References for 100 Ways America is Screwing Up the World

Chapters 36-50

 

36  Big Pharma

The figures on profits and such can be found in Canadian Medical Association Journal; on advertising and marketing figures v. research, see this article by Dr. Marcia Angell, author of The Truth About Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It(Random House, 2004) and former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.

On patents, Doha, and other topics relating to Big Pharma’s neglect of the third world, see especially the report of the Global Forum on Health ResearchSee also this article from the Science and Development Network (whose website is excellent on many global topics).  And here is a long piece on Doha and the TRIPS agreement, which has the figures for the effect on HIV/AIDS in the introduction.

On the influence of corporations on clinical research, see the article in the New England Journal of Medicine. On general trends, see the Kaiser Family Foundation web site.  On lobbying, see the references in Gilded Democracy (chapter 11); specific to the pharmaceutical industry, see Public Citizen’s report; and a remarkably informative report in USA Today.

On testing, see this interview with Sonia Shah, about her new book, Body Hunters: How the Drug Industry Tests Its Products On the World's Poorest Patients (The New Press, 2006).

But if you have time for just one article on this, read Dr. Angell’s piece in the New York Review of Books. 

Other Books: On The Take: How Medicine's Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger Your Health by Jerome P. Kassirer (another former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine), from Oxford, 2004.  For a slightly off the subject but informative book, see David T. Courtwright’s Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World (Harvard, 2002). 

 

37  The Weapons Habit 

The reliable Richard F. Grimmett at the Congressional Research Service has been compiling numbers for many years and is the go-to guy on this.  The most recent report I could get was from August 2005.  The Arms Sales Monitoring Project of the Federation of American Scientists is the longtime NGO leader on U.S. transfers. 

Christopher smith of the University of London provided me with the data about AK-47s from Afghanistan, based on his intrepid field work in the 1990s.  Among the classics of this research was his contribution to an American Academy of Arts and Sciences volume, edited by Michael Klare and others.  Figures and quotes from the defense aerospace industry spokesman were from eDefense, December 21, 2005.  The mention of silorsky comes from my book, Spoils of War: The Human Cost of America’s Arms Trade

See useful references for Chapter 66 Blame it on Rio: The NRA’s Shootout in Brazil.

Books: Lora Lumpe (Editor), Running Guns: The Global Black Market in Small Arms (Zed, 2000), comes from a set of longtime experts; The No-Nonsense Guide to the Arms Trade by Gideon Burrows (Verso, 2002); and what is now the leading international data and analysis, Small Arms Survey 2005

 

38 Demise of Public Health

Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor, comes from Partners for Health, an extraordinary group of medical professionals concerned about poverty, inequality, social dislocations and the like across the globe. Dying for Growth was written and edited by Jim Yong Kim, Joyce V. Millen, Alec Irwin and John Gershman
(Common Courage Press, 2000).  Check out the library on their Web site for this book and many other resources.

We have plenty of data and analysis now on the determinants of poor health and the disparities between rich and poor, which are too obvious to deny.  For example, see this 2005 article from The Lancet, the British medical journal, or this, The Health Impacts Of Globalisation.  The major empirical study from which I draw quotes and analysis is Social Determinants Of Health: The Solid Facts, 2nd edition, edited by Richard Wilkinson and Michael Marmot and published by the World Health Organization (and the WHO site has an excellent database and link to other sources).  The quotation regarding life expectancy and disease in Africa comes from another solid report, Improving the Health of the World’s Poorest People, by Dana Carr of the Population Reference Bureau.
Parts of this chapter were adapted from my 2005 article in Development, which is published by the Society for International Development.  Someone who writes on legal aspects of public health is Obijifor Aginam.  See this, too, from World Policy Journal.

Books: Most of the organizations highlighted above can provide excellent information in books and reports.  In addition, see Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World (Random House, 2004); Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor, by Paul Farmer (U Cal, 2003), among other works; and Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health, by Laurie Garrett (Hyperion, 2001). 

In my experience, public health professionals are among the most knowledgeable and systematic thinkers, with a strong dedication to public welfare and activism.  They are, as a whole, a most remarkable profession.  Check out some of these sites and let yourself wander to others, including the schools of public health.  The wealth of information will astonish you. 

39  Covert Action

The chapters on intervention, bad actors, etc., have much information about CIA shenanigans.  Some in documents are provided by the likes of the National Security Archive, and news and analysis are also found at the Federation of American Scientists via Steve Aftergood. 

