References for 100 Ways America is Screwing Up the World

Chapters 61-70

 

61 Haiti: Voodoo Foreign Policy

Here is a Library of Congress country study on the U.S. occupation of Haiti in the early twentieth century and subsequent events.  The International Crisis Group has a good, brief explainer on the Haiti situation, and links.  Haiti Policy looks like a good source of information.

Recent bad or even corrupt U.S. policy is briefly explained by Jeffrey Sachs and this New York Times report.  The 1991-94 period is especially important for understanding the current chaos.  And this from Mother Jones.

Books: Getting Haiti Right This Time: The U.S. and the Coup by the formidable trio of  Amy Goodman (editor), Noam Chomsky, Paul Farmer, and others (Common Courage Press 2004); see also Farmer’s The Uses of Haiti, also from Common Courage.

 62 McDonaldization

Books: Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (HarperPerennial) by Eric Schlosser is the verbal cornerstone of this topic. Fat Land : How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser, is another worthy read.

There is quite a bit of information on the Web regarding obesity and fast food; the numbers are startling. The academic study cited is "USA the Fast Food Nation: Obesity as an Epidemic.” See this other entertaining Web site for some of data and analysis. On industry practices, see this from Liza Featherstone. The New Zealander's lament can be found here. The Karachi story is here.

Of course, you must see the brilliant film, Super Size Me.

63  Dissing the United Nations

The defenders of the U.N. are many and articulate, and they can make the case.  The U.N. Association in particular provides this; the U.N. Foundation (of Ted Turner) is another.  The World Federalists is yet another.  Visit the sites of the U.N. agencies to get a sense of what they actually do.  No one knows the problems of collective action better than all these people.  The failures of the U.N. are more painful to them than anyone.

BooksStephen Schlesinger’s Act Of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations (Basic Books, 2003), is considered the best recent work.  Others: Linda Fasulo, An Insider's Guide to the UN (Yale 2003); Thomas G. Weiss, David P. Forsythe, and Roger A. Coate, United Nations and Changing World Politics (Westview 2004); Stanley Meisler, United Nations: The First Fifty Years (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997).

I must mention a book I coedited and contributed to, which lays out the problems of multilateralism without apology: Multilateralism Under Challenge? Power, International Order, and Structural Change , edited with Edward Newman and Ramesh Thakur, and brought out this year by UNU Press.

Some other discussions of U.N. effectiveness (or not) can be found in the American Prospect, Audit of the Conventional Wisdom, and this from Fred Halliday in opendemocracy.

64  Mel Gibson

“The apotheosis of sociopathic violence masquerading as morality play” . . . Iraq?

“An obscene portrayal of Christ's Passion,” by James Carroll, was in the Boston Globe on February 24, 2004. Here is some additional commentary: Easterbrook, Andrew Sullivan, The Village Voice, Mary Gordon, and Garry Wills

July 30 update: Mel Gibson arrested for DUI on California highway, curses officer repeatedly and accuses him of being a Jew etc etc.....you know the story. Drunk. Disorderly. Dishonest. Brutally anti-semitic. What did you expect??

65  The New York Times (and the Washington Post)

Is it my imagination or has the Times in recent months improved its coverage of economic globalization issues?  Perhaps there are more features on the ravages of corporate mining in Africa or the unfairness of the tariff systems, but the overall coverage remains stoutly “free”—rather than “fair”—trade.  On the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Post remains hopelessly belligerent and absent of substantive knowledge.  On the latter, see this nifty broadside from Media Matters.  Many left-wing bloggers are analyzing the Post’s editorial travesties on the war—which extends to its op-ed pages—even as its reporting has been among the best. 

The Times is a more complex case, of course, and not easy to define a trend that is undifferentiated.  For an excellent analysis, see Michael Massing’s two part series in the New York Review of Books, December 1, 2005 and December 15, 2005.  The pieces, and his book—Now They Tell Us: The American Press in Iraq—go well beyond the Times and Post.

The single best source of daily media criticism is Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), and here is a useful clearinghouse site.  And here is a thoughtful review of media bias and quality, from, well, the New York Times.

 

66 Blame it on Rio: The NRA’s Shootout in Brazil

Consider this BBC report: “Anti-gun campaigners said the swing away from a "Yes" vote was the result of people's desire to protest against the government's security policy. "We didn't lose because Brazilians like guns. We lost because people don't have confidence in the government or the police," said Denis Mizne, of anti-violence group Sou da Paz. "The 'No' campaign was much more effective. They are talking about a right to have a gun - it is a totally American debate." Anti-gun campaigners also accused gun makers and lobby groups such as the US National Rifle Association (NRA) of manipulating people's fears.”
A good article on Brazil (including the long quotation) is “Gunning for the World,” by David Morton, in Foreign Policy, January 13, 2006.  And here’s another from The Nation, by Kelly Hearn.
PBS’s “POV” edition “The Brooklyn Connection” is an excellent resource for how small arms get from American gun shows to nasty wars.

