Security Issues Project
D E S I P
Addendum #2 -- September 1996
c o n t e n t s
How Many Wars in 1995? 44 or 32?
CDI'S List -- 32 Conflicts Albanian Elections -- May 1996 Brazil -- Amazon Rainforest Disappearing at Faster Rate Columbia -- Insurgents Step Up Attacks Haiti-- Surge in Boat People Linked to Economy India -- Human Rights -- Bride Burnings Israel Attacks Lebanon Israel -- Human Rights Jordan -- Food Riots Palestinian Authority -- Arafat's Autocratic Rule The Philippines -- The End of the Muslim Rebellion? Russia - Chechnya - Casualty Figures Revised Upward South Africa
Turkey -- Human Rights -- Genocide U.S. Environment
Clearcutting US Forests; The International Paper - Clinton Connection
U.S. -- Racist Attacks U.S. --Exporting Pesticides U.S. --Mad Cow Syndrome
How many wars in 1995? 44 or 32?
According to Project Ploughshares Armed Conflicts Report 1996, in 1995 there were forty-four separate armed conflicts in 39 countries. (They define such conflicts as those in which at least 1,000 people have been killed by the fighting -- although not necessarily all in one year.) They estimate that in 1995 the casualties from the world's wars reached hundreds of thousands of deaths, down from 1994 when "half a million people lost their lives in Rwanda's genocidal massacres." In 1995, they write, "slightly less than one-third of the wars experience[d] an intensification of fighting [while] in just over one-quarter, the fighting declined." They write that "almost half of current wars have been underway for more than a decade (and 1/4 are more than two decades old)." According to Ploughshares, "there is, however, no obvious evidence of a general, or even regional, slide into ever-deepening conflict and chaos." They find that "in general, the number of wars worldwide peaked in th e first half of the 1980s and has remained consistently high since then."
Project Ploughshares has been producing an annual conflicts report since 1987. Each of their individual conflict summaries includes information on arms suppliers and the 1996 edition includes 6 maps.
Armed Conflicts Report info
CDI'S List -- 32 Conflicts
According to a 1996 list prepared by the Center for Defense Information, a Washington, D.C. based research organization, there are 20 "active wars" and 12 areas of "less intense or latent wars and political violence."
ALBANIAN ELECTIONS -- May 1996
Albania's third election since 1991 has been marked by election irregularities, including ballot box stuffing, imprisonment of hundreds of opposition members and the pullout of much of the opposition , according to a report on National Public Radio (May 27, 1996). Also opposition leaders complain that they have not been accorded equal time for electioneering on state-run radio and TV. Albania is the recipient of large amounts of international aid, in part, in order to help the government keep its citizens from fleeing for economic reasons to other European countries.
BRAZIL -- AMAZON RAINFOREST DISAPPEARING AT FASTER RATE
ITN World News (London) reported (September 4, 1996) that the rate of deforestation has increased to 14,000 sq. kilometers a year -- up from the 1991 figure of 11,000 sq. kilometers yearly. The updated information was provided through satellite research by the International Space Research Center (IPNE) located outside of Sao Paulo. Responding to the news, government officials have called for a two year logging moratorium, an increase in protected areas, and a moratorium on the harvest of certain trees like mahogany and virola. Activists point out however, that there is no mechanism in place to implement such policies nor is there any education program in place or contemplated.
The New York Times (NYT) reported that deforestation rose 34% from 4,296 sq. miles in the 1990-91 burning season to 5,750 sq. miles by 1994. Data for 1995 is expected to show even larger losses since the location of fires detected last year showed many raging in virgin rainforest, said Philip M. Fearnside, an ecology professor in the Amazon at Manaus. Currently the Group of Seven industrialized nations are meeting in Bonn to evaluate a $280 million fund for pilot projects to save the Amazon. So far only $10 million has been spent. Brazil originally sought $1.5 billion for the program.
