Columns by Mumia

“OUT OF GEORGIA” by Mumia Abu-Jamal

   For several weeks now, Georgia has been the site of some of the largest prison protests in years. Prisoners throughout the state, using smuggled cell phones, have coordinated self-initiated lock-ins, where they refuse to leave their cells to work or recreate.

   One would think that such an action would please prison officials, but when prisoners organize, even to <i>lock themselves</i> up, prison officials get worried, and they bring out the tools with which they are too accustomed: violence, beatings, retaliatory transfers and isolation cells.

   On Dec. 9th, prisoners began their actions, seeking what sounds like pretty standard demands and reforms: access to educational opportunities, fair parole procedures, decent medical care, nutritional meals, pay for their labor and an end to cruel and unusual treatment by staff.

   Thousands of men; Black, Latino, Whites, Muslims, Rastas, Christians, at Georgia’s Augusta, Baldwin, Calhoun, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Rogers, Telfair, Valdosta and Ware state prisons joined in this nonviolent protest. No staff members nor prison property has been either threatened, damage or harmed.

   Elaine Brown, former head of the Black Panther Party, has helped these men through the newly formed Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, and has spoken out in their support, as have Georgia’s NAACP, Nation of Islam and a host of other groups.  Some Coalition members have visited Macon prison, near Atlanta, to get a first hand look at conditions.

   Black Agenda Radio’s Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford have carried the story, via the Internet, around the world, and the world is responding with support, by emailing and phoning prison officials and GA politicians to support these just and modest demands.

   At last report, despite government repression, the strike is spreading by leaps and bounds –as it should!

 © Mumia Abu-Jamal  December 29, 2010

“WORLD TO COME”

I’m always intrigued when talking heads rush to comfort their viewers with news that the economy is bouncing back because, for that day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average may be performing well.

The Dow is an average of the stock gains and losses of 30 major companies — 30.  Do you know some of those companies?

Well, you may not know you know, but here are a few that you may recognize: American International Group (otherwise known as AIG).  General Motors (GM), and Citigroup, Inc. These companies are now trading at almost historic lows.  AIG’s shares sold at a price of $49.24 per share about a year ago – by midweek it sold for $1.08 per share; GM shares cost $24.24 several months ago, but it’s around $1.93 now; and Citigroup’s highest stock price in 2009 was $27.35, it’s price-per-share on Thurs., April 9, 2009 was $2.70.

(Boy, I bet that made you feel a whole lot more secure, huh?)

The Dow Jones is a snapshot of a tiny fraction of the national economy, but even so, its rises and falls don’t speak of the larger economic state.

By an reliable measure, the U.S. economy is not growing, but contracting.  The jobless rate has recently climbed to the highest levels since 1983, and already this recession is expected to be the longest in 70 years!

If one looks around the world for countries with positive growth rates, two emerge (and neither one are in the West): China, and India.

Now, this is not to say they’re not facing serious economic, social and political challenges. China’s economy, driven largely by exports to the U.S., has dropped by 50%.  Yet, internal economic activity, and other export production, may boost growth to 6% in 2009.

Most of Europe (like its American cousin) is looking at contraction — not growth.

Before the most recent G-20 (group of 20 developed or growing economies) economic summit, when a subdued group met in Davos, Switzerland (2009), Russia’s Premier Vladimir Putin lectured those present, and more ominously, called for an end to the present reserve currency system (the U.S. dollar).

Putin said, “Excessive dependence on a single reserve currency is dangerous for the global economy. Consequently, it would  be sensible to encourage the objective process creating several strong reserve currencies in the future.” *

The world’s reserve currency (the U.S. dollar) is used both as a tool to trade in commodities, such as crude oil, and as an investment in itself, such as in Treasury notes (called ‘T-bills’)

Both uses send hundreds of billions into American treasuries.

To cut that off could spell an unprecedented fall in the value of the U.S. dollar, and send the American economy spiraling downward.

