References for 100 Ways America is Screwing Up the World

Chapters 1-10

 

1 Altering the Earth

Nowadays, the facts of climate change are not much in dispute.  Only ideological extremists deny that serious, human-led alterations of the atmosphere and other ecosystems are underway, and must be remedied through greater conservation, fuel switching, and efficiency.  The science on this is relatively easy to find, particularly in leading journals like Science and Scientific American.

James E. Hansen, the government scientist who has been the major expositor of climate change, has several articles that are accessible to the public, as well as technical papers.

That Americans overwhelming support progressive policies to limit or reduce climate change is not in doubt.  The site, World Public Opinion, documents this. 

President Bush, on the other hand, continues to deny the significance of climate change and the necessary remedies.  His position has changed little during his administration, reflected first in his letter to U.S. Senators (and quoted in my chapter).  At the G-8 summit in 2005, he was mouthing the same ideology. 

Spencer Weart of the University of Maryland has creating an interesting site with historical background, including the history of the scientific effort, with many useful dimensions and links.  Of course, global warming has gained intensive worldwide attention and research, including excellent work by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  This organization has produced handy information sheets for quick reference.

Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institute, a leading center of science, has done some of the pioneering work on climate and oceans.  See, for example, the congressional testimony of Raymond W. Schmitt six years ago. 

Notable books (among many) include Kerry Emanuel, Divine Wind : The History and Science of Hurricanes (Oxford University Press, 2005), from a leading MIT scientist; Eugene Linden, The Winds of Change: Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations (Simon & Schuster, 2006), a strong polemic from a veteran environmental reporter; Tim Flannery, The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006), from an Australian scientist and popular author; and Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe (Bloomsbury, 2006), which was serialized in The New Yorker.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dedicated to environmental protection and sustainability have played a crucial role, along with scientists, in alerting the public to the looming dangers of climate change.   Fortunately, most of them also have developed good ideas for dealing with the problem.  See, for example, the web sites of the World Resources Institute, the Union of Concerned Scientists (where I worked in 1982-86, though not on this issue), and Natural Resources Defense Council, among many others. 

Good news sources include BBC and Reuters.  Additional incisive analysis can be found on AlterNet, TomPaine, and Mother Jones.  Recent, important reports are found from top scientist Jim Hansen, and in the Washington Post

The sources of solid, empirical (fact-based) information on climate change are many, and are easy to find.  Beware of those who say there are “two sides” to the debate, as if they carry equal weight.  This is not the case with global warming and climate change.  The overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change is occurring at a rapid and alarming rate. 

 

2  Television

Arguments about television tend to revolve around its content.  Among the watchdog groups on political bias, the best is Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.  The concern about children has earned a number of serious studies, and a few places that undertake critical media studies, such as one at Cornell, which look at societal effects more broadly.  For a good list of sites, go to media study.  The heavy concentration of corporate ownership is responsible for much of TV’s ills—trivial programming, callousness to concerns about violence, lack of in-depth reporting, etc. 

My critique of television is a little different, although some of those sites and a few books address it: the effect on social capital, activism, political awareness, and a sense of social and political reality.  So the references for this chapter go to this wide and growing literature on how technology in particular changes society—our social and family relationships, our ability to learn, our curiosity about the world, our willingness to act. 

The long quotation from Eric M. Uslaner is found in “Democracy and Social Capital,” in Mark Warren, ed., Democracy and Trust, Cambridge 1999.  Robert Putnam’s well-known works on social capital are Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community ,and Making Democracy Work.  His antidotal work is Better Together: Restoring the American Community (Simon & Schuster, 2003).  Citizenship in Britain : Values, Participation and Democracy, by Charles Pattie, Patrick Seyd, and Paul Whiteley (Cambridge 2004) addresses the decline of social capital. 

Gerry Mander’s 1978 classic, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (Harper Perennial) remains at the top of any book list.  Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman (Penguin, 1986), is another classic, taking in more than TV alone. 

