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You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're just kidding.
- They Might Be Giants



'We Ourselves'. . . Alone?

Karen Lyden Cox

I heard the man say with passionate, unshakable conviction "Our leaders will never betray us. They would never do that. We know them, they are our people, they are of us." His remarks were met at once with astonishment, protest, and guffaws of wry laughter. Following that, polite arguments urged him to remember that a series of compromises leading to betrayal was the theme of most worn-out revolutions, warning him that since it happened to us it could surely happen to him. He dismissed our counsel as emphatically as we scorned his gullibility. Probably destined to meet him only once in my lifetime, I carry with me the impression of a thoughtful, intelligent man dedicated enough to his cause to be a hero among his own people. I should have asked him if his blind faith rests solely on trust in the good faith his leaders' words promise, or if his leaders have embellished the impact of their directives with the powerful memory of the death-sacrifice of our own Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Patsy O'Hara, Raymond McCreesh, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee, and Michael Devine. I hope that his honorable resolve will not be sold for a trumped-up forgery of the justice he is dying for.

It has often been said that some measure of blind faith is necessary to jump-start a revolution and there is no doubt that the Sinn Féin party was trusted implicitly to represent the desires of the majority of grassroots Irish republicans as stated in Sinn Féin's platform "Sinn Féin is an Irish Republican party. We seek an end to British rule which is the cause of partition, conflict, injustice and division in Ireland. We seek national self-determination, the unity and independence of Ireland as a sovereign state." Sinn Féin was eighty-one years down the road from founding before breaking the first big taboo of many. Now deep-rooted in the aegis of British kakistocracy, Sinn Féin's concerns of inequity among other salaried British servants were resolved in January when Adams, McGuinness, Gildernew, and Doherty accepted an invitation from the British government to enjoy new offices, an annual expense account of $150,000 each, and other perks in Westminster Palace - the former home of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and all British monarchs. In one side of a private compromise, the rules were changed to allow Sinn Féin MPs to function within the imperial British system of government without swearing the mandatory oath to the Queen. This was not a coup, the rules have been changed before. Atheists in Parliament are excused from pledging fealty to God if they swear allegiance to the Queen instead.

Sinn Féin has claimed for many years to have instigated a plan for success. "Sinn Féin is committed to our peace strategy. We have sought with honesty and integrity to construct a peace process." Their slogan - "Delivering real change." Status of the peace so far this year - riots and murder in Belfast, the children can't get to school safely. The good word 'peace' has been over-used, unrealized and wrung-out to the point of wilting. The word 'process' implies forward motion from a sequence of agreed steps leading to a stated goal with closure - "real change". To excuse the fact that the Irish Peace Process is always in place but never going anywhere, sound bites parroted by the media repeat "The peace process is on track. Our mission is succeeding." and assure us year-after-year that there are:

analyses agendas new agendas successful agendas unprecedented agendas people-centered agendas
alliances accords unparalleled accords momentous accords cautious steps
calls for action renewed action seekers of action active seekers active players
breakthroughs breaking new ground real breakthroughs groundbreaking advances
declarations dialogues real dialogues meaningful dialogues difficult moments
real bridges more bridges to cross bridging the divides dividends
differentiated positions increased differentiation differentiated neutral positions
frameworks infrastructures further gains further difficulties
humanitarian gestures massive gestures bold gestures
intense negotiations increased intensity daunting tasks knotty issues
initiatives political initiatives joint initiatives bold initiatives challenges of initiating
catalysts quests quantum boosts quantum leaps
keen interests key issues key players key relationships
key committees sub-committees committed seekers long-standing commitments
key confidences confidence-building measures measured responses
long roads grueling roads significant inroads
high hopes hopes that have never been higher momentum movement
negotiations new realities new understandings new horizons
new opportunities opportune moments promise
parallel approaches continuing progress principal players partners
projects opportunities for peace-building projects searches for peace searches for real peace
partners-in-peace peacemakers peace envoys beginnings of peace the pain of making peace
phases numbered phases historic phases interphases interfaces
ongoing processes processes-in-motion stalled processes troubled processes
jump-started processes long processes long and difficult processes
re-launching setting the stage for re-launching real change
restoring re-grouping re-organizing re-negotiating resuscitating
stalemates snags strands numbered strands strand committees
strategic choices peace as a strategic choice strategies for change poised to change
transformations visions visionaries positive and visionary contributions...


