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« Are Science and Religion at Odds? | Main | Preview: Grace Lee Boggs »

Christian Parenti Answers Your Questions...

We'd like to thank Christian Parenti for taking the time to respond so thoroughly to many of your important comments and inquiries.

Click here for a glossary of many of the terms mentioned in these answers.

Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Mr. Parenti are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.


Photo: Robin Holland
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After five years, what is the role of U.S. and NATO forces there? Are they combating terrorists, opium growers, or the Taliban? Is the military mission in Afghanistan as vague as it is in Iraq, only with less public scrutiny?

Posted by: Bruce from Houston | June 9, 2007 07:24 PM

Bruce,
The NATO mission is to stabilize Afghanistan. So they fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Hezb–e-Islami. After three years in Afghanistan, NATO got more serious about opium, mostly due to US domestic political pressure. The war is classic counterinsurgency: attacking the civilian base of the rebel population, kick in doors, look for weapons, search, arrest, infuriate all the men in the village while you do it. And later on the way back to base something goes bang under your Humvee. The Taliban have willing recruits but they also pay farmers to attack the NATO troops.

I think it is all rather hopeless.
CP

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I'm Canadian and our military folk have been in-country for a few years now. Word coming back to us seems to be that the mission of "bringing democracy" to Afghanis seems to be sufficient motivation. I'm not convinced that anyone (or any country) can, in fact, do that. I think societal evolution happens on its own time. I wonder if, in your research, you have come across any non-fiction examples of such foreign "imperialist" (if I might use the non-pejorative dictionary definition) interventions have actually had the publicly-stated intended result (after some "reasonable" period of time has elapsed)? (Understanding, of course, that NATO is not the only imperialist influence in-country).

Perhaps the political geography of the region and what I, in my ignorance, understand to be a more-or-less constant stream of interlopers crisscrossing (and destabilizing) Afghanistan conspire against any sort of stable country, democratic or otherwise. Comments?

Posted by: Ken Pantton | June 8, 2007 08:34 PM

Dear Ken,
You raise very central questions. I suppose settler colonialism after long periods of blood shed and oppression for native population tend to yield democracy and development, but other than that (and I am not endorsing settler colonialism) I think empire building is an unhelpful thing that tends only to serve the elite population (not even the majority) of the imperial power and rarely ever “the native”, as the Anti-imperialist Frantz Fannon would have put it.

In many ways, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan were all rather similar at one time but Turkey had Atatürk, and Iran had Reza Shah. Afghanistan had a weak monarchy that was never able to subdue its rural landlords, bandits and tribes; it was never able to build a modern centralized state. After 1949 there was another problem: irredentist conflict with Pakistan. The Durand line, a border drawn up the British in 1893, translated into huge territorial losses for Afghanistan. It’s been a low level war between the two states ever since. You can lay that template on top of this war just as easily as upon the anti-Soviet Jihad, though each conflict also has its unique feature there is always this issue of the Durand line separating Afghanistan and Pakistan.
CP

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Thank you, and Bill Moyers, for your insights on Afghanistan. It seems clear that the annual opium harvest is a pivotal problem. Not only does most of the crop get channeled into illicit trade, but it also funds the Taliban's efforts to take the country back--into the Dark Ages. An obvious solution would be for the NATO governments to buy each year's crop at a price higher than the Taliban would pay and then warehouse it outside the country, destroy it, or otherwise dispose of it through legitimate means. Putting stupid Euro-American anti-drug-in-any-form moralizations aside, do you think that such a program could possibly be implemented in Afghanistan? What would be the internal barriers there?

Addendum: My reference to "stupid Euro-American anti-drug-in-any-form moralizations" was not to any opinions you might hold, but rather to the prevailing ethos in Europe and the U. S. that is antagonistic to a government's involvement in any activity that is proscribed by its internal laws and senses of proper moral order. I apologize for stating something in such a way that it might be misconstrued.

