Two features of third world dicatatorships are so common you wouldn’t have a third world dictatorship, really, without them: flagrant human rights abuses and in-your-face cronyism.
Historians take note: the time between January, 2001 and, God willing, January 2009 should not be known as “the Bush era,” or “the Bush Administration.” Better these years be known as “the glorious republic of Bushistan.”
The glorious republic of Bushistan finally became evident when the somnambulant media woke up to a parade of opportunistic ethnic cleansing in New Orleans (still in progress)with more than 1,000 dead in its wake, led at that time by Heckuvajob Brownie. The dots between cronyism and human catastrophe began to connect, even for the MSM. But by September, 2005, it may have been too late. Bushistan had its crony infrastructure well in place.
Do you find MSNBC’s To Catch a Predator, where would-be child molesters are stung in front of hidden cameras, disturbing? Well, there’s a place for predators to thrive:
Mary Beth Kineston, an Ohio resident who went to Iraq to drive trucks, thought she had endured the worst when her supply convoy was ambushed in April 2004. After car bombs exploded and insurgents began firing on the road between Baghdad and Balad, she and other military contractors were saved only when Army Black Hawk helicopters arrived.
But not long after the ambush, Ms. Kineston said, she was sexually assaulted by another driver, who remained on the job, at least temporarily, even after she reported the episode to KBR, the military contractor that employed the drivers. Later, she said she was groped by a second KBR worker. After complaining to the company about the threats and harassments endured by female employees in Iraq, she was fired…
Ms. Kineston is among a number of American women who have reported that they were sexually assaulted by co-workers while working as contractors in Iraq but now find themselves in legal limbo, unable to seek justice or even significant compensation.
Many of the same legal and logistical obstacles that have impeded other types of investigations involving contractors in Iraq, like shootings involving security guards for Blackwater Worldwide, have made it difficult for the United States government to pursue charges related to sexual offenses. The military justice system does not apply to them, and the reach of other American laws on contractors working in foreign war zones remains unclear five years after the United States invasion of Iraq.
KBR and other companies, meanwhile, have required Iraq-bound employees to agree to take personnel disputes to private arbitration rather than sue the companies in American courts. The companies have repeatedly challenged arbitration claims of sexual assault or harassment brought by women who served in Iraq, raising fears among some women about going public with their claims.
Well this is terrible! Haul the CEO of that company before Congress! Oh yeah. KBR is a Dick Cheney company. Well, haul contractors with abuses like that, or worse, before Congress! Oh yeah. We did. And not much has happened. Why not?
In October 3 articles on Blackwater USA chairman Erik Prince’s congressional testimony about his security contracting company’s performance in Iraq, USA Today reported that “Republicans defended the use of security contractors” and the Los Angeles Times reported that “[a]mong lawmakers, the defense of Blackwater broke along partisan lines, with almost all Republicans on the panel praising the company’s behavior.” Both newspapers noted that Republicans on the committee came to Blackwater’s defense, but neither reported, as other media outlets have, that Prince has made more than $226,000 in political contributions to Republican causes and candidates, according to OpenSecrets.org.
And in a respectable third world doctatorship, you get to claim that all atrocities are isolated incidents. It’s easy to do when
Comprehensive statistics on sexual assaults in Iraq are unavailable because no one in the government or the contracting industry is tracking them. Court documents, interviews with those who were victims, their lawyers and other professionals, along with the limited data made available by the Bush administration, suggest a troubling trend.
Sometimes, just to cope, we need to take the long view.
Shine, Perishing Republic
While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity,
heavily thickening to empire,
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops
and sighs out, and the mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make
fruit, the fruit rots to make earth,
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances,
ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.
You making haste haste on decay; not blameworthy; life
is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor; meteors are not needed less than
mountains; shine, perishing republic.
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance
from the thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the
monster’s feet there are left the mountains.
And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man,
a clever servant, insufferable master.
There is a trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught
–they say–God, when he walked the earth.