The Nineties

excerpted from the book

The Greatest Story Never Told

A People's History of the American Empire 1945-1999

by Michael K. Smith

Xlibrus Corporation, 2002, paper


1990 Native Americans

Confined on "reservations," they have the lowest annual and lifetime incomes of any sector of the U.S. population and suffer the worst health conditions. They have twelve times the national incidence of malnutrition, nine times the rate of alcoholism, seven times the rate of infant mortality, five times the rate of exposure deaths, and several times the incidence of bubonic plague, tuberculosis, typhoid, diphtheria and other easily preventable diseases. Alcoholism, drug use, suicide, and family violence are epidemic and Indian children still die from whooping cough, strep throat, and measles. One out of four Indian males lives in prison and forty percent of Indian women of childbearing age have been sterilized. Indian life expectancy is 46 years.

1990 Russian reform

Old men rummage through trash looking for discarded food. Elderly women scavenge boxes of bones at meat markets hoping to salvage enough gristle for a thin soup. The new rich relax in gated villas with Mercedes-filled garages.

The head of the United States Information Agency enthuses to a reporter that U.S. business education stands to benefit the Soviets because, "the vipers, the bloodsuckers, the middlemen-that's what needs to be rehabilitated in the Soviet Union. That's what makes our kind of country click!''

1991 Iraq

Desert Storm slaughter

American Stealth pilots prepare for the slaughter watching pornographic movies.

Crisscrossing the sky unchallenged, B-52 and Apache helicopter crews light up the moonless night with bombs, missiles, rockets, napalm, and liquid phosphorus, watching their handiwork through night vision goggles on a virtual reality screen-within a-screen that makes distant targets seem up close.

Jetting out clouds of propane that ignite with nearly nuclear force, fuel air explosives suck the lung tissue out of Iraqi conscripts on the ground. Cluster bombs detonate in mid-air, spitting out hundred-loads of mini-bombs across twelve football fields of space, which explode in turn, ripping everything to shreds for a hundred blocks around.

Flying over 100,000 sorties in five weeks, the U.S. drops fifteen times more explosives than it used in all of World War II. The Iraqi soldiers, blinded during night attacks, deaf from destroyed communications, disoriented by sleeplessness and weakened from hunger, thirst, cold, and stress, die and desert in droves. When the ground war starts, they flee the hopeless battle.

American troops shoot them in the back.

When it's all over, U.S. bulldozers plow the living and the dead into the desert sand under an oil blackened sky. Land mines are scattered everywhere, like confetti on New Year's Eve.

1991 Iraq

Desert Storm - desert slaughter

Commentators bubble excitedly that Baghdad is lit up like a Christmas tree. Tom Brokaw enthuses at "the threatening beauty of it," while a CNN reporter in Saudi Arabia waxes poetic at the "most beautiful sight" of bombers taking off on their missions of glory. Brent Sadler on ITN reports that, "The night sky was filled with the star-spangled display of threatening force. "Jim Stewart of CBS News celebrates "two days of almost picture-perfect assaults, " while colleague Charles Osgood characterizes the bombing of Iraq as 'a marvel." Describing the pilots' view of the wreckage, a network T.V. report comments that the Iraqi soldiers look like "cockroaches." In the middle of a broadcast, Dan Rather turns to the camera and salutes the troops.

On Super Bowl Sunday ABC intercuts its football coverage with news of the war. Sportscasters and newscasters are indistinguishable with their chalk diagrams and excited voices describing the heroic trajectory of forward passes and Patriot missiles. The half-time performance of the sexless Disneyland singers transmutes the massacre into a precious cure for a diseased world, generously provided by Commander Bush and his kinder, gentler nation.

1991 Iraq

Baghdad Scene From A War: Precision Killing

Smoke pours out of the civilian shelter for days while rescue workers collapse in grief excavating the remains, pitching their dead cargo to the ground. Some vomit from the stench of the sizzling corpses, nearly all women, children, and babies burned beyond identification.

The Bush Administration announces it has hit a "military command post." Defense Secretary Cheney blames Saddam Hussein for putting civilians "in harms way" in a residential neighborhood. White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater announces that

"We don't know why civilians were at this location, but we do know that Saddam Hussein does not share our value in the sanctity of life. "

American T.V. commentators dismiss the footage of children's charred remains as a cynical public relations ploy by the diabolical Butcher of Baghdad.