Posted by: John Ressler | June 9, 2007 04:22 PM

John,
I guess your question is for Bill… but as for the record I support some sort of “harm reduction” approach to drug use and production. Addiction is a horrible scourge but jail and war don’t seem to solve the problem.
CP

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It is my understanding that the Attorney General for Afghanistan, a Mr. Sabet, was used by the US to 'ok' Guantanamo to the world and he was once on "Voice of America". Sabet was also an ally of Hekmatyar, a terrorist on the US most wanted list of terrorists and friend of bin Laden. Sabet, after his stint with VOA was denied residency status in the US. BUT Canada gave him not only residency status (in 1999 in Montreal where his wife and family live today) but also granted him citizenship in 2001 - so, in effect, we have the Attorney General of Afghanistan being a Canadian citizen. As our Cdn forces are in Afghanistan with NATO and have been for over 5 years, I have been trying to get answers from my Cdn government as to why we would grant citizenship to such a dubious and corrupt and unstable person as this Sabet has the reputation of being. To date, I have received no answers from anyone in our 'new' government.

Do you know about this and just why this has been kept so quiet?

Posted by: Patrick | June 9, 2007 02:54 PM

Patrick,
I don not know the details of this case but suffice it to say that there are many criminals in the Afghan government. For example Izzatullah Wasifi, the government’s current anti-corruption chief served almost four years in prison for selling heroin in Nevada during the 1980s.
CP


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I am one of those "optimistic State Department types" who will be posted to Kabul this July (for two years). While I find it hard to find disagreement with the general conclusions of Mr. Parenti's analysis, I have to hope that the tacit support for the Taliban can be diminished by a more tangible economic benefit, especially for the Pashtun tribes in particular, coming from increased investment, jobs, development aid, etc. There was relative - an all important caveat -- peace and stability in Afghanistan prior to 1973. Not a western democracy, perhaps, but not the Taliban either. Like it or not, we seem to have committed ourselves to nation building vice destroying militarily the Taliban and the rest of the insurgency. This means, nonetheless, an increase and more aggressive employment of military assets in country. One of the reasons for limiting the conventional troop presence in Afghanistan was to limit any resemblance to December 1979. However, if a surge in Afghanistan were to take place, what is your view, Mr. Parenti, of what the general public reaction would be? Tacit acceptance like that afforded the Taliban? Outright popular armed opposition? Something in between?

Posted by: DB | June 9, 2007 10:39 AM

DB,

Have we really committed ourselves to nation building? The track record thus far seems rather lackadaisical.

As I said to John: In Afghanistan the goal was always, get to Iraq as quickly as possible...We can see evidence of this haste in many aspects of the Bush policy in Afghanistan: very few troops, very little aid, the appointment of US leaders who know nothing about the country and culture. There was also an unwillingness (a least until recently) to lean on Pakistan to stop supporting the Taliban. The Bonn process, which drew up the plans for post-war reconstruction and Afghanistan’s new political system, was very rushed and this allowed Northern Alliance warlords to capture the New Afghan State. In 2002, just after the invasion, the GOP control House actually forgot to appropriate any money for Afghan economic aid! This oversight was quickly caught and rectified, with a paltry $300 million for economic development…

You are very correct that “tacit support for the Taliban can be diminished by a more tangible economic benefit, especially for the Pashtun tribes in particular, coming from increased investment, jobs, development aid, etc.” The problem is that it’s been five years and we haven’t done that! People are now very angry, they want to know where the development is. The Bush administration was too cheap and too sloppy and that lead to the creation of a corrupt Afghan government that now steals whatever aid it can get hold of. Many NGOs did shady things but many more did great work… but the money five years on is drying up.

By my estimates, about a billion a year has been spent on development in the last five years. By one measure, that is a lot but given that Afghanistan has 28 million people and in 2001 only one paved road - the level of need is staggering. And let’s be honest, the Louis Berger Group, Inc. (Texas-based and a friend of GW Bush) and Black & Veatch (the main US contractors) do not always spend money so efficiently. They are all for-profit ventures and they have spent far too much on overhead.

As for a surge, or escalation, which could likely come under a Democratic president, I think it would be a larger version of what we see now. One thing to keep in mind is that counterinsurgency can easily generate as many enemies as it mops up. Attacking the civilian base of the rebels breeds new rebels. Kick in doors, search the women’s quarters, humiliate the men – what do you get? More guerillas. Especially if there isn’t enough reform and development, etc.

