Number 14 - October 17, 2002
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Four Eunuchs of War
History will render
its immutable judgment on U.S. Representatives Harold Ford, Jr., William
Jefferson, Albert Wynn and Sanford Bishop. These men are like the Sultan's
eunuchs, for whom submission is a trait of character; the mere presence
of Power dominates them, completely.
They bowed to George
Bush's declaration of permanent, unilateral war for no remotely defensible
reason. Their fear is self-generated, automatic.
and Wynn represent safe, solid Black-majority districts, dependably
anti-war and anti-Bush. Only Bishop's district is less than majority-Black,
although it is also considered safely Democratic.
Blacks as percentage
of district voting age population:
William Jefferson (LA) 61%
Harold Ford, Jr. (TN) 59%
Albert Wynn (MD) 58%
Sanford Bishop (GA) 45%
The rest of the
36 voting members of the Congressional Black Caucus defended Black America's
political legacy, voting No. Rep. Barbara Lee (CA) led half of her CBC
colleagues in support of her "alternative to war" resolution,
demonstrating once again that African Americans are the core of the
forces of peace and justice in the U.S.
Except for Ford,
Wynn, Jefferson and Bishop. Three of the four are all but invulnerable
to direct coercion by the White House. They have stained Black people's
Their betrayal at
this historic moment will be remembered as the true testament to their
The most dangerous
that Bush is trying to obscure the dark clouds that hang over the U.S.
economy. It's worse than that; the gloom is global. According to The
Observer, of London, "European markets have collapsed even further,
wiping out nearly half of the value of European corporations in this
year alone." Japan, it is clear, has no idea how to maintain the
structures built after World War Two, which lie in tatters, threatening
that nation's social order to its core.
economists are making comparisons with the Thirties, when a worldwide
boom went bust. Such talk is considered near-treason in the U.S., where
corporate economists directly tied to the machinations of the market
are the only voices deemed worthy of media coverage. Their mumbling
and/or silence on the "slump" with no end in sight is the
gloomiest signal of all.
does not favor Chicken Little stories about falling skies; economies
are what people kill for, and no one should relish the thought of global
However, it does
appear that the system may be running out of ways to export its contradictions.
The developing world can no longer be force-fed International Monetary
Fund arrangements that were intended to give Western capital opportunities
to reproduce itself in ever-multiplying quantities. Yet the game cannot
go on, except under these terms. Even normally compliant native elites
are regurgitating on the Old Order; it is killing them - the
immediate cause of the crisis that has flattened Argentina and threatens
every country in Latin America.
Africa, having never
been allowed to rise, provides no serious markets suitable to international
finance's purposes. And the Japanese engine has sputtered out of the
East Asian economies.
Those who look beyond
the minutia of current war-talk, to describe the international crisis
as a cutthroat brawl over mineral and oil resources, may not be looking
far enough. The truly yawning abyss appears to be a structural dilemma.
The house that capital built could pancake, surplus oil oozing
from crumbled schemes based on speculations that have simply run out
When Old Orders
unravel, it tends to happen quickly and without hope of repair. It may
be that American captains of capital, peering into the chasm with no
bottom, have become desperate enough to sweep the board clean and start
a new game - with guns to the heads of all the other players, making
up new rules along the way.
is another term for unintended consequences. No honest person doubts
that September 11 was "blowback" from the CIA's arming of
Muslim zealots in Afghanistan, beginning in the late Seventies under
Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter. Heroin's comeback on U.S. streets during
the same period was "blowback," as is the current heroin plague.
The ongoing cocaine epidemic is directly traceable to the CIA's Latin
American criminal enterprises.
The agency's mission
to destabilize the late Michael Manley's government in Jamaica, more
than two decades ago, is blowing back in murderous fashion on the streets
and roads of the island. At the time of this writing, nearly 50 people
had been murdered in the run-up to the October 16 elections. Although
the gunmen of the "garrison communities" of Kingston and other
cities do battle in Jamaica Labour Party green and People's National
Party orange, the warfare appears to more resemble Crips and Bloods
than Left vs. Right. Most observers view the current violence as an
extension of drug turf wars.