 

3 Cold War

There is an enormous literature on the Cold War, and the facts are not difficult to find.  There is a sizable and scholarly Cold War History International History Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  Its site has links to many other such projects.  The remarkable National Security Archive also has many useful resources.

On the end of the Cold War, with ample history of the entire conflict, see four books in particular that are authoritative:  The overall weight of scholarship, in fact, suggests that“soft power” factors were more significant than military confrontation in ending the Cold War. See Matthew Evangelista, Unarmed Forces: The Transnational Movement to End the Cold War (Cornell University Press, 1999); Daniel C. Thomas, The Helsinki Effect: International Norms, Human Rights, and the Demise of Communism (Princeton University Press, 2001);  Leon Sigal, Hang Separately: Cooperative Security between the United States and Russia, 1985-1994 (Century Foundation Press, 2000); and Raymond Garthoff, The Great Transformation: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War (Brookings Institution, 1994). Ellen Schrecker edited a volume in 2004 for The New Press worth reading: Cold War Triumphalism: The Misuse of History After the Fall of Communism.  My own essay on this in The Nation was republished in my book, Making the Money Sing

It is interesting to note that there are virtually no scholarly treatments of the Cold War that uphold the popular myth of Reagan’s bluster being decisive.  The closest thing is John Lewis Gaddis’ books, but even there the case is not made.  I would also recommend the indispensable Howard Zinn, e.g., The Twentieth Century: A People’s History.

On the culture of the period, see Rethinking Cold War Culture, Peter J. Kuznick and James Burkhart Gilbert, editors (Smithsonian Books, 2001); Paul S. Boyer, By the Bomb's Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age (University of North Carolina Press, 1994).

Teachers: For curriculum guides, see those provided by the Five College Program and Brown University’s Choices program. 

 

4  Dumping Toxins

Many environmental groups have solid information about this nasty endeavor.  On pesticides dumping in the developing world, a 2002 article (in pdf format) in the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet, is definitive.  Another can be found in this public health resource site in Finland, and another on the site of the authoritative American Association for the Advancement of Science, in Washington, D.C., which includes a number of other information sources and links. 

On the U.S. role, a good article is provided from the congressional Research Service via the website of Basel BAN, or Basel Action Network, which is a very useful NGO with news, information, analysis, and updates.  They monitor the main treaty banning pesticides.  The World Wildlife Fund’s website also provides excellent information, including its list of what should be banned

Books: The great classic, Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, is credited by many as being one of the most influential books of all time and an early Ur-text of the environmental movement.  Still worth reading. 
Our Stolen Future: How We Are Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival, by several coauthors, is a solid piece of work that covers a lot of territory. In a similar vein, but more personal, is  Living Downstream: A Scientist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, by Sandra Steingraber  (Vintage, 1998).  
On a practical level of what you can do in your own life, see How to Get Your Lawn and Garden Off Drugs: A Basic Guide to Pesticide-Free Gardening in North America, by Carole Rubin, Robert Bateman (2003). 

Curricula and study guides: for farm workers and others in agriculture, the Farmworker Justice Fund has good resources, as does the community education site of the Agricultural Worker Health Project.  Beyond Pesticides, focusing on children and schools, has a number of useful publications.

Generally, CorpWatch has excellent information and action guides. Globally, the Pesticide Action Network, based in the UK, is helpful.  Most of these will have other links and resources. 

 

5  Market Mantra: The Tragic Failure of Neoliberalism

Here we have another enormous topic about which so much has been written that you could spend a lifetime at it.  The debate about the relative merits of capitalism, and what kind of capitalism—the “social democracy” model of Europe vs. the rawer forms in the U.S.—is the relevant question today.  The right wing in America fails to see how many kinds of protections their idols have built into the economic system, but the entities being protected are corporations, rather than people, to put it bluntly, in subsidies, legal shields, and gimmicky policies like the prescription drug plan.  Meanwhile, social protections in the U.S. continue to erode, and the inability of the system to raise ordinary people’s income, despite productivity gains (read: working hard), is well documented, as is rising inequality.

