Thoughts_ from Brazil to the world by yantingting


									    Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world


World Government – necessary and inevitable                                      4
Does anyone still doubt the need for a World Government?                         25
Internationalists: accompany the Bush-Iran dialogue very closely                 29
Religions and terrorism                                                          33
Israel’s policy of suicide                                                       38
Dick Cheney criticizes Russia                                                    45
The disturbing side of religions                                                 52
Interview with an Iranian theologian                                             59
Dialogue and terrorism                                                           62
Is America under threat?                                                         65
David Grossman, Israeli writer                                                   72
Gaza: retaliation in kind for the shoe-throwing incident?                        77
“Neopatriotism”, Bush and Obama                                                  81
“Radovan Karadzic and the trouble he is going to cause...”                       86
“Hot-head” Governors and Pins                                                    92
The Idealism of Oscar Niemeyer                                                   99
“Mission Accomplished” in Iraq? What’s this, Bartle Bull?!                       106
Testosterone and its influence on politics                                       112
Chile-Peru Maritime Frontier Dispute                                             118
Condoleezza and her legacy                                                       121
A Great “Slip-Up” by the European Parliament                                     126
The International Court of Justice has Blundered                                 131
The Justice Minister’s Confession                                                136
The Hanging of Saddam                                                            142
Crimes and sovereignty                                                           148
A disturbing book: “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”                          153
“Cryonics”: a polemyc plunge into the future                                     157
Racism, Obama and World Government                                               170
What should be done with Kim Jong Il? Nothing                                    176
Grave diggers of Capitalism                                                      182
Wouldn’t the equivalent of a Brazilian “Sorbonne” be useful?                     187
Was there misconduct on the part of banks that gave rise to the crisis?          194

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               World Government – necessary and inevitable

              The title of the present essay might provoke skeptical laughter in the
       arena of International Public Law and among experienced scholars of interna-
       tional relations. But they are intellectuals, who at present hold the attention
       of only a small number of sophisticated readers with their academic writings.
       If the need and urgency argued here prove to be true, they will be the vol-
       untary or involuntary “obstetricians” of a new world order. The new world
       “baby” is being announced via nausea, strange “famines” and other altera-
       tions in the behavior of old mother Earth, who is a bit old for new concepts
       and worn out with ideological illusions, the discoverers of dynamite, endless
       conflicts, uncertainties and the very concrete physical suffering of her less
       favored children.
              This essay intends to show that we are nearing the birth of this world
       reorganization, long in the works, and a bit disguised, as if it were the result
       of an illicit relationship. I say this with no intentions of literary shock value.
       Amateur “midwife” notwithstanding, a simple reading of the newspapers
       reveals that the fetus is moving in the political, social and economic bowels
       of our planet, kicking away in the form of unemployment, non-payable gov-
       ernment debts, environmental pollution, global warming, concern with fu-
       ture water and food shortages, uncontrolled population growth, commercial
       wars, preventive wars, disrespect for the United Nations, the arrogance of a
       certain rich country, terrorism, and fraudulent accounting manipulations by
       the large corporations, organized crime, etc.
              If the progenitors of the future child – governments in general – out
       of ignorance or fear of what is growing in the tormented belly ask “Will
       it be a monster?” Whether they acknowledge their paternity or not, is not
       important. The fetus is bloody. It would be better though for them to begin
       to exchange ideas rather than bullets, germs and radiation to prepare the
       crèche and swaddling clothes for the child, who once the pangs of childbirth
       are over, will bring them only happiness; or at least a preponderance of hap-

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

piness over the old routine of suffering. Humanity wants and deserves peace
and work, something that it has never fully achieved under this disordered
world structure. This is what we will try to demonstrate. Since we are abus-
ing biological comparisons, we could say that in any evolved organism, the
liver doesn’t “fight” with the kidneys or other organs; the brain doesn’t mar-
tyr the skin – especially if it is darker – and everyone harmoniously “obeys”
(except in cases of disease) the commands of the pituitary gland and the
nervous system. In the so-called “ concert of nations”, what we see least is a
harmonious “ concert”, since there is still no fully trustworthy, benign con-
ductor with a baton, who is voluntarily accepted by the entire orchestra, and
capable of silencing some of the excessively independent and warlike drums,
so that the overall group can function better.
       Let us, however, leave the metaphors behind. The reader should not
find the excess of factual and political considerations strange in an esteemed
journal of legal articles, because International Public Law depends essentially
on the facts and mutable relations of power. Syngman Rhee, professor of
International Public Law, who presided over South Korea from 1948 to 1960,
once remarked in disillusionment that the Law that he taught simply “doesn’t
exist”, due to the preponderance of force over international norms. What the
world today thinks of a certain president of a country in the northern hemi-
sphere reinforces his opinion.
       Now to the facts.


      Unemployment is presently one of humanity’s most pressing problems.
This drama affects both rich and “developing” countries as well as the bla-
tantly backward where hunger and malnutrition reign, those that are por-
trayed dramatically in photos and films of skeletal fly covered African chil-
dren with enormous bellies. Up until now, however, solutions for such scenes
of horror have been palliative and provisory, and have depended on bursts of

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       charity on the part of the richer countries and the efforts of the United Na-
       tions. The UN does what it can, but is not in a position to resolve the problem
       definitively and much less to prevent it. A truly organized world would not
       depend on episodic charity, dependent on momentary impulses to resolve its
       problems. Right after the Second World War, the Kefauver Commission in the
       United States, demonstrated that a large part of the American money sent to
       reconstruct the south of Italy, returned in a round trip journey to American
       banks, rendering interest for its new depositors. Often only a small part of
       international private charity reaches its intended beneficiaries. There is no
       way of duly policing private charity, which flows through pipes full of holes.
              Neither rich nor poor countries, acting alone, can solve the problem of
       unemployment which is paradoxically the fruit of their human technologi-
       cal ingenuity. With the mechanization of agriculture, enormous contingents
       of workers left the rural areas to work in the cities. In addition, factories
       have become more and more automated, eliminating jobs so that only the
       bureaucratic workers remain. Then there are the final “executioners” of em-
       ployment - the computer and the Internet ¬ - that dispense with millions of
       workers and promise to dispense with many more, because the innovations
       that dispense with hands and brains are endless. Professionals in informa-
       tion and computer science today, even when highly qualified, feel insecure,
       or openly expendable, subject to unemployment,. It is a delusion for young
       people to think that entering the world of computers is a guarantee of per-
       manent employment. Almost all of us feel the sword above our heads. Is it
       really necessary, inevitable and useful that in order for humans to remain
       productive they have to be always walking a tightrope, fearing age or even
       simple maturity and the ensuing unemployment, tormented by the constant
       need to get ahead of their colleagues? “Savage capitalism” - when on top, ev-
       erything is great – might think so, but the majority disagrees, insisting that
       solidarity has to temper incessant competition.
              How to resolve the unemployment problem in the rich countries? By
       prohibiting or penalizing the use of automation and computers? That would

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

be both impossible and irrational. This is a “progress” with no turning back.
Why contract thousands of employees for a job that can be done by a few
computer operators and programmers?
       The only viable solution to unemployment in the “rich “ countries would
be to reduce the number of work hours per week, obviously without cutting
salaries. This would force the hiring of new workers. But it is not possible for
any one country to do this in isolation. If, for example, the government of
the US were to obligate companies to reduce the work day, indirectly forcing
them to hire new workers, business would transfer its installations to other
countries that had no such restriction. A vast underdeveloped world, with un-
employed, cheap and abundant labor would be anxious to receive these non
speculative investments. This would be good for them, but counterproductive
and economically disastrous for the US, since it would increase national un-
employment even further. No president who increased unemployment could
be re-elected. Voters in every country want “good government” of course, but
it is understood that the adjective refers, first to the country itself and not to
some vague, generic “humanity”. There would be sincere congratulations if
one could satisfy the interests of both, but when a conflict occurs, it goes with-
out saying whose interest will prevail. Individually, countries could partially
or temporarily alleviate unemployment, by for instance, creating incentives
to the construction industry or other sectors which employ unskilled labor.
However, such laudable efforts could only be sporadic; they wouldn’t solve the
global unemployment problem. Not all the unemployed can be converted into
masons and plumbers, and there are limits to expanding housing construc-
tion, because it costs money that not everyone has.
       This is a worldwide problem, aggravated by globalization. Even tele-
phone operators have been fired because now we converse with machines
which to our despair respond saying, “dial 1” “then 2”, “ then 3” and so on
successively. It is an indescribable relief if and when we finally encounter a
human voice on the other end of the line. Finally, a remaining obstacle to the
overall reduction of the work day remains the indispensable consideration

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       of profit, the very basis of the efficient but harsh capitalist system. Business
       executives, as understanding as they might be, would lose their jobs if they
       hired unnecessary workers and raised costs. Also the price of their products
       would rise and lose out to the competition, thus bankrupting the owners.
       Stock holders, even those who desire to go to heaven after death, expect
       profit from their CEOs, not demonstrations of charity.
              How might employment improve under a world government? The re-
       duced work week, inevitable in the long term, would be imposed in a blanket
       fashion, which a world government would be in a position to do. Multina-
       tional managers could not relocate their factories from one country to an-
       other because there would be nowhere to go, all would be under the same
       basic restriction.
              Further, there could be a worldwide minimum wage, to discourage
       multinational flight. In underdeveloped countries, where unemployment
       has more serious consequences, and stimulates the spread of street crime,
       a shorter work day would allow more people to be hired. Technology is the
       great, though involuntary, “enemy” of humanity in the realm of jobs. Un-
       der a world government, it could become a “friend”. The undeniable “leisure
       time” that the machine and computers provide us would have to be shared
       by all, if we want to live in relative tranquility. Anyone who thinks otherwise
       might change their mind, (if there is still time), when an unemployed person,
       driven by desperation, puts a knife to their throat and demands the money
       he should have been able to earn with a job. Or when experiencing a bomb
       threat at their lovely office, overflowing with computers and nearly devoid
       of workers.


             We move now to another problem which could be better solved under
       a world government - over population. It is scientific consensus that it is not
       healthful for the planet to maintain its present growth rate, since land is fi-

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

nite and we need existing forests to continue to provide oxygen. Even if Mars
were to be one day inhabitable, the adaptation costs would be so high that
the planet could never be used to “warehouse” the excess from an unneces-
sarily overpopulated Earth.
       How then to induce sovereign countries to adopt measures to control
the birth rate? China managed to do so because it is a dictatorship and felt
the immediate consequences of housing more than a billion, three hundred
million inhabitants. Other sovereign nations, influenced or practically domi-
nated by religious dogmas, find it difficult to penalize couples for bearing
more than two children. If AIDS, or the fear of it, now helps limit pregnancies
through the use of condoms, soon medical progress will overtake the disease
and birth rates will rise again. Excess births, together with the growing re-
placement of workers by machines, is an infallible recipe for misery, suffer-
ing, criminality, terrorism and all the evils which torment both rich and poor.

      The Environmental issue

       For all the Bush government’s insistence (we are not interested just in
his country) that the cause and effect relationship between the emission of
gases by industry and vehicles and global warming and its devastating ef-
fects in the coming decade has yet to be proven, there is a near consensus
among specialists. They recognize the connection, which can be perceived in
the growing holes in the ozone layer, the reduction of the polar ice caps and
the disappearance of the “eternal” snows on the high mountains. This is not
to mention the scary climactic changes that redound in excessively hot sum-
mers, abnormally cold winters, droughts and flooding all over.
       How to oblige the countries – if their inviolable sovereignty is to be
maintained – to comply with a determined program of environmental con-
trol? The US, which emits thirty-six percent of all carbon dioxide, and has a
population that represents just four percent of the world population, refuses
to sign the Kyoto Protocol, attracting the ire of environmentalists for good

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       reason. According to an article (“North American Environmental Policy” by
       Pedro Jacobi, a University of São Paulo professor, in an excellent collection of
       essays by various authors (“Estados Unidos: A Supremacia Contestada”, [The
       United States; Supremacy Questioned] Editora Cortez ) “the US government’s
       argument is that a reduction of emissions, as required by the Protocol, would
       result in a 3% to 4.3% fall in GDP in 2010, and it is preferable to “give tech-
       nology and the institutions time to develop strategies to combat greenhouse
       gases that can, at the same time, protect the economy and avoid recession
       and unemployment” (p. 142).
              How to require the United States, in violation of its sovereignty, to ac-
       cept the “damage” of a large drop in its GDP, with unemployment and a re-
       cession? Declare war against them? Even if the US federal government were
       in the hands of the Democratic Party, it would be unlikely that they sacrifice
       their self interest for world interest. The unemployed Americans who lost
       their jobs as a result of carrying out the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol,
       would never forgive a president, “who didn’t, first of all, take care of his
       own; all the rest is somehow vague, distant, utopian or the like...” And the
       unemployed of other countries would say the same about their own govern-
       ments in a similar situation. Here we return to earlier considerations about
       the eternal conflict between the general and particular good. If, with a world
       government , the general and the particular fuse into a single entity, interests
       would be easier to reconcile, keeping in mind the greater freedom of a cen-
       tral organ to establish global compensation to favor of those who made the
       greater sacrifice due to environmental restrictions.
              The burning of petroleum derivatives is a major source of pollution.
       Humans want to breathe better, trust the climate enough to be able to sun-
       bathe with a lesser risk of skin cancer, but they also want to drive their cars.
       To reconcile such desires, oil would need to be replaced by another energy
       source, unless a chemist were to discover how to burn petroleum without the
       emission of polluting gases. If we did discover a source of “clean” energy, and
       abandoned oil, we would be decreeing misery for the Arab world as well as

