I have heard this debate of "learned" individuals. Couch-curbed hippies and self-righteous intellectuals that argue that there must be a better way and that we have no reason to be in the Middle East. Here are a few good reasons why....
1979 Nov. 4, Iranian radical students seized the U.S. embassy, taking 66 hostages. 14 were later released. The remaining 52 were freed after 444 days on the day of President Reagan's inauguration. The recent visit by the President of Iran....he was one of the students that held and interogated the hostages...google it...they have pictures.
1982–1991 Lebanon: Thirty US and other Western hostages kidnapped in Lebanon by Hezbollah. Some were killed, some died in captivity, and some were eventually released. Terry Anderson was held for 2,454 days.
1983 April 18 Lebanon: U.S. embassy destroyed in suicide car-bomb attack; 63 dead, including 17 Americans. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.Oct. 23, Beirut, Lebanon: Shiite suicide bombers exploded truck near U.S. military barracks at Beirut airport, killing 241 marines. Minutes later a second bomb killed 58 French paratroopers in their barracks in West Beirut.Dec. 12, Kuwait City, Kuwait: Shiite truck bombers attacked the U.S. embassy and other targets, killing 5 and injuring 80.
1984 Sept. 20, Lebanon: truck bomb exploded outside the U.S. embassy annex, killing 24, including 2 U.S. military. Dec. 3, Beirut, Lebanon: Kuwait Airways Flight 221, from Kuwait to Pakistan, hijacked and diverted to Tehran. 2 Americans killed.
1985 April 12, Spain: Bombing at restaurant frequented by U.S. soldiers, killed 18 Spaniards and injured 82. June 14, Beirut, Lebanon: TWA Flight 847 en route from Athens to Rome hijacked to Beirut by Hezbollah terrorists and held for 17 days. A U.S. Navy diver executed. Oct. 7, Mediterranean Sea: gunmen attack Italian cruise ship, Achille Lauro. One U.S. tourist killed. Hijacking linked to Libya. Dec. 18, Rome, Italy, and Vienna, Austria: airports in Rome and Vienna were bombed, killing 20 people, 5 of whom were Americans. Bombing linked to Libya.
1986 April 2, Greece:A bomb exploded aboard TWA flight 840 en route from Rome to Athens, killing 4 Americans and injuring 9. April 5, West Berlin, Germany: Libyans bombed a disco frequented by U.S. servicemen, killing 2 and injuring hundreds.
1988 Dec. 21, Scotland: N.Y.-bound Pan-Am Boeing 747 exploded in flight from a terrorist bomb and crashed into Scottish village, killing all 259 aboard and 11 on the ground. Passengers included 35 Syracuse University students and many U.S. military personnel. Libya formally admitted responsibility 15 years later (Aug. 2003) and offered $2.7 billion compensation to victims' families.
1993 Feb. 26, New York City: bomb exploded in basement garage of World Trade Center, killing 6 and injuring at least 1,040 others. In 1995, militant Islamist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 9 others were convicted of conspiracy charges, and in 1998, Ramzi Yousef, believed to have been the mastermind, was convicted of the bombing. Al-Qaeda involvement is suspected.
1995 Nov. 13, Saudi Arabia: car bomb exploded at U.S. military headquarters, killing 5 U.S. military servicemen.
1996 June 25, Saudi Arabia: truck bomb exploded outside Khobar Towers military complex, killing 19 American servicemen and injuring hundreds of others. 13 Saudis and a Lebanese, all alleged members of Islamic militant group Hezbollah, were indicted on charges relating to the attack in June 2001.
1998 Aug. 7, Kenya, and Tanzania: truck bombs exploded almost simultaneously near 2 U.S. embassies, killing 224 and injuring about 4,500. 4 men connected with al-Qaeda 2 of whom had received training at al-Qaeda camps inside Afghanistan, were convicted of the killings in May 2001 and later sentenced to life in prison. A federal grand jury had indicted 22 men in connection with the attacks, including Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, who remained at large.
2000 Oct. 12, Yemen: U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole heavily damaged when a small boat loaded with explosives blew up alongside it. 17 sailors killed. Linked to Osama bin Laden, or members of al-Qaeda terrorist network.