President Bush announces that he is "concerned about the suffering of innocents.

1991 Iraq

Kuwait Scene From A War: The Shooting Gallery

With the enemy in headlong retreat, U.S. pilots cut off escape and slaughter Iraqi soldiers, Asian workers, and Kuwaiti hostages fleeing along the highway. Bombarding the trapped traffic for hours they annihilate anything that moves, leaving the roads awash in blood.

One pilot exclaims: "It was like shooting fish in a barrel. "

1991 Iraq

Colin Powell, commenting on the number of dead Iraqis in Operation Desert Storm

"It's really not a number I'm terribly interested in."

1991 Los Angeles

from the Christopher Commission Report

A Sampling Of L.A.P.D. Computer transmissions

"I'm off this Friday. Lets do lunch. Do you still have that KKK meeting?"

'A day without violence is like a day without sunshine. "

"They had another shooting here.... I love it when good things happen. It clears the air and gives me more space to breathe when one more asshole dies."

"I'd love to drive down Slauson (in Watts) with a flame thrower. We could have a barbecue."

"I almost got me a Mexican, but he dropped the gun too quick, lots of witnesses."

"I left a 14-year-old girl I met yesterday handcuffed naked to my chinning bar wearing nothing but a blindfold and salad oil. I'd like to check on her."

[referring to black people] "Monkeys in the trees, monkeys in the trees, hiho the dario, monkeys in the trees."

1992 Republican Convention

For good measure they pour out their hatred of gays, feminists, and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Commander-in-Chief Pat Robertson warns that feminism "encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."

A conservative British daily describes Republican delegates as "the stormtroopers of family values."

1992 Noam Chomsky

He always felt completely out of tune with the world. At ten he wrote a lament on the defeat of the anarchists in the Spanish civil war. At sixteen he went off by himself when he got the news about Hiroshima, unable to share in the jubilation attending the event. At twenty-four he abandoned a Harvard Fellowship to go work on a kibbutz, returning only by chance to fulfill an academic career.

Now ensconced in a comfortable university life as Institute Professor at M.I.T., an ivory tower position usually reserved for Nobel Laureates, Noam Chomsky despises establishment intellectuals, railing against their gullibility, dishonesty, and cowardice.

He dismisses the American intelligentsia as a class of intellectual prostitutes so hypocritical they make Hitler appear sane by comparison.

His rebellion is so thorough that he dissents even from the dissident movements he seeks to encourage. He calls the Vietnam war a U.S. invasion of South Vietnam and says the U.S. won the war by destroying the country. He says Pentagon spending is not defense, but a forced taxpayer subsidy of high-technology industry. He describes Israel as a modern-day Sparta, a U.S. appendage on a path to self-destruction. He declares post-WWII presidents a succession of gangsters worthy of execution if only the Nuremburg principles could be taken seriously.

He advances the apparently startling thesis that the rich steal to get ahead and protect their loot with illegitimate authority.

Dismissed as a lunatic by pundits and scholars, Chomsky's political lectures are sold out years in advance to overflow audiences throughout the world.

1992 Lawrence Summers

A confidential memo written by Lawrence Summers, chief economist at the World Bank, is leaked to the Economist.

Summers, noted for his brilliance, writes that African countries are "vastly underpolluted." Since cancer-causing agents have a greater economic impact where people survive to old age than they do where infant mortality rates are twenty percent, Summers argues that it is only reasonable to encourage "dirty industries" to migrate to the Third World where premature death means less foregone earnings and lost productivity. "The economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that, " he declares nonchalantly.

Development theorist Susan George of the Transnational Institute disagrees with calls for Summers' resignation: "Mr. Summers is a perfect example of what the Bank thinks and is, except that the PR staff usually manages to hide the reality. Its been a long time since we've had such an unreconstructed and frank free-marketer and I say, keep him talking."

1993 "Justice" system

The world's proudest democracy runs neck and neck with Russia for the highest incarceration rate on the planet. With crime holding steady the number of Americans behind bars has nearly tripled in the past 15 years. Nonviolent offenses and minor parole violations account for the vast majority of jailed offenders.

