"I spent 33 years and four
months in active military service and during that period I spent
most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for
Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster
for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe
for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba
a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues
in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics
for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for
the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912.
I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar
interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American
fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that
Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might
have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate
his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents." --Smedley
D. Butler, Retired Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps,
from War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic
America's Most Decorated Soldier
"The liberal class functions
in a traditional, capitalist democracy as a safety valve.
It lets off enough steam to keep the system intact. ... The stupidity
of the corporate state is that it thought it could dispense with
the liberal class. It thought it could shut off that safety valve
in order to loot and pillage with no impediments. Corporate
power forgot that the liberal class, when it functions, gives legitimacy
to the power elite."
Hedges, October 17, 2011
Harvest of Empire is a gripping documentary that reveals
and social roots that have driven millions to migrate from
to the United States
Watch full length on Google
play or Amazon
"And the banks -- hard to believe
in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks
created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And
they frankly own the place."
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
"In the councils of government,
we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence,
whether sought or unsought, by the military- industrial complex." --President
Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961
"And here let me emphasize
the fact — and it cannot be repeated too often — that
the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who
make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their
blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either
declaring war or making peace." --Eugene
V. Debs, 1913
"I see in the near future
a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for
the safety of my country... Corporations have been enthroned, an
era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power
of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working
upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated
in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
Lincoln, November 12, 1864
There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares,
parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate
state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like
MoveOn. The faux liberal reformers, whose abject failure to stand
up for the rights of the poor and the working class, have signed
on to this movement because they fear becoming irrelevant. Union
leaders, who pull down salaries five times that of the rank and
file as they bargain away rights and benefits, know the foundations
are shaking. So do Democratic politicians from Barack Obama to
Nancy Pelosi. So do the array of “liberal” groups
and institutions, including the press, that have worked to funnel
discontented voters back into the swamp of electoral politics
and mocked those who called for profound structural reform.
Resistance, real resistance, to the corporate state was displayed
when a couple of thousand protesters, clutching mops and brooms,
early Friday morning forced the owners of Zuccotti Park and the
New York City police to back down from a proposed attempt to expel
them in order to “clean” the premises. These protesters
in that one glorious moment did what the traditional “liberal”
establishment has steadily refused to do—fight back. And
it was deeply moving to watch the corporate rats scamper back
to their holes on Wall Street. It lent a whole new meaning to
the phrase “too big to fail.”
Tinkering with the corporate state will not work. We will either
be plunged into neo-feudalism and environmental catastrophe or
we will wrest power from corporate hands. This radical message,
one that demands a reversal of the corporate coup, is one the
power elite, including the liberal class, is desperately trying
to thwart. But the liberal class has no credibility left. It collaborated
with corporate lobbyists to neglect the rights of tens of millions
of Americans, as well as the innocents in our imperial wars. The
best that liberals can do is sheepishly pretend this is what they
wanted all along. Groups such as MoveOn and organized labor will
find themselves without a constituency unless they at least pay
lip service to the protests. The Teamsters’ arrival Friday
morning to help defend the park signaled an infusion of this new
radicalism into moribund unions rather than a co-opting of the
protest movement by the traditional liberal establishment. The
union bosses, in short, had no choice.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, like all radical movements,
has obliterated the narrow political parameters. It proposes something
new. It will not make concessions with corrupt systems of corporate
power. It holds fast to moral imperatives regardless of the cost.
It confronts authority out of a sense of responsibility. It is
not interested in formal positions of power. It is not seeking
office. It is not trying to get people to vote. It has no resources.
It can’t carry suitcases of money to congressional offices
or run millions of dollars of advertisements. All it can do is
ask us to use our bodies and voices, often at personal risk, to
fight back. It has no other way of defying the corporate state.
This rebellion creates a real community instead of a managed or
virtual one. It affirms our dignity. It permits us to become free
and independent human beings.
Martin Luther King was repeatedly betrayed by liberal supporters,
especially when he began to challenge economic forms of discrimination,
which demanded that liberals, rather than simply white Southern
racists, begin to make sacrifices. King too was a radical. He
would not compromise on nonviolence, racism or justice. He understood
that movements—such as the Liberty Party, which fought slavery,
the suffragists, who fought for women’s rights, the labor
movement and the civil rights movement—have always been
the true correctives in American democracy. None of those movements
achieved formal political power. But by holding fast to moral
imperatives they made the powerful fear them. King knew that racial
equality was impossible without economic justice and an end to
militarism. And he had no intention of ceding to the demands of
the liberal establishment that called on him to be calm and patient.
“For years, I labored with the idea of reforming the existing
institutions in the South, a little change here, a little change
there,” King said shortly before he was assassinated. “Now
I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction
of the entire system, a revolution of values.”
King was killed in 1968 when he was in Memphis to support a strike
by sanitation workers. By then he had begun to say that his dream,
the one that the corporate state has frozen into a few safe clichés
from his 1963 speech in Washington, had turned into a nightmare.
King called at the end of his life for massive federal funds to
rebuild inner cities, what he called “a radical redistribution
of economic and political power,” a complete restructuring
of “the architecture of American society.” He grasped
that the inequities of capitalism had become the instrument by
which the poor would always remain poor.
“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism,”
King said, “but there must be a better distribution of wealth
within this country for all of God’s children.”
On the eve of King’s murder he was preparing to organize
a poor people’s march on Washington, D.C., designed to cause
“major, massive dislocations,” a nonviolent demand
by the poor, including the white underclass, for a system of economic
equality. It would be 43 years before his vision was realized
by an eclectic group of protesters who gathered before the gates
of Wall Street.
The truth of America is understood only when you listen to voices
in our impoverished rural enclaves, prisons and the urban slums,
when you hear the words of our unemployed, those who have lost
their homes or cannot pay their medical bills, our elderly and
our children, especially the quarter of the nation’s children
who depend on food stamps to eat, and all who are marginalized.
There is more reality expressed about the American experience
by the debt-burdened young men and women protesting in the parks
than by all the chatter of the well-paid pundits and experts that
pollutes the airwaves.
What kind of nation is it that spends far more to kill enemy
combatants and Afghan and Iraqi civilians than it does to help
its own citizens who live below the poverty line? What kind of
nation is it that permits corporations to hold sick children hostage
while their parents frantically bankrupt themselves to save their
sons and daughters? What kind of nation is it that tosses its
mentally ill onto urban heating grates? What kind of nation is
it that abandons its unemployed while it loots its treasury on
behalf of speculators? What kind of nation is it that ignores
due process to torture and assassinate its own citizens? What
kind of nation is it that refuses to halt the destruction of the
ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, dooming our children and
our children’s children?
“America,” Langston Hughes wrote, “never was
America to me.”
“The black vote mean [nothing],” the rapper Nas intones.
“Who you gunna elect/ Satan or Satan?/ In the hood nothing
is changing/ We ain’t got no choices.”
Or listen to hip-hop artist Talib Kweli: “Back in the ’60s,
there was a big push for black … politicians, and now we
have more than we ever had before, but our communities are so
much worse. A lot of people died for us to vote, I’m aware
of that history, but these politicians are not in touch with people
at all. Politics is not the truth to me, it’s an illusion.”
The liberal class functions in a traditional, capitalist democracy
as a safety valve. It lets off enough steam to keep the system
intact. It makes piecemeal and incremental reform possible. This
is what happened during the Great Depression and the New Deal.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s greatest achievement was that
he saved capitalism. Liberals in a functioning capitalist democracy
are at the same time tasked with discrediting radicals, whether
it is King, especially after he denounced the war in Vietnam,
or later Noam Chomsky or Ralph Nader.
The stupidity of the corporate state is that it thought it could
dispense with the liberal class. It thought it could shut off
that safety valve in order to loot and pillage with no impediments.
Corporate power forgot that the liberal class, when it functions,
gives legitimacy to the power elite. And the reduction of the
liberal class to silly courtiers, who have nothing to offer but
empty rhetoric, meant that the growing discontent found other
mechanisms and outlets. Liberals were reduced to stick figures,
part of an elaborate pantomime, as they acted in preordained roles
to give legitimacy to meaningless and useless political theater.
But that game is over.
Human history has amply demonstrated that once those in positions
of power become redundant and impotent, yet retain the trappings
and privileges of power, they are brutally discarded. The liberal
class, which insists on clinging to its positions of privilege
while at the same time refusing to play its traditional role within
the democratic state, has become a useless and despised appendage
of corporate power. And as the engines of corporate power pollute
and poison the ecosystem and propel us into a world where there
will be only masters and serfs, the liberal class, which serves
no purpose in the new configuration, is being abandoned and discarded
by both the corporate state and radical dissidents. The best it
can do is attach itself meekly to the new political configuration
rising up to replace it.
An ineffectual liberal class means there is no hope of a correction
or a reversal through the formal mechanisms of power. It ensures
that the frustration and anger among the working and the middle
class will find expression now in these protests that lie outside
the confines of democratic institutions and the civilities of
a liberal democracy. By emasculating the liberal class, which
once ensured that restive citizens could institute moderate reforms,
the corporate state has created a closed system defined by polarization,
gridlock and political charades. It has removed the veneer of
virtue and goodness that the liberal class offered to the power
Liberal institutions, including the church, the press, the university,
the Democratic Party, the arts and labor unions, set the parameters
for limited self-criticism in a functioning democracy as well
as small, incremental reforms. The liberal class is permitted
to decry the worst excesses of power and champion basic human
rights while at the same time endowing systems of power with a
morality and virtue it does not possess. Liberals posit themselves
as the conscience of the nation. They permit us, through their
appeal to public virtues and the public good, to see ourselves
and our state as fundamentally good.