2001 Sept. 11, New York City, Arlington, Va., and Shanksville, Pa.: hijackers crashed 2 commercial jets into twin towers of World Trade Center; 2 more hijacked jets were crashed into the Pentagon and a field in rural Pa. Total dead and missing numbered 2,9921: 2,749 in New York City, 184 at the Pentagon, 40 in Pa., and 19 hijackers. Islamic al-Qaeda terrorist group blamed.
2002 June 14, Karachi, Pakistan: bomb exploded outside American consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, killing 12. Linked to al-Qaeda.
2003 May 12, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: suicide bombers killed 34, including 8 Americans, at housing compounds for Westerners. Al-Qaeda suspected.
2004 May 29–31, Saudi Arabia: terrorists attack the offices of a Saudi oil company in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, take foreign oil workers hostage in a nearby residential compound, leaving 22 people dead including one American. June 11–19, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: terrorists kidnap and execute Paul Johnson Jr., an American, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 2 other Americans and BBC cameraman killed by gun attacks. Dec. 6, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: terrorists storm the U.S. consulate, killing 5 consulate employees. 4 terrorists were killed by Saudi security.
2005 Nov. 9, Jordan: Suicide bombers hit 3 American hotels, Radisson, Grand Hyatt, and Days Inn, in Amman, Jordan, killing 57. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility.
2006 Sept. 13,Syria: an attack by four gunman on the American embassy was foiled.
2007 Jan. 12, Greece: the U.S. embassy was fired on by an anti-tank missile causing damage but no injuries.
I served in the Gulf War in 1991. The only mistake that was made by the Bush Adminsitration then was the fact that we had Sadam Hussein in the sights of our M16s when we were ordered to stand down so that we could be the "bigger" country and talk out our differences.....We see where that got us (God bless the families of 9/11). I have seen these people in action. They don't talk. They do. We have got to quit dealing with these individuals as though they subscribe to the same train of thought that we do. They are NOT civilized .. check out the videos of them hacking off hostages' heads while they are screaming and watch them send a three year-old child with dynamite strapped around his body towards an American soldier! The liberal regime in this country, the "we must embrace them" culture which is vomitting up out of our own federally subsidized colleges, will force us to pull back our troops, outstretch our arms to our enemy, and then when our soft underbelly is exposed drive the sickle-shaped knife into the chest of our country. As we lie there dying in disbelief that these individuals we welcomed in, helped rebuild, and treated like equals could do this to us...they will be celebrating in the streets of every major Islamic country in the world!
That is why we are there...may we stay and finish the job.
It is easy to sit here and discuss the simple, logical, and "clean" ways that this situation should be handled, however, I have looked into the eyes of the enemy and he is not interested in talking about it.
The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating because the Afghanistan project was always held hostage to Iraq. The Bush administration after 9-11 used Afghanistan as a casus belli to get to Iraq. And you can see this written in the lackluster way in which the administration embraced the project in Afghanistan.
First, they used the war in Afghanistan as an advertisement for Rumsfeld’s theory of lightning fast, high-tech war. Where there wouldn’t be that many casualties; special forces, air traffic controllers embedded with local forces, bomb people from the sky, then Taliban get scared and run away, and finally you call in the Europeans whose NGOs can rebuild Afghanistan, and the inner American in every Afghan will start to blossom. Then you can quickly move onto Iraq, and that’s what they did.
There are several fundamental reasons why the US went to Iraq. ( Read more...Collapse )
cross posted from my lj, so for those who have friended me and don't want to read it twice I'll put it behind a cut( readCollapse )
Part of what we claim is that North Korea getting nuclear weapons would threaten the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Lets look back to 1993, when the World Health Organization voted to request that the World Court consider the legality of the use of nuclear weapons, and issue an opinion on it.
As soon as they heard about this the United States and Britain went totally berserk: remember, just the fact that the World Court might hear a case on the legality of nuclear weapons is already a contribution to nuclear non-proliferation..
One must also, not forget that we benefit from proliferation, since we're the main producer, seller, and possessor of nuclear weapons.
I mean, it's not as if anybody would listen to the World Court if it said that the use of nuclear weapons is illegal (which means by implication that possession of them is illegal too) - but it would certainly be a big publicity coup for the disarmament movement if it did.
So for the big nuclear powers, this was a major issue.
Actually, it's of particular significance for Britain, because one of Britain's last claims to being a country, instead of like a country of the United States, is that they have nuclear weapons - so for them it's important on a symbolic level.
