In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development was attended by the leaders of every major industrial country — except George W. Bush. The Bush administration’s handling of environmental issues was called “the most concerted exploitation of the public’s land, air and water since fundamental protection laws went into effect three decades ago.” This NOW With Bill Moyers episode profiled three government insiders who spent decades safeguarding the environment, only to find the rug pulled out from under them.
This episode also featured an excerpt from filmmaker Bruno Sorrentino’s PBS series WIDE ANGLE, which depicted the experiences of children growing up around the world. In the clip, Sorrentino tracks how a child from China and a child from Latvia were affected by economic and environmental developments.
Also on the program, Bill Moyers interviewed Dennis Halliday, former UN assistant secretary-general and head of the UN Humanitarian Program in Iraq, who resigned in protest of what economic sanctions were doing to the Iraqi people.
The final segment looks at Harlem, recognized the world over for its jazz, art and writers like Langston Hughes. It’s had its ups and downs, but right now Harlem is on the rebound. The new vitality is not without a price, however — some of the neighborhood’s irreplaceable heritage is being torn down and paved over. Writer and architecture historian Michael Henry Adams comments on Harlem in transition.
MOYERS: Welcome to NOW.
Next week, over 100 heads of state will meet in Johannesburg, South Africa. Their goal is to search for ways to save the Earth’s life support system: air, water, land, the things we humans need to thrive on the planet.
Ten years ago, they gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the same purpose. But official studies reveal a steady decline in the Earth’s environment since then.
The leaders of every major industrial country will be in Johannesburg next week, except for George W. Bush.
Representatives of the religious right, conservative activists and big companies like Exxon wrote the President this week praising him for not going to the summit.
They also asked him to make sure American officials who do get to Johannesburg keep the issue of global warming off the table. It’s all part of a pattern.
The Bush administration is carrying on what the LOS ANGELES TIMES this week calls “the most concerted exploitation of the public’s land, air and water since fundamental protection laws went into effect three decades ago.”
If you want to know how that’s being done, listen to three government insiders who worked for decades to safeguard the environment. They talked to NPR correspondent Emily Harris and NOW producer Greg Henry.
EMILY HARRIS: Jim Furnish spent over 30 years working for the US Forest Service. His time in government spanned eight presidential administrations.
But Furnish is one of several career civil servants who recently left their jobs after run-ins with the Bush administration over environmental policy.
back in the 1960s, when Furnish started with the Forest Service, timber companies were busy clear cutting big sections of National Forest. A large part of Furnish’s job was to help get those trees to market.
JIM FURNISH, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: We were laying out clear cut timber harvests and marking the boundaries, measuring the value and the volume of the timber to be sold. This was an extension of the post-World War II housing boom. There was a tremendous need for new lumber. Here I was, like an ant in the woods a part of all that thing. It was actually pretty exciting.
EMILY HARRIS: But as time went on, public concerns began to grow about the impacts of logging on the environment. And Furnish’s thinking began to change.
JIM FURNISH: For me, a real light went on. The sense that these are rare and precious lands we’re dealing with. And that we’ve probably been too cavalier in our pursuit of what we can take from the land via timber, grazing, mining, oil and gas. And that the public probably has a right to rely on agencies like the Forest Service to be an advocate for the natural resources. Not necessarily an advocate for their removal.
EMILY HARRIS: Furnish would get a chance to promote his views in the 1990s, as head of the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon.
Decades of logging had left their mark on the forest. And it wasn’t just that the trees were getting cut.
Thousands of miles of roads had been built to get to the timber. Old and decaying gravel roads now crisscrossed the Siuslaw. This spelled trouble. Especially when it rained.
During storms decaying mountain roads can turn into landslides. That happened in the Siuslaw in 1996. Some rain-soaked roads collapsed, causing sliding mud to swamp bushes and trees. And it all dropped into the swollen creeks.
JIM FURNISH: And when these landslides encounter streams — bad things happen. A lot of the salmon spawning areas are ruined. Or the young fish that are in the streams are killed. It’s just not, it’s just not a pretty picture. And, inevitably when you go back and you trace these you always end up on a road.
EMILY HARRIS: To stop future landslides, Furnish set out to fix the old logging roads. Some he let return to their natural state. He says it was the best way to keep the forest healthy.
EMILY HARRIS: His efforts were noticed back in Washington. In 1999, Furnish got a great job offer that took him to the top of civil service. He jumped from running a single forest to be Deputy Chief for the US Forest Service.
There are nearly 200 million acres of National Forest in the United States, mostly in the West. About a quarter of those woods have no roads.
In the late 90s, the Clinton administration was working on a new proposal to keep roads out of that part of the forest. It was called “The Roadless Rule.” Its aim was to limit logging and stop environmental damage to the land.
The Roadless Rule was being crafted when Jim Furnish moved to Washington. But permanently limiting roads in part of the National Forests was a controversial proposition.
Bob Maynard is a lawyer and a trained forester. He opposed the roadless rule and helped file suit against it.
BOB MAYNARD: There’s a to me a false notion that if you leave these areas alone, if you stay out of them, that you’re protecting them. And that’s not the case.
No one that I know of is advocating criss-crossing the countryside with permanent roads. It’s a matter of — some roading carefully designed to the landscape in areas where it’s appropriate and makes sense.
