Saturday, January 14, 2006

Media contact prohibition enacted by Pentagon just PRIOR to 9-11

January 15, 2006 -- Anti-leak policy enacted at Pentagon before and after 9-11. According to a senior Pentagon official, the Pentagon issued a strict anti-leak policy to Pentagon employees prior to and just after 9-11. The order was particularly emphasized to Air Force employees at the Pentagon.

A U.S. Army Pentagon employee confirmed that the Army was also subject to an anti-leak policy around the time of 9-11. After the 9-11 events, employees were strictly prohibited from discussing aspects of the crash of American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon and the confiscation by the FBI of security video tapes from the Pentagon and surrounding facilities.

The pre-911 Pentagon prohibitions on leaks to the media add to debate about how much pre-intelligence about the 9-11 attacks was known to the Bush administration.

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence By Rev. Martin Luther King

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

By Rev. Martin Luther King
4 April 1967

Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City.
This speech is as relevant today as it was in 1967

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight, and how very delighted I am to see you expressing your concern about the issues that will be discussed tonight by turning out in such large numbers. I also want to say that I consider it a great honor to share this program with Dr. Bennett, Dr. Commager, and Rabbi Heschel, some of the distinguished leaders and personalities of our nation. And of course it's always good to come back to Riverside Church. Over the last eight years, I have had the privilege of preaching here almost every year in that period, and it is always a rich and rewarding experience to come to this great church and this great pulpit.

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

The Importance of Vietnam

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission -- a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for "the brotherhood of man." This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the "Vietcong" or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

Strange Liberators

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not "ready" for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators -- our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change -- especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese --the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged.

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one "Vietcong"-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them -- mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political force -- the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.

Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front -- that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the north" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them -- the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.

When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

This Madness Must Cease

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:
"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."
If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.

In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.

Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.

Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.

Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.

Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.

Protesting The War

Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

The People Are Important

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept -- so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force -- has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says :

"Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word."

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah,
Off'ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet 'tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.

And if we only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic energy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. [sustained applause]

(This speech was viciously attacked in all the mainstream media, and ultimately led to his assassination.)

Venezuela's sovereignty must be respected by Noam Chomsky*, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel*, José Saramago*, Salim Lamrani*, Nadine Gordimer*

The legislative elections held on December 4, 2005, confirmed the term granted by the Venezuelan people to the party of president Hugo Chávez. The authenticity of the elections was certified by a pluralist group of international observers, among them, a special representative from Voltaire Network. However, the US has threatened openly to overthrow the democratic regime and replace it with a lackey one. Five important personalities sent us the following call.

Since Mr. Hugo Chávez was elected president of the Republic, the attacks against Venezuelan democracy have multiplied, with flagrant interference by the United States.

On April 11, 2002, president Chávez was the victim of a coup d' état promoted by the Bush administration with the complicity of the most anti-democratic sectors of Venezuelan society. Less than 48 hours later, the junta of coup plotters was rejected by the people's demonstrations that demanded without delay the successful return of the legitimate representative of the nation.

But the opposition, not happy with the failure of their coup, tried in December 2002 to sabotage the oil industry, which is vital for the successful operation of the country, and caused major damage to the Venezuelan economy.

In August 2005, during a high-rating TV program in America, the ultra-conservative reverend Pat Robertson, very close to the White House, made a call for the assassination of Mr. Hugo Chávez without facing any consequences from US justice. His assassination "would be far less expensive than initiating a war", he said.

In September 2005, president Hugo Chávez publicly denounced the existence of several plans by the US military forces to invade Venezuela. Washington has not stopped stigmatizing the Venezuelan leader as if he were "a negative force" for the security of the American continent.

In November 2005, the government of Mr. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was subject to tough pressure from the US for Spain not to sell weapons to Venezuela. Washington has shown a clear disregard for international diplomatic rules.

Over the past six years, the Venezuelan opposition has suffered 11 electoral defeats in a row, despite the media campaigns it has orchestrated against the legitimate government of Mr. Hugo Chávez.

In view of these uninterrupted actions in all directions, the opposition, which has lost popular support, decided to boycott the latest parliamentary elections in order to undermine the democratic process. The US is a prime suspect, and considered the promoter of this new attempt at destabilization.

The Venezuelan opposition, partly funded by Washington, and which refuses to conform with electoral rules, has then taken democracy as a hostage. That is unacceptable!

The sovereign decisions of the Venezuelan people have to be respected, because the future of the nation is not decided in the offices of the White House, but in the Bolivarian polling stations!

Noam Chomsky
Professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author, most recently, of Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance.

Polis del mundo de Phil Ochs

Phil Ochs escribió y cantó esta canción hace cuarenta años. En aquella época fue sólo una razón adicional para el acoso implacable al que lo sometió el FBI por sus “actividades contra USA”.

Pero no cedió. Su pasión era cambiar este mundo y estaba convencido de que eso sólo podría suceder si había un gran cambio en su propio país. En aquel entonces, USA estaba empantanado en Vietnam y, en otra de sus canciones, describió lo que motivaba su deseo de un cambio positivo. Cantó lo siguiente: “Llámalo paz o llámalo traición, llámalo amor o llámalo razón. Pero no marcaré el paso nunca más.”

A menudo se dice que la fuerza de una canción o de un poema es su capacidad de mantener su relevancia con el paso del tiempo. No hay nada en esta canción que no fuese cierto en 1966. No hay nada en ella que hoy haya perdido su vigencia. En realidad, la mayor parte de las canciones de Ochs mantienen su actualidad: la lucha continúa.
Polis del mundo [1]

Fuera de mi camino, muchachos

Rápido, fuera de mi camino

Cuidado con lo que decís, muchachos

Cuidado con lo que decís

Hemos llegado a vuestro puerto y anclado en vuestro muelle

Nuestras pistolas están hambrientas y tenemos poca paciencia

Así que traed a vuestras hijas al fuerte

Porque somos los polis del mundo, muchachos

Somos los polis del mundo

No nos andamos con remilgos, muchachos

No nos andamos con remilgos

Más vale que os pongáis de rodillas, muchachos

Más vale que os pongáis de rodillas

Estamos calientes y con ganas de follar

Y no nos importa si sois amarillos o negros

Quitaos la ropa y venid a la cama

Porque somos los maderos del mundo, muchachos

Somos los maderos del mundo

Hay que lustrar nuestras botas, muchachos

Hay que lustrar nuestras botas

Pero nuestra Coca-Cola es buena, muchachos

Nuestra Coca-Cola es buena

Tenemos que proteger a nuestros ciudadanos

Así que enviaremos allá un batallón por cada uno que se atreva

Y tal vez nos iremos en un par de años

Porque somos los pacos del mundo, muchachos

Somos los pacos del mundo

Y echaremos a los rojos en una pila, muchachos

Echaremos a los rojos en una pila

Más vale que os traguéis esa sonrisa, muchachos

Más vale que os traguéis esa sonrisa

Escupiremos por las calles de las ciudades que arrasamos

Y os buscaremos un líder que no podréis elegir

Esos tratados que firmamos eran un grano en el culo

Porque somos los tiras del mundo, muchachos

Somos los tiras del mundo

Y limpiad los retretes con un guiñapo, muchachos

Limpiad los retretes con un guiñapo

Si queréis, usad vuestra bandera, muchachos

Si queréis, usad vuestra bandera

Tenemos tanto dinero que buscamos juguetes

Y los fusiles son fusiles y los muchachos, muchachos

Pero pagaremos gustosos lo que destruimos

Porque somos los cachacos del mundo, muchachos

Somos los cachacos del mundo.