And nuclear weapons are important to the United States because they're part of the way we intimidate everyone - we intervene around the world under what's called a "nuclear umbrella," which serves as kind of a cover to back up our conventional intervention forces.
Ok, so that year (1993) Indonesia was serving as the head of the Non-Aligned Movement at the U.N. [a coalition of Third World nations in the General Assembly], and the 110 countries of the Non-Aligned Movement decided to introduce a resolution endorsing this request for an opinion - that's all that was up, endorsement of a request for an opinion from the World Court. The U.S., Britain and France immediately threatened trade and aid sanctions against Indonesia if, in their role as head of the Non-Aligned Movement for that year, they submitted this resolution at the General Assembly. So Indonesia instantly withdrew it, of course - when they get orders from the boss, they stop. And they stop fast.
Well, that just shows you that there are some atrocities that go too far for the Western powers: genocide in East Timor we can support, but endorsement of a request for an opinion on the legality of nuclear weapons is an atrocity we simply cannot tolerate. It also shows you what we can do to Indonesia if we feel like it.
Anyway, back to North Korea... if we're so concerned with non-proliferation, obviously nothing would be more of a shot in the arm for it than this World Court decision we tried so desperately to block. Okay, that tells you something about our motives in all this. But actually, I think the problem with North Korea is in fact what they're saying: the wrong guys are getting possible power, nuclear weapons.
Look, nobody in their right mind would want North Korea to have nuclear weapons. But on the other hand, there's nothing much that they would do with nuclear weapons if they had them, except maybe defend themselves from attack. They're certainly not going to invade anybody, that's not even imaginable: if they ever made a move, the country gets destroyed tomorrow... so the only role that nuclear weapons play for them is a deterrent to attack - and that's not totally unrealistic.
North Korea is a pretty crazy country, and there's not very much good and there's nothing good you can say about the government. But no matter who they were, if they were Mahatma Gandhi they would be worried about a possible attack. The United States was threatening North Korea with nuclear weapons at least as late as the 1960s. And after all, just remember what we did to that country - it was absolutely flattened. Here people may not be aware of what we did to them, but they certainly know it well enough.
Towards the end of what we called the "Korean War" - which was really just one phase in a much longer struggle [beginning when the U.S. destroyed the indigenous nationalist movement in Korea in the late 1940s] - the United States ran out of good bombing targets. We had total command of the air of course, but there was nothing good left to bomb - because everything had already been flattened. So we started going after things like dikes. Okay, that's a major war crime. In fact, if you take a look at the official U.S. Air Force history of the Korean War, it's absolutely mind boggling, it's like something straight out of the Nazi archives. I mean, these guys don't conceal their glee at all, it's just this account of all their terrific feelings: we bombed these dikes, and a huge flow of water went through the valleys and carved out huge paths of destruction and slaughterd people! I really can't duplicate, you have to read the original. And the Koreans lived on the other end of that.
Our treatment of North Korean prisoners of war also was absolutely grotesque - again, it was kind of like the Nazis. This is all documented in the West by now, and of course they certainly know about it. So there are plenty of things for the North Koreans to remember, and plenty of things for them to be afraid of - which is not to justify their getting nuclear weapons, but it's part of the background we should keep in mind.
The other thing is, North Korea is in a desperate situation right now: they're hemmed in politically, and they're struggling very hard to break out of their total isolation - they've tried setting up free trade zones, and are desperately trying to integrate themselves into the international economic system, other things like that. Well, this is apparently one of their ways of attempting to do it. It's neither intelligent nor justifiable, but that's a part of what's motivating them, and we should at least try to understand that.
|» Understanding the Middle East Conflict|
Israel is having more and more trouble putting down this popular revolution over the Occupied Territories. The repression of the Palestinians and the Lebanese is not qualitatively different right now from what it was 40 years ago -- it's just that it's escalated in scale sincee the Palestinians and the Lebanese started fighting back. For the Palestinians it started during the Intifada. So the brutality you see occasionally on television has in fact been going on for the last 40 years, and it's just the nature of a military occupation: military occupations are harsh and brutal, there is no other kind [Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the Six Day War in 1967, and has controlled them ever since]. There's been home-destruction, kidnappings, torture, collective punishments, expulsion, plenty of humiliation, censorship -- you'd have do go back to the days of the American South to know what it's been like for the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. They are not supposed to raise their heads -- that's what they say in Israel, "They're raising their heads, we've got to do something about it." And that's the way the Palestinians have been living.|
Well, the United States has been quite happy supporting that -- so long as it worked. But in the past few years, it hasn't worked. See, people with power understand exactly one thing: violence. If violence is effective, everything's okay; but if violence loses its effectiveness, then they start worrying and have to try something else. In fact, the occupation's beginning to be rather harmful for Israel. So it's entirely possible that there could be some tactical changes coming with respect to how Israel goes about controlling the Territories.