Books must be looked at skeptically when it comes to intelligence and covert action.  There is so much paranoia and perverse romance that underlies these accounts across the political spectrum.  In fact, I’ve rarely taken much interest in the CIA and related topics because the sources of information are so dodgy—who can you trust?  What we do know is dispiriting, either a set of agencies in some respects out-of-control (though less effective and invasive than some would have), or largely incompetent. 

All the same, see A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century by Jeffery T. Richelson (Oxford, 1997), from a leading expert; The Sorrows of Empire : Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic by Chalmers Johnson (Metropolitan Books, 2004), also highly relevant to the arms trade; and Body of Secrets : Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency (Anchor, 2002), by James Bamford, who also write The Puzzle Palace; and Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II-Updated Through 2003 by William Blum from Common Courage Press

40 Billary

Not much to add here on the Clintons.  One thing about them is they are relatively transparent, and this is good for the most part.  Since writing the book, I see that Hilary continues to equivocate about the war. She’s supported a constitutional amendment on flag burning.  She has been a hawk on Iran.  Altogether, not a pretty picture.  But I do dispute those who say she is not electable.  That she is, and I would never underestimate the political acuity of these people. 

41  Defense Contractors

The quotation from a Capitol Hills newspaper is from The Hill (Aug. 30, 2004).   This is explained further by Cindy Williams.   Note this from the November 11, 2005 Washington Post: “The past four years have been a boom time for defense contractors. Companies that produce bullets and repair equipment enjoyed an increase in revenue because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, the Pentagon continued to spend billions of dollars developing large weapons. The Pentagon's procurement and research and development budgets, where major weapon systems get most of their funding, increased to $148 billion in fiscal 2005 from $103 billion in 2001, according to the fiscal 2006 budget proposal.”

The study on the JSF project is found here. The argument about America’s good hegemon role is best represented by Michael Mandelbaum, the professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, in his 2006 book, The Case for Goliath: How America Acts as the World’s Government in the 21st Century.  A reviewer in The American Prospect puts it in its place:
Michael Mandelbaum’s latest book is a superficial symptom of a grave, even potentially deadly disease: the inability of the overwhelming majority of the U. S. establishment to contemplate a limited scaling down of America’s struggle for world dominance, even when the maximalist version of that goal has been clearly shown to be unsustainable. The neoconservatives represent only an extreme and crude version of this ambition. To a greater or lesser extent, it is shared by the leaders of both political parties and by a large majority of American politicians, soldiers, bureaucrats, and Washington policy intellectuals.
The Human Security Centre, one of the smartest places around, has much to offer in its meaty report
There are few if any up-to-date books on this topic that take in the Bush spending extravaganza.

 

42  “We don’t do body counts”

A particular interest of mine, I will have more on this later this year.  The Haditha massacre, revealed by Time magazine after this book went to press, is just a tiny tip of an iceberg.  Most casualties come from the airpower the U.S. exerts, to the tune of 15,000 sorties annually plus innumerable helicopter attacks.  The most reliable number is 100,000 dead for the first 18 months of the war; The Lancet article, where this on-the-ground survey was published, is a sound and fairly precise way of showing this.  There have been other studies and reporting done that tend to verify the higher numbers.  See this from the New England Journal of Medicine, for example.  Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq, in May 2006, “cited a report from a Baghdad morgue saying 1,091 people were killed between 1 and 30 April.” (BBC)  That may have been a high-casualty month, but note the Baghdad morgue would have only about 20-30% of those taken to morgues nationwide, and perhaps only half—at most—of the war dead are taken to morgues. Most are simply buried right away.  So extrapolating from that number gives us close to 4,000 dead in morgues that month, perhaps 8,000 country-wide, a rate of nearly 100,000 per year.  Other reports, such as George Packer’s book, The Assassin’s Gate, where he quotes a morgue director to similar effect, lend credence to this scale of mayhem—he notes that between 15-25 murder victims arriving at the morgue every night.  (20 dead x 365 days/yr. x 4 populations the size of Baghdad=29,200). 

On the controversy about The Lancet article itself, see The exceptions in the U.S. were The Economist (“Estimating the Iraq war’s death toll,” Nov. 4, 2004), which includes a good explanation of the methods used to arrive at our estimates, and Lila Guterman, “Lost Count,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (February 4, 2004), which detailed the lack or oddities of coverage itself.

