Friday, July 15, 2005

How big is your racket?

Every now and then, a Noam Chomskyan view of the world doesn't seem completely irrational.

So, for example, when Ed Harriman writes (in "Where has all the money gone"):

"Both Saddam and the US profited handsomely during his reign. He controlled Iraq’s wealth while most of Iraq’s oil went to Californian refineries to provide cheap petrol for American voters. US corporations, like those who enjoyed Saddam’s favour, grew rich. Today the system is much the same: the oil goes to California, and the new Iraqi government spends the country’s money with impunity".

He may have a point.

And when Isabel Hilton points to the links between Colombia's drug untouchables
and the government (Guardian, 13 July) and observes:

"In the last five years the US has spent $3bn in the war against drugs in Colombia, a trade with which the paramilitary armies are intimately connected. The money is dispensed under Plan Colombia, due to end in September but now renewed for a further year. It is reasonable to ask whether it was renewed because it was considered a success or a failure: it has had no effect on the availability, street price or purity of the drugs that continue to arrive in the US. And though the US and Colombian officials claim that one million acres of coca have been eradicated in Colombia, the UN testifies that the area under cultivation in the Andes grew by 3% last year".

She too may have a point.

Indeed, in both cases, there's a good case - absent convincing evidence to the contrary - that we are looking at two massive rackets.

This is not to endorse - for example - the views of some anti-capitalism campaigners and anarchists who see everything in a frame of imperialist exploitation. The world is far too big, messy and contentious for that.

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