But the liberal class, by having refused to question the utopian
promises of unfettered capitalism and globalization and by condemning
those who did, severed itself from the roots of creative and bold
thought, the only forces that could have prevented the liberal
class from merging completely with the power elite. The liberal
class, which at once was betrayed and betrayed itself, has no
role left to play in the battle between us and corporate dominance.
All hope lies now with those in the street.
Liberals lack the vision and fortitude to challenge dominant
free market ideologies. They have no ideological alternatives
even as the Democratic Party openly betrays every principle the
liberal class claims to espouse, from universal health care to
an end to our permanent war economy to a demand for quality and
affordable public education to a return of civil liberties to
a demand for jobs and welfare of the working class. The corporate
state forced the liberal class to join in the nation’s death
march that began with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Liberals
such as Bill Clinton, for corporate money, accelerated the dismantling
of our manufacturing base, the gutting of our regulatory agencies,
the destruction of our social service programs and the empowerment
of speculators who have trashed our economy. The liberal class,
stripped of power, could only retreat into its atrophied institutions,
where it busied itself with the boutique activism of political
correctness and embraced positions it had previously condemned.
Russell Jacoby writes: “The left once dismissed the market
as exploitative; it now honors the market as rational and humane.
The left once disdained mass culture as exploitative; now it celebrates
it as rebellious. The left once honored independent intellectuals
as courageous; now it sneers at them as elitist. The left once
rejected pluralism as superficial; now it worships it as profound.
We are witnessing not simply a defeat of the left, but its conversion
and perhaps inversion.”
Hope in this age of bankrupt capitalism comes with the return
of the language of class conflict and rebellion, language that
has been purged from the lexicon of the liberal class, language
that defines this new movement. This does not mean we have to
agree with Karl Marx, who advocated violence and whose worship
of the state as a utopian mechanism led to another form of enslavement
of the working class, but we have to learn again to speak in the
vocabulary Marx employed. We have to grasp, as Marx and Adam Smith
did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good.
They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill and lie to make
money. They throw poor families out of homes, let the uninsured
die, wage useless wars to make profits, poison and pollute the
ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education,
trash the global economy, plunder the U.S. Treasury and crush
all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women.
They worship money and power. And, as Marx knew, unfettered capitalism
is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers
of human lives until it finally consumes itself. The dead zone
in the Gulf of Mexico is the perfect metaphor for the corporate
state. It is part of the same nightmare experienced in postindustrial
mill towns of New England and the abandoned steel mills of Ohio.
It is a nightmare that Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans, living
in terror and mourning their dead, endure daily.
What took place early Friday morning in Zuccotti Park was the
first salvo in a long struggle for justice. It signaled a step
backward by the corporate state in the face of popular pressure.
And it was carried out by ordinary men and women who sleep at
night on concrete, get soaked in rainstorms, eat donated food
and have nothing as weapons but their dignity, resilience and
courage. It is they, and they alone, who hold out the possibility
of salvation. And if we join them we might have a chance.
Last summer, in the lull of the August media doze, the Bush Administration's
doctrine of preventive war took a major leap forward. On August
5, 2004, the White House created the Office of the Coordinator
for Reconstruction and Stabilization, headed by former US Ambassador
to Ukraine Carlos Pascual. Its mandate is to draw up elaborate
"post-conflict" plans for up to twenty-five countries
that are not, as of yet, in conflict. According to Pascual, it
will also be able to coordinate three full-scale reconstruction
operations in different countries "at the same time,"
each lasting "five to seven years."
Fittingly, a government devoted to perpetual pre-emptive deconstruction
now has a standing office of perpetual pre-emptive reconstruction.
Gone are the days of waiting for wars to break out and then drawing
ad hoc plans to pick up the pieces. In close cooperation with
the National Intelligence Council, Pascual's office keeps "high
risk" countries on a "watch list" and assembles
rapid-response teams ready to engage in prewar planning and to
"mobilize and deploy quickly" after a conflict has gone
down. The teams are made up of private companies, nongovernmental
organizations and members of think tanks--some, Pascual told an
audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
in October, will have "pre-completed" contracts to rebuild
countries that are not yet broken. Doing this paperwork in
advance could "cut off three to six months in your response
The plans Pascual's teams have been drawing up in his little-known
office in the State Department are about changing "the very
social fabric of a nation," he told CSIS. The office's mandate
is not to rebuild any old states, you see, but to create "democratic
and market-oriented" ones. So, for instance (and he was just
pulling this example out of his hat, no doubt), his fast-acting
reconstructors might help sell off "state-owned enterprises
that created a nonviable economy." Sometimes rebuilding,
he explained, means "tearing apart the old."
Few ideologues can resist the allure of a blank slate--that was
colonialism's seductive promise: "discovering" wide-open
new lands where utopia seemed possible. But colonialism is dead,
or so we are told; there are no new places to discover, no terra
nullius (there never was), no more blank pages on which, as Mao
once said, "the newest and most beautiful words can be written."
There is, however, plenty of destruction--countries smashed to
rubble, whether by so-called Acts of God or by Acts of Bush (on
orders from God). And where there is destruction there is reconstruction,
a chance to grab hold of "the terrible barrenness,"
as a UN official recently described the devastation in Aceh, and
fill it with the most perfect, beautiful plans.
"We used to have vulgar colonialism," says Shalmali
Guttal, a Bangalore-based researcher with Focus on the Global
South. "Now we have sophisticated colonialism, and they call
It certainly seems that ever-larger portions of the globe are
under active reconstruction: being rebuilt by a parallel government
made up of a familiar cast of for-profit consulting firms, engineering
companies, mega-NGOs, government and UN aid agencies and international
financial institutions. And from the people living in these reconstruction
sites--Iraq to Aceh, Afghanistan to Haiti--a similar chorus of
complaints can be heard. The work is far too slow, if it is happening
at all. Foreign consultants live high on cost-plus expense accounts
and thousand-dollar-a-day salaries, while locals are shut out
of much-needed jobs, training and decision-making. Expert "democracy
builders" lecture governments on the importance of transparency
and "good governance," yet most contractors and NGOs
refuse to open their books to those same governments, let alone
give them control over how their aid money is spent.
Three months after the tsunami hit Aceh, the New York Times ran
a distressing story reporting that "almost nothing seems
to have been done to begin repairs and rebuilding." The dispatch
could easily have come from Iraq, where, as the Los Angeles Times
just reported, all of Bechtel's allegedly rebuilt water plants
have started to break down, one more in an endless litany of reconstruction
screw-ups. It could also have come from Afghanistan, where President
Hamid Karzai recently blasted "corrupt, wasteful and unaccountable"
foreign contractors for "squandering the precious resources
that Afghanistan received in aid." Or from Sri Lanka, where
600,000 people who lost their homes in the tsunami are still languishing
in temporary camps. One hundred days after the giant waves hit,
Herman Kumara, head of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement
in Negombo, Sri Lanka, sent out a desperate e-mail to colleagues
around the world. "The funds received for the benefit of
the victims are directed to the benefit of the privileged few,
the real victims," he wrote. "Our voices are not heard
and not allowed to be voiced."
But if the reconstruction industry is stunningly inept at rebuilding,
that may be because rebuilding is not its primary purpose. According
to Guttal, "It's not reconstruction at all--it's about reshaping
everything." If anything, the stories of corruption and incompetence
serve to mask this deeper scandal: the rise of a predatory form
of disaster capitalism that uses the desperation and fear created
by catastrophe to engage in radical social and economic engineering.
And on this front, the reconstruction industry works so quickly
and efficiently that the privatizations and land grabs are usually
locked in before the local population knows what hit them. Kumara,
in another e-mail, warns that Sri Lanka is now facing "a
second tsunami of corporate globalization and militarization,"
potentially even more devastating than the first. "We see
this as a plan of action amidst the tsunami crisis to hand over
the sea and the coast to foreign corporations and tourism, with
military assistance from the US Marines."
As Deputy Defense Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz designed and oversaw
a strikingly similar project in Iraq: The fires were still burning
in Baghdad when US occupation officials rewrote the investment
laws and announced that the country's state-owned companies would
be privatized. Some have pointed to this track record to argue
that Wolfowitz is unfit to lead the World Bank; in fact, nothing
could have prepared him better for his new job. In Iraq, Wolfowitz
was just doing what the World Bank is already doing in virtually
every war-torn and disaster-struck country in the world--albeit
with fewer bureaucratic niceties and more ideological bravado.
"Post-conflict" countries now receive 20-25 percent
of the World Bank's total lending, up from 16 percent in 1998--itself
an 800 percent increase since 1980, according to a Congressional
Research Service study. Rapid response to wars and natural disasters
has traditionally been the domain of United Nations agencies,
which worked with NGOs to provide emergency aid, build temporary
housing and the like. But now reconstruction work has been revealed
as a tremendously lucrative industry, too important to be left
to the do-gooders at the UN. So today it is the World Bank, already
devoted to the principle of poverty-alleviation through profit-making,
that leads the charge.