Does this barrage of plastic words elicit a mindless response from us or a thoughtful one? Do we question what the politicians have achieved besides this sleight-of-mouth? Can they answer our questions about their activities without using the same words in their answer? It's "hands off" if someone tries to control us physically - what about our minds?

Peace processes have been foisted on more people than just the Irish and the lexicon of drivel used to report on their 'progress' is the same. Some of the processed include: Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process; Kosovo Peace Process; Cyprus Peace Process; Kashmir Peace Process; Nagorno-Karabakh Initiative; Korean Peace Process; Colombian Peace Process; Guatemala Peace Process; Nicaragua Peace Process; Chiapas Peace Process; Accord Mindanao; Ecuador-Peru Peace Process; Sri Lanka Peace Process; Dinka-Nuer Peace Process; Mozambique Peace Process; Liberia Peace Process; Lusaka Peace Process; Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Process; Burundi Peace Process; Somalia Peace Process; Lorné Peace Process; Bougainville Peace Process; and in an absurd twist, the fledgling Afghanistan Peace Process. None of these communities of people have reached their full potential from foreign intervention processes but be assured, all of these peace processes are "on track" or are "being put back on track". Peace-processing has less to do with successfully and fairly resolving human conflicts than it does with stabilizing societies for corporate plunder and conferring power to an elite force of politicians.

Voicing his own frustration, Middle East correspondent and journalist Robert Fisk demanded to know "Who ever invented the word peace process? Whoever said it was a process anyway?" The origins of the words 'peace process' are obscured by layers of processes worldwide while peace-processing has become a veritable institution. In the words of the Washington-based Institute of Multi-Track Diplomacy, "the IMTD is an international player in peace processes and we have been exploring the connection between business and peacebuilding since 1995...using the World Bank/ infuse international development. Our first rule of providing relief and facilitating development is to 'do no harm'. Our work dates back to October 1995 when [founder] Ambassador McDonald was asked to speak at the World Bank's first conference on Ethics and Spiritual Values. IMTD remains in close contact with the World Bank..." What? The World Bank - directed to bring relief to the poor during its restructuring in the 1950s and whose major shareholders are G7/G8 governments - is the focus of massive worldwide protests and bond boycotts for the Bank's ongoing legacy of destruction and devastation in the Southern Hemisphere, and wherever the Third World or vulnerable people exist, funding mega-corporations as they make nations of desperate people dependent on them by privatization of water, electricity and other public services, extracting all wealth and perpetrating criminal acts without answering for their heinous deeds. Accusations against them name every human, civil, and natural violation imaginable reducing the exemplary ideals of peace, do no harm, and ethics and spiritual values to meaningless trash.

"Sinn Féin has a vision that sees beyond the present conflict and beyond the present phase of our history. Our vision is for the redistribution of wealth..." With the whole world embroiled in class struggle, the notion that those who amass and control wealth might be persuaded to redistribute it fairly is absurd. Worker-owned business is a viable alternative. The biggest drawback to its realization is the fact that the Queen of England owns the land in Northern Ireland and a limited few in the population have the resources to set up businesses right now. Gerry Adams could choose to follow in the footsteps of his mentor Nelson Mandela who also sought to "redistribute wealth" and take Ireland to the same hellish place South Africa lingers in today. After coming into power in 1994, Nelson Mandela and the government of the ANC pushed for privatization of national industries even faster than the World Bank/IMF requested. Appeasing foreign investors resulted in private companies' failure to manage public services in a worse scenario than the people experienced under apartheid. Skyrocketing water and electricity rates resulted in utility cutoffs and evictions when the poor could not pay. To quench their thirst, they turned to bacteria-laden river water; 15,000 were sickened in the resulting cholera epidemic and some 50 people died while the UN's anti-racial forum delegates drank bottled water. Other epidemics followed with more than 44,000 sickened and more than 103 dead in one of them; the crisis is not solved. Privatization schemes enabled the rich whites and a few wealthy Africans to become wealthier under the new government's pro-business policies, widening the gap between the already rich and the poorest of the poor - a global scenario. Not only are concerned activists and responsible businesses calling for debt cancellation for the Third World's Most Impoverished Countries, but more importantly they are demanding that the Bank do so using their own institutions and also terminate SAPs to free the victims from endless debt.

