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Vol. XVII, No.1 Fall, 2002




WORLD DEVELOPMENTS



Since Spring, There have been a number of very positive developments, including truces and agreements to negotiate a settlement of three long major wars, in Sri Lanka, Congo and the Sudan. At the same time, some situations continue to be difficult, and the world is faced with a major threat of what could be an extremely costly and disruptive war in Iraq.

In Afghanistan, fighting is now on a low, and scattered level, but much remains in doubt for the medium and long term. A new government was formed with some representation of all major ethnic groups, through a traditional democratic process, the Loya Jirga, utilized for the first time in a great many years. But the balance of that government is uneven. With the striking exception of President Hamid Kharzi, the Pashtuns, the largest ethnic group in the country, are under represented, while the Tajiks, the core of the Northern Alliance, have the largest number of government positions. Some commentators blame the United States for meddling too much in the establishment of the government, while others, agreeing that the government is not equally representative, believe that given the military advantage of the Northern Alliance, and the fact that it held the capital at the time of the meeting of the Loya Jirga, the government is about as balanced as was politically possible. To be successful. it must overcome old ethnic splits and major differences of view. A very important problem is that security is very uncertain, with foreign peace keepers only stationed in Kabul (which some observers believe was a major U.S. mistake) and considerable time being needed for the Afghan government to set up its own army. Some fear that this may make the national government too week and vulnerable to be very effective or stable, and might lead to the return of fighting between tribes and war lords. Similarly, the economic situation remains extremely bad. The government has almost exhausted the small amount of funding that it has and international aid has not gone much beyond immediate relief, leaving the huge and essential task of rebuilding and development yet to begin. For this to happen, much more security is necessary, but also major assistance for development needs to be provided, beginning immediately, and extending for some years, or the situation may return to essentially what it was after the Russians withdrew.

An interesting set of questions, leading to a debate as to just what and how much U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was appropriate, is raised by two pieces of information coming to light. First, on the eve of U.S. intervention, apparently all of the Afghani opposition groups were in rare agreement that they did not want the U.S. to bomb, and that the Taliban could be removed without that. Second, U.S. intelligence has stated that while Al Quida has been denied some training and weapons development facilities, it is now more dispersed and harder to keep track of.

The question of what next in the U.S."war on terrorism" is now upon the world. President Bush has merely slowed down a little in his push to turn the continuing low scale war in Iraq into a major one to remove Saddam Hussein, with the U.S. acting alone if other nations will not join in, and quickly enough. One of the recent U.S./British air attacks in Iraq hit, and allegedly destroyed, a major Iraqi air tracking center, whose elimination would be a preliminary step to a larger air campaign. The resolution that the President requested of Congress, is open ended, and if passed in its original form, would allow the President to act against terrorism as he sees fit in Iraq and any where else. It is natural that the White House would attempt to gain political support for its position. But in two instances, White House claims about evidence of Iraqi weapons development have turned out to be distortions of the facts, and it should be remembered that the basis the Lyndon Johnson used for getting the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution through Congress, to escalate the Vietnam War, was at best a distortion. It should be noted that the administration's propensity to have the U.S. act unilaterally on many international issues, magnified somewhat by the President's undiplomatic choice of words on several occasions, has reduced public support for U.S. policy in many nations, and decreased the likelihood of international support for ends that the U.S. seeks, that can not be achieved without international collaboration.

An independent task force, sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, concludes that the U.S. now has a global image problem of disturbing proportions. The growing distrust of Washington's motives extends beyond the Middle East's growing uneasiness over the Bush administration's confusing signals on Iraq. Even Europeans are beginning to question American values on topics ranging from the environment to nuclear disarmament. The administration is increasingly characterized as arrogant, self-indulgent, hypocritical, inattentive, and unwilling or unable to engage in cross-cultural dialogue. (The Council on Foreign Relations' Independent Task Force Report on Public Diplomacy August 2002 http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat/index.html#cfr)

In Germany, the current government was reelected in September by running against the U.S. proposed military operation in Iraq. For a variety of reasons, in the Arab world, ill feeling against the U.S. is running at an all time high, such that the leaders of numerous Middle Eastern Countries fear sufficient unrest to threaten their regimes arising if the U.S. initiated a major attack on Iraq. Some argue that a greatly increased multilateral approach is needed by the U.S. to deal with terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, dangers to the environment and other issues.

In May, the U.N Security Council revised sanctions against Iraq allowing more nonmilitary goods into the country with the goal of reducing the impact of sanctions on civilians while limiting Saddam Hussein's ability to increase military and weapons development.

 

The Israeli-Palestinian crises continues to go through cycles of more intense, and some what less intense, conflict and tension with new suicide bombings being followed by new deadly Israeli incursions into Palestinian areas, and assassinations of suspected Palestinian organizers of suicide bombings, usually leading to deaths and injuries of innocent bystanders. At times this has only intensified suicide bombing attempts by Palestinians. At other times, when Israeli forces have pulled back, Hamas leaders have been willing to negotiate a stopping of suicide bombings of civilians in Israel, however, damaging Israeli attacks at those moments, have ended those offers. Looking at the pattern of action by the current Israeli government, it is difficult not to conclude that Sharon has intentionally acted to prevent real negotiations from taking place. Meanwhile, physical and economic conditions in Palestinian areas continue to deteriorate from attacks and Israeli blockades.