No piséis el pasto, muchachos

No piséis el pasto

Os patearemos el culo, muchachos

Os patearemos el culo

Echaremos abajo vuestras puertas, ¿para qué llamar?

Ya lo hicimos antes, de qué os sorprendéis

Somos los pibes más grandes y más fuertes del barrio

Y somos los canas del mundo, muchachos

Somos los canas del mundo.

Y después de masacrar a vuestros hijos, muchachos

Después de masacrar a vuestros hijos

Os daremos un chicle, muchachos

Os daremos un chicle

Somos dueños de medio mundo, oh say can you see [2]

Y nuestros beneficios se llaman democracia

Así que, os guste o no, tendréis que ser libres

Porque somos los polis del mundo, muchachos

Somos los polis del mundo.


[1]. Según en qué país hispano te encuentres, a los policías se los llama polis, maderos, pacos, tiras, cachacos o canas entre otros muchos nombres despectivos.

Nota del traductor

[2]. “Oh say can you see” son las palabras iniciales de la letra del Himno nacional de USA. El lector que desee escuchar la controvertida versión de José Feliciano puede visitar el siguiente URL:

Texto original:

Germán Leyens y Manuel Talens son miembros de Rebelión y de Tlaxcala, la red de traductores por la diversidad lingüística ( Esta traducción es copyleft

La revolución democrática boliviana: Una vuelta al mundo junto al primer Presidente Indígena

Johannesburgo (Sudáfrica), 12 de enero de 2006.

“Cuando era niño caminaba durante tres semanas con mis llamitas desde el altiplano a los valles para poder sobrevivir, ahora gracias al apoyo de gobiernos solidarios viajo en avión particular y soy recibido en diferentes países con honores militares y me trasladan en limosinas; cuando era niño recogía las cáscaras de naranja que echaban los pasajeros para comer y me alimentaba diariamente con un poco de tostado, ahora me ofrecen verdaderos banquetes y comida variada; también cuando era niño y luego dirigente dormí varias veces a la intemperie viendo las mil estrellas de la noche ahora descanso en hoteles de cinco estrellas y casas de protocolo; a veces no puedo creer que esto sea real”, nos dijo el Primer Presidente Indígena de Bolivia y América, Evo Morales Aima.

Del 3 al 13 de enero, el primer Presidente Indígena recorrió en un avión particular más de 55 mil kilómetros para visitar ocho países: Venezuela, España, Bélgica, Holanda, Francia, China, Sudáfrica y Brasil, ubicados en cuatro continentes: América, Europa, Asia y África.

Quienes tuvimos el privilegio de acompañarlo en esta larga pero fascinante travesía podemos dar crédito que el Presidente Evo, en los países donde estuvo, fue un ejemplo de dignidad que no sólo llevó muy arriba su nombre ni de una nación: Bolivia, sino de todos los pueblos indígenas, campesinos y originarios y los movimientos sociales del continente y del mundo. No ha cambiado, sigue siendo el mismo.

En todos los países por donde pasó fue noticia de primera plana: radios, periódicos y estaciones de televisión, en diferentes idiomas, le dedicaron gran espacio de su programación y periodistas de diversas partes del mundo intentaron comunicarse vía telefónica para lograr una entrevista. No sólo se reunió con los Presidentes de la República sino también con ministros, dirigentes políticos, activistas sociales y representantes de los movimientos sociales.

En Pretoria, sede del gobierno de Sudáfrica, recibió el respeto y la solidaridad del Presidente Mbeki y en una reunión con los negociadores del proceso de paz en este territorio, Ciryl Ramaphosa y Ruelff Meyer, encontró las similitudes de la lucha de los pueblos.

“Existen similitudes entre nuestros pueblos porque en Bolivia y Sudáfrica aún somos víctimas del colonialismo y el sistema, pero lo importante es que estamos avanzando a un nuevo proceso de igualdad, de paz y de libertad”, dijo Ramaphosa.

Volveremos para ser millones

“Los bolivianos y bolivianas estamos gestando una revolución democrática, una revolución cultural, una revolución con votos y no con balas, que tiene el único objetivo de salvar al continente y al mundo. Históricamente los pueblos indígenas, campesinos y originarios hemos sido humillados, marginados y exterminados; ahora estamos aquí, de pie y orgullos de nuestra cultura. Como decía Tupaj Katari, volveremos hacer millones”, afirmó en esta ciudad sudafricana, el Presidente electo de Bolivia.

Aunque Evo será posesionado como Presidente Constitucional de la República de Bolivia el 22 de enero, en los diferentes países fue recibido con todos los honores militares despertando gran expectativa en los mandatarios, en los medios de comunicación comerciales, en los residentes bolivianos y latinoamericanos y también en diferentes círculos económicos, políticos y sociales.

Sin ingresar todavía en detalles, el Presidente Indígena logró para su gestión de gobierno la condonación de la deuda de su país avalada en más de 100 millones de dólares, créditos concesionales por más de 200 millones de dólares, donaciones por más de 70 millones de dólares, la tecnificación y maquinaria agrícola por 15 millones de dólares, varios proyectos de alfabetización, instalación de radios comunitarias, carnetización masiva y otros de educación, salud y deporte que son muy significativos.

Además, logró un respaldo incondicional de un sin fin de organizaciones sociales, políticas y de los presidentes de todos los gobiernos con los que tuvo la oportunidad de encontrarse.

En la reunión con el Presidente de la República de China, Ju Hintao, les expresó que tienen coincidencia en el proceso de cambio: “La revolución del campo a la ciudad”.

El jefe chino respondió: “Ustedes nos están dando un buen ejemplo, nosotros con los fusiles llegamos al poder, ahora ustedes con el voto llegarán al gobierno”.

Destrozando los moldes protocolares

Orgulloso por su modo de vestir y de hablar, por su modo de comer y de pensar; en suma por su forma de ser, el Presidente Indígena rompió todas las normas protocolares en cada uno de los países.

