Wednesday, November 2, 2011

After Iraq, Nature's Backlash Warns America Inc.

After Iraq, Nature's Backlash Warns America Inc. By K Gajendra Singh, September 9, 2005

"What the Communists said about themselves was all wrong, but what they said about Capitalism is all correct." A Moscow joke in the late 1990s.

In classic neo- Orleans style Jazz, it is the duty of the trumpets to state and embellish the theme, which unfortunately New Orleans today trumpets, failures of the America Inc.

A few miles from Senegal's capital Dakar in west Africa, lies the island of Goree, which long served as a thriving entrepot for European slavers to herd Africans from the hinterland, mostly helped by rival tribes , to be sorted out like cattle for export to the new continent of Americas, to labour there as domestics or in plantations. 

When posted at Dakar in late 1970s I went over to Goree many times, now a small, picturesque town and a UNESCO heritage site with museums including ' The Maison des Esclaves '("Slave House"), which was constructed in1786 , which displays slavery artifacts, and the Fort d'Estrées built in the 1850s.  

Once I chanced on a jazz festival there to which some well known and rising young talents, mostly from USA had come over to participate .Many others also came to West Africa in search of their roots .A few hundred miles south of Dakar is river Gambia, the locale for the book 'The Roots'.

There were colourful and lively Jazz bands vying with each other. But there was one young girl whose singing left a searing imprint on my soul, as if after visiting the museum and the dungeons below ,where Black Africans were chained like animals ,she had transmuted into music the bruising of their souls , tortures and suffering of centuries - free human beings turned into animals ,sold and bartered like any other commodity. Even now a flash of that wailing music, the cry of a caged soul pierces down my spine. 


All that Jazz; 

The enslaved from West Africa, isolated both socially and geographically from their native environment created the jazz music as an expression of their culture, borrowing from European harmonic structure, Christian religious hymns but based on African rhythms. The white hunter, forbidden to enslave other Christians invented the lie that he was enslaving a savage , converting him into a Christian to save his soul (as now a days , under the charade of globalization, US led West is saving the world's poor in Asia and Africa from poverty!) This allowed the enslaved to invent a music which diverged widely, even violently from all previous canons of musical composition and performance, as if in defiance to grab at the opportunity and the freedom .In the only domain he was his own master, improvisation ran riot as it still does. Indian classical music too is rooted in improvisation, which respects all religions, with performers though respected, used to be poor. The Indian and black musicians soon discover many affinities when they come together. 

From the very beginnings and at the turn of the 20th century Jazz has been a constantly evolving, expanding and changing music, passing through several distinctive phases of development. A definition that might apply to one phase—for instance, to New Orleans style or swing—is not applicable to another segment of its history, say, to free jazz. It has used both creative approaches in varying degrees and endless permutations. It is not—and never has been—an entirely composed, predetermined music, nor is it an entirely extemporized one.  

Early definition of jazz music with its chief characteristic improvisation, made it too restrictive, since composition, arrangement, and ensemble were also essential components throughout most of its history. Similarly, syncopation and swing, often considered essential and unique to jazz, are in fact lacking in much authentic jazz. But despite diverse terminological confusions, jazz seems to be instantly recognized and distinguished as something separate from all other forms of musical expression. To repeat Armstrong's famous reply when asked what swing meant: "If you have to ask, you'll never know." 


New Orleans exposes putrid underbelly of corporate greed; 

Across the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean from Goree lies the city of New Orleans , where the slaves taken from West Africa, first mostly to Caribbean , worked themselves out on British sugar plantations  and later taken to colonial tobacco and cotton plantations in north America. 

But the scenes in New Orleans , the Mississippi delta and elsewhere in South as telecast and reported by the media convey that little has changed for these unfortunate human beings.  From time to time they cry out and explode as in the Watts riots forty years ago. Fire and anger remains bottled.  

Commenting on the handling of Hurricane Katrina a senior US officer in far off Iraq said "If anything ,I am kind of embarrassed.'' We are supposed to be telling the Iraqis how to act and this is what`s happening at home ?" He further added that still he'd rather be in Iraq than in New Orleans right now! A  National Guard member who returned to New Orleans from Iraq said that New Orleans was worse than Iraq.


