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[casi] Requiem for corrupt world leaders...

and a requiem for hope

Dear List,

Perhaps there is a path to the better, if you take
a full look at the worst, as Hardy suggested. And
the worst, it seems, is total political corruption
worldwide: no integrity, no will, no courage.

A few casual news items, which you may already
know, brought this home to me.

What hope is there in the struggle against the
criminal excesses of Bush & Co, if the so-called
world leaders keep applauding them. Why shouldn't
Bush thumb his nose at this spineless lot... at
the UN, international law, and treaties. He knows
he can merrily go on doing more of the same - only
to be applauded again.

True, these toadies have sagging economies, rising
unemployment, and other problems to consider. But
the criminal superpower they are pandering to
suffers from the same ills. They must be willing
to join the crushing hegemon in its neolib
crusade - picking up the crumbs.

Naturally, the hegemon is only looking out for
number one. So a little moral backbone might
serve the vassals as self-preservation.

King of the pandering toadies is undoubtedly
Chancellor Schroeder. He is the man who took a
firm stand against the war on Iraq - officially,
that is. He nevertheless provided the US with
German airspace, protection for US army facilities,
etc. Still, he did take a stand, and was hailed a
'true statesman'. Schroeder and Chirac were right,
said beleaguered peace activists this side of the
pond. In Germany they were more cynical.

It was to be expected that Schroeder and his US
chums would make up - sooner, rather than later.
But in doing so, Schroeder cast off the very
principle he supposedly stood for: that the war
was illegal and must be opposed. Now, of course,
the situation has changed: big reconstruction
contracts go begging and the German industry wants
to get in on the act. So moral principles are no
longer of any use.

Schroeder now wants to ease tensions in German-US
relations. At the 100th anniversary of the
German-American Chamber of Commerce, he assured
the US of Germany's undying friendship and
commitment to NATO. That's the stuff Condoleezza
likes to see: she had accused France and Germany
of taking NATO "hostage" over Iraq. - What a grain
of Rice can do!

As to his actual opposition to the war, "differences"
was Schroeder's euphemism - outweighed by "common
values". And he pleaded for understanding for these
"different views". They stemmed from Germany's past,
which has instilled a great "weariness of military
force". That he opposed the war because it was
illegal must have slipped his mind. Now it's this
unfortunate pacifist tendency - for which the US
must forgive Germany. No words of criticism about
the invasion. Instead, Schroeder emphasized again
the "vital" friendship between the US and Germany.

A meeting is soon to take place, where Schroeder
may convey his inspiring new attitude to Bush.
No doubt, he will be forgiven.

While Schroeder at least ate his humble pie of
his own free will, it was forced down Erdogan's
throat by Wolfowitz.

This intrepid neocon wants Turkey to change its
attitude: "Let's have a Turkey that steps up and
says, 'We made a mistake, we should have known how
bad things were in Iraq, but we know now. Let's
figure out how we can be as helpful as possible to
the Americans,'" Wolfowitz dictated. "I'd like to
see a different sort of attitude than I have yet
detected." - In the neocon's dreams sovereign
states are doomed, of course. It's going to be
one big superstate - and one attitude.

And in a fine display of solidarity, the willing
and the erstwhile unwilling are now clamouring
to send 'peacekeeping forces' to Iraq to police
the illegal occupation by their US master - at
the UN's request. Denmark, Poland, and Germany
are holding joint meetings on this.

To reward Uncle Sam's unstinting efforts in
'liberating' the world, a Nobel War Prize will
have to be instituted. But for the time being,
the Nobel Peace Prize will have to do: War is

According to the provisions of Nobel, the winner
of the Nobel Peace Prize "shall have done the most
or the best work for fraternity between nations,
for the abolition or reduction of standing armies
and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

Sounds like Bush and Blair. At least that's what
Parliamentarians of the Norwegian right-wing
Party of Progress think.

In 2002, Harald Tom Nesvik nominated Bush and
Blair for the Nobel Peace Prize. This was to be
for their "decisive action" against terrorism.
By "decisive action", Nesvik meant the slaughter
in Afghanistan.

And again, a Norwegian right-winger pipes up for
Bush and Blair: Jan Simonsen has nominated this
criminal pair for the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
(It was too late for 2003.)

Why Bush and Blair?

For "daring" to defy the UN - in illegally destroying,
invading, and occupying Iraq. "This war has saved
countless lives", explains Simonsen. Otherwise
Saddam Hussein might have developed atomic weapons
which could have led to a "catastrophe", he said.

