May 18, 2004


You can use them to connect all sorts of things during these Dubya years in the US. For example, take the line that Naomi Klein draws between the sagging US economy and the young soldiers who carried out the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib. a line from one to the other

The young soldiers taking the fall for the prison-abuse scandal are the McWorkers, prison guards and laid-off factory workers of Bush's so-called economic recovery. The résumés of the soldiers facing abuse charges come straight out of the April U.S. Labor Department Report.

There's Specialist Sabrina Harman, of Lorton, Va., assistant manager of her local Papa John's Pizza. There's Specialist Charles Graner, a prison guard back home in Pennsylvania. There's Sergeant Ivan Frederick, another prison guard, this time from the Buckingham Correctional Center in rural Virginia.

Before he joined what prisoner-rights advocate Van Jones calls "America's gulag economy," Sgt. Frederick had a decent job at the Bausch & Lomb factory in Mountain Lake, Md. But according to The New York Times, that factory shut down and moved to Mexico, one of the nearly 900,000 jobs that the Economic Policy Institute estimates have been lost since NAFTA, the vast majority in manufacturing.

Free trade has turned the U.S. labour market into an hourglass: plenty of jobs at the bottom, a fair bit at the top, but very little in the middle. At the same time, getting from the bottom to the top has become increasingly difficult, with tuition at state colleges up by more than 50 per cent since 1990.

And that's where the U.S. military comes in: The army has positioned itself as the bridge across the United States's growing class chasm: money for tuition in exchange for military service. Call it the NAFTA draft.

It worked for Lynndie England, the most infamous of the Abu Ghraib accused.

She joined the 372 Military Police Company to pay for college, hoping to replace her job at the chicken-processing plant with a career in meteorology. Her colleague Sabrina Harman told The Washington Post, "I knew nothing at all about the military, except that they would pay for college. So I signed up.”"

Via rabble.

Posted by Magpie at May 18, 2004 09:13 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |