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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays

Commentaries by the award-winning journalist and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal
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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays
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Now displaying: September, 2006
Sep 30, 2006
THE WAR THAT WON'T STOP [Col. Writ. 9/29/06] Copyright '06 Mumia Abu-Jamal There has been a blizzard of books released about the ill-fated Iraq War. Some have been penned by Bush insiders; others by outsiders. Such is the blizzard that the net result is often confusion, for each is written from the perspective of the writer, and to project or protect one side or the other. Well, here's another one for ya. Now comes Greg Palast, the irascible author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (2004), whose newest work is a broad, if irreverent, look at not just the Iraq disaster, but also the nation's economic debacle, and other perfidies of the governing classes. Palast's new book is: Armed Madhouse (New York: Dutton, 2006). Palast is perhaps best known for his BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) reports on the stolen elections in Florida, and the subsequent assaults on democracy in 2004, in Ohio, and beyond. What hit me, however, was his analysis of the conflicting interests in the Bush administration on the Iraq invasion and occupation. One side, he argues, wanted to use the Iraq takeover as a massive tool to crack OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), and by so doing, kick the Saudis out of the driver's seat, and flood the market with cheap oil. The second option was a relatively modest invasion, the installation of a dutifully obedient puppet, but hands off oil, except to control its flow. According to Palast, the objective was never to take the oil, but to control it, and thereby moderate its flow. By so doing, this would keep the price at a high level, based on the principle that plenty would bring prices too low. Palast writes: "In the short term, Iraq's fields were trashed even before saboteurs torched them. The CIA and the Pentagon knew it no matter what (Paul) Wolfowitz said to bobble-headed Congressmen. In the long run, however, many years from now, Iraq, with 114 billion barrels of proven reserves, might be able to crank up above its OPEC quota. "*But that won't happen*. The globe is littered with the economic skeletons of nations that fragrantly busted their OPEC quotas.. There's the skeleton of Venezuela. In 1973, Venezuela broke the first Arab oil boycott. But in 1997, when Venezuela again ramped up production, punishment was swift. Saudi Arabia, which can live without big oil revenues for up to a year, opened its spigots and drowned the market. The price of oil dropped to $8 a barrel and Venezuela went bankrupt. Its government fell. The current President of that nation, Hugo Chavez, is now a good member of OPEC, indeed its most fanatic adherent to the quota system." (pp. 86-87) This was a war, Palast explains, not to get oil, so much as it was to keep goo-gobs of oil in the ground! The rarer a commodity, the higher its price. In fall, 2005, Exxon Oil raked in $9.9 billion, net. It made more profit during its third quarter than in the history of money! Now why would they want to threaten that? The guy makes one hell of a point. These were wars of capital, with the army, air force, and generals, but footmen for big businesses. This was a 'war for oil', as millions of protesters screamed in spring, 2003. But not the way we thought it. It was a war to make more profits, profits that have only grown since the war began -- till now. Hey, Congress belongs to the corporations. Why shouldn't the army? In a real sense, oil explains everything, in ways that other explanations do not. It seamlessly slips throughout the political, theological, and military justifications for the carnage in Iraq, and emerges as the only consistent rationale for this continuing disaster, which seems to so easily elude logic. Reading Palast's latest book, I thought of a quote from the book, The Lessons of History by Will & Ariel Durant: "...[T]he men who can manage men manage the men who can manage only things, and the men who can manage money manage all." [p. 54] This hot, deadly war is but a front in the invisible economic war. Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Sep 27, 2006
The recent U.S. and New York performance of Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, has led to conniption fits by the chattering classes, sending some right-wing stations into overdrive. I am always amused at times like these, for, because I have some limited knowledge of U.S.-Latin American history, I sense where Chavez is coming from, and can honestly say, if I were looking at the world from a Latin American perspective, I'd feel pretty damn strongly that norte americanos behaved toward their southern neighbors like devils. Since at least 1823 (when U.S. president James Monroe announced his 'Monroe Doctrine'), Latin America has been little more than a colonial playground, or perhaps more fitting, basement for the United States. The Monroe Doctrine essentially was a threat against Europe that any intervention in *any* country in the Americas, would be perceived as a threat to U.S. security. Although pitched to the Europeans, it of course involved Central and Latin America, which was said to be the U.S.'s 'backyard.' In 1927, New York Times columnist Walter Lippman kicked it straightup when he wrote that the US had imperial claims over the Latin South: "All the world thinks of the United States as an empire, except the people of the United States. ... We shrink from the word 'empire,' and insist that it should not be used to describe the dominion we exercise from Alaska to the Philippines, from Cuba to Panama, and beyond. ... [W]e control the foreign relations of all the Caribbean countries; not one of them could enter into serious relations abroad without our consent. We control their relations with each other. We exercise the power of life and death over their governments in that no government can survive if we refuse it recognition. We help in many of these countries to decide what they call their elections, and we do not hesitate, as we have done recently in Mexico, to tell them what kind of constitution we think they ought to have. Whatever we may choose to call it, this is what the world at large calls an empire, or at least an empire in the making."