Archive for ‘US invasion’

May 29, 2007

The U.S. vs. John Lennon

The new documentary “The U.S. vs. John Lennon“, tells the story of Lennon’s transformation from loveable moptop to anti-war activist, and recounts the facts about Nixon’s campaign to deport him in 1972 in an effort to silence him as a voice of the peace movement.

In the film, Walter Cronkite explains that J. Edgar Hoover “had a different conception of democracy” from the rest of us; George McGovern talks about losing the 1972 election to Nixon; Sixties veterans Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, John Sinclair and Tariq Ali recall their movement days; and G. Gordon Liddy happily explains the Nixon point of view: Lennon was “a high profile figure, so his activities were being monitored.”

Those “activities” – planning a concert tour that would combine rock music with antiwar organizing and voter registration for the 1972 election – were stopped cold by Nixon’s deportation order; but more than 30 years later, in the 2004 election, another group of rock stars finally did exactly what Lennon had been thinking about doing.

Although the Lennon film never explicitly connects the Vietnam war to Iraq, it’s impossible not to think of the present when Nixon is shown saying, “as South Vietnamese forces become stronger, the rate of American withdrawal can become greater” (and then wipes sweat off his upper lip). But there’s only one explicit reference to the present in the film, and it’s brief: Gore Vidal says “Lennon represented life, and Mr. Nixon, and Mr. Bush, represent death.”

Nixon got the idea of deporting Lennon from an unlikely source: Strom Thurmond, Republican Senator from South Carolina, who sent a letter to the White House in 1972 that outlined Lennon’s plans for a US concert tour that would combine rock music with antiwar organizing and voter registration. Thurmond knew that 1972 was the first year 18-year-olds were given the right to vote, and that Nixon, up for reelection, worried about 11 million new voters — who were probably all Beatle fans and mostly anti-war. Thurmond’s memo observed that Lennon was in the U.S. as a British citizen, and concluded “deportation would be a strategic counter-measure.”

It worked; the Lennon tour never happened.

For the next 30 years, the idea of a tour combining rock music and voter registration languished, until 2004, when Bruce Springsteen and a group of activist rock musicians did an election year concert tour of battleground states with a strategy very much like Lennon’s. The “Vote for Change” tour, organized by MoveOn PAC, brought the Dixie Chicks, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, and a dozen others on a tour of swing states, with the explicit goal of getting young rock fans to register to vote and vote against the Republican in the White House.

If the idea of using rock concerts to register young voters was the same, the 2004 tour had different politics from its 1972 predecessor – that much is clear from the one concert Lennon did do before the deportation order came down: the “Free John Sinclair” concert in Ann Arbor in December, 1971. Sinclair was a Michigan activist who had been in prison for two years for selling two joints of marijuana to an undercover cop; 15,000 people turned out for the concert. “The U.S. versus John Lennon” features footage from that concert, including wildly radical speeches by Jerry Rubin, and Bobby Seale, who said “the only solution to pollution is a people’s humane revolution!”

The Vote for Change tour had much less political talk, and much milder rhetoric. On opening night in Philadelphia in October, 2004, Bruce Springsteen made only a brief political statement: “We’re here to fight for a government that is open, rational, forward-looking and humane,” he said – not quite the same as Jerry Rubin at the 1972 concert shouting “what we are doing here is uniting music and revolutionary politics to build a revolution around the country!”

Of course 1972 and 2004 ended the same way – with the re-election of the Republican incumbent. In ’72, Nixon won by a landslide; in 2004, Bush barely won the popular vote – you might call that progress.

One factor has remained the same over the last 35 years – young voters are the least likely to vote, and potentially a rich source of progressive support. The challenge of overcoming their apathy and ignorance remains – as does the strategy of reaching them through music. Thus what Lennon thought about in 1972, and what Bruce Springsteen, the Dixie Chicks and others did in 2004, remains a key to mobilizing young voters in the future.

As Lennon says in “The U.S. vs. John Lennon,” “our job now is to tell them that there still is hope, we must get them excited about what we can do again.”

January 11, 2007

US Corporate Colonization of Iraq…

Almost everyone except Bush agrees Iraq War is illegal & immoral. Economy(/oil) interest was underplayed by Bush government, But US military invasion that resulted(/resulting) in push corporate globalization agenda without restoring & providing Iraqis with fundamental necessities such as water and electricity.

Testimony to the World Tribunal on Iraq :
The goal of the Bush Administration, as stated in the economic orders already enacted in Iraq is to, “transition Iraq from a … centrally planned economy to a market economy.” This goal is explained even more clearly by BearingPoint, Inc. – the Virginia based corporation that has received the $250 million contract to facilitate this transition. The contract states: “It should be clearly understood that the efforts undertaken will be designed to establish the basic legal framework for a functioning market economy; taking appropriate advantage of the unique opportunity for rapid progress in this area presented by the current configuration of political circumstances… Reforms are envisioned in the areas of fiscal reform, financial sector reform, trade, legal and regulatory, and privatization.” Transformation of an occupied country’s fundamental laws is illegal not just under international law & conventions but also, the U.S. Army’s own code of war – stated in the Army field is “The Law of Land Warfare.”