Alas I think it is Vietnam all over again, except the Taliban, unlike the North Vietnamese and the NLF, hate The Enlightenment and modernity.

It is a very, very bleak picture. I think the responsible thing for the US to do is to withdraw in an orderly supportive fashion and convene a region peace conference to deal with all related issues. I thought much of the Iraq Study Group Report made sense and much of its logic could apply to Afghanistan.

CP

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You commentary tonight is consistent with a lot of other analysis such as Senlis Council and U Victoria Global Studies Institute reports. With this obvious setting ourselves up for long term failure, how can we get Karzai and Bush to realize that Afghan farmers are entitled to be treated at least the equals of Turkish and Thai farmers who are allowed to sell poppies for the legitimate pharmaceutical market. What has been done to educate the policy makers of Afghanistan that if we are to be using the name of democracy - we need to begin practicing it - and we need to find a way for a single crop buyer agency such as the Canadian Wheat Board to mentor the Afghans on establishing a rational service like this. What have you encountered that may put some of this kind of policy together?

Posted by: Alan Blanes | June 9, 2007 04:01 AM

Dear Alan,
The Senlis Council has office in Kabul and they steadily promulgate a sensible drug policy. (People should look them up on the Web for details) Other than that I have found very little thinking or organizing around the issue of the Narcotics trade that is sensible and harm reduction oriented.

What Senlis argues, similar to what you have laid out, sounds crazy to most people because our discourse around drugs is so stunted and moralistic. Either way, these are quite intractable problems that even with the correct approach would take a generation to really get a handle on.
CP

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I started following your work when I was working to stop the private prisons in New Mexico several years ago when my 21 year old grandson died as a result of having been in a Wackenhut prison. It was during this time that I learned about that company as well as KBR, Bechtel and MTC of Abu Ghraib repute. Now here these companies are again, as profiteers in Iraq.

Do you have any plan to investigate the prison situation there and to relate them to US prisons? I do not believe the US has any intentions of leaving Iraq or Afghanistan and I fear the proliferation of private prisons both here and abroad and perhaps drawing attention to this would help prove the real intentions of the US in establishing its world empire.

Most people do NOT understand the implications of the proliferation of prisons and permanent US bases!


Posted by: Suzann Trout | June 9, 2007 02:14 AM


Suzan,
I am really sorry to hear about your grandson. That is awful. I did do a piece on Abu Ghraib months before the photos. It was about two Al Jazeera journalists who were tortured there. It was in The Nation back in 2004. I have not explored the question of Afghan prisons. But maybe I will. Again, I am sorry about the tragic lose of your grandson I can’t imagine how infuriating that would be.
CP

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If the US had kept 100,000 troops in Afghanistan instead of 17,000 would we have had a different result today? Would it do any good to bring in more troops there now?

Posted by: Erwin | June 9, 2007 01:54 AM

Erwin,
It would have made a difference, if lots of aid had been pumped in as well. But now that we’ve five years in I think it is all too late.
CP

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I have a question about your thoughts on why we haven't found Bin Laden. I think your explanation is correct. I have never really thought of it that way. My question is, why were we able to capture Saddam Hussein? Did he not have the support of those around him to protect him as Bin Laden does. Is it because he was seen as a dictator to his people instead of a liberator, or defender against the West?

Posted by: Tommy Hood | June 9, 2007 01:14 AM

Tommy,
As you might recall, Saddam was turned in by one of his own. Maybe some tribesmen in Waziristan will get sick of the Arabs and Chechens and Uzbeks sulking around the local mountains and sell out OBL. But even so, the conflict now raging on so many fronts is about much more that one charismatic nut in a cave.
CP

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Ever considered running for office?

Posted by: John Scherer | June 9, 2007 01:01 AM

John,
Never have but thanks for the complements.
CP

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I have 4 questions for Christian Parenti. Thanks for this opportunity.

1.)Why does the U.S. media not discuss ALL the destabilizing forces in Afghanistan & Iraq, including the U.S.'s own interest in destabilizing both countries (including some US companies)?