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

other countries whose main source of wealth is petroleum. In that case, who
would take care of the impoverished Arab populations?
      The use of petroleum in just the manufacture of plastics would not gen-
erate sufficient wealth to sustain the needy populations surrounded by rock
and sand. Not to mention here, the virulent reaction of the oil companies who
would do anything to undermine an individual government that faced up to
the fact with determination, that fossil fuels are in the long term an enemy
of human beings and should be replaced. A world government, stronger than
any individual government, would have greater power and room to maneu-
ver to gradually modify and equalize among countries the replacement of the
main source of energy that someday will also run out since it is finite. And
shouldn’t we also be concerned with plastic since it is not biodegradable?
      Global problems could be solved more easily with global solutions. With
only partial, regional solutions, and even with much weeping and gnashing
of teeth, solutions are difficult, slow, tangled and have advances and retreats.
Depending on the ever problematic “understanding” of politicians, who rely
on votes to survive because in the final analysis, liberal democracy is here to
stay (as Francis Fukuyama tells us in his questionable “The End of History”).
A single, universal liberal democracy, or a close cousin of still unknown de-
sign, would be less conflictive than a confusing merger of democracies and
leftovers from dictatorships with conflicting interests. Let us return to our

      Organized crime and international financial movement

      There are other factors which counsel more efficient and unified plan-
etary oversight. The present process for discovering overseas bank accounts,
origin of funds, etc. of proven suspects in drug dealing or suspicious large
financial transfers of other dubious origin is slow and complex and the “sov-
ereign” bureaucracies must be overcome. Countries have different laws and
administrative regulations, obviously with different languages and legal sys-

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       tems. These variables retard the mission of legal agents who are legitimately
       interested not just in punishing criminality or the transgressor, but mainly in
       recovering funds which are the product of crime. Today the transgressor has
       the enormous advantage of confidentiality and of speed; he or she can trans-
       fer enormous sums from one country to another in a matter of seconds. It’s a
       game of cat and mouse, in which the rodents have the enormous advantage
       of having friendly financial paradises everywhere. In commercial terms this
       is understandable, since if one bank refuses the cheese, others protected by
       other sovereigns will gladly receive it. Unified control of electronic transfers
       would create enormous difficulties in moving illicit funds. Considering the
       immense volume of these amounts, it would be difficult to hand carry suit-
       cases full of money via roads and airport hallways.
             Shareholders who invest their honest savings feel insecure these days
       due to the succession of scandals and embezzlements by the large multina-
       tionals. Stock market shock waves redound in other countries due to glo-
       balization. Parmalat is an example. Ingenious CEOs, served by accounting
       “magicians”, can disguise embezzlements for years, aided by the scattered lo-
       cation of their branches around the world. These send financial statements to
       their headquarters, which on paper are correct, but not supported in reality.
       Shareholders have no way to verify the documents, and company directors,
       who arranged the embezzlements, obviously will not facilitate an investiga-
       tion, offering their necks to the guillotine. If today, governmental oversight
       wants to learn the real financial situation of a given corporation, it will find
       the task of auditing difficult because permission to audit would have to be
       requested from each sovereign country where the branches are located, gen-
       erating complex and glacial judicial disputes. With a unified government,
       oversight would be much more agile.
             Even in strictly privately activities, globalization would counsel unifi-
       cation of the auditing practices of the large corporations. Michael Rake, the
       world president of KPMG International, a respected auditing firm, in a March
       3, 2004 interview in “Carta Capital” (p.54) said, “In Europe, it has been estab-

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

lished that beginning in 2005 all businesses will use international criteria.
The most efficient procedure in our opinion, would be to merge all these
protocols into one, if we don’t, it will not be possible to establish terms of
comparison, and that could leave room for fraud. We need something more
consistent, clear, simple and standardized in which the capital market can
have confidence. “
      Combating organized crime, especially that related to drug traffic, has
been extensively and competently studied by jurists worldwide and what
specialists say doesn’t need repeating. It is enough to recall that the unifica-
tion of policing would be facilitated by a world government.

      Trade wars among nations.

       Another point that has made the generic good intention of avoiding
commercial discord among nations almost nonviable today is trade protec-
tionism. In more explicit terms, this means the rich against the poor, because
the poor don’t have the luxury of retaliating without suffering new reprisals.
If the present system is maintained, and the weaker need to go case by case
to seek protection under the wing of the WTO, the slowness of this system
will continue to generate damage, with segments of production and trade on
hold until cases are resolved. Once resolved, the loser will seek retaliation in
another manner, either directly or indirectly. Thus generating further com-
plaints, defense and trial, and so on. A slow “commercial justice” deserves as
much censure as a strictly legalistic state justice.
       With siding with anyone in particular in terms of commercial wars, it
is worth noting what has been said with respect to combating environmental
pollution, the greenhouse effect, etc. The French government, for example,
subsidizes its farmers and it would be extremely difficult for a French citizen,
especially a farmer, to accept adverse economic measures imposed by the
French government, if if became more concerned about the harm subsidies
cause to Brazilian agricultural exports for instance. All governments want to

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       enjoy approval, especially from the subjects who granted them their “man-
       date”. Public men do not consider themselves to have a generic mandate for
       humanity. The average Frenchman would say that agriculture, an essentially
       noble, not parasitic, activity “has always lost money” which is not far from
       the truth – and that if Brazil wanted to protect its farmers it could do the
       same, by subsidizing them. It is jokingly said that there are three sure ways
       to lose money: with women, gambling and farming. The first is the most
       pleasurable way to become impoverished and the last is the surest. It is a
       thankless task and almost everyone knows how hard a farmer’s daily life is.
       French workers would further say that it is fair to protect their farmers, since
       they cannot accept the unjust remuneration that a Brazilian worker receives
       without a loss of dignity. If wages are low, obviously the product price can
       remain low. A similar rationale will certainly spring from the North Ameri-
       cans when they protect their workers to the detriment of imported Brazilian
       products. A world chief, or “coordinator”, a more attractive word, could more
       easily resolve conflicts of this type because they could be treated as “internal’
       questions without the usual difficulties of dealing with different sovereign-
       ties, who are prone to bravado and patriotic speeches for their audiences.

               Preventive wars

              This is the most controversial item, but it is not its difficulty that coun-
       sels setting it aside - on the contrary.
              Until the advent of nuclear and other non-conventional biological and
       chemical weapons, under International Public Law there was consensus that
       preventive attacks be banned, unless there were total certainly that a country
       was attacking another. This was because at any time, the supposed aggressor
       could control itself and retreat and the Law, in general, international or not,
       does not punish thoughts and intentions. No one seriously argued the urgent
       need for a preventive attack in 1939 against Germany – before it invaded
       neighboring countries – even while perceiving Hitler’s sinister intentions in

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

mounting a gigantic war machine. Without a concrete, or at least immanent,
attack, accompanied by a declaration of war, there is no legitimate way to
counter attack. The simple fact of danger does not justify an attack.
       This cautious manner of thinking was justified in fact, because if tanks
and infantry cross a neighboring country’s border, it will be slowly enough to
give the aggrieved party time to react and for diplomatic measures to have an
effect. In other words, if the aggression was by relatively slow conventional
means, the mortality would not be devastating, and it will be possible to
staunch it from the beginning.
       However, with the technological innovations in war making, the pre-
ventive attack becomes admissible, rational and even a governmental duty
when there is certainly that the threatening country is arming itself and in-
tends to act against the aggrieved and all neighboring countries, because
radiation does not respect borders and defensive measures would come too
late. Once they are detonated, there is little that can be done about nuclear
arms transported by missiles or planes. One can only take revenge in equal
arms while counting one’s dead, alleviate the pain of those burned by radia-
tion and wait for deaths by cancer some time later. With such consequences,
there is no reason to maintain the antiquated and restrictive juridical stan-
dards related to preventive war. A truly preventive war – honestly preventive,
please note … is today ethically sustainable and even recommendable.
       It’s always hard to discover, and even harder to prove, whether a bel-
licose national government has weapons of mass destruction and their qual-
ity and state of readiness. When a country does have them, it is a subjective
judgment whether it intends to make immediate use of them. Unlike the
huge factories for planes, cannons, tanks, machine guns and other conven-
tional arms, these are not readily visible. When there is intelligence, there
is counter-intelligence, and the uncertainly provides fertile ground for bad
faith on the part of militarily powerful heads of state. After a (false) preven-
tive invasion against a weak country, the war lord can always invent a facile
excuse. “Excuse me, I made a mistake; everything indicated that there were

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       weapons of mass destruction, ready for use no by that unstable government.
       If there are no weapons, which we are only discovering now, the onus for the
       invasion lies in that “madman’s” behavior because he obstructed inspection
       and led us to believe that it was much more dangerous than it really was.” In
       sum, with the present situation of multiplying sovereign governments, it is
       hard to legitimize preventive attacks and if the atomic, chemical or biological
       trigger is pulled, the “prudent” will be called short sighted cowards for not
       seeing “what anyone could see”. If a preventive attack is launched and then
       the danger revealed to be non existent, the attacker will be called a gratu-
       itous aggressor, with ulterior motives.
              Under a world government, this problem would disappear. Affairs of
       the entire planet would be “internal” and the police would investigate every-
       thing suspicious without fear of being considered aggressive and precipitous.
       To illustrate, there would be nothing illegal or politically censurable if the Bra-
       zilian federal government, warned that a certain state in the federation was
       arming itself dangerously and secretively and intended to attack a neighbor
       or separate from the rest of the country, were to take preventive measures.
       Sending in the federal police or the army to “invade” the area where such
       arms were being produced, would, of course, require no prior authorization
       from the local government. The preventive action of the federal authorities
       would be praised for nipping a separatist or aggressive movement in the bud.
       The presence of greater or lesser honest doubt would not prevent the federal
       government from doing what appeared to be most reasonable.
              These comments are not being made to justify the conduct of George
       W. Bush’s government in invading Iraq. World public opinion, with which we
       agree completely, is largely convinced that President Bush, influenced by the
       hawks, invaded Iraq for reasons other than those he stated. This lie will be a
       political liability for the rest of his life, though not one of conscience because
       he assumes that the goal of “overthrowing a bad man” justifies the means.
       It is not within the scope of this paper to describe the probable, varied mo-
       tives for the invasion. This “preventive” attack, however, had the involuntary

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

“academic merit” of provoking reflections that, if it hadn’t been for that gov-
ernment’s “tough guy” arrogance, would still be sleeping in the corner of the
minds of the experts in international relations.
       The attack on Iraq prompted a re-evaluation of the United Nations’
peacekeeping role. It revealed its relative fragility, to the point of being able
to say that the UN today is a good bee with no stinger. This is what led the
League of Nations to extinction. The UN is called benevolent because it sends
material aid, insofar as possible to suffering populations and promotes hu-
man rights with counsel, meetings of the cupola and campaigns. Now and
again it uses the stinger, when not vetoed by one of the “important” coun-
tries, who themselves sometimes deserve an educational sting or two. This
makes the usefulness of the international agency relative. Considering the
power of the veto – one vote is enough – of the permanent members of
the Security Council, it can’t be said to be a fully democratic organization,
with the efficiency of command required in the modern world. The world is
progressively drowning, as noted above, in pollution, unemployment, mon-
strous governmental debts, growing arms expenditures, internal conflicts in
several countries and in the relative impunity of organized crime. Given the
specters looming on the horizon, an agency only interested in “maintaining
the peace” and making recommendations in favor of human rights is not
enough. Something with more coverage and efficacy is required.
       Even when the UN becomes a tribunal, as happens with the Interna-
tional Court of Justice, its condemnations are only moral, just opinions which
the accused can respect as it wishes. This denies the court the nature of a
true tribunal, whose justification is in the effective execution of its decisions.
Thus, it is not really a court, but a respectable academic organ for consulta-
tions and recommendations.
       In its present form, the UN cannot refute the criticism of lack of co-
herence. It, for example, prohibits the weaker nations from manufacturing
nuclear weapons. However, it has nothing against the five members of the
permanent council, the USA, China, France, England and Russia who hold

