Fw: Arundhati Roy - 'Buy One, Get One Free '
- To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: Fw: Arundhati Roy - 'Buy One, Get One Free '
- From: "gerald w. bracey" <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 22:17:39 -0400
Food for thought from the winner of the Booker Prize--Britain's Pulitzer,but
maybe a cut above. Roy is an architect by training, and won the prize for
"The God of Small Things."
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2003 5:09 PM
Subject: Arundhati Roy - 'Buy One, Get One Free '
> Roy's Address
> Buy One, Get One Free
> By Arundhati Roy
> Riverside Church, New York, NY
> May 17, 2003
> In these times, when we have to race to keep abreast of
> the speed at which our freedoms are being snatched from
> us, and when few can afford the luxury of retreating
> from the streets for a while in order to return with
> an exquisite, fully formed political thesis replete
> with footnotes and references, what profound gift
> can I offer you tonight?
> As we lurch from crisis to crisis, beamed directly into
> our brains by satellite TV, we have to think on our
> feet. On the move. We enter histories through the
> rubble of war. Ruined cities, parched fields, shrinking
> forests, and dying rivers are our archives. Craters
> left by daisy cutters, our libraries.
> So what can I offer you tonight? Some uncomfortable
> thoughts about money, war, empire, racism, and
> democracy. Some worries that flit around my brain like
> a family of persistent moths that keep me awake at
> Some of you will think it bad manners for a person like
> me, officially entered in the Big Book of Modern
> Nations as an "Indian citizen," to come here and
> criticize the U.S. government. Speaking for myself, I'm
> no flag-waver, no patriot, and am fully aware that
> venality, brutality, and hypocrisy are imprinted on the
> leaden soul of every state. But when a country ceases
> to be merely a country and becomes an empire, then the
> scale of operations changes dramatically. So may I
> clarify that tonight I speak as a subject of the
> American Empire? I speak as a slave who presumes to
> criticize her king.
> Since lectures must be called something, mine tonight
> is called: Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get
> One Free).
> Way back in 1988, on the 3rd of July, the U.S.S.
> Vincennes, a missile cruiser stationed in the Persian
> Gulf, accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner and
> killed 290 civilian passengers. George Bush the First,
> who was at the time on his presidential campaign, was
> asked to comment on the incident. He said quite subtly,
> "I will never apologize for the United States. I don't
> care what the facts are."
> I don't care what the facts are. What a perfect maxim
> for the New American Empire. Perhaps a slight variation
> on the theme would be more apposite: The facts can be
> whatever we want them to be.
> When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York
> Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the
> American public believed that Saddam Hussein was
> directly responsible for the September 11th attacks on
> the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC
> News poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed
> that Saddam Hussein directly supported Al Qaida. None
> of this opinion is based on evidence (because there
> isn't any). All of it is based on insinuation, auto-
> suggestion, and outright lies circulated by the U.S.
> corporate media, otherwise known as the "Free Press,"
> that hollow pillar on which contemporary American
> democracy rests.
> Public support in the U.S. for the war against Iraq was
> founded on a multi-tiered edifice of falsehood and
> deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and
> faithfully amplified by the corporate media.
> Apart from the invented links between Iraq and Al
> Qaida, we had the manufactured frenzy about Iraq's
> Weapons of Mass Destruction. George Bush the Lesser
> went to the extent of saying it would be "suicidal" for
> the U.S. not to attack Iraq. We once again witnessed
> the paranoia that a starved, bombed, besieged country
> was about to annihilate almighty America. (Iraq was
> only the latest in a succession of countries - earlier
> there was Cuba, Nicaragua, Libya, Grenada, and Panama.)
> But this time it wasn't just your ordinary brand of
> friendly neighborhood frenzy. It was Frenzy with a
> Purpose. It ushered in an old doctrine in a new bottle:
> the Doctrine of Pre-emptive Strike, a.k.a. The United
> States Can Do Whatever The Hell It Wants, And That's
> The war against Iraq has been fought and won and no
> Weapons of Mass Destruction have been found. Not even a
> little one. Perhaps they'll have to be planted before
> they're discovered. And then, the more troublesome
> amongst us will need an explanation for why Saddam
> Hussein didn't use them when his country was being
> Of course, there'll be no answers. True Believers will
> make do with those fuzzy TV reports about the discovery
> of a few barrels of banned chemicals in an old shed.