The Sinn Féin party focuses on their electoral success to validate a republican mandate and justify their plan for peace. "Sinn Féin has become a formidable electoral force in the Six Counties and has advanced rapidly in the 26 Counties...By supporting Sinn Féin you can strengthen the search for peace and be part of the process of delivering real change... I am asking you to join with us in delivering real change." Sinn Féin contends that their electoral gains "give them the potential for massive growth" (AP/RN). 'Massive growth' is a capitalism-gone-berserk economic descriptive that brings to mind the flip-side reality of slums, shanty towns, and ghettos in the shadow of obscene private wealth more than it suggests gains in peace and harmony for ordinary people. Sinn Féin's electoral gains will not trigger harmonious peace just as Bobby Sands' much greater electoral success as MP of Fermanagh/South Tyrone failed to bring about victory over state murder for himself and his fellow hunger strikers, but did achieve perpetual vindication for those who market his glory and sloganize portions of these words that he wrote while imprisoned in Long Kesh - "I have always taken a lesson from something that was told me by a sound man, that is, that everyone, republican or otherwise, has his own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small, no one is too old or too young, to do something."

Small players on the fringes of the peace process are asked to donate hearts and money, assured that they have their own particular part to play in something vital. Following an event to celebrate Sinn Féin as a winner in finding peace for Ireland, a supporter voiced what she equated with Sinn Féin's success - through her association with the peace process, she was able to travel and meet with prominent politicians and important business people. In Sinn Féin's peace travels in February, Gerry Adams and others in the party participated in the World Economic Forum in New York City, aptly described as "the meeting of the business world's movers and shakers...a three-day institutional investor meeting, the shared asset is the invitation-only Big Money exchange of big ideas and gossip...the world's most prestigious schmoozefest...the feast of globalization" where they attended a workshop on Attacking Hunger and Poverty while the protesters were kept out of the way. Gone from Davos chic in past sessions to New York opulence this year, the WEF has been an annual event since 1971 during which time world hunger and poverty have worsened and organized protests against the schmoozefestees have become more annoying. The Fórum Social Mundial 2002 took place in Porto Allegre, Brazil on that same weekend, the first of at least two World Social Forums this year. Free of corporate capitalist hegemony, the alternative camp took on the issues of social, economic, and environmental justice for the entire world. As members of the political set and no longer viewed as an anti-imperialist group, Sinn Féin would have had trouble getting in the door in Brazil.

Along with Adams, somewhat recent emigrant from Ireland to the US, Niall O'Dowd, is largely credited with the Irish Peace Process and lauded as: "longtime associate of Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams...without them [Adams & O'Dowd], working at different levels, and in different ways, on both sides of the Atlantic, there would be no peace process...influential the past number of years they [refers to O'Dowd & wealthy businessmen & politicians] have played a significant role in building the peace process in the United States ...putting together a coalition of Irish-American politicians, tycoons and trade unionists who brokered peace from of a handful of Irish-American community leaders who jump-started the peace process in 1993...a man crucial to Irish peace deals for the past 25 years...[part of] a high-powered delegation...founder of the Irish American peace delegation which helped bring about the August 1994 IRA cease of the backstage negotiators in the breakthrough accords of 1995...influential journalist... the founding Publisher of Irish America magazine and the Irish Voice newspaper, the two largest Irish American publications...whose Irish Voice newspaper made Clinton "Irish-American of the Year"...a paper which began publishing in 1986 to help in the shaping of Irish people's perspective".

The printers of the publications that "help in the shaping of Irish people's perspective" are not listed but a look at Ireland's largest paper, packaging, and publishing products manufacturer revealed the type of scenario Korten warned of - a single monolithic corporation involved globally in all aspects of paper, box, bag and carton manufacture including cigarette cartons; office supplies, printing and graphic arts; publishing of catalogs, magazines, periodicals and schoolbooks for children; bagging, addressing and postal distribution; graphic arts and color imaging; one of the largest sources of newsprint and paper for the US; wastepaper recycling; and e-procurement solutions for direct expenditure. They also have connections to higher education with interests in petroleum and media while maintaining an edgy, trendy website exclusively for women and sponsoring golf tournaments. After this corporation merged with the largest paper and packaging corporation in the US, together they acquired the second of two of Canada's largest paper/pulp industries. They have holdings, vital interests, acquisitions and factories in England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, USA, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, France, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Nigeria, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Mexico, Columbia, Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil. They own a company that supplies optical-scanning and direct-record computer vote-counting equipment to the US, much to the dismay of vote-fraud activists as they "question the propriety of such an arrangement and its implications, wondering if it is wise to have a foreign firm, with unknown safeguards against criminal or foreign intelligence penetration of its computer source-code, counting the US vote". Queries about the recycling part of the business proved fruitless and disgusting; the link to the website for the recycling operations was a link to a graphic pornography site. The Austrian subsidiary is a major client of one of the largest information technology companies in the world and is managed by a man named Haider. Not Jörg Haider of course; Jörg's right-hand man owns a neighboring paper/pulp/packaging mega-corporation. It wouldn't be surprising if the two global corporations consumed each other, if they haven't already, to become a new global entity.

