Homelessness, Hurricane Mitch & Greed's Global Politics FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 20 Nov 1998 01:06:11 -0400


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"The simple fact is that the million people left homeless and the
thousands who died were so utterly at the mercy of a hurricane
precisely because they have long been at the mercy of global
economic and political powers. They died because they were poor."
-- from  article below

http://www.salonmagazine.com:80/mwt/tisd/1998/11/19tisd.html
FWD  Solon | Nov. 19, 1998

Mothers Who Think | A Modest Proposal

Hurricane Mitch offers U.S. troops the
chance not to show force, but to help others --
especially those we've hurt before.


SECOND THOUGHTS BY SALLIE TISDALE | Last week, F-15 jets
buzzed my sleepy neighborhood, low enough so we could see the
pilots' faces, in honor of dead veterans. Several thousand U.S.
troops, complete with bombers, went to the Mideast. More than
10,000 people are dead and a million people are homeless in Latin
America.

The ironies are almost too easy.

Today, about 27,500 of our troops are in the Mideast, playing a
waiting game with Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, the outpouring of
private donations to the Honduran and Nicaraguan victims of
Hurricane Mitch has been tremendous -- truly a conservative
panacea. It's a core Republican belief that charity is best done like
this, in private, by the can and by the bottle and by the stuffed
teddy bear, through volunteers. That's how we keep government
small and efficient -- that's how we keep government regulations
from meddling with individual liberties. To an astonishing extent,
private donations are working this time -- especially coupled with
more than $100 million in aid from governments around the
world.

Meanwhile, we are prepared to bomb Iraq, kill Iraqi citizens for
better or worse, and make many more American veterans, dead
and alive, in time for next year's fly-over.

It is hard to imagine what Hurricane Mitch has done. The
destruction covers an area smaller than Colorado. In that area,
untold thousands died violently; many thousands more are still
missing. And more than a million people have been left homeless
-- utterly and completely homeless, without clothes, food, fresh
water, medicine or any of the resources with which they could
help themselves. They face death by starvation, thirst, cold,
typhoid and cholera. The people of Latin America are frankly
helpless without aid.

I would like to propose that we think of a new kind of veteran, a
new kind of Veterans Day -- peace veterans, instead of war
heroes.

The United States owes the people of Latin America a big favor.
We have long used their land as a staging ground for military
maneuvers. We have established spy networks and sold guns and
grenades and bombs there. We have supported military coups and
terrorists, committed assassinations, participated in massacres,
covered up systematic torture, toppled elected governments, stolen
and ruined land, protected multinational corporations who held
local people in thrall, disrupted currencies and undermined entire
national economies.

This is just in the last 50 years.

The simple fact is that the million people left homeless and the
thousands who died were so utterly at the mercy of a hurricane
precisely because they have long been at the mercy of global
economic and political powers. They died because they were poor.
They are homeless now because they were barely housed before.
They are unable to help themselves now because the natural
resources and economic power of the region have long been in the
control of distant forces.

At this writing, the United States government has pledged $45
million to help. That's a lot of money, even in the U.S.
government budget. But it's not enough -- it's not even the best we
could do.

A spokesman for the Pentagon told me today that we have 1.4
million ready troops in this country. "Theoretically," he added,
"you could throw another 900,000 on top of that from the
selective reserves." There's an idea: 900,000 reserve troops,
today.

Ours is an impressively enormous and expensive military. A tiny
percentage of it is in the gulf. In recent years, we've sent our
military to Kuwait and Iran, Grenada and Somalia, to a divided
Yugoslavia and to Rwanda, with supremely mixed results.

Now we should send them, in significant numbers, to Nicaragua
and Honduras. Here is a chance to use the peacetime military not
as a show of force, not as a deterrent, not as a buffer between
warring factions, but for rescue: for the simple, straightforward,
human need to help others, especially those we've hurt before.

Imagine 900,000 men and women, trained to work in difficult and
dangerous conditions, equipped with shovels, backhoes, rations,
radios and really good four-wheel drives. These are strong,
healthy, organized young people, and they're used to taking
orders. Imagine how quickly the United States military could dig
the latrines and wells; repair and plant the fields; distribute the
food, water and clothing; and build the basic housing and clinics
that are the only hope to prevent many more people from dying.