2.)Why has there never been any effort to send a capable international police/intel force into Pakistan to capture bin Laden & Zawahiri in the past 6 years? [Pakistan should allow such operations.]

3.)Why does the U.S. care if Iran is developing nuclear technology when Pakistan already has nuclear weapons and at best can be said to permit al-Qaida's presence & impunity within their country?

4.)Will you please discuss this conflict of interest: conservative political parties claim to stop terrorism, but they benefit politically from the violence & fear of attacks. What is their interest then in preventing attacks? [the policies & actions of both terrorists & conservatives benefit each other - i.e. promoting adversaries]

Thanks again.

Posted by: warisforsuckers | June 9, 2007 12:39 AM

Dear warisforsuckers,

I will do my best but I might be brief:

1 Some of the US media does… for example Mr. Moyers. Print Media always has a wider breadth of opinion in it. But yes most TV is in lala land. I think the bottom line is that editor and journalist do not want to rock the boat and when they do they are dumped on as being ideological.

2. The hunt for Osama bin Laden is not an area of expertise for me. I think the US tries. But with out the consent of the locals, any manhunt or guerrilla war is going to have limited results. He also keeps a very low profile.

3. This is not my area of expertise… but it seems clear that the US and Israel want to keep any regional powers contained. Nukes - weather used or not - allow a state to “project power”, have influence, etc.

4. In this question I think you have provided your own answer… Enemies, in limited doses, can be useful. Being threatened justifies repression of internal dissidents and that allows elites to purse their agendas with less hassle from democracy and free speech. As Randolph Bourne wrote almost 100 years ago: “War is the health of the state.” The state has the monopoly on the legitimate use of violence and surveillance and threats to public safety always justify a hardening of state power. So that in essence is what the “war on terror” is about. Yes, Al Qaeda is real, we were attacked, but the uses of the war of terror have gone far beyond real public safety. The whole discourse of the war on terror is about shutting down democratic dissent.
CP

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I am a reporter for the Orange County Register covering the city of Laguna Niguel. I attended a program with Malalai Joya, a young woman member of the Afghan Parliament, and have her notes, as well as comments from a professor at the University of California, Irvine which contradict her claims of murders and terrorism by the Taliban. The prof (don't have my notes with me) claims things are improving in Afghanistan for women and the drug lords and war lords are not as powerful as Malalai claims. My question: Do you know of Joya and what are your thoughts about her?

Posted by: Lois Evezich | June 9, 2007 12:02 AM

Lois,
I briefly met Malalai Joya once, she is great. She has just been censured by the parliament for calling them useless thugs. In this matter I would have to side you Ms Joya. She is incredibly brave. I wouldn’t be surprised if some old guard thug tries to kill her. Two female journalist have been murdered in the last two weeks, and most likely not by the Taliban.
CP

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Your passing thoughts on Pakistan, during the program, seem to presume Musharraf is somehow misleading (if not duping) us about his country's commitment. As you said, he can publish something here pitched to us, while saying quite different things at home.

Isn't he, instead, engaged in a fiercely difficult balancing act, one that any Pakistani leader today would HAVE to pursue in order to (a) survive, and (b) preserve order in a positive (and helpful) way?

Posted by: M. Gordon Jones | June 8, 2007 11:14 PM

M. Gordon Jones,
As regards to the Taliban, Musharraf most definitely is misleading the world. Pakistan supports the Taliban, but denies the fact. So, that is a deception. The question of Musharraf’s internal polices is a related but very different mater. As for foreign policy: He does not HAVE to destabilize Afghanistan. But the officers, who have run Pakistan for half of its existence through three military governments, want a weak Afghanistan, they want “strategic depth” or fall back room in case of a major land war with India.

In the long run security for Pakistan needs to be guaranteed. Settle Kashmir, get India to guarantee some peace with Pakistan and then Pakistan’s officer class might ease up on Afghanistan. Those are the directions US policy should be heading in – large-scale diplomacy aimed at stabilizing very volatile regions.
CP

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Assuming the status quo, what will Afghanistan be like in 5 years? I have inklings of something like the "Great Game" of the 19th century. Is this what we will find ourselves in?

