Frankenpower humiliates nature: It exercises its
freedom to turn air into filth, and its right to leave humanity homeless; it refers to its horrors as errors; it crushes whomever stands in its way; it is deaf to all alarms and it breaks everything it touches.
Would you believe they Laser-Zapped the world trade center
for 1000 billion and counting?
This prehistory lesson opens the film "2001: A Space
Odyssey". Now, for the 2003 odyssey, President Bush announces a military
budget of one billion dollars a day. The arms industry is the only sure
investment: some arguments are irrefutable, whether at the upcoming
Earth Summit in Johannesburg or at any other international conference.
The powerful nations that own the planet are in the habit of reasoning
by means of bombardments. They constitute power--a genetically modified
power, a gigantic Frankenpower that humiliates nature: It exercises its
freedom to turn air into filth, and its right to leave humanity
homeless; it refers to its horrors as errors; it crushes whomever stands
in its way; it is deaf to all alarms and it breaks everything it
The oceans are raising, and the low lands are forever buried under
water. This may sound like a metaphor for economic development as it
stands now, but what it actually describes is a picture of the world as
it will be in a none too distant future, according to the scientists
consulted by the United Nations.
For more than two decades, the predictions of ecologists were met with
either mockery or silence. Nowadays, scientists concede they are right.
And on June 3, 2002, even President Bush was forced to admit, for the
first time, that disasters will occur if global warming continues
damaging the planet. Journalist Bill McKibben has commented that the
Vatican now also acknowledges that Galileo was not wrong. But nobody is
perfect: At the same time, Bush announced that, in the next 18 years,
the United States will increase the emissions of toxic gases by 43 per
cent. After all, he presides over a country of machines that roll along
eating petroleum and vomiting poison. At the end of last year, Bush made
an appeal to solidarity, and he was able to define it: "Let your
children wash the neighbor’s car.”
The energy policy of the world’s leading country is dictated by earthly
business that claims to obey the high heavens. The late Enron
Corporation (deceased by fraud), which was the main counseling firm for
the government and the chief financer of Bush’s and most senators’
campaigns, used to issue divine messages. Its CEO, Kenneth Lay, used to
say: "I believe in God and I believe in the market." Its previous leader
had a similar motto: "We are on the side of angels."
The United States engages in environmental terrorism with complete
remorselessness, as if God had granted that country an impunity voucher
because it has stopped smoking.
"Nature is already very worn out," wrote the Spanish friar Luis Alfonso
de Carvallo. He wrote this in 1695. If he could only see us now!
A great part of the surface of Spain is losing its soil. The soil moves
away, and sooner rather than later sand will move in through the window
cracks. Only 15 per cent of the Mediterranean forests remain standing. A
century ago, forests covered half of Ethiopia, which is now a vast
desert. The Amazonian region of Brazil has lost forests the size of
France. At the rate we are going, Central America will soon start
counting its trees the way a bald man counts his few remaining strands
Erosion drives Mexican peasants away from the countryside and from the
country. The more the soil is degraded, the larger the amount of
fertilizers and pesticides that are needed. According to the World
Health Organization, these chemical aids kill three million farmers
As human tongues and human cultures die away, so do plants and animals.
According to biologist Edward O Wilson, species disappear at the rate of
three per hour. And not only because of deforestation and pollution:
large-scale production, export-oriented agriculture and the
standardization of consumer products are eliminating diversity. It is
hard to believe that barely a century ago there were more than 500
varieties of lettuce and 287 kinds of carrots in the world. And 220
varieties of potatoes in Bolivia alone.
Forests are scalped, the land turns into a desert, rivers are poisoned,
the polar ice caps and the snow of mountain peaks are melting away. In
many places the rains have stopped completely, while in others it rains
as if the sky was falling. The world’s climate has become insane.
Floods, droughts, cyclones, uncontrollable fires--they are all becoming
increasingly less natural, although the media insists, against all
evidence, on describing them as such. And the fact that the United
Nations named the 1990’s as the “International Decade for the Reduction
of Natural Disasters” sounds like some kind of morbid joke. ¿Reduction?
That was the most disastrous decade of all. There were 86 catastrophic
events that left more people dead than even the very deadly wars that
took place during the same period. Almost all of the dead (96% to be
precise) were in the poor countries, the ones that the experts insist on
calling “developing nations”.
With devotion, with enthusiasm, the South imitates and exacerbates the
worst practices of the North. And the North does not export its virtues,
but rather its worst faults, so the poor countries adopt the American
veneration for the automobile and the associated scorn of public
transportation, as well as all the mythology of free markets and
consumer society. The South also receives with open arms the filthiest
factories, the most detrimental to nature, in exchange for salaries that
make slavery seem rather appealing in comparison.
And yet the North consumes, on average, ten times more petroleum, gas
and charcoal per person than the South, where only one in 100 people own
an automobile. A charting of environmental feasting vs. fasting
practices shows that 75% of the world’s pollution is caused by 25% of
its population. This minority does not include, of course, the two
hundred million who live without drinking water, or the hundred million
who go to sleep every night with an empty stomach. It is not “humanity”
that is responsible for gobbling up the natural resources, or for laying
waste to the air, the soil and the water.
Power merely shrugs its shoulders: When this planet stops being
profitable, I’ll move to another one.
