Mother Jones | Editorial
Friday 19 September 2003
Is the war on terror fuelling a nuclear arms race? Looks like it: The United States is moving to invest
millions in a new generation of nukes; Syria, Iran and North Korea are reportedly busy with weapons
programs; and Saudi Arabia is taking a serious look at joining the ranks of the nuclear-armed
On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected a Democratic measure aimed at blocking
funding for research into low-grade nuclear "bunker- buster" bombs and tactical "mini nukes." The
53-41 vote doles out more than $20 million to the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons research,
and OKs the resumption of underground nuclear tests. The issue is red hot and highly controversial: in
July the House voted to cut funding for the research, over objections from the Bush administration. The
measure now goes to a House-Senate conference, with the energy department likely to get some, if
not all, of the funds requested.
Edward Kennedy, the senator co-sponsoring the resolution to nix the research, explained that the
U.S. can hardly expect other countries to hold back on nuclear weapons if we don't.
"At the very time when we are urging other nations to halt their own nuclear weapons programs, the
administration is rushing forward to develop our own new nuclear weapons."
Fans of the bunker-busters and mini-nukes, like Sen. Pete Domenici (also known as the "patron
saint" of the nuclear industry) say advanced weapons research is needed to give U.S. policymakers
new options in the war against terrorism, and that scientists need the freedom to look ahead at
America's future national security needs. "Let [nuclear scientists] think, let those people design," he
said. "Don't put mental blinkers and blinders on their brains."
But Kennedy, who warned that "a nuclear arms race" could result, was backed up by co-sponsor
Sen. Diane Feinstein:
"By seeking to develop new nuclear weapons ourselves we send a message that nuclear weapons
have a future battlefield role and utility."
The world will watch and the world will respond, and the way they will respond is with a new nuclear
arms race. How long will it take for India and Pakistan to say, 'We should do the same thing'? How
long will it take North Korea and Iran?"
As if on cue, it emerged this week that Saudi Arabia is looking into nuclear weapons program of its
The Guardian of London reported that Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has responded to the
destabilization of the Middle East by launching a strategic review of the nation's defense system. This
review will pursue three defense options: acquiring nuclear capability as a deterrent, entering an
alliance with a protecting nuclear power, or achieving a regional anti-nuclear treaty. The Guardian
reports that the Saudi decision marks a drastic change in Washington-Riyadh relations.
"Until now, the assumption in Washington was that Saudi Arabia was content to remain under the
US nuclear umbrella. But the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US has steadily worsened
since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington: 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudi.
Saudi Arabia does not regard Iran, a past adversary with which Riyadh has restored relations, as a
direct threat. But it is unnerved by the possibility of Iran and Israel having nuclear weapons. "
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's eastern neighbors look to be dabbling in nuclear weaponry. Iran is under
increasing heat from the international community to come clean about its nuclear energy program,
which the International Atomic Energy Agency says is a cover for developing nukes. On Thursday,
Iran's foreign minister complained that European Union requests for the state to cooperate with the
U.N. were not founded on "mutual respect."
And the U.S. has lately been warning Syria to abandon its presumed nuclear ambitions. Not to
mention North Korea, of course, which has perhaps one, or maybe even six, nuclear weapons.
Given all this, it seems an odd time to commit to researching nuclear weaponry.
"Mini nukes" and "bunker-busters" are scary because, as well as being nuclear, they're portable.
Modeled on a conventional weapon used in the U.S. strikes against Iraq and Afghanistan, the
bunker-buster, or Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, is designed to detonate deep in the earth and
vaporize potential stocks of underground weapons. "Mini nukes" are for tactical battlefield use.
While some argue that the weapons would be useful, many think the risk of fueling a nuclear arms
race is too great. In August USA Today editorialized that developing the bunker-buster was moving
modern warfare in the wrong direction.
"In spite of the ominous sound of the weapon, the military has strong arguments for developing it.