> There seems to be no consensus yet about whether
> they're really chemicals, whether they're actually
> banned and whether the vessels they're contained in can
> technically be called barrels. (There were unconfirmed
> rumours that a teaspoonful of potassium permanganate
> and an old harmonica were found there too.)
> Meanwhile, in passing, an ancient civilization has been
> casually decimated by a very recent, casually brutal
> Then there are those who say, so what if Iraq had no
> chemical and nuclear weapons? So what if there is no Al
> Qaida connection? So what if Osama bin Laden hates
> Saddam Hussein as much as he hates the United States?
> Bush the Lesser has said Saddam Hussein was a
> "Homicidal Dictator." And so, the reasoning goes, Iraq
> needed a "regime change."
> Never mind that forty years ago, the CIA, under
> President John F. Kennedy, orchestrated a regime change
> in Baghdad. In 1963, after a successful coup, the
> Ba'ath party came to power in Iraq. Using lists
> provided by the CIA, the new Ba'ath regime
> systematically eliminated hundreds of doctors,
> teachers, lawyers, and political figures known to be
> leftists. An entire intellectual community was
> slaughtered. (The same technique was used to massacre
> hundreds of thousands of people in Indonesia and East
> Timor.) The young Saddam Hussein was said to have had a
> hand in supervising the bloodbath. In 1979, after
> factional infighting within the Ba'ath Party, Saddam
> Hussein became the President of Iraq. In April 1980,
> while he was massacring Shias, the U.S. National
> Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinksi declared, "We see
> no fundamental incompatibility of interests between the
> United States and Iraq." Washington and London overtly
> and covertly supported Saddam Hussein. They financed
> him, equipped him, armed him, and provided him with
> dual-use materials to manufacture weapons of mass
> destruction. They supported his worst excesses
> financially, materially, and morally. They supported
> the eight-year war against Iran and the 1988 gassing of
> Kurdish people in Halabja, crimes which 14 years later
> were re-heated and served up as reasons to justify
> invading Iraq. After the first Gulf War, the "Allies"
> fomented an uprising of Shi'as in Basra and then looked
> away while Saddam Hussein crushed the revolt and
> slaughtered thousands in an act of vengeful reprisal.
> The point is, if Saddam Hussein was evil enough to
> merit the most elaborate, openly declared assassination
> attempt in history (the opening move of Operation Shock
> and Awe), then surely those who supported him ought at
> least to be tried for war crimes? Why aren't the faces
> of U.S. and U.K. government officials on the infamous
> pack of cards of wanted men and women?
> Because when it comes to Empire, facts don't matter.
> Yes, but all that's in the past we're told. Saddam
> Hussein is a monster who must be stopped now. And only
> the U.S. can stop him. It's an effective technique,
> this use of the urgent morality of the present to
> obscure the diabolical sins of the past and the
> malevolent plans for the future. Indonesia, Panama,
> Nicaragua, Iraq, Afghanistan - the list goes on and on.
> Right now there are brutal regimes being groomed for
> the future - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, the
> Central Asian Republics.
> U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft recently declared
> that U.S. freedoms are "not the grant of any government
> or document, but....our endowment from God." (Why
> bother with the United Nations when God himself is on
> So here we are, the people of the world, confronted
> with an Empire armed with a mandate from heaven (and,
> as added insurance, the most formidable arsenal of
> weapons of mass destruction in history). Here we are,
> confronted with an Empire that has conferred upon
> itself the right to go to war at will, and the right to
> deliver people from corrupting ideologies, from
> religious fundamentalists, dictators, sexism, and
> poverty by the age-old, tried-and-tested practice of
> extermination. Empire is on the move, and Democracy is
> its sly new war cry. Democracy, home-delivered to your
> doorstep by daisy cutters. Death is a small price for
> people to pay for the privilege of sampling this new
> product: Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (bring to a
> boil, add oil, then bomb).
> But then perhaps chinks, negroes, dinks, gooks, and
> wogs don't really qualify as real people. Perhaps our
> deaths don't qualify as real deaths. Our histories
> don't qualify as history. They never have.