Luciendo, en algunas ocasiones, una chompa de alpaca con los colores guindo, azul y plomo, un sacón de cuero o su clásica chamarra de campaña electoral con el mensaje: “Somos pueblo, somos MAS”, el líder boliviano fue acogido por los presidentes o jefes de gobierno en medio del estruendo de cañonazos en Venezuela, la gallardía de la guardia militar en Francia o la rigidez imperial de la imponente China.

Algunos medios de comunicación comerciales, preocupados por la vestimenta del Presidente Indígena le dedicaron programas enteros al jersey (chompa) o a su modo de ser.

Ante los medios de comunicación que esperan un Evo cambiado: cauto y medido, reconoció ser admirador del Che Guevara, del Sub Comandante Marcos, de Nelson Mandela y también de Mao Tse Tun; anuncia ser amigo personal de los presidentes Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez y Luis Inacio da Silva y declara públicamente ser antineoliberal, antioligárquico y antiimperialista.

En cada país, donde las normas protocolares son más rígidas que otras, el Presidente Evo hizo pasar por apuros a guardias de seguridad o personeros de gobierno que no entendían – a parte de las barreras idiomáticas- cómo un indio sin traje ni corbata atravesaba las puertas de sus palacios.

El Presidente de la República de Francia, Jacques Chirac que lo recibió en el Palacio del Eliseo, compartió su preocupación por la poca costumbre en cuestiones protocolares.

Antes de sellar acuerdos bilaterales importantes entre las dos naciones, el líder boliviano incluso le comentó al Presidente Chirac que en 1989, pasó su cumpleaños en París comiendo una torta. “Primera vez en mi vida que en un cumpleaños me regalaron una torta”.

Diplomacia de pueblo a pueblo

En un hecho inédito e histórico para la democracia continental, el presidente electo boliviano logró ganar las elecciones del 18 de diciembre del año pasado con más de 53.7% de los votos, logrando la mayoría de congresistas en el Parlamento Nacional.

En una manera diferente de emprender las relaciones diplomáticas: -sin imposiciones ni condicionamientos - sino con respeto, dignidad y soberanía, el Presidente Evo realizó el periplo para demostrar que la “guerra sucia” de la embajada norteamericana y sus aliados políticos, durante la campaña electoral, era absolutamente falsa. En los mensajes mediáticos se difundió que si el MAS llegaba al gobierno se iba a bloquear Bolivia.

La gira del Presidente Indígena de Bolivia se inició en Caracas (Venezuela), luego Madrid (España), Bruselas (Bélgica), Amsterdan (Holanda), París (Francia), Beijing (China), Johannesburgo e Isla del Cabo (Sudáfrica) y Brasilia (Brasil).

Un par de días antes de su travesía, estuvo en la isla socialista de Cuba, junto al Presidente Fidel Castro y también en su tierra natal Orinoca (Bolivia) con sus abuelos y abuelas, tíos y tías y hermanos y hermanas.

En el Gran Salón del Gobierno de China, el Presidente Ju Hintao, prometió a Bolivia un apoyo diferente al tradicional. El apoyo no sólo será del gobierno en temas referidos a la cultura, ciencia y tecnología sino también que se incentivará para que los más grandes inversionistas accedan a proyectos en nuestro país.

Despliegue mediático sin precedentes

En cada país donde estuvo el Presidente Evo, se encontró con una gran cantidad de periodistas y reporteros gráficos de diferentes partes del mundo, interesados en “una exclusiva”.

Por su apretada agenda se limitó a ofrecer conferencias o ruedas de prensa donde trataba de responder todas las interrogantes que luego fueron noticia mundial.

Más de un periodista quedó atónico al escuchar al Presidente Indígena que no le llame Señor Presidente sino “compañero Evo”. “Es mucho mejor compañero Evo”.

Maurice Lemoine de Le Monde Diplomatique de Francia señaló que nunca, en los últimos años percibió tanto interés en la prensa nacional e internacional por poder entrevistar a un Presidente de una Nación; el fotógrafo alemán Thomas Albiú, comentó que la elección del indígena es todo un suceso no solo en Europa sino en otros continentes.

Rompiendo también las normas de protocolo, el Presidente Evo con absoluta naturalidad se acercó en más de una oportunidad ante los periodistas para saludarles y agradecerles. “Gracias paparazzis”, les decía desatando sonrisas entre los comunicadores.

En el encuentro con el Presidente de España, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, antes de ingresar a una reunión privada de casi una hora, sonriente les dijo a los periodistas: “Evo me preguntó si soy el verdadero Zapatero”.

Luego de la reunión, el líder boliviano anunció que España condonará la mayor parte de la deuda externa, apoyará con créditos a la mecanización del agro y al pequeño productor e incentivará proyectos de educación y salud.

También en este país, tuvo una reunión reservada con el Rey Juan Carlos I, a los que se sumaron la Reina Sofía, el Príncipe Felipe y su esposa Leticia. “Es raro que los cuatro participen en una reunión, en una cena; sin duda, que existe gran interés en el Presidente de Bolivia”, nos comentó personal del entorno del rey.

Ama sua, ama llulla, ama k’ella

Al remarcar en sus diversas exposiciones que las organizaciones sociales y pueblos indígenas no son excluyentes sino incluyentes, el Presidente Evo demandó sobretodo el apoyo político internacional.

En todas las reuniones recibió ese apoyo y solidaridad.

En el encuentro con el Presidente de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, el Presidente Evo habló de que a fuerza de la honestidad basó su estrategia para ascender en el sindicalismo y en la política, pero además para enfrentar las campañas de criminalización y satanización a los movimientos sociales.

“En Bolivia, nosotros hemos juntado la capacidad intelectual con la conciencia social para llegar al gobierno. Ahora nos toca gobernar como lo hicieron nuestros antepasados con el ama sua, ama llulla y ama kella (no seas flojo, no seas mentiroso y no seas ladrón)”, dijo en su intervención.

El Presidente Chávez hizo un alto en esa intervención, para anotar en su libreta de apuntes las tres palabras sabias y para repetir junto al Presidente Evo: “ama sua, ama llulla, ama k’ella”.

El Presidente Indígena prometió en esa oportunidad y otras de esta gira que se debe confiar en la sabiduría de los pueblos indígenas, campesinos y originarios porque se han convertido en el reservorio para salvar la vida y la humanidad. “Gobernaré obedeciendo al pueblo boliviano”…

- Alex Contreras Baspineiro, periodista y escritor boliviano.

Light the fuse! by Stan Goff

People who thought they had clarity this time last year are confused again this year.

It’s not peoples’ fault they are confused about politics, when politics is the expression of class, gender, and imperial power. The entire apparatus of civil society bends toward the singular purpose of rendering these sources of social power either invisible or natural.

