Appointed virtual writer-in-residence, Nottingham Trent University,
England, beginning September through February 2000
1999 Cheryl Ito dies near the beginning of the year, found alone in
2001 Azure and I marry June 14th, reception July 14th.
2005 Residency in Santa Ana, Grand Central Art Center, for the summer.
Two cds released.
2005 This is just too harsh, to self-loathing, too selfish. I haven't
contributed anything for six years. It's time I formally abandoned this.
2005 have a headache from Gary's hammering today!
2005 so long since anything's been put here. It's incredible. Nothing to

It's almost impossible to keep sane in the US at this point. Whatever faults 
the Clinton and earlier administrations had, the dismantling of this country is 
proceeding at unprecedented speeds. Not only are we relatively hated around the 
world; we're internally torn apart, with poverty, prisons, lack of health care, 
etc. all on the increase. It's absolutely shameful and we don't seem to be able 
to do anything about it - without the institution of a speaker for the 
opposition etc., the Democrats do nothing but tread water. Bush can - literally 
- hardly put a sentence together, and he's never called on this. The country 
isn't behind him at this point - he's shockingly low in the polls for an 
incumbent - and it makes no difference at all - for one thing, he's not up for 
re-election. In my dreams, I'd have him tortured at Abu Gharayb, bombed out of 
Iraq, sitting in New Orleans with his home gone. But these people - the rich - 
are increasingly enclaved as Mike Davis and others pointed out long ago; 
there's no touching them. Anyway, read on, join the despair -

- Alan

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2005 04:12:32 -0400
From: "Gurstein, Michael" <>
Subject: [stuff-it] FW: [SPAM] [PubInt] George W. Bush's suicidal statecraft

A sensible article (now that he is out of office) from Zbig...


-----Original Message-----
From: G.H. []
Sent: October 14, 2005 8:33 AM
To: Public Intelligence Group
Subject: [SPAM] [PubInt] George W. Bush's suicidal statecraft

George W. Bush's suicidal statecraft
By Zbigniew Brzezinski Tribune Media Services International

WASHINGTON Demagoguery

Sixty years ago, Arnold Toynbee concluded, in his monumental "A Study of 
History," that the ultimate cause of imperial collapse was "suicidal 
statecraft." Sadly for President George W. Bush's place in history but - much 
more important - ominously for America's future, it has lately seemed as if 
that adroit phrase might be applicable to the policies pursued by the United 
States since the cataclysm of 9/11.

Though there have been some hints lately that the administration may be 
beginning to reassess the goals, so far defined largely by slogans, of its 
unsuccessful military intervention in Iraq, Bush's speech of Oct. 6 was a 
throwback to the more demagogic formulations that he employed during the 
presidential campaign of 2004 to justify the war that he himself started.

That war, advocated by a narrow circle of decision makers for motives still not 
fully exposed, propagated publicly by demagogic rhetoric reliant on false 
assertions, has turned out to be much more costly in blood and money than 

It has precipitated worldwide criticism, while in the Middle East it has 
stamped the United States as the successor to British imperialism and as a 
partner of Israel in the military repression of the Arabs. Fair or not, that 
perception has become widespread in the world of Islam as a whole.

More than a reformulation of U.S. goals in Iraq is now needed, however. The 
persistent reluctance of the administration to confront the political 
background of the terrorist menace has reinforced public sympathy among Muslims 
for the terrorists.

It is a self-delusion for Americans to be told that the terrorists are 
motivated mainly by an abstract "hatred of freedom" and that their acts are a 
reflection of a profound cultural hostility. If that were so, Stockholm or Rio 
de Janeiro would be as much at risk as New York.

Yet in addition to New Yorkers, the principal victims of serious terrorist 
attacks have been Australians in Bali, Spaniards in Madrid, Israelis in Tel 
Aviv, Egyptians in the Sinai and Britons in London. There is an obvious 
political thread connecting these events: The targets are America's allies and 
client states in the deepening U.S. military intervention in the Middle East.

Terrorists are not born but shaped by events, experiences, impressions, 
hatreds, ethnic myths, historical memories, religious fanaticism and deliberate 
brainwashing. They are also shaped by images of what they see on television, 
and especially by their feelings of outrage at what they perceive to be a 
brutalizing denigration of their religious kin's dignity by heavily armed 
foreigners. An intense political hatred for America, Britain and Israel is 
drawing recruits for terrorism not only from the Middle East but from as far 
away as Ethiopia, Morocco, Pakistan, Indonesia and even the Caribbean.