> Speaking of history, in these past months, while the
> world watched, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq
> was broadcast on live TV. Like Osama bin Laden and the
> Taliban in Afghanistan, the regime of Saddam Hussein
> simply disappeared. This was followed by what analysts
> called a "power vacuum." Cities that had been under
> siege, without food, water, and electricity for days,
> cities that had been bombed relentlessly, people who
> had been starved and systematically impoverished by the
> UN sanctions regime for more than a decade, were
> suddenly left with no semblance of urban
> administration. A seven-thousand-year-old civilization
> slid into anarchy. On live TV.
> Vandals plundered shops, offices, hotels, and
> hospitals. American and British soldiers stood by and
> watched. They said they had no orders to act. In
> effect, they had orders to kill people, but not to
> protect them. Their priorities were clear. The safety
> and security of Iraqi people was not their business.
> The security of whatever little remained of Iraq's
> infrastructure was not their business. But the security
> and safety of Iraq's oil fields were. Of course they
> were. The oil fields were "secured" almost before the
> invasion began.
> On CNN and BBC the scenes of the rampage were played
> and replayed. TV commentators, army and government
> spokespersons portrayed it as a "liberated people"
> venting their rage at a despotic regime. U.S. Defense
> Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said: "It's untidy. Freedom's
> untidy and free people are free to commit crimes and
> make mistakes and do bad things." Did anybody know that
> Donald Rumsfeld was an anarchist? I wonder - did he
> hold the same view during the riots in Los Angeles
> following the beating of Rodney King? Would he care to
> share his thesis about the Untidiness of Freedom with
> the two million people being held in U.S. prisons right
> now? (The world's "freest" country has the highest
> number of prisoners in the world.) Would he discuss its
> merits with young African American men, 28 percent of
> whom will spend some part of their adult lives in jail?
> Could he explain why he serves under a president who
> oversaw 152 executions when he was governor of Texas?
> Before the war on Iraq began, the Office of
> Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) sent
> the Pentagon a list of 16 crucial sites to protect. The
> National Museum was second on that list. Yet the Museum
> was not just looted, it was desecrated. It was a
> repository of an ancient cultural heritage. Iraq as we
> know it today was part of the river valley of
> Mesopotamia. The civilization that grew along the banks
> of the Tigris and the Euphrates produced the world's
> first writing, first calendar, first library, first
> city, and, yes, the world's first democracy. King
> Hammurabi of Babylon was the first to codify laws
> governing the social life of citizens. It was a code in
> which abandoned women, prostitutes, slaves, and even
> animals had rights. The Hammurabi code is acknowledged
> not just as the birth of legality, but the beginning of
> an understanding of the concept of social justice. The
> U.S. government could not have chosen a more
> inappropriate land in which to stage its illegal war
> and display its grotesque disregard for justice.
> At a Pentagon briefing during the days of looting,
> Secretary Rumsfeld, Prince of Darkness, turned on his
> media cohorts who had served him so loyally through the
> war. "The images you are seeing on television, you are
> seeing over and over and over, and it's the same
> picture, of some person walking out of some building
> with a vase, and you see it twenty times and you say,
> 'My god, were there that many vases? Is it possible
> that there were that many vases in the whole country?'"
> Laughter rippled through the press room. Would it be
> alright for the poor of Harlem to loot the Metropolitan
> Museum? Would it be greeted with similar mirth?
> The last building on the ORHA list of 16 sites to be
> protected was the Ministry of Oil. It was the only one
> that was given protection. Perhaps the occupying army
> thought that in Muslim countries lists are read upside
> Television tells us that Iraq has been "liberated" and
> that Afghanistan is well on its way to becoming a
> paradise for women-thanks to Bush and Blair, the 21st
> century's leading feminists. In reality, Iraq's
> infrastructure has been destroyed. Its people brought
> to the brink of starvation. Its food stocks depleted.
> And its cities devastated by a complete administrative
> breakdown. Iraq is being ushered in the direction of a
> civil war between Shias and Sunnis. Meanwhile,
> Afghanistan has lapsed back into the pre-Taliban era of
> anarchy, and its territory has been carved up into
> fiefdoms by hostile warlords.