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       these weapons and many lethal others, while no one dares to investigate
       them. This leads the rest of the world, the “inferiors”, to question why some
       members can, and not others can belong to the fearful atomic club. The UN
       closes its eyes, because of institutional impotence, not bad faith, to what
       happens in certain countries. Specialists say that Israel, for example, has the
       nuclear bomb, which is totally forbidden to Arab nations under penalty of
       invasion. On the other hand, nuclear proliferation is absolutely undesirable,
       given that any head of state in a moment of rage could initiate a nuclear con-
       flict, triggering an irreversible nightmare.
               The UN´s institutional incoherence would disappear if there were a
       world government. To exemplify with the aid of an analogy, no one censures
       the United States government for forbidding its fifty states to develop au-
       tonomous nuclear programs or to manufacture chemical weapons.
               I earlier mentioned certain countries, Israel in this case, but without
       prejudice really. One cannot punish Germany for giving birth to a Hitler (not
       just because he was Austrian), or Russia for Ivan the Terrible or Stalin who
       killed millions who didn’t accept his five year plans; nor Israel for Ariel Sha-
       ron, with his absurd (and expensive) wall that will prove to be an enormous
       waste because all walls are destined to fall.
               If there were a true world government, the Palestinian question would
       have been resolved decades ago: Israel wouldn’t need to make punitive excur-
       sions nor to develop atomic weapons for fear of its neighbors; the Palestinians
       wouldn’t be suffering what they are now, oppressed, shredding in revenge
       their own bodies and those of innocent Israeli civilians, who might even dis-
       agree politically with Sharon. There would not be the diffusion of Arab ter-
       rorism, which torments not just Israel, but also the US and its closer allies.
       If there were a world government today, the monetary savings, in amounts
       many times less than what is wasted with wars would probably resolve, for
       example, the Palestinian question: the Jewish colonists in Cisjordania and the
       Gaza Strip could receive a comfortable indemnity, abandon their lots to the
       Palestinians and get on with their lives. They are intelligent polyglots with a

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

high ability to adapt anywhere in the world. They will never accept abandon-
ing their lots without compensation. Perhaps the Sharon government doesn’t
mention compensation, its enemies argue, precisely to encourage the settlers
to resist the alleged government plan to withdraw the settlements, a subtle
tactic for territorial expansion.
       With just a fraction of the money the United States spends on its pres-
ent wars, in large part resulting from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the
nearly 200,000 Jewish colonists would probably be willing to abandon their
settlements. If, for example, each colonist were to receive $100,000 for a lot,
(an exaggerated amount), the total compensation would be 20 billion dollars,
several times less than the US government spent and will spend with its wars
in Afghanistan and Iraq and to combat world terrorism.
       The reader will forgive me for suggesting such a simplistic solution to
the Arab-Israeli conflict. The arms industry, the inevitable result of multiple
sovereignties, will condemn this hypothetical resolution of conflict without
the need for war, but it can’t be denied that economic stimulus can work
miracles in resolving conflicts.

      The burden of arms

       How many countries are there today on the face of the planet? About
two hundred, which hypothetically states the need to maintain 200 armed
forces, army, navy and air forces, because each country is obliged to provide
for its external defense. It is impossible not to recognize the enormous finan-
cial burden, without mentioning the potential danger of a spark in the neigh-
boring powder barrel that this represents for humanity. The burden escalates
because each time a country increases its military forces the neighboring
countries consider it prudent to do the same.
       How to escape this vicious circle? By unification. Europe, by uniting,
dispensed with the internal arms race that fed numerous wars in the past.
England, France and Germany for example no longer need to use so many

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       financial resources on their own security. It seems impossible to imagine Eu-
       rope without wars, but we probably won’t hear more about conflict among
       the countries of the European Union. NATO, a similar organization, will de-
       fend all European countries and prevent its member countries from warring
       among themselves - considerable progress in terms favorable to humanity.
       What caused this “miracle”? It was an understanding of the superiority of
       unification over the multiplication of affected, hot-tempered sovereignties.
               The United States maintains a single army, navy and air force. Its ex-
       penditures on its armed forces are fabulous, at first for reasons related to
       the Cold War, proving that reciprocal fear is highly dangerous. The expense
       would be enormously higher if each state of the union were to maintain its
       own armed forces. Since the United States is a federation, war among its
       states is unthinkable. With world unification, each country, transformed into
       a kind of “province”, would have to arm itself only to the extent necessary to
       maintain internal order.
               Without world government, the global arms industry will continue to
       fulfill its inevitable role by sowing distrust, death and destruction. First, one
       has to remember that the industry can only avoid bankruptcy if there are
       constant wars and provocations. Their stock cannot remain stagnant. Such
       conflicts could be ably encouraged by intrigues on the part of the arms in-
       dustry. The television news scenes of undernourished African youth wielding
       machine guns, while we know that their people have almost nothing to eat
       are aberrations. Money wasted. Hundreds of thousand of people die in inter-
       nal ethnic massacres in third world countries. They are poor countries with
       subsoil rich in diamonds, gold and oil, wealth that would be better used in
       pacific projects and not in arms purchases. And the UN cannot prevent these
       internal massacres because its basic mission is to promote peace among
       countries and not among residents of the same country.
               Only a world government would be able to limit the waste of resources
       and lives which the arms industry promotes. Its sole utility is in generating
       a certain number of jobs in the industrialized countries, but the price is un-

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

acceptable. This is an activity, which due to its peculiar nature, should not
be allowed to exist under private control. Industry heads need to encourage
rivalries in order to provide profits to their shareholders, which is the es-
sence of a capitalist regime. It is strange that disarming individuals is widely
preached today all over the world, while the existence of heavy armaments
which kill many more is met with indifference.

      Difficulties in the formation of a world government

       The patient reader who has followed us so far, perhaps smiling and
shaking his or her head, must certainly be thinking that all the evils of the
worlds described herein are true or partially true and evident to all, but there
is something ingenuous in proposing a world government. If the UN itself,
which appropriates a fraction of the sovereignty of its member countries,
finds it difficult to fulfill its role in maintaining peace and promoting human
rights, imagine the difficulty present governments would have in agreeing
to a proposed world government that would cancel out their sovereignty
entirely, reducing each country’s level of autonomy to that of a unit in a fed-
erated state.
       Just verbalizing the concept of “world government” provokes laughter
or chills in a humanity fearful of a dictatorship. The image evokes worn, gross
or infantile images of “world domination” by force: Alexander the Great, Atti-
la the Scourge of God, the Roman Empire, Napoleon Bonaparte; Hitler’s Third
Reich; the Japanese Empire; communist pretensions to world domination and
finally American imperialism, which many consider to be a kind of de facto
world government, the result of its wealth, organization and military power.
“We are already living under world imperialism led by the US and this man
wants to intensify the domination by granting it legitimacy?”, some will cry,
citing numerous US interventions abroad, every time its interests are crossed.
       Automatic association of ideas, however, should be viewed with re-
serve. A legitimate world government today could only be conceived of in

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       democratic terms, with voluntary adherence by countries, as was the case
       of the European Union. This is different from the historical examples cited
       above modeled on megalomania and military power.
              It is difficult here even to outline the form of world government which
       would emerge from consensus. The title of this essay didn’t promise to un-
       dertake such an enormous task. It just recognized the inevitability and need
       for a world government. It doesn’t dare nor promise to describe what shape it
       might take, or what the next steps might be. That would be the result of nu-
       merous heated discussions of the future architects of the new humanity. The
       experience of the United Nations could be useful in formatting a new model.
              It would have to be something new, but would be probably be based
       partly on the traditional federation formation where each state or province
       cares for local interests and internal order, and outside defense and matters
       of interest to the entire federation fall to the central government. Since there
       would no longer be a need for “external defense” with a world government,
       excepting the ridiculous possibility of invasion by extra terrestrials , this sin-
       gle army would be relatively small, limited to interventions here or there,
       when presented with some “overflowing excess” on the part of its “prov-
       inces”, the present sovereign states.
              At the outset, I don’t believe it would be possible to attribute a vote to
       each world citizen as happens in all the democracies. This system, which is
       the foundation of western democracies, would not be acceptable to the richer
       and less populous countries, because it would mean being dominated by Chi-
       na and India in the formation of the world government. The US and Europe
       would logically not admit that mere human fertility, frequently irresponsible,
       decide the course of humanity. The industrialized countries would become a
       minority, with all the difficulties that minorities face, not withstanding their
       greater cultural and technological contributions to the advance of humanity.
              This world government would just be an improved UN, with greater
       executive powers such as the cancellation or mitigation of the veto power of
       the five permanent members of the Security Council.

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       Another probable objection to world government would be the diffi-
culty of bringing the industrialized and developing countries together under
one roof, as equals, What is the cultural affinity, one could ask, of the US and
Haiti or the European Union and Bolivia?
       This disparity shouldn’t however, be viewed as an absolute impediment
to living under one government. There is no problem, for example in Brazil
with the fact that the state of São Paulo is richer and more densely populated
than the state of Piauí, and thus exercises greater influence and leadership
over the country’s politics and economy. For Piauí, it is advantageous that one
of it political partners, in this case, São Paulo, be rich, because in some way it
receives part of the wealth. A poor man has a greater chance of being helped
by a rich brother than by someone as poor as himself. And there would be
no risk of one state from the same federation invading its neighbor. Similarly
California and New York don’t regret being associated with Montana or any
other poorer state in the US. The inequality of wealth doesn’t generate local
wars. In case of natural cataclysms or other disaster, they can rely on aid from
the federal government, which I better than charity prompted only be visions
of extreme suffering.
       The biggest objection to the formation of a world government would
come from the United States, since this “association with the poor” would
oblige the powerful nation to aid, financially, technically and culturally its
new, poor but suspicious brothers, and in large numbers. It would be the
same as if a rich man were to open the door to his mansion to find a line of
dozens of distant poor relatives with suitcases requesting shelter, food and
       The first world would sure not at first view with much enthusiasm
an intimate association with its “poor relatives”. But, in compensation, it
would be freed of the enormous expenditures on defense and for combating
terrorism, this privatized war which is in some ways more dangerous than
official war due to its not having a fixed address. If I’m not mistaken, Ronald
Reagan’s Star Wars “shield” would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       40 billion dollars. And even when mounted, it would produce paltry results
       because, as September 11 has shown, danger doesn’t come just from rockets.
              Disparities in wealth don’t impede integration. The European Union
       shelters rich and poor countries who subscribe, without fear, despite a par-
       tial sacrifice of autonomy.
              The political difficulties in the construction of a world government are
       really enormous. For some, the weakness of the proposal would lie in the
       timing, because the present governments are doing all right, thanks. “Vague
       ideas about the future should be left to our grandchildren”, “When the world
       is at the right danger point, suffocated by pollution and terrorism,”, “ The
       world is still not under enough pressure for a discussion of this nature.”
       “What the UN and some of the NGOs are doing is enough for now, with a few
       improvements,” they will say
              I don’t think these critics have the best solutions; perhaps the most
       comfortable, but not the most far sighted. An enormous network full of knots
       can only be untangled with a global vision of the tangle and patient work at-
       tentive to the overall; not with a lot of independent, impatient efforts, each
       with its own idea of how to work.

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      Does anyone still doubt the need for a World Government?