Today, as one of the world’s biggest buyers of US Treasury notes, China is in a powerful position.

© 2009 Mumia Abu-Jamal

* [ Labour & Trade Union Review, March 2009, page 4 ]

“BEATING BACK BATSON”

[NOTE from Sis. Marpessa:  Here's a link to excerpts of Ass't DA McMahon's training video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv9SJPa_dF8 ]

Check that short piece out (57 secs), and then please re-read this piece Bro. Mumia wrote last year:

Beating Back Batson
[col. writ. 9/6/08] (c) ’08 Mumia Abu-Jamal

For those who read court opinions, few can ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1986 Batson v. Kentucky decision.

Essentially, it prohibited the State from removing Black jurors for racial reasons. It re-wrote the rules from the Swain v. Alabama ( 1965) case, where the court required systematic discrimination over a number of cases, over a period of years. Needless to say, such a challenge was clearly beyond the resources of most people, and relatively few were made, and even fewer successful. It is hard to resist the suspicion that this was merely judicial lip service to a principle that was easily ignored, in the breach.

For, it took over a generation, over 20 years, for Swain to be overruled by Batson, and now, Batson is beginning to bear an eerie resemblance to its unworkable parentage, because courts have been loathe to grant relief, and have either created new rules, or simply ignored its dictates.

We see this at work recently in a number of cases, among them Com. v. (Robert) Cook, WL 284060 (July 24, 2008). In this case, the DA used 74% of his strikes to remove 14 Black jurors. Incredibly, the Phila. Court of Common Pleas initially found that even this didn’t constitute a prima facie case of discrimination. Later, it found a prima facie case, but ruled that the DA put forth sufficient race-neutral reasons for exclusion, and therefore not a violation of Batson.

Recently, the PA Supreme Court agreed, even though the DA couldn’t recall why he removed 2 Black jurors — or, in other words, couldn’t articulate a justification.

Now remember — Batson states that the improper removal of one juror violates the constitution. One — not 14.

But here’s the kicker. The DA in Mr. Cook’s case made a video training tape, where he taught his fellow prosecutors how to violateBatson – and how to lie about it to judges.

But perhaps the then prosecutor, Jack McMahon, didn’t need to work that hard, for courts would take up the slack. For where the DA can’t remember a reason, the court will invent one.

This is especially egregious in this case, for the man who wrote the opinion was the DA when McMahon made the tapes, but now sits as Chief Justice of the court. Can you spell ‘conflict of interest?’ Did he recuse himself? (What do you think?)

For over a decade, Pennsylvania courts have painted McMahon as the bad guy, a kind of rogue prosecutor, and most of his convictions have been reversed (except Cook’s), but McMahon wasn’t, and never should’ve been, the issue. For he was simply describing the pattern and practice of the office, and training his colleagues in techniques used over years of trials.

Mr. McMahon was putting into words what DAs did to get convictions. Does that mean his office sought a fair and impartial jury? In McMahon’s words, ” Well, that’s ridiculous. You’re not trying to get that.” In fact, McMahon explained, their jobs were to get the most “unfair” jury possible. And, in many cases, that meant getting as few Blacks to serve on the jury as possible.

Batson is as empty as Swain was, for if they don’t want to give it up, any reason will do.

They proclaim ideals of fairness that bear no relationship to the real process happening daily in courtrooms all across America.

That would be, to quote McMahon, “ridiculous.”

© Mumia Abu-Jamal. April 2009

“What ‘War on Terror?’ “

Have you ever thought (but were afraid to admit) that there really wasn’t such a thing as a ‘war on terror?’

Well, worry no more.

England’s top prosecutor has set the record straight.

Britain’s director of public prosecutions, Ken McDonald, gave a speech in late January to the nation’s Criminal Bar Association.  In words that few U.S. figures of such stature could ever muster, McDonald told the assembly:

“On the streets of London, there is no such thing as a ‘war on terror’, just as there can be no such thing as a ‘war on drugs’.”

