If more Americans could get unplugged from the myths which have been used historically to engineer public acquiescence in U.S. foreign policy, how much could that help us reform U.S. foreign policy in the future?
Oliver Stone's 10 part documentary series on the history of U.S. foreign policy is currently running on Mondays on Showtime. Stone documents that the U.S. has not been noticeably more altruistic than other countries which have tried to exert global power: it's a fairy tale that "other countries have interests but we only have values."
The people of Haiti are fighting a deadly cholera epidemic introduced by UN troops that has killed thousands and sickened hundreds of thousands more.  Since the UN accidentally caused this catastrophe, it has a special responsibility to help Haitians stamp out killer cholera for good. Press reports have suggested that announcement of a UN plan is possible very soon.
Let's press the UN to make sure it announces decisive action and to build momentum and public attention to make sure the UN and major donor governments follow through on their commitments. We're partnering with Avaaz, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, and other organizations to build momentum for decisive action. You can sign our petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon here:
Since it began in October 2010, Haiti’s cholera epidemic has killed over 7,700 and brought untold suffering to poor communities. Although doctors, scientists, and even UN Special Envoy Bill Clinton recognize that UN troops brought the epidemic to Haiti, the UN has refused to take responsibility.
According to recent news reports , key players – including the Haitian government, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pan-American Health Organization and UNICEF – may soon announce a plan to respond to cholera with medical treatment and water and sanitation infrastructure. This would be an important step in the right direction, but it would be a tentative step, with only a tiny fraction of funding secured so far. At the current pace, thousands more Haitians will die before their communities receive clean water.
We have no time to lose. A spike in cholera cases has been reported after Hurricane Sandy. Together we can save lives and help Haitians finally rid the island of this killer, if we act now. Sign this urgent petition and share it with everyone you know.
PRESS RELEASE: Just Foreign Policy Launches Haiti Cholera Counter to Press UN to Take Lead in Addressing Crisis
Just Foreign Policy Launches Haiti Cholera Counter to Press UN to Take Lead in Addressing Crisis
For Immediate Release
May 29, 2012
Washington DC, May 29 - It has been 591 days since Jean Salgadeau Pelette died on October 16, 2010. Pelette is considered to be the first victim of the ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti, which began when UN troops from South Asia carried the bacteria to the previously cholera-free nation. Since then, an estimated 546,955 Haitians have fallen ill and 7,172 have died, according to Just Foreign Policy's new web counter.
Yet, not only has the UN refused to accept formal responsibility, but it has done little to help treat, prevent, and control the disease.
"The failure of the United Nations to lead in addressing the cholera crisis in Haiti would be outrageous enough, even if the UN had nothing to do with bringing cholera to Haiti," said Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy. "The role of UN troops in sparking the crisis makes the UN's failure to act scandalous."
The following letter is being circulated by the office of Rep. John Conyers. Ask your Rep. to sign by calling the Congressional switchboard at 202-225-3121. Current signers include: Blumenauer, Brown, Capuano, Clay, Clarke (MI), Clarke (NY), Conyers, Cohen, Deutch, Edwards, Ellison, Farr, Grijalva, Gutierrez, Hastings, Holmes-Norton, Honda, Jackson, Johnson (GA), Kucinich, Lee, Lewis (GA), Maloney, McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, Moran, Olver, Rangel, Rush, Schakowsky, Stark, Towns, Waters, and Wilson (FL). The Conyers letter was cited in a New York Times editorial. Urge your Rep. to support this letter.
From: The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Please join me in supporting efforts to address the cholera epidemic in Haiti by signing a letter to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice urging UN authorities to play a central role in addressing the crisis.
The cholera outbreak began in October 2010, ten months after Haiti’s tragic earthquake, and “has become one of the largest cholera epidemics in modern history” according to the Pan-American Health Organization. To date, at least 7,200 Haitians have died from the disease and more than 530,000 people have been infected.
As cholera was brought to Haiti due to the actions of the UN, it is imperative for the UN to now act decisively to control the cholera epidemic. UN authorities should work with Haiti’s government and the international community to confront and, ultimately, eliminate this deadly disease from Haiti and the rest of the island of Hispaniola. A failure to act will not only lead to countless more deaths: it will undermine the crucial effort to reconstruct Haiti and will pose a permanent public health threat to the populations of neighboring nations.
John Conyers, Jr.
Member of Congress
May XX, 2012
Dear Ambassador Rice,
The key political fact about the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is this: at the end of the day, the decision of whether to approve the permit for the pipeline or not will be a political decision wholly owned by President Obama.
The final determination on the permit will be based whether approval would be in the "national interest" of the United States. This is an inherently political determination. By denying the permit for the pipeline, President Obama can take a concrete action against climate chaos without securing one Republican vote, without spending one tax dollar, without getting approval from the Tea Party.
If, on the other hand, President Obama were to approve the permit for the pipeline, then he would be acting to promote climate chaos, and this decision could not be blamed on the dispute over the nation's projected debt in 2021, Republicans or the Tea Party. It would be President Obama, standing alone, breaking a campaign promise to act to protect the climate from chaos induced by human action.