And there is no doubt that there are profits to be made in the
reconstruction business. There are massive engineering and supplies
contracts ($10 billion to Halliburton in Iraq and Afghanistan
alone); "democracy building" has exploded into a $2
billion industry; and times have never been better for public-sector
consultants--the private firms that advise governments on selling
off their assets, often running government services themselves
as subcontractors. (Bearing Point, the favored of these firms
in the United States, reported that the revenues for its "public
services" division "had quadrupled in just five years,"
and the profits are huge: $342 million in 2002--a profit margin
of 35 percent.)
But shattered countries are attractive to the World Bank for
another reason: They take orders well. After a cataclysmic event,
governments will usually do whatever it takes to get aid dollars--even
if it means racking up huge debts and agreeing to sweeping policy
reforms. And with the local population struggling to find shelter
and food, political organizing against privatization can seem
like an unimaginable luxury.
Even better from the bank's perspective, many war-ravaged countries
are in states of "limited sovereignty": They are considered
too unstable and unskilled to manage the aid money pouring in,
so it is often put in a trust fund managed by the World Bank.
This is the case in East Timor, where the bank doles out money
to the government as long as it shows it is spending responsibly.
Apparently, this means slashing public-sector jobs (Timor's government
is half the size it was under Indonesian occupation) but lavishing
aid money on foreign consultants the bank insists the government
hire (researcher Ben Moxham writes, "In one government department,
a single international consultant earns in one month the same
as his twenty Timorese colleagues earn together in an entire year").
In Afghanistan, where the World Bank also administers the country's
aid through a trust fund, it has already managed to privatize
healthcare by refusing to give funds to the Ministry of Health
to build hospitals. Instead it funnels money directly to NGOs,
which are running their own private health clinics on three-year
contracts. It has also mandated "an increased role for the
private sector" in the water system, telecommunications,
oil, gas and mining and directed the government to "withdraw"
from the electricity sector and leave it to "foreign private
investors." These profound transformations of Afghan society
were never debated or reported on, because few outside the bank
know they took place: The changes were buried deep in a "technical
annex" attached to a grant providing "emergency"
aid to Afghanistan's war-torn
infrastructure--two years before the country had an elected government.
It has been much the same story in Haiti, following the ouster
of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In exchange for a $61 million
loan, the bank is requiring "public-private partnership and
governance in the education and health sectors," according
to bank documents--i.e., private companies running schools and
hospitals. Roger Noriega, US Assistant Secretary of State for
Western Hemisphere Affairs, has made it clear that the Bush Administration
shares these goals. "We will also encourage the government
of Haiti to move forward, at the appropriate time, with restructuring
and privatization of some public sector enterprises," he
told the American Enterprise Institute on April 14, 2004.
These are extraordinarily controversial plans in a country with
a powerful socialist base, and the bank admits that this is precisely
why it is pushing them now, with Haiti under what approaches military
rule. "The Transitional Government provide[s] a window of
opportunity for implementing economic governance reforms...that
may be hard for a future government to undo," the bank notes
in its Economic Governance Reform Operation Project agreement.
For Haitians, this is a particularly bitter irony: Many blame
multilateral institutions, including the World Bank, for deepening
the political crisis that led to Aristide's ouster by withholding
hundreds of millions in promised loans. At the time, the Inter-American
Development Bank, under pressure from the State Department, claimed
Haiti was insufficiently democratic to receive the money, pointing
to minor irregularities in a legislative election. But now that
Aristide is out, the World Bank is openly celebrating the perks
of operating in a democracy-free zone.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been
imposing shock therapy on countries in various states of shock
for at least three decades, most notably after Latin America's
military coups and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet many
observers say that today's disaster capitalism really hit its
stride with Hurricane Mitch. For a week in October 1998, Mitch
parked itself over Central America, swallowing villages whole
and killing more than 9,000. Already impoverished countries were
desperate for reconstruction aid--and it came, but with strings
attached. In the two months after Mitch struck, with the country
still knee-deep in rubble, corpses and mud, the Honduran congress
initiated what the Financial Times called "speed sell-offs
after the storm." It passed laws allowing the privatization
of airports, seaports and highways and fast-tracked plans to privatize
the state telephone company, the national electric company and
parts of the water sector. It overturned land-reform laws and
made it easier for foreigners to buy and sell property. It was
much the same in neighboring countries: In the same two months,
Guatemala announced plans to sell off its phone system, and Nicaragua
did likewise, along with its electric company and its petroleum
All of the privatization plans were pushed aggressively by the
usual suspects. According to the Wall Street Journal, "the
World Bank and International Monetary Fund had thrown their weight
behind the [telecom] sale, making it a condition for release of
roughly $47 million in aid annually over three years and linking
it to about $4.4 billion in foreign-debt relief for Nicaragua."
Now the bank is using the December 26 tsunami to push through
its cookie-cutter policies. The most devastated countries have
seen almost no debt relief, and most of the World Bank's emergency
aid has come in the form of loans, not grants. Rather than emphasizing
the need to help the small fishing communities--more than 80 percent
of the wave's victims--the bank is pushing for expansion of the
tourism sector and industrial fish farms. As for the damaged public
infrastructure, like roads and schools, bank documents recognize
that rebuilding them "may strain public finances" and
suggest that governments consider privatization (yes, they have
only one idea). "For certain investments," notes the
bank's tsunami-response plan, "it may be appropriate to utilize
As in other reconstruction sites, from Haiti to Iraq, tsunami
relief has little to do with recovering what was lost. Although
hotels and industry have already started reconstructing on the
coast, in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and India, governments
have passed laws preventing families from rebuilding their oceanfront
homes. Hundreds of thousands of people are being forcibly relocated
inland, to military style barracks in Aceh and prefab concrete
boxes in Thailand. The coast is not being rebuilt as it was--dotted
with fishing villages and beaches strewn with handmade nets. Instead,
governments, corporations and foreign donors are teaming up to
rebuild it as they would like it to be: the beaches as playgrounds
for tourists, the oceans as watery mines for corporate fishing
fleets, both serviced by privatized airports and
highways built on borrowed money.
In January Condoleezza Rice sparked a small controversy by describing
the tsunami as "a wonderful opportunity" that "has
paid great dividends for us." Many were horrified at the
idea of treating a massive human tragedy as a chance to seek advantage.
But, if anything, Rice was understating the case. A group
calling itself Thailand Tsunami Survivors and Supporters says
that for "businessmen-politicians, the tsunami was the answer
to their prayers, since it literally wiped these coastal areas
clean of the communities which had previously stood in the way
of their plans for resorts, hotels, casinos and shrimp farms.
To them, all these coastal areas are now open land!"
I've been asked to speak about "How
to confront Empire?" It's a huge question, and I have no
When we speak of confronting "Empire,"
we need to identify what "Empire" means. Does it mean
the U.S. Government (and its European satellites), the World Bank,
the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization,
and multinational corporations? Or is it something more than that?
In many countries, Empire has sprouted
other subsidiary heads, some dangerous byproducts -- nationalism,
religious bigotry, fascism and, of course
terrorism. All these march arm in arm with the project of corporate
Let me illustrate what I mean. India -
the world's biggest democracy - is currently at the forefront
of the corporate globalization project. Its "market"
one billion people is being prized open by the WTO. Corporatization
and Privatization are being welcomed by the Government and the
It is not a coinidence that the Prime Minister,
the Home Minister, the Disinvestment Minister - the men who signed
the deal with Enron in India, the men who are selling the country's
infrastructure to corporate multinationals, the men who want to
privatize water, electricity, oil, coal, steel, health, education
and telecommunication - are all members or admirers of the
RSS. The RSS is a right wing, ultra-nationalist Hindu guild which
has openly admired Hitler and his methods.
The dismantling of democracy is proceeding
with the speed and efficiency of a Structural Adjustment Program.
While the project of corporate globalization
rips through people's lives in India, massive privatization, and
labor "reforms" are pushing people off their land and
out of their jobs. Hundreds of
impoverished farmers are committing suicide by consuming pesticide.
Reports of starvation deaths are coming in from all over the country.
While the elite journeys to its imaginary
destination somewhere near the top of the world, the dispossessed
are spiraling downwards into crime and chaos. This climate of
frustration and national disillusionment is the perfect breeding
ground, history tells us, for fascism.
The two arms of the Indian Government have
evolved the perfect pincer action. While one arm is busy selling
India off in chunks, the other, to divert attention, is orchestrating
a howling, baying chorus of Hindu nationalism and religious fascism.
It is conducting
nuclear tests, rewriting history books, burning churches, and
demolishing mosques. Censorship, surveillance, the suspension
of civil liberties and
human rights, the definition of who is an Indian citizen and who
is not, particularly with regard to religious minorities, is becoming
common practice now.
Last March, in the state of Gujarat, two
thousand Muslims were butchered in a State-sponsored pogrom. Muslim
women were specially targeted. They were stripped, and gang-raped,
before being burned alive. Arsonists burned and looted shops,
homes, textiles mills, and mosques.
More than a hundred and fifty thousand
Muslims have been driven from their homes. The economic base of
the Muslim community has been devastated.
