The New American
Peter Dale Scott, age 79 [yes, until Jan 11, 2009 ], is a Canadian poet and former English professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
He is known for his anti-war stance and his criticism of U.S. foreign policy dating back to the Vietnam War. He lives in Berkeley, California.
Peter, hello, welcome.
Where were you born, raised?
When, how, why did you come to the U.S and end up at Berkeley, in four lines or less.
I was born, raised, and first educated in Montreal. After two years of school in Paris and Oxford, I graduated in 1955 from McGill with a Ph.D. in Political Science.
I taught one year at McGill, then was for four years a Canadian diplomat.
Retiring in 1961, I applied to and was accepted by three universities.
UC Berkeley, the last to hire me, did so by phone, while the Canadians wrote; so I agreed to come to UC for one year.
So, were you a poet first, and professor by necessity, or how does that all line up — in that, how well have your passions survived the bill collector over the decades?
I started writing poetry at age eight, and first published as an undergraduate.
But I always had other interests, chiefly political.
Until I was fifty I would say that I wrote poetry, but refused to define myself as a poet.
Then, hospitalized for two weeks with acute hepatitis, I decided to be a poet first of all.
Soon afterwards I began to write "Coming to Jakarta."
University tenure spared me money concerns, until recently.
NAD: How, why did you oppose the Vietnam War?
In Warsaw from 1959 to 1960, it was my chore as the youngest Canadian diplomat to read the prodigiously long cables to the Embassy about Laos.
In Berkeley in 1961 I retained nothing of their content except a sense of the controversiality of US maneuvers, and the risks of a new Indochina War.
So I started circulating anti-war petitions in 1962 and began speaking in 1965.
What is your passion today?
When you woke up this morning, what did you feel you had to get done before supper time?
I usually have to ask my inner voice what to do in any one day, not tell myself.
But once I start a project, whether poetic or political or both, I tend to be possessed by it until it is finished.
Today I am between projects, and thus open to distraction by small tasks like this questionnaire.
You write these days about the "deep state," and conspiracy — right?
How long have you been aware of the deep state and conspiracy? Do they exist in other nations as well?
My concern about US involvement in Vietnam led to questions in my first book (1966) about the murders of Diem in Vietnam and JFK in the US, at a time when both were thought to be contemplating negotiations towards peace.
My next book in 1972, "The War Conspiracy," had several chapters about the JFK assassination which the publisher dropped, but I circulated privately.
I have only written about a “deep state” intervening covertly in our politics since 2006 (see The Road to 9/11), and am still refining my thoughts in Internet publications.
I would say that every developed state develops a deep state; but deep states become a major problem only in alleged democracies which assume an unpopular and thus undemocratic imperial role.
In the words of the song by Immortal Technique — did Bush knock down the towers?
If he did, if "they" did, how do you think they justify it to themselves and to those closest to them?
My public position is:
1) I only know that we don’t know how the towers came down, and that there has been a cover-up,
2) I have challenged what I consider to be the false dilemma that either 19 Muslims were responsible, or else the Bush-Cheney White House was.
I have suggested that there could be a third possibility – a covert meta-group, possibly drug-linked, bridging both US intelligence and the jihadist movement we call al Qaeda.
“Deep states” have murdered innocents before, and EPA plus the hapless Bush himself may prove to be responsible for even more deaths than 9/11, because of their suppression of the health warnings about Ground Zero.
What else would you like to add?
What else should we have asked?
My current obsession with the two decades of Cheney-Rumsfeld planning for “Continuity [i.e. Change] of Government" (COG), will end with the completion of my current manuscript book, provisionally entitled "Deep Events and Deep Politics."
In my 80’s I hope to write poetry, plus essays on literary and cultural matters, albeit with a political perspective.
NAD: Please insert a link here to something you would like linked to, with a brief tag re: where that link goes:
Why not add my website – http://www.peterdalescott.net ?