System's Failure or I am all right Jack (in fortress condominium) 

It is not that scientists and others had not pointed out that we might indeed be entering a new, globally warmed world of extreme weather conditions. But global warming, the Bush administration which did not accept the Kyoto Protocol , has refused to acknowledge .How could they, as most of the top guns in the administration are from the energy sector .Global warming was discussed in terms of melting glaciers in terms of distant islands and atolls in South Pacific and Bangladesh. But the "Atlantis scenarios" for New Orleans was brought up by USA Today a year ago .It even discussed Mississippi delta threatened with rising ocean waters .It was well known for some time that New Orleans' levees weren't fit for a class 5 hurricane but instead , the Bush administration had slashed the budget of the Army Corps of Engineers. The "Atlantis scenario" was banished as night mare which hits others. (or the Blacks and poor ) When the reality hit , it was first ignored . For a change BBC was much better in telling the truth.( Remember , many independent reports had concluded  that the BBC gave only 5 % time for anti- Iraq war view )  

Soon" much of New Orleans became the Atlantis from hell, a toxic sludge pool of a looted former city, filled with dead bodies and fires in places. The city is threatened with diseases such as cholera and typhus that haven't visited the Big Easy since early in the last century, and with thousands upon thousands of the black poor and a few of the stranded better-to-do such as doctors, nurses and a few local officials left for days on end with next to no way out. It was, in short, the feral city that 30 years of science fiction films (and post-apocalyptic novels) have delivered to the American public as entertainment as well as prophesy."

Expectedly affluent white people and some middle class black people too fled the city in their cars , except the poor and mainly the Blacks , left behind in their below-sea-level shacks and aging tenements to face the wrath of Poseidon .To begin with ,the sanitized versions were shown by US media of the many of the black poor of New Orleans not only left behind , many thousands upon thousands of them - those who didn't die in their wheelchairs or on highway overpasses or in the ill-fated convention center or unattended and forgotten in their homes , just forgotten . But soon the reality of New Orleans and the Mississippi coast, as so many reporters have observed with shock, are 'simply the Bangladesh of North America (after a disastrous set of monsoons), or in poorest Africa . [One rarely sees US poor and blacks in documentaries made by US producers, who scour the world to show sickness and filth to make US well off feel better.] 

Katrina has only exposed the bankruptcy of US corporate free for all grab with little accountability. Every one is blaming the other, the federal government the state government and vice versa. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security , are blaming each other .The budget cut of  the Army Corps of Engineers which reined in on crucial levee work in New Orleans was done under the guise of preparing for, or fighting, or funding the "war on terror" at home and abroad. It also exposed the Neo-cons going on wars in Iraq with thin results but huge benefits for their masters. 

All this had previously worried the governors of many states with significant chunks of the National Guard, just as important for disaster relief with its heavy equipment happened to be in Iraq, liberating it and through its mayhem spreading democracy, instead of handling the emergency at home. Soon when the avian flu, or the next health disaster suddenly hits, the administration and the media would again be filled with the same sort of shock about the civilian response, because the public health system has also been gutted and de-funded under the guise of the "war on terrorism".

In his recent Dispatch, Tom Engelhardt summed up 6 failures, abroad in Iraq and at home. 

1. Revelations of unexpected superpower helplessness: A single catastrophic war against a modest-sized, not particularly dramatically armed minority insurgency in one oil land has brought the planet's mightiest military to a complete, grinding, disastrous halt and sent its wheels flying off in all directions. A single not-exactly-unexpected hurricane leveling a major American city and the coastlines of two states, has brought the emergency infrastructure of the world's mightiest power to a complete, grinding, disastrous halt and sent its wheels flying off in all directions.

2.Planning ignored: It's now well known that the State Department did copious planning for a post-invasion occupied Iraq, all of which was ignored by the Pentagon and Bush administration neo-cons when the country was taken. In New Orleans, it's already practically notorious that endless planning, disaster war-gaming, and the like were done for how to deal with a future "Atlantis scenario", none of which was attended to as Katrina bore down on the southeastern coast. [How ever, the author would like to point out and has maintained since the invasion of Iraq that the best of the Plans for occupation and colonization would have failed.] 

3. Lack of boots on the ground: It's no less notorious that, even before the invasion of Iraq when General Eric Shinseki told a congressional committee that "several hundred thousand troops" would minimally be needed to successfully occupy Iraq, he was more or less laughed out of Washington. [This is Neo-cons policy at home and abroad. If you are not with us , you are against US. Out you go.]

Donald Rumsfeld's new, lean, mean military has desperately lacked boots on the ground. Significant numbers of National Guard only made it to New Orleans on the fifth and sixth days after Katrina struck .No Pentagon help was pre-positioned for Katrina and, typically enough, the Navy hospital ship Comfort, scheduled to help, had not left Baltimore harbor by Friday morning for its many day voyage to the Gulf.