In either case, invisibility or naturalization puts these sources of power beyond our intervention.

Either there is no such thing as class power, or gendered power, or imperial power (because it is invisible), or those forms of power exist, but they are the result of the immutable laws of nature.

In extremis, those who hold that power will even accuse the subjugated of abusing them.

Back in my special operations life, we had the standard response tactic for embarrassing revelations: Admit nothing. Deny Everything. Make counter-accusations.

So it is entirely possible that nothing I am about to propose will make sense to enough people to make a difference. I don’t pretend that I, or anyone else proposing a politics of real resistance, is yet standing before an audience sufficiently traumatized by the depredations of this system to embrace the spirit of actual resistance.

People didn’t know any better in 2004, and there is no reason – aside from the fact that things have gotten considerably worse – that people know any better now. After all, churches, and schools, and advertisers, and the press, and the think-tanks, and the NGOs… they have been plucking away at our heads since birth in one manner or another, and nowadays with the most sophisticated brainwashing technologies in history.

Nonetheless, I am going to run this up the proverbial flagpole, and see if anyone salutes.

Here is my grimmest prediction for the coming year.

The Bush administration will continue to occupy Iraq, and perhaps even attempt to switch sides – trying to team up with Sunni factions to cut the throats of their former allies, whose pro-Iranian politics has put the neocons into a terrible bind. In any case, they haven’t the slightest intention of giving up their Iraq bases, which were the purpose of this war from the outset.

Democrats will – with precious few exceptions – equivocate and evade on Iraq and try to wrangle other Bush administration embarrassments into a 2006 election sweep.

But the Republicans have figured the Democrats out, and the Republicans have made up their minds to fight or a one-party state, and they will take everything the Democrats do and say and beat the living shit out of them with it – as the Democrats deserve. Chalk one for the Republicans for at least being decisive.

Kerry couldn’t attack Bush on the most important issue in the country, the war, because he supported the war. Now most of these mealy-mouthed dickheads are stuck with the REPUBLICAN INCOMPETENCE argument. Republicans are not fighting the war well enough… but these same dickheaded Dems are shitting screw worms right now because after they cheer-led the Arab-bashing, kill kill kill war hysteria at its apogee, they are left floundering in the Iraq war perigee three years later.

Let’s don’t talk about that bad war, they are thinking. Let’s make a lot of noise about Abramoff and Scooter Libby.

Democrats are also now silent in the face of Katrina’s aftermath – gosh, everything must be okay now – because they are as deeply in the pockets of the gentrifying developers as any white-nationalist Republican. The Democrats support free-trade agreements, the criminal injustice system, weapons contractors… you name it, they like it. Who do people think finance their political campaigns?

Oh, they will rail to the heavens about REPUBLICAN INCOMPETENCE around Katrina, then they’ll support the rich white fucks who roll in to gentrify New Orleans into a Disneyfied Negro Theme Park that actual Black folk can no longer afford to live in.

At any rate, my grim prediction continues…

Anti-war “progressives” will continue to identify this war with Bush and his cronies, and selectively ignore the fact of overwhelming Democratic complicity and cowardice on the war.

They will excoriate those of us who attack Democrats, and as the 2006 election draws nigh, they will excoriate us more and more. “Bloody splitters…” like a Monty Python skit.

These same feint-hearted clingers will mobilize among an increasingly apathetic and disheartened population that intuits the fixed-game. They will go to the polls in November and vote lesser-evil Democrat. And they will lose.

The Republicans will use every dirty trick in the book, use the redistricting that is already a fait accompli, as well as out-organize the Democrats, and at the end of 2006, we will be closer to a one-party state… the war will continue… people will continue to die… and these progressives will go back home, nurse their sanctimony, and sputter helplessly while they go back to being good, obedient imperial citizens.

It’s funny to me that these palpitating progressives will scoff at the stupidity of the 40% of the population that still believes Saddam had something to do with 9-11, when the evidence that Democrats (1) supported and still support the war, (2) refuse to deal with the war, (3) are spineless cowards in the face of Republican criminality, and (4) will get their asses handed to them again in 2006, is just as overwhelming.

There is a way to avoid this, of course, but it is a bold way, and perhaps a way for which we as a society are not yet prepared. Maybe the pain is not great enough yet.

Nonetheless, I’m going to hook it to that lanyard and run it up the pole, upside down perhaps, not merely a flag, but the universal distress signal. Because my prediction, should it come to pass, will make what is inevitably going to get worse… much worse.

Now here is the big caveat. What I am about to propose is crossing some lines that we can’t step back across. It’s a two-step solution.

Step One: Bury the corpse of the Democratic Party.
Step Two: Make a corpse of the Republican Party.

This requires some chutzpah, and many won’t be up for it. It means undermining the Democrats in 2006 over the question of the war.

There are two parties, and they are both parties of the rich. The rest of us at this point have ZERO political independence from the parties of the rich. Anyone who thinks they can reform the Democratic Party from the inside, call me. I have a time-share to sell you in Pyongyang. It’s been tried forever, and it has NEVER worked. That could be because it can’t work. A party of the rich is by definition… of the rich. The rich are rich because other people are poor. The rich stay rich by making other people poor. Then they hire us to “clean their rooms, drive their cabs, and suck their cocks,” as it was put in “Pretty Dirty Things.”

But there is a trick to this. Many people say if we let the Republicans have it all, they are very dangerous. And whether or not this cramps up facile leftists, it is also very, very true. Republicans are very dangerous. Republicans are white supremacists. They are misogynists, more so than most Democrats even. There are quite a few of them that would resurrect Mussolini given half a chance and put his ass in the White House.

So we have to commit to step two in order to have step one make any sense.

That’s why I say we are crossing the line.

Step two is to massively and openly delegitimate, disobey, and disrupt the Republicans. I’m not talking metaphorically here. It means rebellion. It means taking on the exciting but very scary task of creating and sustaining a political crisis, like the Bolivians just did, that threatens to cause a government to fall.

This is where the Greens and the Labor Party and the New Party and all these other non-starters went awry. They put the cart before the horse.

They tried to create an alternative before there was an open space for it. They wanted to talk people into coming to their itty-bitty house when everyone was already inside two great big houses. What has to be done is tear the two big houses down, and start building something else out of the leftover material.

Quit being so goddamned afraid of a couple of nights outside.

Like I said, I don’t know if enough people are up for this now.

They will be eventually, because what we are watching right now is the rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic. But some people love denial above all other things, because we are so afraid. Living stupid, alienated, well-fed, and entertained for a couple of generations will make you afraid.

