Monday, June 29, 2009

Books and Art Collectives On-line and Indy Festival

I’m reposting this as I think it’s a great idea. From Richard Guthrie’s blog.

Many of us write and paint and produce and perform work of all kinds. What if we joined together into a collective and begin to explore spreading the word about each other’s works through our own online lists, blogs etc..It could develop all sorts of unseen paths. Many of us are all doing it already but instead of keeping it all in-house let’s open our doors and windows and cross bridges… The deal: each of provides the other with materials. We share our lists, our interests, our views.

If I have 2000 people and you have the same and we multiply that by say 100 similar lists, it takes on useful proportions. We can weld it to an Indy international book art music stand up fair (BACOLIF) every year. Each of us presents a case for our own site place as the place – we all vote and decide and join in and plan it and head that way for that year. Next year it is somewhere else. Local authorities can be brought in to help with the set up. A park or similar summertime in the northern or southern or eastern or western hemi-spheres. I think we all need more contact more celebration to get us out of our contained world of books and art and music and stand up. It doesn’t matter if we write or paint or sing or talk to different groups and minds..variety it’s the spice. Let me know if you think the idea could and would work and you want to be part of it.


I’ll post some photos of London Fields soon offering it as a possible location for the first BACOLIF event…If you think a few days with so many artists and performers and writers presenting their works, lots of local participation and international visitors you can see some of the potential ..The key is: we are there to celebrate and enjoy each other’s works.. So we’re all different who cares! That’s the key to its success, we’re all involved.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shakespeare's sonnet # LX (60)

in memorium for Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson who passed this way and this day passed -

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end,
Each changing place with that which goes before
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith, being crowned,
Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight
And Time that gave, doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,
Feeds on the rarities of natures truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow;
And yet, to times, in hope, my verse shall stand,
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

Monday, June 22, 2009

the full moon's shroud

hands collect in the heart of empty
space, daylight's edge, the brink
of night weaves dreams into spells,
casting lots across the heavens
from stardust as comets' tails
blaze stargazers' finger-snapped
trails; shivering up a cozmic spine,
burning desire's naked flesh
caresses the cheek of morning,
discarding the waded up wrapper
of yesterday with the dead leaves
lying under the thorny, yellow
acacia bush lining the arcing path
of time, marking this instant separate -
different sign posts etching memory
out from momentary lapses of reason.

clandestine contemplation carpets
dungeon corridors with a gray horizon
haze, under the full moon's shroud;
a dragon roars into the icy teeth
of a nor'easter's hoar frost, blowing
across the face of ancient yearnings:
in the arms of one great mother
all her children hear the same song
lilting at bosom's core, one soul
blossoms into a great, primordial
galaxy where all lines of distinction
blur and vibrations radiate
into infinite, directionless reaches
to find the serenely sublime
peace of absolute, integral devotion.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

North Korea, Nuclear Proliferation and Peaceful Co-existence

With regard to North Korea and Kim Jong-il's current pursuit of nuclear weapons, I suppose all of you have probably not only noticed, but wondered, at my silence on that topic given the gravity of its implications and the significance of the moment as well as my penchant for remarking on all the significant news of each day. It is a complex issue.

One main consideration is this: How can the US morally and ethically repudiate North Korea for doing the same thing it did years ago? I mean, after all, the US, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel have all conducted research into nuclear weapon technology, have all developed nuclear weapons, and have all tested the efficacy of their nuclear weapons. Most of those nations have also developed missile delivery systems and have tested those systems as well. North Korea is doing nothing these other nations have not all done at one time or another. Furthermore, at the times when India and Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons, they were both chastised for it and the world was just as concerned about their likelihood of using those weapons (potentially against one another) as it is today about North Korea's possible use of nuclear weapons.