> Undaunted by all this, on the 2nd of May Bush the
> Lesser launched his 2004 campaign hoping to be finally
> elected U.S. President. In what probably constitutes
> the shortest flight in history, a military jet landed
> on an aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln,
> which was so close to shore that, according to the
> Associated Press, administration officials acknowledged
> "positioning the massive ship to provide the best TV
> angle for Bush's speech, with the sea as his background
> instead of the San Diego coastline." President Bush,
> who never served his term in the military, emerged from
> the cockpit in fancy dress - a U.S. military bomber
> jacket, combat boots, flying goggles, helmet. Waving to
> his cheering troops, he officially proclaimed victory
> over Iraq. He was careful to say that it was "just one
> victory in a war on terror ... [which] still goes on."
> It was important to avoid making a straightforward
> victory announcement, because under the Geneva
> Convention a victorious army is bound by the legal
> obligations of an occupying force, a responsibility
> that the Bush administration does not want to burden
> itself with. Also, closer to the 2004 elections, in
> order to woo wavering voters, another victory in the
> "War on Terror" might become necessary. Syria is being
> fattened for the kill.
> It was Herman Goering, that old Nazi, who said, "People
> can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders....
> All you have to do is tell them they're being attacked
> and denounce the pacifists for a lack of patriotism and
> exposing the country to danger. It works the same way
> in any country."
> He's right. It's dead easy. That's what the Bush regime
> banks on. The distinction between election campaigns
> and war, between democracy and oligarchy, seems to be
> closing fast.
> The only caveat in these campaign wars is that U.S.
> lives must not be lost. It shakes voter confidence. But
> the problem of U.S. soldiers being killed in combat has
> been licked. More or less.
> At a media briefing before Operation Shock and Awe was
> unleashed, General Tommy Franks announced, "This
> campaign will be like no other in history." Maybe he's
> I'm no military historian, but when was the last time a
> war was fought like this? After using the "good
> offices" of UN diplomacy (economic sanctions and
> weapons inspections) to ensure that Iraq was brought to
> its knees, its people starved, half a million children
> dead, its infrastructure severely damaged, after making
> sure that most of its weapons had been destroyed, in an
> act of cowardice that must surely be unrivalled in
> history, the "Coalition of the Willing" (better known
> as the Coalition of the Bullied and Bought) - sent in
> an invading army!
> Operation Iraqi Freedom? I don't think so. It was more
> like Operation Let's Run a Race, but First Let Me Break
> Your Knees.
> As soon as the war began, the governments of France,
> Germany, and Russia, which refused to allow a final
> resolution legitimizing the war to be passed in the UN
> Security Council, fell over each other to say how much
> they wanted the United States to win. President Jacques
> Chirac offered French airspace to the Anglo-American
> air force. U.S. military bases in Germany were open for
> business. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer
> publicly hoped for the "rapid collapse" of the Saddam
> Hussein regime. Vladimir Putin publicly hoped for the
> same. These are governments that colluded in the
> enforced disarming of Iraq before their dastardly rush
> to take the side of those who attacked it. Apart from
> hoping to share the spoils, they hoped Empire would
> honor their pre-war oil contracts with Iraq. Only the
> very naïve could expect old Imperialists to behave
> Leaving aside the cheap thrills and the lofty moral
> speeches made in the UN during the run up to the war,
> eventually, at the moment of crisis, the unity of
> Western governments - despite the opposition from the
> majority of their people - was overwhelming.
> When the Turkish government temporarily bowed to the
> views of 90 percent of its population, and turned down
> the U.S. government's offer of billions of dollars of
> blood money for the use of Turkish soil, it was accused
> of lacking "democratic principles." According to a
> Gallup International poll, in no European country was
> support for a war carried out "unilaterally by America
> and its allies" higher than 11 percent. But the
> governments of England, Italy, Spain, Hungary, and
> other countries of Eastern Europe were praised for
> disregarding the views of the majority of their people
> and supporting the illegal invasion. That, presumably,
> was fully in keeping with democratic principles. What's
> it called? New Democracy? (Like Britain's New Labour?)
> In stark contrast to the venality displayed by their
> governments, on the 15th of February, weeks before the
> invasion, in the most spectacular display of public
> morality the world has ever seen, more than 10 million
> people marched against the war on 5 continents. Many of
> you, I'm sure, were among them. They - we - were
> disregarded with utter disdain. When asked to react to
> the anti-war demonstrations, President Bush said, "It's
> like deciding, well, I'm going to decide policy based
> upon a focus group. The role of a leader is to decide
> policy based upon the security, in this case the
> security of the people."Democracy, the modern world's
> holy cow, is in crisis. And the crisis is a profound
> one. Every kind of outrage is being committed in the
> name of democracy. It has become little more than a
> hollow word, a pretty shell, emptied of all content or
> meaning. It can be whatever you want it to be.