       The Middle East is currently one of the best arguments for this impera-
tive. There are others, such as the quasi-collapse of the WTO (nothing more
logical, natural, without laying specific blame on any particular government),
environmental pollution and chaotic population growth, where those who
are able to provide adequate conditions for rearing children do not have them,
and those who cannot provide such conditions have them in abundance.
       There are simple and effective ideas which, in spite of being so, give
rise to ill-judged reactions, irrespective of whether such reactions are based
on reasoning, emotions or that vast cerebral archive of automated opinions.
       The human brain is rather like the enormous control panel of a super-
sonic aircraft, with hundreds of highly sensitive buttons and devices that, at
the lightest touch, even an accidental one, unleash automatic reactions that
may even bring down the plane. Obviously, all these buttons are necessary
for the safety of the aircraft or the comfort of its passengers. The problem
lies in the automatic nature of the response, as each item has no knowledge
(of course, this would be impossible) of the function of its neighbor on the
control panel. Do what is required, react as programmed, nothing more. If
the aircraft crashes, it is not the poor button’s fault, but that of the pilot, or
that of the stewardess’s elbow that should not be there. In the event that the
plane crashes and the button is still in one piece, it would think, with smoke
still arising from it: “Why did the plane crash? I only did what was required
of me! I just don’t understand anything any more...”
       This is the kind of reaction shown by the vast majority of people – ir-
respective of whether they are cultured, uncultured or somewhere between
the two – when one speaks of a possible world government in the form of a
democratic federation. This adjective is in bold and underlined because two
of the aforementioned mental buttons, “sovereignty” and “patriotism”, react
right away instinctively, possibly for the reason of simply being close to one
another, like certain automatic hand driers that “divine” the need for their

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       blast of hot air.
              The foregoing considerations come to mind whenever I see photos
       and headlines in newspapers of the conflict involving Israel in Palestine
       and Lebanon.
              There is no other more obvious example of the need for effective
       Global Justice in order to resolve a conflict that looks like being perma-
       nent and which may result in immense difficulties for the whole world,
       if there is no legitimate democratic centralized power able to impose the
       fairest possible solution.
              For centuries, in the internal order of all countries (all, without excep-
       tion), when neighbors begin to fight and cannot reach agreement, there has
       been found to be a need for an “outside” state power, a legitimized judge,
       professionally prepared for the role, to pass sentence and ensure that an
       eventual ruling is fulfilled, even if it displeases one of the parties involved.
       It would be too much, unthinkable, to require that every judicial decision
       always satisfy both parties, even the party that is in the wrong. Essentially,
       justice is almost always “outside” in origin, i.e., external to the parties in-
       volved in the dispute. In those cases where justice lies “within” the parties
       themselves, there is no conflict or a need for any kind of “judge”. In disputes,
       the parties involved obviously intervene in the process, but solely by putting
       forward arguments and evidential proof of their allegations. Even “private
       justice” (i.e., arbitration) is “external” in origin, involving an arbitrator with
       no material or ideological interest in the conflict. Besides this, the arbitra-
       tor is chosen by both parties involved. Nevertheless, once a ruling has been
       made, there must be compliance with the arbitrator’s decision, irrespective
       of whether or not the losing party agrees with it. Elementary, isn’t it?
              However, it is not this that occurs in the international area, where the
       elementary is rarely given recognition. Each country does exactly what it
       wants in the “house where anything goes”, which could be better defined as
       the “madhouse where anything goes”. Whoever has the most power sheds
       the least tears. In addition, just to aggravate the problem, the governments

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

of countries or peoples involved in conflict, even if they feel, at heart, that
their reactions are exaggerated, believe that they are under an obligation,
based on rancorous “patriotism”, to crush the adversary. Like “big boys”, it
is necessary, to put on a show of valor for electors, who are generally rather
perplexed and only concerned with saving their own skins, and do not have
the slightest concern for the suffering of others, or the just or unjust manner
in which their government treats the enemy.
       Israel and its Arab neighbors are going to continue to kill one another,
as long as no “outside power” interferes, in order to impose (as fair as a deci-
sion pronounced by human beings can be) and following an in-depth analysis
of the arguments put forward, an immutable and really respected frontier.
Taking the law into one’s own hands is considered a crime according to the
internal legislation of all civilized countries. In the international area, how-
ever, it is a “virtue”, as it involves patriotism, sovereignty, “pride of our race”,
“break but not bend” and other such notable grandiloquent phrases. How-
ever, there is an associated problem: the opposing party repeats the same
kind of phrases in a similar fashion, but with diametrically opposite content.
       For centuries, the Jewish people have suffered as a result of residing in
the home of others. The Jews were subject to a particularly notable massacre
when Hitler, with his ferocious eloquence, politically exploited the abuse im-
posed by the Treaty of Versailles. Commiserate with the Holocaust, the world
applauded the creation of the State of Israel. However, the area in question
was already occupied by the Palestinians, who are also human beings and
do not consider themselves to be (and are not) the instigators of the Jewish
expulsion. Some, not all, have reacted and, reacting in this way, are labeled
as “terrorists”.
       Given that the State of Israel has been created (an irreversible fact), an
“outside power” (the UN in this case) should establish the frontiers of the
Jewish homeland and set up compensation for Palestinians displaced from
land they have occupied for centuries. As such compensation did not occur,
only pure and simple expulsion, it is only natural that this is unacceptable

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       to those Arabs who are more disposed to fight. They became “terrorists”, in
       the same way that the Jewish followers of Menachem Begin, members of the
       “Irgun Zwai Leumi” movement, who fought against the British occupation
       of Palestine, were also labeled “terrorists”. This struggle was also not merely
       verbal in nature.
             During World War II, hundreds of French people, in whose eyes the Ger-
       man occupation of their country was unacceptable, also reacted on their own
       account, without waiting for orders to be issued by the French government.
       This was the patriotic “Resistance”, however, as far as the Germans were
       concerned, those involved were little more than “terrorists”, as they acted on
       their own account, without formal delegation by the French government. In-
       dulging in a mere game of reasoning, if the United States were to be invaded
       by the Soviet Union, there would certainly be a resistance movement that
       would manifest itself in the form of attacks against the invader. In this case,
       the Americans would be called “terrorists” by the Soviets.
             The foregoing considerations only serve to show that, without the ex-
       istence of an impartial international judge (with the power to impose deci-
       sions), the use of force as a means of resolving conflicts is a relic from the
       time when humans lived in caves. In the international area, we still have a lot
       of ground to cover. The principal judicial organ of the UN, the International
       Court of Justice, functions more as an “opiner”. It makes “rulings”, but only
       those who wish to comply with such rulings actually do so. This is demor-
       alizing. And in a household where there is no order, no head, anything can
       happen. I am certain that if the USA had treated the expelled Palestinians
       with the same concern that it treated the Jews, the Twin Towers would still
       be standing. The world would be quite different.
             The world is taking too long to recognize the obvious. The “global vil-
       lage” has already become a city, a state, and, if no action is taken, it will end
       up being transformed into a lawless badland.
             The WTO and the link between this organization and the need for a
       world government will have to be dealt with on another occasion.

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      Internationalists: accompany the Bush-Iran dialogue
      very closely

      Discussion regarding agreement between the six world powers and the
recently elected government of Iran is the order of the day. Even greater ex-
pectation involves the possibility of direct dialogue between Bush and presi-
dent Mahmud Ahmadinejad - this political novice who still speaks without
thinking, but who is right to a certain extent in his conviction of the need to
develop nuclear technology. He is only mistaken with respect to elimination
of the State of Israel, which is a consummate and irreversible fact.
      As far as dialogue is concerned, to anyone who accompanies the week-
ly whirls of the great waltz of national interests, the hopes placed on these
verbal gyrations - full of unrevealed intent - seem to contain much more op-
timism than contact with the real world. For my part and from my rather
insignificant viewpoint, I believe that it is unlikely that an effective, lasting
agreement will arise with respect to resolution of the problem of Iran’s nucle-
ar program - irrespective of whether it is developed for peaceful or bellicose
purposes. The reason for this is that there is an immense weight of conflict-
ing interests, and International Law does not yet have sufficiently effective
mechanisms to oppose extremely powerful interests.
      Of all branches of Law, that of the International Public kind has always
been the least reliable, precisely due to the actual concept of “sovereignty”.
Syngman Rhee (I like to remember his opinion), a professor of International
Public Law who was president of South Korea from 1948 to 1960, said, quite
frankly, that the law he lectured on did not exist. Things have improved over
time, but it is still not sufficiently robust that it can resist the exceptional
pressure exerted by those with economic and military power.
      If each individual country is considered to be autonomous and self-
governing, it becomes almost impossible to adopt a solution that gives preva-
lence to the common good. Hence the inevitable need for a future global
federal government, however shocking this idea may seem at first view. The

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       actual concept of “common good” implies some kind of sacrifice, relinquish-
       ing important own interests. If such sacrifice were highly “dolorous” - either
       economically or politically, “what are our electors going to say?” – proud
       “sovereignty” does not agree, albeit sweetening the pill with false arguments.
       As a consequence, the solution imposed by force, or fear of it, predominates.
       Fear of political, economic and, finally, military sanctions. The politicians who
       really decide are not saints (the same can be said of their electors and cam-
       paign contributors) and any mental dishonesty they commit is pardoned in
       advance by tolerant “national interest”: “If I don’t look after the interests of
       my country, who will?” They only consider themselves to be “smart patriots”,
       immune from censorship. “Is it wrong to be adroit in benefit of my country?”
       Parodying someone, diplomacy is war waged with the tongue, not cannons,
       even though they are clearly implied.
              Iran, pressured to curtail its research in the nuclear field, sensing that
       the threat of military sanctions was just a step away from becoming reality -
       “no options are discarded...” said Bush and Condoleezza – made an offer that
       has apparently been successful: a proposal of direct dialogue with the USA.
              Its offer – as Rice said, full of digressions – was initially rebuffed. Nev-
       ertheless, in view of receptiveness shown regarding the proposal, on the part
       of other permanent members of the UN Security Council, the small group of
       individuals that decide on foreign policy (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Condoleezza and
       Bush himself) had a “brainwave”: how about making use of this proposed
       “dialogue”, apparently demonstrating goodwill, as a means of making the
       Iranian proposal “backfire”? Up to now, China and Russia (one must admit,
       more for own economic interests than ethical considerations) have shown
       their opposition to the most severe kind of threats (i.e., military) against Iran.
       They intended prolonging discussions. Any kind of measure, even if slow and
       complex, which breaks down this resistance would be useful to the Bush
       government. Demoralizing the proposal is a much more intelligent move that
       physically attacking the proponent.
              The current group that governs the USA is not interested in giving the

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

world the idea that its country has openly abandoned its tradition of being
the authentic source of democracy, respect for human rights and the right
of all peoples to self-determination. Going against the UN once again (Iraq
was an unfortunate experience) and, unilaterally, bombing Iranian nuclear
installations, would make a very bad impression on the whole world. This
is without mentioning desperate future terrorist attacks, particularly of the
suicide variety, on American soil.
       But how is the Iranian proposal of dialogue to be transformed into
something “useful” to the interests of these narrow-minded patriots who –
by accident of destiny – determine American foreign policy? It is highly likely
(I’m willing to bet on this) that the real intention behind acceptance of this
dialogue is that of demoralizing the proposal put forward by the Iranian pres-
ident, with a view to making China and Russia waver in their opposition to
military sanctions. After all, they will think, “this Iranian is a verbal clown”.
In the even that the aforementioned quartet at least manages to avert the
possibility of a Chinese and Russian veto on military sanctions, it will have
already managed to obtain a great diplomatic victory.
       Only time will tell whether these considerations are too discouraging.
Reducing the significant US dependence on Iranian petroleum is of very
great interest to the male triumvirate that leads American foreign policy. In
addition, as long as there are imminent further conflicts, the lucrative ar-
maments industry will obtain fat profits. When added together, petroleum
and armaments interests will represent a significant obstacle (although si-
lent and astute) to a reasonable solution for all parties concerned. Such in-
terests will do both the possible and impossible to promote the conclusion
that Iran only wishes to “pull the wool over our eyes” while it develops its
atomic bomb, which will only be able to be ready in at least five years from
now, in spite of the fact that Iran has already proposed its openness to in-
spections at any time, without unduly affecting its continued intention of
dominating nuclear energy. It should be noted that petroleum is both finite
and a pollutant. If, one day in the future, this source of energy comes to be

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       replaced by that of the atomic kind, how would Arab countries subsist, oc-
       cupying only rocks and sand?
             It is therefore essential that internationalists be distrustful of the sub-
       tle machinations of diplomatic maneuvers, as these are always confident that
       the “ordinary citizen” is a sucker and incapable of understanding the real
       meaning behind proposals (written in a tortuous manner) that represent hid-
       den traps rather than the true expression of intent.

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      Religions and terrorism

       When I finished typing the last paragraph and prepared to confront the
thorny issue of the influence of religion on the creation of extensive, lasting
armed conflicts, I learned via television of the terrorist attack of March 11,
2004 in Madrid where almost 200 persons died and more than 1,400 were
wounded. There were innocent people, hit at random with no relation to the
politics that motivated the simultaneous explosions.
       If the attack originated with a separatist ETA group, which I don’t be-
lieve because it would just be too stupid, shooting themselves in the foot
and calling down more hostility upon the Basque province that is seeking
independence. Such an insane act demonstrates the advantages of a world
government. The Basques want to be independent, i.e. not belong to Spain
or France, but they certainly don’t want to stop belonging to the human
race, the international community. Presumably they don’t intend to inaugu-
rate a separate planet. The desire for independence wouldn’t conflict with a
world government of a democratic nature that would respect the intriguing
particularities of the regions. And Spain wouldn’t suffer much damage by
authorizing the separation, if it were the will of the majority of the Basques
and not the whim of a small, violent group, with a thirst for power. World
unification would probably allow it to be compensated for what it would lose
with the independence of a province. In case the ETA were just the egoistical
manifestation of a small group of individuals, (I don’t know the facts), with a
taste for violence, a world government would have much more power, intel-
ligence resources and coverage to send simple criminals disguised as separat-
ist leaders to jail.
       If the attack was the work of the Al-Qaeda, which is more probable
and it was claimed by them, the absurd indiscriminate killings demonstrate
what I was about to write here prior to the explosions – that religion is a po-
tent force, with numerous facets, some of them dangerous. Religion is almost
always high minded and beautiful, but can become extremely cruel when