Another major consideration is: By what right do we assume the moral authority to tell other nations they may not aspire to acquire or actually develop the same military technology possessed by the US, Russia (and other former Soviet satellite nations which possess nuclear weapons in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union), Great Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel (nuclear weapons)? Certainly, there is a need for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and to avoid creating new arms races among and between currently non-nuclear weaponized states. However, there cannot be any moral authority on an issue which supports the continued possession of specific weapons by some nations and a denial to all others regarding their self-interest right to develop the same level of military proficiency as a defensive measure to prevent the possible attack and invasion of the weaker state by stronger, nuclear armed nations.

Consequently, the stand the US, the UN Security Council and the UN body in general take on this issue is nothing short of elitist hypocrisy which preserves the status quo to the detriment of all non-nuclear weaponized nations on the theory that the nuclear weaponized nations will benevolently assure the sanctity and safety of the lesser military powers in perpetuity. This guarantee is impossible to assure, as any quick glance at the collapse of the Roman Empire will reveal.

That said, I also see the value in preventing Kim Jong-il specifically, and all non-nuclear powers generally, from obtaining nuclear weapons as a practical matter.

I think nations like Syria, Iran and North Korea feel caught between the rock and the hard place. They watch the US, time and again, act like a bully on the block and invade some smaller, weaker, more poorly armed country and destroy the stability of that nation as well as those peoples' way of life. They have to feel, on some level, that if they only had nuclear weapons to brandish, they could at least pose a greater threat to the US if it intended to invade, which might make the US more reluctant to actually conduct an invasion. Furthermore, ancient and recent enmity and war with Israel leaves Syria and Iran (and other arab states) feeling extremely vulnerable to a potential Israeli first strike given that the Israelis possess a nuclear capability. This has to be an even greater concern given the effectiveness of the Israeli military in 1967's Six Day War and 1973's Yom Kippur War, as well as the ongoing hostility with Palestinians due to the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and the West Bank and the police state tactics imposed by Israel on Palestinians, as well as ongoing battles with both the government of Lebanon at times and the Hezbollah faction within Lebanon at other times in addition to continuing conflict with first the PLO and now Hamas among Palestinians. I'd suggest they are entitled to some sense of security, though I also have to admit, the idea of these other countries having nuclear weapons scares me.

Nonetheless, people were scared when the Soviet Union developed The Bomb. People were scared when China developed The Bomb. People were scared when the former Soviet Union dissolved and various SSRs became nations who possessed The Bomb (and people remain frightened of that circumstance). People were scared when India and Pakistan developed The Bomb. Yet, among all these nations who possess nuclear weapons, it remains true that only the US has ever actually detonated a nuclear device against another nation (twice). In fact, the US has a history of using a variety of weapons of mass destruction, from the Atomic Bomb during WWII against Japan in Nagasaki and Hiroshima to napalm against North Vietnam and the NLF in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to Agent Orange in Vietnam in as widespread a use as described for napalm to white phosphorous in Falloujah, Iraq, just to provide the best known examples. Hence, nations who fear a potential pre-emptive strike by the US such as North Korea, Syria and Iran all fear the likely American use of WMDs in any war they'd have to wage to preserve their existence and their way of life. It is no wonder these nations seek to possess nuclear weapons. They feel they need these weapons as tactical threats against any invading force to prevent pre-emptive invasions.

I am particularly frightened of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' announced response to North Korea's declared intention of conducting additional tests for either their nuclear weapons, their missile delivery systems, or both: that he intends to beef up Hawaii's security with ABMs, etc. First, to escalate an arms race only hardens North Korea in its position vis-a-vis its perceived need to possess nuclear weapons to deter the US from considering aggression. Second, if the US decides to shoot down one of Korea's tests, that could be perceived as an act of war and could actually lead to the nuclear confrontation everyone claims they are trying to avoid. The same may be true of any attempt to intercept the North Korean ship which so-called military intelligence claims is carrying some kind of nuclear technology. Even if a nuclear confrontation is not the result, the North Koreans might attack South Korea and restart the hostilities which ended in the 50s all over again. They could even attack Japan. That would put China in a hard place, too, because they are still committed by treaty to defend aggression against North Korea.

