American Empire: Page 401.
“Gorbahev, who in March 1985 became the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party at the age of fifty-four, brought much more dynamic leadership and a different set of assumption to the post than the aged leaders he succeeded.”
This organization/party is significant in the sense that Gorbahev can see the weakness the party has accumulated over the decades.He is trying to undertake major reforms to stop the internal decay, help boost the economy and also improve the daily lives of the citizen. The party after this year can also foretell the ending of the Cold War that is happening. Gorbahev tried to end the war by engaging in meetings with the United States multiple times over issues like cutting nuclear arsenals. In 1987, they agreed to a treaty calling for the elimination of all intermediate-range nuclear weapons. After this treaty, Gorbachev said Soviet Union will withdraw from Afghanistan. These actions are showing the end of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Freeman during this chapter is viewing a point where the economic, political, and military relationships around the world are being affected and the ending of the Cold War shows the changes that has changed since then. The fear of war, building weapons, affected foreign policies and domestic life.
American Empire: Page 411.
“Panama eased the way for the Bush Administration when it decided to launch a much larger military operation in reaction to Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait.
During President George H. W. Bush’s presidency, America has got into several conflicts with former allies and President Bush used this opportunity to further re-legitimize the use of force and maintain a massive military capacity. The defeat in Vietnam left the citizens of America having a very negative vibe towards war but President Bush took this opportunity to make the military strong and have some support from the public. They first went after Panama where they won versus a former American ally, Manual Noriega, and that made the public resistance towards war erode. Then after that, they went to war against Saddam Hussein for fear he would take over Saudi Arabia, which would mean Iraq would control a large amount of the world’s remaining oil. This view fits into Freeman’s argument about this era that war is sort of back and the Bush administration didn’t change anything about restoring stability after the Cold War.
After watching the “Dirty Wars” I felt powerless, hopeless and helpless. It seemed like a regular American or not American person meant little or nothing for the big guys and for the war machine. It was too easy to kill the one. Sadly, the private interest became more important than public interest. What even worse there is no public interest anymore. Even though all the actions are always depicted as “public interest” in reality these actions are driven by private affairs only.
Much like during Clinton’s administration government proved its inability of working for the public interest. “Clinton’s plan,…, aimed to provide universal insurance coverage and slow the escalation of health-care costs without greatly increasing government spending….” The plan that every employer was required to provide health care insurance to his/her employees and “…individuals who could not afford insurance would receive subsidies and Medicare recipients would get prescription drug and long-term-care coverage.” (421) Even though the plan initially won a high public support, it was fiercely resisted by the interest groups – employers, insurance companies, drug companies, and doctors. After a year of fighting the plan died in Congress. This proves that private interest of the “big guys” controls the government. Government is unable to do much for a regular American.
Jeremy Scahill attempted to warn the public about the danger of private interest in the public sector in his book Blackwater. Describing the privatization of military forces he shows how little lives of regular Americans mean to the “big guys”, or rather – big corporations. In his book, Scahill explains the difference between public army forces and peaceful mercenaries of private organizations. He goes into an in depth description of how the two fought the war in Iraq (which turned out to be completely independent from each other with different goal and different actions). Mercenary combats of private corporations like Blackwater were widely hired for security purposes by the US government officials. Yet when some of the Blackwater’s mercenaries were killed in Iraq, government was not able or willing to help. To help neither to protect them nor to find out for their families what had really happened. Since war became very profitable, bloody business there is a lot at stake for private groups and there is no place for public interest anymore.
“The end of the Cold War lessened the fear of full-scale nuclear war. But it did not bring an end to conflict or a universal acceptance of Western liberalism.”
The fall of communism at the end of the cold war, and the victory of the Gulf War were crucial events that brought Americans back the confidence that was lost after the Vietnam War. As U.S military leaders got over the Vietnam Syndrome, the Bush administration decided to enforce their military power, despite the absence of any enemies, in an attempt to maintain global stability. However, the defeat of the Iraqi was not a total success as it interfered with Bush’s plans of stability. Massive amounts of arms “flowed into the hands of insurgent movements, criminal enterprises, and terrorists”, making the Middle East an eternal force against global stability and burden to the United States. Although communist power decreased and western-democratic ideology were adopted by more nations, the phrase “new world order” failed to provide global stability.