4.Looting: The inability (or unwillingness) to deploy occupying American troops to stem a wave of looting that left the complete administrative, security, and even cultural infrastructure of Baghdad destroyed is now nearly legendary, as is Donald Rumsfeld's response to the looting at the time. ("Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.) In New Orleans, the president never declared martial law while, for days, gangs of armed looters along with desperate individuals abandoned and in need of food and supplies of all kinds, roamed the city uncontested .

What did the Bush administration actually do? The Environmental Protection Agency relaxed pollution standards on gasoline blends ,another 'step in the gutting of general environmental, clean air and pollution laws that strike hard at another kind of safety net - the one protecting our planet.' And second, its officials began to organize a major operation out of North com, Joint Task Force Katrina, to act as the military's on-scene command in "support" of an enfeebled FEMA. There were to be swift boats in the Gulf and Green Berets at the New Orleans airport, and yet Donald Rumsfeld's new, stripped-down, high-tech military either couldn't (or wouldn't) deploy any faster to New Orleans than it did to Baghdad. 

5. Nation-building: George Bush in his first run for the presidency eschewed any idea of "nation-building" abroad. Over two years and endless billions of dollars later - the Iraq War now being, on a monthly basis, more expensive than Vietnam - the evidence of the administration's nation-building success in its "reconstruction" of Iraq is at hand for all to see. That country is now a catastrophe beyond imagining without repair in sight. (For Baghdad, think New Orleans without water, but with a full-scale insurgency.) 

So if the Marines finally land in the streets of New Orleans, don't hold your breath about either the Pentagon's or the administration's nation-building skills in the US. (But count on "reconstruction" contracts going to Halliburton.) [Rarely, foreign policy becomes the platform for US elections but by its sheer dominance and the empire like ambitions, US Presidents are sucked into wars abroad .But the Iraq war was planned by the Vulcan group before 9/ 11 which only provided an excuse for the invasion.] 

6.Predictions: Given the last two years in which the president as well as top administration officials have regularly insisted that we had reached the turning point, or turned that corner, or hit the necessary tipping point in Iraq, that success or progress or even victory was endlessly at hand (and then at hand again and then again), consider what we should think of the president's repeated statements of Katrina "confidence", his insistence that his administration can deal successfully with the hurricane's after effects and is capable of overseeing the successful rebuilding of New Orleans.  

"All Americans can be certain our nation has the character, the resources and the resolve to overcome this disaster. We will comfort and care for the victims. We will restore the towns and neighborhoods that have been lost in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. We'll rebuild the great city of New Orleans. And we'll once again show the world that the worst adversities bring out the best in America." 

If any other country had handled a natural disaster like US did hurricane Katrina, it would have been classified a failed state .And as the neglected and almost forgotten were poor and mostly black, such a failure would have been described racist .No wonder many have accused US by comparing the response now to its swift response to 11 September attacks on New York. 

Cuba's exemplary performance; 

Compare the performance of Cuba, a country which US media keeps on deriding day in and day out. Last September, a Category 5 hurricane Ivan battered Cuba with 260 kms winds. More than 1.5 million Cubans were evacuated to higher ground ahead of the storm. Although the hurricane destroyed  20,000 houses, no one died. It was possible because "the whole civil defense is embedded in the community to begin with. People know ahead of time where they are to go." 

"Cuba's leaders go on TV and take charge," while George W. Bush, the day after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, was playing golf , waiting  three days to make a TV appearance and five days before visiting the disaster site. "Merely sticking people in a stadium is unthinkable" in Cuba." Shelters all have medical personnel, from the neighborhood. They have family doctors in Cuba, who evacuate together with the neighborhood, and already know, for example, who needs insulin." They also evacuate animals and veterinarians, TV sets and refrigerators, "so that people aren't reluctant to leave because people might steal their stuff." 

After Hurricane Ivan, the United Nations International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction cited Cuba as a model for hurricane preparation. USA refused Fidel Castro's offer of a thousand doctors and other assistance.


International Media reaction; 

Of course when a bully is down, his neighbours, while still afraid would express sympathy but gloat internally.  In this case people all over the world empathized with the luckless Americans in south USA .But the pictures telecast has become a watershed in the way the US is perceived at home and abroad. US media propagated  the American "myth" was shattered by the poverty and racial divisions which the disaster has revealed. Here are some excerpts from the worldwide media.

