Peter Dale Scott

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Peter Dale Scott
Peter Dale Scott
Scott in 2007
Born(1929-01-11)January 11, 1929
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
OccupationPoet, Academic, Diplomat
EducationMcGill University
University College, Oxford
Institut d'Etudes Politiques
GenrePolitics, Deep State, Poetry
Notable works
  • Cocaine Politics (1991)
  • Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993)
  • Minding the Darkness (2000)
  • The Road to 9/11 (2007)
  • American War Machine (2010)
  • The American Deep State (2014)
Notable awardsLannan Literary Award (2002)
SpouseRonna Kabatznick

Peter Dale Scott (born 11 January 1929)[1] is a Canadian-born poet, academic, and former diplomat. A son of the Canadian poet and constitutional lawyer F. R. Scott and painter Marian Dale Scott, he is best known for his critiques of deep politics and American foreign policy since the era of the Vietnam War. Notably, he was a signatory in 1968 of the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" pledge, in which participants vowed to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.[2] Although trained as a political scientist, Scott holds an atypical academic appointment as a poet-scholar in an English department.

After receiving undergraduate degrees in philosophy (first-class honours) and political science (second-class honours) from McGill University in 1949, he studied at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (France, 1949) and University College, Oxford (1950-1952) before receiving a Ph.D. in political science from McGill (with a dissertation on the social and political philosophy of T.S. Eliot) in 1955. He briefly taught in McGill's political science department and spent four years (1957–1961) with the Canadian diplomatic service before joining the speech department of the University of California, Berkeley as a lecturer in 1961. He was subsequently promoted to assistant professor of speech (1962), associate professor of English (1968), and professor of English (1980); since his nominal retirement in 1994, he has served as professor emeritus of English.[3][4]

Literary works[edit]

In terms of poetry, he is best known for his book-length epic poem Coming to Jakarta (subtitled "a poem about terror"), which describes in measured, prosodically regular verse the 1965 crisis in Indonesia that resulted in the Indonesian Civil War and the deaths of as many as half a million people, in which he believed the CIA to have played a role.[5]

Scott is far from a stridently political poet, working always to connect the polemical to the personal. In Coming to Jakarta he writes:

To have learnt from terror
        to see oneself
    as part of the enemy
can be a reassurance

In the context of this emotional and psychological side of conflict, Scott alternates between descriptions of his own life—"dressed up in polished / gaiters with a buttonhook"—and the massive violence of his principal subject. Somewhere between confessional and scholarly, his poems often contain citations in the margins.

Scott has described the book-length Minding the Darkness (2000) as his most important poetic work, though he concedes that "Like other long poems by older men. . . it toys dangerously with abstract didactic principles."[6] The work is intended as the culmination of a trilogy (also including Listening to the Candle [1992]) of which Coming to Jakarta was the inception.

His poetry has been translated into Indonesian, Serbo-Croatian, and Hungarian.

Contemporary politics[edit]

Scott has written about the role of the "deep state" (as opposed to the "public state").[7] Rejecting the label of "conspiracy theory", he has used the phrase "deep politics" to describe his political concerns. His interest in contemporary history has spilled over into his works of poetry, some of which must contain marginal notes to explain to readers which documents or real-world news events are being referred to. His book, The Road to 9/11 (2007), deals with geopolitical context of events leading to 9/11, and argues "how U.S. foreign policy since the 1960s has led to partial or total cover-ups of past domestic criminal acts, including, perhaps, the catastrophe of 9/11."[8] His books The Road to 9/11 and American War Machine are available in French under the titles La Route vers le Nouveau Désordre Mondial and La Machine de Guerre Américaine.[9] The latter was reviewed in March 2011 by Bernard Norlain, a retired French five-star General of the Air Force.[10] In all, his books have been translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and Indonesian. His articles have been translated into 16 languages, including Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Chinese, and Japanese.

Of Scott's book, American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan (2010), Daniel Ellsberg commented: "I said of Scott's last brilliant take on this subject, Drugs, Oil and War, that 'It makes most academic and journalistic explanations of our past and current interventions read like government propaganda written for children.' Now Scott has written an even better book. Read it!"[11]

An aspect of Scott's work that combines both his investigating interests and his poetry is illustrated by The Global Drug Meta-Group: Drugs, Managed Violence, and the Russian 9/11.[12]


War Conspiracy[edit]

In 1972, Bobbs-Merrill Company published Scott's The War Conspiracy.[13] The book describes Scott's theories of why the United States went to war in Vietnam.[14] Kirkus Reviews said War Conspiracy is "undoubtedly one of the most important overviews to date of the subterranean reaches of the U.S. intelligence machine in Southeast Asia."[13]