> Democracy is the Free World's whore, willing to dress
> up, dress down, willing to satisfy a whole range of
> taste, available to be used and abused at will.
> Until quite recently, right up to the 1980's, democracy
> did seem as though it might actually succeed in
> delivering a degree of real social justice.
> But modern democracies have been around for long enough
> for neo-liberal capitalists to learn how to subvert
> them. They have mastered the technique of infiltrating
> the instruments of democracy - the "independent"
> judiciary, the "free" press, the parliament - and
> molding them to their purpose. The project of corporate
> globalization has cracked the code. Free elections, a
> free press, and an independent judiciary mean little
> when the free market has reduced them to commodities on
> sale to the highest bidder.
> To fully comprehend the extent to which Democracy is
> under siege, it might be an idea to look at what goes
> on in some of our contemporary democracies. The World's
> Largest: India, (which I have written about at some
> length and therefore will not speak about tonight). The
> World's Most Interesting: South Africa. The world's
> most powerful: the U.S.A. And, most instructive of all,
> the plans that are being made to usher in the world's
> newest: Iraq.
> In South Africa, after 300 years of brutal domination
> of the black majority by a white minority through
> colonialism and apartheid, a non-racial, multi-party
> democracy came to power in 1994. It was a phenomenal
> achievement. Within two years of coming to power, the
> African National Congress had genuflected with no
> caveats to the Market God. Its massive program of
> structural adjustment, privatization, and
> liberalization has only increased the hideous
> disparities between the rich and the poor. More than a
> million people have lost their jobs. The
> corporatization of basic services - electricity, water,
> and housing-has meant that 10 million South Africans,
> almost a quarter of the population, have been
> disconnected from water and electricity. 2 million have
> been evicted from their homes.
> Meanwhile, a small white minority that has been
> historically privileged by centuries of brutal
> exploitation is more secure than ever before. They
> continue to control the land, the farms, the factories,
> and the abundant natural resources of that country. For
> them the transition from apartheid to neo-liberalism
> barely disturbed the grass. It's apartheid with a clean
> conscience. And it goes by the name of Democracy.
> Democracy has become Empire's euphemism for neo-liberal
> In countries of the first world, too, the machinery of
> democracy has been effectively subverted. Politicians,
> media barons, judges, powerful corporate lobbies, and
> government officials are imbricated in an elaborate
> underhand configuration that completely undermines the
> lateral arrangement of checks and balances between the
> constitution, courts of law, parliament, the
> administration and, perhaps most important of all, the
> independent media that form the structural basis of a
> parliamentary democracy. Increasingly, the imbrication
> is neither subtle nor elaborate.
> Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, for instance,
> has a controlling interest in major Italian newspapers,
> magazines, television channels, and publishing houses.
> The Financial Times reported that he controls about 90
> percent of Italy's TV viewership. Recently, during a
> trial on bribery charges, while insisting he was the
> only person who could save Italy from the left, he
> said, "How much longer do I have to keep living this
> life of sacrifices?" That bodes ill for the remaining
> 10 percent of Italy's TV viewership. What price Free
> Speech? Free Speech for whom?
> In the United States, the arrangement is more complex.
> Clear Channel Worldwide Incorporated is the largest
> radio station owner in the country. It runs more than
> 1,200 channels, which together account for 9 percent of
> the market. Its CEO contributed hundreds of thousands
> of dollars to Bush's election campaign. When hundreds
> of thousands of American citizens took to the streets
> to protest against the war on Iraq, Clear Channel
> organized pro-war patriotic "Rallies for America"
> across the country. It used its radio stations to
> advertise the events and then sent correspondents to
> cover them as though they were breaking news. The era
> of manufacturing consent has given way to the era of
> manufacturing news. Soon media newsrooms will drop the
> pretense, and start hiring theatre directors instead of
> As America's show business gets more and more violent
> and war-like, and America's wars get more and more like
> show business, some interesting cross overs are taking
> place. The designer who built the 250,000 dollar set in
> Qatar from which General Tommy Franks stage-managed
> news coverage of Operation Shock and Awe also built
> sets for Disney, MGM, and "Good Morning America."
