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Articles by Janet Jagan 2006

Have the US Military Invasions Made the World a Better Place to Live in?

May 7, 2006 - by Janet Jagan

The 30% US President George Bush has one of the lowest approval ratings in US Presidential history. The reasons are many, but the main causes of the President’s lowered approval rating have to do with the US invasion of Iraq and the failure to deal with the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina in a timely and helpful manner.

If more errors are made, like the possibility of an attack on Iran, we can expect Bush’s approval rating to plummet more. He has already refused to "rule out" a nuclear strike on Iran if that nation does not give up its nuclear programme. Iran insists that its uranium enrichment programme is entirely peaceful and aimed at producing nuclear power for civilian consumption.

The US is pushing for sanctions against Iran by the United Nations Security Council. However, two members so far have said they oppose sanctions and the use of force. They are China and Russia.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has declared that the Security Council cannot be sidestepped and has an obligation to check Iran’s nuclear development. Yet it was the same USA that snubbed its nose at the United Nations which was then monitoring the claim that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), and despite the negative results the monitoring team were getting, pushed into Iraq to overthrow the Saddam Hussein government. As is common knowledge, there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction and the USA’s unilateral decision to militarily invade Iraq to halt WMD usage was a lie. Now Rice has conveniently forgotten the US’s former attitude to ignore the UN and has shifted to a new position to get backing for sanctions against Iran. She has gone even further in expressing the USA’s possible military ambitions in Iran. She recently warned that the US could take steps outside the UN Security Council to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear development.

President Bush has already engaged his nation in two Middle East wars - Afghanistan and Iraq. Will he be foolish enough to enter a third debacle? We can only hope for the best, let negotiations proceed, and also hope for a peaceful settlement. This is not the time for macho cowboy behaviour, but skilled diplomacy.

Both countries invaded by the USA are having very difficult times. The insurgency in Iraq hasn’t abated one inch and seems to be getting tougher. Deaths of Iraqis and US/Italian/British soldiers are still growing. The US military occupation is the root cause of the terror.

After more than four months since the elections in Iraq there are still delays in the formation of a government, so much so that two high-ranking members of the Bush cabinet, Rice and Rumsfeld visited Iraq last week to urge a quicker formation of a government.

And in the meantime, a European Union Parliamentary investigation into the "rendition" of prisoners under US control has revealed that CIA agents are guilty of illegally detaining and kidnapping persons, using European airfields to send them to countries where torture exists. The report stated that it was "inconceivable that European governments did not know what was going on" and further, that it’s up to the European Governments to stop this violation of human rights.

And if that accusation against the US and its CIA was not bad enough, we now learn that FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) agents have accused US military personnel at Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba of using illegal "aggressive interrogation tactics" on political detainees, all Muslims. The American Civil Liberties Union uncovered these charges after obtaining a court order. In one document, it described witnessing two military investigators interrogating a detainee at Guantanamo while showing him homosexual pornography movies and using a strobe light in the room. Interrogations last 16-18 hours and use such reprehensible tactics as wrapping the prisoner in an Israeli flag and playing constantly loud music.

There is also a report that there is a secret underground prison in Iraq where more than 170 men showed the effects of malnutrition and torture.

Added to the Bush administration’s woes are the mounting costs of the Iraq invasion, now estimated at US$439 Billion, more than the total cost of the Vietnam War. Further, although it has been swept under the carpet, the fact that Republican Party financial supporters are getting favoured contracts, as in the case of the firm Halliburton (once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney) is all part of the dirt accumulating which is lowering the credibility of the Bush administration.

And fear and instability are so great in Iraq that already some 65,000 Iraqis have fled to tent settlements to get out of the range of daily killings. They are refugees in their own country.

And in Afghanistan, it will be years before US and other troops can withdraw, and probably many years before a genuine, national government can be formed.

Is the world a better place to live in following the two military invasions led by the USA? I think few will believe so.

Copyright ©  Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2009


A Short Reply to Seecharran

By Janet Jagan - 2006

I don’t often indulge in this type of writing, but in this particular matter, I felt that a comment was necessary. I refer to criticisms expressed by Mr Clem Seecharran in his recent book “Sweetening Bitter Sugar; Jock Campbell, the Booker Reformer in British Guiana 1934-66.”