These are sentiments by by right-wing extremists.
But you may remember that Kofi Annan actually
received the Nobel Peace Prize while an illegal
war hailed cruise missiles on Afghanistan,
thoughtfully inscribed "NYDP".

Now what about hope?

I started by saying there is no hope - it's dead.
And that's how I felt. But already I feel better.
Something Arundhati Roy once said came to mind:
"Remember this: We be many and they be few. They
need us more than we need them." It's from a speech
she gave in Porto Alegre, January 28, 2003. She
closed with this:

     "Another world is not only possible, she is on
     her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."

I don't want to see a world superstate. I want to see
different cultures and languages flourish. And I want
to see Anisa, Maysam, Nihal and all Iraqis live in
an Iraq of their making - where children don't need
to be afraid of bombs. No children anywhere should
have to be terrorized by war. So I am attaching
Roy's speech. You may have read it, but still...


-------------Start Fwd-------------

Confronting Empire
by Arundhati Roy; January 28, 2003

I've been asked to speak about "How to confront Empire?"
Its a huge question, and I have no easy answers.

When we speak of confronting "Empire," we need to
identify what "Empire" means. Does it mean the U.S.
Government (and its European satellites), the World
Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade
Organization, and multinational corporations? Or is it
something more than that?

In many countries, Empire has sprouted other subsidiary
heads, some dangerous byproducts nationalism, religious
bigotry, fascism and, of course terrorism. All these
march arm in arm with the project of corporate

Let me illustrate what I mean. India the worlds biggest
democracy is currently at the forefront of the corporate
globalization project. Its "market" of one billion
people is being prized open by the WTO. Corporatization
and Privatization are being welcomed by the Government
and the Indian elite.

It is not a coincidence that the Prime Minister, the
Home Minister, the Disinvestment Minister the men who
signed the deal with Enron in India, the men who are
selling the countrys infrastructure to corporate
multinationals, the men who want to privatize water,
electricity, oil, coal, steel, health, education and
telecommunication are all members or admirers of the
RSS. The RSS is a right wing, ultra-nationalist Hindu
guild which has openly admired Hitler and his methods.

The dismantling of democracy is proceeding with the
speed and efficiency of a Structural Adjustment Program.
While the project of corporate globalization rips
through peoples lives in India, massive privatization,
and labor "reforms" are pushing people off their land
and out of their jobs. Hundreds of impoverished farmers
are committing suicide by consuming pesticide. Reports
of starvation deaths are coming in from all over the

While the elite journeys to its imaginary destination
somewhere near the top of the world, the dispossessed
are spiraling downwards into crime and chaos. This
climate of frustration and national disillusionment is
the perfect breeding ground, history tells us, for

The two arms of the Indian Government have evolved the
perfect pincer action. While one arm is busy selling
India off in chunks, the other, to divert attention, is
orchestrating a howling, baying chorus of Hindu
nationalism and religious fascism. It is conducting
nuclear tests, rewriting history books, burning
churches, and demolishing mosques. Censorship,
surveillance, the suspension of civil liberties and
human rights, the definition of who is an Indian citizen
and who is not, particularly with regard to religious
minorities, is becoming common practice now.

Last March, in the state of Gujarat, two thousand
Muslims were butchered in a State-sponsored pogrom.
Muslim women were specially targeted. They were
stripped, and gang-raped, before being burned alive.
Arsonists burned and looted shops, homes, textiles
mills, and mosques.

More than a hundred and fifty thousand Muslims have been
driven from their homes. The economic base of the Muslim
community has been devastated.

While Gujarat burned, the Indian Prime Minister was on
MTV promoting his new poems. In January this year, the
Government that orchestrated the killing was voted back
into office with a comfortable majority. Nobody has been
punished for the genocide. Narendra Modi, architect of
the pogrom, proud member of the RSS, has embarked on his
second term as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. If he were
Saddam Hussein, of course each atrocity would have been
on CNN. But since hes not and since the Indian "market"
is open to global investors the massacre is not even an
embarrassing inconvenience.

There are more than one hundred million Muslims in
India. A time bomb is ticking in our ancient land.

All this to say that it is a myth that the free market
breaks down national barriers. The free market does not
threaten national sovereignty, it undermines democracy.

As the disparity between the rich and the poor grows,
the fight to corner resources is intensifying. To push
through their "sweetheart deals," to corporatize the
crops we grow, the water we drink, the air we breathe,
and the dreams we dream, corporate globalization needs
an international confederation of loyal, corrupt,
authoritarian governments in poorer countries to push
through unpopular reforms and quell the mutinies.

Corporate Globalization or shall we call it by its name?
Imperialism needs a press that pretends to be free. It
needs courts that pretend to dispense justice.

