Culture and Life
by Rob Gowland
US blunder? Unfortunately not
Did you catch the episode of Great Military Blunders a week or so ago dealing with the US invasion of Grenada? It was remarkable in its near- total suspension of disbelief. The program regaled us with clever juxtapositions that exposed the US administration's stated reasons for the invasion as being false. US administration types like Caspar Weinberger would tell us with such sincerity that the US had to rescue the Prime Minister of Grenada who had been arrested and imprisoned. Then the former Prime Minister would appear and deny categorically that he had ever been arrested or imprisoned. The program told us how the US forces went in supposedly to rescue American students but couldn't find them. Similarly, the "military airport" the Cubans were building turned out to be a civilian airport intended to boost Grenada's tourist industry. The program's makers assume these anomalies are examples of "poor intelligence work" and the invasion a "military blunder" as a result. Which is more than a little surreal. The students endangered/Prime Minister Bishop arrested/Cuban airfield scenario was part of the US cover story. It was the now familiar disinformation campaign. That the lies told to justify the invasion did not match what the invading troops found on the ground is hardly relevant: they were never the real intentions, after all. From the point of view of US imperialism — the invader — the attack on Grenada was not a blunder, great or small. It achieved what it set out to do: stop the spread of revolution in the Caribbean, prevent Grenada from following the lead of Cuba and adopting a socialist-oriented path of development. Grenada is still suffering the consequences of being stomped on by the bully of the Western Hemisphere. The invasion of Grenada was a military outrage, but hardly a blunder.
* * *Jane Fonda's rightward shift I see from the bourgeois media that Jane Fonda's steady progression to the right has taken a further big step with her saying sorry for ever being "Hanoi Jane". Michael Ellison put it rather well in the British weekly The Guardian: "The reinvention of Jane Fonda as an all-American conformist gathered pace yesterday with the abandonment of one of her longest-cherished positions, support for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam war." Fonda was one of the most active and high profile of the numerous media and cultural figures who opposed the Vietnam War. And not just the Vietnam War: she riled the authorities by defending the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement. She used her high-profile position to highlight the plight of those who refused to be drafted into the War. With left-wing Canadian actor Donald Sutherland she formed the Anti-War Troupe and toured military camps with a show the Pentagon definitely did not approve of. At the height of the US bombing of North Vietnam she went there on a well publicised tour to show solidarity with the Vietnamese people. Together with her second husband, anti-war political activist Tom Hayden and Marxist cinematographer Haskell Wexler, she filmed the tour as Introduction To The Enemy. Unlike Fonda, Haskell Wexler did not waver in his convictions and commitment. I met him in Moscow once when Gorbachev was promoting the merits of glasnost, perestroika and "new thinking". I asked Wexler what he thought of these developments. Wexler pointed to the framed portrait of Lenin on the wall of Mosfilm's studio and said: "I think they should be reading more of that man's works." Her open support for "the enemy" took considerable courage and she suffered for it professionally, being denied work in major movies for several years. Although she regained her position as a major star at the end of the '70s, I have no doubt that the experience of victimisation had an inhibiting effect on her future activism. For a while, she and Hayden were active in politics on the left of the Democratic Party with other "left wingers" like Shirley MacLaine. But eventually, after 19 years of marriage, Fonda and Hayden split up. She subsequently married millionaire (or is it billionaire?) owner of the Cable News Network CNN, Ted Turner, and became a centrepiece of Atlanta society. Cosying up to Turner, whose network is these days "the voice of the State Department", seemed to indicate that her political position had drifted significantly. But now it seems to have gone even further. In an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey (who else?) the 62-year-old Ms Fonda said she would "go to her grave regretting the photograph" of her with North Vietnamese anti- aircraft gunners defending their country against US air attack, "which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes". Fonda told Oprah that she had "rethought large areas of her life recently", splitting up with her husband and embracing Christianity. "You have to be able to say `I was wrong'. You have to be able to accept responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them", she said. Unfortunately, moving to the right does not appear to be one of the mistakes Jane Fonda intends to learn from. Quite the opposite, in fact. Pity, I always liked her on the screen.