> It is a cruel irony that the U.S., which has the most
> ardent, vociferous defenders of the idea of Free
> Speech, and (until recently) the most elaborate
> legislation to protect it, has so circumscribed the
> space in which that freedom can be expressed. In a
> strange, convoluted way, the sound and fury that
> accompanies the legal and conceptual defense of Free
> Speech in America serves to mask the process of the
> rapid erosion of the possibilities of actually
> exercising that freedom.
> The news and entertainment industry in the U.S. is for
> the most part controlled by a few major corporations -
> AOL-Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, News Corporation. Each
> of these corporations owns and controls TV stations,
> film studios, record companies, and publishing
> ventures. Effectively, the exits are sealed.
> America's media empire is controlled by a tiny coterie
> of people. Chairman of the Federal Communications
> Commission Michael Powell, the son of Secretary of
> State Colin Powell, has proposed even further
> deregulation of the communication industry, which will
> lead to even greater consolidation.
> So here it is - the World's Greatest Democracy, led by
> a man who was not legally elected. America's Supreme
> Court gifted him his job. What price have American
> people paid for this spurious presidency?
> In the three years of George Bush-the-Lesser's term,
> the American economy has lost more than two million
> jobs. Outlandish military expenses, corporate welfare,
> and tax giveaways to the rich have created a financial
> crisis for the U.S. educational system. According to a
> survey by the National Council of State Legislatures,
> U.S. states cut 49 billion dollars in public services,
> health, welfare benefits, and education in 2002. They
> plan to cut another 25.7 billion dollars this year.
> That makes a total of 75 billion dollars. Bush's
> initial budget request to Congress to finance the war
> in Iraq was 80 billion dollars.
> So who's paying for the war? America's poor. Its
> students, its unemployed, its single mothers, its
> hospital and home-care patients, its teachers, and
> health workers.
> And who's actually fighting the war?
> Once again, America's poor. The soldiers who are baking
> in Iraq's desert sun are not the children of the rich.
> Only one of all the representatives in the House of
> Representatives and the Senate has a child fighting in
> Iraq. America's "volunteer" army in fact depends on a
> poverty draft of poor whites, Blacks, Latinos, and
> Asians looking for a way to earn a living and get an
> education. Federal statistics show that African
> Americans make up 21 percent of the total armed forces
> and 29 percent of the U.S. army. They count for only 12
> percent of the general population. It's ironic, isn't
> it - the disproportionately high representation of
> African Americans in the army and prison? Perhaps we
> should take a positive view, and look at this as
> affirmative action at its most effective. Nearly 4
> million Americans (2 percent of the population) have
> lost the right to vote because of felony convictions.
> Of that number, 1.4 million are African Americans,
> which means that 13 percent of all voting-age Black
> people have been disenfranchised.
> For African Americans there's also affirmative action
> in death. A study by the economist Amartya Sen shows
> that African Americans as a group have a lower life
> expectancy than people born in China, in the Indian
> State of Kerala (where I come from), Sri Lanka, or
> Costa Rica. Bangladeshi men have a better chance of
> making it to the age of forty than African American men
> from here in Harlem.
> This year, on what would have been Dr. Martin Luther
> King, Jr.'s 74th birthday, President Bush denounced the
> University of Michigan's affirmative action program
> favouring Blacks and Latinos. He called it "divisive,"
> "unfair," and "unconstitutional." The successful effort
> to keep Blacks off the voting rolls in the State of
> Florida in order that George Bush be elected was of
> course neither unfair nor unconstitutional. I don't
> suppose affirmative action for White Boys From Yale
> ever is.
> So we know who's paying for the war. We know who's
> fighting it. But who will benefit from it? Who is
> homing in on the reconstruction contracts estimated to
> be worth up to one hundred billon dollars? Could it be
> America's poor and unemployed and sick? Could it be
> America's single mothers? Or America's Black and Latino
> Operation Iraqi Freedom, George Bush assures us, is
> about returning Iraqi oil to the Iraqi people. That is,
> returning Iraqi oil to the Iraqi people via Corporate
> Multinationals. Like Bechtel, like Chevron, like
> Once again, it is a small, tight circle that connects
> corporate, military, and government leadership to one
> another. The promiscuousness, the cross-pollination is
> Consider this: the Defense Policy Board is a
> government-appointed group that advises the Pentagon.
