Welcome to Mecca, the first BLOG about everything from politics to people in the news—an unspecific look at what’s going on in the world today from my perspective. For some reason, this is the most daunting project I have undertaken—more difficult than writing books, articles, or radio and television copy. Keeping it short and completely narcissistic—my view on how the world has turned or not.
Three years ago, I returned to America from Paris, having lived there for more than two decades covering the Middle East from a safe and delicious perch in the most beautiful city in the world. In 1997, Jacques Chirac, the charming French right wing President was advised to dissolve Parliament as a sign of his power and the confidence the French people had in his government. The outcome was disastrous. The result was that France had what they termed a “cohabitation,” where Chirac was forced to share power with a Socialist Prime Minister—Lionel Jospin. Within days, Prime Minister Jospin hosted a lunch in Brittany for his new cabinet and I was invited, seated at Monsieur Jospin’s right. It was awkward at first. Neither of us knew how to make idle table talk. Finally, the new Prime Minister turned to me and said, “It’s so nice to have a representative of the American left-wing at my table.” What possessed me I will never know but I answered, “There is no more left-wing or right-wing. Not in America. Not in France. Not anywhere. It’s a question now of devising a plan to feed the people, keep them employed; give them health care and a decent standard of living.” Little did I know…
Twenty some odd years ago the Middle East was in turmoil. Palestinians were still living in abysmal conditions despite efforts by Europe, Israel, the United States, and the United Nations to give them better lives. Back then, and this is an old story, the Arab world made the Palestinians the poster children of Israeli brutality. Four American presidents later, and still, there is no solution, except of course new and more lethal weapons to bring attention not to the poor Palestinians but against the United States and Israel.
Moving East into Burma, when I lived for two months doing a book on Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who stared down a vicious military junta, I witnessed an abuse of human rights worse than anything I had ever seen. Not only was Aung San Suu Kyi deprived of her right to govern after she won an election, but she was placed under house arrest. Her supporters were gunned down in the streets during protests and the Burmese people were starving—all except the handful of leaders who lived off the opium trade and the good will of the Chinese. There was no intervention from the United States, or other civilized western powers. From time to time, there were politicians in non-official capacity and groups of non-government organizations who made futile trips to bring world attention to the plight of the Burmese people. Nor was there a popular former United States President who traveled there to obtain Aung San Suu Kyi’s release. True, Iraq is rid of Saddam Hussein. Also true, Iraq has plunged into chaos much the same as Yugoslavia after Tito died. Three American Presidents later and troops are still in Afghanistan, after the failure of the Soviets to conquer the mountainous country, after the American fiasco of supporting the Taliban against the evil Soviet Empire. True, the world woke up after 9/11 and understood that the Mecca of the revolution was not contained in Tel Aviv or Ramallah but had moved right into the financial heart of the United States.
In recent history, Wall Street collapsed and unemployment throughout the world reached unimaginable numbers, starvation and disease ravaged Africa, and China was exporting poison products that killed animals and children. It seems all we have to raise our consciousness is Michael Moore and his prescient documentaries showing the “haves” what the “have-nots” are going through.
Left-wing/Right-wing politicians everywhere still don’t get it.
Doctrine is dead.
Rhetoric is redundant.
Think back. We all have photographs of our families—now dead or aged—looking dashing and vital in their smart military uniforms. We all have photographs of ourselves—quite different—pictured with long hair, smoking dope, protesting something or another, rallying for peace, equal rights or freedom to choose…And the generation today, young, hopeful, energetic. In fifty years from now, what will their photographs portray? A generation sent to war without a purpose, PHDs driving taxicabs, MBAs scrounging for work, young people in business suits carrying the contents of their desks into the streets?
Perhaps an image is worth a ton of words. I’m thinking of the new Levi commercial that ends with the prophetic phrase—America Go Forth.
Forget the party lines or the party will remain a barbaric Roman circus.