McDonald, who heads the Crown Prosecution Service, warned of the “fear-driven and inappropriate response” of the nation’s political and legal community, which could threaten the fairness of trials and due process of law.

McDonald added:

“The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war.  It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by the infringement.”*

How utterly refreshing!  Leave it to the Brits to stick a pin into the U.S. balloon of the ‘war on terror.’

Presidents love to sell the war metaphor to support their prerogatives to accrue more power than their predecessors.  Every war sets the stage for the strengthening of the nation’s executive power.

That’s what McDonald meant when he referred to ‘fear-driven responses.’

It may begin in Britain, but it won’t end there.

That’s because neither wisdom nor common sense can be segregated behind borders.

That’s because fear doesn’t last forever.

Generations ago, during World War II, thousands of Japanese-Americans, men, women, and babies, were placed in concentration camps all across the country — based purely on fear and racist projections.

Today, people look back at that era with embarrassment and deep misgivings.  There was no real, honest basis for this kind of treatment of such citizens.

It took decades, but presidents have condemned such treatment, and reparations (albeit quite modest) were made to survivors of that social tragedy.

Today, a host of errors and evils accompany the so-called ‘war on terror.’  The president has tried to sell the Iraq debacle as ‘the central front’ of this war, but fewer and *fewer* Americans are buying it.

And while politicians insist on swearing their false fealty to it (even though they don’t believe in it, but are afraid to do so, lest they be marked as ‘soft’), public opinion polls show most folks are echoing the views of a British prosecutor.

False pretexts — false wars.  With millions of people refugees, hundreds of thousands dead, land and lives ravaged by American maniacs, and their imperial subjects.

Americans hear ‘war and on terror’ today, and turn to American Idol.

That’s because they know — in their innards — that it’s a crock.

The time will come when we look back, and may dare to smile.

Copyright 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Source: *Asheville Global Report, No. 420, Feb. 1-7, 2007, p. 15.]

“Who Protects Whom?”

A woman is stopped for a traffic violation.

She tearfully explains that she is pregnant, she is bleeding, and she begs — at least a dozen times — to be taken to the hospital.

She might as well have been talking to the wall.

The cops either ignore her, or make light of her plight.  They respond, when they bother to do so, with replies like, “What do you want us to do about it?”

She was jailed — and not taken to a hospital despite her pleas.

Several days later, upon her release, she gives birth to a premature baby, who breathes precisely for one minute — and dies.

When I heard this story, I thought of the motto, ‘protect and serve’ — and wondered, ‘protect who?’ — ‘serve who?’

A young pregnant woman, bleeding — begging — and it means nothing. Less than nothing.  One of the cops, a female, replied, “How is that my problem?”

Will these cops, who saw a pregnant woman suffering — bleeding! — ever face reckless endangerment charges?  Nope.  Were they fired?  Nope.  Will they be?  I doubt it.

The most that may happen — I say may — is the woman may file a civil suit — and some  years later, she may even win (unless a judge decides the cops are immune from suit, as is often the case).

But it will mean nothing — for a baby is dead, forever.

No judge on earth can restore that infant’s spark of life.

That all of this was caught on video, and was hot news (until the tornadoes ripped through Florida), tells us that the cops weren’t terribly concerned about it.

It was just the job — hospitals might’ve involved too much paperwork — or perhaps overtime.

I’ve named no city: nor the woman.  I haven’t had to.

For it could’ve been anywhere — and almost anyone.

It’s not like these were mutually exclusive choices — take her to the hospital, or take her to jail.  Observers know that when folks are injured, they are often carted to the hospital, where facilities exist to insure security.

That didn’t happen — because those two people holding her hostage didn’t want to.

It’s really that simple.

It happened in early 21st Century America, and shows us vividly what’s going on these days.

‘Protect and serve?’  Protect who?  Serve who?

Not her.  Not that baby.