EMILY HARRIS: Maynard says roads let foresters get in where they need to go to manage forests well…And do things like, for example, take out dead wood that can fuel forest fires.
BOB MAYNARD: Fires don’t pay attention to roadless versus roaded boundaries. And so basically you’ve got the issue of something starting in a roadless area and then spreading across the countryside and doing a lot of damage.
EMILY HARRIS: But arguments against The Roadless Rule were drowned out by overwhelming popular support.
At 600 public meetings and through thousands of emails and letters, over a million people nationwide submitted comments. Most liked the notion of keeping the last of the country’s woods road-free.
JIM FURNISH: We were touching a nerve I think of about 90 percent public approval, on that — there’s probably fewer people than that that agree to paying income tax. And to me to have touched on a concept that enjoyed such broad public support, boy, I tell you that felt good. To be serving the public in that way.
EMILY HARRIS: The “Roadless Rule” was adopted just as Clinton’s term was ending.
Jim Furnish is a Republican. He voted for Bush in 2000.
Just hours after being sworn in President Bush suspended the popular roadless rule.
JIM FURNISH: I just don’t think they got it, in terms of that this was symbolic of a really sweeping change, in terms of public views about public lands. And I just viewed their actions as being regressive.
EMILY HARRIS: Furnish says the administration began ignoring what he had to say.
JIM FURNISH: The notion of leaving early, was something I never would have contemplated. What was disappointing to me was I didn’t feel I was given a seat at the table, I was never asked my opinion I wasn’t allowed to make a contribution. I wasn’t able to talk about the pluses and minuses of any particular approach. And after spending an entire career I didn’t want to be in a position like that.
EMILY HARRIS: Nine months after President Bush took office, Jim Furnish decided he had had enough. He left his position at the Forest Service.
JIM FURNISH: To me, one of the fundamental miscalculations of this Bush administration, is I think they haven’t gauged the depth to which environmental sentiment exists within the mainstream of America. And, I mean, for me, that’s just not — it’s just not good business, not to recognize that.
EMILY HARRIS: Thirty years ago, those battling to preserve America’s environment got a huge boost from Congress with passage of the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
All that happened under President Richard Nixon. America’s environment is undeniably cleaner now. But today, Bush administration critics say, those core laws are under attack.
ERIC SCHAEFFER: My job was enforcing environmental law. And it didn’t take long to get the idea that that’s not something the Bush administration was really interested in.
EMILY HARRIS: Eric Schaeffer used to be the head of the enforcement branch of the Environmental Protection Agency. He joined the government in 1990, when the first George Bush was in the White House.
In the late 90s Schaeffer’s office threatened to sue Dominion Virginia Power, one of the country’s largest power producers. Dominion runs eight coal-fired power plants in the Southeast. One of its largest plants sits on mt. Storm Lake in West Virginia.
SCHAEFFER: We started with a notice of violation for this one plant. We suspected there were problems at other plants. But to the company’s credit when we approached them with the Mount Storm problem, and we suggested you know, you probably have wide spread violations. They said, “Okay, let’s talk. And let’s try to work it out.” And the discussion went from there.
EMILY HARRIS: The EPA claimed that when dominion put in new equipment between 1988 and 1992, it also created new pollution. And under the Clean Air Act, that was against the law.
But utility industry lobbyist Scott Segal argues that the law is being misinterpreted. Or example, he says, what the EPA calls new equipment is really just part of routine maintenance. And penalizing utilities for that, he says, actually discourages old power plants from upgrading.
SCOTT SEGAL, UTILITY INDUSTRY LOBBYIST A rational actor might say, Boy. There’s a lot of downside risk in engaging in routine maintenance activities .We’d really better think twice before we do it. And as maintenance declines, efficiency at facilities declines. As efficiency declines, pollution increases.
EMILY HARRIS: Eric Schaeffer says some old plants just call big capital expansions “routine maintenance” so they won’t have to get a new pollution permit.
At any rate, in late 2000, Dominion was working with the EPA. Just as the presidential election wrapped up, Dominion agreed to sign a major settlement and spend more than a billion dollars to clean up its old plants.
But after Bush came into office, energy companies began a concerted effort to weaken the law Schaeffer was trying to enforce.
They got just what they wanted in the President’s May 2001 energy plan — a specific recommendation to “take another look” at the section of the Clean Air Act the EPA had used against Dominion.
President Bush has his own ideas on how to best reduce power plant emissions
Step one — back off on enforcement.
PRESIDENT BUSH (TAPE OF SPEECH FROM FEB 14 2002): Instead of the government telling utilities where and how to cut pollution, we will tell them when and how much to cut.
EMILY HARRIS: He calls his plan “Clear Skies.”
PRESIDENT BUSH (TAPE OF SPEECH FROM FEB 14 2002): We will give them a firm deadline and let them find the most innovative ways to meet it.
We will do this by requiring each facility to have a permit for each ton of pollution it emits. By making the permits tradable, this system makes it financially worthwhile for companies to pollute less, giving them an incentive to make early and cost effective reductions.
EMILY HARRIS: But critics say enforcement — just of the existing laws would clean the air faster than Bush’s proposed legislation.
