Monday, December 03, 2007

World of Terror, SIDR and the US 'Help'

ANU MUHAMMAD

"We levelled it. There was nobody left, just dirt and dust."
- US General in an occupied land after destruction of three villages, 2002

THE world has entered into a permanent system of war, militarization, destruction and dehumanisation. After Second World War, for different reasons, the US has emerged as the centre of this global system. The survival of the US as a super power, expansion of its hegemony and the function of global capitalism now mostly depend upon war machine and militarism. That gives birth to a new phase of imperialism and becomes a threat not only people and nations in the periphery but for whole human civilization.

In fact, global military and business tyrants led by the US terrorist power now occupy our world. As a result of this irrational barbarian system, deprivation and insecurity has been increased with growing resources. While global defence budget crossed US $900 billion, share of the US is more than half, only US$10 billion is needed to solve drinking water problem for whole global population. While official development 'aid' figures to less than US $60 billion for the third world countries, their debt service raised to nearly US$500 billion. Five hundred million people were going hungry every night 25 years ago, today more than 800 million are going hungry while 125 million children are underweight and 325 million children do not attend school. Moreover, 32 thousand children, 10 times more than the people died in twin tower attack, die every day in the third world of curable illness; 2 million girls are forced in prostitution every year.

The countries representing the centre of this system have 20 per cent of global population, control 83 per cent of the world's income, use 70 per cent of its energy, 75 per cent of its metals, 85 per cent of its wood and 60 per cent of its food. These countries contribute 75 per cent of global pollution that raises global warming, changes global climate and makes the nature erratic. Suffering befalls the people who are not responsible for that. Cyclone and tidal bore like Sidr that hit Bangladesh on the November 15 night was an expression of that. People in coastal area in Bangladesh have become a victim of tyranny of this global and local system that, in favour of profit, is hostile to nature and people.

World without Imperialism, World without Occupation
Although Bangladesh did not ask for it, US Navy war ships, USS Essex and USS Kearsarge, started moving towards Bangladesh immediately after Sidr hit the Bangladesh coast with devastating affects, killing more than 3 thousand people, hundreds of thousands of cattles and other animals, destroyed crops, forests and houses. USS Kearsarge arrived Bangladesh water 'to help' these cyclone affected people in the early morning on November 24. These ships, each carry 20 or more helicopters. The US Department of Defence is supervising their activities. According to their version of the story, US embassy in Bangladesh asked for their help.

Report on November 25 says, ` The 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of aviation combat element, a Marine medium helicopter squadron, ground combat element, battalion landing team, 3rd battalion, 8th Marine regiment, logistics combat element and Combat Logistics Battalion 22. Elements of the unit remain afloat on USS Gunston Hall and USS Ponce in US central command's area of responsibility. The unit is on a scheduled six-month deployment'.

On November 21, when the ships were on the move towards Bangladesh, Mainul Hosein the law and information adviser of the interim government 'dismissed any ulterior motive behind the United States' sending two amphibian assault ships to Bangladesh'. Report further stated that 'the adviser made the remarks when he was asked whether the government was aware of what the Bangladesh-bound US navy vessels were equipped with, and how long they would stay here.' His understanding of the present world was expressed in his utterances on the occasion. He said, 'Imperialism is an outdated concept and it does not exist anywhere on earth'. The gentleman did not stop with this theoretical discovery rather continued to assert on practicality, he concluded, 'it is impractical to think in the present day world that a country will occupy another.' (New Age, November 22, 2007)

I do not know how to react to this practicality and extraordinary capacity to see day as night or night as day in 'practical' way. We know these things happen with the US, whenever they say peace we need to read that as war, whenever they say about democracy we need to think of repression. History shows us again and again, whenever the US extended 'help', that ended with new chains, occupation and human suffering.

Today no two US army personnel can meet in Iraq without there lying between them a corpse. What happened there? Does Iraq exist in the world map anymore? Does Afghanistan exist? What is happening there? Peace rally by the US forces after occupying the countries and killing innocent people everyday?

If we look at status of the peripheral countries in determining their own destiny we may conclude that not only Iraq most of the world is now under imperialist occupation. Iraq has come under occupation by military invasion because that did not go with instructions coming from the US.

Whole world is at war and threat
William Blum, a US researcher and author investigated and has written thousands of pages and concluded that, the US is the biggest terrorist in the present day world, provided biggest occupying force in the world and has become the biggest threat for humanity. He said, 'From 1945 to 2003, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements fighting against intolerable regimes. In the process, the US bombed some 25 countries, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair.' And in 2003 the US invaded Iraq, occupied it, and started killing people naming them terrorists.