For example, it was reported in June, that a serious environmental and health crisis lurks due to Israeli obstruction of the repairing of the sewage network in Rafah, and the UN reported the danger of collapse of the overwhelmed, and often unreachable, because of Israeli blockades, Palestinian health system. A study commissioned by the U.S. Agency for International Development showed that 20% of young Palestinians suffer from malnutrition, three times the the number afflicted before fighting broke out with Israel. Under international pressure, Arafat agreed to commence reforms of the Palestinian Authority, which many Palestinians perceive as mired in corruption and favoritism, and to hold new elections. There are, however, some hopeful developments. A new survey by Search for Common Ground reveals that there is support for switching to nonviolent action by the Palestinians and if they did that, for acceptance of a Palestinian state by Israelis: 1. 80% of Palestinians would support a large-scale non-violent protest movement and 56% would participate in its activities. 2. 78% of Israeli Jews believe that the Palestinians have a legitimate right to seek a Palestinian state, provided that they use non-violent means. However, concurrent with their high support for nonviolent methods, Palestinians show equal levels of support for violent methods. Majorities express a desire for retribution and do not think violence is harming their cause internationally. (The full report: is available in English at: http://www.sfcg.org/Documents/SFCGPoll.pdf). Meanwhile polls taken in the U.S. and in Israel show that citizens of both countries want the U.S. to take a more even handed approach to settling the Palestinian-Israeli dispute (For details see the Autumn/Winter 2001-2002 Issue of Bulletin of Regional Cooperation in the Middle East).

An increase in the use of nonviolent means of resistance is occurring among Palestinians. "About 11:45pm [on September 24,] in Al-Bireh/Ramallah, following the 6th full day of 24-hr curfew..., every family started turning on their home lights and all that could be heard were pots and pans banging in the cool night. At around midnight some brave souls, a few hundred, broke the curfew and headed to the center of town, beating on light poles and anything tin and metal... For 45 minutes a pitch dark Ramallah awoke and rang out to the world - enough curfew, enough destruction - enough is enough. The IDF tanks and jeeps ran around in chaos, not knowing which street to attack...some soldiers just shot live rounds in the air out of frustration. Other jeeps just sped through the streets and turned their sirens full blast trying to drown out the pots and pans - they failed...We hope in the coming days to make a similar action with small bells that kids will ring from their home porch at 8-8:15am every day school is missed because of military curfew. We are looking for bell suppliers now. In Nablus, citizens broke the curfew and actually opened some schools-with most parents waiting all day at the school for their children out of fear of what could happen. These actions last night led to more people peacefully breaking the curfew today. A few store owners opened for business using their back door and under cover from the entire neighborhood. Wives and mothers, Abeer included, headed out to get the bare necessities. Stores were low on supply but offered a ration to all. The curfew is falling apart one street at a time (as reported to and shared by Marc Lantz via PJSA's list serv)." "Three hundred Palestinian villagers held a peaceful demonstration at a tomato and cucumber farm on Friday in an area of rich agricultural lands slated by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) for immediate seizure and destruction as part of its 'walling in' project. Despite risking military arrest simply for attending, farmers from villages in the Tulkarem and Qalqilya regions of the Israeli occupied West Bank ­ all of which have lands that are similarly threatened - gathered in peace to pray, perhaps for the last time, before the bulldozers waiting at the settlement overlooking the valley begin their work. Friday's demonstration was the second such event organized by villagers from the region since they were informed by the Israeli military of the planned seizures. (From the Gush Shalom e-mail team, 9/22. Pictures of the events in this report are at http://www.womenspeacepalestine.org/iwpsreports.htm)."

 

Meanwhile, in September, Lebanon revealed plans to divert water from the Hatzbani River before it reaches Israel. Sharon says that could be a reason for war. U.S. experts have arrived to resolve the dispute. In April, the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey made a joint visit to the Mid East, demonstrating the two governments overcoming past emnity in the hope of inspiring progress between the Israelis and Palestinians.

