The truth about the US border-industrial complex
Congress should expand legal avenues of immigration, along with a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already here—a policy with broad public support. The story you’ve heard about immigration, from politicians and the mainstream media alike, isn’t close to the full picture. Here’s the truth about how we got here and what we must do to fix it.
A desperate combination of factors are driving migrants and asylum seekers to our southern border, from Central America in particular: deep economic inequality, corruption, and high rates of poverty — all worsened by COVID-19.
Many are also fleeing violence and instability, much of it tied to historic U.S. support for brutal authoritarian regimes, right-wing paramilitary groups, and corporate interests in Latin America.
The Politics of Immigration,” on the media’s ‘Border Crisis’ (FAIR)
It’s no surprise that right-wing media have hyped a supposed crisis on the US/Mexico border, or that much of the television coverage of current immigration issues has tended to be superficial. What’s striking is how badly the situation has been represented in the more centrist and prestigious parts of the corporate media.
Human Rights First, an advocacy organization that has been monitoring conditions at the southwestern border, has described current media coverage as “unethical reporting.” The group wasn’t just talking about Fox News and Sunday talkshows: The outlets it singled out were the New York Times, Washington Post and Axios.
Climate Migration: An Impending Global Challenge
For months, we have watched the crisis at the Mexican border as migrants tried to enter the U.S. In March, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office estimated that there were 171,700 people attempting to cross the border—the highest number in 20 years. About 30 percent were families, of which one third were refused entry under Title 42, a public health statute.
The number of unaccompanied children arriving and being held in custody in U.S. border shelters hit over 5,700 in March. And this week, five unaccompanied girls between the ages of seven and 11 months were found at the Texas-Mexico border. While a migrant surge occurs every year as people come to the U.S. for seasonal work, the record number of children being sent by themselves is likely a sign of desperate conditions back home.
The War on Critical Race theory
According to the right, a specter is haunting the United States: the specter of critical race theory (CRT).
On the eve of losing the presidency, Donald Trump issued an executive order in September banning “diversity and race sensitivity training” in government agencies, including all government “spending related to any training on critical race theory.” He was prompted, apparently, by hearing an interview with conservative activist Christopher Rufo on Fox News characterizing “critical race theory programs in government” as “the cult of indoctrination.” (President Biden ended the ban as soon as he took office.) In March Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, introduced a bill seeking to ban the teaching of CRT in the military because—he charges without argument or evidence—it is “racist.” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banned CRT from being covered in Florida’s public schools for “teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other.”
Republican majority lawmakers in the state of Idaho prohibited the use of state funding for student “social justice” activities of any kind at public universities and threatened to withhold funding earmarked for “social justice programming and critical race theory.” Lawmakers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Utah are following suit.
American Nuclear Strategy: A Complex Problem of Law and Intellect
On core matters of national security, American analysts should think in terms of intellectual and legal criteria. Ignoring the day-to-day banalities of national and international politics, these strategists and policy-makers ought continuously to bear in mind that such primary standards may intersect with one another, always converging, sometimes in synergistic fashion. In such cases, the “whole” of any examined outcome would more-or-less exceed the sum of its “parts.”
This point should appear obvious to any reasonably-educated US population. American reality, however, has been distressingly different. To wit, during the law-violating and science-flouting Trump administration, tens of millions of citizens sought remedy for broadly complex medical and economic problems in narrowly partisan politics. Most grievously lamentable in this regard was the slow and public-relations oriented Covid-19 response. As was learned later from former White House Covid advisor Dr. Deborah Birx, the American nation suffered more than 400,000 unnecessary pandemic deaths. In essence, these plausibly preventable deaths were the result of a defiling willingness to value “common-sense” thinking more highly than science and law.
What are the real reasons behind the New Cold War?
The announcement on April 15 by President Biden that this administration was expelling 10 Kremlin diplomats and imposing new sanctions for alleged Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. elections–to which Russia replied with a tit for tat–came just days after the Pentagon conducted military drills in the South China Sea. These actions were but the latest escalation of aggressive posturing as Washington ramps up its “New Cold War” against Russia and China, pushing the world dangerously towards international political and military conflagration.
Most observers attribute this US-instigated war to rivalry and competition over hegemony and international economic control. These factors are important, but there is a bigger picture that has been largely overlooked of what is driving this process: the crisis of global capitalism.
Harmonizing Counterterrorism and Great-Power Competition
For all the talk of a shift away from counterterrorism and toward great power competition, the reality is that with a modicum of strategic planning the two are mutually reinforcing, not mutually exclusive, efforts.
The defining characteristic of America’s post-9/11 counterterrorism approach has been an aggressive, forward defense global posture. As former defense secretary Robert Gates put it, “better to fight them on their 10-yard line than on our 10-yard line.” This counterterrorism enterprise has been remarkably successful from a tactical perspective, foiling attacks and disrupting terrorist networks. Protecting against future attacks demands continued vigilance, but nearly twenty years after 9/11 there is growing consensus that America’s forward defense counterterrorism posture is neither financially sustainable nor strategically balanced against the resource needs of other national security threats.
How We End the Forever War
The U.S. does not know how to end its wars. Even when US troops are withdrawn from another country, US involvement in the war there does not necessarily end. The Trump administration pulled troops out of Somalia last year, but US military operations in Somalia continue. President Biden has committed to withdrawing the remaining troops from Afghanistan, but it is simply understood that US special forces, drones, and jets will continue to conduct operations in the country for the foreseeable future. The troops move, but the wars continue.
As if to drive this point home, Gen. McKenzie, the head of CENTCOM, recently stated that the war on terrorism “is probably not going to end.” He could have dropped the probably. When the goals of a war are unachievable, it is not possible for the war to end when our government is determined to keep fighting it no matter what. Like every other war the US has fought since 1945, the forever war is a war of choice. Unless there are major changes in policy, the “war on terror” will outlive the US troop presence in Afghanistan.
Hungry Children, Well-Fed Shipping Companies
Rent-seeking is an ancient and well-polished political art, practiced today by expert lobbyists who capture surpluses for their clients, often at the expense of the weakest and poorest members of society. Few incidences of successful rent-seeking do as much harm while delivering such modest benefits to the practitioners than the groups taking advantage of the strings attached by Congress to the emergency international food-aid program, now called the Food for Peace initiative, managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Farm interest groups, shipping companies and seamen’s unions long ago persuaded legislators to impose two costly constraints on the program requiring almost all food for overseas aid be sourced in the United States and that most of it be transported on American- flagged vessels with American crews. The consequence: shipments are delayed by as much as 4 months because of these constraints, and every year as many as 8 million of the most desperately poor people in the world lose access to some aid because the FFP budget is eaten up by shipping costs.
Why Brazil Still Matters
While many in the West lamented Jair Bolsonaro’s stunning ascension to the presidency of the world’s fifth most populous country in 2018, the election outcome was sealed roughly a year earlier. That was when Brazil’s two-term center-left president, Lula da Silva, who had been legally barred from a third consecutive term in 2010 despite an 86 percent approval rating—and who was leading in all the polls for a comeback in the 2018 presidential race—was convicted on dubious corruption charges and then declared ineligible to run. With his primary obstacle out of the way, Bolsonaro cruised to victory.
The stench of those events intensified greatly when Bolsonaro appointed the judge who’d found Lula guilty, Sergio Moro, to the newly enhanced position of minister of justice and public security. Even Moro’s closest allies in the sprawling anti-corruption probe known as Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato in Portuguese) were outraged by this blatant quid pro quo, which they realized would forever tarnish their legacy.