Last February, Schaeffer quit the EPA, charging that cutbacks in clean air enforcement would literally make people sick — leaving pollution at levels that increase asthma and bronchitis. Ironically, even though no agreement has been signed, Mt. Storm has improved.
In the spring of this year, the plant voluntarily installed what are known as “scrubbers” to neutralize sulphur dioxide coming from the stacks.
EMILY HARRIS: So at this point Mt. Storm is doing what you had wanted to do in the agreement.
SCHAEFFER: Right. Mt. Storm is scrubbing. And if you look at the white plume there, that’s a sign that the scrubbers are working. So that’s a good thing. And they’ll take 95% of the sulfur dioxide out of the air. The problem is our agreement was about more than just Mt. Storm.
EMILY HARRIS: The agreement was about cleaning up all eight of Dominion’s coal-fired power plants.
Dominion tells now that they are still in discussion with the EPA. But Schaeffer believes that if Dominion had signed the initial deal, other utilities would have agreed by now to clean up.
The EPA still has lawsuits pending against eight other companies and the more than three dozen coal-fired power plants they own. But Schaeffer believes that since Dominion hasn’t signed, all the momentum is gone.
ERIC SCHAEFFER: I think they’re having trouble finding their pens to sign this agreement as long as they think the White House is going to weaken the law.
EMILY HARRIS: Laws can be weakened in very subtle ways. Something that seems minor, like issuing a permit, can actually have a significant impact.
Take the case of federal lands in the state of Idaho. Here government lands are used for everything from mountain biking to mining. Rules and restrictions can be contentious — and public opinion strong.
Martha Hahn used to oversee over 12 million acres of federal land in Idaho. In 1995, she became the first woman director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office here.
Hahn learned early after the 2000 election, that the new administration would go to new lengths to control what happens on these lands — and limit the public’s right to know.
MARTHA HAHN: One example is that all of the Federal Register notices, that normally the state director approves. And the Federal Register notices are ones that indicate to the public that an action is being taken, something is going to happen.
EMILY HARRIS: This may seem like bureaucratic trivia. But the Federal Register is actually one of those pieces of process that are vital to democracy.
Here’s the idea: Everything official the government does gets publicized in the daily Federal Register. Anyone who wants to have input can find out details there. Lobbyists, activists and citizens groups monitor it regularly to keep up on new rules and to learn where and when to comment on proposed ones.
MARTHA HAHN: It’s a very formal process and very boring to read, but it’s the formality that if you ever wanted to know something that was going on you could go to that notice and it would tell you.
EMILY HARRIS: As a state Director for the Bureau of Land Management, Martha Hahn had authority to approve the publication of nearly any notice relevant to Idaho. But that changed right after President Bush took office.
A memo was issued stating that as of that day all Interior Department announcements, even the most routine, had to be approved at the top — by the Office of the Secretary of the Interior.
Hahn says the administration used that approval power to, in effect, block public comment about mining in Idaho’s Bruneau Canyon. The canyon runs through Southwestern Idaho and it’s known for its semi-precious stones. It had been closed to mining under the first Bush administration, but only for ten years.
MARTHA HAHN: The ten years was up. And our Federal Register notice identified when the public meetings would be, what the process would be and the time frame for going through this determination. That went back to Washington and we never saw it again.
EMILY HARRIS: Hahn’s notice was never published and the ban on mining in Bruneau Canyon quietly ended. The canyon was back open for mineral exploration. It’s not that there’s been a rush to excavate. It’s the violation of process that really makes Hahn mad.
MARTHA HAHN: It wasn’t that the BLM was saying We are going to extend this. It was we are going to give the public an opportunity to comment on whether we should or shouldn’t extend this. And that was taken away.
EMILY HARRIS: But Martha Hahn says it was another issue — cattle grazing on federal land — that led her to leave public service.
Before coming to Idaho, Hahn had worked for the federal government for over twenty years, in Utah, Colorado and Arizona. When she got here in 1995, the Clinton administration had just re-written rules about managing livestock on public land.
One aim was to give the environment better protection by keeping cattle out of sensitive areas. One of Hahn’s jobs was to implement the new rules.
MARTHA HAHN: We were beginning to make decisions on grazing operations and making changes. Those changes are something as simple as go out, take the cows out and put them on the allotment earlier than you normally did and bring them off earlier. Having less cattle go out.
EMILY HARRIS: But no land use decisions are simple in the West, where some people depend on public land for their livelihood. By tradition and by law, private ranchers may pay for permits that allow them to put their cows on public land to forage.
Mike Hanley’s family has been doing this for six generations. He runs a thousand cows on federal land in Southern Idaho.
MIKE HANLEY, RANCHER: I can’t make a living without it. It’s estimated that 2/3 of the value of your ranch is based on your grazing permit. Because you can raise hay and pasture but if you don’t have any place to go with your cattle in the spring and summer months you can’t survive. You have to have the federal land.
EMILY HARRIS: The government told Hanley to take his cows off public land during the hot part of the summer, when grass doesn’t grow back quickly.
MARTHA HAHN: The fence here is to keep the cattle out of this area…
EMILY HARRIS: Martha Hahn knows this is more expensive for the ranchers, but she says it’s practically the only way to keep cows from ruining stream banks and polluting water.