Seecharran refers to the late President Cheddi Jagan as a person who “had no literary culture” and that he possessed only “slight intellectual gifts.”

There are harsh words for one least deserving of such criticisms. I can only wonder if Seecharran ever read “The West on Trial” and in case he has, I recommend that he re-read the first two chapters in particular. Chapter one deals with the subject of Cheddi Jagan’s childhood, entitled “Growing Up” and chapter two with “My People’s History.”   Both chapters are beautifully written and although Dr Jagan’s writings were mainly political, it would not be difficult to detect the almost poetical aspects of his writing skills. For example: “… I found that Georgetown was different in other aspects as well. There were not so many simple pleasures as in the countryside. Looking at my own and other city children, I have always felt that they miss so much. Poverty had been intense at Port Mourant, but simple pleasures were many. Country life was full of rich experiences: perching on the fork of a tree at the centre of the kharian (threshing ground), prodding the oxen to urge them on their seemingly endless tramp-mashing (threshing) of paddy; sleeping on paddy haystacks under starry skies, even with clouds of mosquitoes buzzing around; watching cows grazing in the reaped paddy fields; catching fish with hook and cast nets; thrusting one’s hands into holes along the banks of empty trenches to find sometimes not fish but non-poisonous water snakes; shooting birds with slingshots; walking barefoot and pitching marbles in muddy puddles; burning the Holi heap and playing “mud” and “abir” at Phagwah time; and attending the August races.”

The second chapter of his book which deals with Guyana’s early history is rich in his descriptions of the slave trade, the slave revolts, the resistance. For example: “… the prevailing pattern during the time of slavery was a vicious circle of punishment – escape – capture – punishment …. This vicious circle proved profitable neither to the slaves nor to their masters. The masters acted in the only way they knew; more cruelty and more punishment; the slaves reacted in the only way open to them: sullenness, non-cooperation, passive resistance. But indolence and passive resistance soon gave way to sabotage and revolt. The slaves were not content to sit and wait for their emancipation to come from above by evolutionary stages. On many occasions they revolted. Each time they were brutally treated and subdued by whipping, mutilation of their limbs, burning over a slow fire or execution on the rab rack…”.

And in a similar vein, he recounts the beginning of the indentured labour system from India, the agonies of these sugar workers and their resistance.

While a student in the USA and enrolled at Northwestern University Dental College, Dr Jagan recognized the limitations of his studies. He wrote in “The West on Trial”: “I became conscious that I was being trained to become nothing but a glorified technician and craftsman…” He enrolled at the YMCA College in Chicago and attended classes in social sciences during the summer recess and evening classes – to round out his studies. Thus, at that time he was a full time dental student in one of the USA’s most prestigious dental colleges, studied for a Bachelor degree at the YMCA College and held a full time job, as he had no other source of income. At the same time, according to his book “Forbidden Freedom”: “I found time to read economics, sociology, philosophy and political science.” He read voraciously, particularly the writings of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

To suggest that Cheddi Jagan possessed “only slight intellectual gifts” can only be regarded as snobbery, the rantings of an “ivory tower” academic.

Copyright ©  Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2009


We have capable women candidates

by Janet Jagan (Aug. 2006)

Only a few weeks away and we’ll know the results of the general elections. We are fortunate to be part of a democracy that insists on having elections every five years, within the constitutional requirements, with free and fair nominations, voting procedures and guarantees for fair counts. We are also fortunate to have observers, both local and foreign, to judge the conduct and fairness of the electoral system.

Need I remind our readers that we didn’t have that before? Twice, the five-year period was well over-run plus all the horrors of electoral fraud during the PNC regime.

And unlike some countries, even those who claim to be democracies, we have no evidence of any move to extend the two five-year terms to three. Of course, the PNC did that with impunity.

What is inspiring about the 2006 elections is an examination of the candidates of the several parties contesting. There is no doubt about it, the PPP/Civic has come out with the best names listed, giving the confidence a voter needs when he/she marks the ballot paper.

As a woman, I am exceedingly proud of the quantity and quality of the names of women candidates, the number of which exceeds the one-third requirement.

The PPP/C list has women from all walks of life, from women who work in factories, in field, as teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, scientists, researchers, trade unionists, journalists and so on.

And let us give credit where credit is due.