Germany's Die Welt wrote that 'Hurricane Katrina will bury itself into the American consciousness in the same way9 / 11or the fall of Saigon did. The storm did not just destroy America's image of itself, but also has the power to bring an end to the Republican era sooner than expected. America is ashamed."  But the Frankfurter Allgemeine felt that in a highly complex background, with the media as it existed the lie would have won - against the desire to understand things so as to avoid them.  

Jean-Pierre Aussant wrote in France's Le Figaro that"This tragic incident reminds us that the United States has refused to ratify the Kyoto accords. Let's hope the US can from now on stop ignoring the rest of the world. If you want to run things, you must first lead by example. Arrogance is never a good adviser! "

Expectedly France's Liberation observation was stronger, "Bush is completely out of his depth in this disaster. Katrina has revealed America's weaknesses: its racial divisions, the poverty of those left behind by its society, and especially its president's lack of leadership."  

Another ally now turned sour, Turkey's Radikal wrote,"The biggest power of the world is rising over poor black corpses. We are witnessing the collapse of the American myth. In terms of the USA's relationship with itself and the world, Hurricane Katrina seems to leave its mark on our century as an extraordinary turning point. "[ Perhaps too strong.]

In Indonesia, another Muslim country where US is disliked , an editorial in Media Indonesia said ," The superpower United States has finally succumbed to nature's wrath. The US must eventually admit that it is unable to deal with the victims itself. Something has changed. Hurricane Katrina has destroyed some of the US's arrogance." 

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, against whom US has reportedly plotted many times, was quoted in El Nacional ,"The rich were able to leave, the poor stayed there, and it is now that they are evacuating them, four, five days later. That is the model they want to sell us. Racial segregation - the mayor of New Orleans said it - is a question of social classes; the rich were able to leave, the poor were left, enduring the hurricane. It is capitalism, in its extreme individualist phase."

Jomhuri-ye Eslami of Iran , a member of Axis of Evil in US eyes editorialized ,"The devastating waves of Katrina have unmasked the real face of America's profoundly corrupt society, and proved that under the beautiful surface of modern American life, there are decadent thoughts that always try to exploit the situation to fulfil inhuman goals. Although Bush and his team proved their inefficiency in dealing with the disaster, its aftermath proved that America's corrupt system is the main culprit." 

One of the few exceptions in the trend was ally Berlusconi Italy's Il Giornale in which Robi Ronza said ,"Everything can be used in Europe to badmouth Bush, so it may be worth clarifying a few key points: New Orleans was below sea level even before drilling for oil began. Second, there is no certain proof that the increase in the mean global temperature is a consequence of the emission of so-called greenhouse gases. Finally, the federal government has no specific responsibility for the post-hurricane chaos. "The neo-cons would love this. 

Impact on Bush party's electoral fortunes; 

In any other political system President Bush would have been headed for defeat. An unknown quantity, that is why the neo-cons selected him, he got the benefit of doubt and was elected. After catering for his fundraisers by tax deduction, he then used the last 2 years before re-election to perhaps do something for the electorate .This part was taken care of by corporate controlled media, whose nominees run Washington .It literally amounts to non accountability for 6 years in 2 four year terms; the second term is mostly devoted to leaving the name in history. Bush is in danger of becoming a lame duck. 

Last weekend polls suggested 50 – 50 US split down the middle, with Bush opponents disapproving of his abysmal non-performance while supporters stayed loyal , thus heartening Republicans .It was a result of media manipulations by showing the President Bush , Defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld ,with Condi Rice , even stacking some items for the poor in cartons .Would robot like repetition of ' staying the course'  assure the Americans , as it did after 9/11 and after every exposure of its failures in Iraq;  to find WMD's , link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda , sham transfer of sovereignty , January 30 elections and now the new Constitution fiasco . 

London's Guardian wrote," Privately, conservatives also wonder how much sympathy white , suburban America - the crucial middle ground all politicians covet - will feel for Katrina's victims. One close-up observer describes what he suspects is a widely-held - if rarely articulated - view of those left behind in New Orleans: "They lived in a silly place, they didn't get out when they should, they stole, they shot at each other and they shot at rescue workers." If that's the view, then Bush won't suffer too badly."  

This may be true because when criticisd for US failures in Iraq and elsewhere in my articles , many enraged Americans accuse me that like the rest of the world that I am a loser .I then mail them 'the Decline of the American Century 'dated 11 September , 2002 .They come back with ' but we are superior culturally' . I then try to educate them with my article on Eastern foundations of Western civilization ( the later, Mahatma Gandhi thought would be a good idea).

Adrian Wooldridge, co-author of an excellent study on conservative America, 'The Right Nation' , says  "The big losers among Republicans will be the neo-cons," "The hubris of thinking that America could reshape the world, creating a democracy in hostile territory, when it can't even keep order in an American city - that hubris has just been punctured in a big way." Now the images of Katrina become foremost in the public mind, replacing 9/11 and the "global war on terror". Since Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, and the rise of the conservatives in USA ,they have won the argument on reduce taxes ( for the rich – which Bush has) and spend less ( on infrastructure and services for the poor ). After the Fall of the Berlin wall, the neo-liberal model of  privatisation and deregulation - has been spread, often imposed on countries that resisted it , with a debate now in the European Union, where unlike UK ,France and others insist that their social model is superior.

Katrina might reopen that debate in USA, the Mecca of neo-liberals and neo-cons .Perhaps there is an opening, for active government, for more taxing and spending on infrastructure and social welfare .This they have to do in New Orleans and the region.



What we see in New Orleans are remnants of historic exploitation and residues of slavery along  with  recent neglect of the poor and predominantly black people.  

Of course nowadays exploitation of the poor is implemented in a more subtle way; through globalisation , as it is implemented and foreign direct investment. In old days the black slaves were herded by other black tribes in Africa. Nowadays U.S.-led West corporate barons identify, encourage and build local slave herders in poor nations as it is not necessary to transport the slaves to USA.  The modern equivalents of local herders are the quick rich US dollar Russian billionaires, Asian billionaires and others who exploit local slaves in sweat shops and industry in situ. It is called outsourcing and keeps the new slaves in check at home, who can be hired or fired, mostly in special export devoted zones.  Even during the later decades of Communist rule in East Europe, the corporate barons used cheap labour in these countries, short of US dollars, to outsource textiles and other products. 

The system of slavery is older than human pre-history. Perhaps as the first instinct of commercial exploitation, human beings, instead of finishing off all the members of the vanquished tribes as collateral damage, saved them as slaves, as household domestics or as new auxiliaries for their fighting forces.  When human evolution progressed further, the slaves were exploited for economic benefits like farming and later plantations, especially in the New World, where the local population could not withstand the diseases brought in by the Europeans or the extreme hard labour enforced in the plantations. 

In the Old Testament slavery was taken for granted as part of the social order and a series of laws were developed regulating the treatment of slaves.  In the New Testament there is no outright condemnation of slavery but based on the Jesus Christ's teachings and his noble deeds, there was implicit criticism of the practice.  This however was not applied by Christians in the West till medieval times.  In Islam's holy book Qur'an, freeing of the slave is considered a pious act and was encouraged. 

There were distinct differences between the slaving by the West and the Asians.  In the later case slaves could be like members of the family when working in households, maids after impregnation were accepted as full members of the family. In USA the children fathered by white slave owners with their black slaves were very harshly treated .In the fighting forces, based on merit, slaves could rise to the level of Sultans, the rulers.  There were many slave dynasties in India, the Middle East and in Central Asia.  While it must be said that, in general, the Blacks came out badly but in the Arab and Turkish world there was no apartheid like system.  During my posting in Ankara in early 1970 s , black skin was considered beautiful, like black velvet .Turks  would recite poems on black eyes and black hair.  By when I returned in early 1990s, their zest to ape the West had led to an explosion of blonde haired  (peroxide) Turkish girls specially in big cities. 

Not that there were no rebellions by the black slaves in America or even in Arab lands.  In America they were crashed ruthlessly .They fared no better in Arab lands either .Before the American Civil War ( 1861–65 )  one historian found documentary evidence of more than 250 uprisings involving more than 10 black slaves, their main objective being personal freedom. There were put down brutally , many times with the help of  spies from among them.


Nowadays under the charade of globalisation, the local millionaires and billionaire are the willing instruments for carrying out the exploitation of their own people. An array of studies have shown that globalisation has not made spread wealth , instead it has made rich richer and poor poorer.  The myth of increasing wealth and distributing it to poor peopleby globalization was widely dissemin-ated by corporate media after the Fall of the Berlin Wall.  Even now there are all kinds of schemes to remove poverty which are nothing but to salve of the conscience of some Christian believers, who make charity donations, but most of it is used up by the so-called experts from the West, paid thousand dollars per day and other perks. 

