In a new piece for TomDispatch, Nick Turse, author of The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan, reports on the Pentagon's relationship with a number of autocratic states in the Arab world.
Turse's analysis of Defense Department documents indicates that, since the 1990s, the United States has transferred large quantities of military material, ranging from trucks and aircraft to machine-gun parts and millions of rounds of live ammunition, to Bahrain's security forces. Turse urges us to "look closely and outlines emerge of the ways in which the Pentagon and those oil-rich [Arab] nations have pressured the White House to help subvert the popular democratic will sweeping across the greater Middle East":
According to data from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the branch of the government that coordinates sales and transfers of military equipment to allies, the U.S. has sent Bahrain dozens of "excess" American tanks, armored personnel carriers, and helicopter gunships. The U.S. has also given the Bahrain Defense Force thousands of .38 caliber pistols and millions of rounds of ammunition, from large-caliber cannon shells to bullets for handguns. To take one example, the U.S. supplied Bahrain with enough .50 caliber rounds—used in sniper rifles and machine guns—to kill every Bahraini in the kingdom four times over. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency did not respond to repeated requests for information and clarification.
In addition to all these gifts of weaponry, ammunition, and fighting vehicles, the Pentagon in coordination with the State Department oversaw Bahrain's purchase of more than $386 million in defense items and services from 2007 to 2009, the last three years on record. These deals included the purchase of a wide range of items from vehicles to weapons systems. Just this past summer, to cite one example, the Pentagon announced a multimillion-dollar contract with Sikorsky Aircraft to customize nine Black Hawk helicopters for Bahrain's Defense Force.
Visit TomDispatch to read the article in full.
The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan contributor Malalai Joya and Noam Chomsky will be speaking on the case for withdrawal on March 25 in Cambridge, MA. Visit BostonSocialism for more information.
On May 7, what would have been Perec's seventy-fifth birthday, Verso presented a lost classic: The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise, published in English for the first time. Reviewer Jessica Freeman-Slade describes the book's strange provenance in a recent piece for [TK] Reiews:
In 1968 Jacques Perriaud of the Computing Service of the Humanities Research Center in Paris challenged artists to begin using computers in their work. But the challenge was greater than that: to challenge a writer to use the computer's "basic mode of operation as a writing device." Perriaud devised a flow chart—a visual representation of a computer algorithm—that might play out the different narrative options involved in asking one's boss for a pay increase. At that time, Georges Perec was a little-known writer ... What Perec did with Perriaud's challenge both engaged the rules of the challenge and simultaneously tore them down.
In a new review in the March 1 issue of Publishers Weekly, PW intern Bern Zarov writes: "[Perlin's] exposé on the internship model initiates a critical conversation on internships ... and his thoughtful book is necessary reading for the millions of young people trying to break into the working world through internships":
Perlin's most shocking revelation isn't that many internships are exploitative but that most are illegal. Companies of all sizes and across industries flout (with no consequences) the requirements outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act to benefit from free labor. Perlin covers the complicity of colleges, many offering dubious internship programs aimed more at generating revenue for the school than benefiting students. Not even the federal government's massive, intensely competitive internship programs escape Perlin's scorn; he describes them as a hotbed of nepotism and squandered talent-but still, the right government internship is an all but necessary career step for an aspiring politician.
Fortunately, Perlin also offers hope and bright solutions, and ends the book with an Intern Bill of Rights and the observation that "a general strike of all interns would show all they contribute for the first time [and would bring] a delicious low-level chaos to the world's work.
Visit Publishers Weekly to read the review in full.
This week in Wisconsin, governor Scott Walker attempted to strip state, county and municipal employees of their collective bargaining rights; an assault not just on workers, but on a Wisconsin tradition of respecting unions in the state.
John Nichols, author of The "S" Word—a history of Socialism in America—reports on the ground from Wisconsin today, describing a victory for Wisconsin workers.
"Tens of thousands of Wisconsinites were demanding to be heard," explained state Senator Mark Miller, the Democratic minority leader in the chamber. "We hear them."
And they responded. At the rally Thursday night where those tens of thousands of Wisconsinites celebrated the walk out by the Democratic senators, they chanted: "This is what democracy looks like."
On Monday night, Nichols delivered a rousing defense of Wisconsin workers at the Madison rally:
Visit the Nation to read Read Nichols' latest posts from Wisconsin.
Mary-Kay Wilmers and Jeremy Harding will be embarking on an east-coast tour of the US this month. This is a rare opportunity for Americans to hear from Mary-Kay Wilmers, author of The Eitingons and editor of the London Review of Books, and Jeremy Harding, author of Mother Country and an LRB contributing editor, on the role of memoir in contemporary letters.