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       twisted by the malevolent interpretations of unscrupulous leaders; who are
       sometimes clear psychiatric cases, but who are untouchable because they
       claim to represent God. Who would dare to put a straight jacket on the pow-
       erful madman who just received instructions directly from God?
               Anyone who watched via internet, the real scene of the journalist Dan-
       iel Pearl having his throat cut and being beheaded in front of a camera in
       Pakistan (he was trying to interview some local chieftains and fell into a trap
       prepared by fanatical Muslims) can join with the elderly, who fear the end
       of their days, but ask themselves, “Why continue to live in such a cruel and
       stupid world?”
               Is it reasonable for the Catholics in Northern Ireland to trade shots and
       bombs with the Protestants considering that both religions believe in the
       same Christ? And what of the religious component that feeds the constant
       conflict in the Cashmere? And Bin Laden, who frequently stresses the reli-
       gious aspects of his struggle against the “Satanic” western world?
               Nevertheless, if such fanatics were to submit to a lie detector, they
       would probably pass on the sincerity test. Bin Laden believes he is fulfilling
       his duty, because as a rich man he could lead a life of peace and comfort.
       When he kills hundreds of western “infidels” I remind the reader that the
       Israelis, supported by the Americans, “do the same”, they just do it little by
       little, in prolonged doses with their repeated attacks against the oppressed
       Palestinians, who rebel because they have no choice. And the neutral specta-
       tor can ask: if the Jews have the right to a country, a “home”, why is the same
       right denied to the Palestinians?
               Nobel Prize winner, Shirin Ebaldi, in an interview with the Estado
       (March 13th) said with propriety, that “what encourages terrorism is injus-
       tice”. Remove the injustice and terrorism would lose almost all its force. It
       will become a simple activity or organized crime, using blackmail to get mon-
       ey, but without dismembering bodies because after all, it would be a “busi-
       ness” and it wouldn’t be necessary to go so far. It is presumed that a world
       government, freer of the interests of the arms industry, would be able to end

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

the ancient conflict in the Middle East.
       Probably all religions, although some are little known and not men-
tioned by the media, are subject to excesses, according to the nature of
their chief leader, hard to replace due to blindness by dogma, inherited or
created by the leader himself. And religious deformations produce cultural
       What is the meaning of vaginal mutilation to prevent the young from
having the “sinful” pleasure of orgasm? And of sentencing an African woman,
separated from her husband, to death for being pregnant to a man not her
husband? She only escaped death due to an intense international movement.
       Would a world government suppress religion in the name of seeking
greater rationalization? No, because it would be useless and would only
encourage increased religiosity, that irrepressible component of the human
spirit. Einstein, a scientific mind par excellence, believed in God, although
he believed that the supreme intelligence didn’t interfere in the business
of humans.
       One has to respect, however the positive, benevolent side of religion.
Ruy Barbosa, the great Brazilian jurist of the past, declared that the penal
code takes care of public crimes and religion of the private ones, the secret
area of each person’s conscience. How many criminal acts have not been com-
mitted because the person was afraid of God, not the police? Religion still
belongs to a kind of criminal prevention department. Further, it stimulates
charity. These qualities are enough to dissuade us from restricting it, when
directed to the good.
       Yet when religion spills over into the political arena, stimulating hate
and annulling the rational forces of government, there is no reason not to
interfere and cut it off with mass campaigns against the forces of irratio-
nality. This is because ignorance is often the mother of evil and disorga-
nization. A world government would promote education on a large scale,
promoting the study of science and little by little removing the focus of
violence inspired in ignorance.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               Let’s stop here. “Utopias....” Some will say, “The danger of the flood is
       still far off, and the author has forgotten to touch upon the subject of the
       potential for a tyrant incubated within world government. Where to run in
       case he should turn out to be a tyrant. During the Cold War the existence of
       the two poles provided some balance that impeded the present excesses of
       the Bush government”.
               I can respect the objection, but note that security, given the dangerous
       bellicose technological advances, is a greater value than political rivalry be-
       tween two or more powerful poles, a rivalry which always ends in an arms
       race that could be fatal to the human species. Imagine a nuclear conflict in-
       volving the US, Russia and China.
               The socialist ideal is ethically superior to the capitalist ideal, but the
       latter has triumphed because it is more realistic, closer to human nature,
       essentially egoistic and competitive – however, fortunately, with residues of
       human solidarity. Men, generically speaking, are not interested in the general
       good above all, in the State. They want to profit from it, but allow the tax-
       man to take a piece for the poor, so that they can become enterprising and
       generate wealth. They want the product of their efforts to go to their children
       and not the State after their deaths. Socialism by contrast has been a kind of
       noble toga, attractive, well intentioned, but paralyzing; unable to cover the
       still ugly, uneducated body.
               With a world government the socialist ideal would not disappear, it
       would be left incubating within the State, because all the governments in the
       world have a socialist dimension, with solidarity with the weaker. Rotation of
       power is common to all governments, as in the United States with its Demo-
       cratic and Republican parties, with no need for revolutions. Under a world
       government it would be the same thing: it would be of interest to the social-
       ists and would not bother the others, the more ferocious capitalists, because
       they know it is worth it to sometimes extend a helping hand to the needi-
       est. The old rivalry between capitalism and socialism would be resolved by
       periodic elections in the “single country”, the alternating of power and not

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

ferocious posturing, spy wars, threats, bluffs and stocking nuclear weapons
that could, if care is not taken, explode and fry the contenders.
       To sum up, there is no need to wait for new accumulations of the inevi-
table disgraces to begin to discuss creating a world government, as difficult
as it might be to reconcile the various interests that still nourish and torment

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               Israel’s policy of suicide

              For decades, philosophers and thinkers in general - who do not want
       to be seen as “philosophers” as they believe that this “profession” has lost
       ground to science, skating on the thin ice of generic “profundities” - have
       shown surprise when confronted by the immense and incomparable insen-
       sitivity demonstrated by human beings in their relationships with “others”.
       The tremendous contrast between man’s achievements in the areas of sci-
       ence and technology and the primitive, almost animal, manner in which he
       behaves in relation to his fellow men is really impressive.
              In fact, for those of arrogant disposition, “fellow men” is a term that
       is difficult to swallow. It almost sounds like an insult, such is their anxiety
       to differentiate themselves (above rather than below, of course) from other
       individuals labeled as Homo Sapiens. “Sapiens is far from an adequate de-
       scription of these creatures ...”, they murmur. And one does not need to go
       far in order to find the permanent craving for any kind of privilege shown
       by those who differentiate themselves from others in this way. Some form of
       ego builder or personalized service will suffice, even if other than the “stars”
       awarded to bank customers with the fattest accounts. This without mention-
       ing endless honorary distinctions. I once knew a tormented individual whose
       main objective in life was that of belonging to a particular academy of letters.
       To this end, he sacrificed his meager resources offering gifts, attempting to
       regale and highly praising the academics who, behind his back, shook their
       heads in disbelief, or even made discreet fun of his pretensions, when faced
       with the possibility of accepting him as a colleague. He died frustrated, the
       victim of an illusion. He probably wrote inadequately (although I never read
       anything he put to paper), which can be deduced simply by the fact that he
       cultivated such a superficial desire.
              In contrast, the surprise shown by thinkers of all genres is rather un-
       founded, considering that science and technology only have to deal with the
       objective, concrete and logical difficulties confronted by the human desire

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

to strive towards that which is considered either useful or functional. In
this case, there is only a “clean” struggle against the limitations of the hu-
man brain in understanding the marvelous hidden mechanisms of the world
around us. On the other hand, the development of human sociability is up
against the conflict of individual desires and animal instincts, or the like,
which have not as yet been tamed to any significant extent. Hence the use of
lies and all necessary means to “win” (the magic word) at all costs. An idea
may be wonderful in theory, however, if when applied in practice it results
in some kind of discomfort or - horror of horrors! - financial losses, it is best
forgotten; or prepare yourself for a “dirty” war. And what is even worse, a
war against arguments that are apparently transparent.
      The foregoing considerations are applicable to the endless Arab-Israeli
conflict. However, from what I have seen in today’s newspaper, there are still
men of vision in the world and there is still hope. I am referring to the Israe-
li Minister of Defense, Amir Peretz, who recommended that Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert “re-think” his policy of isolating the Palestinian government. He
warned of the immense harm caused to the international image of Israel with
the worsening of the humanitarian crisis that will follow the total financial
suffocation brought about by the latest measures imposed on the Palestin-
ian population. These measures have the objective of tormenting the Arab
population to such an extent that, indignant and starved, it brings down the
Hamas government, winner of the last election. All this because the leader of
Hamas said he is in favor of the extinction of Israel.
      “How? Do you give no importance to such Hamas pretensions?!” – the
most radical wing of the Israeli government will ask? “They want to “wipe
us off the map” – are we not going to react? Are you really so mediocre that
you recommend we react with the same kind of passivity as that shown to
the Nazis?”
      React – yes, but in a rational and humane manner. It is not by suffocat-
ing someone with a pillow that you manage to live with that person after-
wards. And, from this point onwards, it seems inevitable that Palestinians

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       and Israelis will have to live together. Things could have been different, but I
       suppose that not even God can change the past. We will discuss this particu-
       lar aspect later.
              A husband who, discontent with the way his wife looks after the house,
       or the way she raises her voice too much, or loses money at bingo, suffocates
       her every day with a pillow, or deprives her of washing facilities and food -
       with a view to only correcting her behavior in a “proper” manner - will never
       attain his intended reform. Furthermore, he runs the risk of being murdered
       while he sleeps. This is without mentioning other less radical forms of re-
       venge, such as being cheated on by his wife.
              The current Israeli government is acting in an overhasty manner and,
       even worse, in a suicidal manner, in purposely making life difficult for the
       Palestinian population. “Crushing” has never been an adequate policy. If it
       were, Hitler would have won. Did he not want to crush the Jews? If there is
       already hatred among Arabs, this hatred will undergo a threefold increase.
       And the world turns. And I am not referring to its rotational movement. Does
       the present government really believe that the financial and military support
       of the USA is totally guaranteed? It is not too sure about this as, after the
       Bush era, the internal policy of this powerful nation may change. And new
       political forces are slowly gaining strength on the horizon. China, the Euro-
       pean Union and India, as well as other areas that are still of lesser influence
       are certainly going to alter the current picture of international powers. In the
       medium and long term, it is not worthwhile “soiling” the image of the Jews.
       And it is exactly against this that rational mustached Minister of Defense
       Peretz is warning. Even for simply strategic reasons rather than those of a
       humanitarian nature - not to be ignored - I repeat that this policy of “crush-
       ing”, which extends to the point of cutting off gasoline supplies for Palestin-
       ians, is suicide.
              Whoever reads the book entitled “Atrocity” - written by “Ka-Tzetnik
       135633”, a Jew who suffered the horrors of a concentration camp and pre-
       ferred not to mention his name in the book (published by Lyle Stuart - New

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

York 1963), cannot fail to be both moved and revolted by the atrocious suffer-
ing imposed on these people simply because they were Jews. The Holocaust
cannot be denied. Even if the genocide in question had not reached the level
of six million people (a number difficult to determine exactly), the fact re-
mains that a massacre occurred. Even if the number involved were two or
three million, this would not prevent us from reaching the conclusion that
Nazism, currently a source of shame for the German people, was a regime to
be condemned. And it is exactly this that worries the most sensitive and clear
thinking wing of the Israeli government, which disagrees with subjecting the
Palestinian people to misery and privation as a way of “bringing Hamas into
line”. This sector of the Israeli government does not want Jews to feel shame
in the future. I would not want your children and grandchildren to feel the
same kind of shame as that currently felt by the Germans as a result of the
crazy ideas of a certain dictator, obsessed with a dream of “racial purity” and
territorial expansion, striving to conquer “vital space”.
       Continuation of the “hard line” of gasoline cuts and undue expropria-
tion of income in the form taxes levied in Palestine, together with the wall ex-
tending for hundreds of kilometers isolating the Arab population, will mean
that, very soon now, the media will be showing the world the hungry faces
of women, children and the elderly. The world will thus conclude: “The Jews
are not really very different from the Nazis... They are all the same or, more
precisely, the Nazis were only even more brutal and cruel. The Jews are more
subtle, but what they really want is to expand”.
       “But doesn’t Hamas want to decimate us, wipe us from the region?”
- the “hard line” will insist”. - “It is not a cruel response on our part, it is le-
gitimate defense!”
       It is an erroneous kind of “legitimate defense” that cannot be endorsed.
First and foremost because Hamas was the winner of elections for various
reasons, including the deception felt by Palestinians regarding the honesty,
or lack of it, of the rival Fatah party in using public money. It cannot be said
that each individual Hamas voter was in favor of decimating the Jews. The