There is little doubt then the image, mostly created by its media of the US hyper power which can do no wrong, now lies shattered. It created a quagmire in Iraq from where it does know how to exit with its honour intact and now this inapt handling of Katrina. 

The edifice of the all conquering capitalism was almost shattered in 1998.  In August/Sept its very bastions were reduced to utter panic and incoherence after the collapse of East and South East Asian economies, the decimation of the ruble and the impending fall of the Brazilian economy.  

On September 8 , The Washington Post under the title " Rethink Capitalism "wrote,' What is frightening about the world's current economic troubles is a sense that rules we thought we understood don't seem to apply now. Until a few months ago, we thought we knew what a developing country had to do to join the ranks of the wealthy. We thought we knew how a Communist country could transform itself into a capitalist one. The general understanding was that as the world became more connected, it also would become more prosperous.


"Now, with Russia and much of Asia having crashed, with Eastern Europe and Latin America imperiled and with much of Africa going backward, the certainties of only a year ago seem far from certain.—'Some other headlines around the same time were 'Global Capitalism, Once Triumphant, Is in Full Retreat 'by Robert J. Samuelson in 'Newsweek'. Reasons for its recovery still remain unexplained. But many economists now warn again that with heavy deficits at home and abroad, not only US economy will go down this time but it will take many others with it. 

One of the explanations for surviving the1997 – 98 melt down could be that to begin with the wealth created in South-East Asia was transferred to USA and invested in mostly info- tech and high-tech companies.  This of course totally shattered economies of South-East Asia from which many have still not fully recovered. The wealth created by financial jiggery-pokery added little goods in USA. It was only a matter of time before the bubble burst, and it did.

The increased US productivity was injected by the info-tech technology, where it is still ahead of the world and in which the contribution made by expatriate Asians especially from India was a major chunk.  USA would have had to spend many tens of billions of dollars to train in technology that large number of bright minds at home, if it could find them in science and mathematics, the two disciplines in which even white Americans do very badly compared to Asians. It remains India's massive contribution to US economic growth and well being. 

The danger to USA in medium-and long term would come from the reaction of minorities , specially the Blacks as a result of invasion of Iraq and their exposure to the reality of the world and the likely inadequacy of the US corporate elite to do justice in the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Mississippi delta. Blacks, Hispanics and other poor Americans have sacrificed much more in defending American policies in Iraq. If they're not satisfied with the reconstruction in the South USA , there would be rumblings of dissatisfaction which would create problems.


Let us take an example from history. At the moment the minorities including the Blacks in USA have the same status as of the dhimmis when the Arab power was rising.  Once the Arabs stopped fighting and started relying on slaves from Central Asia and elsewhere, they started losing power and control.  It is not going to happen tomorrow but the resentments could spiral into actions similar to the ex-Black sergeant sniper, who kept the capital city of Washington at bay for days or another black soldier who threw grenades into the tent of US soldiers in Kuwait just before the Iraq war. Black Americans have joined the armed forces in large numbers after the compulsory military draft was abolished. They and the Hispanics are now deeply embedded in the US armed forces.


What 11 September did, apart from bringing about many other fundamental changes was that those who feel repressed and persecuted, might take it as an example for revenge, which is doable.  It may not be on this massive scale and organisation but a number of smaller terrorist acts could slowly lead to the erosion of the economic and political equations that compose the US elite now. 

But US is lucky that although informally segregated in churches and elsewhere, majority of the Blacks and Hispanics are Christians. Jazz  music's spiritual base is Lord Jesus Christ and not Allah.

But conversion to Islam increased after September 11, even among Hispanics. Black American Muslims who now number 3 to 5 million remember many historic wrongs done to them. Of the 2 million Americans in prisons, two-thirds are non-white. Many feel oppressed by the white power structure and sentencing disparities, which too often fall most harshly on minorities. Islam offers brotherhood, dignity, and a sense of pride and solidarity, especially for non-whites. Thus, many, alienated and disfranchised, could become easy targets for radicals who preach violence, of overcoming oppression by jihad. Many black Americans have experienced maltreatment and dehumanization. Iraq, and now the Katrina aftermath would only re-open the old wounds.  

(K Gajendra Singh, served as Indian Ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan in1992 -96. Prior to that, he served as ambassador to Jordan (during the1990 - 91Gulf war), Romania and Senegal . He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies, in Bucharest . The views expressed here are his own.-