Outside the United States, everybody knows what the solution for resolving the conflict in the region would be. For years there's been a very broad consensus in the world over the basic framework of a solution in the Middle East, with the exception of two countries: the United States and Israel. It's going to be some variety of two-state settlement.
Look, there are two groups claiming the right of national self-determination in the same territory; they both have a claim, they're competing claims. There are various ways in which such competing claims could be reconciled -- you could do it through a federation, one thing or another -- but given the present state of conflict, it's just going to have to be about the modalities -- should it be a confederation, how do you deal with economic integration, and so on -- but the principle's quite clear: there has to be some settlement that recognizes the right of self-determination of Jews in something like the state of Israel, and the right of self-determination of Palestinians in something like a Palestinian State. And everybody knows where that Palestinian state would be -- in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, along roughly the borders that exsisted before the Six Day War in 1967.
All of this has been obvious for years -- why hasn't it happened? Well, of course Israel's opposed to it. But the main reason it hasn't happened is because the United States has blocked it: the United states has been blocking the peace process in the Middle East for the last twenty years -- WE'RE the leaders of the rejectionist camp, not the Arabs or anybody else. See, the United States supports a policy which Henry Kissinger called "stalemate"; that was his word for it back in 1970. At that time, there was kind of a split in the American government as to whether we should join the broad international consensus on a political settlement, or block a political settlement. And in that internal struggle, the hard-liners prevailed; Kissinger was the main spokesman. The policy that won out was what he called "stalemate": keep things the way they are, maintain the system of Israeli oppression. And there was a good reason for that, it wasn't just out of the blue: having an embattled, militaristic Israel is an important part of how we rule the world.
( Read more...Collapse )
|» Peoples Democratic Socialist Republics|
One of the issues which has devastated a substantial portion of the left in recent years, and caused enormous triumphalism elsewhere, is the alleged fact that there's been this great battle between socialism and capitalism in the twentieth century, and in the end capitalism won and socialism lost-and the reason we know that socialism lost is because the Soviet Union disintegrated. So you have big cover stories in The Nation about "The End of Socialism," and you have socialists who all their lives considered themselves anti-Stalin saying, "Yes, it's true, socialism has lost because Russia failed." To even raise questions about this is something you're not supposed to do in our culture, but let's try it. Suppose you ask a simple question: namely, why do people like the editors at The Nation say that "socialism" failed, why don't they say that "democracy" failed?--and the proof that "democracy" failed is, look what happened to Eastern Europe. After all, those countries also called themselves "democratic"--in fact, they called themselves "People's Democracies," real advanced forms of democracy. So why don't we conclude that "democracy" failed, not just that "socialism" failed? Well, I haven't seen any articles anywhere saying, "Look, democracy failed, let's forget about democracy." Ant it's obvious why: the fact that they called themselves democratic doesn't mean that they were democratic. Pretty obvious right?|
Okay, then in what sense did social fail? I mean, it's true that the Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe called themselves "socialist"--but they also called themselves "democratic." Were they socialist? Well, you can argue about what Socialism is, but there are some ideas that are sort of at the core of it, like workers' control over production, elimination of wage labor, things like that. Did those countries have any of those things? They weren't even a thought there. In the pre-Bolshevik part of the Russian Revolution, there were socialist initiatives--but they were crushed instantly after the Bolsheviks took power, like within months. In fact, just as the moves towards democracy in Russia were instantly destroyed, the moves towards socialism were equally instantly destroyed. The Bolshevik takeover was a coup--and that was perfectly well understood at the time, in fact. So if you look in the mainstream of the Marxist movement, Lenin's takeover was regarded as counter-revolutionary; if you look at independent leftists like Bertrand Russell, it was instantly obvious to them; to the libertarian left, it was a truism.
