Best short history of trade agreements I've read
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If you were looking to read something today that was a news-related 800-word very nicely written piece of history, may I suggest that you go read Joshua Holland's entry from his Hong Kong dispatches, " WTO, Where Did You Come From?" (scroll down). In five minutes you'll be up to date on the WTO.
And while I'm doing recommended reading, here's a piece that gets into torture by Mark Ames: " Baseball, Apple Pie and Torture: The American Way." It was written around the time of the Abu Ghraib scandal, but it's quite relevant.
What's frustrating is that Rumsfeld, as vile as he is, was merely carrying out the wishes of the American people. Are there really Americans out there who are surprised and horrified to learn that we torture Iraqi prisoners? Well, duh!
In the first place, torture is standard practice in American prisons.
But more importantly, Americans actually WANTED torture. They DEMANDED it!
In a poll taken by the Christian Science Monitor in mid-November, 2001, one-third of Americans admitted that they were in favor of torturing suspects. In a Fox News poll on the eve of the invasion of Iraq last year, 42 percent supported torture! And you have to remember, these poll numbers grossly understated the actual support, given an American's squeamishness to admit his or her torture fantasies over the phone to a stranger. It's like how far-right candidates always poll far lower than the votes they actually take in European elections.
And then there are the two-faced torture pundits who now are just as "shocked" and "horrified" as Bush and Rumsfeld. In the November 5, 2001 issue of Newsweek, allegedly "liberal" columnist Jonathan Alter wrote a column called "Time To Think About Torture." Yep, you read that headline right. The lead started insanely enough:
In this autumn of anger, even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to ... torture. OK, not cattle prods or rubber hoses, at least not here in the United States, but something to jump-start the stalled investigation of the greatest crime in American history. Right now, four key hijacking suspects aren't talking at all."
The four suspects that Alter wanted to have tortured -- Zacarias Moussaoui, Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, Ayub Ali Khan and Nabil Almarabh -- were all later found to have nothing to do with the 9-11 terrorist attacks (well, they still haven't given up on Moussaoui, but the government has changed its tune so many times on his alleged role that whatever they eventually juice him for is irrelevant at this point). But that didn't stop Alter and a mob of other American commentators from calling for torture. I want to repeat that: Jonathan Alter and others, backed by at least a third, but I would bet two-thirds of the country, actually demanded that the FBI torture four innocent suspects.
Jan Frel is an AlterNet staff writer.