War is also a private business. In occupied Iraq the second to the US army is the private companies. After occupation of Iraq, writer-activist Naomi Klein said, 'after all, negotiations with sovereign nations can be hard. Far easier to just tear up the country, occupy it, then rebuild it the way you want'. She also looked into the issues like 'how long before they meld into long-term contracts for privatized water services, transit systems, roads, schools and phones? When does reconstruction turn into privatization in disguise?'

Since 1945, to ensure global supremacy the US has used atomic bombs on the people of Japan; carried out carpet-bombing on Korea to take back it to the stone age; had the Vietnamese engulfed by napalm and pesticides; provided three decades of Latin Americans with the tools and methods of torture, and so far dropped '177 million pounds of bombs on the people of Iraq in the most concentrated aerial onslaught in the history of the world'. This is the real face of US power that comes in Bangladesh 'to help' people with blood in their hands.

There is a United Nation, supposed to play a role of global institution that has virtually been transformed into an extension of the US administration. Nevertheless, Jesse Helms (Chairman, US senate Foreign Relations Committee) does not accept even its formal role. He categorically stated: 'The American people will never accept the Secretary General's claim that the United Nations is the ''sole source of legitimacy on the use of force'' in the world. True the US Senate ratified the UN charter fifty years ago, yet in so doing, America did not cede one syllable of it's sovereignty to the United Nations'. And 'The Court's (UN International Criminal Court) supporters argue that Americans shall be willing to sacrifice some of their sovereignty for the noble cause of international justice. This, frankly, is laughable.' He continued, 'No UN institution.... is competent to judge the foreign policy and national security decisions of the United States.' That arrogance is typical of a colonial power.

Who rules Bangladesh?
When US army personnel are in Bangladesh we need to note that there are number of agreements signed between Bangladesh and the US governments that are still not fully disclosed to the people. In March 2003 an agreement was signed that gave US blank check to bring anything necessary for the development of 'science and technology', it also allowed to bring anything for 'security purpose'. In August 2003 an agreement was signed in Washington DC which made Bangladesh bound to allow US military and civilian officials to commit any crime they wish in this country. Detail of the agreement is still secret. According to press report, 'under this agreement no U.S. soldier or officer charged with criminal offences can be tried in Bangladesh or be extradited to the International Criminal Court for prosecution'. 'The agreement stipulates that if any American soldier or officer is charged with criminal offence in Bangladesh, or is prosecuted in another country and takes shelter here, he cannot be handed over to the International Criminal Court.' On 19 May 2004, an agreement was signed that would make 'binding on the government to take care of every single US interest including protection of US citizens and installations' and, according to report, to protect American interests in the country and extend full cooperation to the US in identifying individuals or groups suspected of working against US interests. It is important to note that the draft agreement, like other ones, was not prepared by Bangladesh Government but US administration in Dhaka.

I don't know, in this context, what does independence or sovereignty mean? Or what does occupation mean? 'Advisers' like Moinul may be in a better position to explain this with their extraordinary 'practical' sense.

I can only say, a slave is really slave when s/he does not realize the enslavement; people become really defeated when they forget their defeats. #

Anu Muhammad is a professor of economics, Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh. He regular contributes articles on big powers and multinational corporations’ hegemony in the apparent powerless countries. He could reached at anujuniv@gmail.com


First published in Countercurrents.org on 02 December, 2007

BREAKING NEWS New US ship to join relief efforts in cyclone-hit Bangladesh

A second US aircraft-carrier navy ship is expected to join the relief campaign in cyclone-ravaged Bangladesh in a few days, replacing the USS Kearsarge which was already working to help the survivors of the worst storm to hit the country in decades.

"USS Tarawa is expected reach Bangladesh in next two or three days to replace the USS Kearsarge," an American Embassy spokeswoman said.

Despite the departure of Kearsarge, the operational capacity of the US marine and navy troops for the relief campaign would remain the same. Cyclone Sidr hit the coastlines of Bangladesh last month, killing some 3,300 people according to the official count.

Meanwhile, US Charge d'Affaires in Dhaka Geeta Pasi on Sunday said the US relief exercise has been named as 'Operation Sea Angel II' symbolising the continuity of the US partnership with Bangladesh and linking Washington's engagement after the 1991 cyclone in southeastern coastlines.

The US succour campaign after the 1991 storm was called Operation Sea Angel.

A US Embassy statement on Sunday said even after the departure of its military personnel, US relief operations would continue, only marking a shift from immediate relief to a longer-term cooperation to help Bangladesh with its recovery and reconstruction efforts. #

PTI news syndicated from Dhaka, Bangladesh on 3 December, 2007