Posted by: Brian Clark | June 8, 2007 10:58 PM

Brian,
Probably much like it is now but with NATO leaving.
CP

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In your interview, the introduction of western style capitalism to Afghanistan was mentioned. Could it be argued capitalism is thriving in Afghanistan? Specifically, drug money being driven into real estate was mentioned. This seems capitalistic, just not in a way we are willing to tolerate. Have we created an economic monster?

Posted by: Dan | June 8, 2007 10:31 PM

Dear Dan,
A hierarchical class society based on drugs, smuggling and stealing aid flows from the west is certainly thriving. But capitalism, in the sense of commodity production by free labor wage for sale on open markets in pursuit of profit, to reinvest for the sake of accumulating more money, is not so thriving.

The political economy of Afghanistan is really rather feudal. Landlords are linked to tenant farmers through layers of debt, ethnicity, kinship and social obligation. The landlords levy “taxes” upon their farmers; call them up as foot soldiers in their feuds and Jihads (these levies or tribal columns are called Lashkars). The landlords (warlords) have great wealth but their wealth – as in feudal Europe – is not so much an end in itself, so much as it is a means to greater status and political power. Their true occupation is competition against their peer rivals, i.e. other landlords. These local dynamics then get caught up in the “great game politics” of the moment. Foreign powers can use these landlord/warlords and allies but the landlords are still very much doing their thing, and that thing is NOT building a modern state and legal system nor industrializing their country.
CP

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1 What should Congress be doing about Afghanistan (both in the short-term and long-term)? As a policy-maker what legislation, policy prescriptions, and solutions would you suggest?

2 What one piece of information should the government AND the general public be reading, that would shed light on the current ground situation, culture and future outlook in Afghanistan? Similarly, what specific solutions can help bridge the gap between the government/public and what is REALLY happening in Afghanistan?

Posted by: Luke Taylor | June 8, 2007 10:31 PM

Dear Luke,

You first question is very hard to answer. I feel that both of these wars are lost, so the question becomes what is the most responsible way to leave Afghanistan. I think the type of regional peace plan proposed by the Baker Hamilton report is necessary for both Iraq and Afghanistan.

My two favorite books on Afghanistan are Louis Dupree’s “Afghanistan” and Raja Anwar’s “The Tragedy of Afghanistan.” They are both old but get at the deep issues moving Afghan politics. Soon, in a year or sooner, I will have a book coming out with Wiley called “Mouth Full of Dust: The End Again In Afghanistan.” I hope that it will serve as a comprehensive primer on this war.
CP

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Afghanistan might thrive as that aforementioned 'capitalistic economy' [democratic] industrial state if those many Poppy Fields were cultivated for use as 'Ethanol' as opposed to Heroin, thus rendering Afghanistan as the regional source for the development of Ethanol as a fuel. Simply take the crop of Poppies away from the drug lords and refine them, market them as Ethanol opening up industry in the Afghan Region. Put the Taliban to work earning suitable incomes so they need not be driven to piracy, and terrorism, as a means to an end. It should not be a crime to be Taliban, put them to work, let them earn a decent living too!

Posted by: USN Ken | June 9, 2007 04:40 PM

I am not a fan of bio-fuels, there are other green alt fuels like wind. Afghanistan suffers very serious environmental problems and a long drought that would make bio fuel cropping very hard. More useful would be legalized hashish and some sort of controlled opium trade.
CP

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I wanted to ask you if you got the sense -- as obscene or cynical as it might seem -- that in Afghanistan as in Iraq, the actual objective of the US presence is not to pacify the region, but to promote instability? What better way to ensure the continuation into the foreseeable future of the War on Terror than to create more recruits for the cause?

If this is combined with typical intelligence shenanigans, such as "false flag" operations, then it would be easy to see why the U.S. military is conducting itself the way it seems to be.

Posted by: John Kirby | June 8, 2007 10:13 PM

John,

I do not think instability is the goal. In Iraq the goal was stability on neo-conservative terms, radical free markets, no planning, fire the army and all Baathists, etc. That fantasy fell apart in about two months.

