Afscme Local 444, retired
“We seem to be proceeding on the assumption that the way to eradicate the Vietcong is destroy all the village structures, defoliate all the jungles and then cover the entire surface of South Vietnam with Asphalt.” US Assistant Secretary of Defense John Naughton 1967. *
While who knows who languishes in Guantanamo Bay for decades or more convicted of no crimes and 2.4 million Americans remain incarcerated in US prisons, black youth are being shot at will in our streets and citizens threatened daily by militarized cops, the beheading of two Journalists by Islamic fanatics has the folks in Washington all up in arms. We need to remind ourselves that one of US capitalism’s most trusted allies Saudi Arabia, has quite a penchant for beheadings. There were 29 beheadings in Saudi Arabia in 2011 including a young girl. You can lose your head for adultery and it seems that women are the primary target there. If you renounce the state religion, watch out, especially if you engage in special crimes like sorcery and witchcraft.
ISIS’ vision of the world is “barbaric and ultimately empty” President Obama told an audience in Estonia last Saturday. Joe Biden likes the “barbarians” moniker equally and pledges that the US “will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice” Present Secretary of State John Kerry, the hubby of the Heinz Foods heir chimes in and calls the beheadings, “an act of medieval savagery by a coward hiding behind a mask.”. And operating drones from an air base in Iowa that "accidentally" blows up the folks at a wedding is what now? Is that not cowardice?
There is no doubt that ISIS represents medieval savagery to the extreme. But workers have to think carefully here about the messengers, after all, the forces that make up ISIS are US capitalism's baby. The US mass media which is owned and controlled by a few wealthy people tells us what they want us to hear. Obviously they are not so horrified by beheadings when their friends the Saudi’s do it, or when the folks they now consider barbarians were doing it to others not on US capitalism's "friends" list. They don’t care too much about American workers either as they throw them out of houses, deny them medical care and poison our communities. To be denied medical attention, food or shelter because you are poor is barbaric, it's not civilized.
Steven Greenhouse writes in today's New York Times about the young immigrant workers in North Carolina's tobacco fiends. Greenhouse writes of 13 year old Saray Alvarez:
"When Saray and other workers — including several more teenagers — get to the fields at 6, they punch holes through the bags for their arms. They are trying to avoid what is known as “green tobacco sickness,” or nicotine poisoning, which can cause vomiting, dizziness and irregular heart rates, among other symptoms. Saray says that she sometimes has trouble breathing in the middle of all the heat, humidity and leaves, and that she often feels weary during her 12-hour shifts, when she moves through the rows to pluck unwanted flowers or pull off oversize leaves for the harvest."
I remember the same problem 30 years ago seeing that movie, The Wrath of Grapes at a trade union convention. Immigrant workers were dieing from pesticide poisoning and long hours in 100 degree heat. Things haven't changed. Where's the outrage from Obama, Kerry and the others on Capitol Hill about this sort of barbarism occurring in their own back yard? The Obama administration dropped attempts to curb that crime in the wake of pressure from agribusiness and political expediency. You wouldn't have to follow the culprits in this case to the gates of an imaginary hell Mr. Biden, they're easily spotted in a state not far from yours. There is barbarism committed every day in the US by landlords, jailers, the police, the bosses. Where was all the indignation from these same politicians of Wall Street when an unarmed black man (he is an American after all) was assassinated in Missouri recently?
But they don't want to talk about this barbarism because their friends are committing it, just like they don't talk of the barbaric assault on the Vietnamese people they call the Vietnam War. That was a holocaust if there ever was one. Some three million Vietnamese are estimated to have died in that horrific assault and their children are still being born deformed today due to Dioxin (Agent Orange) that was sprayed on them and their food. Close to 70,000 Americans died as well, working class people with families. Many US veterans have since died from Agent Orange. Kissinger, Nixon and others knew only too well that US troops would die as a result of their actions. In fact, by sabotaging the 1968 peace talks for personal political gain, then settling on the same terms four years later, “20,000 Americans and an uncalculated number of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians lost their lives” Christopher Hitchen's points out in his book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Kissinger is a mass murder par excellence. Yet NPR gives him an interview recognizing him a a foreign policy "expert"
Hitchens also points out that US capitalism's illegal bombing of Cambodia and Laos cost as many as 600,000 civilian lives. The Illegal bombing raids in to Cambodia were codenamed “Breakfast”, “Lunch”, “Snack”, “Dinner” and “Dessert”.**, a little bit of US capitalism’s barbarism for supper.
The method was called carpet bombing using napalm, white phosphorous and the like, in other words, kill every living thing within a grid. There was no fighting back, B52's gave no warning and were too high up there.
Kissinger, along with other former US Secretaries of State can be seen in the picture below at a ceremony commemorating a new “Diploma Center” at the Department of State in Washington DC. Madeline Albright is among them, the woman who claimed the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqi’s mostly women and children due to US imposed sanctions on their old friend Saddam Hussein, was “worth it”. None of these people have done a decent days' work in their lives.
|Got some blood on their hands these characters|
I believe most Americans are not fooled by the politicians and billionaires who use their media to manipulate public opinion. Some people don’t care but most of us simply get on with our lives as best we can feeling there is nothing that can be done to change the situation. But something has to be done at some point. As workers we have no political party and no voice. The people that speak to the rest of the world on our behalf are the billionaires and their representatives who, if we take the time to research it, sit on the boards of the corporations whose interests they serve. Their domestic policies kill far more Americans than ISIS, Bin Laden or any foreign enemy.
A transformation of global society cannot be successful without the US working class settling accounts with our own 1%. When we then speak for ourselves as workers, we can choose with whom we speak and negotiate with and it won’t be the capitalists, dictators or medieval barbarians that US capitalism has nurtured, encouraged and then discarded after they have outlived their usefulness. It is workers, both at home and abroad, that are the victims of US capitalism's catastrophic foreign policy. The US sells more weapons of mass destruction than the rest of the world combined, sometimes to both sides of a conflict. What a lucrative business death is.
Workers of different nations have different interests to capitalists. Workers of the World Unite is not an empty phrase. It is the only way out of this madness that will eventually place the very existence of all humanity and our precious environment at the forefront of the struggle where it belongs.
"While there is a lower class I am in it; while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free” Eugene V. Debs
*US Assistant Secretary of Defense John Naughton in 1967. Quoted in The Trial of Henry Kissinger, by Christopher Hitchens.
Here is a short video about Vietnam for those too young to remember it.
Here is a short video about Vietnam for those too young to remember it.