MARTHA HAHN: You walk in here, the cattle have just left this area. Now as you can see, there’s no growth of any kind left. It’s just bare soil. And the idea is to try to have proper management of the cows and it’s the responsibility of the rancher to see that this isn’t happening.
EMILY HARRIS: Mike Hanley thought the changes to grazing policy were tough. He says in the old days the Bureau of Land Management knew how to run things better.
MIKE HANLEY: I first went to my first BLM meeting with my father and my grandfather when I was, let’s see, 11 years old. So I’ve been involved ever since I was 11 years old, that’s 1952. And at that time a lot of the people who worked in the agency were ranchers or former ranchers. So they knew something about the land. And they had ties. So they were easier to work with.
EMILY HARRIS: Martha Hahn says most ranchers went along with new grazing rules. But a few, like Mike Hanley, did not.
MARTHA HAHN: And that became almost 90 percent of the effort — convincing that one or two or five ranchers to do something different. And they in turn would go to their congressmen who would then in turn make a big deal of it and then the pressure would come down politically to not to put those kinds of constraints on grazing.
EMILY HARRIS: Fights over grazing, between ranchers and civil servants are part of the normal democratic process. So is complaining to a Congressman. What is unusual here is the letter Martha Hahn got in January.
MARTHA HAHN (READING LETTER): This is to inform you of my decision to reassign you from the position of Idaho State Director, Bureau of Land Management, to the position of Executive Director, National Parks of New York Harbor, National Park Service.
EMILY HARRIS: What was your first thought when you read that sentence?
MARTHA HAHN: Well, I laughed.
EMILY HARRIS: Hahn’s background as a manager of Western public lands just didn’t seem to match overseeing visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Hahn was given a choice — take the position, or resign.
MARTHA HAHN: That would be a perfect place to send me if they didn’t want me to go.
EMILY HARRIS: She chose to resign.
MOYERS: The signature on the letter to Hahn is none over than J. Steven Griles.
J. Steven Griles: You may remember that we introduced Mr. Griles to you a few weeks ago. He’s the man President Bush named to the second most powerful job at the Interior Department to make sure industry gets what it wants.
J. Steven Griles is notorious for his conflicts of interest. As a lobbyist for oil, gas and mining companies, he enters government to help enrich the companies he once worked for and then returns to industry to enrich himself. I’m not making this up.
During his time in the Reagan administration he worked to undercut surface-mining laws, tried to keep the public from knowing about the environmental hazards of offshore drilling, and just before leaving office, reduced royalty rates for the coal industry that then turned around and hired him.
What’s at stake in all this is a very down-to-earth matter. What’s at stake is literally the kind of place this will be when we’re gone. What will the earth be like when my four grandchildren are my age?
That’s what the summit in Johannesburg next week will be wrestling with: how to achieve sustainable development: growth that meets our needs today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
That is also the topic of a first-rate documentary next Thursday on the PBS series WIDE ANGLE.
Ten years ago, filmmakers began following several children from different countries who were born just as world leaders were meeting in Rio de Janeiro.
The film tracks how these kids are being affected by economic and environmental developments. Tonight we have an excerpt from that film. It’s called GROWING UP GLOBAL.
NARRATOR: This is the city of Guangzhou — it’s in one of China’s special economic development zones — and it’s part of the world’s fastest growing economy.
BBC RADIO REPORT: After 15 years of negotiations, China has finally become a member of the World Trade Organization. China is now the world’s seventh biggest exporter and will have to submit to more stringent controls governing its trade…
NARRATOR: Kay Kay was born in Guangzhou
KAY KAY: This is my parents bedroom, okay?
This is my bedroom, this is where I sleep, this is my pencil box, this is a toy car, and this is me when I was a baby…
NARRATOR: When Kay Kay was born, China had long been the world’s most populous country. It had already chosen to tackle that problem by introducing a one-child-only policy.
In 1992, four generations in Kay Kay’s family lived under one roof. But as the region developed her parents became able to rent a home of their own. Cheung and Liang’s attention would focus on their only child. Kay Kay would grow up as one of the generation of so-called “Little Emperors.”
Kay Kay’s father, Liang, worked in a highly polluting, outdated paper mill. But China’s leaders had long been determined to industrialize first, raising standards of living – and worry about the environment later. This plan came at a price.
By 1998 Guangzhou would become one of the world’s most polluted cities, contributing to acid rain that cost the region five hundred million dollars each year. Though Kay Kay’s family was better off financially, she was six times more likely to get lung cancer than a child in rural China.
For a time, Kay Kay’s parents had to live apart during the working week – the congestion on the roads meant her father couldn’t get to work in time.
KAY KAY, AGED 4: When I grow up I want to have high-heeled shoes and long hair — and be a teacher!
SHOPKEEPER: We don’t have high heels in your size.
FATHER: They don’t have high heels!
MOTHER: We’ll buy you an ice cream instead.
NARRATOR: Soon Kay Kay’s father could afford a motorbike so he could once again live at home — and drop Kay Kay off at school in the mornings.
Her mother is a truck driver, and her parents’ long working hours meant that Kay Kay had to get used to spending her evenings alone – her favorite game was ‘Solitaire’.