The typical inmate is a young, nonwhite male who becomes involved in petty crime because no avenues to a legal life of conventional satisfactions exist. He has usually not finished high school, has no job skills, has never had steady employment, and is not working at the time of his arrest. The top five predictors of his crime refer to economic conditions: business failure rate, number of unemployment claims, number of workers on strike, number of personal bankruptcies, incidence of mortgage foreclosure.

President Clinton calls for 100,000 new cops on the beat, boot camps for juveniles, expanded prison construction, an extension of the death penalty to dozens of new offenses, and the criminalization of gang membership.

1993 Palestine

Arafat capitulates, ending the intifada and reducing the Palestine Liberation Organization to a municipal government. Recognizing Israel's "right to exist" he renounces the PLO Charter, the right to forceful resistance, and all relevant UN resolutions except 242 and 338, which make no mention of the Palestinians. He accepts responsibility for guaranteeing Israeli security, turning his countrymen into police for their occupiers.

There is no guarantee of Palestinian security, no Palestinian sovereignty, and no autonomous economy. Israeli companies will set up sweatshops in the Occupied Territories and the Palestinians will continue to supply the $6-a-day coolie labor.

1994 Nixon

Richard Nixon shuffles off his mortal coil and is eulogized as a great American. Pundits mourn him as an insightful elder statesman, a figure of "historic proportions" and "towering size, "who weathered the storms of scandal and defeat to emerge a benevolent sage and ultimate success. Columnist William Safire salutes Nixon's 'gutsy engagement with life. "The New York Times declares that Nixon "Inspired and inflamed the American imagination for half a century" and was 'a giant, right up there with Citizen Kane and Moby Dick. " Times Hugh Sidey says all he needed was love: "He would have been a great, great man had somebody loved him. "

At a banquet in Washington President Clinton pays homage, confessing that Nixon "taught me what it means to be an American. "

Choking up at the funeral, Henry Kissinger praises Nixon for his "visionary dream" of a new world order that would 'give new hope to mankind. " A tearful Senator Dole declares the second half of the twentieth century "the age of Nixon."

Nixon's own words to White House Counselor Chuck Colson during the Watergate era immortalize his spirit better than all the eulogies: "One day we will get them . . . Get them on the floor and step on them, crush them, show no mercy. And we'll stick our heels in, step on them hard and twist. . . right, Chuck, right?"

1994 New York City - Bob Grant

Week after week Bob Grant instructs his one million radio listeners in the art of vengeful hatred.

He refers to Mayor David Dinkins as "the washroom attendant." Affecting an Amos 'n Andy dialect, he stereotypes blacks as criminals and drug addicts, calling them "mutants" and 'animals. " Commenting on blacks attending a celebrity basketball game involving rap artists he says: "We have in our nation . . . millions of sub-humanoids, savages who really would feel more at home careening along the sands of the Kalahari or the dry deserts of eastern Kenya-people who . . . have not become civilized." He says Haitians living in the U.S. "multiply . . . like maggots on a hot day, " and he yearns for the police to machine-gun New York City's gay pride parade.

New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman appears on Grant's show thanking him for helping her win election. A regular and friendly guest, New York Senator Alfonse D'Amato announces that Mayor Dinkins ought to visit Africa 'and stay there."

While Grant vents his bigotry unchallenged, the mainstream media inveigh against "black racism" in the Nation of Islam.

1994 Haiti

American soldiers arrive in the Haitian capital to bolster Haitian elites who overthrew President Aristide in a 1991 coup. President Carter, on hand as a mediator, declares that "our troops are working with full cooperation with the Haitian military, " the same military he describes as "armed thugs" who have "conducted a reign of terror, executing children, raping women, killing priests."

After three years of state violence, the popular organizations that swept Aristide to power have been wiped out. With the men who overthrew him still firmly controlling the military, a neutralized Aristide is allowed back in office to serve his final two years as a lame duck.

I995 Corporate welfare

Ninety-one corporations take out huge ads in the New York Times and other major newspapers declaring ominously that, "Without a Balanced Budget the Party's Over. "While President Clinton and Newt Gingrich wrangle, their corporate masters announce that 'America must begin to live within its means, " and demand that the partisan chieftains impose deep cuts in Medicare to bring the era of big government to an end. Deeply distressed at the nation's fiscal irresponsibility, the signers declare their "common concern for America's future. "

Ralph Nader responds by personal letter. He congratulates the Financial Titans on their call for across-the-board belt-tightening and identifies ten corporate welfare programs costing taxpayers a total of $51 billion and asks them to sign a pledge card renouncing the aid: "To help balance the budget, I have identified the federal subsidies and tax expenditures that currently benefit my corporation and selected the subsidies and tax expenditures that my corporation agrees to begin to forego immediately."

