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Biography - F.A. Baron
Freedom to be Greedy
Farewell & Welcome
DA Response to Grenada
And, We were Misled
Local vs Privy Council
Thank You Dame Eugenia
Big Bad John
Travels and Travails
Trade Gap - USA & DA
In Case You Missed It
".. Your Love to Town"
Mad Men not to be trusted
Politics of Lies & Deception
Wide, Deep Transparency
Petrocaribe $ Bird Island
Nations Shall War No more
My Feeling of Insecurity
China, Admiration & Envy
Capitalism: Wounded ...
© Gordon Moreau
THE FREEDOM TO BE GREEDY
(November 18, 2003)
1. A Dominican woman whom I will not name fortuitously came too close in time and space to a horrible incident at a pharmacy in Fort-de-France, November 14, 2003. A man shoots his estranged wife three times in the head. Our Dominican is too shocked to think. She runs in panic from the scene and crosses the busy street without regard to the traffic lights that might have been green or red.
2. A couple years ago a mother implored me to counsel her eight-year old daughter. The child had threatened to “kill somebody”. It did not matter whether the child meant it or said it merely for its shock effect.
3. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in Baghdad when the Al Rashid Hotel where he put up was attacked. He later faked a bravado but television easily betrayed him. He was visibly shaken by the bomb that could have dispatched him to his maker.
4. The initial and instinctive reaction of the supreme leaders of the U.S.A. to 9/11 was to run and hide.
The above four situations have a couple of threads in common. First, they are all true. Second, they all demonstrate that when violence and fear of getting killed become personal, when they come close to home, big, big man turns mouse and wimp.
So, if death is horrible when we feel threatened as its potential victims, why do some of us inflict it on others, and why are the rest of us so cowardly and silent, when the powerful kill the weak? Are we waiting for the powerful to threaten us, or better yet, when they kill us?
The overwhelming majority of the people of the world were against the Bush regime’s invasion of Iraq. Now they have found themselves in a mess, that regime is engaged in “iron hammer” methods; hitting back without proof as the U.S. did in Vietnam.
I have had guns pointed at me at close range both in Trinidad and in Dominica. I cannot stomach television showing heavily armed American soldiers forcibly crashing into civilian homes, encountering, terrorizing and traumatizing innocent men, and especially women and children. If that is not terror also, kindly tell me what is.
About a year ago on CNN, Larry King looked on with grave intensity and concern as Harry Belefonte reminded him:
“Our hands are not clean, Larry.”
The hands of many U.S. administrations were not clean in the past. Those of the Bush regime are even dirtier now.
I told you long ago that the Bush “oiligarchy” went to Iraq with a fixity of will and tenacity of purpose that can be condensed in one word, “OIL” That was what they first secured when they entered Iraq. Nonetheless, from time to time, we are reminded about the “political economy” of oil as we listen to the news.
Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, prime minister of Malaysia for 22 years, stepped down on October 31, 2003. He is credited with disregarding the counsel of the World Bank/IMF and transforming the economy of Malaysia into an “Asia tiger.” He created economic stability, but, we are reminded, he was “an equal opportunity offender.”
What “offences” have earned Dr. Mohamad that title? Here is one example. He said:
“The west are greedy and love to take by force what belongs to others.” Truer words have never been spoken; Bush in Iraq is a classical example.
It is not just Mahathir who observes those things. The language chosen is different but many Americans do. Stewart L. Udall was American Secretary responsible for the environment, 1961 to 1969. He spoke with PBS recently about the abysmal lack of integrity and corporate greed in America. “The shocking thing to me,” he lamented, “is that nobody is shocked.” In other words such greedy conduct has become culture, norm, and accepted in America.
On the said PBS programme (NOW, with Bill Moyers), we learn that the current conception introduced by the Bush regime is dubbed “the Iraq Gold Rush.” In Iraq some 100 billion barrels of crude oil are waiting to be tapped.
Iraqis are saying that on their own they get no contracts: “The United States are doing no different from what Saddam did in terms of major contracts,” said one local contractor. He awarded contracts only to those closest to him.
And it is not only some distant Iraqi voice from the desert wilderness that is complaining. Congressman Jim Kolbe, Arizona Republican, has been calling for “open competition”, and Congresswoman Susan Collins from Maine has been demanding “transparency” in those matters.
Meanwhile Democrat Congressman Henry Waxman told PBS that the US$87billion war budget recently approved included US$ 2billion for Halliburton, of which Vice-President Dick Cheney was CEO and Chairman until 2000. That sum was shrouded in bureaucracy and secrecy. Nobody in Halliburton or in the Bush administration seemed to know what that $2billion was for.
Halliburton is bringing gasoline from Kuwait to Iraq at US$2.65 per gallon. It in fact can be obtained at $1.65. The American taxpayer pays a dollar more for every gallon.
