the new, improved american imperialism, or there aren’t really modeling jobs in the u.s.

The new issue of The Nation has an article by Indian author Arundhati Roy that you may find of interest. Here’s a clip:

In this new age of empire, when nothing is as it appears to be, executives of concerned companies are allowed to influence foreign policy decisions. The Center for Public Integrity in Washington found that at least nine out of the thirty members of the Bush Administration’s Defense Policy Board were connected to companies that were awarded military contracts for $76 billion between 2001 and 2002. George Shultz, former Secretary of State, was chairman of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. He is also on the board of directors of the Bechtel Group. When asked about a conflict of interest in the case of war in Iraq he said, “I don’t know that Bechtel would particularly benefit from it. But if there’s work to be done, Bechtel is the type of company that could do it. But nobody looks at it as something you benefit from.” In April 2003, Bechtel signed a $680 million contract for reconstruction.

The article ends with an appeal for the international community, all those millions of people around the world who marched in protest against the war in Iraq, to focus on just a few corporate targets and to destroy them. Heres another quote:

I suggest we choose by some means two of the major corporations that are profiting from the destruction of Iraq. We could then list every project they are involved in. We could locate their offices in every city and every country across the world. We could go after them. We could shut them down. It’s a question of bringing our collective wisdom and experience of past struggles to bear on a single target. It’s a question of the desire to win.

Its an interesting thought, but I wonder if its one that will resonate with people in India, the US and everywhere else in between? Is Roy enough of figure to make something like this work? Will she take the next step and identify these targets and detail their holdings? Itll be interesting to see if anything comes of this.

It was odd – I followed my reading of Roys article on American corporate imperialism with a story from this weeks New York Times Magazine on the rapidly expanding international trade in sex slaves. The two pieces compliment one another in a sick kind of way. Both offer terribly depressing views of a world in which the line separating the haves and the have-nots is becoming increasingly well defined…. The bottom line is that commercialized nations are not just consuming resources, but people at an alarming rate Heres a clip that illustrates just how business-like these sex slave operations are run:

The Eastern European trafficking operations, from entrapment to transport, tend to be well-oiled monoethnic machines. One notorious Ukrainian ring, which has since been broken up, was run by Tetyana Komisaruk and Serge Mezheritsky. One of their last transactions, according to Daniel Saunders, an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, took place in late June 2000 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Tijuana. Around dinnertime, a buyer named Gordey Vinitsky walked in. He was followed shortly after by Komisaruk’s husband, Valery, who led Vinitsky out to the parking lot and to a waiting van. Inside the van were six Ukrainian women in their late teens and early 20’s. They had been promised jobs as models and baby sitters in the glamorous United States, and they probably had no idea why they were sitting in a van in a backwater like Tijuana in the early evening. Vinitsky pointed into the van at two of the women and said he’d take them for $10,000 each. Valery drove the young women to a gated villa 20 minutes away in Rosarito, a Mexican honky-tonk tourist trap in Baja California. They were kept there until July 4, when they were delivered to San Diego by boat and distributed to their buyers, including Vinitsky, who claimed his two ”purchases.”

I wonder if we can make it easier for sex slaves to make it into the country the same way were trying to make it easier for migrant workers to make it into the country Remember, its all about the cheap labor.

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