There continue to be questions about the wisdom of the U.S. supplying arms and military training to a number of Caucuses nations. Arrest of a leading regional human rights leader has cast fresh doubts on U.S. claims that Uzbekistan has improved its record since the September 11 attacks. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that Moscow has the right to strike Chechen targets within Georgia, after Russian jets bombed alleged Chechen guerrillas in the Pankisi Gorge. The Georgian government has responded by sending in troops and stating that it is tightening security in the key boarder area. Russia has suggested that it may be time for a United Nations force to intervene. There is now a growing threat that water could be the focus of a war in Central Asia. Under the Soviet Union, water and energy resources were exchanged freely across what were only administrative borders. Moscow provided the funds and management to build and maintain infrastructure. Rising nationalism and competition among the five Central Asian states have hindered the development of a viable regional approach to replace the Soviet system of management. Linked water and energy issues are now second only to Islamic extremism as a source of tension. Russia's unsuccessful campaign to stamp out resistance in Chechnya appears to be a serious political problem for President Putin, who based much of his last election campaign on solving the "Chechen problem." The recent selection of a special prosecutor to look into reports of extensive. serious human rights violations may indicate that the Russian President is attempting to take control of Chechen policy away from the Army, in preparation for negotiations.

Kurt Bassuener and Eric A. Witte report that "a great deal has changed for the better in and around Bosnia since the November 1995 peace deal reached at Dayton, Ohio. First Montenegro, then Croatia, and finally Serbia have shifted toward democratic rule. The country is no longer under serious threat of forcible external dismemberment. Refugees have finally begun to return in significant numbers. And the country's borders, long porous and open to illegal immigration, smuggling, and trafficking, are now nearly under control. Yet Bosnia's systemic dysfunction means that it continues to fall further behind its neighbors. Despite some progress, political office remains profitable, and parties that came to power in 1990 continue to dominate decision-making because of electoral advantages they designed for themselves at Dayton. Politicians are often more concerned with dividing among themselves lucrative seats on the boards of public companies than they are with attending to the dire economic needs of the Bosnian people. Citizens often feel that their votes are meaningless, as they cannot deliver real change within existing structures. Not surprisingly, Bosnia's youth continue to seek their futures abroad, calculating that a satisfying life remains beyond their reach at home. Bosnia remains the only vehicle into the European Union for all its citizens. A dysfunctional Bosnia will remain a stagnant, poor backwater of Europe and will certainly be home to Europe's oldest population. International funding and involvement are already tapering off, a process that will only accelerate. Without fundamental changes, Bosnia's economy will soon grind to a halt. In April, NATO officials announced that following increased security in Bosnia, NATO forces would be reduced by about 20% within a year.

Similarly, a more peaceful Kosovo found U.S. peacekeepers beginning to patrol without helmets and bulletproof vests in July, as the U.S. prepares to reduce the size of its forces in the area. In Macedonia, the opposition won the parliamentary elections, with the Social Democrats triumphing among ethnic Macedonians, while former guerilla leaders, pledging to work through legal, political means, got most ethnic Albanian votes. It remains to be seen how much difference the new government can make in building a more egalitarian and stabile Macedonia. In May, the U.S. resumed aid to Yugoslavia on the ground that it had met the criteria for cooperating with the U.N war crimes tribunal in the Hague, which is now trying former President Milosevic.

In Russia, where whistle blowers already run the risk of going to jail for exposing such improprieties as polluting, especially if it is by the military, which has a terrible environmental record (including dumping raw radioactive waste into the Arctic Ocean), the Parliament has passed a new law against extremism, authored by the Kremlin, that opposition groups fear will be used to crack down on all independent political activity. In May Russia and the US signed a new arms agreement to reduce the number of deployed strategic nuclear war heads from the current 6,000 to 1,700-2,000 each, in ten years, but allowing storage of undeployed warheads, and saying nothing of tactical nuclear weapons that are easier to acquire and hide.

This has been a difficult summer in Northern Ireland, with high tension and violence around some of the Protestant marches in Catholic areas. A particularly difficult situation is that, since May11, the Catholic/nationalist community in the Short Strand, a small enclave situated on the edge of predominately Protestant/Unionist east Belfast, has been subjected to an organized, concerted and unrelenting campaign of sectarian violence and intimidation. As a consequence of the attacks, the community members are denied access to essential services which are situated in Protestant/unionist areas. In the midst of the wide ranging difficulties, members of all the paramilitary groups, the Ulster Defense Association, the Ulster Volunteer Force and the IRA, committed violent acts, including the killing of a Catholic teenager by by the Ulster Defence Association. A very positive note is that The IRA apologized for all the deaths it had caused during the troubles in North Ireland. Never the less, First Minister David Trimble, head of the Ulster Unionists, North Ireland's largest Protestant Party, stated he would shut down the joint Catholic Protestant government on January 18 if the IRA has not demonstrated that it has renounced violence. Trimble's threat to have the Ulster Unionists withdraw from the government appears to be aimed at avoiding the party's losing more seats to the more anti-peace settlement Democratic Unionist Party of Ian Paisley, and a compromise to head off a showdown with members of his own party, who called for an immediate closing down of the government. Paisley's Democratic Unionists are threatening to withdraw from he government almost immediately.

In Spain, the Basque separatist movement, ETA, continues to commit periodic deadly acts of violence, despite the arrest of some of its alleged leaders. In Greece, a number of leaders and members of the November 17 terrorist group were arrested after many years of unsuccessful investigation.