In recent years, the environment has finally become a priority for China. Today Guangzhou’s air is cleaner, thanks to the new emissions controls. And the “Blue Sky” plan has closed hundreds of polluting factories in the region.
But dangers lie ahead. Car ownership will rise dramatically, with higher living standards and the World Trade Organization’s lower tariffs, putting at risk recent gains.
CHEUNG (MOTHER): It’s much cleaner than it used to be. It’s like a garden city! And lots of trees and shrubs have been planted. The streets are clean on both sides.
NARRATOR: Kay Kay’s parents have now bought their own home. The five-hundred US dollars they make every month is seven times the national average.
KAY KAY: These are my father’s plants. They’re supposed to keep evil spirits away. As if!
NARRATOR: China’s growing middle class enjoys more comforts. The demands of work mean Kay Kay’s family is rarely together.
CHEUNG: Sometimes her father doesn’t get home ’til 10:30 at night. She’s very self-reliant. She’s alone all evening, watching TV and doing homework.
REPORTER: Is there one thing you wish for?
KAY KAY: I want good health for my family. I want lots of money.
REPORTER: Is being rich very important?
KAY KAY: No.
REPORTER: So what’s the most important thing?
KAY KAY: Having good health. Because with good health you can earn more money.
NARRATOR: China’s economic miracle has transformed the outlook of Kay Kay’s generation. Meanwhile, in the former Soviet Union, prospects for children are being tarnished by environmental problems of the past.
Martens was born in the former Soviet republic of Latvia. For his parents it was an exciting time — having a new son in a newly independent country.
But Latvia was also inheriting the legacy of years of Soviet rule. A few hours away is Chernobyl where six years before the world’s worst ever nuclear disaster occurred. Cancers and birth defects were on the increase in Latvia.
MARA: As soon as I knew I was pregnant, I thought to myself, come what may, whatever problems there are, I’m going to have this child.
NARRATOR: When we returned four years later, Martens proved to be a strong, healthy child. The family had moved to a bigger apartment. But their country’s economy was close to collapse.
MARA: We’re only able to make ends meet by having two jobs each. I have one job with an insurance company and another in a powerhouse. We work day and night. You just can’t get by any other way.
NARRATOR: The economic legacy of having been part of the Soviet Union was bad enough. The environmental consequences were no better. Marten’s uncle, Guntis, who’d been sent to help in the clean-up at Chernobyl has been seriously ill.
UNCLE: I’m unable to work. I’m a victim of Chernobyl. So I come here nearly every day, it’s getting so boring…day after day.
MODRIS: Chernobyl finished my brother’s life. He can’t have children.
MARA: Our son is the only heir. He’s the last to carry on the family name.
NARRATOR: We’ve just returned to Latvia. Martens is an active boy of ten.
REPORTER: So, you’re not a little kid anymore, do you feel like a grown up yet?
MARA: Don’t swing your leg! When he’s nervous he swings his legs. Speak up! Do you feel like a grown up yet?
MARTENS: Yes! So what!
NARRATOR: There’s been a change in Marten’s family. Long hours working with computers and electronics have taken a toll on his father.
MODRIS: There was too much pressure on my eyes and there was a rupture of the retina and I had to be operated on. Two years ago was the first operation and this year is another one.
REPORTER: Was it because of too much work?
MODRIS: Yes. 10 – 12 years is too long and too hard for the eyes. Electronic components are very tiny things
NARRATOR: Now Modris spends most of his time taking care of his son.
MODRIS: I help him with his homework, I take Martens to dancing classes I take him to his performances.
MARA: Singing classes, dancing, English, these are all necessities. We’ll pay for them whatever it costs, we don’t want him to miss out.
NARRATOR: But the costs are high and Mara is now the sole breadwinner. She briefly takes a third job: part-time work at a local restaurant.
MARA: I don’t have anything against washing dishes, but I can’t help thinking, was it worth getting a college education just for this?
NARRATOR: But in May 2002 she gets a break — an environmental inspector’s job. The work is well paid but unsettling. They’re cleaning up abandoned Soviet military sites.
MARA: I see now the dreadful legacy left behind by the Soviet Army. I see those awful sheds full of radioactive elements. Dangerous chemicals lying around unsupervised. And I feel frightened for my son growing up.
NARRATOR: It’s only in Marten’s lifetime that the scale of the clean-up task has been revealed. More than 800 defunct Soviet military installations checkerboard Latvia. Dealing with hazardous waste that has been lying around uncontrolled for years is costly.
But the European commission and others recently pledged 100 million dollars to tackle the legacy of environmental problems and nuclear waste in north west Russia. Latvia may qualify.
MARA: We only have one life, and perhaps one lifetime isn’t enough to clean it all up. That’s an awful thought.
MOYERS: Ultimately, it is today’s kids, like the ones we’ve just seen, who will be most affected by the success or failure of the summit in Johannesburg.
NOW will be in South Africa next week to bring you a special 90-minute broadcast in collaboration with our friends from the BBC. We’re calling our program “The Earth Debate.” We’ll have voices representing different sides of the arguments.
Most of you will see it at our regular time. Please check your local listings. I hope you can join us.