("Burning of Amazon Picks Up Pace, With Vast Areas Lost" by Diana Jean Schemo in Rio De Janeiro, September 12, 1996)
COLUMBIA -- INSURGENTS STEP UP ATTACKS
(from NYT, September 2, 1996, "Rebels Kill 80 in Strongest Attacks in Columbia in Decades," by Pamela Mercer in Bogota.)
At least 80 soldiers and policemen were killed in separate incidents in some of the strongest attacks since rebels began battling the government nearly 40 years ago [1958?]. In one attack at Las Del icias, 500 rebels, using rockets and grenades, overran the army base killing 54 and taking perhaps 26 hostages. The attacks were attributed to members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia kn own as FARC. Besides the FARC, two other left wing guerilla groups, the National Liberation Army and the Popular Liberation Army are active in Columbia.
"In the last decade, the group has stepped up its kidnappings for ransom and has become involved in Columbia's drug trade by extorting money from coca growers and drug traffickers to protect their crops and routes from the authorities and by operating its own drug-processing laboratories. Both of those lucrative businesses have allowed FARC to grow considerably in recent years.
"The attacks come at a time when the Government of Ernesto Samper faces generalized unrest. Thousands of peasants, farmers and workers have been clamoring for greater economic investments and social programs that Mr. Samper promised during his 1994 campaign...Since mid-July , about 130,000 people have been involved in demonstrations around the country."
HAITI -- SURGE IN BOAT PEOPLE LINKED TO ECONOMY
A report on NPR's All Things Considered (July 1, 1996) noted that 545 Haitian boat people were intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard on a recent day. This figure is three time higher than the figure for such interceptions for entire months earlier this year. Haitian authorities note that unemployment has reached as high as 80% of the workforce; inflation is at 27%. The only export division which is functioning at all is the clothing assembly sector which is itself half of what it was 5 years ago. A government spokesperson spoke of the difficult investment climate because of a lack of basic infrastructure due to a lack of electricity; unreliable telephones; and no fax system. Also 100s of millions of dollars in foreign loans are being held up by the U.S. government until more progress is made in privatizing local industry.
INDIA -- HUMAN RIGHTS -- BRIDE BURNINGS
According to ITN World News (August 12, 1996), 2,500 cases of bride burnings are reported to the authorities in India each year. Activists on this issue complain that the police do not do enough to investigate these killings which are thought to be related to unhappiness with the size of the bride's dowry. Indian authorities are not clear as to whether the large number of such reports are evidence of a rise in absolute numbers or are a function of increased reporting.
ISRAEL ATTACKS LEBANON
On April 11, 1996 Israel began a 16 day air, naval and artillery barrage of Lebanon which killed more than 200 people, drove an estimated 400,000 people from their homes and destroyed infrastructure and private property.
Contrary to the widely disseminated story that it was Hezbollah rocket attacks which triggered Israel's attacks, the cycle of violence began with a bomb which killed a Lebanese boy of 13 and wounded three on April 8 and the earlier killings of two other Lebanese civilians which prompted Hezbollah to retaliate by firing three barrages of Katyusha rockets, 20 in all, wounding 13 Israelis.
Some have speculated that Israel has an interest in depopulating the area in order to maintain control over the water resources of Lebanon which it feels are vital to the health of its economy. Israeli interest in Lebanese water may explain why they destroyed a reservoir in the village of Sultaniye which supplied water to 20 villages in Southern Lebanon and why they destroyed other Lebanese wat er infrastructure in the course of their April barrage.
There is also speculation that the April attack on Lebanon played a decisive role in the tens of thousands of abstentions by Israeli voters which led to the defeat of Labor party leader, Shimon Peres .
ISRAEL -- HUMAN RIGHTS
According to an article on the "systematic" torture of Palestinians by Donald Neff in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (May-June 1996), Israel "is the only self-professed democracy in the world that sanctions the use of torture." Neff writes that on June 19, 1977, the Insight Team of the Sunday Times of London "reported Israel's use of torture was `systematic' and `appears to be sanctioned at some level as deliberate policy.'"