Says a May 2, 2006, article in Financial Times: “median incomes have been flat or declining, over a period when average incomes have grown robustly in line with equally impressive productivity growth. Since 1998, America’s economy has expanded by more than 25 per cent. But the median wage – the middle fifth of Americans in employment – has declined by 3.8 per cent. In fact, barring a few years in the late 1990s ..., wage stagnation stretches back to 1973.”

There are many sources of information on this, such as the Century Foundation and the Economic Policy Institute.  One can get statistics from the U.S. Census and other sources, but they are difficult to sort through (I wonder why). 

The international scene is of course more difficult to parse, because reliable data for developing countries and the transitional nations of the former Soviet empire are dodgy.  More to the point of this chapter, the role of the international financial institutions, or IFIs—the World Bank, IMF, WTO, and others—is controversial on left and right.  On the right, the objections have to do with a rigid ideological aversion to all things multilateral.  On the left, the criticisms of the IFIs revolve around their well-documented tendency to favor development that is good for multinational corporations but doubtful for the local populations of the third world.  Among the best critics is the 50 Years is Enough coalition, which has powerfully put forward critiques and recommendations for action.  The anti-globalization movement globally owes much to these groups and similar elsewhere, such as Third World Network, an organization of NGOs in the developing world, and the faith-based Jubilee coalition.
The literature on structural adjustment programs in particular is substantial but not thorough.  I relied for much of my analysis, in addition to a potpourri of scholarly articles, on Joseph Stiglitz’s Globalization and Its Discontents (Norton, 2003); he is an inside critic of these institutions (mainly the IMF).  His is a must-read. A useful on-line chapter from an edited volume is “Global Debt and Third World Development.”  Former free-market guru Jeffrey Sachs is now beating the drum of global equity, in his book, The End of Poverty, and via his outfit at Columbia University, Earth Institute, which has many learning resources for college and graduate students.

Teachers: the Jubilee network has study guides that are useful, as does the National Council of Churches.  The ever-reliable Choices program at Brown University also has curricula for pre-college classrooms. 

 

6  Blood for Oil

The connections between war and oil are not difficult to establish, and most histories of the 1991 Gulf War, for example, make the link.  The central importance of oil to American foreign policy is also readily made; see Daniel Yergin’s masterwork, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power (1992). 

Among the most trenchant analysts of this connection is Michael Klare, a professor at Hampshire College and the director of the Five College Program on Peace and World Security Studies. His Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum (Metropolitan Books, 2004), is as strong an argument on this as you will find.  His earlier book, Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict, is equally important. 

It is an interesting intellectual puzzle why so many in the American political and opinion elite deny the central role of oil in the Iraq wars.  It is as if they need a nobler purpose for their willingness to see so many people die.  The Rumsfeld quotation and the Wolfowitz quotation were reported in the Guardian, the reliable London newspaper, on July 28, 2004, and June 4, 2003, respectively.  The second article, by a British civil servant, also makes the important point that the pre-invasion Iraqis were pricing their oil in euros, not dollars, which if more widely adopted could be catastrophic for the U.S. economy.

The quotations at the end of the chapter—from the British columnist and the prominent Arab analyst, Ahmed El-Sayed El-Naggar of Al-Ahram—are meant to be indicative of world opinion only, not necessarily the definitive analysis on this topic.

Books:  Sonia Shah, Crude: The Story of Oil (Seven Stories, 2007), is well written and intelligent.  In addition to Yergin and Klare, scholarly works abound, though they have sometimes mistaken the “problem of oil” as its plentitude and control rather than scarcity.  On the connection to war, see Michael Stoff’s Oil, War and American Security: The Search for a National Policy on Foreign Oil, 1941-1947 (Yale, 1982); or, on oil and U.S. foreign policy, see Thicker than Oil: America's Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia (Oxford, 2006),by Rachel Bronson.  A Century Of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Pluto Press, 2004)by F. William Engdahl; and the classic, The Control of Oil (Vintage 1982) by John Malcolm Blair, are worthwhile.For more general works on the Middle East, see The Essential Middle East: A Comprehensive Guide (Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003) by the redoubtable Dilip Hiro; and the provocative Robert Fisk, The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East (Knopf, 2005); and the delightfully entertaining history of the early 20th century, A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East (Owl, 2001)
by David Fromkin.