Part of me thinks, if the US feels the need to show North Korea it can shoot down their missiles, then why not launch an American missile from a South Korean site and shoot it down from Hawaii. Then, the US cannot be perceived as attacking a North Korean asset. They may still take it as an act of war, but they'd be hard pressed to feel the need to strike back given the US wouldn't have destroyed their weapon.

The real way to diffuse the situation is to make North Korea feel less threatened. When you back a frightened animal into a corner, it will strike out in a frightened, angry response. But, if you back up and offer it an avenue of escape marked by food treats, the animal will relax, come out of the corner and be calm. North Korea's economy is in severe straits. The people are barely eating. As China has become more Western involved, especially economically, North Korea has been more isolated in the world. The way to diffuse North Korea's sense of isolation and endangerment, and the fear which arises as a result, is to find a way to bring North Korea more into the world community, not make them a greater pariah; assure them of their sovereignty and safety, not make them feel more threatened; and assist them to improve their economic situation so they feel they have a stake in maintaining positive relations with the West. If North Korea feels it has nothing to lose because it has nothing and no place in the world, threatening to destroy everything (and possibly following through on that threat) looms as a viable strategy. However, engage North Korea in mutually enriching economic endeavors and a mutually assured sense of national security, and North Korea will have a stake in maintaining and preserving agreements into which it enters.

The same strategy applies to Iran and Syria. If the world engages those nations in a manner which assures them of national security, accepts their culture and "way of life," confirms them with respect and dignity, and engages them in mutually beneficial economic ties, those nations will have a greater stake in preserving the world order which is relied upon to perpetuate that sense of place in the world. The more US strategies seek to isolate, punish, repudiate and destabilize those nations, the less they will invest in any desire to mesh with the world in mutually respectful interrelationships which require all parties to recognize they have a significant stake in maintaining a harmonious world order.

You catch more bees with honey than vinegar...

The US likes to say that rogue nations pose the greatest threat to world stability because they sell arms to dangerous groups. The fact is, the US armed and funded Al Qaeda and the Taliban when Al Qaeda was known as the Mujahedeen and the two fought the Soviet Union. The US gave the WMDs to Iraq which Saddam used against Iran and his own people. The US GAO determined that arms which are fueling the rise of violence by Mexico's drug cartels are mainly smuggled into the country from the US. The L.A. Times stated that according to the GAO, "One of its findings was that more than 90% of the firearms traced by authorities after being seized in Mexico over the last three years came from the United States." A recent report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute states that, "Together [the United States, Russia, Germany, France and United Kingdom] accounted for 79 per cent of the volume of [military arms] exports for 2004–2008. They have been the top five suppliers since the end of the cold war and have accounted for at least three-quarters of all exports annually."

The truth is that the majority of the most feared armaments in the world are controlled by nations who are not considered rogue nations and that those armaments are constantly for sale to anyone with the funds to purchase them. The US desire to create a new missile "defense" system in eastern Europe has led to concerns in Russia to a degree that Russia now is refusing to proceed with the US on a new deal for deep cuts in strategic nuclear weapons to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which expires in December, and if allowed to expire, could result in a new arms race with Russia.

There is as great a danger that nuclear materials might be sold to "terrorists" by former satellites of the Soviet Union as by any "rogue" nation which might acquire the technology. The reality is that in these difficult economic times, a former SSR might find it economically expedient to make such a sale, whereas any rogue nation who fears a possible invasion by the US is more apt to feel the need to keep their most valuable military assets so they can have them to use in the event of such an invasion. The whole point for North Korea or Iran to developing nuclear weapons with a delivery system is not to sell them to terrorists who would not be capable of using the delivery system. No, the point is to have those weapons as a deterrent to potential US military action against that country (and in Iran's case to prevent Israel from either a pre-emptive invasion, air attack or even limited use of nuclear weapons, all of which Israel has discussed within the last 2 years). There is no incentive whatsoever for North Korea or Iran to divest itself of its most valuable military asset and to suggest either nation would merely jumbles all notions of logic when applied to the notion.