O'Dowd's Irish America magazine celebrates annually the "Top 50 Irish On Wall Street" and "100 Top Irish Americans". The magazine's honorees in the category "100 Top Irish American Business People" for December and January 2002, and presumably members of the peace process crowd, are not in business as housepainters, caterers, grocers, shopkeepers, pub owners, or funeral home directors like many business owners in the pool of millions of Irish in America. Nearly all of the one hundred awardees are private owners, founders, CEOs, Presidents, Executive VPs, Vice-Presidents, COOs, or CFOs of the world's most wealthy mega-corporations. Studying these corporations revealed that most have subsidiaries in, or ties to, the UK and Ireland, encompassing patents; banking and credit cards; pharmaceuticals; government military contracts; security; electronics; computers, Internet and software; telecommunications and entertainment including telephone, radio, television networks, newspapers, books and magazines, sports franchises; the chemical industry; the electric power industry; the seed-gene patent industry; petroleum; mining; forestry; mortgage brokers and real estate tycoons; luxury resorts and hotels; car rental; aviation; public relations training; post-secondary education; medical devices; retail sales; etc.

One company with an award-winner at the helm is an example of today's complex corporate entanglements. Owned by UK and European shareholders but listed as a US business, company (A), with a current annual revenue in the billions of dollars, is the world's largest hotel/luxury resort owner with property in countries all over the globe. A sister company (B), who merged with A, listed realty property for the US's largest post-secondary education technical training institute (C) with thousands of schools under their control including schools in Ireland. The schools are linked to a branch of a global telecommunications, manufacturing, and engineering conglomerate (D) founded prior to W.W.II by an industrialist of Danish/French/Italian descent living in a US territory. The company is purported to have had connections with Himmler and Hitler during W.W.II while operating as an "Ally" business.

Now divided into many corporations, D's offspring "produce high-tech military gear including electronic-warfare devices, night-vision-enhancing equipment, image-intensifying tubes, tactical communications equipment, and intelligence-gathering equipment for military and law enforcement; provide voiceprint-controlled user access to phone-based and Internet-based services and manufacture mobile phones; manufacture electrical connectors and switches, fluid technology products, industrial components; manufacture air traffic radar systems, ground defense radar systems/equipment, land and sea-based air defense radar systems and electronic surveillance systems; provide engineering services specializing in space and missile systems engineering, arc plasma technology, advanced thermal protection materials, and high-tech engineering; manufacture wastewater pumps, jet pumps, submersible pumps, stainless steel pumps, slurry pumps, marine toilets, and search lights; manufacture valves and accessories for the pulp, water, power, mining, and biopharm markets; manufacture valves and actuators with products sold to the chemical processing, power generation, pulp and paper, water treatment, pollution control, pharmaceutical, bioprocessing industries and to wineries and breweries; manufacture heat exchangers including shell and tube, plate and frame and air-cooled heat exchangers which are used by the chemical and electronics industries for heat-dissipation and recovery functions; manufacture auto components; provide computer and technical education and training" (through C).

One of D's corporate offspring (X) also runs the flashy businesses of gambling, hotels and entertainment and they have merged with company A. A group of nine international investment firms, mostly UK and European, owned A before and after the merger. Two of these investment firms are UK companies who are "global investment bankers, leaders in acquisitions, mutual funds, and management consulting". The merger of A and X (Z) is currently involved in a bid with the UK/Ireland to create the world's largest mega-hotel giant. Both A and B and their subsequent mergers profit from the goldmine of pay-per-view graphic porn available exclusively to their hotel guests. Students at the technical schools (C) are offered discounts on travel when they stay in company hotels and resorts. One of the first big errors in Fidel Castro's initial agenda was allowing company D to privatize national industry in Cuba in 1959.

