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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Every needle stuck in Haiti voodoo doll

At the start of the year, Haiti was one of the poorest nations on earth. Then, because democratically-elected president Aristide was not being sufficiently servile in executing Washington's neo-liberal agenda (give us your wealth, your resources, and your labor, and maybe we'll let you live), murderous "rebels," holdovers from the tyrannical Duvalier days, were encouraged by the US and France to rampage through the country, killing hundreds or thousands of Haitians in the process. Once they had looted the country and surrounded Aristide in Port-au-Prince, US, French and Canadian troops swooped in to "protect" the country. Aristide was kidnapped and whisked off to Africa, and the poor Haitians were left in the hands of the brutal terrorists, both Haitian and foreign. Then in May, massive floods killed hundreds more, and in September, Jeanne comes through and causes flooding which may have killed 2000.

I've been listening to a book-on-CD recording of Noam Chomsky's "Hegemony or Survival," which has lots of details about the various criminal interventions by the U.S. in impoverished countries around the globe. It used to be more common to hear debates about the pros and cons of "globalization" versus "isolation" or "protectionism;" but the Republicrat neo-liberal politician and media machine has mostly drowned that out. Bill Clinton probably deserves most of the blame for that; not only did he benefit from anti-neolib candidates Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan draining votes from his Republican opponents, but he put a persuasive and supposedly liberal face on the neolib policies. He got NAFTA and the WTO passed, something Bush Sr. or Bob Dole might have had trouble doing. But on this issue, I think Perot and Buchanan (and Chomsky and Kucinich) are right. The "benefits" to Americans of globalization are highly debateable. Yes, there's lots of cheap crap for sale at Wal-Mart, but it's also much harder to get a good job. But the real concern, for me, is the unmitigated DISASTER that globalization is for poorer countries around the world. If they more or less meekly submit to being raped, like Mexico, Argentina and Jamaica, they just slowly go broke and lose their freedom. If they decide to try a different path, like Guatemala in the 1950's, Cuba, or Nicaragua in 1979, they face brutal unending state-sponsored terrorism from the U.S. If they try a little of each, like Aristide did, they end up with the worst of both worlds.

So I get pretty furious reading op-eds like Nicholas Kristoff's yesterday, where he blithely chastises Kerry for "demagoguery on trade," which unfortunately has no basis in reality. Kristoff says that Kerry's concern about outsourcing "harms America by undermining support for free trade." I am amazed at how many Americans believe the free-trade crap. I will concede only that there have possibly been some minimal benefits to some Americans (outside the filthy-rich elite) from NAFTA, the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF, and so on. In the long run, I don't think these outweigh the negatives here at home. But when the damage done to the lives of billions around the world by these policies is considered, it is criminal to even think that they could be "worth it." Pat and Ross and Dennis and Noam are right; Bill and Al and George and John and Nicholas are wrong. "Free trade" is three things: Rape, pillage, and murder.