Thursday, August 07, 2008

Beijing Year Zero

A few years ago, Naomi Klein wrote a landmark article for Harper's Magazine called "Baghdad Year Zero." It posited that, contrary to popular opinion, the fight for post-war Iraq wasn't a failure and in fact had gone exactly according to plan. The problem was simply that most Americans weren't aware of what the true goal in Iraq had been all along: To topple a Middle-Eastern government in favor of the creation of a fresh, new "blank slate" which global corporations could turn into, literally, their own personal sandbox. Klein found that U.S. fighting forces were in some ways merely the Tip of the Spear, pummeling Iraq's infrastructure and clearing the way for companies like Halliburton and Bechtel to flood the nation with construction equipment and Saudi companies to begin advertising every product under the desert sun. According to the article, the aim of Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority was more to help foment a restriction-free environment for multinational business than anything else -- to create a sort of capitalist utopia where the civilized world's pesky laws and regulations were non-existent and there was nothing to stand in the way of good, old-fashioned, unfettered greed.

While I'm as fascinated as the next guy by conspiracy theories and the half-wits who generally subscribe to them, Klein's conclusions about what was happening in Iraq -- and has continued to happen -- were tough to handily dismiss. She's a smart lady and she really did her research; what she wound up turning out was a crack piece of investigative reporting.

Which is why I paid special attention to a column she just wrote about what's been going on in China during the lead-up to the Olympic Games. Suffice it to say, whereas the hope for Iraq may have always been to wipe the government clean and start the whole place over as the ultimate globalization funhouse, the goal for China seems infinitely more disturbing: The communist nation is quietly proving to the world -- specifically, those who know what to look for -- that it can utilize oppression, coercion and absolute state control to, antithetically, create the perfect climate to sell a wealth of global products. And best of all, we're paying for all of it -- the tools being used to subjugate China's citizenry, particularly those who disagree with the government -- through trade and corporate endorsements.

Honestly, it's worth taking ten minutes out of your day to read.

(The Huffington Post: "Unveiling Police State 2.0" by Naomi Klein/8.7.08)


Alex said...

You might enjoy this comic.

Anonymous said...

Klien's book the "The Shock Doctrine" is a must economic read in these times. Basic premise is UofChicago Friedman economic theory is to take advantage of chaos in the populace to advance select individuals economic interests.

When I look at how we (the US) responded to 911, Katrina, or recently the "oil crisis"; I frame it in terms of "The Shock Doctrine".

Sure drill here, drill now, pay less is complete BS. It will take thirty years to get the oil in the pipeline. There is not enough equipment, personnel or refineries to make any rapid influx of new oil sources. Big oil currently has millions of acres on land and off-shore leases they could drill now, but choose not to. Even in thirty years the savings from drill now pay less is estimated to be 12 to 25 cents/ gallon - WOW. Due to our prime oil fields declining over this period, we will still be importing a lot more oil than new drilling will offset.

But due to the shock of $4+ for a gallon of gas, and establishment media being unbale to call BS, the GOP noise machine has convinced 70% of the people to believe that this blatant transfer of our wealth to big oil is really critical to saving money on gas.

Phillip said...

Klein gives a historical context to most of this in "Shock Doctrine". The political logic of late capitalism is fucking terrifying.

Chez said...

There's a chapter in Taibbi's most recent book, The Great Derangement, that basically deals with the same thing -- the fact that every time something catastrophic happens, the big business lobby gets its lapdogs in Congress to rush through a piece of legislation that benefits it immensely but is completely unrelated to the event that just occurred. Oh, 9/11 just happened? Damn -- MUST release the restrictions to drill in ANWR or the terrorists win. Quick, don't think, just do it.