Unlike most of the Cold War-era nuclear arsenal designed to wipe out large chunks of the former Soviet
Union, the nuclear bunker-buster could target today's threats, such as buried weapons of mass
But while the military utility of the bunker-buster is undeniable, the logic behind building it is flawed.
It would set the U.S. on an unnecessary course that could trigger a new nuclear arms race.
Unlike the rest of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which was built to deter an attack, the nuclear
bunker-buster would be a first-use weapon. Its development would put new nuclear muscle behind the
administration's new policy of waging pre-emptive war. Considering the promise of conventional
weapons to handle that same bunker-busting mission, building such a nuclear device would send the
wrong message to fledgling nuclear powers with itchy trigger fingers."
Boosters say the bombs' radioactive elements will stay underground, but some scientists aren't
buying it. Martin Butcher the director of security programs at Physicians for Social Responsibility, a
Washington-based advocacy group, told the Asia Times that these bombs present the possibility of
"Constraints of physics stop bunker busters from being effective, as there are limits to how far the
bomb can penetrate. In order to hit the deepest bunker -- meaning 20-30 feet -- it has to be a large
bomb to send shock waves to penetrate down...However, this will lead the fireball to disperse and
radiate dust particles up into the atmosphere, creating a dirty bomb - the most dangerous weapon
there is...These questions just weren't addressed by those who are in charge of the development of
But ultimately, Butcher told the Times, U.S. resumption of nuclear testing will destroy the relevance
of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
With the rapid deterioration of U.S. relations with the Arab world (make that the world, period),
moving forward on nuclear research seems provocative, to say the least.
Ozone Hole Reaches Record Size, U.N. Weather Experts Say
By Erica Bulman
Thursday 18 September 2003
GENEVA (AP) -- The ozone hole over the Antarctic this year has reached the record size of 10.8
million square miles set three years ago, the United Nations' weather organization said Wednesday.
Measurements over and near Antarctica show that ozone decreased more rapidly this year than in
previous years and that the size of the ozone hole is now as large as it was in September 2000, the
World Meteorological Organization said.
The hole could continue to grow to its largest size ever in the next couple of weeks, the WMO said,
but it also could suddenly decrease.
"It's impossible to predict," said Michael Proffitt, a leading expert on the ozone hole at WMO.
"Judging from previous years it usually continues to increase for one or two weeks at this point.
"But I don't think it would increase by that much," he added. "It would be very surprising if it
increased by 20-30 percent."
The hole, a thinner-than-normal area in the protective layer of gas high up in the earth's atmosphere,
has started forming at the end of Antarctic winter every year since the mid-1980s. In August, when the
sun starts to rise again over Antarctica, it triggers accelerated ozone loss following extremely cold
South Pole winters when the area remains in darkness.
One cause of ozone depletion is the chlorine and bromine released by manmade chemical
compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons, which were contained in some aerosols and refrigerants.
Reduction of the ozone layer can let harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun reach the earth's surface.
Too much UV radiation can cause skin cancer and destroy tiny plants at the beginning of the food
In recent years, the ozone hole has tended to near its largest size during mid-September, with the
maximum sometimes reached in late September. Later, it mostly gets filled back in with ozone from
the rest of the layer.
This year's phenomenon is in stark contrast to the ozone hole last year when it was the smallest in
more than a decade after splitting in two during late September.
"The general trend seems to be that the ozone hole is starting earlier, lasting longer and is deeper,"
said Proffitt, adding that last year's smaller and shorter-lasting phenomenon was likely an oddity.
Emission of chlorofluorocarbons have been curbed under a global accord. As a result,
measurements show they are now decreasing in the lower atmosphere and have just peaked and
stabilized in the critically important ozone layer in the stratosphere.
Scientists predict it will take about 50 years for the ozone hole to close.
"This is the worrying part," Proffitt said. "People will stop observing the emissions standards. Things
will go back to the way they were before we started reducing chemical emissions."