Copyright 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal

“Give WAR a Chance”

A lifetime ago, when the British rock band, the Beatles were at the top of the charts, and before cable TV and the reign of computers, anti-war activists sang a haunting chorus as they demonstrated by the tens of thousands at the Pentagon: “All we are saying, is give peace a chance.”

Decades later, and there is still war (albeit in another place, and for another ’cause’), and demonstrations seem far less potent than times past.

American imperialism, unshackled by the prospect of a true global rival, now fairly bellows in the face of its own unpopularity (in the voice of its acolytes, like George W. Bush): “Give war a chance.”

The Iraq invasion and occupation has been an admitted disaster, and those who called for it the loudest are deserting that sinking ship like rats on a wharf.

The US imperial president, flirting with disapproval numbers that rivals Nixon’s at the height of the Watergate scandal, is overwhelming only in his irrelevance, and perhaps his inability to convince anybody to believe his blather about the so-called ‘war on terror.’

So, in light of the administration’s latest maneuver to support the flagging war with ‘new ideas’ about a “surge”, the White House and its minions on the Hill are asking Americans to ‘give the president’s plan a chance.’

In the face of this catastrophe, what is the role of Congress?

It proposes to debate, and then, after debating, to issue a nonbinding resolution, which condemns the current troop build-up, and also critiques the president’s present handling of the war.

In essence, Congress agrees to say, ‘We don’t like what you’re doing, but we won’t stop it.’

This, in a time of war, a war launched on lies and subterfuge.

Apparently, over 600,000 dead Iraqis, over 3,000 dead Americans, and over 400 billion dollars lost in this failing effort, isn’t quite enough.

In fact, the Congress could stop the war today, by cutting the war budget.  But it won’t do this, for it might endanger a congressman’s future political prospects.

Most of the millions of people who voted in the mid-term elections did so to send a strong anti-war message.

The majority party heading both houses of Congress has indeed changed, but little else has.  It has resolved to issue words, while the president launches bombs.

And given his profoundly neoconservative bent, it is entirely possible that, before the remaining two years have passed through time’s hourglass, the US may’ve launched a strike against Iran.

Even now we hear the media stirrings, provocations meant to soften up the American populace for a new ‘preemptive war.’

What did your votes really mean?

Do you really still believe that you live in a democracy?

What you voted for, and what you believe, is ultimately irrelevant.

The words of the legendary Black freedom fighter, Frederick Douglass echo through the annals of time:  “Power concedes nothing without demand.  It never has, and never will.”

Voting is never enough.

These ruinous wars didn’t begin in a voting booth; nor will voting, standing alone, end them.

It will take much stronger stuff.

Copyright 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal

“The Taming of the Democrats”

Since the recent Democratic wins in the U.S. House and Senate, there has been a concerted effort from the corporate media to evoke from them pre-installation promises of moderation, and a mass denial that there are any plans to impeach a widely unpopular President, George W. Bush.

There has been equally aggressive attention paid to House Speaker-elect, Nancy Pelosi (Dem. – Ca.), who makes history as the first American woman to reach what is essentially the third most powerful office in the nation.

With few exceptions, most outspoken legislators have pooh-poohed the idea of impeaching the President, even before there have been hearings into the events that led to the ruinous disaster in .

Columnists lecture, “It would be too divisive.”  Others decry such talks as ‘radical.’

What is more radical than war?

Why are the same voices and institutions that led the cheerleading squad to war now setting the parameters of acceptable political debate and activity?

Perhaps the most influential newspaper in the , the New York Times, used its front pages as a virtual billboard for the Bush administration, and high-ranking people like Vice-President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State (then National Security Advisor), Condoleeza Rice quoted the NYT incessantly in the run-up to the Iraq War. Pulitzer Prize-winning Times reporter, Judith Miller, essentially served as a scribe for the White House.