In other words, the occupying power is like a temporary guardian. It is supposed to restore order and protect the population but still apply the laws in place when it arrived. As Naomi Klein has written, “bombing something does not give you the right to sell it,” yet this is precisely what the Bush Administration is doing.

Changing Iraq’s Laws

In direct conflict with U.S. government obligations under international law, the Bush Administration has begun fundamentally altering the economic laws of Iraq. For example, the provision in Iraq’s Constitution outlawing privatization of key state assets has been over-ridden, as has the law barring foreigners – other than citizens of Arab countries – from owning property or investing in Iraqi businesses. Both the tax code and the banking laws have been changed.

The exhaustively well-documented devastating impacts of export-led industrial agriculture – particularly based on luxury crops – on countries around the world as implemented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other institutions and agreements, demonstrates the danger that these proposed changes pose to Iraq. Those who have been made landless, jobless and impoverished by them are increasingly raising their voices in opposition. One of the most dramatic demonstrations of which occurred at the most recent WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico with the protest-suicide of South Korean farmer Lee Kyung Hae. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that conflicts over these same policies have led to the collapse of talks at both the WTO and the Free Trade Area of Americas in the last year alone. Clearly, there is no international consensus that such policies will aid Iraq’s reconstruction.

The Bush Administration’s proposed changes for Iraqi law go even further, with a special focus on Iraq’s oil. BearingPoint describes how current Iraqi commercial law is “woefully deficient in terms of establishing a market-friendly legal and regulatory environment for business formation and operation.” Changes to those laws will therefore be necessary “to assure an appropriate legal and regulatory framework for major utilities such as gas, oil, water, and power.” The contract includes every sector of the Iraqi economy, from public services, media, banking, investment, taxes, agriculture and the oil sector – implementing “private-sector involvement in strategic sectors, including privatization, asset sales, concessions, leases and management contracts, especially those in the oil and supporting industries.”

Iraqi law states that “A foreign investor shall be entitled to make foreign investments in Iraq on terms no less favorable than those applicable to an Iraqi investor.” National treatment makes it impossible to require that Iraqis be given preferential treatment (over foreigners) as investors, owners, contractors or employees. Thus, foreign companies can do all of the reconstruction, own every business, do all of the work and not a single Iraqi need to employed or involved in the process whatsoever.

Time magazine recently reported that an American firm was awarded a $15 million contract to build a cement factory in Iraq (using U.S. taxpayer dollars). But When the firm was prevented from doing the work, an Iraqi businessman (using Saddam’s confiscated funds) spent just $80,000 to build the same factory.

The potential long-term impact of this provision for the Iraqi economy is monumental, as evidenced by the impact of the same rules on the “financial tigers” of East Asia, as well as Argentina and Russia. Each of these countries experienced devastating financial collapse when foreign investors simultaneously withdrew billions of dollars from their economies while the governments were powerless to enact restrictions on either the inward or outward flow of investments. Iraq is now poised to meet the same fate.

The military occupation of Iraq must end.

Iraq’s foreign debts, accrued by Hussein in the suppression of the people of Iraq, must be forgiven. Only with the end of the U.S.-UK occupation should the United Nations, including an UN-commanded multilateral peacekeeping force, return to Iraq. Their mandate should be for a very short and defined period, with the goal of assisting Iraq in reconstruction and overseeing election of a governing authority.

A broad U.S. Federal Government investigation must be launched to scrutinize U.S. corporate expenditures and actions in Iraq, with the power to impose or seek punitive measures for contract violations and over-expenditure, and to provide oversight, regulation and accountability of U.S. contractor’s work in the application of their contracts. The citizens of Iraq and the U.S. Congress and public should be informed of the findings.

Reconstruction of Iraq should be based on rebuilding the economy to maximize fulfilling the needs of the Iraqi people. All contract processes should be completely transparent and accessible to Iraqis. The awarding of contracts should be done with preference given first to Iraqi companies, experts and workers. Preference should then be given to international humanitarian organizations with a record of performing similar reconstruction work. If a non-Iraqi private company must be used, the contract must be open to global competition and the profit margin must be held as low as possible at a fixed fee. Oversight must be transparent, public and thorough.

Iraq should be allowed to join the worldwide movement for local sustainability by moving away from export oriented economics that make trade and multinational corporations the basis of economic development. Government spending, taxes, subsidies, tariff structures, etc. should be reoriented to support local environmentally sustainable production that meets local needs (these ideas are expanded upon in the IFG publication, Alternatives to Economic Globalization).

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