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       media stated that there was a lot of corruption in the Palestinian Authority.
       Most Palestinians arrived at the conclusion that it is useless to fight against
       the creation of the State of Israel. They only want frontiers established prior
       to the 1967 war to be respected. They accept the Jewish state, although with
       reluctance, but they accept it because, as far as certain things are concerned,
       it is not possible to go back to square one. In this way, crushing, depriv-
       ing, starving and tormenting the Palestinian population is, at a minimum,
       an enormous political error, which is only going to lead to worldwide resent-
       ment and mistrust of one people – the Jews, who will have suffered in vain
       if their current policy continues, with secular persecution and an enormous
       struggle in order to obtain their own homeland.
              In the history of Zionism, there is a detail that is unknown to many
       people and which would be of interest to mention here. It concerns the offer
       of other areas, at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, which were identi-
       fied and proposed for setting up the State of Israel. The most well known of-
       fer concerns the area delineated in the “British Uganda Program” and which
       was accepted by a group of Zionists.
              In 1902, the British Colonial Secretary offered Theodore Herzel (the ide-
       alistic and intellectually brilliant leader of the Zionist movement) an area of
       5,000 square miles in Africa, in a region that today is part of Kenya. The of-
       fer was a response to pogroms against the Jews in the recent past in Russia,
       and it was hoped the area could be a refuge from persecution for the Jewish
       people. The area in question was known as “Mau Plateau” and had a temper-
       ate climate due to its altitude. The following year, at a meeting of the Zionist
       Congress, there was fierce debate amongst its members. Some considered
       that “Mau Plateau” would be an “ante-chamber to the Holy Land”, but others
       thought that acceptance of this area would make it more difficult to establish
       a Jewish State in Palestine. Nevertheless, the group prevailed that accepted,
       for further study, the area suggested by the British, who governed that par-
       ticular region of Africa at the time. The next year, a three-man delegation was
       sent to inspect the area and reported that there were no complaints as far

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

as climate was concerned, but that the excessive number of lions and other
fierce creatures would cause problems. Moreover, it was populated by a large
number of Maasai, who did not seem at all amenable to an influx of white
people. After receiving the report, in 1905, the majority of Zionists decided
to decline the British offer. A minority voted that it would be important to
receive land in any part of the world and another handful did move to Kenya,
mostly settling in urban centers. Some of these families remain to this day.
       Today, it is difficult to evaluate whether, for the Jews, it would have
been better to accept the area offered in Kenya. The African continent would
have gained immense benefit from the organization and tenacity shown by
the founders of the State of Israel. I do not know whether the size of the
area was sufficient, but lions and other beasts would represent a very much
smaller difficulty than Palestinians wearing dynamite under their clothing,
indignant about their progressive expulsion from an area occupied for sever-
al centuries. They allege that it was not they that were the reason behind the
Jewish Diaspora, and that they cannot be forced to pay for the suffering im-
posed on the Jews by other peoples. This aspect has been particularly difficult
for them to swallow and has resulted in side effects with repercussions that
have even extended to New York, with the destruction of the World Trade
Center, giving rise to the invasion of Iraq and other serious consequences still
to come. As far as I am concerned, Osama bin Laden would not have found
followers willing to die as suicide bombers if there were not generalized in-
dignation in the Muslim world regarding the way in which the Palestinians
are being treated. This story of unhappy love (for the Holy Land) and terror
(Palestinian) has still not come to an end.
       If the final objective were really a return to Jerusalem (an obsession
based on religion), a lot of trouble would have been avoided if the “return”
had not been in the volume that it actually occurred. As always, the “quan-
tity” factor may have delegitimated a Judaic aspiration - theoretically righ-
teous if applied in the correct proportion. However, the question remains:
where are the Palestinians to go?

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

              With respect to the position taken up by Hamas, the prospect is not
       impossible that the party comes to cancel its sentence of expulsion of all Jews
       from Palestine, but it is necessary to concede a little time, in order to make a
       dignified rather than an abrupt retreat from this position, thus avoiding in-
       sults from those who elected it into power. One is reminded of a courageous
       remark once made by Charles De Gaulle: “In politics it is necessary either to
       betray one’s country or the electorate. I prefer to betray the electorate.”

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       Dick Cheney criticizes Russia

      “Trying to understand Cheney” would also be an appropriate title.

       I could not believe my eyes when I read in the newspaper that, dur-
ing a conference in the capital of Lithuania, Cheney had severely attacked
Russia, arguing that it violates human rights and blackmails other countries
using oil and gas as a pretext. Other participants at this conference included
the leaders of nine ex-soviet satellites, as well as representatives of the USA,
European Union and NATO. Russia, of course, was not invited, as the accused
do not take part in meetings between judges and victims, although it is cur-
rently rather difficult to distinguish who exactly is the accused and who is
the victim, or even who is the judge. Everything depends on focus. Even par-
ricides and armed robbers (of passers by or banks) are mentioned as “victims
of society” – something that may be true, if the lens of the photographer is
wide enough.
       Ghandi said that all criminals are basically sick people. The response to
this is that as long as there are no vaccines or injections against criminality,
the solution is to lock up the sick person who shows aggressive tendencies
towards human life or the property of others. Despite being the victim of a
“disease” (either mental or moral), he cannot be allowed to roam free with
a hatchet or the key to the community treasury. Excessive comprehension in
judging our fellow men ultimately leads to a degree of tolerance that makes it
impossible to live together in an ordered society. All individuals are forgiven
their faults in advance. There is an explication, and even a justification, for
everything. However, we are not going into this hazy area because our guest
today, Cheney, already has too many dark clouds over his head. In fact, these
dark clouds have been following him for years. If you access the “Google”
search page on the Internet, it is possible to find 10,900,000 web pages about
Dick Cheney, almost all of which have highly negative opinions concerning
his personality. Obviously, it would be impossible to read all this material, but

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       the immense preponderance of black marks is very evident. Nevertheless, I
       presume that if there were a device that measured the degree of patriotism of
       a citizen, a kind of “patriotrometer”, he would come out well. But he would
       also come out very well, even better, if there were a similar kind of device
       that measured a craving for power and wealth, a “greedometer”.
              Dick Cheney has always aroused immense curiosity in me. If I were a
       biographer, with particular interests in the areas of Politics and Psychoanaly-
       sis, he would be one of my preferred subjects. Bad, polemic or dangerous - or,
       at least, “misfit” - historical figures are much more interesting than those
       who are well behaved and full of scruples, who fulfill their mandate, say
       what they think - to the extent that this is politically possible - and then just
       go away. These figures are reasonably transparent and, exactly because they
       give rise to neither revolts nor enigmas, are given only a few lines and little
       attention. They are soon forgotten. There was nothing in their personality
       that produces the necessary thrill of great biographies, full of adventures and
       instances of manipulation of the truth.
              By way of analogy, those who study wildlife say that the great African
       herbivores such as zebus, gazelles and gnus - destined to be the future ban-
       quets of lions - show themselves to be absolutely fascinated by these large
       felines. There is the gnu, standing still, like a half-wit, its large innocent eyes
       shining brightly. They admire those that are stronger and more astute - at a
       short distance that could be fatal. And it exactly this kind of behavior that is
       shown by most Republican voters in the USA, whose only thoughts involve
       working and praying, and most of whom are simple-minded but capable of
       deciding an election. And Dick Cheney knows this. On hearing Cheney, on the
       Internet, giving a campaign speech, or participating in debates, even those
       with a mediocre understanding of international politics cannot help but note
       the cold and calculated manner in which he is able to alter the truth, while
       giving the impression that he is simply limiting himself to the facts. As far as
       this aspect is concerned, he is a much better actor than George W. Bush, who
       displays a wan smile and blinks a lot when he finds himself corralled by the

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

truth. Cheney does not blink. He speaks with measured pauses and conveys
a studied impression of self-assurance. As most of the electorate have neither
the means nor the time to make an in-depth examination of the twists and
turns of policies and intentions, he makes himself convincing simply through
his self-assured attitude, and this explains the extensive period of time that
Cheney has remained at the top in politics. Besides this, he is completely
capable of sleeping with a clear conscience, as he believes in God, is a good
husband (according to all reports) and a good father and grandfather. When
he was a young man, he was probably the dream come true of all future
mothers-in-law: hard working, extremely ambitious, organized, prudent and
articulate and, even more importantly, a patriot who wants to see all other
countries on a level inferior to his own.
      Although Dick Cheney does not formally hold a position of chief of
state, he is very close to this, as George W. Bush has apparently unlimited
admiration for him. Cheney is to Bush as François Leclerc was to Cardinal
Richelieu, in France in the first half of the 18th Century.
      As I always considered Cheney to be a kind of “gray eminence” of the
Bush government, I consulted the site of Prof. Cláudio Moreno (www.sualin- in order to discover the origin of the expression “gray eminence”.
Why “gray”? Was the man who inspired this expression mulatto, or a dark-
skinned oriental? On visiting the aforementioned site, I found that at the
time of Richelieu - a minister of King Louis XIII - there was a Capuchin monk
who, by all accounts, was a white man. Thanks to his great perspicacity, this
man, known as Father Joseph, was private secretary, adviser and confidant
to the famous Cardinal Richelieu. Before entering the religious life, this priest
had the name of François Leclerc and was a noble (the “Marquis du Trem-
blay”). As it was really Richelieu who governed in France – the king was only
king and did not have his degree of discernment – and the person who had
the most influence on Richelieu’s thinking, or who played significant part
in this, was the aforementioned “Father Joseph”, who used a gray-colored
Capuchin habit. When someone wanted something important of the king, it

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       was recommended that he approach not the man wearing purple – reserved
       for cardinals (i.e., Richelieu), but the man using the modest gray habit. Hence
       the expression “gray eminence”, as the title of “eminence” was reserved for
       cardinals. You live and learn.
              Although Cheney has a strong, persuasive (if necessary) and dominat-
       ing personality, he prefers to operate backstage. He himself once admitted
       his dislike for the stage and being in the spotlight. In this respect, he shows
       great ability, consistent with his reserved though dominating temperament.
       Operating backstage, articulation is facilitated, partners in conversation lose
       their reservations as they can be more open, after all, there are no reporters
       around, and it becomes very much easier for the “back and forth” of endless
       proposals and counter proposals necessary for the complex articulations in-
       volved in important business dealings, between individual negotiators and
       between these negotiators and the government. The tiresome need of put-
       ting before the half-witted gathering this “onus of democracy”, capable of
       being bypassed with untruths uttered in a serious tone of voice, simply does
       not exist in private environments. Furthermore, the position of vice-president
       arouses much less unhealthy curiosity that the position of president. The life
       of every president is subject to examination under the microscope. Even his
       waste bin is inspected in order to see whether there is something there ca-
       pable of giving rise to a “heaven-sent” (for the reporter) scandal. As the Bible
       says, “whosoever seeks, shall find”. It is highly likely that Cheney never in-
       tends to run for president, as long as he can operate backstage. Furthermore,
       every president spends an enormous amount of time on such civic niceties as
       banquets, receptions for heads of state, speeches that are not always penned
       by his hand, parades, honors for the conceited, and kissing children that he
       doesn’t even find attractive and who may pee on his suit. The sacrifice al-
       ready begins during the election period. In Brazil, eating a pastry – fried in oil
       of dubious origin – and risking whatever lurks within mayonnaise salads, are
       capable of bringing down a candidate before elections even begin. Further-
       more, presidential candidates in Brazil run the extra risk of a dish made with

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goat stomach known as “buchadas de bode”. I presume that their security
personnel take the precaution of previously testing these tidbits, perhaps us-
ing ravenous cats, advising the candidate about when and where to eat, giv-
ing the impression that the choice of the pastry cook was purely accidental.
In the United States, I don’t know what gastronomic sacrifice is imposed on
candidates, although some kind of sacrifice of this kind probably exists, as
electorates have much in common. A vice-president is much freer from such
sacrifices. Gray eminences never wanted any other color. For them, the sen-
sation of power and wealth is enough. Moreover, this can be better savored
without the daily responsibilities of a presidency.
       Going back to Cheney, what attracted my attention in the newspaper
was the fact that he openly attacked Russia on the subject of human rights.
He made use of the fact that, as a result of differences over pricing policy, Pu-
tin has cut, or threatened to cut gas supplies to Ukraine, and turned this into
a human rights issue in an attempt to politically weaken the Russian leader.
If Cheney’s criticism of Putin and, indirectly, other European countries, were
solely limited to the issue of supplying fuel to Ukraine, there would be no
reason to find this strange. Something that causes surprise, through its sheer
cynicism, is amplification of the topic and its coincidence with the problem of
lack of United Nations Security Council unanimity regarding the issue of Iran.
       The obvious explanation for this change in focus on Russian conduct
lies in Cheney’s non-acceptance of the refusal of Putin to support “hard” mea-
sures - “no measures are excluded”, said Bush - against Iran, which insists in
developing its nuclear energy program, although it has accepted snap UN in-
spections of its nuclear facilities. Without the agreement of Russia and China,
the Security Council cannot support the use of armed force against Iran, with
a view to destroying nuclear facilities, airports and other strategic installa-
tions. And it is this that Cheney wants at all costs. Attack, destroy and then,
who knows, lead the economic re-construction of infrastructure in the coun-
try, as occurred in the case of Iraq. “Business”. He won’t accept “no” as an
answer. And now, going against UN rulings and launching a military attack

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       on Iran would mean the total diplomatic demoralization of the USA.
              In the future, Cheney will only be able to be admired by those Ameri-
       cans – not all and certainly a minority – obsessed with the idea that it is per-
       fectly legitimate (!?) to oblige the rest of the world to remain on a lower plane
       - “the rest is the rest” - because America has managed to reconcile wealth
       and possible freedom. As far as these individuals are concerned, America
       is “trustworthy” as it holds free and fair elections - with extremely small
       defects - and, when it uses force, it does so thinking only of the “common
       good”, in other words, the “common-good” of America first and then that of
       the invaded country. If it is sometimes violent, this violence – in the opinion
       of these enthusiasts – is, at base, really beneficial to the country that is the
       object of such force. It is something like a painful but necessary injection
       given, by force, to a child who struggles because he does not know what is
       best for him.
              It seems to me that, inside, Dick Cheney is like this. He certainly con-
       siders to be short-sighted those innocent democrats that censure him for
       maintaining American predominance throughout the world at all costs, even
       threatening competitors – China - that want to show their strength by ad-
       vancing into its backyard, Latin America and other continents. In his opinion,
       he is like a “courageous far-seeing American”. He knows how important oil
       and gas are for guaranteeing the future of his country. He will say that China
       is no less ambitious or astute and uses diplomacy as a means of undermin-
       ing American strength, something that Cheney definitely “will not allow”,
       even if he has to employ a double dose of force and subtlety. In exchange for
       this “relevant service” (Cheney continues to think), “it really isn’t important
       if I receive my salary, with one foot in government and the other managing
       voluminous commercial interests in petroleum, war and the destruction and
       reconstruction of invaded countries. Whoever wishes to effectively benefit
       their country should know that lies are sometimes necessary. It is a matter
       for professionals, not amateurs, in the press. History and God will forgive
       me”. At this point, he turns on his side and sleeps the sleep of the righteous.