It was press scrutiny that led to the recent downfall of outspoken anti-war figure, Congressman John Murtha (Dem.-Pa.) in the race for House Majority Whip, using grainy tapes from almost 3 decades ago – the FBI ABSCAM attempts to bust corrupt politicians.  It certainly appears like the so-called ‘ Washington consensus’ was unilaterally opposed to Murtha in the Whip post, for it would have provided the critic with a platform that could not be easily ignored.  It was precisely this so-called ‘consensus’ that lined up to support the adventure, virtually without a whisper of dissent.

It very well may be the case that these same forces wanted to humble the House Speaker-elect.  And yet it was this same alleged ‘consensus’ (driven, to be sure, by the mad neocons in the White House, the Defense Dept. and the corporate think tanks) that led to this mess.

Consensus, here in the , is actually the agreement of a fairly narrow slice of the American (and sometimes foreign) elite.  In the brief but brilliant book, Behind the Invasion of Iraq (N.Y.: Monthly Review Press, 2003) written by the Humbai, India-based Research Unit for Political Economy, this theme is argued quite strongly:

“Typically apart from legislators and the press, a proliferation of research institutes, semi-governmental bodies, and academic forums circulate proposals voicing the case of one or the other lobby (leaving the administration free to deny that they constitute official policy). These proposals elicit objections from other interests, through similar media; other powerful countries press their interests, directly or indirectly; and the entire discussion, in the light of the strength of the respective interests, helps shape the course of action finally adopted and helps coalesce the various ruling class sections around it. (This process, of course, has nothing to do with democratic debate, since the people are excluded as participants, and are included only as a factor to be taken into account).”

We shouldn’t haggle with theory here.  One need only recall the unprecedented mass pre-war protests, all around the nation, and abroad.

The experts and think tank types decried the ignorance of the masses, but time has proven that the mass demonstrations were right.  Now, the Democrats, being seduced by the lobbyists, the media, and the know-it-alls (who might best be called ‘the know-nothings’) are being persuaded to be bipartisan; to take impeachment off the table; to cool that rap about ending the war.

That, like before, is the recipe for disaster, for it ignores the people who turned out to vote, largely disgusted with Bush’s war.  People are sick to the soul about .

If they ignore the public mood, they will, once again, be digging their political graves. For this war, from beginning to now, has been an unholy disaster, causing the deaths of at least a 1/2 million people. That ain’t impeachable?

Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal

“Saddam’s Sentence”

With excitement and barely suppressed glee, the media announced the
death sentence returned against Iraqi strongman, Saddam Hussein, for
crimes against humanity during the 1982 Dujail massacre.

In the face of the deadly horror that is Iraq, Hussein has become little more than a bad, but distant memory.

Indeed, in both print and audio interviews I’ve read and heard in the
last few weeks, Iraqis looked to life under the Hussein regime as the
good old days.  That is a measure, not of how ‘good’ the old days were,
but of how anguished is the present.

While Shi’as groaned under the repression of the secret police, and the
Kurds lived in terror of the central government, the day-to-day life of
Iraqis was one that was among the most envied of the Arab world.  Its
populace was among the most educated, certainly one of the highest among women in that region.

With the very serious exception of the omnipresent threat of government
security forces, Iraqis lived lives of relative safety and security.

Today, Iraq is bedlam; the police and army are little more than ethnic
death squads.

The U.S.-backed puppet government in Baghdad is a ‘government’ in name
only.  Real power is in the militias and regional religious leaders,
like Moqtada al-Sadr, a man who is both!

In light of Saddam’s death sentence, you’ll probably hear some pundits
claim it’s a ‘turning point’, or a ‘benchmark’, of the new Iraqi
democracy.  In truth, it’s neither.

The forces unleashed by the invasion and occupation have become bigger
than Saddam.

The irony is that Saddam Hussein, according to recently published
reports, never believed that the U.S. would actually take Baghdad; not
because he thought his Republican Guard was so fierce, but because he
thought that Americans couldn’t be so stupid.