While Gujarat burned, the Indian Prime
Minister was on MTV promoting his new poems. In January this year,
the Government that orchestrated the killing was voted back into
office with a comfortable majority. Nobody has been punished for
the genocide. Narendra Modi, architect of the pogrom, proud member
of the RSS, has embarked on his second term as the Chief Minister
of Gujarat. If he were Saddam Hussein, of course each atrocity
would have been on CNN. But since he's not -- and since the Indian
"market" is open to global investors -- the massacre
is not even an embarrassing inconvenience.
There are more than one hundred million
Muslims in India. A time bomb is ticking in our ancient land.
All this to say that it is a myth that the free market
breaks down national barriers. The free market does not threaten
national sovereignty, it undermines democracy.
As the disparity between the rich and the
poor grows, the fight to corner resources is intensifying. To
push through their "sweetheart deals," to corporatize
the crops we grow, the water we drink, the air we breathe,
and the dreams we dream, corporate globalization needs an international
confederation of loyal, corrupt, authoritarian governments in
poorer countries to push through unpopular reforms and quell the
mutinies. Corporate Globalization - or shall we call it by its
name? Imperialism - needs a press that pretends to be free. It
needs courts that pretend to dispense justice.
Meanwhile, the countries of the North harden
their borders and stockpile weapons of mass destruction. After
all they have to make sure that it's only money, goods, patents
and services that are globalized. Not the free movement of people.
Not a respect for human rights. Not international treaties on
racial discrimination or chemical and nuclear weapons or greenhouse
gas emissions or climate change, or -- god forbid -- justice.
So this -- all this -- is "empire."
This loyal confederation, this obscene accumulation of power,
this greatly increased distance between those who make the decisions
and those who have to suffer them. Our fight, our goal, our vision
of Another World must be to eliminate that distance.
So how do we resist "Empire"?
The good news is that we're not doing too
badly. There have been major victories. Here in Latin America
you have had so many - in Bolivia, you have Cochabamba. In Peru,
there was the uprising in Arequipa, in Venezuela, President Hugo
Chavez is holding on, despite the U.S. government's best efforts.
And the world's gaze is on the people of Argentina, who are trying
to refashion a country from the ashes of the havoc wrought by
In India the movement against corporate
globalization is gathering momentum and is poised to become the
only real political force to counter religious fascism. As for
corporate globalization's glittering ambassadors -- Enron, Bechtel,
WorldCom, Arthur Anderson -- where were they last year, and where
are they now?
And of course here in Brazil we must ask
who was the president last year, and who is it now?
Still, many of us have dark moments of
hopelessness and despair. We know that under the spreading canopy
of the War Against Terrorism, the men in suits are hard at work.
While bombs rain down on us, and cruise
missiles skid across the skies, we know that contracts are being
signed, patents are being registered, oil pipelines are being
laid, natural resources are being plundered, water is being privatized,
and George Bush is planning to go to war against Iraq.
If we look at this conflict as a straightforward
eye-ball to eye-ball confrontation between "Empire"
and those of us who are resisting it, it might seem that we are
But there is another way of looking at
it. We, all of us gathered here, have, each in our own way, laid
siege to "Empire."
We may not have stopped it in its tracks
- yet - but we have stripped it down. We have made it drop its
mask. We have forced it into the open. It now stands before us
on the world's stage in all it's brutish, iniquitous nakedness.
Empire may well go to war, but it's out
in the open now - too ugly to behold its own reflection. Too ugly
even to rally its own people. It won't be long before the majority
of American people become our allies.
Only a few days ago in Washington, a quarter
of a million people marched against the war on Iraq. Each month,
the protest is gathering momentum.
Before September 11th 2001 America had
a secret history. Secret especially from its own people. But now
America's secrets are history, and its history is
public knowledge. It's street talk.
Today, we know that every argument that
is being used to escalate the war against Iraq is a lie. The most
ludicrous of them being the U.S. Government's deep commitment
to bring democracy to Iraq.
Killing people to save them from dictatorship
or ideological corruption is, of course, an old U.S. government
sport. Here in Latin America, you know
that better than most.
Nobody doubts that Saddam Hussein is a
ruthless dictator, a murderer (whose worst excesses were supported
by the governments of the United States and Great Britain). There's
no doubt that Iraqis would be better off without him.
But, then, the whole world would be better
off without a certain Mr. Bush. In fact, he is far more dangerous
than Saddam Hussein.
So, should we bomb Bush out of the White
House? It's more than clear that Bush is determined to go to war
against Iraq, regardless of the facts - and
regardless of international public opinion.
In its recruitment drive for allies, The
United States is prepared to invent facts.
The charade with weapons inspectors is
the U.S. government's offensive, insulting concession to some
twisted form of international etiquette. It's like leaving the
"doggie door" open for last minute "allies"
or maybe the United Nations to crawl through.
But for all intents and purposes, the New
War against Iraq has begun.
What can we do?
We can hone our memory, we can learn from
We can continue to build public opinion
until it becomes a deafening roar.
We can turn the war on Iraq into a fishbowl
of the U.S. government's excesses.
We can expose George Bush and Tony Blair
- and their allies - for the cowardly baby killers, water poisoners,
and pusillanimous long-distance bombers that they are.
We can re-invent civil disobedience in
a million different ways. In other words, we can come up with
a million ways of becoming a collective pain in the ass.
When George Bush says "you're either
with us, or you are with the terrorists" we can say "No
thank you." We can let him know that the people of the world
do not need to choose between a Malevolent Mickey Mouse and the
Our strategy should be not only to confront
empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame
it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our
literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer
relentlessness - and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories
that are different from the ones
we're being brainwashed to believe.
The corporate revolution will collapse
if we refuse to buy what they are selling - their ideas, their
version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of
Remember this: We be many and they be few.
They need us more than we need them.
Another world is not only possible, she
is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
Porto Alegre, Brazil
January 27, 2003
contracts are as inevitable as taxes. They are routinely awarded
to companies, large and small. Unless we are investing, or work
at a company directly affected, we rarely take note. It happens
every few days. But perhaps we should devote more attention to
government contracts, particularly defense contracts, given the
post-9-11 increase in the defense budget; the military arms support
of Israel, the intention of the United States government to enter
into yet another war, and the subsequent monetary bolstering of
the military industrial complex to the detriment of domestic programs.
The 2003 defense budget is $379.3 billion for the Department of
Defense, a $46 billion defense budget increase for 2003. This
comes on top of a combined $45 billion increase in the annual
budget from 2000 to 2002, and will be followed by a further increase
of $75 billion after 2003. Even factoring out the effects of the
war, homeland security and inflation, if all goes according to
current Bush plans the annual defense budget would still grow
by a staggering $100 billion between 2000 and 2007.
Therefore, it is no surprise, given the
current emphasis on our military
budget, that many of the largest military industrial complex corporations
are among the local companies that had contacts awarded since
Jan 1st, 2003 by the US government. We shouldn't be surprised
by how many have headquarters in DC or local production plants.
But we should be aware. And we should act on it.
As of Jan 6th, Lockheed Martin's Naval
Electronics and Surveillance Systems of Manassas won a $69.96
million contract from the Naval Sea Systems Command for the Acoustics
Rapid Commercial Off-the-Shelf Insertion sonar system. Not an
unexpected contract, given Lockheed Martins close ties and
long history with the Navy as whole. After all, Gordon England,
former president of Lockheed Martin, is the current Secretary
of the Navy.
Information Systems Support of Gaithersburg
won a $66.8 million contract from the General Services Administration
for information and biometric security technology support to the
Army Communications Security Logistics Activity at Fort Huachuca,
Ariz. BAE Systems Applied Technologies of Rockville won a $28.8
million contract from the Naval Air Warfare Center's Aircraft
Division for technical and engineering services of shipboard communication
System Resources Inc. of Fairfax
won a $28.14 million contract from the Naval Sea Systems Command
for development of the Tactical Control System. With options,
that contract is worth up to $169.06 million.
BMH Associates Inc. of Norfolk won
a contract with an estimated value of $17.95 million from the
Navy Warfare Development Command and the Joint Forces Command
Joint Experimentation Directorate for an unspecified top-secret
research project. TRW Systems of Fairfax won a $16.35 million
contract modification, from the Air Force Research Laboratory
for investigation of the lethality of high power microwave devices
on target systems. Anteon International Corp. of Fairfax won task
orders valued at $13.7 million from the Air Force Warfare Center,
for support services.
Raytheon Technical Services Co.
of Norfolk won a $12.59 million contract from the Naval Inventory
Control Point for repair parts. BAE Systems Applied Technologies
Inc. of Rockville won a contract modification with an estimated
value of $11.76 million from the Naval Air Warfare Center-Aircraft
Division for technical and engineering services.
Kollmorgen Corp. of Radford,Va.,
won an $11.01 million contract from the Defense Supply Center
for toquer assemblies used in the repair of the
gyroscopic accelerometer used in the Minuteman III Guidance System
by the Air Force. DDL OMNI Engineering LLC of McLean won a $5.32
million contract modification from the Naval Surface Warfare Center's
Carderock Division for an additional 80,000 hours of engineering
and technical support services for submarine and surface ship
programs in the area of ship signatures and non-propulsion electronic
Finally, Hicks & Associates Inc.
of McLean won a $3.6 million increment to a $19.3 million agreement
with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for
feasibility and development of a prototype system for early warning
and decision-making, including the integration of previously developed
technologies into the Total Information Awareness system.