The CIA is widely
believed to have introduced large-scale urban warfare into Jamaican
politics in 1980 in its zeal to unseat Michael Manley, thought to be
too friendly with Fidel Castro. 844 people were killed in the last two
weeks of the campaign. The JLP's Edward Seaga (spelled "CIA-ga"
in graffiti of the time) achieved a bloody victory, as did the IMF.
The PNP has been
back in power for the last three governments and, with the election
expected to be close, Seaga's knock is going rat-tat-tat, again. Only
now, it is the drug trade, rather than the terms of relations between
nations, that is at issue. Politicized youth have become narco-gangsters.
And back again
Abandoning all pretense,
the U.S. has begun training a battalion of Colombian commandos for war
against leftist guerillas. Previously, U.S. Special Forces and contract
mercenaries operated under the fiction that they were helping the Colombian
army combat the drug trade - the last thing on the minds of both the
Americans and their clients in Bogota.
The Green Berets
have already trained a 2,000-member brigade for "anti-drug"
warfare, which is undoubtedly identical to anti-guerilla warfare. The
brigade's mission was to attack in areas where the poppy fields are
controlled by guerillas, who tax the peasants who grow the poppies that
are processed into cocaine by allies of the government who then ship
the stuff to the U.S.
are apparently confusing to the narcotics police, 78 of whom were busted
for stealing millions of dollars in U.S anti-drug money. The former
head of the anti-drug unit was among those indicted, along with 22 colonels
The rightwing guerillas
originally hired by rich ranchers (like the current president of Colombia's
family) to guard their cocaine operations from leftist incursion
have forgotten their mission, entirely. The mercenaries started using
and selling the crop, and have split into three factions, each quite
dangerous, one of which is charged with shipping 17 tons of cocaine
to the U.S.
The Bush people
have placed the rightwing mercenary group on a list of terrorist organizations.
However, thousands of the group's former (or present?) troops constitute
the government's only hold on large parts of the countryside. At least
until recently, they guarded sections of U.S. oil company pipelines,
now being handed over to freshly equipped army units.
The U.S sends Colombia
$2 billion in assorted aid each year. 500 tons of cocaine and 10 tons
of heroin flow in the other direction. Bigtime Blowback.
George Bush's inability
to articulate simple ideas may lead some observers to believe that the
failure is the President's, alone; that his collective administration
knows what its doing, even if the chief is fuzzy on most things. Not
Scared of germ warfare?
The administration and its allies on Capitol Hill want you to be, and
promise to end the danger by ending Saddam Hussein's life. Yet just
last month, the same U.S. government pulled the plug on years of negotiations
to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, the international apparatus
to eliminate germ warfare. Washington disagrees with, among other things,
inspections protocols - the U.S. wants to limit them. (Sound
familiar?) At U.S insistence, negotiations have been put off until 2006.
Among the most deadly
viruses is smallpox, which can be introduced in the air or in liquid
form. Bush health officials favor making smallpox vaccines available
to limited numbers of the public, but "only after some 10 million
health workers were immunized and a vaccine was licensed for general
use, possibly in 2004," according to the Washington Post.
A large chunk of
those health workers belong to unions, but nobody in the administration
is talking to their leaders. It is unthinkable that health care workers
in New York City hospitals, for example, would even consider being inoculated
without the input of their union leadership. Does that mean that the
Bush administration is not serious about a mass inoculation plan? Maybe.
More likely, they simply don't know what they are doing. (See our interview
with Henry Nicholas, President of the National Union of Hospital and
Health Care Employees, in this issue.)
The absolute fraudulence
of Bush's Homeland Security proposals is evident in the debate over
federal employee protections. Having resisted creation of anything resembling
a Homeland Security Department during the months immediately after September
11 - the Bush men called such proposals "bureaucratic" responses
- the administration suddenly shifted gears as corporate scandals and
intelligence failures hit the headlines. In a matter of weeks and to
much diversionary fanfare, the White House decided to pile 170,000 employees
into the new department, while keeping the FBI and the CIA outside
of the umbrella!