The ozone hole forms in the polar vortex, the circular wind pattern that forms annually in the
stratosphere over Antarctica, and this year the vortex is on the scale of 2000, with an area of 13 million
Bush's Saudi Connections
By Michael Steinberger
The American Prospect
Friday 19 September 2003
Why this is a crucial issue in 2004
Saudi Arabia is the wellspring of radical Islam, its primary source of sustenance and inspiration. Yet,
since September 11, the Bush administration has consistently ducked the truth about Riyadh's role in
nurturing terrorism -- and concealed the truth as well. Given the many business and personal ties
binding the president, his family and his associates to the House of Saud, George W. Bush's
see-no-evildoer attitude toward the Saudis is a vulnerability just begging to be exploited by the
Democrats. And they need to do so if they hope to recapture the presidency next year.
Unfortunately, apart from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has been blasting the administration for
months over its pusillanimous Saudi policy, the Democrats appear largely oblivious to the opportunity
staring them in the eye. True, several Democratic presidential hopefuls, notably Howard Dean, have
recently begun to include Saudi Arabia in their bill of particulars against Bush, but the criticism has
been episodic and rather tepid.
The Democrats are instead pinning their hopes on the economy. They really seem to think it's 1992
redux, and that now, as then, rising unemployment will prove to be the Bush-beater and their ticket
back to the White House. However, with the amount of stimulus in the pipeline, the economy may not
be all that weak a year down the road. And even if it is, the Democrats will not be able to send this
Bush packing merely by howling about the number of jobs lost on his watch.
September 11 changed American politics. Voters care about foreign policy in a way that they haven't
in a long while. The Democrats had little to say about terrorism and national security during last year's
midterm elections, and they paid dearly at the polls as a result. Karl Rove plainly intends to wrap the
president's re-election bid in the black crape of 9-11, and unless the Democrats can convince the
public that they can be trusted with homeland defense, they are almost surely headed for defeat.
That's the bad news. The good news is that the Saudi issue gives them a chance to demonstrate their
mettle -- at Bush's expense.
The incubatory role played by Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabite sect in fostering Islamic extremism is
well documented. The desert kingdom leads the way in financing and inciting Muslim holy warriors the
world over. How much of this is done with the complicity of the Saudi regime is unclear, but what is
clear is that the royal family is a kleptocracy that has forestalled its own inevitable demise by
redirecting domestic unrest outward. September 11 was a plot hatched by an exiled Saudi dissident,
and 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.
In the two years since 9-11, the Saudis have been an obstacle, not an ally, in the battle against
Islamic terrorism. Sure, they've muzzled a few firebrand clerics and rounded up some lumpen
Islamicists. But they've shown little inclination to stanch the flow of money from so-called charity
organizations to al-Qaeda and other militant groups, and they've kept cooperation with the FBI and the
CIA to a minimum.
The royal family's many American mouthpieces assure us that the May 12 suicide bombing in
Riyadh was a watershed -- that the Saudis now understand how dangerous al-Qaeda is and will
henceforth be tripping over themselves to help us. That hope is delusional and illogical. The royal
family is interested only in self-preservation, and joining the fight against terrorism in any meaningful
way would be an act of suicide.
John O'Neill, the sadly prescient FBI counterterrorism expert who perished in the World Trade Center
attack, understood long before 9-11 that the problem of "Islamofacism" was chiefly a Saudi one. "All
the answers," he said, "everything needed to dismantle Osama bin Laden's organization, can be found
in Saudi Arabia." But that's only if you're willing to look, which Bush clearly is not. Indeed, he has
protected the Saudis at every juncture.
The pattern was established within hours of the atrocities in New York and Washington, when Prince
Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador (long known as Bandar Bush because of his coziness with
the first family), was permitted to spirit members of the bin Laden clan out of the United States before
the FBI could properly interview them. Since then, the Department of Justice has impeded the lawsuit
filed against the Saudi regime by the September 11 families; the White House blacked out the
portions of a congressional report that detailed the Saudi role in 9-11, and everyone from the president
on down has steadfastly insisted that the Saudis are paid-up members of the anti-terrorism posse.