Anyone my age or older remembers when we had a culture of resistance, no matter how unfocused. We flipped off authority, and we tried new shit, and we questioned everything. Our kids now are – with some very hopeful exceptions – such hopeless conformists that it makes me sad for them. There was a period when people reveled in the idea of tearing the master’s house down, even if we lived in it.

So pretty soon now, some of us old non-conformists, along with some new ones, are going to try one little thing.

We think it is immoral… deeply creepily disgustingly immoral, for politicians to dither around while people are being slaughtered in the war, or talking about incompetence in the Gulf States while they secretly support the gentrifying, land-grabbing pieces of rich shit who are perched around New Orleans like turkey vultures.

So we are going to do something.

Not much, and we don’t know if it will empower others to go the next step, that is, tell the same politicians who are allergic to any issue except their careers that they can go straight to hell, and we’ll fight the proto-fascists in the street.

We outnumber them and their cops about 10,000 to one.

Ain’t math marvelous?

Democrats, don’t you tell us wait. Because your house is not being bulldozed in New Orleans, and you have not been sent to war, and you are not waiting to see if an “exit strategy” turns up before your loved one is shipped through Dover in a flag-draped box.

Any Democrat who says we have to wait to leave Iraq until… whatever. Fuck you!

Did you get that? Fuck you! You put your sorry, pus-gutted ass on an airplane to Baghdad and take my son’s or someone else’s place while you figure out your “exit strategies.” And don’t tell me you are fighting Republicans for me. You haven’t done jack shit! I don’t need you to fight Republicans. I can withhold my taxes, or block the streets, or spit on them in their offices. I can slap the dog shit out of one Republican elected official and accomplish more against them than you have in your whole sorry fucking career.

That’s what some of us think. We ain’t waitin’ for Godot, and we ain’t waitin’ for you.

So we are going to try it, this one little thing, and see what happens.

And we are not inviting the whole world to come.

In fact, we are telling a lot of folks to stay home and do something locally.

This is our thing.

Remember the Fats Domino song, “Walkin’ to New Orleans”?

It’s time I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m going to need two pair of shoes
When I get through walkin’ to you
When I get back to New Orleans

I’ve got my suitcase in my hand
Now, ain’t that a shame
I’m leavin’ here today
Yes, I’m goin’ back home to stay
Yes, I’m walkin’ to New Orleans

You used to be my honey
Till you spent all my money
No use for you to cry
I’ll see you bye and bye
Cause I’m walkin’ to New Orleans

I’ve got no time for talkin’
I’ve got to keep on walkin’
New Orleans is my home
That’s the reason why I’m goin’
Yes, I’m walkin’ to New Orleans


I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m walkin’ to New Orleans

Well, members of Veterans’ for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Military Families Speak Out, at the call of the Mobile, Alabama Veterans for Peace Chapter, will conduct a 135-mile march between Mobile AL and New Orleans LA from March 14 to March 19, 2005.

The call will go out on MLK day, and paraphrase Dr. King’s observation that “every bomb dropped over Vietnam explodes in Harlem.”

“Every bomb dropped over Iraq explodes from Mobile to New Orleans.”

We are going to do exactly what a lot of politicians don’t want us to do: highlight the connections between the illegal and racist war of the United States government against Iraq and the criminal neglect and militarized racist occupation mentality of the same government in the preparation for and response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

We talked about the goals of the march, and of course you have to have those. In activist-speak, everyone has become corproate, so we have to have a “goals statement.” We talked about – using the lexicon of the day – building political solidarity in the form of personal relationships between antiwar veterans and military families, and the surviving members of communities affected by the Katrina-Rita disaster.

We talked about demonstrating through our actions the solidarity of this critical working class, multi-national section of the antiwar movement (veterans and military families) with the survivors of Katrina-Rita not simply as the acute victims of a “natural” disaster, but as predominantly African Americans who continue to suffer structural injustice in the United States.

We talked about spotlighting the similarities between the emphasis on population control instead of reconstruction in both the Gulf States and Iraq, and the white supremacist assumptions built into much public discourse about both. From Angola Penitentiary to Abu Ghraib, as it were.

We talked about spotlighting the cynical and anti-working-class social spending priorities that ignore the input and needs of survivors of the Katrina-Rita disaster in the development of plans for its aftermath, and the use of poor and working class youth to prosecute the wars of the rich abroad.

We talked about conducting a strategic national-regional action that does not immerse the voices of these two stakeholder constituencies (veterans/military families and mostly African American hurricane survivors) in the cacophony of larger national actions. The connections drawn by veterans and survivors – all veterans in a real sense – must be associated with these “veterans” and not with any national grouping within which they are only a fraction.

We talked about involving larger numbers of African Americans in the effort to halt the war in Iraq by connecting that struggle with the urgent concerns of African America and exercising reciprocity from this key section of the antiwar movement with African American communities in this region where the socially structured oppression and inequality was a crisis for African Americans before the hurricanes – and only brought marginally into public view by the dramatic scenes from the hurricanes.

They bulldoze homes n Palestine. Now they do it in New Orleans.

We talked about the importance and difficulty of teaching more white people in the anti-war movement the connections between the system that colonizes African America, that colonizes Palestine, and that attempts to colonize Iraq.

We talked about demands, like self-determination for Gulf Coast hurricane survivors and for Iraqis; like immediate, unilateral, and unconditional withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq; like proper care and full benefits for all veterans returning from the war, including Depleted Uranium testing and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment; like proper environmental clean-up of New Orleans and other affected areas without the mass displacement of residents; we talked about much much more.

But its what we are seeing in our mind’s eye that matters even more.

And we don’t see just “goals.” Soldiers have missions. I guess that makes us missionaries.

Walking down the highway shoulder are dozens of young veterans of the Iraq war, fatigue blouses fluttering, carrying their packs, walking most of the 25-miles per day, retracing the steps of many civil rights veterans through what some call the Black homeland from Mobile to New Orleans. They are accompanied by Vietnam Veterans, some walking, some of us aging beyond our long walk years, and along with other Veterans for Peace, rotating on and off of the accompanying VFP Impeachment buses. Prominent among them are the members of the Mobile, Alabama Chapter of VFP, who called for the action.

We envision a feat of arms… a marathon march of 135 miles, treading the breadth of the devastation, throwing their bodies – once put on the line… muscles, lungs, and feet… for imperial wars – into the road and the weather as a physical demonstration of solidarity with hurricane survivors and African Americans generally.

There will be no dilution of the veterans – veterans of the wars abroad (and the families ARE veterans) alongside Gulf Coast veterans of the war at home. No one will be able to say this is a march of “white northern liberals.” This march will have a distinct and authentic working class character; but it will not be a place where a dozen grouplets claiming to be that class’ vanguard compete to hawk their newspapers.

