June 06, 2020

‘Amber waves of grain’

Military or civilian, a coup by ambitious generals, or a cleverly-staged “democratic” election, which path leads best to where we want to go? The government of a military dictator, or one of a civilian puppet regime? Of course, we tried both in Vietnam without notable success. Now, vociferous partisans of the resulting war cry out for a similar “victory” in Iraq – seen their ads on TV recently?

With the problems facing General Pervez Musharaf in Pakistan, some doubts arise about military dictatorships, no matter how docilely they follow Washington’s directions. Vox populi – the voice of the people as the Romans saw it – tends to break through. Not much solace next door either, this year’s record opium poppy crop notwithstanding. Afghan President Hamid Kharzai – more accurately in terms of his government’s reach – the Mayor of Kabul – distrusted by his people who, apparently, look askance at his 30 years as a U.S. oil company executive, none of that service actually in Afghanistan. Iraqi President Nouri al-Malaki, another returned exile, in Washington’s dog house, of course.

The world changes. In the last century, when we put a puppet – civilian or military – in place in one banana republic or another, there he stayed. But then, along came Fidel. What’s next? Two mini-trouble spots in Europe – Estonia and Georgia – each with a president educated, trained and largely financed by the United States, nipping at the heels of the Russian bear. Military bases in some 375 countries, military adventures lavishly funded, while New Orleans – largely poor and black – is left to dry out in the sun.

We Americans sing of “amber waves of grain”, but with the Bush government’s lucrative (for his cronies) assault on the environment, just how long will those waves last?

Stanley Harrison


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