Bob Barr is a Republican, former Congressman from Georgia, 1995 to 2003. He voted for the first Patriot Act. He remains conservative enough to be a Board member of the National Riffle Association (NRA). Yet he told PBS that privacy of good American citizens is being invaded by the said Patriot Act. He said the Bush regime is thriving on a policy of perpetual war abroad and fear at home.
Instead of listening to dissent, he said, the government asks for more powers. The exercise of those powers are “violative of the very liberties that the terrorists are trying to take away from us.”
BBC World Business Report, October 30, 2003, said the stumbling block to Russia’s entry in the World Trade Organization (WTO) is its domestic prices for energy.
Bring domestic prices up to European Union levels before you get admission to the WTO!!! What does this tell us about the WTO?
At the end of October 2003, the name Khodorkovsky was popularized by big western media. He was the Russian billionaire – CEO of YUKOS, the country’s biggest oil company. (OIL AGAIN!!). He was arrested and detained for alleged tax evasion and corruption.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was one of the very few “oligarchs” who benefited massively at little cost to themselves when the USSR broke up (BBC 31/10/2003). But the billionaire is a political opponent of President Putin. So the west concluded that his arrest was politically motivated.
Given the recent economic history of Russia and considering how long it takes hard-working citizens of the world everywhere to save some money, is there a probability that the allegations against Khodorkovsky can be true? Absolutely. Perhaps the big media should challenge with equal vehemence why the WTO wants the millions of poor Russian citizens living below the poverty line to pay higher prices for energy.
In Georgia, another part of the defunct USSR, President Eduard Shevardnadze is in trouble. He is being pressured to resign after his alleged rigging of recent elections. There are “high concerns” in the West – for OIL again!!
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has recently approved millions of dollars to assist construction of an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea through Georgia and on to the Mediterranean. The Caspian Sea is estimated to have one-third of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves.
Does that pipeline ring a bell from previous writing in this column?
BBC reports that three quarters of the population of Angola live on less than a dollar a day. Yet, with the sole exception of Nigeria, Angola has more oil reserves than any other African country south of the Sahara. Any one reading this may wish to educate us as to why the resources of Angola should not be exploited in the best interest of the poor people of Angola.
Bolivia is on record as the poorest Latin American country. At first it struck me as singularly bizarre that several dozens of people would die in protests against production and exportation of natural gas to Mexico and the United States. The President eventually resigned.
On November 14, 2003, the Bolivian Opposition Leader told BBC that the crisis was a “logical outcome of economic policies designed in Washington.” Those policies did not benefit the poor people of Bolivia. He said that Washington is anti “a democracy that no longer serves its interest and is bent on destabilizing the country.”
This is the same Bush regime that is trying to fool the naïve into believing that he went to Iraq, thanks to no personal interest; only to force the Iraqis to be free and to impose democracy on them.
But what is democracy? The majority of Americans voted for Al Gore, not for George Bush; even if, as Gore Vidal reminded us, the Republicans accused Al Gore of trying to steal an election that he in fact won.
If Bush had belief in democracy, he would not have invaded Iraq; because the overwhelming majority of world people, democratic and otherwise, were against the war, and still are.
By the way, a truly democratic and free Middle East would not tolerate American hegemony over oil interest in the area. It is not in the interest of the Bush regime to have genuine democracy in the Middle East – be it in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, or Afghanistan. It is not in the interest of the Bush regime to have genuine participatory democracy even in America.
The Bush regime is not democratic enough to tell the world how many innocent Iraqis have died. On the 21 October, 2003 Human Rights Watch accused the “coalition”, especially American forces, of indiscriminate and excessive use of force in Baghdad. Ninety-four innocent civilians had then been killed since Bush’s announcement in May that the war was over.
Even the American CIA has warned Bush that the American heavy-handedness will alienate “ordinary” Iraqis and drive them into the arms of “the insurgents.” But Bush does not hear, unless the events in Iraq force him from time to time to eat his words – if only because he is campaigning to be re-elected President. But he keeps making mistakes, as he must. One example, he did not have to make the trip to England this week. I believe he under-estimates the extent of world opinion against his actions, his attitude and his “mad cowboy disease.”
“We appreciate the sacrifices,” George Bush said about those who died (BBC, November, 12, 2003). Of course he does. Those that die have served the oil interests! But for many English people he is “an unwelcome guest.” His express wish to visit close relatives of English soldiers killed in Iraq has been described as “ a selfish stunt.” So, despite 14,000 English policemen and 700 American security personnel, people have decided to protest massively against Mr. Bush.
Mr. Mike Aston lost his son Russell Aston killed in Iraq. He refuses to see Bush or any of his entourage. Said Mike, “To come face to face with the perpetrators of that war would give me a great deal of anger.”
And an Italian mother mourning her son killed at Nasiriya last week expressed her resentment to the media: “I believe that my son Brian died not for this country but because of our country’s lack of a coherent and civilized foreign policy.”
This “blood for oil”, this killing for what belongs to others is the basest form of barbarism and terrorism. It has little to do with freedom and democracy. It has more to do with power and greed.