What all citizens of the world really need in order to feel secure in the future is a completely denuclearized world. If we really want to be free of the threat of nuclear attack, we must live in a world without nuclear arms. However, in order to assure such a world would remain free of nuclear arms, all nuclear power plants and, indeed, all nuclear technology, would have to be forsaken. This is the only way to assure there will never be another nuclear explosion on the planet, that no nation will have to fear nuclear arms falling into the hands of aggressive and dangerous rogue states or terrorist organizations. Anything less, and the danger will always exist. Suggesting that by preventing nations like Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear arms capabilities we can prevent a calamity is neither a true statement nor an ethical one to make.

So, all in all, you can say I am suggesting a compassionate approach. You can say I am suggesting an inclusive and cooperative approach. You can say I am suggesting applying understanding and mutual respect. You can say I am suggesting acceptance of the other side, because as it was shown after Nixon went to China, the years of economic and political ties between the West and China have only led to a more secure world in which all parties now are invested in maintaining cooperative and peaceful relations with each other. Only by reaching out and offering hope to ones adversaries can one diffuse potentially destructive urges or situations and create a new climate of respect, acceptance, cooperation and ultimately peace.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

solidly warm

unmined iron ore sings solidly warm
pockets warm iron hands exert corruption
from an iron will demands obedience
an iron lung breathes polluted air
the polluted iron age sleeps in yesterday's
iron clad agreements bind parties
in ironed shirts lose steam pressed wrinkle
free appearance of the iron curtain divided
families with life's irony slips by unrecognized

Monday, June 8, 2009

the firestorm of raging opulence

faded denim streaking through the night air
caresses the warm fingertips of somnolent
violins' mourning phrases for ancient cultures
caught in the firestorm of raging opulence

native bows drawn no more, their quivers
emptied by gunpowder tea leaves rolled
into balls and stuffed into peace pipes
with purple Scottish thistle a smokey poultice

father sky cradles brother sun and sister moon,
illuminating mother earth through a succulent
expanse as the four winds carry the seeds
of tomorrow across a vast forest silence

as the repetition of seasoned cycles cavort
between the hewn blades of merriment
trampled by the heavy steps of leather boots;
marching concoctions cover happenstance

This piece is inspired by the bloodshed in Peru, by the 40,000 brave indigenous Peruvian natives standing up to their government's corruption and desire to land lucrative contracts with US businesses for oil rights and commercial farms. The government seeks to force these people off their land, destroy their way of life, and put an end to a whole culture. The people are trying to keep their sacred lands and preserve their heritage.

"The indigenous community says at least forty people, including three children, were killed by the police this weekend. On Friday morning, some 600 Peruvian riot police and helicopters attacked a peaceful indigenous blockade outside of Bagua, killing twenty-five and injuring more than 150. Eyewitness accounts indicate the police fired live ammunition and tear gas into the crowd. Over the weekend, Peruvian President Alan Garcia said 40,000 natives did not have the right to tell 28 million Peruvians not to come to their lands. Since April, indigenous groups have opposed new laws that would allow an unprecedented wave of logging, oil drilling, mining and agriculture in the Amazon rainforest by blocking roads, waterways and oil pipelines. President Garcia’s government passed these laws under “fast track” authority he had received from the Peruvian congress to facilitate implementation of the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement."

"Alberto Pizango, the leader of the national indigenous organization, the Peruvian Jungle Interethnic Development Association, or AIDESEP, said, "They’ve said that we indigenous peoples are against the system, but, no, we want development, but from our perspective, development that adheres to legal conventions, such as the United Nations International Labour Organization’s Convention 169, that says we, the indigenous peoples, have to be consulted. The government has not consulted us. Not only am I being persecuted, but I feel that my life is in danger, because I am defending the rights of the peoples, the legitimate rights that the indigenous people have. I feel I am being persecuted, and the situation can get much worse with my criminal prosecution."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Combating Extremism in Pakistan and Afghanistan

The Pakistani, Afghani and American governments claim a single, united force called the Taliban spreads through rural Pakistan bringing death, destruction and mayhem into Pakistan and Afghanistan, threatening to destabilize, if not extirpate, those two governments. The commonly accepted western rendition for the Taliban is portrayed as a hard-line, Islamic Fundamentalist group with links to Al Qaeda seeking to enforce an antiquated and despotic form of Islamic religious law called Sharia throughout the Near East through a theocracy they will impose replacing the so-called democracies currently governing Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as attack and destroy American assets where ever vulnerable.