A lot of people flinch at the idea of soldiers landing en masse in a
third world country. Time and again, that image has signaled the
beginning of a new round of horror. I flinch myself, imagining
thousands of foreign soldiers marching through the streets of my
city. But I can barely watch the real-time pictures of children,
injured and starving, crawling across hills of mud where their
houses used to stand -- drenched and cold and without even a dry
place to rest. If the marching soldiers were bringing water and
dry clothing and the hope of shelter to me and my children, I
imagine welcoming them.

The United States has been called the world's policeman, among a
lot of other well-earned names. To the extent that is true, our
incredibly expensive and well-equipped military is the equivalent
not only of the police officer's gun, but of the patrol car, radio,
dispatch service and emergency support system.

We can do this, and more. An international, ecumenical
movement called Jubilee 2000 has proposed that the most heavily
indebted poor countries in the world be completely freed from
their unpayable debts in the next year -- freed especially from the
eternal interest constantly diverting scarce resources from basic
needs. Jubilee 2000 is based on verses in Leviticus describing a
time when relationships are rectified, made right. Part of the
reconciliation involves forgiveness of debt, part involves the
freeing of slaves. The result is the restoration of an equal playing
field for all.

The United States should do this too -- forgive, as the nations have
asked this week, the debt held by Nicaragua and Honduras. Cuba
-- essentially bankrupt itself -- has forgiven Nicaragua's $50
million debt. France has forgiven a $70 million debt owed by
Nicaragua and $30 million owed by Honduras. A moratorium on
interest is not good enough. A lot of Americans have gotten rich
off these countries; it's time to pay back.

The devastation in Honduras and Nicaragua is eerily like the
devastation left by bombs -- by war. These countries are torn
apart, and cannot fix themselves. I cannot imagine a more
appropriate opportunity for the United States to right our twisted
relationship with Latin America. We can use our banks to repair
the damage done by capitalist speculation and trading. We can use
our military to make amends for what the military has done, both
secretly and in the open. We can find a new way to celebrate
Veterans Day.

END FORWARD
-

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page
ARCHIVES  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN
TO JOIN  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <wgcp@earthlink.net>
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*******************************************************

3,000+ posts by or via homeless & ex-homeless people

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>

*******************************************************


"The simple fact is that the million people left homeless and the

thousands who died were so utterly at the mercy of a hurricane

precisely because they have long been at the mercy of global

economic and political powers. They died because they were poor."

-- from  article below


http://www.salonmagazine.com:80/mwt/tisd/1998/11/19tisd.html

FWD  Solon | Nov. 19, 1998


<paraindent><param>right,left</param>Mothers Who Think | A Modest
Proposal


Hurricane Mitch offers U.S. troops the

chance not to show force, but to help others --

especially those we've hurt before.

</paraindent>


SECOND THOUGHTS BY SALLIE TISDALE | Last week, F-15 jets

buzzed my sleepy neighborhood, low enough so we could see the

pilots' faces, in honor of dead veterans. Several thousand U.S.

troops, complete with bombers, went to the Mideast. More than

10,000 people are dead and a million people are homeless in Latin

America. 


The ironies are almost too easy. 


Today, about 27,500 of our troops are in the Mideast, playing a

waiting game with Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, the outpouring of

private donations to the Honduran and Nicaraguan victims of

Hurricane Mitch has been tremendous -- truly a conservative

panacea. It's a core Republican belief that charity is best done like

this, in private, by the can and by the bottle and by the stuffed

teddy bear, through volunteers. That's how we keep government

small and efficient -- that's how we keep government regulations

from meddling with individual liberties. To an astonishing extent,

private donations are working this time -- especially coupled with

more than $100 million in aid from governments around the

world. 


Meanwhile, we are prepared to bomb Iraq, kill Iraqi citizens for

better or worse, and make many more American veterans, dead

and alive, in time for next year's fly-over. 


It is hard to imagine what Hurricane Mitch has done. The

destruction covers an area smaller than Colorado. In that area,

untold thousands died violently; many thousands more are still

missing. And more than a million people have been left homeless

-- utterly and completely homeless, without clothes, food, fresh

water, medicine or any of the resources with which they could

help themselves. They face death by starvation, thirst, cold,

typhoid and cholera. The people of Latin America are frankly

helpless without aid. 