Amnesty International, Neff continues, had been a consistent critic of Israel's torture since 1970 and conducted a follow up investigation to the Times report with their own team of investigators. Its September 1, 1980 report reaffirmed its charges of torture against "security suspects in the Occupied Territories" and called for a public inquiry.
Neff writes that In 1987 Israel appointed a special commission to look into the torture charges. On October 30, 1987, the commission "headed by former Supreme Court Justice Moshe Landau released a report confirming that members of the Shin Bet [Israel's domestic secret police] had systematically lied to Israeli courts since 1971 about using torture against Palestinians to gain confessions ... [N]o prosecutions were recommended. Instead, the commission took the extraordinary step of actually endorsing the use of `moderate physical pressure' and `nonviolent psychological pressure.'"
JORDAN -- Food Riots
In August 1996 about 2,000 people protested in the southern town of Kerak over the bread prices rises imposed largely to meet IMF guidelines. Prices went from 13 cents to 28 cents a kilo. Jordan's na tional debt is equal to $2,700 for every Jordanian (pop: 4.1 million). In the south, about 30% of the population live below the poverty line compared to 17% in Amman, the capital. Observers have not ed a growing gap between the rich and poor. In the 1989 fuel riots, King Hussein, 60, dismissed his Prime Minister but he refused to fire Prime Minister Abdul Karim Karbariti over the issue of the bread price rises.
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY -- ARAFAT'S AUTOCRATIC RULE
In an article on "Arafat drops pretence at democracy" in the Manchester Guardian Weekly (August 11, 1996), reporter Shyam Bhatia argues that Arafat is "intolerant of the slightest opposition or criti cism." According to the article, Arafat keeps "exclusive control over the Palestinian Authority's bank accounts and he alone decides how to spend the tens of millions of dollars received from foreign donors."
"When South Korea approved $7 million for Palestinian economic development, Mr. Arafat shaved off $2 million for a new presidential headquarters and residence on the outskirts of Nablus. Palestinians learned of their president's grandiose scheme after he sent in police to confiscate thousands of acres belonging to local farmers."
The article also details some of the scandals involving Mr. Arafat's 45,000-strong police force, "ranging from kidnapping and rape to embezzlement, blackmail and land theft." The article concludes with instances of torture and killings in Arafat's prisons, including the killing of Mahmoud Jumayl who was arrested eight months ago when he went to the Jerico police station to inquire about his missing brother. To date, 7 Palestinians have died from beatings by his police forces. The reporter quotes Hosam Khadr, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council who said he was arrested by the Israelis on 23 occasions. "What is happening in our prisons now is much worse than what we experienced in Israeli jails during the 27 years of occupation."
In a similarly harsh critique in The Nation (September 23, 1996) expatriate Palestinian intellectual Edward Said makes reference to the "fraudulent (so far as Palestinians are concerned) [Oslo] peace process" and lambasts Arafat's "increasingly dictatorial, profoundly corrupt and visionless attempt to rule his people. I always points out [Said writes] that he [Arafat] is not president but, in effect, the Israeli enforcer of the military occupation by other means. I regard him, therefore, as a Petain figure who has taken advantage of his people's exhaustion and kept himself in power by conceding virtually everything significant about our political and human rights."
In an editorial on "Mr. Arafat's Repressive Rule," (September 8, 1996) the New York Times charged that "Mr. Arafat has made the fight against terrorism an excuse to suppress dissent. Eight hundred of those arrested after the bombings ... in Israel in February and March ... are still in jail, uncharged and unable to see lawyers." The editorial complained that "Vice President Gore and others have praised [Arafat's] State Security courts."
Another critical issue of Arafat's government is the extent to which he has acquiesced to Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land for road building and for settlements and has thus made futile Palestinian legal proceedings in Israeli courts against such confiscations.
THE PHILIPPINES -- THE END OF THE MUSLIM REBELLION?
