December 16, 2002
For me, the year 2002 was much like any other. Capital continued its
aggressive push for profits both at home and abroad, trampling over the
needs of people. My job requires frequent travel, and this year I spent
several months working in Philadelphia. During my daily commute to work
in Philadelphia, I heard reports about the battle over local schools on my
car radio. The school board had decided to privatize its elementary
schools and the result had been a disaster for quality of education. I
was struck by one report in which angry parents appeared at a school board
meeting to voice their grievances, but were told by the board that they
had no right to speak. The private firm that had taken over the schools
cut costs at the expense of students while stuffing its pockets with
taxpayers' money. Similar battles are taking place in other cities, and I
believe this will be a growing trend. The drive for privatization was not
limited to education. Recently President Bush announced his plan to
contract out up to half the Federal work force. This is not a new
development, as the contracting out of Federal functions has been an
ongoing process for the last several years. What it does indicate, though,
is a sharp escalation in the process, and private firms are salivating
over the prospects of the potential bonanza at the expense of the American
people. As always, the drive for profits was particularly merciless
abroad. Yugoslavia, no longer independent, is being driven into the same
desperation and exploitation visited upon the rest of Eastern Europe.
Already the gigantic Zastava manufacturing firm has been sold and tens of
thousands workers dismissed. Factories and firms throughout
Yugoslavia have been sold to Western investors at a fraction of their
value, while workers are tossed out of their jobs. In Zimbabwe, the U.S.
uses food as a weapon, attempting to seize control of food distribution
from the Grain Marketing Board and force the privatization of that
important sector of the economy.
As in every other year, militarism is an ever-present bane. A more aggressive imperialism is being employed throughout the world while the home population is largely complacent and indifferent. There is no end in sight for ongoing military occupations of newly colonized regions and states, while threats and pressure have become the modus operandi of Western diplomacy. International organizations such as the United Nations have degenerated into nothing more than a tool of Western policy. As always, the worst scourge of them all was war. U.S. bombs continued to kill Afghan civilians, while Israel resorted to force of arms to repress Palestinian dreams for a nation of their own. President Bush's unseemly drive to wage a war of aggression against Iraq was remarkable both for its utter brazenness and lack of morality, as well for the lack of real debate on the issue in the media. President Bush will surely have his war. U.S. oil is waiting in the wings, and no matter how many thousands of Iraqi civilians are killed, it will be a matter of indifference amid the celebratory trumpeting in the media and the promise of enormous profits for Western investors. Even before the invasion of Iraq has begun, the Bush Administration is already lining up its next victim. A phony story was concocted about a North Korean admission of a nuclear weapons program, seemingly unaffected by the fact that no North Korean official made such a statement. Already the Bush Administration has employed the phony "admission" as an excuse to violate the terms of the 1994 agreement with North Korea, a treaty for which the Bush Administration never hid its disdain. Once Iraq has been dealt with, the groundwork will have been laid for military threats to be employed against North Korea. Meanwhile the North Korean people, suffering through yet another drought, have seen the U.S. cut its food aid and pressure other nations to do the same.
The year 2002 has seen one change. The Western peace movement, which slumbered throughout the war against Yugoslavia and in some cases actually cheered U.S. aggression, has awoken. The hard work and dedication of anti-war activist organizations has met with a certain resonance, producing impressively large demonstrations and movements. This may be the year's only real change, but its importance cannot be underestimated.
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Gregory Elich has published dozens of articles on the Balkans and East Asia in the US, Canada and Europe, in such publications as Covert Action Quarterly, Politika, Der Junge Welt, Dagbladet Arbejderen, Science&Society, Swans, and other publications. His research findings on CIA intervention in Yugoslavia was the subject of articles in newspapers in Germany, Norway and Italy, including Il Manifesto. He has been involved in peace activities since the Vietnam War, and was coordinator of the Committee for Peace in Yugoslavia. He was a member of a US delegation visiting Yugoslavia after the NATO war, and a member of the Margarita Papendreou delegation, the first to fly on a Western national airline to Baghdad in challenge to the sanctions. He spoke at the International Action Center's opening session of their Commission of Inquiry into NATO War Crimes on July 31, 1999 and again as a witness at the final session of the Commission on June 10, 2000. He has a chapter in the International Action Center's anthology 'NATO in the Balkans.' His slide presentation on the NATO war has been shown in several cities throughout the Midwest [cf. Geoff Berne's War Against Women and Other Civilians in Yugoslavia: Terror Keyed Triumph of the New Colonialism (January 2001) as well as America in Yugoslavia: Peephole into a Hidden Empire (May 2001)]. Finally, Elich is a member of the collective that wrote the recently published book "Hidden Agenda, U.S./NATO Takeover Of Yugoslavia" which can be purchased on line at leftbooks.com.
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This Week's Internal Links
A Fading Vision Of The USA - by Philip Greenspan
2002 Has Been A Grim Year - by Edward S. Herman
And So Goes 2002. . . . - by Milo Clark
Sinking In, Sinking, Then Ascension - by Eli Beckerman
A Case For The Defense - by Aleksandra Priestfield
Whadda Mess - by Michael Stowell
2002: Still Hope For The Future - by Jan Baughman
Reclaim The Dream - by Alma Hromic
If You're Happy And You Know It, Bomb Iraq - by Deck Deckert
A Pivotal Year? - by Gilles d'Aymery
Café Espresso - Poem by Sandy Lulay
Empty-Handed Women - Poem by Sabina C. Becker
Letters to the Editor
Gregory Elich on Swans
Screams And Cries: Prison Camp Lora and the Trial of the Lora 8 (December 2002)
Zimbabwe Under Siege (August 2002)
SCENES OF WAR, A Glimpse Behind The Curtain Of Silence (April 2002)
A Flight Against The Iraqi Blockade (March 2001)
Bringing Democracy to Bosnia-Herzegovina (August 2000)