MOYERS: Turn on any cable channel at almost any time and you’ll hear a debate on whether America should go to war to oust the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. Official Washington seems of two minds: a war party wants to use force to get rid of Hussein before he develops nuclear and chemical weapons; a loose coalition of naysayers warns against the costs and consequences.
Everyone’s trying to sway one man, George W. Bush, who says he hasn’t yet made up his mind. Joining me tonight is a man who has made up his. Dennis Halliday is a native of Ireland. He worked for the United Nations for more than thirty years rising to the rank of Assistant Secretary-General and head of the humanitarian program to Iraq. He resigned in protest of what economic sanctions are doing to the Iraqi people. Two years ago the service committee nominated Dennis Halliday for the Nobel Peace Prize.
MOYERS: If you were an Iraqi citizen, wouldn’t you want Saddam Hussein out of your life?
DENNIS HALLIDAY: I might well do. I might indeed have a reservation about his current style of government. But the fact is, every time he’s attacked by Mr. Bush or Mr. Blair or somebody else external to my country, as an Iraqi I feel I must stand around, I must protect him, I must do what perhaps all of us do…
MOYERS: You’re speaking if you were an Iraqi…
MOYERS: …would say, you’ve got to defend this man.
HALLIDAY: Yes. He’s my leader, after all. This is my country. This is a country of great age and dignity and reputation. I can’t let any foreign force sort of overcome, overrun this country.
MOYERS: But he’s killed thousands of people with mustard gas and other chemical agents. He’s forcibly removed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from their homes after demolishing their homes. I mean, this man’s crimes against his own people are crimes against humanity, are they not?
HALLIDAY: There’s no question that the Baghdad government has committed crimes against humanity. We’ve seen that in the Iran/Iraq war, we’ve seen that in the case of Kuwait and of course against the Kurds of Iraq.
However, of course we are not much better. I mean, we have worked with people like General Suharto who was responsible perhaps for the death of 500 to a million people with our assistance. We’ve worked with Mobutu and Pinochet and many other overseas leaders that don’t meet our standards. And we ourselves are not exactly beyond…
MOYERS: Are you saying that because our hands are not clean we shouldn’t be concerned about a man like Hussein who’s trying to develop nuclear weapons, who if he got those nuclear weapons might well try to blackmail his neighbors and blackmail the rest of the world?
HALLIDAY: Well, I think we have to be concerned, but I think we have to also recognize that the complexities of Iraq are best known to the people of Iraq. They must be allowed to make their own decisions and determine what sort of governance they require.
Our economic sanctions have demolished the capacity within Iraq amongst the professionals of Iraq to make those decisions. If you talk to a man like Tariq Aziz…The Deputy Prime Minister.
HALLIDAY: …He will tell you when this war is over we will begin to look at change whether it’s autonomy with the Kurds or whether it’s a more participatory form of government. We have got to recognize we don’t know what the Iraqis need. Only the Iraqi people can make those decisions.
MOYERS: But Mr. Halliday the Iraqi people can’t make that dec–…that choice. I mean, if any of them speak up, Saddam Hussein has them whisked away, has them put in jail, has them killed.
HALLIDAY: But you might say…you might have said the same about [suharto] in Indonesia…
MOYERS: But we’re talking about…
MOYERS: …We’re talking about Iraq. We’re talking about Saddam Hussein.
HALLIDAY: See, I think we’re falling into the propaganda trap that Washington has set for us. We’re using the terminology of Washington. We’re talking about regime change. That means assassination. That’s unacceptable. There’s an Executive Order against assassination.
So I think we have to look at Iraq like we look ourselves, like we look at others. And we’ll find that in terms of the appalling things that have happened, you know, Saddam Hussein is an amateur compared to things that we, we Europeans; we North Americans, have done to ourselves and done to others whether it’s a civil war or whether it’s Vietnam or whatever it happens to be.
MOYERS: But he’s not an amateur at killing his own people,
MOYERS: I read the testimony last night of several experts who testified to the United States Senate that they think he will have nuclear weapons by as early as the year 2005. Do you think he would use those weapons to blackmail his neighbors and the world?
HALLIDAY: No, I don’t think so. And I think the fact is we have to acknowledge that Iraq today is greatly weakened since the Gulf War period. It’s surrounded by very dangerous neighbors. There are nuclear weapons pointed at Baghdad as we speak today.
HALLIDAY: From Israel, undoubtedly.
They have…that gives them a justification to have defensive weapons. And of course, they’re allowed defensive weapons under the United Nations Resolution 687, which governs the sanctions and governs inspections and governs the present situation.
We have to acknowledge this is a sovereign state. They have a right to defend their borders and defend themselves, which we ignore to a great extent. And I think we have to also see that, the neighbors, the Saudis and others who know this man much better than we do, are not afraid. Why are we afraid in the United States?
MOYERS: But they’re…the United States at this moment has a ring of military bases around Iraq. They wouldn’t be there if all of Iraq’s neighbors felt he was benign.
HALLIDAY: But you know, he invaded Iran, an appalling criminal activity…
MOYERS: And Kuwait.
HALLIDAY: …we may say, we may think. But you know, we supported that. We encouraged that. We gave him military intelligence. We gave him weaponry. We…Ronald Reagan gave him money: a billion in credit, I believe.