                                                         Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       Finally, I would like to make it clear that I am not confounding the
American nation with Dick Cheney. The American nation is much more than
Cheney. It is an organism that is still full of vigor, for the most part, with
shared ideals, providing a driving force for progress, although also thinking
of itself, which is perfectly natural. The complexity of the modern world and
limitations of the human brain possibly explain some of the “lapses” of this
great nation and perhaps even Cheney himself. America created a technology
with immense possibilities for mankind. Without the USA, you would not
even be reading this article.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               The disturbing side of religions

               One cannot deny the beneficial side of religions. It is, one may say, the
       “light”, at an intimate, subjective level. A source of hope and comfort in des-
       perate situations. Much more useful that Prozac, lithium and the like. When
       nobody is there to lend a helping hand, God’s hand is always available, it is
       only necessary to have faith – irrespective of whether such faith is longstand-
       ing or of the kind that has only emerged now, in the face of a crisis or, more
       rarely – just to show that faith does not always arise based on self-seeking
       motives, at times of extreme happiness. The human mind has always needed
       a friendly shoulder to lean on. I suppose it is something that has a neurologi-
       cal basis, as it is to be found in all human groups.
               More commonly, it is a lack of security that gives rise to faith. It func-
       tions as a whip, expelling a propensity to cynicism from the soul. Principally
       in modern times, science, technology and creature comforts relativize ancient
       religious legacies, giving rise to a certain feeling of security. The more inse-
       curity, the more religion. At times of high unemployment and other difficul-
       ties, churches are always full. In compensation, although a rarer occurrence,
       mature, strictly scientific minds feel – only feel, without venturing to give it
       a name – that there is something “strange”, intelligent and powerful in the
       universe, far beyond the understanding of the most objective mind.
               Even from a strictly social point of view, religion can be of great benefit.
       It is still not known, in statistical terms, how many crimes or misdemeanors
       are not committed due to fear of divine disapproval. Fear of God, of course,
       not the police. Obtaining such statistics would be problematic, as those con-
       sulted would not express themselves with the necessary frankness. For ex-
       ample, how would it be possible to admit that, at one time or another, you
       wished for the death of your spouse, father or a competitor that is causing
       feelings of envy? As Ruy Barbosa, that great Brazilian jurist of the past, once
       said, the Penal Code deals with public crimes, whereas private crimes (i.e.,
       those of a secret and intimate nature) are a matter for Religion.

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

        However, although the benefit of religious belief goes without saying,
it cannot be denied that man – the unequalled corrupter – has sometimes
misused, in good or bad faith, the great psychological force that religion rep-
resents. Psychological, yes, but able to be transformed into very concrete
warlike action, remodeling commandments in steel and blood. In some po-
litical situations, the need arises to ask oneself whether a little atheism, ag-
nosticism, relativism, or even the “new reading” of sacred texts would be of
much greater use to humanity than insisting on the supposed infallibility of
        Although the foregoing thoughts may give rise to much gnashing of
teeth on the part of those who see themselves as the irrefutable guardians of
spiritual truth (who always disagree vehemently amongst themselves), they
are applicable to the current conflict between Jews and Palestinians.
        It is possible to see, in an immensely simplified almost telegraphic lan-
guage, the root of the aforementioned conflict and its problematic solution.
Such simplification is sometimes both pardonable and advisable, especially
when one is dealing with an extensive and complex issue. Political treatises
of great profundity sometimes become of little use to the public, as each basic
argument is surrounded by a plethora of details, thus making it impossible to
obtain a quick overview of the whole issue. Such treatises are of more use to
the next generation than that of the author. With regard to the case in ques-
tion, there is an immediate need to encourage this perception of the issue as
a whole, in order to assume some kind of political stance. Hence the liberty
taken in making such a simplification, which I hope does not offend the intel-
ligence of the reader in any way.

      The summary is as follows:

      The Jews did not abandon Palestine because they wanted to, like bored
tourists. They were expelled. There were two “diasporas”. At the time of the
second, the Romans sacked Jerusalem. Please note that I said the Romans, not

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       the Palestinian Arabs. Scattered throughout the world, the Jews were perse-
       cuted “because they crucified Jesus” (a Jew). Such justification does not make
       sense, as the Jews that condemned him – or “Him” as far as Christians are
       concerned – to be crucified, preferring to save Barrabas, were not the same
       people as the Jews who, centuries later, became mainly scattered through-
       out Europe. And nobody can be punished for any crimes committed by their
       great-great-great-grandfathers. In all certainty, not even if there were shown
       to be a direct line of descent.
              Scattered throughout Europe – we will remain solely within this geo-
       graphical area – and not wishing to lose their faith and cultural inheritance,
       the Jews isolated themselves, “closing themselves” to outsiders, not marry-
       ing with non-Jews. This isolation gave rise to feelings of suspicion and envy,
       principally because they became wealthy. Any kind of isolation, including
       that of individuals, is hazardous, as it gives rise to vilification and defama-
       tion. When some of their number wanted to mix with “goys” (non-Jews), they
       were not well received. Besides this, as far as I am aware, at certain times and
       in certain countries Jews could not be landowners. They could not, therefore,
       be farmers. As a result, they had to earn a living through commerce, irrespec-
       tive of whether this involved goods or currency. With this, they learned and
       dominated the art of business and finance, a much more lucrative area than
       agriculture. With an eye on the wealth of the Jews, princes and governors
       (who frequently owed them large sums of money) occasionally incited the
       population to set upon those easily distinguishable figures - during infamous
       “pogroms” - something that was always highly lucrative for those involved
       in the pillaging.
              Beginning in 1933, when Hitler grew in power and did not hide his
       fierce intention of “putting an end to the Jewish race”, the leaders of this
       people saw fast-approaching black clouds on the horizon. The Dachau con-
       centration camp was created in 1933 and the Buchenwald camp in 1937. In
       1938, the Mauthhausen camp was set up in Austria. These dates can be seen
       on page 11 of French author Viviane Forrester’s book entitled “Le Crime Oc-

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

cidental” (The Western Crime).
       At this point, it was impossible to wait any longer. Trouble was im-
minent. Invited to attend the Evian Conference in July 1938, thirty-three
countries, brought together by the United States, “were to reach an under-
standing regarding amplification of their immigration quotas, with a view
to providing a safe haven for the Jewish victims of Hitler’s ideology” (V. For-
rester, same book, page 8). The Jews wanted to flee from Nazism. However,
only two countries (Holland and Denmark) accepted the idea of increasing
their Jewish immigration quotas. Their plea was rejected by 31 countries,
including the United States, which did not wish to alter its quota, although
insisting that other countries alter theirs. The excuse of Australia was that
the country had never known racial problems (conveniently forgetting its
Aborigines). France stated that it was already “saturated”. Each country put
forward an excuse. According to the same author, at the Council of Ministers
held on November 12th 1938, Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, said:
“It is curious to note that those countries in which public opinion evidently
favors the Jews always refuse to provide refuge for them. They claim to be
the pioneers of civilization, the geniuses of philosophy and artistic creation,
but when you want to make them accept these geniuses, they close their
frontiers” (page 10 of the book). Ironically, Hitler went on to say “If there is
any country that believes that it does not have a sufficient number of Jews, I
would be pleased to send it all ours” (same page).
       Briefly summing up, the great powers did not wish to provide safe ha-
ven for the Jews. They certainly did not imagine that persecution would reach
the level of brutality that it did, without precedent in the civilized world. Per-
secution is one thing; extermination is something quite different.
       So the Holocaust occurred. Even those who attempt to deny it do so
in a suspect manner. If there were six million, or even a lesser number, this
does not disqualify use of the term. The extermination camps and the gas
chambers have been photographed and documented and cannot be denied.
But please note once again: it was not the Palestinian Arabs who eliminated

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       the followers of Moses.
              At the end of the Second World War, international public opinion was
       sympathetic towards Jewish demands for their own country – the long await-
       ed “homeland” – perhaps feeling even a certain degree of guilt. Great Britain,
       which exercised the least damaging brand of imperialism to date, proposed
       that Zionist leaders consider an area in Uganda, which is now part of Kenya.
       The area in question was situated at a reasonable altitude, with less heat and,
       therefore, more tolerable for a people accustomed to living in the temperate
       zone of the planet. However, most Zionists did not accept this offer, for rea-
       sons that currently seem ridiculous when compared with the cloud of hatred
       that hangs over Palestine. They did not accept due to the large number of
       lions in the region and the close proximity of Massai tribes (they had spears
       and arrows, but not dynamite). But the main reason for refusing the British
       offer was that the scriptures sacred to the Jews required their return to the
       “Promised Land”. It had to be Palestine, Jerusalem. Thus the “disturbing” side
       of religion mentioned in the title of this article.
              However, following an absence of almost two thousand years, for
       which no blame can be laid upon the Arabs, Palestine was occupied by this
       nation. What to do with them? Nobody was concerned very much with this
       detail. Everyone was engrossed in the imminent creation of the State of Is-
       rael. Books and films glorified the great return (“Exodus”) of the persecuted.
       The British government, being both rational and realistic, still attempted to
       slow down the exodus of Jews a little, as it was well aware of such limita-
       tions as available fertile land and the presence of the Palestinian Arabs. But
       to no avail. The result was that which we see today: a conflict that has lasted
       for decades, which will only apparently be resolved through intervention on
       the part of a greater international power that does not yet exist. The Jews,
       victims of their own “diaspora”, have become partially responsible for the
       Palestinian “diaspora”.
              Aggravating the problem of demarcating land pertaining to the two
       states (a problem that is merely physical and geographic in nature), there is

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

now a further complicating factor - the “disturbing” one mentioned in the
title: faith. It is also the understanding of Mohammedan Arabs that they can-
not relinquish Jerusalem. They give their religious reasons, but both religions
are monotheistic. How can one God, a single heart, be divided? With one Jew-
ish ventricle and the other Muslim?
        As you can see, religions, although both positive and beneficial at a
personal intimate level, also have their dangerous, threatening and disturb-
ing side. Principally because they involve a “prohibited area”, objective dis-
cussion of which is precluded. An approach that criticizes any religion is like
trying to disarm a bomb that has not exploded – at least for the time being
– until such time that you actually attempt to disarm it.
        Fortunately, a portion of public opinion in Israel does not allow itself
to be blinded by the arguments of those who, a few decades from now, wish
to be celebrated as the great expansionist “statesmen” of the State of Israel.
In a courageous move, the Israeli daily newspaper “Haaretz” shows itself
to be critical regarding the exaggerated response to the recent kidnapping
of a single Israeli soldier, Guilad Shilat. It should be remembered that more
than one thousand Palestinians are in Israeli prisons. The Arabs and at least
part of the world ask themselves: is a single Jew worth more than one thou-
sand Palestinians? Israeli troops have destroyed bridges and electrical power
plants, leaving two-thirds of Gaza in the dark. Besides this, its aircraft fly in
a provocative manner over the residence of the Syrian president, imagining
that he provides a safe haven for terrorists.
        I find it impossible to believe that the Israeli government has not at
least considered the possibility that the few captors who kidnapped the sol-
dier were acting on their own account. In a population that feels it is being
massacred, groups of people always arise who, besides being autonomous
and impatient, are not prepared to wait for an official government response
or orders “to take action”. Perhaps some “falcons” in the Israeli government
are giving thanks to God for the existence of this kidnapping. An excellent
pretext for a show of force and guaranteeing territories.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

              Through its excessive response, the current Israeli government is dig-
       ging its own grave in terns of international respect. The Jews have always
       been against any kind of racial prejudice, however, the following question
       can be asked: if, at base, all human beings are equal, would such equality
       also exist between the German people, prior to 1945 – indifferent to Jewish
       suffering – and the current Israeli people – indifferent to Palestinian suffer-
       ing? If the Germans of yesteryear were inherently “bad”, one can conclude
       that racial prejudice should continue, it has a basis, as some races would be
       essentially “bad” or “inferior”, physically or intellectually or in character. If
       this were the case, the persecution of any such races would be morally au-
       thorized. I disagree with this manner of thinking but, although morally unac-
       ceptable, it has a certain logic.
              Gangsters, irrespective of whether they are self-proclaimed or in dis-
       guise, do not only exist in the underworld. They also infiltrate the political
       sphere, the world of trades unions and other professions. And, just to make
       things even worse, the fundamentalist side of religions serves them like a
       facilitating cultural broth, where they proliferate like bacteria.
              In order to put an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, it would be necessary
       to reformulate the UN, providing it with powers that it does not yet have.
       Suppress the power of veto held by the five permanent members of the Secu-
       rity Council. Another chapter in an endless tragedy. A tragedy that nurtures
       anti-American sentiments and made a significant contribution to the sadly
       remembered events of September 11th. If the United States had treated the
       Palestinians with the same care and attention with which it treats the Jews,
       the Twin Towers would probably still be standing. Enough of this madness!