Bush can spew all the frontier rhetoric he wishes, but in the case of the Saudis, his inaction speaks
louder. Why he would rather undermine the war on terrorism than confront Riyadh is an interesting
question, and it doesn't require a particularly active imagination to wonder if there is more here than
just oil and a bad case of realpolitik.
The links between the House of Bush and the House of Saud are deep, overlapping and notoriously
opaque: the Saudi investment in the Carlyle Group, the private equity firm whose rainmakers include
George Bush Senior; the Saudi bankrolling of Poppy's presidential library; the lucrative contracts the
Saudis doled out to Halliburton when Dick Cheney was at the company's helm. The main law firm
retained by the Saudis to defend them against the 9-11 families is Baker Botts -- as in James Baker,
the Bush family consigliere. And, of course, there's oil, the black glue connecting all these dots.
In short, the Bushies have profited mightily from a relationship with a foreign government that can be
indirectly, perhaps even directly, implicated in the September 11 attacks and other terrorist incidents
and that has been the driving force behind a worldwide jihad.
The administration's coddling of the Saudis presents the Democrats with an opening the size of
Texas, and they need to seize it. Bush is never more inarticulate and unconvincing than when on the
defensive, and no subject is going to set him on his heels faster, and keep him there longer, than the
It wouldn't take much for the Democrats to turn this issue into a political bonanza. Some sustained
pot stirring by the presidential candidates and various party organs would arouse the interest of the
press. Soon enough, all those media sleuths who so assiduously ransacked the lives of the Clintons
would be shamed into finally giving the Bush-Saudi nexus the scrutiny it deserves, and in the flash of a
news cycle, the president would have a problem. Who knows where it all might lead? There are still
unanswered questions about the role Saudi money played in Bush Junior's oil ventures; ditto the
Iran-Contra scandal, which never quite caught up with Bush Senior. The possibilities seem endless.
Playing the Saudi card would be a hardball move, setting the stage for a bruising campaign. But
Bush is no stranger to brass-knuckle tactics (just ask John McCain), and Republicans have been
sliming Democrats for decades on issues of national security. A little retribution is long overdue, and
the Democratic faithful are clearly in a fighting mood; using the Saudis as a cudgel to bash Bush
would be a very effective way of channeling all that rage.
Nor could anyone justly accuse the Democrats of demagoguery; the Saudi issue is legitimate. The
administration appears to have two sets of rules in the war on terrorism: one for the Saudis and one for
everyone else. It's fair to ask why (plenty of conservatives are), to plant that question in the minds of
voters and to tell voters that things will be different with a Democrat in the White House.
Things need to be different. It is imperative that the United States end its dependence on Middle East
oil and its dysfunctional relationship with the Saudi regime, a medieval theocracy headed for the
proverbial dustbin, and rightly so. Robert Baer's new book, Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington
Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude, meticulously details the odiousness of the royal family, and it is a
mark of enduring shame that we ever crawled into bed with these characters.
Four more years of Bush will likely mean four more years of business as usual -- four more years of
ignoring Saudi Arabia's links to terrorism and its egregious human-rights record. On the stump and on
the airwaves, the Democrats should be hammering home this point, giving the Saudis the bashing they
so richly deserve and promising the American public a long-overdue reckoning with Riyadh.
Vilifying the Saudis would not just be good politics and good policy; it would be good for the
Democratic soul. In pledging to free the United States from this pathetic entanglement, the Democrats
would, in a sense, be reclaiming Woodrow Wilson from the Republicans generally and the neocons
specifically. It used to be that the Democrats were the ethical standard-bearers in American foreign
policy, committed to ensuring that the United States conducted itself in a manner consistent with its
founding principles. But they have ceded the high ground of late. Disinterest in global affairs among the
party's rank-and-file, coupled with the economic emphasis of the Clinton years, has robbed the party of
its traditional internationalist voice.
Excoriating Bush over his handling of relations with the Saudis and vowing to put abundant daylight
between Washington and Riyadh would be a way of regaining that voice -- of making the Democrats
once again synonymous with human-rights concerns and the quest for justice abroad. The Saudi issue
is a winning one on every count for the Democrats, and they need to take advantage of it -- now.
