Monday, September 06, 2004
Another Flashback Labor Day Weekend special in a moment, but first, a Node of Evil MUST READ: In the current issue of Harper's Magazine, Naomi Klein's piece entitled Baghdad Year Zero highlights the downfall of the administration's Iraqi reconstruction pipe dream. Their website doesn't allow for online reading of articles, but this one's definitely worth checking out. A teaser:
... Bremer unveiled the centerpiece of his reforms. Before the invasion, Iraq's non-oil-related economy had been dominated by 200 state-owned companies which produced everything from cement to paper to washing machines. In June, Bremer flew to an economic summit in Jordan and announces that these firms would be privatized immediately. "Getting inefficient state enterprises into private hands," he said, "is essential for Iraq's economic recovery." It would be the largest state liquidation sale since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Of course, things didn't turn out quite the way the Neo-cons imagined, barrier after barrier got in the way, from the easily identifiable already in place (International laws prohibiting acts like Bremer's) to those that should have been forseen (the "resistance" by Iraqi's to having their jobs privatized and likely lost.) The end result of course is the quagmire that we currently have. Please, particularly if you are in the "the administration had no plan for post war Iraq, and that is why it's falied" camp, read this article. The truth is the administration had a plan, a terribly ill-conceived idealistic plan that was bound to fail and create bitter resentment against Americans for years afterwards.
Alright, back to our labor-day flashback weekend. The date: December 20, 1989, the place: Panama, the Operation: Just Cause. Yeah you remember it, AC/DC blaring at full blast all through the night as we topple a ruthless freedom hating dictator (never mind that we were the ones to bring him to power in the first place) Manuel Noriega had gone haywire and we had to get him out to protect the most important strip of land that side of Vegas. George H.W. Bush sends in a new breed of military known as PSYOPS to fight a new breed of bloodless war. Unlike the current battle and countless other wrecks of US foreign policy, the United States has had little ambition in Panama besides the security of that all important canal. The result thus far? Well thanks to google, let's give a little timeline:
1992 "We have problems with water.., we have problems with schools, we have problems with hospitals and that cannot be fixed in two and a half years."
1994 Presidential and legislative elections are held, Panama adopts a money laundering law and American rich people are forced to go to the Caymans for their tax-shelters. The gap between rich and poor widens, but despite this, Panama continues to rebound thanks in large part to the autonomy allowed the country by the Clinton administration. Unlike Iraq, where American multinationals tried to control the transition, the state is left largely to determine its own destiny.
1995 The link is to the Interhemispheric Resource Center, and their review of the six years of reconstruction. Note the figures in the box, (50 percent of Panamanians in poverty, 18 percent unemployment.) The Clinton policies are moving slowly if at all, still Panama remains relatively stable.
1997 According to the Heritage foundation, the Clinton administration had missed a lot of opportunities in Latin America, most of his failures as far as I can tell involved getting Congress to approve various things like NAFTA fast track approval and getting Castro out of Cuba. Of course, the conservative backed foundation for some reason doesn't seem inclined to point to the Republican Congress's unwillingness as the main problem as Clinton really had pursued many of those steps. While holding my breath and waiting for them to do a similar piece about how George W. has failed more dramatically in nearly every category mentioned here (except for the fast track, which Congress suddenly thought was okay for a GOP President.) I take note that in 1997, rich Americans' biggest interest in Panama was the construction of military bases.
1999: unemployment drops to 11.8 percent, poverty levels of 40.5 percent, 90 percent have access to safe drinking water. Slow but steady progress, despite this, opposition conservatives are elected in nationwide elections.
2000 George Tenet and the CIA hatch yet another anti-Castro scheme, this one involving an assassination attempt while he's in Panama. It fails, the trigger-men are arrested, convicted and sentenced to eight years. Venezuela demands exradition.
2002 16% unemployment, the gap between rich and poor widens, the conservative agenda flags under the weight of the global recession.
2004 Forty percent of Panamanians live in poverty, fourteen and a half percent are unemployed (it seems high, but actually that's roughly equal to most American urban cores, although the Panamanian underemployment rate is much much higher) and a new socialist leaning President and son of Panama's pre-Noriega dictator has just been sworn in. According to our own Secretary of State, Torrijos has a "dynamic" plan for Panama's future including closer ties to Cuba. Funny how in Venezuela (the largest oil reserve in the Americas) this sort of behavior is seen as corrupt and degenerate, while in Panama, it is seemingly lauded. So long as the canal stays open and people don't pay attention to America's failed policies, it's all good. Just before the turnover, the outgoing president Mireya Moscoso pardons the four Castro plotters creating an interesting rift at a time when ideologically speaking, the three important Meso-American countries are coming closer than they have been in a long time.
Speaking of all good, Noriega has become a devout baptist in his time in American prisons. Yes, Operation: Just Cause, where if we can save one corrupt dictator's soul, a country's entire prosperity for decades to come is worth sacrificing. Now if only Saddam Hussein could be born again, and then Operation: Iraqi Freedom might also be deemed a rousing success.
Bran 5:23 AM : |
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