In July, the parties to Sudan's long civil war agreed to a cease fire in anticipations of negotiating a settlement. Negotiators began meeting in Machakos, Kenya, in August, to try to work out the enormous differences over the final outcome of a settlement. It has been agreed that Islamic law can be applied in the North, but will not be applied to people living in the south, who are not Muslims. One of the most controversial issues is a proposed referendum to decide whether to keep Sudan unified. Egypt opposes the referendum, and it may take stepped up U.S. pressure to get Cairo and the other international participants to agree to it.

In July, the Congo, Rwanda backed insurgents in the Congo and Rwanda agreed to begin negotiations in August to end four years of war and integrate the rebels into the Rwandan government. With UN peace keepers looking on, Sierra Leon held its first peaceful election, in May, after year's of violent fighting, with the former rebels, the Revolutionary United Front, having official disarmed, participating in the election.

The African Union (AU), replacing the Organization for African Unity (OU), was launched in South Africa to promote good governance, democracy and development, and also to take responsibility for African security and human rights. At least in principle, its members assert their right to intervene to stop genocide and prevent gross abuses of human rights. The AU's policy centerpiece is an ambitious development plan - New Partnership for African Development or NEPAD. But there are enormous difficulties to overcome if it is to be realized. Perhaps the greatest problem for Africa to overcome is AIDS. U.S. research shows that by the end of the decade, life expectancy in 11 sub-Saharan African countries will be 26 years. UN AIDS director Peter Piot has criticized NEPAD for lacking sufficient focus on the pandemic.

An immediate problem is how to handle the increasingly violent economic chaos in Zimbabwe being fueled by President Robert Mugabe's attempts to drive out white farmers. This summer, the government ordered all white farmer's to leave their land, with no compensation, and gave increased support to farm seizures by bands of so called "veterans," who unfortunately have neither the resources nor the experience to continue to operate the farms profitably.

Major fighting broke out in previously stable Ivory Coast, following a failed coup attempt on September 19. French and U.S. troops arrived to evacuate foreign nationals. A Cease Fire was agreed to on October 4, with negotiations to be brokered by the foreign ministers of five West African nations.

Nigeria continues ro suffer violent clashes, particularly between Christians and Muslims with more than 10,000 people killed since the conflict began in 1999.

In Burundi, 183 people, mostly civilians fleeing fighting between government and guerilla forces, were killed by gunmen on September 9. A five-year-old government resettlement program has violated the rights of tens of thousands of Rwanda's rural people, who have been forced to give up their homes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released in June. The National Habitat Policy, ordered by the government, which took power after the 1994 genocide, required all Rwandans living in traditionally scattered homesteads throughout the country to live in government-created villages, called ''imidugudu''. Its intention was to boost long-term agricultural production and, in some cases, to ensure security against Hutu rebels, among them many who participated in the anti-Tutsi killings. The program was also designed to accommodate an influx of hundreds of thousands of Tutsi refugees, many of whom had lived in nearby countries for decades, after the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) chased out the former Hutu dominated government in the aftermath of the genocide. In reality tens of thousands of peasant farmers, including many Tutsi widows and orphans, have been forcibly displaced into new settlements which often lack basic housing materials and infrastructure, according to the 91- page report, 'Uprooting the Rural Poor in Rwanda.' The process appears to have slowed in the past year, possibly in response to the reluctance of donors to fund the program. But, resettlement continues.

Algeria has held elections, but the nation has not yet overcome the after-effects of the 1991-92 election debacle and the years of killings that followed. The International Crisis Group perceives that Algeria still faces a difficult road back to democracy (As reported at http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat/index.html#algeria).

In Sri Lanka, following up on the truce of several months ago, peace talks have begun with Norwegian facilitation. North Korea has become involved in a number of diplomatic initiatives toward better relations with just about everyone. Having expressed regrets to South Korea in July for a naval battle that killed 5 South Koreans in June, and having apologized to Japan for a deadly act of espionage a decade ago, Japan's Prime Minister made the first visit to North Korea by a Japanese leader in late September, bringing an agreement normalizing relations and settling a list of issues.

The United States is preparing for renewed talks with the North Koreans, while North and South Korea made several advances in relations. North Korea is reconstructing a railway link to South Korea, across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), that has been a heavily mined and fortified barrier for half a century, in return for rice and fertilizer. In July the two Koreas resumed their reconciliation process, agreeing to cross boarder family reunions and making a test flight as a prelude to opening regular air service between the two countries. North Korea announced, in late September, that it will create an autonomous "international financial, trade, commercial, industrial zone," featuring essentially capitalist enterprize and inviting foreign investment, in the northwestern city of Sinuiju, near the Chinese border.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have continued to lessen to a degree, particularly after India removed some troops from the boarder, in July, but the basic conflict remains unresolved, as small scale cross boarder exchanges of fire reoccur periodically. The biggest impediment to settlement, and removal of the threat of nuclear hostilities, is that serious violence by persons favoring independence from India continues in Kashmir. Pakistan has experienced a number of murderous attacks against Western people and institutions since the U.S. led military operation began in Afghanistan with Pakistan's cooperation. In May, the military government of Myanmar freed democracy movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi from 19 months of house arrest. She quickly returned to political activism. The government may have made the unconditional release in an attempt to win an end of sanctions imposed by Western nations. Myanmar is in a precarious financial situation.