In Afghanistan the goal was always: get to Iraq as quickly as possible. Iraq is of huge geo-strategic importance. Afghanistan was merely the stepping-stone, the casus belli. We can see evidence of this hast in many aspects of the Bush policy in Afghanistan: very few troops, very little aid, the appointment of US leaders who know nothing about the country and culture (see David Corn’s piece in The Nation 10/30/2006 on Meghan O’Sullivan deputy national security advisor, she is in charge of Afghan policy but cares so little about the place she hasn’t learned the basics.) There was also an unwillingness (a least until recently) to lean on Pakistan to stop supporting the Taliban. The Bonn process, which drew up the plans for post war reconstruction and Afghanistan’s new political system, was very rushed and this allowed Northern Alliance warlords to capture the New Afghan State. In 2002, just after the invasion, the GOP controlled House actually forgot to appropriate any money for Afghan economic aid! This oversight was quickly caught and rectified, with a paltry $300 million for economic development, but you get the point – For Bush, Afghanistan was the road to Iraq.
CP

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Is there an argument to be made that this administration blundered in redirecting focus to Iraq and Saddam Hussein?

Would we--and Afghanistan--be better off today if we had stayed there, thoroughly dealt with the Taliban, supported a democratic change in government and rebuilt that country as a model for "freedom and democracy" the Middle East? Would such an endeavor have been possible?

Posted by: Linda Hansen | June 8, 2007 06:13 PM

Linda,

Possibly but a more important question is one that is less hypothetical: Is the US a country capable of that and would George W. Bush ever pursue such a huge, expensive and largely altruistic project? There were grounds for going in to Afghanistan—the US was attacked by a movement sheltered there. But our foreign policy in the 1980's helped create Al Qaeda.
CP

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I'm hearing reports on how Afghanistan is at its "50/50" point (or tipping point). How do you feel about this, and is Afghanistan starting to lean towards a certain way?

Posted by: Kenny from Florida | June 8, 2007 03:58 PM

Hello Kenny,
Afghanistan is tipping toward the Taliban in the Pashtun populated south. In the north there are multiple fault lines of instability and increased violence against NATO and foreigners. But the north is still stable.
CP


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Aw, come on! The Taliban shut down the CIA's drug business and youngsters, inexperienced and dumbed-down are sent to put things right for the government, that's all! The US has NEVER been in a JUST war, and even the most cursary look at history reveals this. The USrael are the principal head of the hydra working for a NWO which will, after decades of failed attempts, precipitate humanity (what's left of it) to a feudalistic state. The sky is dim with chemtrails, the military proposal "Owning the Weather by 2025," the globalists' sucking up all the wealth, connect the dots, people. And now, Israhell wants war with Iran and Baxter vaccines contain live flu virus...Come on, make an effort, research the facts, you will see the war, any war, has always been an extension of the elite bickering amongst themselves and they use the common man/woman as their living, breathing toy soldiers to settle their disputes. I take comfort in the knowledge that the NWO will not last, for sharks are always inclined to eat each other and even themselves. Yours for 911 Truth

I was surprised to note that even people like Bill Moyers do not use the proper identification of philosophers, scientists and Artists'(writers, poets, architect) if they happen to be Moslem. We do not identify Nietzsche, Newton, Shakespeare or Picasso as Christian philosopher, Scientist; writer or painter; but recognize them by their proper nationality. However, when it comes to their counterparts in a Moslem country; their nationality is omitted.

Hafez and Jalal o din Balkhi (misnamed Rumi - born in Iran with over fifty thousand poems in Farsi; not one in Turkish or Rumi) are both Iranians. This prejudiced misidentification,probably because of the unpopularity of the present and temporary regime in Iran, has become particularly rampant these days.

It is worthy to note that Hafez was hardly a practicing Moslem. However, to save his life against un-Islamic accusations; he wrapped his poems in mysticism just like Jalal o din did. They both believed in almighty God; but ignored religion. It is a shame to simply identify them as moslems.
Please forgive this gentle reminder.

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Over the course of the last ten years I have been an advocate for the rights of prisoners and their families in New Mexico. I have taken a strong stand against prison privatization, as well. NM has been the 'guniea pig' for private prisons with 45% of state prisoners housed in the for profit system.