The net effect was
to threaten dislocation of a large portion of the federal bureaucracy,
leaving untouched the actual guarantors of security against foreign
attack. Then, the administration showed its real agenda: bust the unions.
Tens of thousands
of the Homeland Security Department's employees would lose many of their
Civil Service protections under the President's scheme. Naturally, the
unions resisted, allowing Bush to claim that Democrats are soft on national
security. As a result of Bush's aggressive stance, the department's
future was put in jeopardy. Actually, Bush never wanted it, anyway.
Such are the antics
of the world's sole superpower in time of war.
Get down to the
forces went to court to overturn her August defeat in an open Democratic
primary. "The issue is that black Democratic voters in the 4th
District had their voting rights interfered with and violated,"
said attorney J.M. Raffauf, who is suing the Georgia Secretary of State
and elections officials of DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. "Malicious
crossover voting occurs when one party invades another party's primary
to sabotage that party's choice of its own nominee for political office,"
the suit contends.
piled on the numbers and the Hard Right filled up the campaign coffers
of victorious Democratic Trojan Horse candidate Denise Majette; there
is no question of that. With Black "supermajority" congressional
districts soon to be a thing of the past, even substantial Black majorities
may be vulnerable to effective disenfranchisement in open primary states.
However, opponents of open primaries cannot count on the automatic support
of organized labor which, like most lobbying groups, values its ability
to deliver votes in both major party primaries. Some open primary systems
enhance labor's power to reward and punish Republicans and Democrats,
by concentrating the faithful during crucial contests.
These are among
the nuts and bolts of the U.S. electoral system, which sometimes weds
progressive forces to undemocratic mechanisms. Quick fixes, such as
transitory lower court decisions, seldom yield a lasting result when
entrenched interests are involved. We would pass along political scientist
Ron Walters' advice to Black politicians seeking to make their districts
safe for a progressive agenda: "They should have the sense to know
that they need good organizers and that cultivating their organization
is more important than many of the appearance-type responsibilities
they often adopt."
In other words,
Organize, organize, organize. There is no magic wand, incantation, statute,
or court ruling.
sea change sweeping the nation will drown those Black politicians who
do not begin at once to make common cause with the ever-arriving Hispanics.
The manner of their political incorporation into the United States will
have fundamental impacts on the future of African Americans. If Hispanics
join us in substantial numbers, we become more powerful; if they turn
elsewhere, we will be more isolated than ever, a smaller proportion
of the nation, and far weaker.
Black America begins
with an advantage that must not be squandered: the ability to guide
the newcomers through the twisting corridors that the non-privileged
must negotiate in their quest for power. Such assistance should be offered
as a friend and ally, and is no more of a gamble than the political
bets we routinely place with the descendants of slaveholders.
Recent numbers are
favorable. A poll released this month shows Hispanics are most concerned
about many of the same, core issues as African Americans. The Washington
Asked to name
the most important issues, 58 percent said education, 39 percent said
the economy, and 23 percent said health care and Medicare. Among Hispanic
immigrants, education was even more important, with 68 percent citing
education as their top issue, compared with 50 percent of native-born
According to the
poll, conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation,
55 percent of Hispanics are willing to pay more taxes for better government
call these kinds of responders "Government Hispanics," as
opposed to "Opportunity Hispanics": those who identify with
low tax, low service, GOP messages. The "Government Hispanics"
are in the strong majority, and tend to vote Democratic in congressional
elections, although they do not share Black antipathy to George Bush.
They will learn.
Black political leaders must be part of the process of Hispanic political
assimilation, especially in those jurisdictions in which the two groups
are thrown together. Narrow defense of the prerequisites of Black power
- no matter how hard-won - can lead to unnecessary rivalry with Hispanics
that will immediately be exploited by the well-financed, "Opportunity"
crowd. We could see the rise of more Latino Trojan Horses, before we
can corral our own.