Babies and Soy: A Word of Caution
By Katie Mehrer
Considering all of soy's health benefits, it is tempting for new and expectant mothers to see soy-based infant
formula as a "miracle food" and to stock their pantries sky-high with the stuff. Well, hold on there mama. That
most vulnerable member of the population, an infant unable to breastfeed, stands at great risk of developing a
serious thyroid disorder due to a diet based entirely on soy formula. That disorder is hypothyroidism, or an
under-active thyroid and it is a common cause of fatigue, depression, obesity, constipation, extreme
sensitivity to cold and a number of other symptoms, most so common that the disorder can go undiagnosed for
Precocious (Early) Puberty - Beware of infant soy formulas and other soy
Elaine Hollingsworth, director of the Hippocrates Health Center of Australia and author of Take Control of Your
Health and Escape the Sickness Industry, writes about the terrible effects of soy products on children: "I am not
exaggerating when I say that HUNDREDS of people have rung me during the past year to tell me about dreadful
health problems that started after taking up the soy habit. Serious thyroid malfunctioning is one of the most
common complaints. This is not surprising, since it has been known for years that isoflavones in soy can
depress thyroid function, causing autoimmune thyroid disease and even cancer of the thyroid. By far the worst
calls are from women whose children have been fed soy formula. They tell me heartbreaking stories about baby
girls who show signs of early maturation, such as underarm odour, breast development, body hair and even
menstruation as early as two, three and four years of age! The risk appears to be greatest in girls who ingest soy
formula for nine months or more. In baby boys, 12 months of soy feeding can lead to gross effects by the age of
11 or 12. Breasts can appear and testicles do not develop. Several women have rung asking what to do for these
pathetic boys, who refuse to participate in sports, fearing shower-room ridicule, and who will be dependent upon
thyroid drugs for life. I can't help, and I don't think anyone can. Nature did not intend infants to be fed hormones,
and life-threatening consequences occur when they are. Of course, these horrible problems do not occur with
every soy-fed baby, but is it worth taking such a chance? Your child will not thank you, and you may never have
grandchildren. Drinking soymilk during pregnancy can cause a failure to produce breast milk, which can lead to
feeding the baby soy formula. By far the worst cases of soy damage are reported to us by women who have
drunk soy milk while pregnant, and then fed their babies soy formula. This is a deadly combination. These
women cannot restrain their tears when describing the dreadful health problems their children have. They keep
repeating to me, "I didn't know, I just didn't know, the doctor told me to drink it for my bones and give him soy
Ancient Amazon Settlements Uncovered
Thu Sep 18, 7:26 PM ET
Add Science - AP to My Yahoo!
By PAUL RECER, AP Science Writer
WASHINGTON - The Amazon River basin was not all a pristine,
untouched wilderness before Columbus came to the Americas, as was
once believed. Researchers have uncovered clusters of extensive
settlements linked by wide roads with other communities and
surrounded by agricultural developments.
The researchers, including some descendants of pre-Columbian tribes
that lived along the Amazon, have found evidence of densely settled,
well-organized communities with roads, moats and bridges in the Upper
Xingu part of the vast tropical region.
Michael J. Heckenberger, first author of the study appearing this week in
the journal Science, said that the ancestors of the Kuikuro people in the
Amazon basin had a "complex and sophisticated" civilization with a
population of many thousands during the period before 1492.
"These people were not the small mobile bands or simple dispersed
populations" that some earlier studies had suggested, he said.
Instead, the people demonstrated sophisticated levels of engineering,
planning, cooperation and architecture in carving out of the tropical rain
forest a system of interconnected villages and towns making up a
widespread culture based on farming.
Heckenberger said the society that lived in the Amazon before Columbus
were overlooked by experts because they did not build the massive
cities and pyramids and other structures common to the Mayans,
Aztecs and other pre-Columbian societies in South America.