“High oil prices enabled the Soviet Union, the world’s largest oil producer, to fund groups in Africa, and else where with which it felt political kinship”
Following the Iranian Revolution there was a major anti-Western attitude that led to the growth of the left-wing force in Africa, the Near East and Latin America. Wealthy families and groups in the Far East supported fundamentalism financially and so encouraging the spread of the left-wing power. In Central America, the Sandinista from Nicaragua tried to take over the government, and also aided the guerrilla movement FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) in El Salvador. With the uprising of these left-wing groups, President Reagan’ s policies were being challenged not only by the eastern countries but also by the southern countries as well.
After the Cold War was over, the United States was the only super power to have an ability to use military power to support the world peace. In the beginning of the 1990’s, Bill Clinton became the 42nd president of the United States, and he aggressively intervened militarily in international conflicts to protect humanitarianism and human rights and stop genocide, such as the intervention in the Balkans in 1999. Moreover, because of several terrorist attacks occurred within the United States, Clinton authorized a antiterrorism program in 1995, and Bin Laden was the target as the most dangerous enemy to the United States. This is cause of the prolonged war between the United States and Afghanistan where Al Qaeda has its home base and other Muslim countries to protect American citizens from terrorism. However, the American recent intervention has become irrelevant.
The movie, “Dirty War”, describes the present situations of countries in where the United States has intervened. The movie tells shocking facts which the U.S. government covered up and/or hid. Some of the facts are that innocent pregnant women were shot during the American nighttime raid even though they were totally nonresistant, and the U.S. soldier didn’t bring them to a hospital, and the solders scooped out bullets from their bodies by knives instead. Other injured innocent people by the raid were taken to the military base and confined for few days without changing their clothing spotted with blood. Another fact is that a 16-year-old boy who was a son of Al Awlaki, the first American citizen listed on the hit list, was killed because of the precaution against him to become a terrorist in future. Freeman points out that The U.S. military intervention in the 1990’s was to support humanitarianism and human rights, on the other hand, the movie emphasized American inhuman military action. It seems that American foreign policy has lost their important aim.
Actually, there are many other horrifying facts in the movie, such as the number of unfair apprehension of Muslims has dramatically increased since September 11. Bin Laden was killed in 2011, yet American military has still remained in Afghanistan. Freeman says that most Americans had few attentions to foreign affairs, and the movie tries to make people focus on these affairs.
Bill Clinton was elected as the president of the United States in 1992 directly after George H.W. Bush. Unlike the Republican Bush, Clinton, a Democrat, was focused on changing the economic shift in the nation. Bush failed to reduce the fiscal deficit and focused on expanding international powers. Clinton on the other hand passed many reforms to aid in the reduction of the federal deficit and improve all economic qualities of the country. One main act that Clinton passed was the North American Free Trade Agreement as discussed by Freeman in Chapter 18. This allowed for a globalization of trade and a rapid expansion of the American economy, but this clearly came at a price. As a result violence had spread and terrorism resulted from the expanded economic improvements of the United States.
Dirty Wars is a documentary film the shows the true meaning of terrorism and wars in the Middle East, which can be seen as a direct result of the economic expansion of Bill Clinton. As globalization of trade occurred, many grew envious of our nation and conflicts emerged. The narrator of this film, Jeremy Scahill visits many countries in the Middle East including Afghanistan, Yemen and other countries where the U.S. military is currently stationed. Scahill travels through enemy lines without the approval of NATO and this reveals many things that us citizens did not know. Special forces such as JSOC, which is a team of highly train operatives trained to assassinate terrorist war lords across the world. However, their job does not seem to be as innocent as it seems. In the film, Scahill visits a family that was murdered by this operative team for no reason. The dead victims were allies of the United States and were celebrating a holiday prior to being killed. Scahill constantly shows the terror that the United States shows in executing their ordeals. Many quote the United States as being the true terrorists. With globalization at it’s peak the United States will not stop at any cost in expanding their empire.
