The U.S. and Iran are on a collision course. The name-calling and saber rattling are ominous. The New York Times headline reads: “Iran Calls U.S. ‘Desperate and Confused.’ Trump vows ‘Obliteration.’” Is Iran going to commit suicide by attacking the world’s most lethal military? Washington is exerting what it calls “maximum pressure” on Iran and on anyone who wants to do business with that country. For most Iranians the punitive sanctions the U.S. has imposed are a form of warfare, albeit the economic kind. The Iran nuclear deal was working just fine according to the UN when Washington unilaterally abandoned it thus triggering the current crisis and the slide to war. The attitude emanating from Washington is more like that of a bully: You do what I tell you or else. Respectful dialogue is what is needed, not hectoring and badgering. Interviewed by David Barsamian. Recorded at KGNU.
The list of U.S. invasions, occupations, coups and sanctions in Latin America is a mile long. It is after all, “our little region over here,” and our “backyard” according to policymakers in Washington. Starting with the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 the continent and its people have been a laboratory for U.S. intervention, a kind of piñata, a punching bag. As the U.S. became a world power techniques perfected in Latin America were then globalized. Today, once again Washington turns its hegemonic gaze south. The National Security Advisor John Bolton denounces the “troika of tyranny”— Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua and the leaders of those countries as “the three stooges of socialism.” Apparently with no sense of shame or of history Bolton declared, “We’re not afraid to use the phrase ‘Monroe Doctrine’ in this administration.”
Given that people in the U.S. spend more money on health care than the rest of the world combined, then logic would dictate that we have the best health outcomes. Well, we don’t. Why? Increasing evidence from epidemiologists— the scientists who study the health of populations — indicates that everything from life expectancy to infant mortality to obesity, can be linked to the level of economic inequality within a given population. Almost a quarter of U.S. families live in poverty, the highest of all rich nations. Poor health and poverty go hand-in-hand. Checkups are deferred. Pain is endured. People engage in wishful thinking, i.e., maybe that numbness in my foot will just go away. Single payer universal health care would go a long way toward addressing our absurdly expensive health care system and reducing the number of unnecessary early deaths.
Surveillance Capitalism is a global architecture of behavior modification which poses profound threats to society. It was invented at Google, duplicated at Facebook, and has moved almost seamlessly into virtually every economic sector. Vast wealth is accumulated in an ominous new economic order where predictions of our behavior are bought and sold. Surveillance Capitalism has ominous consequences for democracy and humanity in the 21st century. It is based on extreme inequalities of knowledge and power. It claims human experience as a free source of raw material and challenges our autonomy and social solidarity. Our minds are being mined and harvested for data and are being fundamentally changed in the process. Surveillance Capitalism is a business model that Shoshana Zuboff says seeks growth by cataloguing our “every move, emotion, utterance and desire.”
Lawrence Wilkerson teaches Government and Public Policy at William & Mary College. He was Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff and Associate Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff. Before working at the State Department, he served 31 years in the U.S. Army, retiring with the rank of colonel.
Nader Hashemi is Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and teaches Middle East and Islamic politics at the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He is the author of Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy and co-editor of The People Reloaded, The Syria Dilemma and Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East.
Shoshana Zuboff is professor emerita at the Harvard Business School. She is the author of In the Age of the Smart Machine and The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.
Stephen Bezruchka is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. He worked for many years as an emergency physician in Seattle. His particular areas of research are population health and societal hierarchy. He has spent over 10 years in Nepal working in various health programs, and teaching in remote regions. He is author of numerous articles and essays. He is a contributor to Divided: the perils of our growing inequality, New Press, 2014.