It didn’t happen by chance that Guyanese women have literally galloped into freedom and equality. It wasn’t always like that. Before the advent of women’s organizations like the Women’s Political and Economic Organization (1946) and the Womens’ Progressive Organization (WPO) (1953), women were strictly limited in the work place. They were:

** Domestics

** Sugar workers

** Shirt factory workers

** Nurses

** Teachers

** Civil servants

and a few other vocations. Even women who were lucky enough to get jobs in the public service, had to resign when they got married (an earlier PPP government corrected that).

In the earlier days, when illiteracy was fairly high, many girl children did not receive an education – all efforts were made to give the boy child the benefits. The WPO worked tirelessly to close this education gap, urging parents to send all their children to school.

When the PPP in 1963 founded the University of Guyana, possibilities for both boys and girls to obtain a university education were opened. It was with these early openings of opportunities and encouragement that women started the upward march to better jobs and greater opportunities to advance themselves.

Today, statistics show, both here and in other countries, that women are more in number in schools and universities than are men. Through the past decades, women have moved forward and now have achieved remarkable successes in the many fields of endeavour that they have entered.

That is why it is so important that the PPP/C, which has made through its women and youth arms, great strides, is today showing Guyana and the whole world that we have women of achievement and ability in the ranks of the People’s Progressive Party.

Copyright ©  Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2009


Poor, Poor Lebanon

by Janet Jagan (Aug. 19,2006)

The wanton destruction by Israeli military of the sovereign state of Lebanon has brought sorrow not only to the millions of displaced Lebanese citizens, but to that part of this world that cares about people and their well being.

In very recent times we have witnessed the cruel and ruthless invasions of three nations – Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. Millions of people have lost their homes, their means of livelihood, their husbands, sons, daughters and are living under unbearable conditions. The death toll in Iraq since the US invasion is incalculable, but is somewhere in the tens of thousands.

Poor, poor Lebanon had just reached the road to recovery and had a vibrant economy with newly built infrastructure and modern housing, much of which had been lost in the rough years of the 1980s when Israel had occupied parts of Lebanon for years, where fighting went on for years and life was dangerous in that small country bordering Israel.

Israel, over a month ago, invaded Lebanon after Hezbollah sent rockets into Israel in retaliation and support for the Palestinians who were being slaughtered by Israel’s rockets and bombings on their own territory.

Instead of dealing with Hezbollah as a separate force, the Israelis attacked the country in which they are stationed – Lebanon. The whole state of Lebanon was, therefore, considered responsible for what a group or section was doing. The Israelis meant that the whole of Lebanon, women and children who had the highest death rates, were to pay for the rockets launched by Hezbollah. The tables turned, and the Lebanese victims turned against the Israelis, as have most of the Middle East nations, the world and even Israeli citizens.

The USA attempted to be the peacemaker, but no one accepted that role, since the US is much, much too close to Israel. The militarization of Israel, as is no secret, has been carried out by help from the USA and the unusual show of force by the occupying Israeli military – 30,000 troops, has reinforced the anti-American, anti-Israeli attitudes in the Middle East.

If Israel in the long term is to survive, and few really want its demise, it will have to change and seek peaceful, not hostile relations with other nations in the area. That is, for the future, Israel’s only way to survival and it is about time that Israel accepted the reality that it cannot be at war forever and expect its people to be content and secure. The diplomacy of peace should be accepted as the way forward – the only way. The Palestinians’ right to a homeland has to be respected and an urgent solution, to restore the Palestinians’ rights to stolen lands, must be found.

Israel’s expectations of a quick victory in Lebanon failed in the light of Hezbollah’s tenacity. The widespread killing of civilians and the wanton destruction of homes have brought world sympathy to the Lebanese people and the opposite to Israel. Israel also played its cards badly during the United Nations Security Council debates to bring about an end to the fighting. One day after the unanimous vote in the Security Council, for a ceasefire, Israel stepped up its invasion, sending in more troops and military hardware. Hezbollah responded by sending some 250 rockets into Israel.

An end to hostilities is to begin now and it is hoped that no more lives will be lost and no more destruction will take place. Lebanon has already suffered about $4billion in losses to the economy and infrastructure. Peace in the Middle East seems far away. The US is in a quagmire in both Iraq and Afghanistan. No one who has responsibility for these sufferings seems to really care. The United Nations is doing its best to garner humanitarian aid to those who are caught in the middle of the aggressions, but that is not enough. The super power and its acolytes who create wars and invasions are steering a dangerous course, disrupting countries and peoples, denying nations their sovereign rights and increasing the poverty and hopelessness, as well as the number of refugees all over the world.