Looking at these companies, a few names
and even locations clearly merit
closer attention. First, The BMH Associates contract for
top-secret research project. Not only is the contract top secret,
apparently so is the company. After a Internet search, about the
only information found other then "that site is unavailable"
was one with a brief bio of BMH's president, Edward P. Harvey,
Jr. It says that BMH is a Virginia-based simulation systems engineering
and software development company. Harvey is the Systems Engineer
and Integrator for the ONR Warfighting Concepts for Future Platform
Acquisition (WARCON), Virtual At Sea Training (VAST), and Virtual
Training Environment (VIRTE) programs. Very mysterious.
Secondly, note the contract awarded to
Kollmorgen Corp. Not only is the contract an upgrade to
the Minuteman nuclear missile, but it is awarded to a corporation
based in Radford, Virginia. Kollmorgen designs sensor and weapon
systems for submarines, surface ships, combat vehicles, and other
defense platforms such as nuclear weapons. It performs much of
its development and manufacturing work in a small, seemingly idyllic
Virginian town called Radford, which is located in the heart of
Virginia's New River Valley near the foothills of the Blue Ridge
Mountains and the New River. Also located in Radford are several
other arms manufactures including General Dynamics and
In investigating Radford, pop.15,859, I
have found it to be a disturbing
local town, as many of its major employers are weapons manufacturers
linked to those weapons most horrific to civilian populations.
Nuclear weapon components and landmines. Not to mention the extensive
ammunition manufacture from a federally subsidized plant of Alliant
Techsystems based in Radford. The town officials boast that There
have been no work stoppages in the last 10 years, that it
is in an area of outstanding beauty, and that it was named one
of the 50 "Best Places to Live," with one of the top
100 rated school districts in the nation. They decline however
to mention the Oct 27, 2002 protests held in Radford in connection
with the International Day of Protest against War.
One of the five largest defense contractors,
Alliant Techsystems, is the
largest supplier of ammunition, cluster bombs, tank and missile
armor-piercing incendiaries, and structures for the missile and
systems for the US military. It is also the largest US manufacturer
landmines. More than 26,000 people are injured, maimed or killed
in landmine incidents each year. Most of the victims are civilians,
often women and children, and nearly all these incidents occur
after fighting has ended in the area where the mines were laid.
This large Radford employer and maker of gunpowder, smart bombs,
and rocket propulsion systems makes money every time one of their
products explodes, maims or kills--turning a $1.8 billion annual
profit off of war. It produces ammunition for both military and
sports rifles. Alliant Techsystems was also recently awarded a
defense contract [Dec. 10, 2002], $9,873,762 for granular missile
propellant to be delivered by October 2003.
And finally, two of the Jan 6th contracts
went to two companies that are
among the five largest in the military industrial complex. These
are not just US defense contractors but also international
arms dealers. Selling with equal eagerness to the US and other
countries including third world dictatorships. They are Raytheon,
famous for its munitions damage of Vieques, and Lockheed Martin
a nuclear arms manufacturer with sales surpassing $26 billion
in 2002,and both corporations deserve more detailed examination.
Based in Lexington, Mass., Raytheon is
a global technology leader in
Defense, government and commercial electronics, and
business and special mission aircraft. Raytheon, the third-largest
weapons manufacturer in the United States is best known for its
Tomahawk cruise missile, the preferred method for getting any
war party started. Just one of its various missile products--the
Tomahawk missile--costs its many customers $2 million each. The
company manufactures Patriot and Hawk missiles. Raytheon owns
Hughes Aircraft and the defense division of Texas Instruments
- companies that make many of the weapons most commonly used in
recent US military strikes. Additionally it makes the Paveway
series of laser-guided bombs, which are used widely in Afghanistan,
and the infamous 5,000-pound GBU-28 "Bunker Buster"
In addition to its Raytheon Technical Services
Norfolk plant where the Jan
6th contract will be fulfilled, Raytheon announced in December
acquisition of the Solipsys Corporation, which is based in Laurel,
MD, adding to its local military industrial complex holdings.
Solipsys is a privately held software company specializing in
Department of Defense integration software used in missile defense,
intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance, precision strike and homeland security.
Raytheons lobbying expenditures are
extensive with $2,320,000 in 2000. Its direct campaign contributions
in 2001/2002 were $824,406 with the largest targeted contribution
of over $35,000 to Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who sits on
the Armed Services Committee. It gives targeted contributions
to Bob Stump (R-AZ) and Ike Skelton (D-MO). Raytheons political
connections within the US government include several high level
officials, such as Richard Armitage, who is both Deputy Secretary
of State, and president and partner in Armitage Assoc. LLP, a
Raytheon consultant corporation. Another connection is Sean O'Keefe,
the Deputy Director of Office of Management and Budget for the
federal government and Raytheon Strategy advisory board member.
Peace activists have targeted many of Raytheons
offices and production
facilities over the more then 60 years it has been in business,
but in recent
years they have been most visible at its Andover, Mass. plant
manufactures circuit boards for Tomahawk and Patriot missiles.)
The vocal opposition to Raytheon in Andover is led by New Hampshire
Peace Action. On March 3, 2002, seven activists were arrested
at Raytheon's plant in Andover, Mass., after they threw human
blood on the company's sign and attempted to walk on Raytheon
property. In May of 1999, 6 protesters, all members of the Bread
and Roses Affinity Group, were jailed for over a month in maximum
security prison for blockading a driveway with an unfurled banner
that read "Raytheon Closed for Disarmament." In October
of 1998, eleven were arrested while attempting to walk onto private
Raytheon property to conduct a citizens' weapons inspection of
the Raytheon plant, because Tomahawk and Patriot missiles
were [and are] being used in Iraq to kill non-combatant citizens.
If these weapons were being manufactured at the Andover plant,
then Raytheon was in violation of international law.
Headquartered on its Rockledge Drive complex
in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is the largest war contractor
in the world, as well as the USs largest international arms
seller, and the U.S. government's chief nuclear weapons contractor.
It produces the C-130, F-117, and the Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft,
the AGM-142, the Hellfire Missile, and the Advanced Unitary Penetrator
Bomb & BLU-109 Warhead. Martin is also the leading provider
of air traffic automation systems to the FAA and civil aviation
agencies worldwide. After war contracts, Lockheed Martin's other
significant and growing business is for profit privatization of
the state welfare departments and prisons. Those of us with longer
memories may remember Lockheed Martin as the corporation whose
federally financed $250 million bailout in the '70s and early
'80s prompted former Senator William Proxmire to first coin the
phrase "corporate welfare."
Lockheed Martin is the industry leader
in lobbying expenditures [2000
Lobbyist Spending $9,740,000], campaign contributions [2001/2002
$1,678,098], and it has high-level connections within the US government.
Its connections include: Lynn Cheney, wife of the Vice President/Director
of Lockheed Martin; Stephen Hadley, White House; Deputy National
Security Adviser/Partner at Shea and Gardner, a law firm representing
Lockheed Martin; Peter B. Teets, Assistant Secretary of the Air
Force/Former CEO of LM; Gordon England, Secretary of the Navy/Former
President of LM; Everet Beckner, Administrator
for Defense Programs/Former Vice President f LM; and Norman Mineta,
Transportation Secretary/Former Vice President of LM and major
shareholder. Lockheed Martin made significant campaign contribution
to House representatives Bob Stump (R-AZ), Ike Skelton (D-MO),
John Murtha (D-PA), and Senators John Warner (R-VA), Wayne Allard
(R-CO) of the Armed Services Committee, and Ted Stevens (R-AK)
of the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. With money from
both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon [and others, including the other
3 of the 5 largest US arms dealers], these guys Stump and Skelton
must just be popular with the defense contractor crowd.
Lockheed Martin has had an extensive involvement
in city and state programs such as welfare to work, parking enforcement,
traffic cameras, prison administration and tracking, toll collection
and tracking of child support payments. For this last service,
Lockheed Martin makes 15 to 29 cents on every dollar they recover.
They were central to the development and administration of the
EZ Pass toll systems throughout the United States. And when the
Washington, DC traffic enforcement system was privatized, guess
who got the contract? A Lockheed Martin subsidiary.
Lockheed Martin produces its notorious
nuclear missiles in Valley Forge,
Penn. It manages the Oak Ridge, Tenn. uranium processing complex
(including depleted uranium ammunition) and other parts of the
national nuclear bomb component, waste, and maintenance complex.
In Moorestown, New Jersey, it produces the Aegis battle command
system around which the Navy produces its fleet of Aegis cruisers
and destroyers. The US Navy considers Aegis "the most powerful
warfighting system today". Most of the sea launched cruise
missiles fired into Iraq, or as part of the U.S./NATO war in the
Balkans, came from Aegis warships.
Each of these Lockheed Martin sites (and
many others around the world) has experienced strong continuing
resistance from the peace movements. But further accelerated protest
attention needs to be directed towards Lockheed Martin given the
USs current wars (Afghanistan, Palestine, and soon to be
Iraq), inflated defense budget and threat of perpetual war on
terror which may include war on as many as 64 countries.
Among the more famous protest campaigns
against the company is the July 18, 2001, Russian peace action
camp reported by Indymedia. The social ecological movement Rainbow
Keepers and local activists from city of Votkinsk organized the
campaign to fight the construction of a plant for missile fuel
near Votkinsk, a city with over 100,000 inhabitants. A well known
upcoming protest is the January 18, 2003, Martin Luther King Day
Weapon Inspection, that is part of an ongoing campaign for compliance
with the World Courts 1996 decision regarding nuclear weapons.