The BBC has a good and brief discussion of the controversies over counts, as does CBC.  Iraq Body count can be found here.  I like their tag line:
 “Change the channel”
- Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt's advice to Iraqis who see TV images of innocent civilians killed by coalition troops.
[NYT 12th April 2004]

On the implications of all this, see Les Roberts’ Audit of Conventional Wisdom.

Stay tuned.

 

43  Getting High

On alcohol consumption by teenagers, see two leading experts’ views here.  Consumption patterns of illicit drug use come from a White House fact sheet.  On the drug war, see this and other linked Defense Department reports.  For a more jaundiced view of the drug war, see the Drug Sense web site.  This also has links to other sources.  An argument in favor of legalization is briskly made in The Guardian.

BooksAlways provocative, Peter Dale Scott’s Drugs, Oil, and War: The United States in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Indochina (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), is a worthwhile stop. Inside Colombia: Drugs, Democracy, and War by Grace Livingston Hill (Rutgers University Press, 2004); and Drug Wars: The Political Economy of Narcotics by Curtis Marez (University of Minnesota Press, 2004) are worthwhile too.  There’s a lot of stuff on this, dude.

 

44  Torture

With some of these topics, I find myself wondering, “Do I really need to explain why such-and-such is so-and-so,” and torture is one of those—is it really necessary to explain why it’s stupid and counterproductive, not to say immoral?  Apparently I do.  Well, let’s see, there’s the excellent piece on AlterNet by General Irving to start with, not too complicated there.  And the informative web site of Human Rights First, with many useful documents. 

Then there is the excellent advocacy group, Center for the Victims of Torture, which is unfailingly well-researched, to the point, and insightful.  Their Eight Lessons of Torture should be required reading for the White House staff. 

BooksTruth, Torture, and the American Way : The History and Consequences of U.S. Involvement in Torture by Jennifer K. Harbury, Beacon Press, 2005; A Question of Torture : CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror by Alfred McCoy (Metropolitan Books, 2006); Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror by Mark Danner (New York Review Books, 2004); and The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib, Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel editors, (Cambridge University Press 2005).

I looked for an intelligent defense of torture to list here. There are none.

 

45  Consumerism

This is one of the more important of the 100 Ways and probably deserves a higher ranking, although the order of these is not all that systematic beyond the top 10. 

The quotation from Tolstoy (from My Religion) and Aristotle (“Politics”) both can be found in Goldian Vandenbroek, Less is More: The Art of Voluntary Povert (Inner Traditions, 1996).  Also quoted by Alan Durning in his nice little essay on the topic.

Juliet Schor, now at Boston College, has written extensively on this topic.  See The Overspent American (Basic Books, 1998), and Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture (Scribner 2004).

For some interesting trend lines, see this from a marketing site.

Consider these figures, compiled by my research assistant, Seamus McKiernan:

- Credit card habits are one example of what economists call "hyperbolic discounting," that is, an extreme tendency to discount the future
- Savings in the U.S. has plummeted—in the 1980s the personal savings rate averaged 9 percent (Americans spent 91 cents of every after-tax dollar they earned, which left a 9 cent surplus for savings or investment), during the 1990s, Americans spent about 95 cents per dollar earned and had a nickel left. In 2005 the savings rate was negative 0.2%
- About 43% of American families spend more than they earn each year.
-bankruptcy has doubled in the last decade
-American's revolving consumer debt is rising—it increased from $554 billion in 1997 to $730 billion in 2002, according to the Federal Reserve Board
- Americans' love affair with credit cards has continued unabated, with the average credit card debt per household reaching a record $9,312 in 2004…up 116% percent over the past 10 years.
-“According to a Harvard University study, in the 1950s—an era infamous for domestic consumerism run amuck -- the average home was only 1,140 square feet. It grew to 1,800 in the 1970s and now it's over 2,225. When it comes to new single-family housing, luxury and excess are no longer simply for the occasional oil tycoon or Hollywood starlet, they are a burgeoning sector of the middle-class building industry. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 21 percent of new homes in 2004 were 3,000 square feet or more.”

Well, you get the picture.  Alternatives?  A good place to start is the New American Dream

Books:  Besides Juliet Schor, one recommendation: The High Price of Materialism by Tim Kasser (MIT Press, 2003). “He shows that people whose values center on the accumulation of wealth or material possessions face a greater risk of unhappiness, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and problems with intimacy—regardless of age, income, or culture.”