(If you want to do that, go to the rally in New Orleans on the 19th. If we see you on the road with us, we will get mad at you. I will. I get surly when I’m really tired.)

This is a veterans’ thing. Veterans of the wars at home and abroad.

Our identities as veterans – of war and disaster – will not be submerged in a mass of 300,000 people and bombarded by competing agendas.

At night, we stay in the homes of people who are parts of these communities, or we establish camps, reminiscent of the Bonus March camps, but mobile camps that pick up and move at dawn like a Justice Army driving into the heart of the Great Injustice.

By day, we tread down the road in an epic march, and at the end of each day, we rally, conduct press conferences, and build our new and powerful network with each other.

On the final day at mid-day, we arrive at a giant rally in New Orleans, where those voices that were silenced from the affected communities join those voices from military veterans and families to say that there is a twin injustice in the denial of self-determination to Iraqis and African Americans, and that this war and this disaster were only symptoms of the need for a larger struggle to remove the old power, root and branch, and replace them with popular power.

This is not a be-nice event. It is a be-real event.

There is a social explosion waiting to happen in the Big Easy. This march against war and injustice intends to light the fuse!

The fuse burns down Federal Highway 90, out of Mobile to Pascagoula to Ocean Springs to Biloxi to Gulfport to Pass Christian to Slidell to New Orleans.

The fuse burns through the recent Gallup poll showed that the majority of Americans now trust neither the president nor Congress, and this distrust goes across party lines.

The fuse burns through the generalizing sense of disillusion with conventional political practices, lobbying and voting, and places the politics of the war outside the obedient and contained electoral-legislative process.

The fuse burns through the neglect and abuse of the people whose lives were shattered by this storm and the government response is an ongoing, daily reality, especially in New Orleans; and so is the mounting collective anger and the sense that they themselves are the collateral damage of a colonial government, much like the people of Iraq.

The fuse burns through the long-standing mutual dependence between the Democratic Party and a whole layer of opportunistic Black politicians and relatively privileged professionals who perform a management function for the Democratic Party over the Black population as a whole.

(See the article at Black Commentator)

The fuse burns with the audacious heat of the great organizer Ella Baker, who called together radicalized students at Shaw University in Raleigh for a meeting that would found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which then went on to galvanize the Black masses of the South, and eventually the nation, with their audacious, out-of-the-box strategies during the world-historic struggle to dismantle legal Apartheid in the South – a region that remains, for numerous reasons, strategically pivotal for any social change movement.

That’s why the fuse starts in Mobile and ends in New Orleans.

This is more than a statement of strategic goals. This is a mission. This is a spiritual passage.

In March, the most fortunate among us will participate in the continuation of this same history by marching 135 miles in five days through the Gulf Coast of the United States – an area still so ravaged that residents refer to portions of it as Baghdad. We are going to comfort the afflicted, and we are going to afflict the comfortable, and we are going to show why there is a seamless connection between the slaughter in Iraq and the neglect and pillage of poor and Black people in the wake of a human, not natural, disaster.

We are going to demonstrate solidarity with a commitment of sinew and bone, with a trail of sweat, with a spiritual passage through the scene of an ongoing crime. We will walk through this domestic Baghdad, in defense of the people, truly in defense of the people this time, and with our actions we will expose the pretensions of superiority of the rich and powerful, and we will do it this time shorn of helmets and armor and shorn of weapons, naked of any defense.


When Operation Barbarosa was launched by Hitler’s armed forces against the Soviet Union, they were under orders to effect the annihilation of the Slavs. Ukrainians and Russians bore the brunt of this policy, as German units nailed peasants to their barns, shot them for sport, or burned them en masse alive in their homes.

24-year-old Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko was studying history at the Kiev University. She was a competitive sharpshooter in college, and she rushed to the recruiter after the initial attacks, requesting to join the infantry and carry a rifle. He wanted her to become nurse.

Lyuda refused to be contribute less than she had to offer in defense of her people. She signed up with the 25th Infantry Division. She became one of the 2,000 Soviet women snipers of which only about 500 survived the war. Equipped with a five-shot bolt-action rifle and a 4-power scope, she killed two German soldiers near Belyayevka, before she was sent to Odessa to confront an overwhelming German force.

In two-and-a-half months, Private Pavlichenko killed 187 Germans. During the Soviet withdrawal in the face of the German onslaught, she was wounded by mortar fire, while fighting at Sevastopol. In all, she would send 309 Aryans to Valhalla.

She would eventually be a school-teacher, but when she had to defend the people, 27 million of whom would be slaughtered by the enemy, she was there.


Jean Jacques Dessalines was born in 1758 a slave in St Domingue, now known as Haiti. He was the next General to Toussaint L’Ouverture – the first general of the slave rebels that would eventually win Haiti’s independence. Dessalines was unable to read or write and his body was scarred with strokes from the whip of his master. He ran away at about the age of 33 and joined the fight that started the French revolution.

He was known as the tiger and was said to be a born soldier. Many thought he excelled Toussaint L’Ouverture as a military genius. Yet Dessalines only learned to sign his name very late in his life. His fearlessness struck fear in the hearts of his enemies.

After Toussaint was captured, Dessalines went on to win the independence of the first Black nation by defeating the armed forces of the most revered general in the world – Napoleon Bonaparte. He had never internalized the sense that he was in any way inferior, and by his actions he not only won Haiti’s independence, he shattered the myth of white supremacy.


The Mungadai were an elite unit in the army of Genghis Khan. In addition to other unique characteristics, their mission was to attack the enemy well in advance of the Mongol army.

Legend has it that the Mungadai, though light in numbers and well forward of their main units, did not wear the armor helmets of the main Mongol armies. They shared with their fellow Mongol warriors an attitude of contempt for pain and death, but their reason for not wearing helmets was that it put them closer to God. God, you see, was all around them.


We are facing the most powerful enemy in history; the richest, the most narcissistic, the most lethal in terms of their sheer firepower… in possession of the most sophisticated propaganda apparatus ever known. And we will face resistance like Lyuda, we will face the internalized inferiority of our fellows like Dessalines, and we will go in smaller numbers and more naked in the face of our enemy than the Mungudai.

That’s because we are defending the people, when many don’t think they can defend themselves; because we know that our fear is the greatest weapon wielded by the powerful; and because we know this about the God that is all around us, the sum of all things, and that’s a lot:

I sought myself, and could not find myself.
I sought God, and could not find God.
I sought my fellow human being, and I found all three.

A revolutionary historian wrote once of soldiers – and we are all soldiers:

“Soldiers have a specific way of relating to the truth: it matters to them. It is a matter of life and death to them.

“So they judge people by a different standard of truth. And they judge politics differently. They are the first to know what kind of power comes from the barrel of a gun.