The Washington-based International Labor Rights Fund, in April, filed a suit DC against ExxonMobil for alleged complicity in human rights violations in Indonesia. judge, Louis F. Obordorfer, decided to delay a verdict until the U.S. State Department could provide an opinion of the cost to America's operations overseas. The suit charges that Indonesian army soldiers working for ExxonMobil engaged in murder, torture and rape while "protecting" gas fields in Indonesia's Aceh Province. ExxonMobil denies any direct involvement in the alleged atrocities. The State Department stated in August that the suit is likely to disturb relations with Jakarta and could hinder America's war on terrorism. In February, the first indictments were issued against seven people, including senior members of civilian and police authorities, for serious crimes committed in 1999 in East Timor. There is speculation as to whether the cases will go to trial. In Indonesia, a number of peace agreements are in place or are being negotiated, but violent incidents have threatened to disrupt them. In April, On the outskirts of Ambon, capital of Maluku Provence, a group of Muslims attacked a mainly Christian village, burning a Protestant Church and 30 homes, and killing six people. The attack violated, but did not collapse, a peace arrangement put together earlier in the year to try to end interreligious violence.

In Papaua provence at the end of August, gunmen armed with automatic weapons made an unprecedented attack on a convoy traveling to a gold mine run by a U.S. corporation, killing three people. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Papua's Police Chief, Brigadier General I Made Pastika said that the separatist Free Papaua Movement may have been involved. Leaders of the Movement called for an independent international commission to investigate the attack, saying that weapons employed, method of attack, and description of the attackers appeared to indicate that the assailants were not local tribes people, and that the incident might have been carried out by members of the Army, attempting to derail the on going peace process. Indonesia occupied Papua when the Dutch colonial administration left in 1963, bringing immediate resistance by Paupauan nationalists who have maintained a low level insurgency. Indonesia formally acquired Paupua in 1969, after a U.N. authorized "Act of Free Choice," in which Indonesian secret police hand picked about 1000 tribal leaders and elders who expressed their desire to become part of Indonesia. Senior UN officials and other critics denounced the process as a sham.

In Nepal, attempts by Maoist insurgents to overthrow the monarchy continue, with more than 40 police officers killed in an attack in early September.

Two aides to the Dalai Lama met with Chinese government officials in Beijing in September, in what the Dalai Lama hopes will bring a dialogue on the Tibetan situation. The Dalai Lama says he has abandoned dreams of an independent Tibet, but seeks greater autonomy for Tibet within China.

Columbia elected a new President, Alvaro Uribe, by a landslide, in May, on a pledge to reestablish government authority throughout the country. He proposed raising taxes to triple defence spending, doubling the number of trained soldiers and police, creating a million person civilian intelligence militia to collect information on insurgents and their supporters, and giving the army expanded powers to carry out searches and preventive detention. Yet his victory speech on election night included an intention to obtain UN mediation to reinitiate negotiations with guerilla and paramilitary groups. A poll taken in Columbia's five biggest cities by Georgetown University and a German NGO found that: 65% of those participating wanted the President to attempt to end the conflict through a negotiated settlement; 77% approved of requesting UN mediation; 26% believed that the best way international actors could assist the peace process was through promoting human rights; while only 14% desired international military aid. Calls for returning to the negotiating table with the insurgents, and including paramilitary groups, have been increasing, including assertions of the need for serious peace talks from a consortium of governors and mayors and from the Catholic Church. At the same time, the new President, the first elected as an independent candidate, has a strong base among the far right, a well organized minority that seeks a stronger army for a military solution to the war, and a reduction in mechanisms that protect human rights. Meanwhile, since President Pastrana ended peace talks in February, the gurillas have made great gains in new military initiatives, removing all signs of government authority in many towns spread over 24 of Columbia's 32 states, while mayors of numerous other municipalities attempted to govern at a distance from military bases, and others struggled to hold out in the face of threats. The largest revolutionary group, the FARC, has begun imposing its own alternative local governments forced to carry out its policies at gun point. On the day of Uribe's inauguration, August 7, the insurgents set off huge explosions around the presidential palace and parliament building in the capitol, killing at least 14 and reportedly wounding 69 people. In addition, Columbia faces the same economic problems, fueled by neoliberal globalization economic policies that are plaguing the rest of Latin America. The number of people living below the poverty line in Columbia has risen from 39% in 1982, to 49% in 1998 and 74% (27 million people) in 2002, with more than a third of the poor destitute, while the public debt rising to 54% of GNP threatens economic collapse. In rural areas, one in 5 children suffer malnutrition and 2 million people have been displaced by the war, which threatens to destroy democracy and all that remains of community life and culture.