 “U.S. Oil Policy in the Middle East,” while dated, is useful, from the broadly helpful Foreign Policy in Focus series, which also make good study guides.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my own rendition of some of this history in Spoils of War. 

 

7  Agribusiness

On farm subsidies, there is ample information available; see, for example, the Heritage Foundation’s 2002 article on this.  On corn particularly, see the New York Times lengthy investigation in late 2005.  The link between poor health and farm subsidies is well established, especially among public health professionals. 

The World Bank study was cited in an article by Susan Rice and Gayle smith of the Brookings Institution.  The cotton subsidy issue is well explained in an Oxfam briefing paper.  Oxfam is generally an excellent resource on these issues.  Trade liberalization and food security is an underreported topic, but there are some good studies.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy is another reliable and insightful NGO.  Like Oxfam, they not only have trenchant critiques of U.S. policy, but offer sensible alternatives.  Their study on food aid is first rate. 

In the chapter, I did not address in any detail the overpowering influence of the agribusiness lobby, particularly the giants like Archer Daniel Midland.  Two good sources of information on this are the Center of Concern, which has many resources, and the International Institute for Environment and Development in the UK, including their report on food industrialization. 

Several public health schools are fonts of information and study guides; the Friedman School at Tufts University is one among several good ones.  Keep in mind the publications of the World Food Programme as well.

Books: The redoubtable Frances Moore Lappe and colleagues produced World Hunger: Twelve Myths (Grove Press, 1998), among others at her NGO, Food First.  See also Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply by Vandana Shiva (South End Press, 2000).  And also look at the 2003 report, Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime : Food Security and Globalization by C. Ford Runge and colleagues at the International Food Policy Research Institute.

 

8  The Reagan Doctrine

It is easy to see the condition of the countries heralded as Reagan Doctrine venues—Angola, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, and—as is sometimes included—Cambodia.  All are basket cases, low on the world development index, with little to hope for.  On the World Bank’s national income list, per capita, they are, respectively, numbers 148, 149, [no ranking], and 183. 

Reagan’s treatment of Savimbi is cited in the newsletter, Foreign Correspondent.  More on Savimbi and the civil war can be found in Foreign Policy in Focus, Human Rights Watch, and in a report in the journal, Australian Family Physician.  There are relatively few good book-length treatments of the Angolan conflict; try journalist Karl Maier’s 1996 Angola: Promises and Lies, and Pedro Rosa Mendes’ more recent Bay of Tigers: An Odyssey Through War-Torn Angola

On Nicaragua, there are many excellent sources, again including Human Rights Watch, the National Security Archive, the US Library of Congress series (quoted in the chapter), among others. 

Books: Out of Control: The Story of the Reagan Administration's Secret War in Nicaragua, the Illegal Arms Pipeline, and the Contra Drug Connection,  
by Leslie Cockburn (1987); the post-war story, published in 2003, by Worth H. Weller, If This Soil Could Stop Bleeding: Nicaragua During and After the Contra War; Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992, by William M. Leogrande (2000), is a fine history, as is Beneath the United States: A History of U.S. Policy toward Latin America, by Lars Schoultz

Afghanistan has two distinct phases with respect to the U.S.—the attempt to oust the USSR, which is the Reagan era, and the failed state venue for Al Qaeda: the first led to the next, of course.  Barnett Rubin’s The Fragmentation of Afghanistan: State Formation and Collapse in the International System, is generally considered as a leading treatment of the first.  The second is perhaps best represented by Steve Coll's Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.  One should also be aware of the National Security Archive’s extensive Afghanistan file.  Among their documents are those from the Soviets about decisions to withdraw: “The issue of troop withdrawal and the search for a political solution was discussed as early as 1980.” 

