Back to NVUSA Vintage Email Archive
the worst so far
In the three and a half weeks that I have been reading emails and web sites since Sept. 11, today's results have been the worst.
[nvusa digest 10/06/2001]
Bill Keller's column in the New York Times sums it up: "This is going to be a trying time for those who promote human rights, and for those who advocate humanitarian intervention. That decent 1990's impulse to do good in Bosnia and Kosovo, even at the price of alienating Russia and China, was already, before Sept. 11, giving way to a foreign policy based on an unsentimental notion of our national interest. Now the calculations will be even colder."
Not yet one month into George W. Bush's Perpetual War on Terrorism and, already, we have a thorough warning from Amnesty International that a global backlash against human rights is in motion. Not only in the US, but in 9 other countries, too, Muslim and Arab citizens face retaliations. Meanwhile: "In Europe and elsewhere, governments are rushing to the top of their political agendas laws that threaten to curb civil liberties and possibly reduce safeguards against abuses of human rights. Measures to clamp down on illegal immigrants, which threaten to undermine the rights of asylum seekers, are being debated in a number of countries."
GWU Law Professor Jeffrey Rosen traveled to London where he found a network of 2 million surveillance cameras that have been happily installed out of public fear of terrorism. Have the cameras caught a terrorist? No, but the system is growing more powerful by the day, with increasing ability to click on your image and ask for a history of all your prior movements. Professor Rosen argues neatly that the network is not want we need; but his voice, like the voices of Keller and Amnesty International, seems so defenseless against the tide.
Thanks again to NYTimes reporters David Johnston and Philip Shenon, we have a provocative glimpse into the Minneapolis investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui that was on two occasions blocked by vague authorities higher up in the FBI and CIA. Such journalism is crucial, and I hope they keep it up; because we are also reading how Congress is bowing to pressure from the President's Office not to look too closely into finding who is to blame for the Sept. 11 massacre.
Thanks to Congress, a vicious public emotion now directed toward terrorists, Muslims, and Arabs, is in no current danger of turning upon the multibillion dollar security agencies that the President is supposed to manage in order to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Last week's prudent delay of US military action seems to be coming to a close as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld returns from his blitz of diplomacy. The NYTimes tells us that Rumsfeld's trip, like everything else of major importance, including Homeland Security and its directorship, was personally directed by Vice President Dick Cheney. As a result, the US is apparently saying goodbye to the coalition strategy and is about to embark all alone into the mountains of Afghanistan on the very eve of winter.
As for our Afghanistan allies, a report from Human Rights Watch helps us understand that the Northern Alliance, previously supported by Russia and Iran, has a human rights record no better than the Taliban's.
Meanwhile, it does seem that we Americans have taken the President's advice on this Saturday night, getting back to our cars, burgers, and home improvements (based on what I see out my window right now).
So what's wrong with this picture?
For one thing, I don't like the shape of that dangling little tip of Uzbekistan where American forces are supposed to gather, God knows how, and catch their breath. It just doesn't look right.
For another thing, I don't like the fact that our reporters are only now coming to life when the force of Dick Cheney's policies are so clearly directed at home and abroad. It just doesn't feel right.
The third thing is just my outright fear of World War Three.
Zbignew Brzezinsky reveals that the US helped provoke Russia into its invasion of Afghanistan. And he brags that the plan worked to help bring an end to the Soviet Union. Now he says we should hop in there ourselves?
I could maybe get with the program if I didn't find evidence all over the place that big oil has big interests in Central Asia. Dick Cheney sat on the Kazakhstan Oil Advisory board. Chevron and Mobil own 70 percent of the 9-billion barrel Tengiz field. And the Department of Energy itself reports that Afghanistan would make a great place for a pipeline that would move Central Asian oil to the Arabian Sea.
When I see Tony Blair hopping around these days, I can't help thinking about British Petroleum and its partnership in Chinese developments of rich new energy fields in Tibet.
And forgive me if I repeat myself, but I also worry what it means when ChevronTexaco get FTC approval for merger on nearly the same day that China and Russia sign a historic agreement for cooperation in oil and gas (from reports dated Sept. 7&8).
Seven thousand deaths are too many already. Our Attorney General virtually assures us there will be another terrorist attack soon. We are in a spiral of reaction that is badly in need of a break. Where there is no deliberation, there can be no democracy. The American people are badly in need of a real debate. Meanwhile, please no war this week. Please.
See supporting clips and links at
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Note: Pursuant to AAUP guidelines on free expression,
any opinions are those of the author,
and do not necessarily represent any institutions.
Back to NVUSA Vintage Email Archive