Instead, they built towns, villages and smaller hamlets all laced together
by precisely designed roads, some more than 50 yards across, that
went in straight lines from one point to another.
"They were not organized in cities," Heckenberger said. "There was a
different pattern of small settlements, but they were all tightly integrated.
He said the population in one village and town complex was 2,500 to
5,000 people, but that could be just one of many complexes in the
"All the roads were positioned according to the same angles and they
formed a grid throughout the region," he said. Only a small part of these
roads has been uncovered and it is uncertain how far the roads extend,
but the area studied by his group is a grid 15 miles by 15 miles, he said.
Heckenberger said the people did not build with stone, as did the
Mayas, but made tools and other equipment of wood and bone. Such
materials quickly deteriorate in the tropical forest, unlike more durable
stone structures. Building stones were not readily available along the
Amazon, he said.
He said the Amazon people moved huge amounts of dirt to build roads
and plazas. At one place, there is evidence that they even built a bridge
spanning a major river. The people also altered the natural forest,
planting and maintaining orchards and agricultural fields and the effects
of this stewardship can still be seen today, Heckenberger said.
Diseases such as smallpox and measles, brought to the new world by
European explorers, are thought to have wiped out most of the
population along the Amazon, he said. By the time scientists began
studying the indigenous people, the population was sparse and far flung.
As a result, some researchers assumed that that was the way it was
prior to Columbus.
The new studies, Heckenberger said, show that the Amazon basin once
was the center of a stable, well-coordinated and sophisticated society.
Cancun Files: As Empire Falls, Protesters Celebrate
Tom Hayden, AlterNet September 15, 2003 Viewed on September 15, 2003
Tom Hayden reports from the WTO ministerial conference in Cancun each
day. Read yesterday's report.
CANCUN, Sept. 14 -- Derailment here today of the Cancun WTO Ministerial
caused gloom in the hotel suites at the convention center -- and dancing
in the streets. It was the biggest triumph for anti-WTO critics since
Seattle four years ago, and marked the emergence of a permanent new
power bloc of once-powerless nations defending the rights of hundreds of
millions of small farmers.
In particular, it was a victory for the "Our World Is Not for Sale"
network of global activists who called for the "derailment" of the WTO
process months ago when few believed that to be possible. The Not For
Sale network -- which coordinates local movements, lobbies governments
at the grass-roots level, supports marches like those of Mexican
campesinos this week, and punctuates the WTO's inner forums with direct
action announcements -- is already planning for the next showdown, a
Miami summit in November where the U.S. will attempt to extend NAFTA to
Latin and Central America.
The New York Times called the WTO derailment "unexpected," thanks to
which, it lamented, the global economy "will not receive a jump-start by
the expansion of markets." The paper also reported that the U.S.
presidential campaign is now being "infected" by questioning of
unfettered free trade. The paper, however, did not deign to provide any
explanation for the disease metaphor it applied to political debate.
All observers concurred, however, that the derailment was an
embarrassing setback for the Bush administration. Coming amidst
conflicts in the UN over Iraq, the unsuccessful effort to coerce the
poorer countries seemed to mark the end of the short-lived "American
empire" promoted by the administration's neo-conservative ideologues.
White House hopes for a cheap Iraq victory coupled with the expansion of
trade agreements have both been derailed. Instead, thousands of American
manufacturing jobs continue to disappear into Third World sweatshops,
and unprecedented budget deficits and serious cuts in popular social
programs haunt an administration entering a presidential election year.
Worse, from the viewpoint of White House political operatives, its
opposition is now emboldened and elated.
(c) 2003 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
Rich-Poor Rift Triggers Collapse of Trade Talks
By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday 15 September 2003
CANCUN, Mexico, Sept. 14 - Global trade talks collapsed abruptly this afternoon in an
unprecedented uprising by scores of the world's poorest nations against the United States, European
Union countries and other wealthy nations.