It is argued in some places that the Reagan Doctrine could also be considered a piece of U.S. foreign policy in Ethiopia, El Salvador, Grenada, and Mozambique.  In all cases, similar lessons apply. 

One more aside: Some critics of my book will say that I spend too much time on Reagan, who left office 17 years ago.  But his presidency and his ideology had lasting consequences, as with his “doctrine,” and today many Republicans—anxious to distance themselves from George W. Bush—proudly describe themselves as “Reagan Republicans.”  He is, in this sense, very much alive, to our everlasting detriment.

 

9  The Vietnam War

Where to begin?  This has perhaps the most exhaustive collection of writings for any little country, however big the war.  Among the most important works are those by contemporary critics of war policy—Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky (both available in “readers”), Daniel Ellsberg, Daniel Berrigan, James Carroll, and many others.  Journalistic treatments include A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan; Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam by Frances FitzGerald, and The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam

The major retrospective histories are Marilyn Young’s Vietnam Wars 1945-1990 (Harper Perennial, 1991), Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam: A History; and Argument Without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy, by Robert S. McNamara, James G. Blight, Robert K. Brigham, Thomas J. Biersteker, Herbert Y. Schandler.

There was a good series on public television that is worth reviewing.  Robert Brigham, who worked with James Blight and others on the McNamara book, has a useful collection on-line.  Another collection of documents, although without much guidance, is found on a Mount Holyoke College site.  

For young readers, Vietnam seems a long time ago.  But history, if honestly rendered, almost always has something to say about today’s events and problems.  Indochina, in contrast to much of Asia, remains crippled by the effects of the American interventions in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.  And the Vietnam War, while different from other American interventions, holds some remarkable similarities, especially to Iraq—unbelievable arrogance in the halls of American power, disregard for civilian casualties (perhaps 2 million, whereas I stated the power number of half that in my chapter), destructive effects for the entire region, Americans shamed worldwide, politically expedient ideas foisted on the country, hideous claims for doing good, and so on.  One can read some of the criticisms of the war written in the 1960s—Chomsky’s American Power and the New Mandarins, for example—and easily transport the points to the present day.

 

10  The Waltons Go Global

Wal-Mart stirs such passions that there are now several books and Web sites dedicated to the retailing behemoth. 

Among these is the company’s Web site, Wal-Mart Facts.  It is interesting to see how Wal-Mart has suddenly tried to change its image in 2006, offering more wholesome food choices, for example, among other public goods initiatives.  The business model, however, remains perforce the same.

The “studies” cited showing how Wal-Mart is really the New Deal redux can be found on the handy and reliable Wal-Mart Watch site, which has a number of useful resources.  Several of the studies cited in my chapter are referenced from this site.  A must-see.

The story about the inspector fired for describing poor working conditions in Central America can be found at one of the corporate watchdog sites, Reclaim Democracy

An excellent source of information is in the long review essay of four books on Wal-Mart and related topic in the New York Review of Books, “Inside the Leviathan.” 

John Dicker, “Wal-Mart as the Great Divider,” Boston Sunday Globe, Nov 6, 2005, E12, is a worthwhile article.  Requires a fee to access from their Web site.  It is drawn from his 2005 book, The United States of Wal-Mart.

PBS had an interesting and informative Frontline on Wal-Mart in 2004; much material is included on its Web site, including the TV show itself.  Robert Greenwald, the docuemtarian, has produced a riveting story in Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, available in DVD.
Books:  Those  discussed in Simon Head’s New York Review article are Wal-Mart: the Face of 21st Century Capitalism? Nelson Lichtenstein, ed. (New Press, 2006); Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers' Rights at Wal-Mart by Liza Featherstone; Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich, one of America’s truly outstanding journalists; Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart, a report by the Democratic Staff of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce February 16, 2004, at edworkforce.house.gov/democrats/walmartreport.pdf.  See also Charles Fishman’s The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works--and How It's Transforming the American Economy (2006). 

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