When 40 people organized by the Brandywine Peace Community attempted
the Citizens Disarmament Inspection of three Lockheed Martin facilities
at their Valley Forge Complex, 15 people
were arrested for criminal trespass, because of their insistence
Inspection and refusal to leave until they are allowed to inspect.
Brandywine continues its protests this year with Martin Luther
King Day Nonviolent Direct Action & Peace Blockade, taking
place in Valley Forge, Penn. at Noon, Monday, January 20, 2003,
at Lockheed Martin,. Additionally Lockheed Martin has been strongly
rejected by student coalitions on US campuses for its recruiting
efforts, its gift-giving, and because of university
investments in Lockheed Martin stock.
It is important for us to examine the US
military contacts and the
mega-corporations that profit from them. Thanks to the increase
in militarism around the world, these defense contractors are
the among the few companies posting higher profits than last year.
Corporations like Lockheed Martin and the rest, profit from the
militarization of the United States, Israel, and other countries.
They sell arms to repressive third-world countries, have contracts
to design nuclear warheads, and produce land mines and cluster
bombs that are so deadly to civilian populations. They are part
of an effort to maintain US political and economic dominance,
creating greater global stratification into "haves"
Those of us who oppose these ends must
maintain our awareness of what these companies are doing so that
we may better oppose them. We must be relentless in our opposition
to them and committed to the dismantling of their business. Above
all, we must use creative tactics. We need to financially damage
these corporations and hurt their efficiency. We must call for
divestment of their stocks, attempt weapons inspections, resist
their recruitment efforts at colleges and job fairs, encourage
their workers to do walkouts, slowdowns, and monkey-wrenching,
and we must sit in their offices and those of their suppliers
and blockade and occupy their production plants. But to accomplish
all that, we must be aware of who they are, where they are located,
to whom they are connected, and what they are currently doing.
We would do well to remember Utah Phillip's rallying cry: "The
Earth is not dying - it is being killed. And the people who are
killing it have names and addresses."
Hughes, Boeing allegedly
gave away missile technology illegally
John Mintz,Washington Post
Wednesday, January 1, 2003
-- The State Department has charged that two of the country's
largest aerospace companies, Hughes Electronics Corp. and Boeing
Satellite Systems, illegally transferred sensitive U.S. space
technology to China in the 1990s that could have helped Beijing's
military develop intercontinental missiles.
If a federal administrative judge and later
a top State Department official agree with the allegations set
out in a 32-page State Department "charging letter"
filed without public notice last Thursday, the companies could
be fined up to $60 million and be barred for three years from
selling controlled technologies overseas, a penalty that could
particularly hurt Boeing.
The companies have denied any wrongdoing
in the case, which harkens to a series of failed space launches
in China starting in 1995. Hughes officials are alleged to have
given Chinese space experts highly detailed information about
rocketry in an effort to help China's space program figure out
why its rockets were failing soon after launch.
Hughes Electronics' space launch division,
the entity that committed the supposed improprieties, was purchased
by the Boeing Co. in 2000 for $3.7 billion. The two corporate
bodies charged by the State Department last week are the Hughes
parent company and the division of Boeing that gobbled up the
former Hughes space launch unit.
This type of administrative charge is extraordinarily
rare, U.S. officials said. The filing reflects State Department
officials' anger that the two firms have aggressively battled
the charges and resisted admitting what they did in China was
wrong, they added.
"We don't believe we've done anything
wrong," said Hughes Electronics spokesman Robert Marsocci.
"We're in negotiations with the State Department, and we'll
be reviewing our options." A Boeing spokesman, Dan Beck,
said the company declined comment.
The Justice Department spent years on a
criminal investigation of the companies and a third one involved
in similar activity in China, Loral Space & Communications.
But several months ago, federal prosecutors informed the firms
that they would not file any criminal charges.
Last January, Loral laid to rest the allegations
against it by agreeing with the State Department to pay a $14
million fine and to spend $6 million on internal reforms dedicated
to stopping overseas technology transfer.
The charging document said Hughes and Boeing
had committed 123 violations of the Arms Export Control Act or
the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
"The department has had several rounds
of discussion with Hughes and Boeing to explore a resolution similar
to the one with Loral," said State Department spokesman Jay
Greer. "We can note that unlike Loral, Hughes and Boeing
have both failed to recognize the seriousness of the violations
and have been unprepared to take steps to resolve the matter,
or to ensure no recurrence of violations in the future."
Hughes and Boeing for years have insisted
that the State Department is wrong as a legal matter to declare
it improper for them to have had discussions with Chinese officials
about the space launch failures.
The firms point out that during the mid-1990s,
their operations in China were covered by regulations imposed
by the Commerce Department that were more lax and, the companies
say, allowed for some give and take with Beijing officials. The
State Department says that more stringent export control laws
still were in force, and that the companies broke them.
In the wake of the Space Shuttle Challenger
explosion in 1986, President Ronald Reagan decided in 1988 that
U.S. space companies should be allowed to launch their satellites
aboard China's Long March rockets to accommodate the fast-growing
American telecommunications business.
But the U.S. firms were strictly barred
from giving the Chinese any help on their launches without U.S.
licenses and supervision by Pentagon inspectors. The U.S. government's
fear was that the Chinese could use American know-how on the Long
March commercial rocket launches to help the performance of Beijing's
The problem was that China's space officials
were extremely aggressive in demanding that the American companies
provide "technology transfer" as a condition for entry
into the desirable Chinese market. The issue came to a head each
time a Long March rocket crashed or failed in some other way,
because that led global insurance companies to demand in-depth
probes into the technical causes of the glitches. American firms
came under pressure to share insights with the Chinese.
If it is found liable in the case, Boeing
could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in overseas sales of
satellites and in other foreign space business, officials said.
Dupont, Honeywell and other major U.S. corporations, as well as
governmental agencies including the Department of Defense and
thenations nuclear labs, all illegally helped Iraq to build
its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs.
On Wednesday, December 18, Geneva-based
reporter Andreas Zumach broke the story on the US national listener-sponsored
radio and television show Democracy Now! Zumachs
Berlin-based paper Die Tageszeitung plans to soon publish a full
list of companies and nations who have aided Iraq. The paper first
reported on Tuesday that German and U.S. companies had extensive
ties to Iraq but didnt list names.
Zumach obtained top-secret portions of
Iraqs 12,000-page weapons declaration that the US had redacted
from the version made available to the non-permanent members of
the UN Security Council.
We have 24 major U.S. companies listed
in the report who gave very substantial support especially to
the biological weapons program but also to the missile and nuclear
weapons program, Zumach said. Pretty much everything
was illegal in the case of nuclear and biological weapons. Every
form of cooperation and supplies was outlawed in the 1970s.
The list of U.S. corporations listed in
Iraq's report include Hewlett Packard, DuPont, Honeywell, Rockwell,
Tectronics, Bechtel, International Computer Systems, Unisys, Sperry
and TI Coating.
Zumach also said the U.S. Departments of
Energy, Defense, Commerce, and Agriculture quietly helped arm
Iraq. U.S. government nuclear weapons laboratories Lawrence Livermore,
Los Alamos and Sandia trained traveling Iraqi nuclear scientists
and gave non-fissile material for construction of a nuclear bomb.
There has never been this kind of
comprehensive layout and listing like we have now in the Iraqi
report to the Security Council so this is quite new and this is
especially new for the U.S. involvement, which has been even more
suppressed in the public domain and the U.S. population,
The names of companies were supposed to
be top secret. Two weeks ago Iraq provided two copies of its full
12,000-page report, one to the International Atomic Energy Agency
in Geneva, and one to the United Nations in New York. Zumach said
the U.S. broke an agreement of the Security Council and blackmailed
Colombia, which at the time was presiding over the Council, to
take possession of the UNs only copy. The U.S. then proceeded
to make copies of the report for the other four permanent Security
Council nations, Britain, France, Russia and China. Only yesterday
did the remaining members of the Security Council receive their
copies. By then, all references to foreign companies had been
According to Zumach, only Germany had more
business ties to Iraq than the U.S. As many as 80 German companies
are also listed in Iraqs report. The paper reported that
some German companies continued to do business with Iraq until
website has a search feature
that gets you the details, for example:
Dupont ( a company that is
likely to have a major plant
in Contra Costa Co ) gets you this detail:
Sold $30,000 worth of nuclear-grade fluorinated
Krytox vacuum pump oil used in the Iraqi centrifuge
program, to the State Company for Oil Products;
license was for $130,000 worth of oil.
As for International Computer
Systems (Still no address) :
1988 to 1990: Licensed by the
U.S. to sell $3,450,000
worth of computers to the Ministry of Industry and
Military Industrialization (MIMI) (generally responsible
for Iraq's nuclear, missile and chemical weapon programs;
and for Al Atheer, Iraq's nuclear weapon design and research
1989: Licensed by the U.S. to sell $48,000 worth of
computers to the Ministry of Defense.
Newsletter Issue 11 December-January 2002-2003 Corporations and
As the military
machine gears up for another war it seems worth
taking a closer look at the links between business and conflict.
Corporations were born out of the wars of colonisation and today
the relationship between military expansion and companies remains.