"They were not generous enough; there was just not enough on the table for developing countries,"
said Richard L. Bernal, a delegate from Jamaica, as anti-globalization activists cheered and sang
nearby. "If the developed countries had offered more to the developing countries, it would have created
an atmosphere more conducive to a settlement."
The impasse among the 148 nations of the World Trade Organization threatens to derail prospects
for a global trade agreement that was supposed to be concluded by 2005. Negotiations were launched
two years ago in Doha, Qatar, to lower trade barriers with special emphasis on increasing development
in poor nations.
Talks at this Caribbean resort were intended to further that process; instead, their failure has
exposed a deep philosophical rift between rich and poor nations about the effects of the trade
liberalization that has swept the world in recent decades.
The United States and other rich nations argue that free trade has created jobs and wealth around
the world, and that reducing more barriers to trade would expand that success. But poor nations argue
that the rules of global trade have been tilted too heavily in favor of major industrialized nations, causing
some of the world's most vulnerable people to fall deeper into poverty.
The rich nations' view has long dominated discussions at the WTO, a global body formed nine years
ago to help harmonize trade rules and practices in an increasingly interconnected world. But here in
Cancun, for the first time, developing nations were able to unite to turn their growing frustration into a
powerful counterbalance against the United States and Europe.
"We won't move forward unless we do something for these poor people who have so much to lose,"
said Ivonne Juez de Baki, a delegate from Ecuador, which is a member of a group of 22 nations - -
including Brazil, China and India - - that played a key and contentious role this week in pressing the
United States and the European Union for concessions.
Their main complaint was over the $300 billion in annual subsidies that rich governments provide to
their farmers, which they say leads to overproduction that floods world markets with artificially cheap
food and costs millions of farm jobs in Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia.
"We have won a lot; it's not the end, it's the beginning of a better future for everyone," Juez de Baki
said at a news conference.
"In the past, rich countries made deals behind closed doors without listening to the rest of the
world," said Phil Bloomer of the British organization Oxfam. "They tried it again in Cancun. But
developing countries refused to sign a deal that would fail the world's poorest people."
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said the conference failed largely because some
countries used "rhetoric as opposed to negotiation." He said the United States had been prepared to
make deep cuts in subsidies but that other countries, which he did not name, had not been willing to
negotiate the tariff reductions and other measures the United States was seeking.
"Whether developed or developing, there were 'can-do' and 'won't-do' countries here," Zoellick said in
a statement. "The rhetoric of the 'won't-dos' overwhelmed the concerted efforts of the 'can-dos.' "
At a news conference later, Zoellick said: "A number of countries just thought it was a freebie; they
could just make whatever points they suggested, argue, and not offer and give. And now they are going
to face the cold reality of that strategy: coming home with nothing. That's not a good result for any of
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, called it "a sad day
for the global economy" and said he would use his position to "carefully scrutinize" countries' behavior
in Cancun. "The United States evaluates potential partners for free trade agreements on an ongoing
basis. I'll take note of those nations that played a constructive role in Cancun, and those nations that
Delegates at the talks approved membership for two additional nations, Nepal and Cambodia.
Delegates and analysts here said the failure of the Cancun talks was a setback for the WTO and for
global trade. But almost all predicted that the negotiations were not mortally wounded and would
"The pieces will be picked up again, and the negotiation will go on," said Celso Amorim, Brazil's
foreign minister and key spokesman for the Group of 22 developing nations.
J. Bradford DeLong, an economics professor and trade expert at the University of California at
Berkeley, said today's failure meant that relations between rich and poor nations are stalled where they
have been since the mid-1990s. But he said the overall volume of world trade would continue to
"The world will become a more integrated place, with more goods traded across borders," he said.
"It's just not going to do so under freer trade rules, at least not for a while."
The final straw in the negotiations was the insistence of rich countries, mainly from the European
Union, that developing countries accept global rules in a variety of new areas, including foreign
investment and government procurement. Poor nations and activists argue that those rules meddle in
domestic affairs and should not be part of WTO negotiations.
Many anti-globalization activists, who say the WTO is stacked against poor countries, were almost
gleeful about today's result. To the tune of the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love," they sang "Money can't
buy the world" and danced in the convention center.