But that truism has been driven out of people's heads over the years, as part of a whole prolonged effort to discredit the very idea of socialism by associating it with Soviet totalitarianism. And obviously that effort has been extremely successful--that's why people can tell themselves that socialism failed when they look at what happened to the Soviet Union, and not even see the slightest thing odd about it. And that's been a very valuable propaganda triumph for elites in the West--because it's made it very easy to undercut moves towards real changes in the social system here by saying, "Well, that's socialism--and look what it leads to."
Okay, hopefully with the fall of the Soviet Union we can at least begin to get past that barrier, and start recovering an understanding of what socialism could really stand for.
|» Healthcare and the Social Security Non-Crisis|
The rapidly escalating costs of health care are threatening a serious fiscal crisis, along with immeasurable human costs. Infant Mortality in the U.S. is one major index. The UN Human Development Report 2005 reveals that "since 2000 a half century of sustained decline in infant death rates [in the United States] first slowed then reversed." By 2005 the rates had risen to the level of Malaysia, a country where the average income is one-quarter that in the United States. The report also reviews the effects of government programs. In the United Kingdom, for example, the rate of child poverty rose sharply during the Margaret Thatcher years, then reversed after the Labour government adopted policies to halve child poverty by 2010. "fiscal redistribution has played a central role in strategies for meeting the target," the report concludes: "Large increases in financial support for families with children," as well as other fiscal programs, "boosted the incomes of low-income working families with children," with significant effects on child poverty.|
The financial crisis is surely is no secret. The press report that 30 percent of health care costs go for administration, a proportion vastly higher than in government-run systems including those within the United States, which are far from the most efficient. These estimates are seriously understated because of the ideological decision not to count the costs for individuals- for doctors who waste their own time or are forced to misuse it, or patients who "enter a world of paperwork so surreal that it belongs in one of Kafka's tales of the triumph of faceless bureaucracies." The complexities of billing have become so outlandish that the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the president's senior adviser, says when he gets a bill for his four-year-old child, he "can't figure out what happened, or what I'm supposed to do." Those who want to see government bureaucracy reaching levels that even Kafka might not have imagined should look at the official ninety-eight-page government handbook on the Medicare prescription drug plan, provided to Medicare participants to inform them of their options under the bill passed by Congress in June 2004, with the help of an army of lobbyists from pharmaceutical companies and health maintenance organizations (HMOs). The idea, the Wall Street Journal informs its affluent readers, "is that patients will be encouraged to bargain-hunt for medical care" and may even save money, if they can hire enough research assistants to work through the many private options available, and make lucky guesses. Health Savings Accounts, also welcomed by the editors, have similar properties. For the wealthy and the corporate beneficiaries the exciting new programs will be just fine, like health care in general. The rest will get what the deserve for not having ascended to these heights.
The Bush administration response to the health care crisis has been to reduce services to the poor (Medicaid). The timing was again impeccable. "As Republican leaders in Congress move to trim billions of dollars from the Medicaid health program," the Washington Post reported, "they are simultaneously intervening to save the life of possibly the highest-profile Medicaid patient: Terri Schiavo." Republican majority leader Tom DeLay, while proclaiming his deep concern forSchiavo and his dedication to ensure that she has the chance "we all deserve," simultaneously shepherded through the House a budget resolution to cut $15 billion to $20 billion from Medicaid for the next five years. As if the exploitation of the tragedy of this poor woman for partisan gain were not disgraceful enough, DeLay and others like him were depriving her, and who knows how many others, of the means of moral values and concern for the sanctity of life.
The primary method devised to divert attention from the health care crisis was to organize a major PR campaign to "reform" Social Security--meaning dismantle it--in the pretext that it is facing an awesome fiscal crisis. There is no need to review the remarkable deceit of the administration propaganda, and the falsifications and misrepresentations repeated without comment by much of the media commentary, which cooperated in making it the "hot topic" in Washington. Exposure has been carried out more than adequately eslewhere. The steady drumbeat of deceit has been so extreme as to drive frustrated analysts to words rarely voiced in restrained journals: that Bush "repeatedly lied about the current [Social Security] system," making claims that were demonstrably false and that his staff must have known were false(New York Times, Paul Krugman, 15 Aug, 2005)."
It is not that the system has no flaws. It surly does. The highly regressive payroll tax is an illustration. More generally, an OECD study found that the US system "is one of the least generous public pension systems in advanced countries," consistent with the comparative weakness of benefits in the United States.