(from NYT, "Filipino Foes Meet at Talks To End Muslim Rebellion," by Edward A. Gargan, August 20, 1996)
In August 1996, Philippine president Fidel Ramos embraced Muslim rebel leader Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front in a schoolyard in Malabang, Mindanao -- the strife-torn island which h as been the major scene of the war which began in 1970 and has left 150,000 dead. According to a report in the New York Times, the meeting between the two leaders was a prelude to the signing of a final agreement on September 2, 1996 to be "followed in three years by voting in 14 southern provinces with large Moro populations to determine the size of an eventual autonomous political region....But both the Christian majority of the region and some Muslim factions have denounced any peace agreement, leaving open the possibility of further fighting."
"Since the early 1970's, Moro guerrillas, descended from a Muslim Malay people, have battled for independence from the Philippines, insisting that, since their settlers on this archipelago's southern islands in the 15th century, a succession of Spanish, America and Philippine colonialists occupied the islands and stole their traditional lands.
"Indeed, since World War II, the Philippine Government has pursued an aggressive policy of settling Mindanao, a policy that submerged the Moros and the indigenous tribal people in a wave of northern migrants."
Leaders of the Christian majority on Mindano have denounced the accords. The Christians have no desire to come under the influence of the projected Moro council. In addition, on the Muslim side, "[m]ore militant Muslim rebel groups, including the breakaway Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the extremist Abu Sayyaf group, have denounced Mr. Misuari's accommodation with Manila.
Authors Thomas F. Homer-Dixon and Valerie Percival in "The Case of the Philippines" in their Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict: Briefing Book, describe some of the environmental factors operating to increase tensions in the Philippines and the links between environmental scarcity and violent conflict. Here is one of their four paragraphs on the subject.
"Spanish and U.S. colonial policies in the Philippines left behind a grossly inequitable distribution of good cropland in lowland regions -- an imbalance perpetuated since independence by a powerful landowning elite. In the 1960s and 1970s, green revolution technologies increased lowland production of grain for domestic consumption and of cash crops, such as sugar, coconut, pineapple and banana s. Although this greater production raised demand for agricultural labor on large farms, it could not compensate for the population growth rate of 2.5 to 3.0 per year."
RUSSIA - CHECHNYA - CASUALTY FIGURES REVISED UPWARD
(from NYT, "Chechnya Toll Is Far Higher, 80,000 Dead, Lebed Asserts," by Michael R. Gordon in Moscow, September 4, 1996)
Alexander Lebed, Russsia's security chief, announced in a press conference that the death toll was 80,000 dead and 240,000 wounded, higher than the previous estimate of 30,000 - 40,000 dead.
Confirming the higher figure, Madina Magomadova, the head of the Mothers of Chechnya Committee, said that some 75,000 people had been killed by January and that the toll had risen since.
Cost of war in Chechnya
In a letter to the editor of the New York Times (September 10, 1996), Michael Lucas, a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute of the New School for Social Research argued that the cost of the wa r should be measured in billions, not millions of dollars. Mr. Lucas cited statistics offered by the official auditors of the Russian Federation which indicated that the Defense Ministry in 1995 alon e spent 5.71 trillion rubles or $1.2 billion on maintaining its armed forces in Chechnya. He argues that a conservative estimate "of the cost so far is likely to be a couple of billion dollars."
According to U.S News and World Report, (August 19, 1996) "Nearly 5 million South Africans, -- one third of the work force -- are jobless, and among black South Africans, more than 40 percent have no work. It is conceivably the highest rate in the world, economists say. South Africa has other deep concerns -- some 2 million families lack adequate housing, and the country has one of the highest murder rates in the world" ("First freedom, then jobs" by Don L. Boroughs).
According to an August report on European Journal (a TV news and features program), tourism to South Africa has been held back from expected growth by the country's growing crime problem.