Deep Politics and the Death of JFK[edit]

Scott's Deep Politics and the Death of JFK was published in 1993 University of California Press.[15] Promotional reviews of the book were provided by Bruce Cumings, Gaeton Fonzi, and Oliver Stone.[16]

Kirkus Reviews called the book a "[s]taggeringly well-researched and intelligent overview not only of the JFK assassination but also of the rise of forces undermining American democracy".[17] The Kirkus review also described the book as a "kind of Rosetta stone for cracking open the deepest darkness in American politics."[17] Publishers Weekly said that Scott's "thoughtful, extremely (and sometimes excessively) detailed book promises more than it actually delivers" and that "the 'facts' on which he relies are often the result of other people's not necessarily accurate reporting".[15] According to PW, "[t]he book's most useful feature is a careful discussion of how U.S. Vietnam policy changed abruptly after Kennedy's death."[15]

In a 2004 review for The Wilson Quarterly, Max Holland, recipient of a Studies in Intelligence Award from the Central Intelligence Agency, wrote that "Deep Politics is an unreadable compendium of 'may haves' and 'might haves,' non-sequiturs, and McCarthy-style innuendo, with enough documentation to satisfy any paranoid."[18] Shortly thereafter, Holland reiterated similar comments in a second piece written for Reviews in American History and criticized the University of California Press' editorial committee for approving the publication of the book: "This peer approval by a major university press illustrates the boundless and utter disbelief in the Warren Report that exists even in the highest reaches of the academy, and it also reveals the gross inattention given to the subject by serious historians."[19] Scott responded with a letter to the editor stating: "I was disappointed to see those who have published me attacked vigorously for doing so by a major historical journal. I continue to believe that it is the job of the academy to open minds, not to close them."[20]

In 2013, former Salon editor-in-chief David Talbot included Deep Politics in his list of top seven "best books on the subject", describing the work as a "masterpiece, a meticulously detailed examination of the deep network of power that underlies the events in Dallas.... filled with provocative insights about how the upper circles of U.S. power actually operate."[21]


Political books[edit]

Book contributions

Political articles[edit]


Poetry and politics[edit]


External audio
audio icon "Deep Politics." Interview on KPFA (1994). Los Angeles: Pacifica Radio Archives. PRA AZ1004.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ W. H. New, ed. Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002: 1028.
  2. ^ "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest", New York Post, January 30, 1968
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2015-08-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "UC Berkeley Department of English".
  5. ^ Scott, Peter Dale. "How I Came to Jakarta". Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  6. ^ Introductory matter to excerpts from Minding the Darkness, <>.
  7. ^ Conscience Sociale (2014-05-03). "Bruno Paul (2014), Deep Politics and the Deep State". Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  8. ^ University of California Press. Peter Date Scott (2007), The Road to 9/11. Retrieved April 30, 2009.
  9. ^ [1] La Route vers le Nouveau Désordre Mondial, La Machine de Guerre Américaine, Editions Demi-Lune official website
  10. ^ [2] Review of La Route vers le Nouveau Désordre Mondial (The Road to 9/11) by French Air Force general Bernard Norlain
  11. ^ "Reviews for American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan". Rowman & Littlefield. Archived from the original on 2011-06-28.
  12. ^ The Global Drug Meta-Group: Drugs, Managed Violence, and the Russian 9/11, <>
  13. ^ a b Kirkus Reviews (May 19, 1972). "The War Conspiracy". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  14. ^ Burnett, Thom, ed. (2006). "Key Figures". Conspiracy Encyclopedia. Collins & Brown. p. 186. ISBN 9781843403814. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  15. ^ a b c Publishers Weekly (October 4, 1993). "Deep Politics and the Death of JFK". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  16. ^ University of California Press. Deep Politics and the Death of JFK. University of California Press. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  17. ^ a b Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 1993). "Deep Politics and the Death of JFK". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  18. ^ Holland, Max (Winter 1994). "Paranoia Unbound" (PDF). The Wilson Quarterly. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. XVIII (1): 87. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  19. ^ Holland, Max (June 1994). "After Thirty Years: Making Sense of the Assassination". Reviews in American History. Johns Hopkins University Press. 22 (2): 191–209. doi:10.2307/2702884. JSTOR 2702884.
  20. ^ Scott, Peter Dale (September 1994). "Correspondence". Reviews in American History. Johns Hopkins University Press. 23 (3): 564–566. doi:10.1353/rah.1995.0071. JSTOR 2703334.
  21. ^ Talbot, David (November 6, 2013). "JFK Assassination: CIA and New York Times are still lying to us". Salon. Retrieved July 7, 2015.

External links[edit]