The alleged crisis of Social Security is rooted in demographic facts: the ratio of working people to retired people is declining. The data are accurate, but partial. The relevant figure is the ratio of working people to those they support. According to official statistics, the ratio of working people to dependents (under twenty, over sixty-five) hit its lowest point in 1965 and is not expected to reach that level through the projected period (to 2080). The Propaganda image is that the retirement of the "baby boomers" is going to crash the system; as repeatedly pointed out, their retirement has already been financed by the Greenspan-led increase in payroll taxes in 1983. That aside, the boomers were once children, and had to be cared for then as well. And we find that during those years there was a sharp increase in spending for education and other child care needs. There was no crisis. If American society was able to take care of the boomers from ages zero to twenty, then there can be no fundamental reason why a much richer society, with far higher output per worker, cannot take care of them from ages sixty-five to ninety. At most, some technical fixes might be needed, but no major crisis looms in the foreseeable future.
Critics of Bush's efforts to chip away at Social Security by various "ownership society" schemes have proclaimed success because public opposition was too high to ram the legislation through. But the celebration is premature. The campaign of deceit achieved a great deal, laying the basis for the next assault on the system. Reacting to the PR campaign, the Gallup poll, for the first time, included Social Security among the choices for "top concerns." Gallup found that only "the availability and affordability of healthcare" is a larger concern for the public than Social Security. About half of Americans worry "a great deal" about it, and another quarter a "fair amount," more than are concerned about such issues as terrorism or oil prices. A Zogby poll found that 61 percent believe the system faces "serious problems" and 14 percent think it's "in crisis," though in fact it is "financially stronger than it has been throughout most of its history, according to the Trustees' [President Bush's] numbers," economist Mark Weisbrot observes. The campaign has been particularly effective among the young. Among students, 70 percent are "concerned that the pension system may not be there when they retire."
These are major victories for those who hope to destroy Social Security, revealing once again the effectiveness of a flood of carefully contrived propaganda amplified by the media in a business-run-society where institutionalized deceit has been refined to a high art. The propaganda success compares well with that of the government-media campaign to convince Americans that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to their survival, driving them completly off the spectrum of world opinion.
There has been some discussion of the curious fact that the need to reform Social Security became the "hot topic" of the day, while reforming the health care system in accord with public opinion is not even on the agenda, an apparent paradox: the very serious fiscal crisis of the remarkably inefficient and poorly performing health care systems not a crisis, while urgent action is needed to undermine the efficient system that is quite sound for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, to the extent that Social Security might face a crisis some time in the distant future, it would result primarily from exploding health care costs. Government projections predict a sharp increase in total benefits relative to GDP, from under 10 percent in 2000 to almost 25 percent in 2080, which is as far as the projections reach. Through this period Social Security costs are barley expected to increase beyond the 2000 level of 5 percent. A slightly larger increase is predicted for Medicaid, and a huge increase for Medicare, traceable primarily to extreme inefficiency of the privatized health care system.
Sensible people will seek differences between the Social Security and Health care systems that might explain the paradox. And they will quickly find critical differences, which are quite familiar in other domains: the paradox mirrors closely the "schizophrenia" of all administrations that underlies the "strong line of continuity" with regard to "democracy promotion," to take one example. Social Security is of little value for the rich, but it is crucial for the survival for the working people, the poor, their dependents, and the disabled. For the wealthy, it is the "major source" of retirement income, and the most secure. Furthermore, as a government program, it has such low administrative costs that it offers nothing to financial institutions. Social Security helps only the underlying population, not the substantial people. It is therefore natural that it should be dispatched to the flames. The medical system, in contrast, works very well for the substantial people, with health care effectively rationed by wealth, while enormous profits flow to private power for superfluous bureaucracy and supervision, overpriced drugs, and other useful inefficiencies. The underlying population can be treated with lectures on responsibility.
There are other sound reasons to destroy the Social Security system. It is based on the principles that are deeply offensive to the moral values of the political leadership and the sectors they represent--not those who vote for them, a different category of the population. Social security is based on the idea that it is a community responsibility to ensure that the disabled widow on the other side of town has food to eat, or that the child across the street should be able to go to a decent school. Such evil ideas have to be driven from the mind. They stand in the way of the "New Spirit of the Age" of the 1850s: "Gain Wealth, forgetting all but Self." According to the right thinking, it isn't my fault if the widow married the wrong person or if the child's parents made bad investment decisions, so why should I contribute a few cents to a public fund to take care of them? the "ownership society," in contrast, suffers from none of these moral defects.