We can only hope that the UN Resolution on Lebanon will be successful, so that the Lebanese people can again, rebuild their country and hopefully, live in peace.

Copyright ©  Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2009


The Current and Sad Situation in Iraq

by Janet Jagan (October 2006)

The reports coming out of Iraq are so alarming that they are causing consternation all over the world, and particularly in the USA. With mid-term elections for the Senate and House of Representatives of the US Congress, due on November 7, President Bush and his close officials, like the Vice President, the Defence Secretary, the Secretary of State and the UN Ambassador are in a tight squeeze. The pressure comes from everywhere, including the Democrats, leaders of the ruling Republican Party, and ordinary US citizens. The polls show that the Iraq war is of the greatest concern, even though President Bush is trying hard to shift emphasis in the November 7 elections to the state of the economy, but no one is buying that.

One of the severest blows came from the USA’s loyal partner, Great Britain. Chief of the General Staff Richard Dannett said recently that British troops should leave Iraq soon because their presence is worsening security. He said that post war planning for the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq was poor and the presence of troops there was hurting British security globally. The Head of the British armed forces further said: “Britain should get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems.”

And that is really the essence of what has happened in Iraq. Over and over again, it has been explicitly pointed out that the invasion and occupation of Iraq have emboldened the terrorists, increased their deadly activities and has also encouraged the spread of terrorism, rather than stopping it. President Bush’s campaign all along has been a “War on Terrorism,” but the reverse has happened.

Right now, there are approximately 100 deaths a day in Iraq. The number of US soldiers killed is the highest – some 90 so far for the month of October. New and reliable research puts the figure of dead Iraqis since the invasion to 655,000, far, far above the benign figure given by Bush of some 30,000 Iraqis. In an article in the Sunday Chronicle, October 22, 2006 entitled “The Human Cost of the Iraq War,” Gwynne Dyer reports on the studies done by reputable US researchers from John Hopkins University and the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology, plus the British Medical Journal Lancet which confirm the high death rate of Iraqis.
The costs of the terrible and vastly unpopular war run in the billions – estimated at US$811 billion! Enough to give the poor, the sick, the displaced, the hungry and the homeless a chance to survive!

Last Sunday’s TV programme “60 Minutes” exposed the shocking corruption in Iraq, where US-picked officials stole almost one billion dollars. Besides all the dreadful deaths and what these mean to the remaining families, tens of thousands of Iraqis are fleeing the killing fields. The number of displaced persons are now placed at 130,000, some putting up tents far from the dangerous areas, and thousands fleeing to neighbouring countries, Syria in particular.

 While the figures on Iraqi deaths and the huge exodus are alarming, what about the number of injured, and, especially the number who have been maimed for life? These must be very high, both for Iraqis and Allied troops. US figures are unavailable.

What about the new land of democracy and the better life the Americans have brought to Iraq? Everyone knows that is rubbish. Education, housing, health care, electricity, water, sewage – all these are even worse than in the time of Saddam. Iraq, right now, is a destroyed country – destroyed by the invasion (for which the reasons given by Bush turned out to be all lies) and the occupation, which absolutely no Iraqi accepts.

The USA’s record in connection with prisoners and their incarceration is a blemish on the USA and increases the hatred of Americans worldwide. In the United Nations, it was observed that torture now is worse than it was under Saddam Hussein.

The US has protected itself by demanding and pressuring governments to pass laws to exempt Americans from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and from local courts when they commit misdemeanours.

That is one reason why Iraq cannot try and punish US soldiers for rape and murder. Such cases are now heard in the USA, but in the instances arising, it was Iraqi young women who were raped and other Iraqis who were murdered. One of the smallest countries in the world – Barbados – had the guts to defy the USA and refused to sign the pact. Congrats to them!

President Bush is now facing his greatest challenge. It appears, that despite US public opinion and the lowest popularity polls, he has no intention of accepting proposals to move troops out of Iraq. The results of the November 7, 2006 polls will be a significant test and may, possibly, influence the future of that devastated land called Iraq.

Copyright ©  Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2009