This is a global justice issue, because climate chaos is inherently discriminatory against the poor and the weak. A hurricane that strikes Haiti and Florida with the same force is virtually guaranteed to hurt Haitians more, because Haiti has fewer resources to protect its citizens against hurricanes. More Haitians have inadequate shelter to start with; the infrastructure for emergency response is weaker; the health care system is weaker. So any action which has the effect of making hurricanes more intense is going to have disparate impact on Florida and Haiti, for the future as far as we can see.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has noted:
Back in 1969, when Secretary of State Clinton was writing her senior thesis at Wellesley on Chicago community organizer Saul Alinsky, she must have come across this line on page 9 of Alinksy's book "Rules for Radicals":
"Revolution by the Have-Nots has a way of inducing a moral revelation among the Haves."
"The region's foundations are sinking into the sand," Clinton said, calling for "political reforms that will create the space young people are demanding, to participate in public affairs and have a meaningful role in the decisions that shape their lives." Those who would "prey on desperation and poverty are already out there," Clinton warned, "appealing for allegiance and competing for influence."
As Secretary Clinton made her remarks, the Times noted, "unrest in Tunisia that threatened its government while serving to buttress her arguments" was among the events that "echoed loudly in the background."
Friday, Tunisian president Ben Ali has reportedly fled the country and the Tunisian prime minister says he is now in charge.
Popular protest can bring down the government in an Arab country. Who knew?
By July 24, 2009, the U.S. government was totally clear about the basic facts of what took place in Honduras on June 28, 2009. The U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa sent a cable to Washington with subject: "Open and Shut: The Case of the Honduran Coup," asserting that "there is no doubt" that the events of June 28 "constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup." The Embassy listed arguments being made by supporters of the coup to claim its legality, and dismissed them thus: "none ... has any substantive validity under the Honduran constitution." The Honduran military clearly had no legal authority to remove President Zelaya from office or from Honduras, the Embassy said, and their action - the Embassy described it as an "abduction" and "kidnapping" - was clearly unconstitutional.
It is inconceivable that any top U.S. official responsible for U.S. policy in Honduras was not familiar with the contents of the July 24 cable, which summarized the assessment of the U.S. Embassy in Honduras on key facts that were politically disputed by supporters of the coup regime. The cable was addressed to Tom Shannon, then Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; Harold Koh, the State Department's Legal Adviser; and Dan Restrepo, Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council. The cable was sent to the White House and to Secretary of State Clinton.
But despite the fact that the U.S. government was crystal clear on what had transpired, the U.S. did not immediately cut off all aid to Honduras except "democracy assistance," as required by U.S. law.
Reverend Jesse Jackson, Danny Glover, and Harry Belafonte, together with Haiti NGOs, peace groups, and Latin America scholars, have written to Congress urging that the delivery of medical aid and other urgently needed aid to Haiti be speeded up and prioritized over the deployment of U.S. troops.
The letter is here.
An article in the Miami Herald is here.
Following is the log of Beverly Bell during the first ten days after the earthquake in Haiti.
Beverly first went to Haiti as a teenager. Since then she has dedicated most of her life to working for democracy, women's rights, and economic justice in that country. She founded or co-founded six organizations and networks dedicated exclusively to supporting the Haitian people, including the Lambi Fund of Haiti. She worked for both presidents Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Rene Preval and wrote Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Story of Survival and Resistance (Cornell University Press, 2001). Today she is associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and runs the economic justice group Other Worlds.
7.0 ON THE HORROR SCALE
NOTES ON THE HAITIAN EARTHQUAKE
BEVERLY BELL, OTHER WORLDS COLLABORATIVE, NEW ORLEANS
January 12, 2010
4:12 p.m. 7.0 EARTHQUAKE ROCKS HAITI. I read this email subject line several times. My brain can't make sense of it.
I blast the following message in Creole out to dozens of Haitian friends: How is it that the worst always goes right to Ayiti Cheri - not just human-created crises like poverty and avoidable disease, but also natural phenomenon? May as many as possible - including all of your people - be spared from death and further suffering.
Sharing anguish and love, Bev
11:05 a.m. Looking for mindless little tasks to do today since I can't manage anything big... Can't stop shaking or crying, barely slept last night, can't eat. Been fighting the urge to vomit since yesterday afternoon.
Mainstream media are now reporting the shortage of medical supplies in Haiti, a shortage created in part by the US decision to prioritize the inflow of military flights over humanitarian aid.
Doctors without Borders (MSF) said days were lost because the main airport in Port-au-Prince, under U.S. control, had been blocked by military traffic, Reuters reports.
"We lost three days," [Francoise Saulnier, the head of MSF's legal department] told Reuters Television in an interview. "And these three days have created a massive problem with infection, with gangrene, with amputations that are needed now, while we could have really spared this to those people."
"And now everything has been mixed together and the urgent and vital attention to the people has been delayed (for) military logistics, which is useful but not on day three, not on day four, but maybe on day eight. This military logistic has really jammed the airport and led to this mismanagment."
Mark Weisbrot, writing in the Guardian, noted that
On Sunday, Jarry Emmanuel, air logistics officer for the UN's World Food Programme, said: "There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti ... But most flights are for the US military."
The New York Times reported Thursday that