“In opposing Iraq, the administration and Bush himself pointed to Saddam’s brutality, the dictatorial nature of his regime, and claimed atrocities committed during its occupation of Kuwait (some of which were made up for the purpose).” p. 410
The fifth president of Iraq worked with the United States government before he became their public enemy number one. U.S supplied Iraqis with arms when it benefited them during Iran-Iraq War, as they did in various other conflicts before (Cuba, Vietnam etc.). Additionally, no actions were taken by U.S against Hussein during extermination of Shia Muslims in Iraq. It is only when Saddam’s forces invaded Kuwait, the Bush administration started taking actions. America’s primary concern was oil, not Kuwaitis. George H. W. Bush feared that if Saddam Hussein wasn’t stopped in Kuwait, he would advance on Saudi Arabia and in turn control most of the oil production in the Middle East. To add legitimacy to their cause, the U.S government secured military backing and funding of international community. Iraqi troop were driven out of Kuwait; Saddam would remain president until the 2003 U.S invasion of Iraq. He would go into hiding but soon captured and subsequently executed for his crimes in 2006.
In Harlan County we encounter a group of frustrated miners that decide to strike to make a stand against the poor working conditions and low wages offered by their employer Duke Coal Mining Company. As a minority acknowledging and recognizing that social and economic inequalities have been an ugly part of American history and an unfortunate truth of daily life is not new to me. However, while watching Harlan County documentary I had the realization when a group of powerful people decide that they will protect their best interests or profits at any cost the color of the person on the other side is irrelevant. Not to sound naïve but subconsciously poverty and the struggle to make ends meet I always assumed were exclusively reserved for Hispanics, Blacks and Native Americans.
But poor whites have been suffering for hundreds of years in this country as well. Some of the poorest folks right now and most affected and stricken by poverty are white. I’m not quite sure if the argument can be made that Harlan County is a direct example and is related to the corporate takeover that commenced in our government around the same time this was filmed. But our government is now solely focused on the needs and wants of the elite rich and corporations, it is no longer about the color of your skin, this social class takeover affects everyone even whites all alike. And this documentary is perfect example of the class warfare takeover people were facing in the 70’s and continue to face.
“Imagine” (1971), written and performed by John Lennon is probably one of the most recognized songs of the 1970’s. 1971 had to be a turbulent time to live in. not only did you have to live in constant fear if you’re a youth of being drafted in to Vietnam. But the war itself was disastrous with thousands of human lives lost on both sides. This had to be a heavy burden on society as many thought American involvement was pointless in this war. The beginning of the 70’s also had just finished witnessing the assignation of four prominent leaders and America was under heavy criticism for the manner in which they treated African Americans in society. All these factors took place and some were still unraveling and during a dark time in American history here comes John Lennon a man who artistically had the world enamored with his music and could’ve possibly composed a song about anything and anything is not an exaggeration and had massive cult following and world success but he however decides to use his superstardom to make a political stance. Mr. Lennon wanted “Imagine” to make us question our reality of the present and as well of the future in order to create change
“Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing for the world “
The above verse is one of my favorite in the song Mr. Lennon is not introducing new ideas to the world, but he’s asking the world to close their eyes and picture a planet that does not need to divide its citizen by the differences between them whether being religious, material or the part of the world we are from. In fact Mr. Lennon points out and makes his listeners know that without these differences we are all equal and all beautiful alike. As an idealist John Lennon’s Imagine create warm fuzzy feelings of what the world should be. The world in its immensity is such a beautiful planet and all its beautiful creations have the given right to enjoy such a place that we were so fortunate to be alive for. The sad reality is that it is just an idea to want happiness and equality for everyone around the world. The truth is, it is a dark greedy world we live in. We systematically whether through religion or country classify ourselves and we lose the concept of humanity for the chance to make a dollar. Instead of those who were fortunate to have the intelligence to be innovative create wealth and take care of those that were less fortunate and talented we have created systems in which we exploit those people. Mr. Lennon pointed out everything that was wrong with society back then and had he been alive today he will be disgusted to know the world is so much worse now. But like Mr. Lennon I still imagine such world to exist. And hopefully I am not a dreamer or want to be the only one. But I know at one point in my life I am going to see the world live as one.