Peter Galbraith in an Aug. 2006 article in the New York Review of
Books criticized the military knowledge of both Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld, and Saddam Hussein, as leaders who routinely ignored
advice from their generals.

In the article, “Mindless in Iraq,” Galbraith noted:

“Men who had put their lives on the line in combat were mostly unwilling to put their careers on the line to speak out against a plan based on the numbers pulled out of the air by a cranky sixty-nine-year old [i.e., Rumsfeld].

“Fortunately for the US troops who had to invade Iraq, they were initially up against an adversary who was also convinced of his own military genius.  Saddam Hussein knew it made no strategic sense for the US to invade Iraq and therefore he assumed it wouldn’t happen.  He had maintained ambiguity about whether he had WMDs not because he had something to hide but to intimidate the two enemies about whom he really was worried, the Iranians and Iraq’s Shiite majority.

“Even before the invasion began … Saddam could not quite believe the
United States intended to go all the way to Baghdad .. Saddam could not
imagine that the United States would see an advantage in replacing him
with a pro-Iranian, Shiite-dominated regime.”
[Fr.: Galbraith, Peter, "Mindless in Iraq," NYROB (Aug. 10, 2006), p. 29.]

And so, Saddam will soon have a date with the hangman; but events and
forces at work in Iraq will barely ripple from his passage.  His death
warrant, signed and sealed in Washington, D.C., will bring it no closer
to US regional objectives.

Hasn’t Iraq had enough death?

The hell of today is far worse than the hell of yesterday.

Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal

“John Kerry and the Politics of Wusses”

Politics is about power; how to get it, and how to use it.

The recent media-minted ‘controversy’ over John Kerry’s flubbed joke, the White House/GOP response, and his subsequent apology was a lesson in the use of power, and the absence of it.

Republicans quickly figured out how to spin the flubbed joke into a class attack on the military, and Kerry, never a master at the mike (except when he was a young man speaking to Congress about the Vietnam War), struggled briefly before submitting to the media mob.

“I apologize if I’ve offended anyone,” he moaned, as false a mea culpa as politicians routinely issue when they get tired of the klieg lights at their door.

The kicker is that, even without consciously trying, the Massachusetts Democratic Senator actually got it mostly right.

When one looks at the military’s ruthless wooing of poor kids in Black and Hispanic high schools, they offer them something that is usually beyond most family’s reach: money for college.  Indeed, the Pentagon’s recent dropping of cutoff scores for enlistees seems to affirm Kerry’s unintended remarks.

Indeed, ‘if you don’t study hard,’ if you fail to acquire a scholarship, say, in this age of deindustrialization, the military may be one of the few real life options to people with few resources.

The Army, Navy and Air Force Academies, where officers are trained, are perhaps the only bachelor-degree granting institutions in the country which offer free tuition and entry fees.

But, it matters for naught that Kerry was inadvertently correct.  The media spun it out of control, and the more he fought, the more he seemed like a tired bass on the line, being reeled in.

The Democrats are so nervous about the ‘wuss’ tag, that a guy with a chestful of medals is worn down in a matter of hours by politicians who pushed pens during the war, or used their family’s contacts to stay safe.

The party that has sold the lives of thousands of young men and women (and at least half a million Iraqis!) to benefit the cash flow of corporations, charge the Massachusetts Democrat with besmirching the honor of ‘our brave troops.’ Amazing.

The sad truth is that the Democratic Party, assembled by more disparate pieces than the Frankenstein monster, is not an antiwar party.

It is a corporate party, which is looking to be rented to the highest campaign contributor.

Two years ago, Kerry was on the brink of blasting the Bush regime away, and then there came the debates, where he managed to underwhelm against a dude who couldn’t put two intelligible sentences together.  At one debate, he called for the addition of over 40,000 more U.S. troops, thus sending a dagger into the heart of the anti-war movement.

Today, despite the biggest propaganda machine in history, the majority of people in the U.S. see Iraq for the disaster it is.  Withdrawal is no longer a serious question: it’s ‘when?’