Meanwhile, the countries of the North harden their
borders and stockpile weapons of mass destruction. After
all they have to make sure that its only money, goods,
patents and services that are globalized. Not the free
movement of people. Not a respect for human rights. Not
international treaties on racial discrimination or
chemical and nuclear weapons or greenhouse gas emissions
or climate change, or god forbid justice.

So this all this is "empire." This loyal confederation,
this obscene accumulation of power, this greatly
increased distance between those who make the decisions
and those who have to suffer them.

Our fight, our goal, our vision of Another World must be
to eliminate that distance.

So how do we resist "Empire"?

The good news is that were not doing too badly. There
have been major victories. Here in Latin America you
have had so many in Bolivia, you have Cochabamba. In
Peru, there was the uprising in Arequipa, In Venezuela,
President Hugo Chavez is holding on, despite the U.S.
governments best efforts.

And the worlds gaze is on the people of Argentina, who
are trying to refashion a country from the ashes of the
havoc wrought by the IMF.

In India the movement against corporate globalization is
gathering momentum and is poised to become the only real
political force to counter religious fascism.

As for corporate globalizations glittering ambassadors
Enron, Bechtel, WorldCom, Arthur Anderson where were
they last year, and where are they now?

And of course here in Brazil we must ask who was the
president last year, and who is it now?

Still many of us have dark moments of hopelessness and
despair. We know that under the spreading canopy of the
War Against Terrorism, the men in suits are hard at

While bombs rain down on us, and cruise missiles skid
across the skies, we know that contracts are being
signed, patents are being registered, oil pipelines are
being laid, natural resources are being plundered, water
is being privatized, and George Bush is planning to go
to war against Iraq.

If we look at this conflict as a straightforward eye-
ball to eye-ball confrontation between "Empire" and
those of us who are resisting it, it might seem that we
are losing.

But there is another way of looking at it. We, all of us
gathered here, have, each in our own way, laid siege to

We may not have stopped it in its tracks yet but we have
stripped it down. We have made it drop its mask. We have
forced it into the open. It now stands before us on the
worlds stage in all its brutish, iniquitous nakedness.

Empire may well go to war, but its out in the open now
too ugly to behold its own reflection. Too ugly even to
rally its own people. It wont be long before the
majority of American people become our allies.

Only a few days ago in Washington, a quarter of a
million people marched against the war on Iraq. Each
month, the protest is gathering momentum.

Before September 11th 2001 America had a secret history.
Secret especially from its own people. But now Americas
secrets are history, and its history is public
knowledge. Its street talk.

Today, we know that every argument that is being used to
escalate the war against Iraq is a lie. The most
ludicrous of them being the U.S. Governments deep
commitment to bring democracy to Iraq.

Killing people to save them from dictatorship or
ideological corruption is, of course, an old U.S.
government sport. Here in Latin America, you know that
better than most.

Nobody doubts that Saddam Hussein is a ruthless
dictator, a murderer (whose worst excesses were
supported by the governments of the United States and
Great Britain). Theres no doubt that Iraqis would be
better off without him.

But, then, the whole world would be better off without a
certain Mr. Bush. In fact, he is far more dangerous than
Saddam Hussein.

So, should we bomb Bush out of the White House?

Its more than clear that Bush is determined to go to war
against Iraq, regardless of the facts and regardless of
international public opinion.

In its recruitment drive for allies, The United States
is prepared to invent facts.

The charade with weapons inspectors is the U.S.
governments offensive, insulting concession to some
twisted form of international etiquette. Its like
leaving the "doggie door" open for last minute "allies"
or maybe the United Nations to crawl through.

But for all intents and purposes, the New War against
Iraq has begun.

What can we do?

We can hone our memory, we can learn from our history.
We can continue to build public opinion until it becomes
a deafening roar.

We can turn the war on Iraq into a fishbowl of the U.S.
governments excesses.

We can expose George Bush and Tony Blair and their
allies for the cowardly baby killers, water poisoners,
and pusillanimous long-distance bombers that they are.

We can re-invent civil disobedience in a million
different ways. In other words, we can come up with a
million ways of becoming a collective pain in the ass.

When George Bush says "youre either with us, or you are
with the terrorists" we can say "No thank you." We can
let him know that the people of the world do not need to
choose between a Malevolent Mickey Mouse and the Mad

Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but
to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame
it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature,
our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer
relentlessness and our ability to tell our own stories.
Stories that are different from the ones were being
brainwashed to believe.

The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to
buy what they are selling their ideas, their version of
history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of

Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us
more than we need them.

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

Arundhati Roy
Porto Alegre, Brazil
January 27, 2003

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