> Its members are appointed by the under secretary of
> defense and approved by Donald Rumsfeld. Its meetings
> are classified. No information is available for public
> The Washington-based Center for Public Integrity found
> that 9 out of the 30 members of the Defense Policy
> Board are connected to companies that were awarded
> defense contracts worth 76 billion dollars between the
> years 2001 and 2002. One of them, Jack Sheehan, a
> retired Marine Corps general, is a senior vice
> president at Bechtel, the giant international
> engineering outfit. Riley Bechtel, the company
> chairman, is on the President's Export Council. Former
> Secretary of State George Shultz, who is also on the
> Board of Directors of the Bechtel Group, is the
> chairman of the advisory board of the Committee for the
> Liberation of Iraq. When asked by the New York Times
> whether he was concerned about the appearance of a
> conflict of interest, he said, "I don't know that
> Bechtel would particularly benefit from it. But if
> there's work to be done, Bechtel is the type of company
> that could do it."
> Bechtel has been awarded a 680 million dollar
> reconstruction contract in Iraq. According to the
> Center for Responsive Politics, Bechtel contributed
> hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican campaign
> Arcing across this subterfuge, dwarfing it by the sheer
> magnitude of its malevolence, is America's anti-
> terrorism legislation. The U.S.A. Patriot Act, passed
> in October 2001, has become the blueprint for similar
> anti-terrorism bills in countries across the world. It
> was passed in the House of Representatives by a
> majority vote of 337 to 79. According to the New York
> Times, "Many lawmakers said it had been impossible to
> truly debate or even read the legislation."
> The Patriot Act ushers in an era of systemic automated
> surveillance. It gives the government the authority to
> monitor phones and computers and spy on people in ways
> that would have seemed completely unacceptable a few
> years ago. It gives the FBI the power to seize all of
> the circulation, purchasing, and other records of
> library users and bookstore customers on the suspicion
> that they are part of a terrorist network. It blurs the
> boundaries between speech and criminal activity
> creating the space to construe acts of civil
> disobedience as violating the law.
> Already hundreds of people are being held indefinitely
> as "unlawful combatants." (In India, the number is in
> the thousands. In Israel, 5,000 Palestinians are now
> being detained.) Non-citizens, of course, have no
> rights at all. They can simply be "disappeared" like
> the people of Chile under Washington's old ally,
> General Pinochet. More than 1,000 people, many of them
> Muslim or of Middle Eastern origin, have been detained,
> some without access to legal representatives.
> Apart from paying the actual economic costs of war,
> American people are paying for these wars of
> "liberation" with their own freedoms. For the ordinary
> American, the price of "New Democracy" in other
> countries is the death of real democracy at home.
> Meanwhile, Iraq is being groomed for "liberation." (Or
> did they mean "liberalization" all along?) The Wall
> Street Journal reports that "the Bush administration
> has drafted sweeping plans to remake Iraq's economy in
> the U.S. image."
> Iraq's constitution is being redrafted. Its trade laws,
> tax laws, and intellectual property laws rewritten in
> order to turn it into an American-style capitalist
> The United States Agency for International Development
> has invited U.S. companies to bid for contracts that
> range between road building, water systems, text book
> distribution, and cell phone networks.
> Soon after Bush the Second announced that he wanted
> American farmers to feed the world, Dan Amstutz, a
> former senior executive of Cargill, the biggest grain
> exporter in the world, was put in charge of
> agricultural reconstruction in Iraq. Kevin Watkins,
> Oxfam's policy director, said, "Putting Dan Amstutz in
> charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq is like
> putting Saddam Hussein in the chair of a human rights
> The two men who have been short-listed to run
> operations for managing Iraqi oil have worked with
> Shell, BP, and Fluor. Fluor is embroiled in a lawsuit
> by black South African workers who have accused the
> company of exploiting and brutalizing them during the
> apartheid era. Shell, of course, is well known for its
> devastation of the Ogoni tribal lands in Nigeria.
> Tom Brokaw (one of America's best-known TV anchors) was
> inadvertently succinct about the process. "One of the
> things we don't want to do," he said, "is to destroy
> the infrastructure of Iraq because in a few days we're
> going to own that country."
> Now that the ownership deeds are being settled, Iraq is
> ready for New Democracy.
