the mainstream media's coverage of upwards of 30,000 people marching
in Miami in protest against the Free Trade Area of the Americas
(FTAA) decontextualizes the act of protest itself. To the average
person watching Wolf Blitzer hem and haw over the footage of baton-wielding
police regulating an unpredictable crowd, the protests mean very
little. "Thousands take to the streets", intones the CNN voiceover,
but the network can't be bothered to talk about why.
why they protest, really, is the question. It's not a particularly
sexy event; the gist of the FTAA meeting in Miami, according to
Cuba's Granma, is that "the United States will no longer
press its FTAA project in its entirety, which covers the free
transit of capital, tenders of the same kind for state purchases,
subjection to courts beyond national borders but totally excluding
subsidies on products or merchandise. [The US] has decided to
make the process of establishing the FTAA more flexible in order
to avoid talk of failure. Thus each nation can enter into negotiations
with another, or in groups on areas of interest to them." Despite
the accommodations proposed by the US, the Cuban paper claims
that many of the protesters themselves are immigrants from Latin
America and the Caribbean.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, for its part, claims
that this weekend is a rallying point for anti-globalization protesters.
"As many as 20,000 demonstrators trade unionists, farmers,
retirees, environmentalists, anti-war activists and anarchists
are expected to noisily make known their opposition to the
proposed trade pact for 800 million consumers. Not since "the
battle in Seattle," when hundreds of demonstrators went on a rampage
that caused $2 million in damage during the 1999 World Trade Organization
meeting, have the anti-globalization stars been so aligned."
equations there from the Atlanta paper. "Retirees" meld seamlessly
into "anarchists", and it surprises me that it's taken the media
so long to turn the Greatest Generation into scapegoats. In every
Grandpa Simpson lurks the feisty heart of Emma Goldman,
what is this all about? Do people in their golden years bristle
with anger over "free trade", leading them inexorably to street
protest? Or are they really protesting something somehow larger,
even more salient?
believe it's the latter, and that belief is one of the reasons
I write as I do and where I do. It's easy enough for political
commentators to sell out, especially when one considers how thoroughly
foundation money pervades
political discourse. Pervades it, and cheapens it beyond repair.
How many times is it possible to watch Respected Commentator A
squabble with Left-Liberal Firebrand B over some piddly piece
of minutia like Laci Peterson, Michael Jackson, or some other
"on-the-edge" topic? The political spectrum domestically is a
hustle, has been for a long time, and it's hard not to see the
increased radicalism of the elderly as a response to the mendacity
of the establishment media.
the radicals are right on some issues. Despite the loopiness of
the International ANSWER crew, their position on the Iraq invasion,
if heeded, would've saved a lot of Americans heartbreak. Boys
wouldn't be coming home with stumps where limbs once were, and
women wouldn't be coming back home under "medical hardship" [which
is increasingly code for getting knocked up in country, and sent
home to raise a squalling bastard child of a humanitarian war].
duty soldiers, meanwhile, understand that they're being sold out
for some purpose but don't want to undertake the demystifying
task of what that is. Recent speculation that there are no less
than 50,000 guerrillas in Iraq begs the question: can America
win this war? As a Marine of long-standing wrote in an email to
me, "Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, who I agree with, earned the ire
of Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz when he stated in February
that the occupation of Iraq could take "several hundred thousand
America does not have several hundred thousand troops available
for Iraq detail, and that manpower shortage may have led to adoption
of questionable tactics. Again, from my correspondent: "People
need to realize that the "US vs. Iraq" during the invasion was
basically a no contest, no one ever questioned that our forces
were better trained, better equipped, etc. The issue that I constantly
brought up was what's next after we win? Obviously we don't just
leave. But what was the plan for occupation? It appears there
wasn't much of a plan, and that was the entire problem all along.
Remember, in basic training, regardless of the service you're
in, you learn about weaponry, how to blow things up, first aid,
and how to take orders. That is not what you do to train a peacekeeping/occupation
force, but that's essentially what we are now. There have been
many blunders already, where US troops accidentally kill Iraqi
aren't we liberators? My correspondent begs to differ. "I think
it's obvious that no matter what spin is put on what's going on
in Iraq, that we aren't prepared for what's happening. The propaganda
about Iraqis welcoming the US was Disney-like fantasy, the reality
is what's happening now, and even if we doubled the number of
troops, we'd still face guerrilla opposition. Think about how
many losses the Russians suffered during World War II, estimated
at 20-25 million people. 9/11 is nothing compared to that. Compare
the 58,000+ American troops lost in Vietnam to the more than 3
million Vietnamese dead, with millions more wounded and/or displaced.
So I'm not sure it's even a question of numbers, but resolve of
who we're fighting. And no matter how many hospitals or schools
our troops open up, there will still be guerrilla attacks."
Nixon wrote a book once with the title No
More Vietnams. Someone needs to write one called No
More Cakewalks. Especially since even active service members
are becoming numbed by the ever-changing visage of the next Hitler/Stalin:
"It's rare for me to hear the name 'Osama,' almost like no one
cares anymore. Don't take these words as the gospel truth however,
I'm sure it's different in other units, this is just what I've
experienced. Service members can get tunnel vision. Two years
ago, it was all Osama. We never caught him, but no one cares,
because it's all Saddam now. Who will the next bogeyman be, I
if no one's sure Why We Fight, at least there are perks attached:
"I don't know how the other services are doing with their recruiting,
but the Marine Corps is making their numbers. However, I wouldn't
be surprised to see a mass number of service members leaving the
military over the next year or two when their contracts are up.
I'm leaving, mostly because of this administration, and I can't
take the chance that Bush will be elected. On the other end of
that though, the economy still sucks, despite the baby steps it's
taken recently, and it's a gamble to leave the guaranteed pay,
medical/dental, and the other benefits the military offers, so
because of that, the services may still retain a lot of key personnel."
isn't it, that the closer we get to the front lines, the fewer
niceties about "liberation" we hear. The active duty military
understands what the War on Terror is; a shell game for old men
and their younger, flabby, soft-palmed, unctuous, duplicitous,
and effete neoconservative adherents. All Hell will break loose
domestically when these newly-embittered veterans find common
cause with the elderly and the anarchists, and it looks like that
day is coming soon enough.
recent column by Anthony Gancarski
Tale of Two Americas
Lynch, Hot Property
a Good Ol' Boy?
Noam Chomsky Hate America?
Into Putin's Soul
Uncertainty: The Price of Losing the Terror War Is Unthinkable
Ledeen, 'Man Of Peace'
the War on Terror and the Prostitution of Faith
on the Run
Tale of Two Democrats
of the Congressional Black Caucus
Bloviations in Washington
Iraq Hell on Earth?
Historians, Then and Now
Revolution It's What's for Dinner
Evening with Ann Coulter
Team AIPAC's 2002 Season
the author of Unfortunate
Incidents, writes for The American Conservative, CounterPunch,
and LewRockwell.com. His web journalism was recognized by
Utne Reader Online as "Best of the Web." A writer for the
local Folio Weekly, he lives in Jacksonville, Florida.