MOYERS: But if a government massacres its own people and supports terrorism in any way, hasn’t that government forfeited the right to be safe within its own borders and do what it wants to to its own people?
HALLIDAY: Well, I think you’re making a case for what’s known as humanitarian intervention, which of course can be interpreted to mean military invention. But you know military intervention I think is a very foolish and dangerous step, and it’s certainly not [in interests] I think of the United States and not in the interests of the Iraqi people.
There’s no way you can sort of pop into Baghdad and remove a government or a leadership that we don’t like. The innocent…the civilians of Iraq are going to pay the price, as they’re paying the price for 12 years. And that’s collective punishment, and collective punishment is in breach of international law.
MOYERS: What would be the consequences of a war against Saddam Hussein, if the United States invaded, what are the practical effects on the people of Iraq?
HALLIDAY: Well, I think what would happen is that recognizing that Iraq is largely an urban country — 70 percent of Iraqis live in towns and cities, and those are the very places where the troops, the military, the capacity for manufacture, if it exists, resides, therefore that means, it seems to me, given the Afghanistan model which we all watched with some horror…
MOYERS: Meaning the…
HALLIDAY: The bombing.
HALLIDAY: The United States is going to have high flying, high level bombing attacks on the cities and towns of Iraq, which you know, that’s, some say, 19, 20 million people living in cities.
I think we’re going to see horrific loss of innocent civilian life. And the Iraqi people, they don’t deserve to be punished. There’s no reason, no justification for killing them, and that seems to me what’s going to happen.
MOYERS: Well, I think the administration, as I read the papers, would argue that there are casualties to be paid at a lesser level in order to keep a larger [conflagration], a larger holocaust from happening later if this man gets chemical weapons and nuclear weapons.
HALLIDAY: But you say that despite the fact his own neighbors don’t accept that, they don’t support a military intervention. They don’t support Mr. Bush’s thinking about a possible war. They’re prepared to live with Saddam Hussein. They understand the Arab world, the Islamic world. They know their…the families and the clans of Iraq overlap with Turkey and Jordan and Syria and the Saudi country.
There’s an understanding that we don’t seem to have. It’s not black and white, it’s not that simple. And we have to have Iraq as part of the family of Arab and Islamic nations if we’re going to see peace in the Middle East.
MOYERS: I ask you to put yourself in the shoes of an Iraqi citizen and ask you if you wouldn’t want Saddam Hussein removed. Now put yourself in the shoes of an American president. You see that this man, what he has done to his people.
You’re told that he is trying to develop nuclear weapons. You’re told…you’ve seen him use chemical weapons against his own people and against the Kurds.
What would you do to deal with what many of us think is a potential explosive situation leading perhaps to a regional holocaust?
HALLIDAY: Well, I would fall back on my position that the Iraqis themselves must determine the future and this [form of governance] that Iraq needs…
MOYERS: But they can’t. I have to interrupt you…
HALLIDAY: But they can!
MOYERS: This is a dictator.
HALLIDAY: No, but you see, the point is, when the economic sanctions are lifted, when this country is restored as it should be, when the professional and middle class Iraqis have time to forget about survival of their children and think about governance, there will be a change. There’s no doubt in my mind.
As we’ve seen elsewhere in the world.
MOYERS: What has happened to the middle class in Iraq, to the professionals? Because you write about this, you speak about this. What do you mean? What’s happened to them?
HALLIDAY: Well, many of us believe that two to three million professional Iraqis have left the country.
HALLIDAY: Because their salaries have been destroyed by the economic sanctions regime of the United Nations.
MOYERS: It’s sanctioned by the United Nations…
MOYERS: I mean, this has the force of international law.
But the United Nations has lost its direction. It’s in violation of its own charter and its human rights convention. I mean, we have to remember that. We are doing things to the Iraqi people which are not compatible with international law.
MOYERS: Would you have been in favor of a humanitarian intervention against Adolph Hitler before he moved into Poland and Czechoslovakia?
HALLIDAY: Well, with hindsight, of course we would have found a justification for removing Adolph Hitler.
But I don’t think we have any legal basis for preemptive military attacks. We don’t have a system that allows that. We have to let…free up the Iraqis, let them make their own decisions. And then if they go wrong, let’s try to help them to go right.
MOYERS: What is the main argument you would make against an invasion?
HALLIDAY: Well, I would look at the loss of life, both Iraqi civilians and American troops. Nobody wants to see that.
I would look at the dangers for the Middle East, the catastrophe we may set in motion. I would look at the breach of international law, the bypassing of the United Nations. I would look at the American values, American democracy, all those good things we talk about which an invasion of a sovereign state completely in my view undermines.
There are many good reasons why attacking Iraq not just makes no sense, it doesn’t serve the interests of the American people.
HALLIDAY: And seeing were on US television, I think we have to look at ourselves here in the United States and ask why we are not working closely with the United Nations, why we do not respect international law…
…why we don’t use unique American power and goodwill to change the world for the better, not for the worse. Why don’t we understand the dangers of globalization? Why don’t we understand the reasons behind terrorism? Why the attack on the twin towers took place. We could do so much better given the tremendous resources and the goodwill of the American people.
MOYERS: The government in Washington has said the return of the inspectors to Iraq is no longer the issue. The issue is the removal of Saddam Hussein. Given that shift, do you think war is inevitable?