In Pakistan, the term Taliban applies to just about anything. For many Pakistanis, the term indicates those who are outraged by their corrupt government, the lack of justice emanating from Pakistan's system of jurisprudence and the dearth of social services and educational opportunities available. Many affluent Pakistanis see the Taliban as a lawless, criminal element which grows beards and waves guns as they rob, steal, loot, and commandeer property. Determining what the term Taliban represents has more to do with who is doing the assessment than who the Taliban actually is and what their aims may actually be.

The framing of terms by politicians in a manner consistent with the image they wish portrayed is a trend in international affairs which evolved over the last century to discourage consensus and cooperation while encouraging mutual distrust, antagonism and conflict. The resulting calamities rear the ugly head of clashes between cultures engulfing multiple continents in conflagration of world war. World war in the contemporary age poses stakes too grave to risk. An historical understanding of the dynamic, if shared among the world's population, should help avoid repeating past mistakes.

Since the events leading up to the start of WWI, world leaders and heads of states have found it all too convenient to brand events, along with the individuals and groups who influence or initiate events, in narrowly defined terms indicating polarized viewpoints of good versus evil. The practice evolved over the last hundred years to such a commonplace degree that the hubris endemic to the hyperbole of contemporary claims becomes lost in the heat of jingoistic rhetoric espoused by rah-rah, my-country-right-or-wrong politicians and pundits. The consequence reveals itself as politicians manipulate public opinion with claims that conflict is required to save democracy, to protect freedom, to deter megalomaniac despots, to preserve civilization or to defend and preserve a way of life.

Serbians who sought independence from the autocratic and highly discriminatory Austro-Hungarian Empire were cast as brutally inhuman terrorists who disrupted the order, affluence, tradition and grandeur of German and Austro-Hungarian imperial societies, but were seen as egalitarian freedom fighters in the Balkans. When Woodrow Wilson brought America into WWI, his propaganda arm, called the Committee on Public Information, painted the Austro-Hungarian and German alliance as modern Attila the Hun barbarians determined to eradicate freedom and democracy in Europe even though monarchies ruled Europe at the time with only England really evidencing any degree of democratic institutions. Wilson's ability to define WWI in black and white terms of freedom versus despotism was so effective that American born Germans denied their true nationality, referring to their national heritage as Pennsylvania Dutch to avoid incurring the retributive condemnation of the emotionally inflamed average American.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler characterized the struggle for world domination as being an ongoing battle between Aryans and Jews, to whom he referred as being parasitical, blood sucking middlemen. The combination of reducing Jews to scapegoats for the German plight and ingratiating himself to the German public through deferential flattery insinuating their rightful place as world rulers, led to his assumption of power and allowed him to initiate a war of retribution with full public approval.

Many Americans shared Hitler's disdain for Jews, seeing them as the banking elite who forced poverty on the world through the Great Depression. However, because Germany was allied with Japan, and because both governments operated through despotic regimes and were engaged in conflicts against democracies (Japan with the US, Germany with England and France), Americans who had been isolationist prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor were easily cajoled by FDR into enjoining WWII against the Axis powers.

In both WWI and WWII, American shipping and manufacturing interests took a beating from German submarine warfare. American corporate magnates thought they'd make a financial killing as America remained neutral while supplying Britain with weapons and other supplies. German submarine warfare exacted a huge financial toll because products were not delivered and sunken cargo ships had to be replaced at great expense. Industrialists pressured both Wilson and FDR to respond militarily against Germany in each respective war, but the Presidents were unable to act in the absence of public mandates. Wilson used the sinking of the Lusitania and FDR capitalized on Pearl Harbor as the means to enflame the American public into entering the wars, thereby placating the industrialists' demands. Those same industrial magnates realized once the US entered each war, even greater financial enrichment would accrue because of the added American war related expenditures.