** There it is. And what of U.S. allies? We've just heard reports of how the U.S. acquired Pakistan as an 'ally' in the so-called 'War on Terror.' According to published reports, U.S. officials gripped up President-General Pervez Musharraf, and told him, "If you don't support us, we'll bomb Pakistan back into the stone age!" Whoa! Now that's gangsta! This is less a 'coalition of the willing', than a 'gang of the bullied.' The Mafia could learn from these dudes! As Chavez might say, 'That sounds like the devil!' Nor should we delude ourselves into thinking that this is a Bush thing, or a Republican thing. No. It's an imperialist thing! The late President Lyndon B. Johnson, during a political dispute with the Greek ambassador, told him, "F--- your parliament and your constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. Greece is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good ... If your Prime Minister gives me talk about democracy, parliament, or constitutions, he, his parliament and constitutions may not last very long."** So this is not a new thing. It is an old thing, that people all around the world know about. That old thing is imperialism. It is the U.S. exercising a choke-hold over much of the world for their resources. It's this strong-arm, imperialist arrogance that resulted in U.S. President George W. Bush getting modest, polite applause, and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez receiving prolonged applause, even a standing ovation by some delegates. They recognized that the Venezuelan leader was doing something that perhaps they wished they could do -- speak truth to power. Empire always makes enemies, for oppression breeds resistance. It has resulted in false allies, and real resistors. The lessons of Rome are lost in this new age of arrogance. **[Sources: Nieto, Clara. Masters of War: Latin America and U.S. Aggression (from the Cuban revolution Through the Clinton Years) (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003), p. 22.; Zepezauer, Mark. The CIA's Greatest Hits. (Tucson, AZ: Odinian Press, 1994), p. 33.] Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Sep 18, 2006
If we listen to the speech of Bush administration officials, or of vocal senators, it seems unavoidable that the Bush regime will unleash yet another military disaster against the Imamate in power in Tehran. Readers of our work in the past certainly have read my earlier commentaries which suggested such an attack was all but imminent. I am now of another opinion. Iraq has so shattered the U.S. military capability, and so undermined its credibility in the Middle East, that it seems unlikely that the U.S. empire could muster up enough wherewithal to mount an effective campaign. Also, any attack on Iran would only serve to further destabilize Iraq, where its 60% Shia majority would not sit idly by as their fellow Shias fall under the American gun. The Iraqi armed resistance has been largely a Sunni affair, but surely an attack in Iran would bring armed Shias into the fray. This, the U.S. neither wants nor needs. There is another reason: good old American greed. The big oil companies are licking their collective lips to try to get a taste of the black gold sitting there. Iran has the second highest proven oil reserves in the world, right after Saudi Arabia. Oil companies all around the world are slaking their thirst in the black lake, like ENI (Italy), Gasprom (Russia), Petronas (Malaysia), Shell (Dutch-UK), and Total (France). Back when Dick Cheney still had his desk at Halliburton, he spoke out against US sanctions on Iran, calling them "unproductive." Similarly, when former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, was going through his confirmation hearings, he noted: "differences with Iran need not preclude greater interaction, whether in commerce, or increased dialogue." It is a rare day when Powell and Cheney agree on something, but this was just such a day. And while Bush threw a monkey wrench into the corporate wrangling with his "axis of evil" rhetoric, Big Oil has its interests, which cannot be served if Iran turns into a bigger, bloodier Iraq. Business likes stability to extract its profits. The latest grades on the Iraq adventure, coming from usually supportive sources like the Brookings Institution, are "F" for failure. In the words of Philip H. Gordon, writing in a recent edition of *Foreign Affairs*: "Bush has gotten the United States bogged down in an unsuccessful war, overstretched the military, and broken the domestic bank. Washington now lacks the reservoir of international legitimacy, resources, and domestic support necessary to pursue other key national interests." While there is no love lost between the Iranians and the Americans, they each have their own interests, and neither is served by a military conflict at this time. If Iraq were the bustling, bright, shiny Shangri-La that neocon warmongers promised, perhaps things would be different. But it isn't. By any sane measure, it is a disaster, getting worse, more deadly, more unstable by the day. Even seemingly immortal empires reach their limits. This is America's. So, there will be harsh words. There will be saber rattling. But this is mere bombast. After all is said and done, deals will be made, dollars will cross palms, baksheesh will open locked doors, and oil will flow. It's nothing personal. It's just business. [Source,/i>: "U.S. Policy Towards Iran Takes a New Turn", Class Struggle (Aug-Sept. '06) [Iss. #52], pp. 18-24.] Column Written. 9/14/06. Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Sep 10, 2006
The Power to the Peaceful Festival began humbly in 1999 as an international day of art and culture in support of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. The name and date “911? were chosen to call attention to the emergency status of Mumia’s impending execution and drew roughly 6,000 people to the Mission’s Dolores Park. In 2000, PTTP expanded; showing support for all prisoners on death row, and speaking out against the exponential growth of the prison industrial complex. When the attacks of September 11th, 2001 occurred, the festival took on a new significance, serving both as a day of remembrance for the lives lost in the tragedy as well as a day in which Northern Californians called for and end to all bombing around the globe. The 2002 and 2003 events offered a space for healing and compassion for all the people killed or displaced by terrorism and the war on terrorism. By this time, the festival had outgrown Dolores Park, and was resituated in the lush mile acre of Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park, with over 20,000 people attending. In 2004 the festival was themed "Stand up and be Counted", encouraging people to get out and vote. Last year's festival, themed "Bring 'Em Home" emphasized that the best way to support our troops is to bring them home now and drew upwards of 50,000 attendees participating in a day of music, art and social justice.
Sep 9, 2006
Hasan Shakur: Presente September 7, 2006 On June 28, the state of Texas killed Hasan Shakur. Since executions resumed in the U.S. following a very brief hiatus in the 1970s, thousands of men and woman have been exiled to death row, hundreds executed, and the largest number killed in George Bush's home ground of Texas. Mumia speaks of Hasan, of his death, of his life, and reads Hasan's last poem.
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