“That is why soldiers make good revolutionaries, and that is why revolutions always acquire their most turbulent force and active expression among the men and women of the armed forces, the workers in uniform.

“Soldiers are political scientists. No-one is more interested than they are, in what they are asked to die for. For this reason, no-one is closer to the heart of the people than soldiers are. When the people are rotten, soldiers cannot fight. When the people rise up, it is the soldiers who are always first to the front ranks.”

This march is our opportunity to draw nearer to the heart of the people, and why we must give this revolution its most turbulent force and active expression… why we must be first at the front ranks.

Love and rage.
Politics and poetry.

New Orleans is the bomb.

On to Mobile!

Light the fuse!

25 more victims of the War of Terror

In one week, two U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan have killed 25 people, mostly women and children, and, as far as we know, all of them entirely innocent. "Reports" say that Ayman al-Zawahiri "might" have been among the dead.

Let's say he was among the dead and the U.S. knew with absolute certainty that he was there at the precise moment the missiles were going to land (of course that's impossible, but let's assume it). How many innocent civilians is (are?) too many? Is knowingly (or deliberately "unknowingly") killing one innocent person acceptable if you can also kill a guilty person? How about five? Ten? 25? Hell, how about 100,000? And who gets the right to decide, and who gets the right to be that executioner? Is it just the U.S. government? Does the Cuban government have the right to launch a missile at the jail where Luis Posada Carriles, murderer of at least 74 people, is housed? [Incidentally, there's an excellent new video online, just six minutes long, well worth watching, on the case]

Did I hear someone say he's just an accused murderer, and retracted a confession he once gave to a New York Times reporter? That he's still awaiting trial in Venezuela, a trial which isn't going to happen if the U.S. has anything to do with it (and they do)? Funny, I don't recall Ayman al-Zawahiri ever being convicted in a U.S. court for anything either. But that didn't stop them from launching missiles and killing 25 people in an attempt to kill him.

How many is too many? Isn't "any" the answer to anyone except a terrorist?

Bolivia's Trial by Fire

After winning a landslide election victory on December 18th, Bolivian president-elect Evo Morales announced plans to nationalize the country’s gas reserves, rewrite the constitution in a popular assembly, redistribute land to poor farmers and change the rules of the U.S.-led war on drugs in Bolivia. If he follows through on such promises, he’ll face enormous pressure from the Bush administration, corporations and international lenders. If he chooses a more moderate path, Bolivia’s social movements are likely to organize the type of protests and strikes that have ousted two presidents in two years.

In the gas-rich Santa Cruz region, business elites are working toward seceding from the country to privatize the gas reserves. Meanwhile, U.S. troops stationed in neighboring Paraguay may be poised to intervene if the Andean country sways too far from Washington’s interests. For Bolivian social movements and the government, 2006 will be a trial by fire.

The Social Movements and the State

Among the presidential candidates that ran in the December election, Morales has the broadest ties to the country’s social movements. However, he has played limited roles in the popular uprisings of recent years. During the height of the gas war in 2003, when massive mobilizations were organized to demand the nationalization of the country’s gas reserves, Morales was attending meetings in Geneva on parliamentary politics. After the 2003 uprising ousted right-wing president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, Morales urged social movement leaders to accept then vice president Carlos Mesa as Sanchez de Lozada’s replacement. In June 2005, when another protest campaign demanding gas nationalization forced Mesa to resign, Morales helped direct the social movements into governmental channels, pushing for an interim president while new elections were organized.

Morales’ actions during these revolts were aimed at generating broad support among diverse sectors of society, including the middle class and those who didn’t fully support the tactics of protest groups. This strategy, combined with directing the momentum of social movements into the electoral realm, resulted in his landslide victory on December 18th.

In spite of Morales’ relative distance from social movements, his victory in a country where the political landscape has been shaped by such movements presents the possibility for massive social change. Once he assumes office, Morales has pledged to organize a Constituent Assembly of diverse social sectors to rewrite the country’s constitution. It is possible that this could allow for a powerful collaboration between social movements and the state.

Vice President-elect Alvaro Garcia Linera says such collaboration is possible. He contends that MAS, the Movement Toward Socialism party which he and Morales belong to, is not a party but rather "a coalition of flexible social movements that has expanded its actions to the electoral arena. There is no structure; it is a leader and movements, and there is nothing in between. This means that MAS must depend on mobilizations or on the temperament of the social movements."(1)

Oscar Olivera, a key leader in the revolt against Bechtel’s privatization of Cochabamba’s water in 2000, believes the relationship between social movements and the Morales administration will play a vital role in creating radical change in the country. Olivera participated in the December election because he felt that it was part of "a process of building strength so that in the next government…we can regain control of natural resources and end the monopoly that the political parties have over electoral politics…We are creating a movement, a nonpartisan social-political front that addresses the most vital needs of the people through a profound change in power relations, social relations, and the management of water, electricity, and garbage." (2)

To sustain their momentum and unity, an alliance between some of the most dynamic social groups was formed in early December 2005 in the first Congress of the National Front for the Defense of Water and Basic Human Services. This alliance includes the Water Coordinating Committee of Cochabamba, the Federation of Neighborhood Councils of El Alto, the Water and Drainage Cooperatives of Santa Cruz, as well as neighborhood organizations, cooperatives, irrigation farmers, and committees on electricity, water rights and other services from all over the country. In many cases, these autonomous groups have organized methods of providing citizens with basic services which the state fails to offer. Such a coalition of grassroots forces may pave the way for a nation-wide, alternative form of governance.

Tangling Over Coca

Morales plans to fully legalize the production of coca leaves and change the rules of the U.S.-led war on drugs in his country. White House officials are wary of any deviation from its anti-narcotics plan in Latin America; a strategy they claim has been successful. However, U.S. government statistics and reports from analysts in Bolivia tell a different story.

A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office explains that, "While the U.S. has poured 6 billion dollars into the drug war in the Andes over the past five years…the number of drug users in the U.S. has remained roughly constant."

In an interview on National Public Radio (NPR), Nicholas Burns, the State Department’s undersecretary for political affairs, said the Bush administration hopes "that the new government of Evo Morales in Bolivia does not change course, does not somehow assert that it’s fine to grow coca and fine to sell it."

Though it is a key ingredient in cocaine, coca has been used for centuries in the Andean region for medicinal purposes; it relieves hunger, sickness and fatigue. It’s also an ingredient in Coca-Cola, cough syrups, wines, chewing gum, and diet pills. The U.S. Embassy’s website for Bolivia suggests chewing coca leaves to alleviate altitude sickness.

"Trying to compare coca to cocaine is like trying to compare coffee beans to methamphetamines, there’s a universe of difference between the two," Sanho Tree from the Institute for Policy Studies explained on NPR. "We have to respect that indigenous cultures have used and continue to use coca in its traditional form, which is almost impossible to abuse in its natural state."