An important element in the civil war in Columbia is the U.S. war on drugs. The U.S. has increased military aid to Columbia over a number of years on the justification that the FARC were "narcoguerillas," more of a drug dealing criminal gang than a revolutionary movement. Sean Donahue of New Hampshire Peace Action reports (see "U.S. Fuels the Fires of Columbia's Civil War" in the April 2002 issue of Peace Work) that that claim is more fiction than fact. The FARC does extort "taxes" on farmers in the areas it controls, many of whom are cocoa growers. In a good year, a fortunate farmer might be able to make only $5,000 from cocoa. The real money is made by the processing the cocoa and exporting the cocaine, which will turn that $5000 of Cocoa into $800,000. This is controlled by criminal gangs linked to the paramilitary groups, which the army rarely interferes with as it sees them as allies against the guerillas.

U.S. initiated plans to eradicate cocoa production in Bolivia. largely by getting farmers to grow alternative crops, has largely failed because the alternative crops, mostly fruits, do not grow as well in the area as cocoa, which can be dried for transport, while the fruits often rot before they can get to market because of inadequate transportation infrastructure. Thus, when the government of Bolivia banned the growing of cocoa in the Chapare region, the result was protests by farmers and deadly clashes with troops, but little reduction in cocoa production.

A global network of over 1000 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), The Structural Adjustment Participatory Review International Network (SAPRIN) undertook a four year review of the impact of the World Bank's structural adjustments program (imposing austerity measures on governments and encouraging privatization of public services) with the aim of improving national economic performance and reducing external debt. The report stated, "The Policy Roots of Economic Crises and Poverty concludes that structural adjustment measures have significantly increases poverty, inequality and social exclusion in the 10 countries studied, lead to loss of domestic productive capacity and jobs; a reduction in small farm agriculture which brought on food insecurity; diminishing real wages, workers rights and job security; and reduced access to affordable quality services." Following the imposing of structural adjustment policies, some reduction in the rise of external debt did occur. However, since the economies were weakened by the structural adjustments, those policies can not be credited with the small reduction in the increase of external debt (and even if they were the entire cause, the cost would hardly be worth the relatively small gain).

The report was undertaken by the NGOs in cooperation with the World Bank and the governments of the countries concerned. In signing on to participate in the project, the Bank agreed to listen to and publicize the findings, saying that it wanted to improve its policies. On seeing the extent of the criticism, however, the Bank has played down, refused to publicize, and is not giving consideration to, the results of the study, leading involved NGO leaders to conclude that the Bank really does not want to change (See Chris Strohm," Deaf Ears: No Thanks, World Bank says to cricical study," in In These Times, June 24, 2002). The negative effects of the World Bank, and also similar International Monetary Fund, policies have been felt world wide.

In Latin America, these policies have been major contributors to recent economic crises, including the collapse of the Argentine economy, with devastating human consequences and the near 20% drops in the values of the Brazilian, Columbian and Chilean currencies in July, triggering a banking crisis in Uruguay. From 1980 to 2000, under imposed austerity and free trade, per capita incomes in Latin America grew at only one tenth the rate of the previous decade when governments followed more interventionist an protectionist approaches. The Economic Commission on Latin America forecast in August that there will be no short run improvement and that Latin America's economy will contract by 1% during 2002. largely because of the Argentine economic collapse.

In Bolivia, where incomes have been stagnant for 20 years and the economy recently has turned sharply down, neoliberal polices have driven a strong indigenous and people's movement in reaction, that stopped the privatization of a major water system in 2001 and more recently almost elected an indigenous president, who came in second by only 1.5% of the vote.

Venezuela, in April, found President Hugo Chavez removed from power by a coup after large demonstrations against his left leaning populist government, only to be returned to office three days later on the tide of huge demonstrations in the politically polarized nation.

Haiti has been experiencing increasing violence and disorder in a two year political impasse after a fraudulent election led to a withholding of foreign aid to the poorest nation in the hemisphere.

A jury in Maimi found two former Salvadoran generals responsible for atrocities committed in El Salvador's civil war 20 years ago and ordered them to pay $54.6 million to two torture victims. In February, Amnesty International warned that Guatemala is once again descending into lawlessness and terror six years following peace accords brokered by the UN ended the civil war. Threats and violence have been aimed at people working in the criminal justice system and speaking for human rights, contributing to a raising crime rate and a plethora of lynchings. The report says that Guatemala has become a lawless country in which corporate interests, including subsidiaries of multinational corporations, conspire with the military, police, and common criminals to intimidate and eliminate those who get in the way of their economic interests. Guatemala and Belize presented a plan to the Organization of American States, in September, for a settlement of a boarder dispute that over 143 years has sometimes involved violence.