Returning to the November 2004 elections, we learn a little of the significance from them about popular attitudes and opinions, though we can learn a lot from these studies that are kept in the shadows. And the whole affair adds more to our understanding of the current state of American democracy--with most of the industrial world trailing not too far behind, as privileged and powerful sectors learn and apply the lessons taught by their leader.
|» The Empire|
Despite what you hear, U.S. interventionism has nothing to do with resisting the spread of " Terrorism," or "Communism," it's INDEPENDENCE we've always been opposed to everywhere... and for quite a good reason. If a country begins to pay attention to its own population, it's not going to be paying adequate attention to the overriding needs of U.S. investors. Well, those are unacceptable priorities, so that government's just going to have to go. |
And the effects of this commitment throughout the Third World are dramatically clear: it takes only a moment's thought to realize that the areas that have been the most under U.S. control are some of the most horrible regions in the world. For instance, why is Central America such a horror-chamber? I mean, if a peasant in Guatemala woke up in Poland [i.e. under Soviet occupation], he'd think he was in heaven by comparison... and Guatemala's an area where we've had a hundred years of influence. Well, that tells you something. Or look at Brazil: potentially an extremely rich country with tremendous resources, except it had the curse of being part of the Western system of subordination. So in northeast Brazil, for example, which is rather fertile area with plenty of rich land, just it's all owned by plantations, Brazilian medical researchers now identify the population as a new species with about 40 percent the brain size of human beings, as a result of generations of profound malnutrition and neglect... and this may be unremediable except after generations, because of lingering effects of malnutrition on one's offspring. Alright, that's a good example of the legacy of our commitments, and the same kind of pattern runs throughout the former Western colonies.
In fact, if you look at the countries that have developed in the world, there's a little simple fact which should be obvious to anyone on five minutes' observation, but which you never find anyone saying in the United States: the countries that have developed economically are those which were not colonized by the west; every country that was colonized by the West is a TOTAL WRECK. I mean, Japan was the one country that managed to resist European colonization, and it's the one part of the traditional Third World that developed. What does that tell you? Historians of Africa have actually pointed out that if you look at Japan when it began its industrialization process [in the 1870's], it was about the same developmental level as the Asante kingdom in West Africa in terms of resources available, level of state formation, degree of technological development, and so on. Well, just compare those two areas today. It's true there were a number of differences between them historically, but the crucial one is that Japan wasn't conquered by the West and the Asante kingdom was, by the British-so now West Africa is West Africa economically, and Japan is Japan.
Japan had its own colonial system too, incidentally- but its colonies developed, and they developed because Japan didn't treat them the way the Western powers treated their colonies. The Japanese were very brutal colonizers. they weren't nice guys, but they nonetheless developed their colonies economically; the West just robbed theirs. So if you look at the growth rate through the early part of this century-they were getting industrialized, developing infrastructure, educational levels were going up, agricultural production was increasing. In fact, by the 1930s, Formosa (now Taiwan) was one of the commercial centers of Asia. Well, just compare Taiwan with the Philippines, an American colony right next door: the Philippines is a total basket-case, a Latin American-style basket-case. Again, that tells you something.
With World War 2, the Japanese colonial system got smashed up. But by the 1960s, Korea and Taiwan were again developing at their former growth rate-and that's because in the post-war period, they've been able to follow the Japanese model of development: they're pretty closed off to foreign exploitation, quite egalitarian by international standards, they devote pretty extensive resources to things like education and health care. Okay, that's a successful model for development. I mean, these Asian countries aren't pretty; I can't stand them myself-they're extremely authoritarian, the role of women you can't even talk about, and so on, so there are plenty of unpleasant things about them. But they have been able to pursue economic development measures that are successful: the state coordinates industrial policies that are IMPOSSIBLE in Latin America, because the U.S. insists that those governments keep their economies open to international markets-so capital from Latin America is constantly flowing to the West. Alright, that's not a problem in South Korea: they have the death penalty for capital export. Solves that difficulty pretty fast.
But the point is, the Japanese-style development model works-in fact, it's how every country in the world that's developed has done it: by imposing high levels of protectionism, and by extracting its economy from free market discipline. And that's precisely what the Western powers have been preventing the Third World from doing, right up to this moment.
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thought someone might think this was a good song too...