Corporations - a bloody
The first corporate charters were awarded
by governments in the
16th century. Essentially corporations were private extensions
states which enabled thte parent country to exploit trading
opportunities obtained by conquest and to deal with competition
other colonial powers and indigenous people. For example, from
17th century onwards the East India Company was Britains
in the conquest and subsequent exploitation of India; the company
hired its own army to gradually conquer India, opening up natural
resources for exploitation and obtaining captive markets for British
More bombs are good for
The outbreak of the Second World War paradoxically
countries from the great depression of the 1930s. Between 1942
1945, the US economy grew by an annual average of 7.7 per cent
more than any other time that century. Growth during war is a
of increased government spending on infrastructure and arms, leading
to increases in production and workforce. Though the effect may
short term - wars risk burdening a nation with inflation and debt
- military success can bring economic dominance in the long term,
as can be seen with the US after WWII.
Arming for war
Political instability and military threat
lead to increased military
spending by governments, ultimately benefiting their defence companies.
The annual defence budget for the USA will hit $396bn
2003; that of the UK will hit £35bn. Instability also leads
increased orders from around the world as governments arm in
anticipation of war.
As war becomes increasingly technical,
electronics corporations have
begun to diversify into defence contracts. The 2000 list of the
biggest arms companies included names more familiar from consumer
electronics such as Mitsubishi Electric, Sagem, NEC, Toshiba and
The McArmy is on its way
Military spending is the direct link between
war and corporations but
the relationship does not end there. As US Defense Secretary William
Cohen put it prior to a speech at Microsoft Corporation in 1999.
prosperity that companies like Microsoft now enjoy could not occur
without having the strong military we now have.
When a hostile government is toppled and
one more favourable to US
and neoliberal policies installed, it creates a range of money-making
opportunites for corporations. Often natural resources are the
target. Increasingly multinationals seek to gain control of resources
such as deposits of ores and precious stones, forests for logging
oil reserves during times of instability; for example through
to local governments or rebel forces.
A recent report from the World Watch Institute
showed how wars over
natural resources like coltan - a mineral that keeps mobile phones
and other electronic equipment functioning - diamonds, timber
other rare materials have killed or displaced more than 20 million
people and are raising at least $12bn (£7.6bn) a year for
warlords and repressive governments around the world. As the reports
author Michael Renner comented, People are dying every day
consumer societies import and use materials irrespective of where
But globalisation now means poor countries
weakened by war have much
more to offer than natural resources. A low wage economy without
adequate workers rights is the ideal site for multinationals
manufacture goods for export back to the West. A country also
millions of potential consumers. After the troops have left, the
marketeers from Coke and Pepsi move in to claim their share of
Neoliberalism - like
it or lump it!
Ultimately as JW Smith has pointed out;
It is the military power
of the more developed countries that permits them to dictate the
terms of trade and maintain unequal relationships. The US
the guise of the WTO or IMF can back up their trade agreements
and rulings with fines and sanctions, but ultimately it is military
force which underwrites them. Often the timing of military exercises
and the location of the US fleet are used to intimidate certain
countries into toeing the line.
Military power is also needed to deal with
the inequities of
globalisation. As General AM Gray, former commandant of the US
Marine Corps, pointed out as long ago as 1990, threats to the
will originate from the, underdeveloped worlds growing
dissatisfaction over the gap between rich and poor nations,
jeopardising our access to vital economic and military sources.
So events such as the attacks of September 11th fall into a wider
pattern. Neoliberal policies, propagated through corporations,
backed up through military power, lead to an inevitable backlash
and consequent increase in military activity. Meanwhile, as one
US foreign exchange analyst commented, The stronger the
retaliation for 11 September, the larger the jump in the value
the dollar will be.
Blood on everyones
The implication of these connections is
quite shocking if our
economic system relies on and feeds off war and violence, not
the corporations but all Westerners, as material beneficiaries
that system, are complicit in the bloodshed. The Kuwaiti oil we
burn, the Angolan diamonds we buy for our fiancées, the
coltan in our mobile phones, bought from a company that also makes
military electronics all implicate us in the violence that
underpins corporate capitalism. Only by recognising these connections
and attacking indiscriminate consumption as well as the corporations
that feed it, can we follow through to attack the roots of war.
Newsletter Issue 11 December-January 2002-2003 Corporations and
It has all the makings of a Tom Clancy
bestseller. The government plans to sell a stake in its top-secret
defence laboratories currently working on technology to
enable people to live on the moon (anyone remember Ben Eltons
Stark?). The buyer? a shadowy American organisation,
with ex-presidents and prime ministers as special advisors, that
has invested millions of dollars for the Bin Laden family and
The deal, announced on 5th December, involves
the US based private equity firm the Carlyle Group acquiring a
33.8% stake in the MoD owned research organisation QinetiQ, and
is likely to send conspiracy theorists the world over wild. The
Carlyle Group has already been accused of exerting undue influence
over defence policy in the US. The groups involvement in
defence research in the UK raises an array of questions concerning
potential conflicts of interest and the ever increasing influence
that the US is exerting over UK defence policy.
The QinetiQ company was formed in July
2001 from the greater part of the Defence Evaluation and Research
Agency (DERA), as part of the MoDs plan to partially privatise
the industry (something even the Tories didnt think of trying).
The company included the bulk of the MoDs non-nuclear research,
technology, and test and evaluation establishments.
Although the MoD originally intended to
float the company on the stock exchange, market conditions led
them to instead seek a public-private partnership (PPP). The MoD
will receive between £140-150 million for the transaction
and plans to sell its entire stake in QinetiQ within 3-5 years,
probably through stock market flotation.
The Carlyle Group is certainly extremely
well connected. It is one of the worlds largest venture
capital groups and is chaired by former US Defense Secretary Frank
Carlucci. The numerous former politicians on its payroll include
George Bush Sr and his former Secretary of State James Baker;
John Major; former chairman of the US Securities and Exchange
Commission Arthur Levitt; the former Philippines President Fidel
Ramos; and the former Thai Premier Anand Panyarachun. Carlyles
headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC, midway between
the White House and the Capitol Building, reflect the groups
position at the very heart of the Washington establishment.
The group was formed in 1987 by a small
group of executives including David Rubenstein, a former Jimmy
Carter aide. Since then the group has faired exceedingly well
and currently manages funds of more than $13.9 billion. Investors
have included George Soros, members of the Saudi royal family
and the wealthy Saudi Bin Laden family, who insist that they long
ago severed all links with their notorious relative, but nevertheless
withdrew their investment at the request of Carlyle in the wake
of September 11. 2
Despite defence only constituting 7% of
the groups investment, in 2001 Carlyle was the 11th largest
defence contractor to the US Department of Defence (DoD). Last
year George Ws administration faced questioning over its
support for the Crusader Advanced Field Artillery System, a $12
billion weapons program being built by United Defence Industries
(UDI), owned by Carlyle. In September 2001, the US Army signed
a $665 million contract to develop the system and in January 2002
George W signed a defence appropriation bill which included $487
million for the program. This was despite the Pentagon National
Defence Panel rejecting the program as inappropriate for modern
warfare as far back as 1997. The deal allowed Carlyle to float
UDI on the stock exchange. The timing of the float a couple
of months after September 11th drew criticism that the
group was cashing in on terrorism.
As concerns about the links between the
White House and the Carlyle Group continued to grow, George Bush
Sr (who reportedly has an equity stake in Carlyle) and his relationship
with the group also came under scrutiny. Bush has to seriously
consider the propriety of sitting on the board of a group that
is impacted by his sons decisions argued the Center
for Public Integrity.3
Unsurprisingly, George W also has historical
links to Carlyle. In 1990, he was appointed to the board of a
Carlyle-owned airline food business called Caterair, which the
group eventually sold at a loss. After he became Governer of Texas,
he was responsible for appointing several members of the board
controlling the investment of Texas teachers pension funds.
A few years later the board decided to invest $100 million of
public money in (you guessed it!) Carlyle.4
Critics are concerned at the degree of
insider influence Carlyle executives may exert: Peter Eisner,
managing director of the Center for Public Integrity, argues,
It should be a deep cause for concern that that a closely
held company like Carlyle can simultaneously have directors and
advisors that are doing business and making money and also advising
the president of the United States The problem comes when
private business and public policy blend together. What hat is
former president Bush wearing when he tells Crown Prince Abdullah
not to worry about US policy in the Middle East? Its
a kitchen cabinet situation, and the informality involved is precisely
a mark of Carlyles success.5
The announcement that Carlyle would be
acquiring a stake in QinetiQ immediately raised concerns that
national defence research may be subjected to increasing influence
from overseas interests, notably the US arms lobby. Fiona Draper
from the trade union Prospect, which represents scientists at
QinetiQ, pointed out that in the past at least, they have
had investors from interesting parts of the world,
shall we say she also asserted that given Carlyles
fairly opaque structure, there must be concerns over whether undue
influence may be brought to bear that may not be in Britains
interest. There also concerns that QinetiQ, which acts as
an independent advisor to the government on defence, should not
be allowed to judge any tendering involving companies in which
Carlyle has money invested.6
The government has tried to allay these
fears, arguing that there will be robust safeguards to prevent
conflicts of interest.7 Just like there are in the US, no
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sen. Robert Byrd, a
master at hectoring executive branch witnesses, asked Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a provocative question last week: Did
the United States help Saddam Hussein produce weapons of biological
warfare? Rumsfeld brushed off the Senate's 84-year-old president
pro tem like a Pentagon reporter. But a paper trail indicates
Rumsfeld should have answered yes.