The two world wars gave birth to what Dwight Eisenhower termed the military-industrial complex in his farewell speech at the conclusion of his second Presidential term. War related industries proved to be too profitable for American industrial capitalists to resist preserving. Military readiness and unprecedented might, Americans were told, provided the only real security against the newly christened, communist threat. In order to make that threat more real, more vital and more frightening, a rationale was developed to seduce American commitment to continued military expenditures. Jingoist American politicians like Joe McCarthy fabricated a communist threat to America's democracy beyond Russian and Chinese capabilities to deliver through the rhetoric of hate and fear. America built and maintained a standing army and military arsenal beyond the world's wildest imagination. The industrialists who profited from investments in military hardware never grew wealthier more rapidly. The Cold War proved to be Big Business.

The Truman Doctrine promised economic and military armaments to Greece and Turkey to stem the alleged threat of Russian communism's advance into those nations, thus setting the first wheels in motion for American Post War industrial profiteers' enrichment. George Kennan then articulated the idea of communist containment, arguing against allowing the creation of communist nations in so-called buffer zones outside Russia and China even if elected and supported by the citizens. The containment principle resulted in the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts. While national security was promoted as the foundation for the containment argument, it is hard to fathom just how America was threatened by nationalist movements in Vietnam or Korea. Consequently, the so-called Domino Theory was advanced by Eisenhower who suggested the "falling domino principle," and JFK who suggested America intervene to prevent the South Vietnamese "domino from falling." The primary uses of the term were promoted by LBJ and Richard Nixon as both Presidents referred to it as the rationale for continued US intervention amid mounting losses and an inability to defeat a weaker opponent.

Closer scrutiny reveals an even bigger business than Cold War arms production was discovered when military hardware was put to use on the battlefields of Korea and Vietnam. America invested heavily in research and development for new military technology. Weaponry was used on the battlefield, and when destroyed it had to be replaced. Advancements made in military machinery demanded mass production of the innovations. Spent ammunition had to be replaced. The arms race required a never-ending commitment to arms design, testing, production and use. All these factors further enriched American military-industrial complex magnates. Wealth accrued to them in greater proportions, stoking the flames of ever-increasing greed.

After the emancipation of Eastern Europe, the Clinton Administration used the "windfall" of the so-called "peace dividend" to pay down the accumulated national debt from the Cold War, the arms race, the space race and the wars in Korea and Vietnam along with the War on Drugs in South and Central America. While the debt reduction improved the American financial condition, average Americans' financial security, and helped stem the rise of tax consequences, the incomes of American military-industrial complex magnates decreased.

Ironically, almost as soon as George W. Bush (who had been financially backed by military-industrial complex magnates) assumed the Presidency, a surprise attack on the symbols of American economic and military pre-eminence occurred as the World Trade Towers were destroyed and the Pentagon was damaged by commercial aircraft commandeered by "terrorists." Adding to the irony, the perpetrators of the terrorist acts were former allies of Bush Administration members. Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney had funded and armed Osama bin Laden's mujahedeen as it battled the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The Bush Administration demonized the terrorists as ruthless thugs determined to destroy civilization and eradicate freedom, eliciting an American determination for revenge. Further increasing the irony, when the American military had bin Laden cornered in Tora Bora, Bush ceased military operations leaving bin Laden and his network alive.