A review of just 20 of the 100+ corporations defining the stellar achievements of the One Hundred Top reveals charges against the corporations of: concentration of massive wealth; usury; bribery; political bribes; unethical use of advertising and influence; contributing to patron suicide; breaking State laws; anti-trust violations; fraud lawsuit for brand-name theft from a small successful company; company killing/"downsizing"; illegally coercing employees over union representation; unethical use of prisoners in State and Federal prisons to cut labor costs and avoid payments to State Workers' Compensation; withholding information from the FDA - test case for the Securities and Exchange Commission's Fair Disclosure Laws; providing credit card information to intelligence agencies; manufacturing of anti-personnel (AP) land mines & refusal to renounce future involvement in making them after appeals from Human Rights Watch; death/disorder risk for unsafe products (cancer, heart failure) - one of them was a recipient of the Queen's Award for medical favors to the UK; distributing and profiting from porn pay-per-view; genetic modification of plants to produce sterile seeds and marketing the technology - a global threat to food security, to poor farmers, and to biodiversity; largest US retailer of old growth forest wood; extinction; global warming; ozone depletion; soil erosion; air and water pollution; flagrant violations of the international and national labor laws including maquiladoro factories and sweatshops with child labor, starvation wages, sexual harassment, sex discrimination, body searches, forced overtime, forced long hours, and denial of the right to organize.

Peace hasn't visited the maquiladoro factories but the process did travel to Cuba. In his speech to Cuba, Gerry Adams praised peace processes naming, but not criticizing, interventions in the already-processed-to-death Latin American countries. Adams said "That [refers to IRA cessation, GFA] means removing the causes of conflict by making real progress towards a lasting peace settlement. A peace process, whether in Ireland or the Middle East, or in the conflicts here in Latin America, must at its core be a way of solving problems, democratically, and on the basis of equality and understanding, honesty and good faith." Gerry Adams claimed to have traveled to Cuba to "acknowledge President Castro's support for the Hunger Strikers" - Castro needled UK and US politicians about the Hunger Strikers in a speech twenty years ago. Sinn Féin representatives unveiled yet another memorial to the Ten Hunger Strikers of 1981, men who are owed fulfillment of their dreams much more than they deserve a litter of rocks in Sinn Féin's wake. The assigned roles were played and UK/US politicians expressed appropriate displeasure at Adams' visit to Forbidden Cuba. It was too easy for some observers to conclude that Sinn Féin's mission was to seek points here and rub noses in it there. More likely Adams' and Kelly's mission coincided with the emergence of La Nueva Cuba.

In an ironic twist, Eugenia de Sosa Chabau was dying of cancer while Sinn Féin's Adams and Kelly were praising what is, no matter how you paint it, a dictatorship based on a failed Leninist model. Just how the mingling of Fidelissimo's and "El Enfermero's" Cuba, Pearse's and Connolly's Ireland, and Sinn Féin-founder Arthur Griffith's "workers-should-work-for-less" can commune in solidarity is a mystery to me. What is clear is that Cuba's economic future is being decided. Last year, US embargoes on food and pharmaceutical products were lifted and tourism-related construction is booming in Cuba. There are rumors that the US government may cave-in soon to the constant pressure from multinational corporations to lift embargoes "which is expected to result in massive injections of US capital". Although a US embargo still prevents US businesses (the ones not owned elsewhere on the globe) from investing in Cuba, publicly-listed companies within their economies are permitted to invest in Cuba while shareholders profit.

Hanging in the balance is Cuba's future and the question of who will prosper in it - the people of Cuba or multinational corporations? Hijacking another 6,000 US businesses would prove difficult for Castro in this era since it is no longer clear which country the corporations really belong to, if any. Instead of confiscating US businesses this time around, he may soon be inviting them in on the same haute monde red carpet he rolled out for Sinn Féin. The Eastern Bloc is low on hand-outs so Cuba is likely to be swimming alone. No one foresees a return to Meyer Lansky's Cuba; something like it should never happen again. Castro has the opportunity to pursue "Che Guevara's vision with the addition of the new participatory economic theory" (Albert and Hahnel). If he is allowed to select this best option, he would do well to take note of the economic warnings Che left us before he died and temper Che's last experience in the nineteen sixties with the understood reality of the two thousands - there are friendly people in countries but no friendly countries. Then Castro faces the challenges of booting his corrupt managers and ringing the noses of the mega-corporations, and their ambassadors, as they come stampeding in.

What real change comes next? The man who spoke with passionate, unshakable conviction and millions of the Earth's people are dying for it.



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