 

46 The Attack on Science

Also serious stuff that’s treated in the news media as a “he said, she said,” or a battle between lab nerds and values entrepreneurs.  Sorry, but this is a battle between knowledge and superstition. 

For the broad issues, try reading some Isaiah Berlin.  This 20th century English philosopher is known for his elegant essays on liberty and “The Crooked Timber of Humanity,” but his major writings were on intellectual history, especially European thought, and he was especially incisive on how the anti-intellectualism of the Romantic movement was used by the precursors to Nazism.  Or consider the debates stirred by C.P. Snow in The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution.  Scientific illiteracy is a dangerous ignorance in political demagogues.

The statement by the Union of Concerned Scientists (for whom I worked in 1982-86) is accompanied here by a number of other links and explanations, which are very useful.  One amusing aspect of this for me is that when I was at UCS, we did pioneering work debunking the outrageous claims of the Reagan clique (in and out of government) on space weapons, especially “star wars.” (The technology, now simplified, has yet to be tested successfully, despite hundreds of billions spent.)  At the time, our critiques were scathingly criticized by the likes of Wm F Buckley and George Will and Norman Podhoretz as the work of “flat earthers” and technophobes and Luddites.  That it was in fact the work of leading scientists—some of whom were top government advisers—was hard to wash away for these right-wing jeremiads. (It pleased me to no end that my boss then, Henry W. Kendall, who had been denied membership in the National Academy of Sciences because of his technical criticisms of the safety of nuclear power, later won the Nobel Prize in Physics.)  It was one small step for the right wing to embrace creationism and other anti-rationalist ideologies.

But I digress.  That the U.S. is losing its dominance in the sciences is no longer disputed.  See this informative article posted on the web site of the Los Alamos National Lab.  On the pharmaceutical companies’ interests, see this; the link to the right comes from personal conversations.  Some big pharma actions could come from intimidation.  On the right’s continuing attack on science, one need only read the newspapers.  Here’s something a bit more in-depth; and here, from the nifty web site, Grist. And a bit of humor.

Teachers:  Be sure to check out the National Center for Science Education

Books:  Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, by Daniel Dennett (Viking 2006), and his Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (Simon & Schuster, 1996). Chris Mooney's The Republican War On Science (Basic Books, 2005). The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (2006), and anything else by Dawkins.  John Brockman edits 60 scientists in this helpful collection: Intelligent Thought: Science versus the Intelligent Design Movement (Vintage, 2006). E.O. Wilson’s works are also a must.

The left wing has some bad habits on this topic, too.  The corporate seizure of scientific agendas is sometimes laid at science’s door, rather than the corporate system.  That’s a mistake.  And critical studies, while philosophically questioning scientific tenets and method, can lend an air of incredulity that borders on a modern version of Romanticism. 

 

47  The Failed Presidency of George W. Bush

“The failure can be symbolized by one day: September 11, 2001.  Not that Bush failed to stop to atrocities committed that day in New York and Washington (although there’s a case for that, too)"Everything else seems obvious in this chapter, so I’ll take up this one aside.  Could 9/11 have been prevented?  There is evidence that it could have—missed signals, memos from mid-level FBI agents that did not reach the top, warnings unheeded.  Were these W’s fault?  One can’t be responsible for everything going on in the agencies.  But there was another failure, one of leadership and emphasis, which was fatal.  During the Clinton years, the national security adviser convened a “principals meeting” daily to share information, ideas, responses to terrorist threats.  These were abandoned in the Bush White House.  Richard Clarke, a career anti-terrorism official and head of that effort in both the Clinton and Bush 2 White House, promoted a plan to roll back al Qaeda, but this was shelved by Bush’s people.  See Time magazine’s report on this.  According to CNN, Clarke told the 9/11 Commission: “’I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue, but not an urgent issue,’ … Clarke has ignited a firestorm with his assertions that the Bush administration failed to recognize pending terror attacks against the United States and that the president focused too much on Iraq after September 11 -- charges the White House has vigorously disputed.”
The lack of attention is the fatal flaw.  Clinton’s NSC was on top of this; Bush’s was not.  That was the difference. 

