In a New York Times
Room for Debate segment discussing white hate groups in light of the Oak Creek gurdwara shooting, Matt Kennard, author of the forthcoming Irregular Army: How the US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror
, examines the US military's conspicuous license of neo-Nazis, criminals, and gang members that compose the infantry of America's Long War. He writes,
The military ripped up the thin regulations it had on far-right radicals as it struggled to stock its fighting force with sufficient numbers of soldiers for the war on terrorism.
The armed forces should have known better after terrorist attacks like the Oklahoma City bombing, which was carried out by its extremist veterans. The significant number of white supremacist veterans now back in the United States, battle hardened and with weapons training gained in Iraq and Afghanistan, should scare every American.
Meanwhile, in Al Jazeera
, Belén Fernández cites Irregular Army
to detail the extremist danger at the heart of the US Army, how "leaders of the white supremacist movement view enlistment as a means of preparation for a domestic race war...[with] access to a laboratory of Iraqis:" According to a 2005 report sponsored by the US Department of Defence itself, "the military has a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy pertaining to extremism". However, Kennard's investigations suggest that even blatant "telling" often fails to incur meaningful repercussions. For starters, he reports telephoning five different Army recruitment centres, posing as an aspiring soldier curious as to whether his tattoo of Nazi SS lightning bolts will impede his soldiering aspirations. The upshot: "Despite being outlined in Army regulations as a tattoo to look out for, none of the recruiters reacted negatively and, when pressed directly about the tattoo, not one of them said it would be an outright problem".
Visit the New York Times
and Al Jazeera
to read the articles in full.
Mexico is in a deep and long crisis. The "Drug War" was taken to new heights by conservative President Felipe Calderón after he took office in December 2006 and the resulting violence has left an estimated 50,000 people dead. Calderon's decision to send the military in to try to break the cartel's stranglehold has destroyed millions of lives, while achieving very little, if anything. As the Mexican presidential elections take place on Sunday, large swathes of the north of the country remain outside the control of the federal government.
Over the past six years, Calderón's conservative Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) has meanwhile presided over an economic model lauded by the Bretton Woods institutions and Financial Times editorials – i.e. high growth rates, big booty for foreign investors, and (this bit is kept quiet) yawning inequality. For example, the country's growth was 5.5 per cent in 2010, the highest in 10 years, but that same year the number of Mexicans living in poverty grew by more than 3m, putting 52m Mexicans below the poverty line, or nearly half the population. The Financial Times calls such a state of affairs "bloody but booming".
There is only one candidate standing in the presidential elections on Sunday that can reverse, or at least attenuate, the nightmare many Mexicans – mostly the poor and destitute – have been living through over the past six years, and before.