But the mood among most delegates was one of resignation.
"This was not an antagonistic environment. This was just a fundamental disagreement over certain
key issues," said Bernal, the Jamaican delegate. "Everybody has to take some of the blame."
But "no deal is better than a bad deal," he said.
Published on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 by CommonDreams.org
The Genetically Modified Bomb
by Thom Hartmann
Imagine a bomb that only kills Caucasians with red hair. Or short people. Or Arabs.
Now imagine that this new bomb could be set off anywhere in the world, and that
within a matter of days, weeks, or months it would kill every person on the planet
who fits the bomb's profile, although the rest of us would be left standing. And the
bomb could go off silently, without anybody realizing it had been released - or even
where it was released - until its victims started dying in mass numbers.
Who would imagine such a thing?
Paul Wolfowitz, for one. William Kristol for another.
And, history shows, when the men who define U.S. military policy from the shadows
set their sights on something, it's worthy of our attention.
I have brown hair and eyes, both determined by specific genes, and there are
probably other markers deep within my DNA that would show a geneticist that most
of my ancestors are Norwegian, Welsh, and English. While there's no one gene for
race, there are numerous genes for the various components of what we call race -
hair color and texture, skin and eye color, eye and nose shape, predispositions or
immunities to disease like Sickle Cell Anemia or Tay-Sachs, and the like.
When creating a genetic bomb to target specific groups, such genetic profiles are
actually far subtler and more accurate than the coarse pseudo-category we call
race. Among men named Cohen all over the world, for example, researchers have
found a specific genetic profile tying them all back to a common ancestor. Another
group with a common genetic profile are people with ADHD ("The Edison Gene"),
who uniquely share common inherited variations in their dopamine-regulating genes
regardless of their ostensible race, geography, or ethnicity.
Thus, anybody who's part of a group with a shared genetic profile may be at risk in
the future, suggest the authors of The Project for a New American Century's (PNAC)
report titled "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a
The report notes that, "Much has been written in recent years about the need to
transform the conventional armed forces of the United States to take advantage of
the 'revolution in military affairs....'" They point out that our military requires a
dramatic transformation, lest we lose our ability to fight future, unconventional wars.
Some may be fought in cyberspace, others underwater or in outer space. And some
even within our own bodies.
Consider what would happen if there was a virus or bacteria that only infected a
particular type of person, killing, disabling, or sterilizing only those of a particular
genetic profile. Consider the political leverage a nation would have if they could
credibly threaten the extinction of all people worldwide with almond-shaped eyes, or
the sterilization of everybody with a gene that tracks them back to a common
ancestor or region.
Three years ago, Wolfowitz, Kristol, and their colleagues suggested this is
something the Pentagon should be thinking about. Not just germ warfare, but gene
And it's not limited just to warfare: Imagine how genetic terraforming could replace
diplomacy, could even render the United Nations irrelevant if entire ethnic groups
were wiped out or could be controlled by the threat of extinction. Or how it could
change the face of politics if an organism got loose that killed off all the people of a
particular minority who tend to vote for a particular political party.
Genetically targeted weapons could change world politics forever, according to
"And," their report notes, "advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target'
specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a
politically useful tool."
Given that Kristol, Wolfowitz, and their conservative PNAC associates like Dick
Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Eliot Abrams, Jeb Bush, and John Bolton
have already brought us two of their early 1998 recommendations - the seizure of
Iraq and a huge increase in defense spending - it's tempting to wonder if this is
another of their other politically useful ideas being explored by the Pentagon.
Or maybe we'd rather not know. At least not those of us with politically problematic
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is the award-winning, best-selling
author of over a dozen books, and the host of a syndicated daily talk show that
runs opposite Rush Limbaugh in cities from coast to coast.
www.thomhartmann.com His most recent book (September 2003) is "The Edison
Gene." This article is copyright by Thom Hartmann, but permission is granted for
reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached and the
title is unchanged.