Rachel Stohl’s article is “Forget WMD – It’s conventional Arms that are Killing GIs and Iraqis,” Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2004.  She is among a cohort of excellent analysts, mainly based in NGOs, which have done outstanding research on these issues.  See her work at the Center for Defense Information.  On the IEDs connection, see also GlobalSecurity.org.

Scholarship on this issue generally says that for the U.S. there are too many factors involved in gun violence to conclude that mild measures like waiting periods and registration would reduce homicides. (There are no strict gun control laws in the U.S.)  These measures do, however, reduce suicides.  Stronger measures might produce different results of course, and studies of foreign countries are not as plentiful, but suggestive of the value of gun control.  The debate is hardly conclusive, as there are conflicting results, but generally the research demonstrates that stricter gun control would be prudent. 

After 100 Ways went to press, a UN conference to review and potentially strengthen the weak convention on small arms and light weapons convened in New York.  See Rachel Stohl’s analysis on CDI’s Web site, and an earlier State Department “fact sheet.”  The U.S. Government is of course the major obstacle to enlightened action.  Perhaps that’s because the get-a-life gun owners in this country put ill-informed and counterproductive pressure on our lawmakers.  See this, related to the U.N. meeting, from the Washington Times about NRA’s letter writing campaign.  No doubt the NRA raised millions on this, too. 

For more information, see the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, which is mainly focused on America.

 

67  The Self-Help Mania

Here is the ref for Salerno’s book; I have no idea how in-depth it is, but it seems to score some nice points.  Here’s the bit about China from Time, which itself has been one of the steady boosters of the self-help phenomenon, regularly cashing in on its popularity.  The 2004 article from the New Statesman, a British periodical, is informative.

BooksHere’s a link for Wendy Kaminer’s book, I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional.  See suggestions for other reading there.

 

68  Destroying the Left, Bankrupting Democracy

Most of what I draw on in this chapter is histories of Latin America, Iran, and the Cold War, and analyses of democratization, all referenced elsewhere on this site. 

On “defunding the left,” see this from AlterNet.  More recently, the Bush administration proves it is a sentiment that doesn’t die.  Consider this from Working for Change: 
According to Paul Bedard's October 11th U.S. News & World Report "Washington Whispers" column, the "defund the left" crowd was at it again. Under the headline "War protests: Your tax dollars at work?" Bedard reported on an effort afoot to "defund" groups involved in the antiwar effort. " Bedard writes: "Labor unions and independent groups aligned with the antiwar effort sparked by President Bush's retaliation campaign against Osama bin Laden will come under attack this week in the House as lawmakers seek to cut off their federal grants. GOP sources tell Whispers that an amendment to block grants to the groups will be offered to the appropriation bill for the Labor and Health and Human Services departments up for consideration as early as Thursday. (For more, see "Ashcroft opponents targeted on taxes.")
"A new analysis of federal grants to groups involved in the antiwar effort identifies union locals from the United Auto Workers, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the Service Employees International Union. The Heritage Foundation analysis from census documents also found grants to independent groups that have blasted Bush's war. 'Should tax dollars be going to groups that protest the war? I don't think so,' says an architect of the plan to end the grants." (A list of war protest groups can be found at the web site of International A.N.S.W.E.R. -- Act Now to Stop War & End Racism.)

 

69  A Most Christian Nation: What Would Jesus Say?

I am a cultural Christian.  I do not believe in the divinity of Jesus, and I’m not sure what I think about “God.” But what I find especially distasteful is not faith itself—I know many remarkable Christians and Jews and others who practice their faith in daily life—but those who use Christianity (or Islam or whatever) as a political bludgeon and ignore its essential teachings. 

These people—and I include in this the entire leadership of the U.S. Government—are what I’d call “anti-gospelists.”  Gospel deceivers.  They have almost completely ignored the clear message of the gospels (for you heathens, those are the first four books of the New Testament, the supposed record of what Jesus actually said), which is one of peace and love and communitarianism.   (And this does not even get into the possibilities of the very interesting Gnostic gospels and such.)
That the anti-gospelists have triumphed in the churches as well as in the news media and government is undeniable.  But because they wave the bloody cross does not mean we should either abandon the interpretation of spiritual morality to them, nor completely disregard its power. 

BooksTerror and Civilization: Christianity, Politics, and the Western Psyche, by Shadia B. Drury, appears to be an important new entry in a crowded field.  For an uplifting connection between politics and Christian belief, see Jim Wallis’ God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It and the magazine he edits, Sojourners.

For the definitive work on the early Christian gospels, see Elaine Pagels book, The Gnostic Gospels.

 

70  The Deadly Reach of Patio Furniture

For an excellent review of this important and neglected issue, see the report, Timber Trafficking, from a coalition of SE Asian NGOs.  Earth Island has done some of the more important work on this issue, as does Rainforest Action Network.  See this informative site, the Timber Mafia, for short hits and links.  On Burma, see the State Dept’s note.

On Bush’s environmental record, see this from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in Rolling Stone. More here on the Healthy Forests Initiative from the Sierra Club

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