America's ability to cope with nuclear nonproliferation has also suffered. The 
contrast between the attack on the militarily weak Iraq and America's 
forbearance of the nuclear-armed North Korea has strengthened the conviction of 
the Iranians that their security can only be enhanced by nuclear weapons.

Moreover, the recent U.S. decision to assist India's nuclear program, driven 
largely by the desire for India's support for the war in Iraq and as a hedge 
against China, has made the United States look like a selective promoter of 
nuclear weapons proliferation. This double standard will complicate the quest 
for a constructive resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem.

Compounding U.S. political dilemmas is the degradation of America's moral 
standing in the world. The country that has for decades stood tall in 
opposition to political repression, torture and other violations of human 
rights has been exposed as sanctioning practices that hardly qualify as respect 
for human dignity.

Even more reprehensible is the fact that the shameful abuse and/or torture in 
Guant´┐Żnamo and Abu Ghraib was exposed not by an outraged administration but by 
the U.S. news media. In response, the administration confined itself to 
punishing a few low-level perpetrators; none of the top civilian and military 
decision-makers in the Department of Defense and the National Security Council 
who sanctioned "stress interrogations" (torture, in other words) was forced to 
resign, nor to face public disgrace and prosecution. The administration's 
opposition to the International Criminal Court retroactively now seems quite 

Finally, complicating the sorry foreign policy record are war-related economic 
trends, with spending on defense and security escalating dramatically. The 
budgets for the Department of Defense and for the Department of Homeland 
Security are now larger than the total budgets of most nations, and they are 
likely to continue escalating even as the growing budget and trade deficits are 
transforming America into the world's no. 1 debtor nation.

At the same time, the direct and indirect costs of the war in Iraq are 
mounting, even beyond the pessimistic prognoses of the war's early opponents, 
making a mockery of the administration's initial predictions. Every dollar so 
committed is a dollar not spent on investment, on scientific innovation or on 
education, all fundamentally relevant to America's long-term economic primacy 
in a highly competitive world.

It should be a source of special concern for thoughtful Americans that even 
nations known for their traditional affection for America have become openly 
critical of American policy. As a result, large swathes of the world - be it 
East Asia, or Europe, or Latin America - have been quietly exploring ways of 
shaping closer regional associations tied less to the notions of trans-Pacific, 
or trans-Atlantic, or hemispheric cooperation with the United States. 
Geopolitical alienation from America could become a lasting and menacing 

That trend would especially benefit America's historic ill-wishers or future 
rivals. Sitting on the sidelines and sneering at America's ineptitude are 
Russia and China: Russia, because it is delighted to see Muslim hostility 
diverted from itself toward America, despite its own crimes in Afghanistan and 
Chechnya, and is eager to entice America into an anti-Islamic alliance; China, 
because it patiently follows the advice of its ancient strategic guru, Sun Tzu, 
who taught that the best way to win is to let your rival defeat himself.

In a very real sense, during the last four years, the Bush team has thus been 
dangerously undercutting America's seemingly secure perch on top of the global 
totem pole by transforming a manageable, though serious, challenge largely of 
regional origin into an international debacle.

To be sure, since America is extraordinarily powerful and rich, it can afford, 
yet for a while, even a policy articulated with rhetorical excess and pursued 
with historical blindness. But in the process America is likely to become 
isolated in a hostile world, increasingly vulnerable to terrorist acts and less 
and less able to exercise a constructive global influence.

Flaying away with a stick at a hornets' nest while loudly proclaiming "I will 
stay the course" is an exercise in catastrophic leadership.

But it need not be so. A real course correction is still possible, and it could 
start soon with a modest and common-sense initiative by the president to engage 
the Democratic congressional leadership in a serious effort to shape a 
bipartisan foreign policy for an increasingly divided and troubled nation.

In a bipartisan setting, it would be easier not only to scale down the 
definition of success in Iraq but actually to get out - perhaps even as early 
as next year. And the sooner the United States leaves, the sooner the Shiites, 
Kurds and Sunnis will either reach a political arrangement on their own or some 
combination of them will forcibly prevail.

With a foreign policy based on bipartisanship and with Iraq behind us, it would 
also be easier to shape a wider regional policy that constructively focuses on 
Iran and on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process while restoring the 
legitimacy of America's global role.

(Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. 
This Global Viewpoint article was distributed by Tribune Media Services 

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