TURKEY -- HUMAN RIGHTS -- GENOCIDE
The Turkish government has been engaging in a program of "emptying" or "ethnic cleansing" thousands of Turkish villages throughout southeastern and eastern Turkey. Under powers (Decree No. 285 of 1987) given to the governor of the emergency region in its war against Kurdish rebels, approximately 3,000 (at least 2,833 at the latest count and almost certainly more) villages and hamlets have been rendered uninhabitable. As a result, an estimated 3 million or more internal migrants have been produced as a result of this depopulation policy. (Robert Olson, "Ethnic cleansing in Turkey, Middle East International (MEI), 12 April 1996, #523; see also: Robert Olson, "The Turkey-Israel agreement and the Kurdish question", MEI, 24 May 1996, #526)
"These evictions have been carried out with astonishing brutality and ...no provision was made for those rendered homeless. Villages have been burnt, bombed or bulldozed, often with prior notification. Evictions have routinely involved killing, torture and the wanton destruction of livestock, foodstuffs and moveable property....Furthermore, the state has deliberately destroyed extensive stretch es of the country's most precious forest in Tunceli, specially designed for preservation and rehabilitation in the mid-1980s." (David McDowell, "The destruction of Turkey's south east," MEI, 7 June 1 996, #527.)
On the other hand, there are charges that at least some elements of the Kurdish resistance are not above human rights violations. A book review by David McDowall about Turkey's war against the Kurds (Ataturk's Children: Turkey and the Kurds, 1996, by Jonathan Rugman and Roger Hutchings) notes that PKK (the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party) leader Abdullah Ocalan, takes a Stalinist approach towards dissenters or would-be resigners from PKK ranks, and like the [Turkish] security forces, has few scruples about killing non-combatants. His forces kill Turkish teachers and active pro-government villagers without compunction." (MEI, June 21, 1996.)
US -- ENVIRONMENT -- CLEARCUTTING US FORESTS -- THE INTERNATIONAL PAPER-CLINTON CONNECTION
A December 5, 1995 New York Times story noted that President Clinton himself criticized a budget recissions bill that he signed in August 1995 containing a rider mandating a rapid increase in the "salvage" logging of dead and diseased trees. According to the Times, "loggers have returned to the Pacific Northwest...bulldozing roads into pristine areas and leveling 200 year old trees in a manner that was illegal" until the rider was signed. The story quoted Clinton as pointing out that "the leveling, or clear-cutting, will damage rivers and streams, set back a $1.2 billion Federal program to restore overcut national forests and could eradicate some runs of Chinook salmon."
An article in CounterPunch ("Paper Trail: The Origins of Whitewater," Vol. 3, Nos 2&3, February 1, 1996) highlighted Clinton's ties, going back to his Arkansas days, to International Paper, a $16 billion a year timber giant, and other paper companies. The article noted that when Clinton was a candidate for governor he promised to "restrict clearcutting on land held by companies such as International Paper, Georgia-Pacific and Weyerhaeuser."
After he was elected governor of Arkansas in 1978, Clinton "formed a task force on clearcutting stocked with conservationists. The task force swiftly took heat from loggers and executives from Weyerhaeuser and Georgia-Pacific. A frightened Clinton kicked off the conservationists, put in industry hacks and advertised his own preference for voluntary compliance with soft regulation."
After Clinton was turned out of the Governor's office at the end of his two year term in 1980 -- a loss he blamed on the Mariel refugees from Cuba who had been held at Fort Chaffee in northwest Arkansas -- both he and Hillary worked for Little Rock law firms which represented the timber giants before state regulatory bodies such as the Pollution Control Board and the Department of Ecology. Among those contributing to Clinton's successful 1982 campaign for governor were International Paper, Georgia-Pacific, and Tyson foods. According to editors Ken Silverstein and Alexander Cockburn, "International Paper's mill at Pine Bluff is one of the most poisonous in the nation, venting nearly 2 million tons of toxic chemicals a year into the air and water."
The CounterPunch article highlights "two spectacular favors" President Clinton performed for International Paper. (It was International Paper which offered the real estate which came to be known as Whitewater to the Clintons via James McDougal in 1978.) "First, [Clinton] refused to take any action to stem the flow of raw log exports from the Pacific Northwest, where International Paper holds about half a million acres. Second, the generous Habitat Conservation Plans tirelessly promoted by Interior Secretary and fellow DLC member Bruce Babbit allowed International Paper and Georgia-Pacific to continue to cut trees on land occupied by endangered species, such as the red-cockaded woodpecker."