Beccause of my actions - to include direct action such as demonstrations, advocating among our state legislators, writing numerous letters, articles and presenting publicly as well as on radio and TV - my son, who until yesterday was a prisoner in NM, was retaliated against repeatedly whenever I wrote, spoke out or organized. He was even tortured and spent seven years in solitary confinement. He went to prison as a teenager on a first offense.

In June of 2004 I wrote a cover article on the NM IRaq prison connecion. I was not in the least surprised by the torutre at Abu Ghraib, unfortunately. In fact, Lane McCotter, one of the first people sent to Abu Ghraib to train prison guards, was a former Secretary of Corrections in NM and in Utah. In both states he resigned under the shadow of prisoner abuse - in Utah, that 'abuse' led to the death of a 28 year old schizophreic prisoner who merely refused to remove a pillow case from his head. He was gassed, hosed down with freezing cold water, stripped naked and placed in a restraint chair for 16 hours. He died as a result.

Since that time, GEO and CCA - the two largest operators in the misery-for-profit 'game' - have begun incarcerating children under the 'new and improved' immigration detention program as designed by Homeland Security and ICE in "Operation Endgame" (written in 2002-03). The stated goal of this manifesto is to detain and deport 12 million immigrants by the year 2012.

Last winter I was asked to be a member of a national 'think tank' to deal with prison issues, especially concerning the imprisonment of immigrant children. In Taylor Texas, more than 400 asylum seekers - including young children - are detained at the Hutto facility, owned and operated by GEO. It is inconceivable and utterly disgraceful that this is happening in the USA today. Mass incarceration in the USA foreshadowed the debacles of both Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, yet the media has barely suggested a connection between what is happening abroad, and what has been 'de riguer' in US prisons.

The USA represents only 5% of the world population yet we imprison 25% of all the people incarcerated in the world. What will it take? How many deaths, how many ruined lives? When will someone take this and run with it - a comprehensive look at these connections is mandatory.

It should be duly noted that Operation Endgame is not only directed at 'foreign nationals' but in the event of any threat to national security, these facilities (many underground, literally) will be used to house dissenters.

One of my recent articlez that deals with these issues: "Corporate Prison Boom, Immigration and the Law" can be found at Prison Legal News: http://www.prisonlegalnews.org/Visitors/18783_displayArticle.aspx. I welcome feedback and commentary. I am available for speaking engagements and have been a featured speaker at universities and conferences throughout the country. I believe that prisons reflect the deepest disparities between what we - citizens - believe about ourselves and our moral fiber and what we actually "do unto others." Please consider doing a feature on this critical issue.

Thank you, Tilda Sosaya

Wars are planned long in advance.

Wars are very profitable.

Profitability is not to end suddenly.

Bloodbaths are part of the system unless they change the national economy from a military keynsian spending spree into an economy that actually works, i.e. goods of value are produced efficiently, goods that people actually want. That is sustainable, like Germany for example:

Check the statistics!


Christian,

Can you tell me who might be willing to look into an Afghan in America who is intent on poisoning the relationship and also who is falsely raising funds? He is in Chicago and is one of the anti-depleted uranium crusade's darlings. I am firmly convinced he is not only a fraud, but also making every possible effort to portray America as poisoning Afghanistan forever. I look forward to you or another journalist who care about Afghanistan and America contacting me. Thank you.

I agree with georgeinPA - religion is an excuse for the few in power to abuse and "lord over" others, and the so-called 'christian' religion has become a tool of the state - give your soul to God, your money to me, or I'll kill you in the name of God - gee, sounds like some other fanatics we know of ....

Sen. Brownback,
You say religion is based on faith and is created by God. If God had ANYTHING to do with the creation of "religion" he covered his tracks very well. Nothing in modern religion reflects the qualities of a loving creator. The stench of death and destruction pervades every aspect of modern religion. More people have been murdersd in the name of religion in the last 2 decades, than were murdered in all of written history before. What is the response by our "christian" leaders? More, more, and more death. Religion is about one human wanting to control another human without being accused of being a bully. Politics USED to be the "art of persuasion", now it is a raw grab for power over every aspect of an individuals life. But, you of all people know that very well already.

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