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)