Senate report confirms that disease-producing and poisonous
materials were exported, under U.S. government license, to
Iraq from 1985 to 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war. Furthermore,
the report adds, the American-exported materials were identical
to microorganisms destroyed by United Nations inspectors after
the Gulf War.
An eight-year-old Senate report confirms
that disease-producing and poisonous materials were exported,
under U.S. government license, to Iraq from 1985 to 1988 during
the Iran-Iraq war. Furthermore, the report adds, the American-exported
materials were identical to microorganisms destroyed by United
Nations inspectors after the Gulf War. The shipments were approved
despite allegations that Saddam used biological weapons against
Kurdish rebels and (according to the current official U.S. position)
initiated war with Iran.
This record is no argument for or against
waging war against the Iraqi regime, but current U.S. officials
are not eager to reconstruct the mostly secret relationship between
the two countries. While biological warfare exports were approved
by the U.S. government, the first President George Bush signed
a policy directive proposing "normal" relations with
Saddam in the interest of Middle East stability. Looking at a
little U.S.-Iraqi history might be useful on the eve of a fateful
At a Senate Armed Services hearing last
Thursday, Byrd tried to disinter that history. "Did the United
States help Iraq to acquire the building blocks of biological
weapons during the Iran-Iraq war?" he asked Rumsfeld. "Certainly
not to my knowledge," Rumsfeld replied. When Byrd persisted
by reading a current Newsweek article reporting these exports,
Rumsfeld said, "I have never heard anything like what you've
read, I have no knowledge of it whatsoever, and I doubt it."
That suggests Rumsfeld also has not read
the sole surviving copy of a May 25, 1994, Senate Banking Committee
report. In 1985 (five years after the Iraq-Iran war started) and
succeeding years, said the report, "pathogenic (meaning "disease
producing"), toxigenic (meaning "poisonous") and
other biological research materials were exported to Iraq, pursuant
to application and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce."
It added: "These exported biological materials were not attenuated
or weakened and were capable of reproduction."
The report then details 70 shipments (including
anthrax bacillus) from the United States to Iraqi government agencies
over three years, concluding, "It was later learned that
these microorganisms exported by the United States were identical
to those the United Nations inspectors found and recovered from
the Iraqi biological warfare program."
With Baghdad having survived combat against
Iran's revolutionary regime with U.S. help, President George H.W.
Bush signed National Security Directive 26 on Oct. 2, 1989. Classified
"Secret" but recently declassified, it said: "Normal
relations between the United States and Iraq would serve our longer-term
interests and promote stability in both the Gulf and the Middle
East. The United States government should propose economic and
political incentives for Iraq to moderate its behavior and to
increase our influence with Iraq."
Bush the elder, who said recently that
he "hates" Saddam, saw no reason then to oust the Iraqi
dictator. On the contrary, the government's approval of exporting
microorganisms to Iraq coincided with the Bush administration's
decision to save Saddam from defeat by the Iranian mullahs.
The Newsweek article (by Christopher Dickey
and Evan Thomas) that so interested Byrd reported on Rumsfeld's
visit to Baghdad Dec. 20, 1983, that launched U.S. support for
Saddam against Iran. Answering Byrd's questions, Rumsfeld said
he did meet with Saddam and then-Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz,
but was dismissive about assisting "as a private citizen
... only for a period of months." Rumsfeld contended he was
then interested in curbing terrorism in Lebanon.
Quite a different account was given in
a sworn court statement by Howard Teicher on Jan. 31, 1995. Teicher,
a National Security Council aide who accompanied Rumsfeld to Baghdad,
said Rumsfeld relayed then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's
offer to help Iraq in its war. "Aziz refused even to accept
the Israeli's letter to (Saddam) Hussein offering assistance,"
said Teicher, "because Aziz told us that he would be executed
on the spot."
Such recollections of the recent past make
for uncomfortable officials in Washington and Jerusalem today.
To find out more about Robert D. Novak
and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page
* Title under which this article appeared
in SF Chronicle 9/27/02
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
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September 29, 2002 (SF Chronicle)
London -- The critique of big business
that gained prominence three years ago in the streets of Seattle
-- and was echoed in protests in Washington, Prague, Nice, Genoa,
Barcelona and Seville; in recent anti-privatization
riots in Peru and Paraguay, and in violent strikes in Ecuador
-- has now entered the mainstream.
As protesters prepared to mobilize this
weekend in Washington, D.C., where the World Bank and International
Monetary Fund were scheduled to meet, polls showed 75 percent
of Americans now think big business has too much influence over
their lives. Eighty-two percent want corporate funding of political
campaigns to be rethought.
A deep chasm is growing between "the
global economy" and social justice. The 21st century is increasingly
a world of haves and have-nots, of gated communities next to ghettos
-- a world in which, in one year, Disney
Chairman Michael Eisner earned $576 million, the entire GDP of
The World Trade Organization, time and
time again, has intervened to prevent governments from using boycotts
or tariffs against companies acting in ethically or environmentally
unsound ways. In almost every developing country, the number of
people living on less than a dollar a day has increased over the
past 20 years. Seven of the eight possible measures of world income
distribution show growing inequality over the past two decades.
Four-fifths of the world's income is in the hands of one- fifth
of the world's population. Overseas aid to least developed countries,
which are already hemorrhaging because of debt repayments, are
plummeting. Market liberalization policies with no concomitant
obligations on redistribution are sinking some social groups,
especially the vulnerable and the poor.
If we are to make globalization work for
all, we have to keep pushing for a new agenda. But it will have
to be championed -- for now, at least -- without the United States
on board. The world's preeminent industrialized
player is unwilling to engage in the debate.
Under George W., any form of international
cooperation to tackle political, social or economic exclusion
is rejected. Since coming into office, he has downgraded or junked
humanitarian interventions, refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol
on climate change, proven unwilling to sign a draft agreement
updating the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, refused to ratify
the Small Arms Treaty because of the interests of U.S. arms manufacturers,
canceled $34 million in funding for U.N. reproductive health programs
in more than 140 countries and refused to attend the Johannesburg
Earth Summit. Need I go on?
The Bush administration's persistent unilateralism
and its hell-bent determination to protect the interests of corporate
America presents a clear choice to those of us in Britain who
see the necessity of multilateralism. Do we seek to work with
our European neighbors and others who might embrace a similar
position? Or do we revise our aspirations and lower our game to
be able to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with George
W.? How can globalization be reframed to the benefit of all?
First, we must lobby to set up an independent
international commission to investigate the impact of economic
globalization on human development, social capital and the poor.
The commission would address questions like
the cost of economic growth to the environment; the price we pay
for allowing big business to influence the quality of our air
and food, and the impact of free trade on development and on those
most marginalized and
Second, we need to push for something akin
to a World Social Organization to counter the dominance of the
WTO and to establish rules and regulations that will ensure the
long-term protection of human rights, labor standards and the
environment -- an organization with teeth as sharp as those of
the WTO and equally effective powers of enforcement.
There still remains the problem of alleviating
the suffering of those who are most excluded and marginalized.
We need to push for debt cancellation, a significant increase
in overseas aid -- which has fallen 45 percent in real terms since
1990 to the least developed countries -- and a rethinking of the
ways in which it is delivered. And we must ensure that all unfair
trade barriers on agricultural and textile products from the developing
world are pulled down -- developing countries are losing almost
$2 billion a day because of inequitable trade rules.
The world needs a new global tax authority,
linked to the United Nations, with power to levy indirect taxes
on pollution and energy consumption, which can then be spent protecting
the environment. The authority should also levy direct taxes on
multinational corporations, in order to fund the development of
global environmental, labor and human rights norms. Finally, we
need mechanisms to help people fight injustice. Workers and communities
everywhere must be able to safeguard basic rights to minimum health
and safety standards at work, to minimum wages, and not be dispossessed
without adequate compensation.
A world in which people have no access
to justice is one in which discontent will continue to fester.
We must ensure that the perpetrators of corporate injustices,
wherever they are, be held to account and that their victims have
redress, whoever they are.
A better world of greater equity, justice
and democracy is possible. But unless those in power address these
issues, the dispossessed, and those who speak for them, will keep
on trying to batter down the doors of power
in whatever ways they see fit. This divided world -- of injustice,
inequity, environmental degradation and power asymmetries -- is
The events of Sept. 11, the terrible floods
in Central Europe, the growing AIDS pandemic, the domino effect
of financial meltdowns, all make explicit the extent to which
all of us are inexorably linked as global citizens. We must not
let the only issues upon which the world unites be terrorism and
trade. Those of us with a voice -- the haves -- must hammer home
the message that we need a global coalition to deal with the issue
of exclusion, too.
British academician Noreena Hertz is
the author of "The Silent Takeover" published by Free
The relentless expansion of corporate
control over our political economy has proven nearly immune to
daily reporting by the mainstream media. Corporate crime, fraud
and abuse have become like the weather; everyone is talking about
the storm but no one seems able to do anything about it. This
is largely because expected accountability mechanisms -- including
boards of directors, outside accounting and law firms, bankers
and brokers, state and federal regulatory agencies and legislatures
-- are inert or complicit.
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