48  Liberal Hawks
This is such a sad topic—so many well-meaning souls lost.  I believe the fundamental mistake is that few if any of the liberal hawks ever saw much warfare, and hadn’t thought about things going awry.  The Desert Storm and Kosovo operations misled many into believing that war was easy and largely painless.  They still maintain, more or less, that it will all be worth it in the end, but that happy result is difficult to see, and the costs are already stupendous. 
One of the only good pieces I’ve encountered on this is Mariano Aguirre in opendemocracy, the British web site with very high quality reporting and commentary. 

There is an interesting exchange in Slate between Paul Berman, Christopher Hitchens, Thomas Friedman, Fred Kaplan, Kenneth Pollack, Jacob Weisberg, and Fareed Zakaria (although the whole thing seems to be missing); but this email discussion was in January 2004, long before the insurgency became much stronger and bloody mayhem ensued.  Eric Alterman picks the self-analysis apart anyway. Anatol Lieven took them on in a nice bit of analysis in The Nation in October 2004.  And here is a more predictable but no less useful criticism from Tom Barry of Foreign Policy in Focus.  Note than none of these involved are specialists in Middle East history or politics, few speak Arabic, and few (Kaplan and Pollack being exceptions) know anything about military strategy.  They’re journalists, for the most part; hence they have a stage, but not one built on knowledge. 

This discourse strangely seemed to stop a couple of years ago.  A more recent and lively exchange began with this from The American Prospect, which takes up my point about what the authors call the incompetence dodge.  This dodge hotted up when the war turned so bad that the generals were running for cover, and the warrior journalists gratefully follow them.

49 The Puritanical Ethic

Is there anything more to say about this?  Some will consider me illiberal for these views, a neat switch from 20-30 years ago when leftists were regarded as the paladins of permissiveness.  Now the left is as puritanical as the right, although they tend to pick on different vices, they are often almost identical in tone and content.

Not much needs to be referenced here; the anti-slots folks in Maryland took down their web site.  The figures on alcohol and tobacco exporting are readily available.  What would be fun to do if one had the time is to look into the investment profits of Focus on the Family and other American Taliban groups to see if they’re making a buck on sin. 

50  Democratization

Initiative for the Greater Middle East, has many critics, not just from the left and not just because of the disaster that is Iraq.  Of course, the conversation is now urgent because of Iraq, as practitioners like Larry Diamond have point out.  His institute’s web site has a number of useful resources.

But the critique of democratization goes deeper.  Measures of democratization are weak or nonexistent.  In 2002, the Office of Democracy and Governance of USAID came to us at the Social Science Research Council to ask if we would design a evaluation method for their democratization programs, which had been running for more than 20 years.  They felt there had never been an adequate assessment of effectiveness.  That is an astonishing admission by the world’s leading proponent of democracy, from its lead agency. 

Definitions bedevil the discussion, of course.  What it is—markets or social safety nets? Direct democracy or republicanism? Unlimited or constrained?—clouds the enthusiasm for it.  See this from a noted scholar, and this from another.

Amy Chua’s 2002 book, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, lit a fire underneath this debate.  How markets and democratization interact is an immensely complex topic.  Much of the literature shows in descriptive terms how the processes work with or against each other. But not much looks at the imposition of democratization and marketization simultaneously by a foreign power.  This is where trouble can brew.  Also see Regimes, Politics, and Markets: Democratization and Economic Change in Southern and Eastern Europe by Jose Maria Maravall  (Oxford, 1997).  And here is an interesting review of Zacharia by John Judis on this topic.  Joseph Stilitz is worth seeing on this as well in Globalization and its Discontents.  See also Cornel West, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (Penguin 2004).  And here is another right-wing view that is revealing.

The interest in these topics is strong and some of the research is informative.  What is important is not to get caught up in the simple formulations, but to see the complexity of transforming political and social systems, often in tandem with economic systems, in the one’s own image, and in blink of an eye.  That is the difference, by the way, between non-imperialist leftists and the liberal hawks so gently portrayed earlier.  Some of us, no less committed to human rights and democracy, have evolved to see that imposing values on people is illiberal, and that a respect for social organization and traditions is okay.  The liberal hawks and their right-wing counterparts believe that in “taking out” distasteful dictators it’s a regrettable but necessary task to disrupt the social, political, and economic relations locally, not all of which are distasteful.  This cavalier attitude toward the disruptions, many of them enduring and deadly, visited upon other people in the name of democracy is the normative failure of democratization and its perfervid adherents.


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