We’ve let Osama bin Laden and the terrorists go free. Poor planning at Tora Bora let him go once, and subsequent lack of will and preoccupation with Iraq has allowed him to remain on the loose ever since. I don’t understand that, and it bothers me – a lot. The Bush administration created a case for invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein, and the entire case was made of hot air. Not a shred of truth to it.
Between 40,000 and 100,000 innocent civilians have dies needlessly in Iraq since our invasion. More Americans have died in Iraq – again, needlessly – than died on September 11, 2001.
We’ve antagonized the world – both our enemies and our allies – with belligerent rhetoric and actions. We’ve castigated traditional allies like Germany and France for failing to support a stupid, costly, and immoral invasion. We have marginalized moderate, progressive governments in Latin America for socially responsible economic policies.
We’ve empowered fundamentalists in our own country.
We have, for the first time in American history, countenanced torture.
Civil rights have taken a hit in the United States. Religious groups espousing pacifism have been the targets of government surveillance.
We have ignored all of the following, and much, much more:
The Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden reports that on average 9 minor armed conflicts (where the number of deaths does not exceed 1000 during the course of the conflict), 12 intermediate armed conflicts (where the number of deaths exceeds 1000, but is fewer than 1000 in any given year), and 13 wars (with more than 1000 deaths a year) go on at all times somewhere in the world.
In the year 2000, war took the lives of 168,000 Africans, 65,000 Asians, 39,000 "middle-easterners," 37,000 Europeans, and 2,000 Central and South Americans.
At the same time, American arms manufacturers profit from this death and destruction. Forty of the top one hundred arms-producing companies in the world are American companies with profits totaling $664 billion dollars in 1999. Over $93 billion of that profit comes from the manufacture and sale of weapons, more than the profit of the other 60 companies combined (US$64 billion).
Meanwhile, those in the less technologically developed world who are not dying in warfare are likely to be dying of disease or starvation. While the life expectancy of the average American was about 75 years in 2001, it was 65 for the Indonesian, 64 for the Russian, 45 for the Afghan, 39 for the Zambian, and 38 for the Rwandan and the Mozambiquan. While an American baby has 99.4% of survival after birth, the infant mortality rate is 2% for the Russian, 10% for the Ethiopian, almost 15% for the Afghan, and nearly 20% for the Angolan.
And while much of the "third world" believes that we care little for their welfare, many more question our motivations even less kindly. They believe we are more interested in exploiting their natural resources for our benefit, and exploiting them for their cheap labor.
Among the violations of the fair labor conventions of the International Labor Organization between 1996 and 2000, were many committed on behalf of American companies. Some examples:
- Factories in the Northern Mariana Islands (a US Commonwealth) that produce clothing for Abercrombie & Fitch, Cutter & Buck, Donna Karan, The GAP, J. Crew, Levi Strauss, Liz Claiborne, Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren Polo, Target, Dress Barn, and Tommy Hilfiger demand contracts of their workers which: waive basic human rights including the right to join a union; demand 12-hour workdays seven days-a-week; subject workers to "lockdowns" in the factory;
- Factories in China producing clothing and shoes for Adidas, Disney, Fila, Nike, Ralph Lauren, and Reebok employ forced labor in prison camps; demand of their employees 12-16 hour workdays, seven days-a-week; employ child labor; demand forced overtime; and Chinese workers for Nestle have been subjected to electric shock to maintain productivity.
- Factories in Indonesia manufacturing clothing and shoes for Adidas, the GAP, and Nike subject workers to forced overtime at a poverty wage.
- Factories in El Salvador producing clothing and shoes for Adidas, Ann Taylor, the GAP, Liz Claiborne and Nike pay their female employees about US$30/week for a 60-80 hour week; subject their female workers to forced pregnancy tests; fire their female workers if they become pregnant; and force some employees to work overtime without pay, up to 11 hours a day.
- Factories in Haiti producing clothing and toys for the Walt Disney Company pay their workers an average of US$2.40 per day, and charge them for transportation ($.66/day), breakfast (cornmeal and fruit juice--$.53/day), and lunch (rice and beans--$.66/day).
- Factories in Russia producing clothing for the GAP pay their employees US$.11/hour.
If terrorism is evil-and it is-this is terror's recruiting station.
I will pray today for the United States of America.