In September, Mexico's President Vincente Fox, facing a nation impatient for change, and criticism from members of Congress, admitted in his second state of the nation address that many of his administration's goals had not been met, and set improving relations with Congress his number one priority in working to fulfill them. Far from incomplete are such things as reforming the justice system, where some progress has been made, but there remains much corruption and a separate system for the rich than for the poor; improving the economy, where a downturn - following the U.S. recession - has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs; in gaining peace with the indigenous Zapatistas, where he could not gain enough support in Congress to get the full agreement through without modification; and on other issues from migration to tax reform. In August, leaders of a nine month long protest that succeeded in stopping the building of an international airport in their town on the Eastern edge of Mexico City, pledged to create an autonomous government where the people of Atenco would decide their own affairs in a town council. In September, the Mexican government arrested 20 suspected members of a paramilitary group reported to have killed and terrorized Indians in Chiapas.

From May13-24, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held its inaugural meeting at UN headquarters in New York, marking the first time that indigenous people have had any direct voice in the UN. The Council is composed of 16 members, who make recommendations to the Economic and Social Council. Eight indigenous members are appointed by the President of the Social Council, following consultation with regional indigenous groups and organizations. The other eight are nominated by governments and elected by the Council. The members of the forum serve three year terms an may be reelected once. The forum will make recommendations on economic and social development, culture, the environment, health, education and human rights. The Forum also functions to raise awareness, promote integration and coordination of activities relating indigenous issues within the UN system, and prepare and disseminate information on indigenous issues. The Forum will meet once a year for a ten day working sessions.

Russia has ratified the Koyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gasses, clearing the way for it to become international law, despite the U.S. being one of the few countries refusing to sign it. The U.N. Criminal Court was ratified, and became a reality, July 1, despite U.S. objections and attempts to gain an exception for its military personnel that would make them immune to war crimes prosecution.

The Earth Summit in Johannesburg South africa, in September, reached a number of agreements for protecting the environment, but did not set any specific targets or time tables for achieving them. Agreements reached included, a plan to preserve marine life and restore depleted fish stocks, "where possible," by 2015; reduce by half the 2 billion people living without access to clean water and sanitation by 2015; "significantly reduce" the loss of species by 2015; Delete specific targets in the Koyoto treaty for renewable energy by 2015; reaffirm the idea of phasing out agricultural and other trade effecting subsidies; Strongly urged all nations to sign the Koyoto Protocol in a timely manner.

The UN population division began examining migration issues, in June, noting that there is mounting evidence that uncontrolled and often forced migration in poor nations often poses a threat to peace and life. The UN estimates that there are a least 185 million people living in countries where they were not born, up from 70 million 30 years ago, but accurate figures are difficult to obtain.

The Economic-ecologoical-quality of life condition of the world is becoming more polarized, posing long turm dangers for the entire population of the planet. As is shown in Benjamin M. Friedman's review of Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and its Discontents (New York Review of Books, August 15, 2002, http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat/index.html#development), Many third world economies are regressing. This is demonstrated by looking at Uganda, Malawi or Ethiopia, where life expectancy is now under 45, or India where more than half the children are undernourished. Sue McGregor shares some compelling stats, received from Robert Weissman, editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, http://www.multinationalmonitor.org, via: corp-focus@lists.essential.org, illustrating the latest evidence of the startling growth of income and wealth inequality, in the United States and around the world: A new innovation in health care delivery: "boutique" or "concierge" coverage for the world's super-elite, has developed according to a report in the Washington Post by Ceci Connolly. Leading medical providers like the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore are establishing special programs to give platinum service to the well-heeled. Depending on the program, the super-rich customers may receive massages and sauna time along with their physical, house calls, and step-to-the-front-of-the-line service in testing facilities. Using these services are a worldwide elite class of business executives and royalty - the "winners" in a system of corporate globalization.

By contrast, more than 40 million people in the United States have no health insurance coverage at all, and more than a million children die each year, around the world, because they don't have clean water to drink. Other measures of the gains of the wealthy include: Executive pay at top U.S. corporations climbed 571% from 1990 to 2000. U.S. corporate tax payments are slated to drop to historic lows as a result of the tax bill enacted into law earlier this year. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, corporate taxes will plummet to only 1.3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product this year, the lowest since fiscal 1983, and the second lowest level in the last 60 years. More than half of the tax cuts enacted last year that are scheduled to take effect after 2002 will go to the best-off 1 percent of all U.S. taxpayers.

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) reports that there were 497 billionaires in 2001 who registered a combined wealth of $1.54 trillion, well over the combined gross national products of all the nations of sub-Saharan Africa ($929.3 billion) or those of the oil-rich regions of the Middle East and North Africa ($1.34 trillion). "This collective wealth of the 497 is also greater than the combined incomes of the poorest half of humanity." At the same time, even in the United States - the nation that is supposed to be the biggest winner from globalization - the average person has not been able to climb even a few steps up the economic ladder, with Average real wages in the United States at or below the wage rate of 1973. Meanwhile, poverty remains pervasive in both the United States and around the world. One in six children in the U.S. live in poverty. In 2000, a full quarter of the U.S. population was earning poverty-level wages, according to the Economics Policy Institute. Around the world, 1.2 billion persons live on a dollar a day, or less. Tens of millions of children worldwide are locked out of school because their parents are unable to afford school fees. More than a million children die a year form diarrhea, because their families lack access to clean drinking water. The disparity in living conditions is currently widening.