U.S. -- RACIST ATTACKS
Black Churches Firebombed in the South
According to a May 1996 fundraising letter by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in NYC, 28 churches have been firebombed in the South since January 1995, 18 of them since Dec 95 alone. Since 1990, 50 Black churches have been firebombed or vandalized. (In the 1960s, Black churches were being firebombed at the rate of 3 a week.)
In August 1996, a spokesperson for the fund drive to restore the burned churches responded to charges by some that white churches were burned at the same rate as black churches. He pointed out that 70% of all burned churches that were burned were black churches.
As far as fundraising efforts were concerned, he said that $8 million has been pledged; $3 million has been received and $12 million was needed to restore the churches.
U.S. --EXPORTING PESTICIDES
Federal law currently permits the export of unregistered or withdrawn pesticides. Developing nations are often the destination of up to 150 million pounds of unregistered or withdrawn pesticides annually, many of which are associated with cancer or ecological damage. (UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, 1995, reprinted in Cascadia Times, May 1996)
US --MAD COW SYNDROME
According to John C. Stauber, Editor of PR Watch (Volume 3, Number 1, First Quarter 1996), since 1989, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the multi -billion dollar animal livestock industry have cooperated in a "cover-up of huge health risks to animals and people in the United States."
"For 10 years, even preceding the British outbreak of Mad Cow Disease, the USDA has had scientific evidence that a version of the disease exists in U.S. cattle. Yet government and industry have failed even at this late date to ban the practice of "cow cannibalism" which created the fatal epidemic now spreading in Britain from cows to people. The practice has been banned in Britain for years, but continues in the U.S. and is in fact more widespread here than in any other country."
On March 20, 1996, the British government admitted that "Mad Cow Disease, which has killed over 160,000 British cattle, appears to be migrating into humans who ate contaminated beef and are now dying of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). Dr. Richard Lacey, a leading British microbiologist, an outspoken critic of the British government's handling of the epidemic, "predicts that the government's failure to act sooner, combined with the disease's long latency period, could produce between 5,000 to 500,000 human deaths per year in Britain sometime after the year 2000.
The technical name for Mad Cow Disease is bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE. BSE is a bovine form of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), "a fatal disease that kills by rotting away the brain....In both Britain and the U.S., a type of TSE called `scrapie' has longed thrived in sheep. Many scientists believe that British cows first acquired the disease by eating rendered sheep protein...Each year billions of pounds of proteins from dead cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and other animals are processed into animal feed...and the feeding of ruminant proteins to cows continues at a rate of millions of pounds per day..."
According to Stauber, there are indications that Mad Cow already exists in this country and may be "hiding" among a relatively large population of cows afflicted with "Downer Cow Syndrome. If so, the disease would be harder to detect "because the cows would not go `mad' before keeling over dead."
"CJD has been mistaken in the past for Alzheimers, a disease that afflicts some four million Americans. The beginnings of a CJD epidemic in the U.S. could therefore be occurring already, misdiagnosed by doctors and hidden within the country's huge population of dementia patients."
Pr Watch info
The Armed Conflicts Report 1996 may be obtained from Project Ploughshares, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, Conrad Grebel College, Waterloo, ON, N2L 3G6, Canada for $8.80 (including shipping).
Tel: 519-888-6541, Fax: 519-885-0806
Subscriptions to CounterPunch are available for $40 individuals; $25 students. Write to: CounterPunch, P.O. Box 18675, Washington, D.C. 20036. 202/986-3665(phone/fax)
Subscriptions to PR Watch are available from the Center for Media Democracy, 3318 Gregory Street, Madison WI 53711; 608-233-3346; fax:608-238-2236; email@example.com; subscriptions, individuals: $35/year)