The Bush Administration refocused on Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Saddam had been an ally of Rumsfeld and Cheney in their scheme to impede the spread of the Iranian Revolution. However, Saddam used WMDs, which had been provided to him by Rumsfeld and Cheney, against Iran and Iraqis. The Bush Administration sought revenge for those forbidden acts. Bush created the specter of a mushroom cloud over New York City and suggested Saddam would arm Al Qaeda to create such a scenario. The fear and hatred Bush inculcated in Americans for Saddam and Al Qaeda resulted in not only a commitment for war, but also a severe anti-Islamic sentiment at home leading to the perpetration of hate crimes. An attack on Iraq also proved a far more financially rewarding windfall to Bush's military-industrial complex cronies than a continued pursuit of bin Laden would have.

America's new President, Barack Obama, recently redefined American objectives in Bush's War on Terror. While Obama claims to have refocused American military sights on Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network, so far American military targets are claimed as being Taliban assets but only seem to increase Afghani civilian casualties. The Pakistan military claims to have focused its efforts on the Taliban, but refuses to permit media reporters to accompany missions, verify body counts or conduct investigations into the likelihood of Pakistani civilian casualties.

Pakistanis see the Taliban and Al Qaeda as having been created by America. They do not feel a responsibility to eradicate the Taliban. They believe this is America's war. For the last few years, the Pakistani public expressed a strong anti-American sentiment. The current climate has risen to out and out American hatred. Few Pakistanis believe that real Muslim Taliban are the perpetrators of violence, but subscribe to the opinion that the so-called Taliban with guns are part of an American sham.

Many Pakistanis explain the real problem is poverty. Nothing is being done to create jobs, provide the appearance of stability or enforce the rule of law. Teenagers gravitate to the Taliban because there are no jobs while the thrill of riding around in vehicles waving weapons at least provides a sense of excitement. There are no profits for American military-industrial complex magnates if poverty is attacked instead of alleged military targets, so America focuses on military intervention instead of a humanitarian course of action.

The military response to terrorism only breeds more terrorists, assuring continued military activity and continued profits for American military-industrial complex magnates, whereas the real threat to Al Qaeda and the Taliban resides in affluence, jobs, security and a sense of participatory government which is responsive to the needs of the people. Investing in infrastructure and schools while breeding good will and inclusive participation are far better tools for waging war against extremism than guns and bombs and bullets and civilian casualties caught in the crossfire brought on by economic interests and the desire of military-industrial magnates for increased profit margins.

My article, titled "Combating Extremism in Pakistan and Afghanistan," has been published in the Summer 2009 issue of The Glasgow Review.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Pointy-Fingered Firth

strip and rape your mother earth
carve her into a pointy-fingered firth
steal all her hidden, unmined treasures

utter aloud her unspoken, secret name
nurture wildlife within a crosshaired aim
drown her with watered-down tinctures

gaze upon her with gauze covered eyes
pour concrete into every crevace of the skies
with tar and asphalt pave over grainless pastures

a feast behind an ivy covered wall
just down the bend from a free-for-all
graffiti etched, black-sheep sloganed scrawl
that silent corpse with a dead man's gall

an angel takes the assassin's hand -
while a black limousine devouring funerary retinue
smashes a Kennedy legacy into glass slivers on the floor

an untouched maiden drowns in luxuriant opulence

cathartic spew
vitriolic voodoo
embryonic guru
sadistic, tortuous thumbscrew

mothers marching in the avenues
while sons lie dying in foreign streets

networks crashing in the dry desert air
pointing chimpanzees scream their "There!"

a rabbit scurries through the brush
as lightning crackles through cloud anvils
raising the hairs on the back of my neck -
dancers writhe, cavorting in brothels

burning desire paints black walls
with red licks of flaming envy

we're all running at top speed
legs churning, feet slapping the ground
the only non-nuclear option;
dig the fathomless gravy of experience

the rotting entrails of corruption rusts corrosively
eating away and decomposing the philosopher's stone

uncomforted suffering

children wailing through the dead night air

"Hold me!"

shiver into the cold dawn

huddle together as the moon whispers
shadows across the dusty ground

burrow into the earth, carving out dens

ancient choruses sing sacred earth chants
sacred earth chants sing ancient choruses
chants sing ancient choruses, sacred earth
ancient earth chants sing sacred choruses