The Swiss-based conservation body WWF-International issued, "Living Planet Report 2002," this summer, stating that, humanity is heading for a sharp drop in living standards by the middle of the century unless it stops its massive depletion of the Earth's natural resources. The principle over users of resources are the rich powers, the United States and Canada, 19 countries of Western Europe, and Japan. "The U.S. government in particular seems completely insensitive to some of the consequences of what it is doing," commented WWF Director General Claude Martin. There is so much pressure on water supplies, forests, land and energy sources that within 150 years the planet's riches could be exhausted and temperatures pushed inexorably upward. Human economic activity has reduced by 35 percent the number of animal and bird species - as well as freshwater and ocean fish, which provide a major source of the worlds food. At current population trends, it said, two Earths would be needed by the year 2050 to meet resource demands. Earth has about 4.70 acres of productive land and sea space for each of the planet's 6 billion people. While average U.S. citizens each have 13 acres of land and sea available in their country to meet their needs, they consume the product of 24 acres. According to the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development, which met in Johannesburg, South Africa, more than half the world's population will suffer water shortages in the next 25 years. Greenhouse gas emissions and another 2 billion people will make life more difficult (For details see the UN Summit Web site, August 16-September 4, 2002: http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat/index.html#un).

In June, the Bush Administration sent a climate report to the UN, for the first time admitting that global warming from human activity is occurring, bringing climate change with serious negative impacts for people. The report suggested no plan of action to limit or slow global warming, suggesting only that people adapt to the negative effects. Numerous problems from global warming and climate change are already being noted. Serious droughts, floods and other weather disasters saw 14 million people at risk from starvation in Southern Africa, according to a UN report, in June. In Alaska, temperatures have risen sufficiently so that the permafrost has melted, with effects the are not yet predictable, making engineers worry that land under 400 miles of the Alaska oil pipeline could become unstable. Forest fires have become a major problem for the first time (even as drier weather and longer fire seasons have increased forrest fire problems in many places in the United States). Mosquitos, and the potential of mosquito born diseases, are a problem in Northern Alaska where they previously did not exist (an example of global warming spreading disease, as warned of in an article in a recent issue of Science). In Alaska (and in California, as well) forests are declining from diseases that were not previously a problem, and from explosive growth of insect populations. In the Caucasus Mountains, in Russia, the unprecedented collapse of a glacier brought 3 million tons of ice and mud down on a village. Shrinking and disappearing glaciers around the world are bringing short to medium run threats of flooding and land and ice slides, and longer run impacts on regional climates. The state of Louisiana is experiencing rapid loss of its cost line as wet lands, extending inland as much as 50 miles from the current shore line, collapse as a result of dikes built along the Mississippi River preventing flooding that carries mud into the delta to renew the wet lands. Over 20,000 miles of oil pipeline along the coast are now at risk, and there already have been some oil spills. In addition, the combination of shrinking coast line and the increasing number of severe hurricanes is raising the likelihood that a major storm could overwhelm New Orleans, killing as many as 20,000-100,000 people. Rises in temperature, particularly in the summer have been increasingly recorded over the past few years.

This May, an unusually intense heat wave, with temperatures reaching 122 degrees, killed more than 1000 people in a week in India, a record for any Indian heat wave. In addition to the effects of global warming, a state of the world report by the UN Environment Program, in May, warned that human development activity is also a major threat to the environment. A quarter of the worlds mammal species face extinction in the next 30 years. Millions of people may face severe water shortages unless firm political action is taken to protect the environment. Human development "across more and more areas of the planet is not sustainable. Unless we alter our course, we will be left with very little." One positive note is that the EPA reported, in May, that the amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment in the US declined in 2000 by 8% (of those chemicals included in the inventory, which has been expanding to include a growing list of substances).

 

In May, the U.S, State Department stated in its annual report on global terrorism that 3,547 people died from terrorist acts around the world in 2001, the highest on record. This includes a reported 3,062 (the number has since been revised downward) fatalities in the attacks of September 11, the largest number of deaths in a single terrorist incident. Without September 11, last years deaths from terrorism would not have set a record.

American arms sales increased last year to the highest level since 1997, with 2,879 weapons sold to 23 countries ranging from Taiwan to Brazil, Spain and the Middle East, with Israel receiving two-thirds of the total. (The figures are available in the U.S. report on conventional arms transfers in the U.N. Registry of Conventional Arms, created in 1992 to make arms sales more transparent to the public). The 2001 National Crime Victimization Survey (compiled from interviews with victims of crimes) reported a drop in violent crime of 9% in the U.S. from 2000 to 2001, not considering homicides. Preliminary statistics in the FBI's calculation of crimes in 2001 indicate a 3.1% rise in homicides from 2000 to 2001.

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