HALLIDAY: I very much fear so, because I think we cannot expect the Iraqis to accept inspections knowing full well the United States feels this way and that the overthrow of their president is in fact foremost in the minds of Mr. Bush.
But you know, when you look around the world and you see the Arab friends and allies of the United States and the Europeans and Canada and others, I don’t think Mr. Bush will find support for what he seems to want to do. And I’m hoping that with wiser heads in his own party in Washington and elsewhere, he will find there is another way to do business even with difficult leadership as we see in Baghdad.
There has got to be a better way, and there is obviously a better way. It’s a more civilized dialogue and understanding to get this country of Iraq back into the community, back into the Middle East as a friend and ally as opposed to an enemy which serves nobody’s best interests.
MOYERS: Dennis Halliday, thank you very much for joining us on NOW tonight.
HALLIDAY: Thank you. It’s a privilege, Bill Moyers.
MOYERS: Thank you.
MOYERS: There’s no neighborhood more famous than Harlem, right here in New York City.
Harlem is recognized the world over for the universal language of its jazz and art, for its writers like Langston Hughes, and now, as my young friend Kevin just reminded me, for its scrappy little league team.
It’s had its ups and downs. Its troubles are also famous. But right now Harlem’s on the rebound. The new vitality, however, is not without a price.
And this has Michael Henry Adams upset. With a knowledge of the neighborhood that is almost encyclopedic and a passion for history to boot, this scholar is an activist who will chain himself to a fence to prove his point.
His new book, HARLEM LOST AND FOUND, comes out soon. So we asked him for this commentary on Harlem in transition.
MICHAEL ADAMS: My name is Michael Adams, and i’m a writer and an architecture historian who lives in Harlem.
The reason why I came to New York is because I was seduced by the legend of Harlem. Harlem was the african-american cultural capital. Harlem remains, in the minds of many people, the African-American cultural capital. And yet, one of the most compelling manifestations of that, the old buildings here, have not been given the due reverence that they deserve.
135th street and Seventh Avenue is the site of the former Small’s Paradise nightclub, established in 1925.
It was one of the greatest jazz venues ever created. And now it’s to be replaced by an International House of Pancakes. Some would say that this represents progress. I say, save Harlem from pancakes.
All along 125th street, buildings of incomparable beauty and history, by preeminent architects from the late 19th century, are being exchanged for totally nondescript aluminum and glass boxes, which are not Harlem but are Paramus, New Jersey, or Las Vegas.
People are destroying something that’s invaluable and irreplaceable and exchanging it for something mundane and ordinary, something like every other place, any other place. And this is a terribly unfortunate kind of cultural genocide.
This was the Audubon Ballroom and theater, amongst the most spectacular ever built in Harlem. It is most significantly the place where Malcolm X was killed. Half the Audubon was ruinously renovated into a biotech laboratory. The cornice was originally painted in many colors to match the terra cotta of the facade. Now it’s green to match the biotech lab.
And the back half of the Audubon was leveled completely for a parking lot. A parking lot at the place where Malcolm X was assassinated.
Minton’s Playhouse is a space that’s hallowed and imbued with African-American achievement. It was here, in the 1940s, that young jazz musicians like Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday joined forces in jam sessions to create a new American art form when they created bebop.
Sadly, most of the original interior elements here, like the wainscoting, have all vanished from that period.
And it’s only this mural which acts as a testament to connect us from today with that time in the past. If people are only able to see the place where Connie’s Inn used to be, the place where the cotton club used to be, the place where history used to be but where there’s no physical manifestation to evoke that history, people will no longer come.
Fortunately, there are preservation success stories in Harlem too. From the time these houses were built in the 1880s and to today, they had fallen into disrepair. Some of them were covered aluminum siding, some had asphalt siding, and some were stuccoed, like this one. And as a consequence, it took a massive intervention.
Federal money was used to restore these houses to their original 19th century appearance. More than any other element, buildings help to connect people to a romantic, to a marvelous past, and without those buildings, that past is easily forgotten and that wonderful time swept away.
Ironically, I think that it will be as more prosperous, more white people come to Harlem and there’s more gentrification, that you will have a clamoring for landmarking, and that that is what will ultimately save Harlem, rather than the destruction that’s in place today.
I hope that at least some of the places where these people made their great achievement will survive to recall the African-American cultural capital no matter who lives here.
MOYERS: Now a look at stories coming up on NPR radio this weekend.
LIANE HANSEN: Hi, I’m Liane Hansen, Join me on the radio sunday morning for a weekend edition from NPR news as we examine the challenge of global sustainable development, the focus of next week’s Earth Summit in South Africa.
We’ll also talk about the-with the English actor Stephen Fry about his new novel REVENGE.
Plus our weekly puzzle and the latest news, find your local radio station on our web site, npr.org and tune in.
MOYERS: That’s it for tonight.
Please join us next Friday, when I’ll be in South Africa for the UN’S World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Preparations are in full swing there for the more than 20,000 people expected to attend. And we’ll have a special 90- minute edition of NOW, called The Earth Debate, in collaboration with the BBC.
For most of you, it will be on at our regular time. Consult your local listings. I hope you can join us.
For NOW, I’m Bill Moyers.