> So, as Lenin used to ask: What Is To Be Done?
> We might as well accept the fact that there is no
> conventional military force that can successfully
> challenge the American war machine. Terrorist strikes
> only give the U.S. Government an opportunity that it is
> eagerly awaiting to further tighten its stranglehold.
> Within days of an attack you can bet that Patriot II
> would be passed. To argue against U.S. military
> aggression by saying that it will increase the
> possibilities of terrorist strikes is futile. It's like
> threatening Brer Rabbit that you'll throw him into the
> bramble bush. Any one who has read the documents
> written by The Project for the New American Century can
> attest to that. The government's suppression of the
> Congressional committee report on September 11th, which
> found that there was intelligence warning of the
> strikes that was ignored, also attests to the fact
> that, for all their posturing, the terrorists and the
> Bush regime might as well be working as a team. They
> both hold people responsible for the actions of their
> governments. They both believe in the doctrine of
> collective guilt and collective punishment. Their
> actions benefit each other greatly.
> The U.S. government has already displayed in no
> uncertain terms the range and extent of its capability
> for paranoid aggression. In human psychology, paranoid
> aggression is usually an indicator of nervous
> insecurity. It could be argued that it's no different
> in the case of the psychology of nations. Empire is
> paranoid because it has a soft underbelly.
> Its "homeland" may be defended by border patrols and
> nuclear weapons, but its economy is strung out across
> the globe. Its economic outposts are exposed and
> vulnerable. Already the Internet is buzzing with
> elaborate lists of American and British government
> products and companies that should be boycotted. Apart
> from the usual targets - Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds -
> government agencies like USAID, the British DFID,
> British and American banks, Arthur Andersen, Merrill
> Lynch, and American Express could find themselves under
> siege. These lists are being honed and refined by
> activists across the world. They could become a
> practical guide that directs the amorphous but growing
> fury in the world. Suddenly, the "inevitability" of the
> project of Corporate Globalization is beginning to seem
> more than a little evitable.
> It would be naïve to imagine that we can directly
> confront Empire. Our strategy must be to isolate
> Empire's working parts and disable them one by one. No
> target is too small. No victory too insignificant. We
> could reverse the idea of the economic sanctions
> imposed on poor countries by Empire and its Allies. We
> could impose a regime of Peoples' Sanctions on every
> corporate house that has been awarded with a contract
> in postwar Iraq, just as activists in this country and
> around the world targeted institutions of apartheid.
> Each one of them should be named, exposed, and
> boycotted. Forced out of business. That could be our
> response to the Shock and Awe campaign. It would be a
> great beginning.
> Another urgent challenge is to expose the corporate
> media for the boardroom bulletin that it really is. We
> need to create a universe of alternative information.
> We need to support independent media like Democracy
> Now!, Alternative Radio, and South End Press.
> The battle to reclaim democracy is going to be a
> difficult one. Our freedoms were not granted to us by
> any governments. They were wrested from them by us. And
> once we surrender them, the battle to retrieve them is
> called a revolution. It is a battle that must range
> across continents and countries. It must not
> acknowledge national boundaries but, if it is to
> succeed, it has to begin here. In America. The only
> institution more powerful than the U.S. government is
> American civil society. The rest of us are subjects of
> slave nations. We are by no means powerless, but you
> have the power of proximity. You have access to the
> Imperial Palace and the Emperor's chambers. Empire's
> conquests are being carried out in your name, and you
> have the right to refuse. You could refuse to fight.
> Refuse to move those missiles from the warehouse to the
> dock. Refuse to wave that flag. Refuse the victory
> You have a rich tradition of resistance. You need only
> read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United
> States to remind yourself of this.
> Hundreds of thousands of you have survived the
> relentless propaganda you have been subjected to, and
> are actively fighting your own government. In the
> ultra-patriotic climate that prevails in the United
> States, that's as brave as any Iraqi or Afghan or
> Palestinian fighting for his or her homeland.
> If you join the battle, not in your hundreds of
> thousands, but in your millions, you will be greeted
> joyously by the rest of the world. And you will see how
> beautiful it is to be gentle instead of brutal, safe
> instead of scared. Befriended instead of isolated.
> Loved instead of hated.
> I hate to disagree with your president. Yours is by no
> means a great nation. But you could be a great people.
> History is giving you the chance.
> Seize the time.
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