Georg Ann Potter worked from 1999 to 2002 as an advisor to Morales, and since then has been the main advisor to the Coordination of the Six Women Federations of the Chapare, the country’s biggest coca growing region. Potter explained that although Morales plans to continue a hard line approach against the drug trade, the current policies of the U.S. war on drugs need to change.

"One billion dollars has been spent [on alternative crop development] over the last 20 years and there is little to show for it," she said. "Forced eradication resulted in many dead, more wounded, armed forces thieving and raping."

It’s widely held among critics of Washington’s anti-narcotics agenda for Latin America that the U.S. government uses the war on drugs as an excuse for maintaining a military and political presence in the region.

A report from the Congressional Research Service stated that the U.S. war on drugs has had no effect on the price, purity and availability of cocaine in the U.S. Potter explained that even the U.S. government admits that "Bolivian cocaine, what there is of it, does not go to the U.S., but rather to Europe."

The Andean Information Network, a Bolivia-based NGO which monitors human rights issues in the U.S.-led war on drugs, recommends that "the U.S. should recognize studies that have determined that domestic education, prevention, and rehabilitation programs are more effective in altering drug consumption, and accordingly address the demand side of the war on drugs."

Between a Rock and Hard Place

In regard to the country’s gas reserves, the Morales administration could go in two directions. It could fully nationalize the gas reserves and face the wrath of multinational corporations and lending institutions that want exactly the opposite to happen. Or it could renegotiate contracts with gas corporations, and partially nationalize the industry. Choosing the latter option would likely generate massive protests and road blockades. Social movement leaders have stated that if Morales doesn’t fully nationalize the gas, the population will mobilize to hold the administration’s feet to the flames.

"We will nationalize the natural resources, gas and hydrocarbons," Morales explained. "We are not going to nationalize the assets of the multinationals. Any state has the right to use its natural resources. We must establish new contracts with the oil companies based on equilibrium. We are going to guarantee the returns on their investment and their profits, but not looting and stealing." (3)

Any move that Morales makes is likely to upset either corporate investors, social movements or both. Previous Bolivian presidents Carlos Mesa and Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada walked similar gauntlets and ended up being ousted from office by protests.

A secession movement in Santa Cruz, the wealthiest district in the country, also threatens Bolivia’s peace. An elite group of businessmen lead the movement to separate Santa Cruz from the rest of the country, which would allow for the full privatization of the gas industry regardless of what protest groups, and the federal government, demand. This group has been accused of maintaining militias organized to defend their autonomy.

Other methods of destabilization are already underway. Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the U.S. government has spent millions to support discredited right-wing political parties and stifle grassroots movements in Bolivia. Between 2002 and 2004, a grant from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED) allowed for the training of thirteen "emerging political leaders" from right-wing parties in Bolivia. These 25-to 35-year-old politicians were brought to Washington for seminars. Their party-strengthening projects in Bolivia were subsequently funded by the NED. (4)

US Troops in Paraguay

Outright U.S. military intervention in Bolivia is a possibility. An airbase in Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay is reportedly being utilized by hundreds of U.S. troops. The base, which was constructed by U.S. technicians in the 1980s under Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, is 200 kilometers from the border with Bolivia and is larger than the international airport in Paraguay’s capital. Analysts in the region believe these troops could be poised to intervene in Bolivia to suppress leftist movements and secure the country’s gas reserves. (5)

Estigarribia Airbase, Paraguay
Under U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's direction, the Pentagon has pushed for a number of small Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) based around Latin America. These military installations permit leapfrogging from one location to another across the continent. Such a strategy reflects an increased dependence on missiles and unmanned aircraft instead of soldiers. CSLs offer the opportunity for a small but potent presence in a country. Such outposts exist at Eloy Alfaro International Airport in Manta, Ecuador, Reina Beatrix International Airport in Aruba, Hato International Airport in nearby Curacao and at the international airport in Comalapa, El Salvador. Paraguay may already be home to the region’s next CSL. (6)

The U.S. Embassy in Paraguay contends that no plans for a military outpost are underway and that the military operations are based on humanitarian efforts. However, State Department reports do not mention any funding for humanitarian works in Paraguay. They do mention that funding for the Counterterrorism Fellowship Program in the country doubled in 2005. (7)

U.S. officials say the triple border area, where Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil meet, is a base for Islamic terrorist networks. Analysts in Latin America believe that the U.S. government is using the threat of terrorism as an excuse to secure natural resources in the region.

"The objectives of the U.S.A. in South America have always been to secure strategic material like oil in Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, tin mines in Bolivia, copper mines in Chile, and always to maintain lines of access open," Luiz Alberto Moniz Bandeira, a Brazilian political scientist at the Universidade de Brasilia, wrote in the Folha de São Paulo. (8)

Orlando Castillo, a Paraguayan human rights leader, said the goal of U.S. military operations in his country is to "debilitate the southern bloc...and destabilize the region’s governments, especially Evo Morales..." (9)

While grappling with these challenges, the Morales administration will have to answer to the millions of Bolivians who, in the December election, gave him the biggest mandate in the country’s history.

For centuries Bolivians have, in the words of Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, "suffered…the curse of their own wealth." The country’s tin, copper and silver were exploited by foreign companies that made enormous profits while Bolivia struggled on. For many Bolivians, the election of Morales offers the hope that history will stop repeating itself. As Galeano writes, "Recovery of the resources that have always been usurped is the recovery of our destiny."

Benjamin Dangl has traveled and worked as a journalist in Bolivia and Paraguay. He edits, uncovering activism and politics in Latin America and, a progressive perspective on world events. Email Ben(at)


1. Raul Zibechi, "Two Opposing Views of Social Change in Bolivia", IRC Americas, 12-14-05

2. Zibechi

3. Jorge Martin, "Bolivia after the election victory of the MAS - Morales cannot serve two masters", In Defense of Marxism, 10-1-05

4. Reed Lindsay, "Exporting Gas and Importing Demoracy in Bolivia", North American Congress on Latin America, 11-05

5. Benjamin Dangl, "U.S. Military in Paraguay Prepares To "Spread Democracy"", Upside Down World, 9-15-05

6. Sam Logan and Matthew Flynn, "U.S. Military Moves in Paraguay Rattle Regional Relations", IRC Americas, 12-14-05,

7. Dangl

8. Logan

9. Benjamin Dangl, "An Interview with Paraguayan Human Rights Activist Orlando Castillo", Upside Down World, 10-16-05

Photo Credits:

Bolivia Protest:

Paraguay Air Base Photo: Claudio Aliscioni, "Los marines de EE.UU. ponen un pie en Paraguay" Clarin, 9-11-05