Sometimes, especially when it’s right, it’s only normal to fight.

Kerry, who rides so highly on his military pedigree, would seem to have forgotten that simple lesson.

Meanwhile, Iraq continues to tumble from the imperial grasp, and the only thing American politicians can do, is quibble over whether it is, or isn’t a civil war.

As for Kerry’s intended joke that misfired about how stupid President George Bush is, for a moment, GOP spinmeisters were able to turn the tables, into an issue of class disdain.  For many people, Bush’s dimness only makes him more appealing, for he seems more like everybody else; more human.

There will undoubtedly be some political change in this upcoming election, but it won’t all be the change people want.

Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal

“Iraq: Echoes of Vietnam”

It is easy to liken the Iraq War to Vietnam, but, for many reasons, it
isn’t a perfect fit.

Vietnam differed in very fundamental ways: terrain, the nature of the
opposing armies, and perhaps most obviously, the scale of human carnage.

Iraq is undoubtedly a bloody mess; but compared to the loss of life in
Vietnam, Iraq is a cakewalk.

Yet behind the numbers, apart from terrain, similarities abound.

Both wars were decided by insurgencies instead of frontal, pitched battles.

Soon, if conservative media sources are to be believed, there will be
another similarity: the U.S. politics of overthrow.

The Washington Times (kind of the print version of Fox News), citing
high-level sources, recently reported that plans are in place for
“U.S.-trained Iraqi forces” to overthrow the government of Iraq’s Prime
Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

This U.S.-supported coup would be quietly accepted, to allow the
placement of a so-called ‘strongman’ who would bring the insurgencies to heel.

A recent government meeting between al-Maliki and Shiite militia leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, a man whose armed forces has engaged U.S. forces in recent months and weeks, apparently doesn’t inspire U.S. faith in al-Maliki’s leadership.

The report, if true, casts a long shadow, back to the bloodbath that was Vietnam, when a U.S.-supported regime in power in the former city of Saigon, under the leadership of Ngo Dinh Diem, failed to rouse
sufficient resistance to the National Liberation Front.

Like many of the Iraqis in the present government, Diem came to Vietnam
after living in a foreign country (to be precise, New Jersey). He, and
his government were hugely unpopular.

When Buddhists staged dramatic demonstrations against the government,
with many burning themselves alive, Diem ordered his police to attack
Buddhist shrines and temples, where people were beaten and arrested.
Police shot and killed demonstrators.

When Diem’s generals grew impatient with him, they began plotting a
coup. They kept in touch with the CIA, which heartily endorsed their
plans. The CIA passed the news on to US ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge,
who passed it on to the White House. No one warned President Diem.

As historian Howard Zinn recounts in his A People’s History of the
United States (New York: Harper Collins, 1980 [2003]), the U.S.-backed
army attacked the presidential palace on Nov. 1, 1963, and Diem placed a call to the U.S. ambassador. Records of the call show the following
exchange:

“Diem: Some units have made a rebellion and I want to know what is the
attitude of the United States?

Lodge: I do not feel well enough informed to be able to tell you. I
have heard the shooting, but am not acquainted with all the facts. Also it is 4:30 A.M. in Washington and the U.S. Government cannot possibly have a view.

Diem: But you must have some general ideas ….

Lodge told Diem to phone him if he could do anything for his physical
safety.

That was the last conversation any American had with Diem. He fled the
palace, but he and his brother were apprehended by the plotters, taken
out in a truck, and executed.” [pp. 474-475]

When a puppet is no longer sufficiently obedient, or useful, it is
chucked aside like trash.

We are looking at the beginning of the end in Iraq.

No one thought Vietnam would end with the U.S. lifting off the roof of
the U.S. embassy, leaving behind tens of thousands of its ‘allies.’

The handwriting is on the wall.

This is what ‘American democracy’ really looks like.

Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal

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