Beauty is beautiful only if it can be sold, and justice is just only if
it can be bought. The planet is being murdered by the way of life we are
supposed to emulate, just as we are paralyzed by machines invented to
expedite movement, and we are isolated by cities created for assemblage.
Words lose their sense, as the green sea and the blue sky--painted by
the courtesy of algae that have produced oxygen for millions of
years--lose their color
Those points of light that shine at night--are they spying on us? The
stars twinkle with astonishment and fear. They can’t manage to
understand how this world of ours, still alive, continues to turn round
and round, working so feverishly on its own annihilation. And sheer
fright causes them to flicker when they see that this world is already
invading other celestial bodies.
Z Magazine / ZNet
Return to Instant Steam
UPDATE: October 2003
AMERICA'S BEST MAIN COURSE: HUMBLE PIE
By Ted Rall
How to Withdraw From the Iraq Disaster
NEW YORK--Haughty as it was, George W. Bush's request for United Nations (news - web sites) help in Iraq deserves credit. It is, after all, his first tacit acknowledgement that his war is a fiscal, political and military catastrophe.
Democrats and Republicans differ on how much command authority to cede to the U.N., but everyone agrees that we should replace as many of our besieged occupation troops as possible with peacekeepers from other nations.
For the first time since 9/11, Americans are on the same page. Common sense is back: Bush's popularity ratings are at a record low. People finally understand that this war is killing too many and costing too much. (The original Congressional estimate of $50-$60 billion has mushroomed to $87 billion--and that's just for a few months.
Another five years of occupation could run more than half a trillion dollars.) Unless something changes fast in a big way, there's no end in sight. "It reminds me of Vietnam," Marine General Anthony Zinni, former head of U.S. Central Command, says. But we don't have to keep on keeping on. We can get out of Iraq early, save lives, and reduce anti-Americanism around the world. But we'll have to do something new.
Let's apologize! Here's how:
"Being American has meant never having to say 'you're sorry,'" Bush should tell the U.N.. "We've long been powerful enough to do as we please. But a great country must learn from its mistakes. And we are brave enough to admit that we made a mistake in Iraq.
"The invasion was the result of a terrible error in judgment. We relied on intelligence that convinced us that Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) represented a grave threat to the security of the world, but that information turned out to be out-of-date. Experts warned us that Iraq might fall apart after we deposed its tyrant, but we were in denial, dismissing our critics as partisan foes. We convinced ourselves that liberation would naturally yield to democracy.
We were wrong. Instead, it created a power vacuum. Worst of all, in our rush to protect our own nation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, we jeopardized the most important principle of international security, that of freedom from unprovoked attacks, respect for self-determination and national sovereignty.
"On behalf of my Administration and the people of the United States, I am truly sorry. If I could go back to March of this year, I would. I wish I could bring back the 300 American servicemen and the thousands of Iraqis who died as the result of our horrible mistake. But what's done is done. No one can change history.
"As a Christian, however, I believe that one is required to make penance for his sins. That means asking forgiveness for what one has done wrong--while doing as much as one can to reverse the damage one has caused. I have given serious consideration to what the United States should do to make penance for its war against Iraq.
"First, we must rebuild Iraq's economy and provide real security so that its people can rebuild their society and take control of their own destiny. Unfortunately, our occupation force is composed of the same American soldiers who killed and maimed innocent Iraqis during the invasion, and whose swaggering presence continues to provoke anger.
'We should have been culturally sensitive,' a Special Forces officer admitted to Time magazine. 'We should never have gone into people's houses. Saddam's soldiers never went into houses. We don't understand how things work around here.' It's too late to make a good first impression.
Not only do the Iraqi people resent our soldiers, they've become the targets of Islamist extremists from other countries. The longer they stay, the worse things will become--for them, for us, for the people of Iraq. Should the international community agree, we propose the withdrawal of every last American soldier from Iraq.
They should be replaced by 400,000 U.N. peacekeepers--ideally led by those from Arabic-speaking countries--to police the streets. We ask for no control and no input in this operation. Send us the bill. We'll pay whatever it costs, for as long as it takes.
"Second, we will compensate whatever Iraqi government ultimately emerges from the U.N. mandate for the damage we've caused to infrastructure and public buildings. U.S. companies will be prohibited from doing business in Iraq.
"Third, we will issue generous compensation packages to the families of individuals who died or otherwise suffered injury at the hands of U.S. forces. We know that it won't bring back loved ones, but it's a gesture of our true regret.
"Finally, those who wage war before attempting to resolve conflicts through diplomatic means must face personal responsibility for their actions.
Therefore, I will immediately turn myself, my vice president, the officials of my cabinet and certain members of Congress over to the international tribunal at The Hague (news - web sites) for prosecution for war crimes in connection with our illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan (news - web sites).
In accordance with this decision, I hereby resign the office of President of the United States, and respectfully await instructions from Secretary Annan as to where to present myself for surrender.
"May God bless you, and may He forgive me and my country."
Mediocre times produce the very worst that the world has to offer: Reagan, Bin Laden, Bush, Hussein, Sharon, and Blair. None but the feeble minded could draw inspiration from such a ghastly lineup of "leaders".
Turn Off TV and Turn On Quantum Mind
Humanity's most valuable possessions are Clean Water, Clean air, and Trees