I would like to propose that we think of a new kind of veteran, a

new kind of Veterans Day -- peace veterans, instead of war

heroes. 


The United States owes the people of Latin America a big favor.

We have long used their land as a staging ground for military

maneuvers. We have established spy networks and sold guns and

grenades and bombs there. We have supported military coups and

terrorists, committed assassinations, participated in massacres,

covered up systematic torture, toppled elected governments, stolen

and ruined land, protected multinational corporations who held

local people in thrall, disrupted currencies and undermined entire

national economies. 


This is just in the last 50 years. 


The simple fact is that the million people left homeless and the

thousands who died were so utterly at the mercy of a hurricane

precisely because they have long been at the mercy of global

economic and political powers. They died because they were poor.

They are homeless now because they were barely housed before.

They are unable to help themselves now because the natural

resources and economic power of the region have long been in the

control of distant forces. 


At this writing, the United States government has pledged $45

million to help. That's a lot of money, even in the U.S.

government budget. But it's not enough -- it's not even the best we

could do. 


A spokesman for the Pentagon told me today that we have 1.4

million ready troops in this country. "Theoretically," he added,

"you could throw another 900,000 on top of that from the

selective reserves." There's an idea: 900,000 reserve troops,

today. 


Ours is an impressively enormous and expensive military. A tiny

percentage of it is in the gulf. In recent years, we've sent our

military to Kuwait and Iran, Grenada and Somalia, to a divided

Yugoslavia and to Rwanda, with supremely mixed results. 


Now we should send them, in significant numbers, to Nicaragua

and Honduras. Here is a chance to use the peacetime military not

as a show of force, not as a deterrent, not as a buffer between

warring factions, but for rescue: for the simple, straightforward,

human need to help others, especially those we've hurt before. 


Imagine 900,000 men and women, trained to work in difficult and

dangerous conditions, equipped with shovels, backhoes, rations,

radios and really good four-wheel drives. These are strong,

healthy, organized young people, and they're used to taking

orders. Imagine how quickly the United States military could dig

the latrines and wells; repair and plant the fields; distribute the

food, water and clothing; and build the basic housing and clinics

that are the only hope to prevent many more people from dying. 


A lot of people flinch at the idea of soldiers landing en masse in a

third world country. Time and again, that image has signaled the

beginning of a new round of horror. I flinch myself, imagining

thousands of foreign soldiers marching through the streets of my

city. But I can barely watch the real-time pictures of children,

injured and starving, crawling across hills of mud where their

houses used to stand -- drenched and cold and without even a dry

place to rest. If the marching soldiers were bringing water and

dry clothing and the hope of shelter to me and my children, I

imagine welcoming them. 


The United States has been called the world's policeman, among a

lot of other well-earned names. To the extent that is true, our

incredibly expensive and well-equipped military is the equivalent

not only of the police officer's gun, but of the patrol car, radio,

dispatch service and emergency support system. 


We can do this, and more. An international, ecumenical

movement called Jubilee 2000 has proposed that the most heavily

indebted poor countries in the world be completely freed from

their unpayable debts in the next year -- freed especially from the

eternal interest constantly diverting scarce resources from basic

needs. Jubilee 2000 is based on verses in Leviticus describing a

time when relationships are rectified, made right. Part of the

reconciliation involves forgiveness of debt, part involves the

freeing of slaves. The result is the restoration of an equal playing

field for all. 


The United States should do this too -- forgive, as the nations have

asked this week, the debt held by Nicaragua and Honduras. Cuba

-- essentially bankrupt itself -- has forgiven Nicaragua's $50

million debt. France has forgiven a $70 million debt owed by

Nicaragua and $30 million owed by Honduras. A moratorium on

interest is not good enough. A lot of Americans have gotten rich

off these countries; it's time to pay back. 


The devastation in Honduras and Nicaragua is eerily like the

devastation left by bombs -- by war. These countries are torn

apart, and cannot fix themselves. I cannot imagine a more

appropriate opportunity for the United States to right our twisted

relationship with Latin America. We can use our banks to repair

the damage done by capitalist speculation and trading. We can use

our military to make amends for what the military has done, both

secretly and in the open. We can find a new way to celebrate

Veterans Day.


END FORWARD

- 

                               

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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