Law and Disorder Radio – James Petras on the Escalation of War in Afghanistan – Chesa Boudin on Latin America – Hosts: Dalia Hashad, Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

Torture And The Need For Justice – Wednesday June 3, at the New York Society For Ethical Culture

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general-stanley-mcchrystal

Obama’s Animal Farm: Bigger, Bloodier Wars Equal Peace and Justice

Here on Law and Disorder we recently talked with several guests on the escalation of war in Afghanistan under the Obama Administration. Last week Obama appointed General Stanley McChrystal to head the US and NATO military command in Afghanistan – another decision revealing how Obama has restored the most notorious Bush era policies, according to James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. In his article titled “Obama’s Animal Farm: Bigger, Bloodier Wars,” Petras outlines how McChrystal’s past brutal leadership is marked by systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and extrajudicial assassinations. Between September 2003 and August 2008, Petras writes, McChrystal directed the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, which operates special teams in overseas assassinations. Petras also mentions that McChrystal is one reason why Obama is fighting to prevent the release of graphic photos that document torture by US soldiers and interrogators. Related: Mysterious Chip–CIA’s Latest Weapon Against Taliban

James Petras:

  • It’s very clear that Obama wants a bigger and more ferocious counterinsurgency program.
  • Obama is also concerned because the entire Pakistan and Afghanistan borders are supporting resistance. Indigenous, anti-colonial forces have taken over.
  • He’s going all out now, he’s pressured the puppet president of Pakistan to launch this humanitarian crime against the Pakistani people, creating 2 million Pakistani refugees, destruction and civil war.
  • The overall picture that we get is a tremendous boost in militarization. In the last couple of months it’s one attack after another on the Pakistan military.
  • McCrystal is gung-ho, he’s a greater asset to destroy the social networks among the resistance. Similar to Vietnam, to go into villages and assassinate local leaders.
  • General McCrystal is a proponent of direct action strictly involved in US terrrorist operations. Slitting throats and strangling anyone remotely connected with the armed resistance.
  • There was effort to distinguish between civilians and armed resistors. McCrystals approach is to empty the pond to catch the fish. There going in to drive out millions of people in Pakistan to catch a few thousand resistance fighters.
  • This is a monstrous humanitarian disaster compared to Rwanda.
  • Torture Photos: You can’t publicize the worst activities of the person you appoint to be the head honcho in this phase of the war.
  • Navy Seals, Delta Force, Special Operations Command. I was at Ft. Bragg, in a debate with military officers regarding death squads in Central America. These are killing operations, no surrender. The people that go into it are psycopaths.
  • That Obama appointed McCrystal to this position builds bridges back to the worst part of the Bush Administration. Obama has accepted the general paradigm of the past presidents, he has a vision of military empire building, rather than realizing that much more power is achieved in economic expansion and investment.
  • The US thought they could do both, economic and military empire building, but with the loss of manufacturing and rise of financial businesses there was no counterweight to the military side of empire. American power can only be realized through a massive military commitment.
  • This is a war against a people, it’s going to be a long dirty war. It’s already shaping up. It’s a cost for big oil and manufacturing, rather than a benefit.

Guest – James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest books are The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006); Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists, Militants (Clarity Press, 2007) and Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power (Clarity Press 2008).

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Gringo: A Coming of Age in Latin America

In the book Gringo: A Coming of Age in Latin America, author Chesa Boudin travels through parts of Venezuela, the streets of Guatemala and to protests in Santiago. Boudin’s narrative chronicles nearly a decade of on-the-road experiences in Latin America. He’s captured the transformation in Latin American politics through the voices of the wealthy and the desperately poor.

One review called Gringo “a compelling firsthand account of the unregulated greed, social neglect, and deliberate misrule that has provoked so many Latin Americans to demand a better life for themselves and their children.”

Seymour Hersch says in another review, it’s “cheap beer, fried plantains, long dusty bus rides, radical politics, the repeated kindness of desperately poor people sharing what they have with an outsider, and Chesa Boudin’s eagerness to share what he’s seeing and what he’s feeling, with sympathy and empathy–as he tries to sort it all out. There’s much to learn in this book.”

Chesa Boudin:

  • This is a book that weaves together two different threads. One is my own personal journey, my own effort to make sense of my identity, my place in the world as a white, privileged North American man. But also, in the context of where I was traveling, working and studying in Latin America at a time when the region was experiencing a dramatic political shift to the left.
  • I had grown up in a very political family. All 4 of my parents had been very involved in the anti-war movement. Both of my biological parents, Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, were incarcerated in New York State maximum security prisons.
  • I grew up in two very different worlds, one of prison and one of privilege and opportunity.
  • I took public buses mainly, interacted with the poorest and most humble as well as the elite rich.
  • I went to Guatemala and from there I went to Chile, which was a classic example of what Naomi Klein writes about in The Shock Doctrine of the US with Pinochet imposing the neoliberal model on the people.
  • I sat for hours and hours in line to change money into pesos, I watched entire families digging through garbage on the street.
  • The irony is that I found time and again, the most downtrodden, the most humble, the ones living 17 people in a 2 bed room apartment were the ones that took me in. Those were the ones that were the most generous.
  • When the political and economic models come out of Washington, it became difficult to fathom what another government approach would look like.
  • In Venezuela, I watched the recreation of system based not on shutting people out but rather giving them a stake in the day to day functioning of their government and empowering poor people.
  • Instead of having people from another country or economic class come in and tell them what they need to do.
  • Venezuela is exciting; its hard to predict what may happen. Ten years into Chavez’s presidency, an opposition opinion poll places him at 60 percent.
  • One of the controversies in Venezuela is the constitutional reform of term limits.
  • The people voted for this not only for the president but for other offices as well, the New York Times framed it as the downfall of democracy.
  • Bolivia has been my favorite country to visit; it’s a beautiful country. Visiting the mines and talking with the miners is something I use as a lens to view the country’s current politics and the political development that led to the election of Evo Morales.
  • One thing I’ve noticed in Bolivia is the left has gotten much more experience being critical from the outside then from actually learning to govern from the inside.

Guest – Chesa Boudin, a Rhodes Scholar, is a student at Yale Law School and author of Gringo: A Coming-of-Age in Latin America.