No one signs.

1996 Iraq sanctions / Albright

Six hundred thousand children have died from malnutrition and disease since George Bush implemented economic sanctions against the people of Iraq. A U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization report states that Iraqi children under five are plagued by "wasting" severe hunger, visible in the ribs and limbs. "Iraq," the report says, "is increasingly becoming like a concentration camp. " The continued silence of the international community, it warns, "results in genocide."

On 60 Minutes Lesley Stahl asks U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright if the political gain is worth "more children than died in Hiroshima." Albright is firm in her professional determination: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it."

1997 Poverty

Roger Rector of the Heritage Foundation

"There is a liberal myth that poverty is bad for kids, " he says dismissively.

1997 Rich country, Poor people

Average real wages have been in decline for two decades.

The top one percent of families possess almost as much wealth as the bottom 95 percent.

Drowning in capital, multi-millionaire CEOs fire workers by the thousands and watch their stock prices skyrocket. The Federal Reserve Board keeps business costs low holding millions of workers in unemployment, underemployment, and underpayment. Full-time jobs shrink to part-time, part-time to "contingent," contract work to "leased" employment at a fraction of its former wage. Benefit packages shrivel and disappear.

Saluting the booming market, Chairman Alan Greenspan attributes unprecedented stock growth to 'greater worker insecurity."

With less than 15% of Americans belonging to a union, the U.S. is the only industrial nation without a national health plan. A Harvard medical study indicates 100,000 Americans a year die from lack of access to treatment.

Prison labor is a growth industry. Chain gangs are in vogue North and South. A generation of black males is herded into jail: one out of three in his twenties finds himself in prison, paroled, or on probation.

Indians exist hopelessly on "reservations" with a life expectancy in the forties, infant mortality seven times the national average, and the worst poverty of any ethnic group in the nation.

Washington funnels subsidies to planet-spanning corporations bidding down wages, shredding workplace safety standards, and laying waste to a fragile ecology.

1998 US - Human Rights violator

"The U.S.A. has refused to recognize any regional human rights treaties: it has not ratified the American Convention on Human Rights, adopted 6y the OAS (Organization of American States) in 1969, and / has not even signed the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons and the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women. "

Amnesty International, October, 1998

1999 Iraq sanctions

An epidemic of dysentery, cholera, typhoid fever, and malaria sweeps through sanctions-devastated Iraq. Since the start of the U.S. embargo 750,000 Iraqi children under age five have died. UNICEF predicts another 1.5 million will suffer malnutrition and other diseases from lack of medicine.

Radioactive dust from depleted uranium shells is a major killer, with soil samples in the capital registering 84 times background radiation. Entering the food chain through soil and water, it sends malignancy rates through the roof. A rarity before the Gulf War, leukemia now abounds, with doctors reporting ten new cases a month. While cancer, miscarriage, and birth defects are common, antibiotics and painkillers with which to treat them are virtually non-existent, consequence of the economic blockade.

From the moment their eyes open on the world, starvation and disease stalk the children of Iraq. Full-term babies emerge stunted from the womb: a baby is born with no face; another is a tiny mite with a huge head but no brain; others have no eyes, twisted limbs, or no limbs. The traumatized parents report no history of abnormalities in their families.

At the Basra Pediatric and Maternity Hospital a woman stands in a darkened corner while her five-year-old son, face swollen, the sides of his mouth caked with blood, clings to his father in a ward full of children dying of leukemia.

With each new baby born, mothers anxiously inquire: Is it all right?


Two Columbine High students kill thirteen

With American bombs exploding over Iraq and Yugoslavia, President Clinton consoles a shocked nation

"We must teach our children to settle their differences through words and not weapons."

Befuddled media commentators wring their hands and ask why American children are so violence prone. They dare not even notice the vastly greater adult violence rapidly bringing the species to the verge of extinction.

The Greatest Story Never Told

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