Archive for March 11th, 2004

An Engaged America is an Enraged America

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As the old adage says, be careful what you
wish for, because you just might get it. Those anti-isolationists who
long for
a concerned, engaged and internationally aware US government are undoubtedly
somewhat uneasy with the current trend of getting involved in any
foreign sovereign nation where things might not be going our way. Several
examples from today’s news illustrate"

In Iraq, despite our desperate efforts to cobble together some kind
of functional or at least presentable puppet government before the
self-imposed June deadline, we find ourselves in the embarrassingly
transparent position of opposing elections, democratic reforms and
the formation of political parties. As to our "exit strategy", according
to the BBC…

A US general will be in charge of all military forces in Iraq even
after the end of the occupation, a senior British official said on
Wednesday.
American and British forces will remain in Iraq "for at least two
years",
the official said.

Meanwhile, in Equatorial Africa, the strange case of the aging 727 stopped
in Harare, Zimbabwe with 60 white South African "mine guards" equipped
with camouflage uniforms, sleeping bags, compasses, and wire cutters
aboard, en route to the tiny oil-producing nation of Equatorial Guinea, gets stranger.

The governments of both Zimbabwe and Guinea, which is holding an "advance
party" of 15 related soldiers of fortune captured in their capital, have
accused the men of being mercenaries in the pay of US Intelligence and
multinational
business
interests. Their objective; to remove by force Guinea’s left-leaning
government and replace it with one more sympathetic to Western interests
(oil). This from Reuters:

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Threatening to execute about 60 suspected mercenaries
detained this week, Zimbabwe accused US, British, and Spanish spy
agencies yesterday
of involvement in a plot to topple Equatorial Guinea’s government.

"They were aided by the British secret service, that is MI6, [the] American
Central Intelligence Agency, and the Spanish secret service," Kembo
Mohadi, Zimbabwe’s home affairs minister, told a news conference.

Associates of the men say they are innocent mine guards swept up in
a bizarre misunderstanding.

A British Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "I have no information
on whether any security services were involved at all. But we certainly
wouldn’t comment on our security services anyway."

Closer to home, whatever one thinks about President Aristide or Catholic
priests in general, he was the democratically elected President of Haiti,
and he was unceremoniously given the bums rush by the considerable US
armed presence in Haiti, even before the Marines landed.  It seems
remarkable disingenuous of Secretary of State Colin Powell to protest
"How can he say we kidnapped him, if it was his own security detail
that drove him to the airport!" One has to have read the background articles
to realize that for the past two years Aristide’s personal security detail
has been provided by a PRIVATE US SECURITY FIRM with connections to the
CIA and which, coincidentally, refused to send down reinforcements when
Aristide asked for them as the situation spun out of control.

The latest on this story – Denied a hearing in the halls of government
or the mainstream press, President Aristide is preparing to sue the Bush
government in US and international courts. From CBS:

CBS/AP – Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s legal team
is preparing cases accusing authorities in the United States and France
of abducting him and forcing him into exile.

Aristide believes he is still president of Haiti and will use the courts
during his fight to return home, U.S. lawyer Brian Concannon said Wednesday
in Paris after meeting Aristide in exile in Central African Republic.

Finally, an emergent hot spot to keep an eye on – Venezuela.  Another
oil-producing nation with a leftist government, the Bush administration
has been uncomfortable with Venezuela since it took office. Unfortunately,
intervention in Venezuela would be neither easy nor neat. Venezuela is
too big, too white, and too wired to sweep under the rug or mess up with
smoke and mirrors.  Current policy seems to be similar to what the
CIA advised in the early years of Castro’s Cuba, when he was just a leftist
reformer and hadn’t become a rabid Communistic.  Isolate, marginalizes,
punish anyone who tried to work with them, and mobilize public opinion
in preparation for a future intervention contingency. Look how well it
worked in Cuba!

But Venezuela is close to our shores, and a rich, developed nation with
many ties, treaties and co-nationals with the US.  The situation
there is deteriorating fast. Convinced the US is covertly undermining the
nation, Chavez had threatened to stop all oil shipments to the US. Convinced
that the mainstream media, in the hands of rich business interests, are
working
with the US
in favor of a takeover, Chavez is funneling millions of dollars to small
newspapers and short-range "Ham" radio stations in an audacious move to
create an effective alternative press.

Things are coming to a head, and if the fall US Presidential elections
are close, the Dowbrigade would not put it beyond the current administration
to push the situation to a crisis in order to put the Marines into Venezuela
to "protect US interests." We all know how the loyal American electorate
rallies round the President when American boys (and girls) are taking fire
in the uniform of the US military.  This from SFGate.com:

On Tuesday, Chavez told foreign oil executives that economic ties
between the United States and Venezuela should remain stable despite
Washington’s
alleged efforts to overthrow his "revolutionary" government.

Chavez had earlier vowed to halt oil exports to the U.S. and wage a "100-year
war" if Washington ever tried to invade Venezuela.

U.S. officials disapprove of Chavez’s increasingly close ties with Cuba’s Fidel
Castro and his criticism of U.S.-led negotiations for a free trade zone of the
Americas.

So stay tuned, folks, it looks like your government has been very, very
busy lately, all around this glorious orb of ours. Some of this business
may never come to light, but in these freewheeling and increasingly transparent
times, don’t be surprised when you find out we really DO care about the
rest of the world. Despite what sometimes seems to be selective deafness
on the part of US officials, it turns out they ARE listening to the rest
of the world, at least when the rest of the world talks back. Never forget,
historically an Engaged America is usually an Enraged America.