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      Interview with an Iranian theologian

       On April 19th 2006, the Brazilian newspaper “Estado de S. Paulo” pub-
lished an interview with Hojatoleslam (second in the Islamic hierarchy) Mo-
hamad Mehdi Godjian. Without any need whatsoever for further proof, his
words clearly demonstrate the danger to humanity of allowing the total fu-
sion of religion and state. It is not difficult to discern that Godjian is a sincere
theologian, with an in-depth understanding of Islam, who is therefore well
able to represent the set of ideas associated with this religion.
       I am accustomed to saying that the “energy” inherent in religious con-
cepts is not so very different from that of the nuclear kind, albeit at a totally
distinct level. In fact, religion is even more powerful, as theologians are ca-
pable of giving rise to nuclear wars, whereas such wars do not give rise to
theologians – they only incinerate them, together with anyone else who hap-
pens to be in the vicinity, irrespective of their belief or absence of it.
       Godjian affirms that religion is a motive for development. As an im-
mense, respectable and untouchable psychological force, it may even serve
for the development of a country, but under rare circumstances. However,
it is not for this reason that religion should be seen as a hazard-free remedy
for the soul, due to the fact that, if it really does provide spiritual relief for
the ordinary citizen, it is a remedy that can be manipulated by the owner of
the laboratory. This owner, perhaps driven by sincere and supposedly sacred
zeal, may enhance the formula received “from above”, through the addition
of exciting political substances that can lead to dependence on the part of the
patient, affecting his or her reason. It is not only the consumer, but also the
whole neighborhood that suffers as a consequence.
       Consideration of development alone is not sufficient. In the early
1930s, Nazism, which was not a religion, was also the driving force behind
the significant growth of a country. Hitler rose to power in a Germany that
was impoverished, disorganized and devastated by inflation and unemploy-
ment. Defeated in the First Great War (not a “world war”, as it did not affect

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       all countries), Germany was in doubt as to the best way forward until Hitler
       came onto the scene, with his fierce and sincere brand of patriotism. Such
       patriotism is another great potential danger, when its excesses cannot be
       held in check. Hitler put his house in order, even the streets, with his “Black-
       shirts”. He unilaterally cancelled the onerous (for a devastated nation) war
       reparations imposed by some members of the Allies in the Treaty of Versailles.
       By the way, the treaty was not signed by the USA, represented at the time by
       one of the greatest statesmen in the world (Franklin D. Roosevelt) and China,
       which shows that the reputation of a nation is much more dependent upon
       the principal head of government than the natural disposition of its ordinary
       citizens. After all, Hitler transformed the then weak Germany into the most
       powerful country in Europe at the time.
              But at what cost? What did Hitler do with so much “development”?
       History knows the answer. He ended up prejudicing his own nation, beaten
       and famished, after crushing those who were not “Aryan” or, more specifi-
       cally, German Aryans. What he gave with one hand he subsequently took
       with both, although against his wishes, as right up to the end he still loved
       his adopted country (he was Austrian).
              The problem of dictatorship (and the theological state ends up becom-
       ing transformed into a dictatorship, for the reason that “there is only one
       God”, omniscient, who speaks through the mouth of His irrevocable political
       representative) is that, when it takes the wrong path, there is no way of cor-
       recting it. “How is it possible to tolerate the audacity of profane hands trying
       to interfere with the helm that is so firmly held by sacred hands?” As yet, a
       “mixed” political system (dictatorship and democracy) has not been invent-
       ed, in which citizens would authorize the exercise of tyrannical power up to
       a certain moment “x” (always disputable), when a call is made for “enough!”,
       after which the dictator peacefully exits the scene, devolving power to nor-
       mal “mediocre” democracy, with elections and everything else that goes with
       it. From the experience of nations, absolute power is something that affects
       the auditory nerve, causing deafness or enormous interpretive distortions re-

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

garding what the “common good” would be. The governing “guru” interprets
the general call for change as the nervous fits of envious individuals wanting
his throne or, rather, position, “held with immense personal sacrifice”.
      Furthermore, the Iranian theologian in question argues that when “the
Hidden Imam appears” (messenger of Allah awaited by the Shi’ites), “and
makes his sermon, the first person who is going to come up behind him to
pray is Jesus Christ, and Christians will be converted into Muslims. Jesus will
be the general of the Hidden Imam. In Islam, we say that there is no domin-
ion other than that of God. Nobody has the right to govern others”. Summing
up, only God can govern, which would be great. But through the mouth of
whom? Therein lies the big problem. There are so many mouths that sin-
cerely wish to exercise this representation.
      The Jews consider themselves to be the “chosen people”. In all cer-
tainty (save a an interpretive error), this means the “preferred people”, the
“most-loved people”, it being precisely this declaration that gives rise to ex-
aggerated envy among the great human brotherhood. The children at least
want equality regarding the preference of the Father.
      As you can see, theological governments represent a risk to their citi-
zens and to humanity in general, because “God cannot be wrong!” However,
the problem does not lie in God, it lies in His worldly political representative.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               Dialogue and terrorism

              Today, as I was reading the text of a Jane Kinninmont interview with
       Moazzam Begg on the website, I felt myself tenta-
       tively returning once again to a topic already discussed in some of my modest
              Moazzam Begg is a British Muslim who, after being detained in Paki-
       stan, was imprisoned for three years in Guantánamo under the vague suspi-
       cion of being a member of al-Qaida, although no proof of this has ever been
       found. The British government insisted and managed to obtain his freedom.
       Following release, he wrote a book in which he recounts his experience and
       puts forward a personal view of the fight against terrorism. Hence the inter-
       est of the journalist in interviewing him.
              One particular point in the interview that drew my attention was his
       opinion that, even with terrorists, there should be dialogue. This opinion has
       been opposed by the American and British authorities, who cannot consider
       lowering themselves to the point of exchanging ideas with “vile and pitiless
       killers” or others of the same genre.
              Nevertheless, Moazzam Begg is right, although it is necessary to have a
       lot of guts in order to enter into dialogue with an individual who has ordered
       the killing of dozens of innocent people, given that terrorism is character-
       ized by the exercise of indiscriminate violence, making victims not only of
       soldiers, but also women, children and the elderly.
              Why enter into dialogue with fanatical terrorists? Precisely because at
       least we will get to know the root cause of such hatred “at source”, without
       any personal distortions on the part of the intelligence services. Once known,
       perhaps something can be done to eradicate it. Without roots, the tree dies.
       This is a more direct method of getting to know the deep motivation that
       activates the arsenal of dynamite. It is possible that, listening to their com-
       plaints, we are able to agree with certain demands, even though we repudiate
       the methods used. And listening, without interruptions, to the complaints of

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

terrorists, it would be difficult for them not to listen to what we have to say.
       In those cases where terrorism is strictly criminal in nature, interested
in money, it is still possible to understand total refusal to enter into dialogue.
However, it is not pure and simple gangsterism that has held the world in
suspense. Gangsters do not blow themselves up. “Here one is dealing with
“business”, let’s not exaggerate ...”
       Those who are more skeptical will say that most terrorist hatred is the
result of deep-seated ignorance and fanaticism, against which little can be
done, except repression. However, this is a mistaken view, because ignorance
– any kind of ignorance – can be broken down or diminished with certain
information and arguments (when impossible to deny), if presented in such
a way that neither offends the sensibility of the listener, nor (a necessary
precaution...) places the personal subsistence of religious leaders at total risk
(I hope to be mistakenly cynical in saying this). Logical and perceptive reflec-
tion, on our part, regarding the opposing viewpoint may exert an influence
on the most radical facet of “doctrine”, thus reducing its hostility. If it were
always the case that ignorance is invincible, all schools attended by adults
would close, their efforts being to no avail. It should not be forgotten that
there are enormous differences in understanding the same religion between a
semi-illiterate peasant and a theologian. Once he is duly convinced, his flock
will follow him.
       Given that religions have the political influence that they have (for bet-
ter or worse) throughout the world, I do not understand why the issue in
question has been considered as almost “taboo” by the press. Respect for
veneration and the personal intimate relationship between the believer and
his or her God - a deservedly untouchable area, is one thing. Quite another is
hostility assuming a very concrete form and being consequently of concern
to humanity in general. If all forms of “energy” (and religion is one of the
most potent) could be examined without fear of a bomb exploding in the
hands of the examiner, why should the most influential belief systems, which
are capable of driving the world towards war or peace, be exempt from such

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

              It was recently reported in the press that an Afghan Muslim was sen-
       tenced to death, at a Muslim court, because he converted to Christianity.
       Through his association with a group of Westerners, on a humanitarian mis-
       sion in the country, he ended up being convinced of the superiority (from his
       viewpoint) of the Christian faith, and changed religion, this being considered
       a crime according to Taliban legislation. Refusing to renounce his new faith,
       he would have to die. He only escaped the death penalty as international
       pressure, principally on the part of the United States, was immense. The con-
       version of this Afghan is proof that all religious convictions can be profoundly
       shaken or modified by discussion, knowledge and, principally, by example.
              I have absolutely nothing against any religion. I do not even have any-
       thing against certain kinds of fanaticism, as long as they are limited to the
       individual’s intimate personal relationship with his or her God. If a believer
       finds fulfillment in flagellating himself until blood is drawn, that’s entirely
       his own business. However, when he starts to whip his neighbors, the in-
       ternational community can and should intervene, as its mission is that of
       safeguarding the wellbeing of everyone – not the individual wielding the
       whip. Nevertheless, intervention should come about in an intelligent man-
       ner, through representatives specializing in the religion in question, not bu-
       reaucrats or the military. Such specialists would try to show the radicals that
       their interpretation is perhaps not compatible with the original intentions of
       the founders of their beliefs.

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      Is America under threat?

       Yes, but to a much lesser degree by Islamic terrorists. The person who
represents a more deep-seated threat (and unconsciously, which is more seri-
ous, as “he” believes that he is only a threat to Islamic fundamentalists) is a
citizen named George W. Bush. A politician with a capacity below that ideally
required for the position that he occupies and who should never have risen
to such a high level in politics. But he entered politics and grew in influence
because democracy (in a similar way to that which occurred in the evolution
of man - fish, reptile, mammal) still retains much of that found in the regime
that preceded it, the aristocracy. For example, in the USA, a Kennedy or a Bush
who puts him or herself forward as a candidate for any election whatsoever,
will always be welcome by parties and electors, if only because of his or her
surname. Capability just isn’t so important when one is dealing with blue
blood. It involves the power inherent in a name, in the “nobility”, which,
paradoxically, still carries significant weight in democracies. They cannot free
themselves so easily from their past.
       History is made based on two factors: 1) the unraveling, sometimes
unexpectedly, of social and political facts, and 2) the mere chance birth of ba-
bies. The “Russian roulette” (or would it now more aptly baptized “American
roulette”?) of good luck or ill fortune that could mean the either the political
salvation or suicide of a nation. For example, Jefferson, Lincoln and Franklin
D. Roosevelt were blessings. Who can foresee the behavioral, political and
economic weight that a smiling baby will have when it reaches adulthood?
It is an unknown factor. If W. Bush had not been born, almost certainly the
world would not be in its current state, threatened by a conflagration of un-
imaginable extent. Another politician (in all certainty with much more sense
that the current president of the USA) would be occupying the most powerful
position in the world. Powerful and, for this reason alone, highly dangerous,
as any failure on the part of the person “at the helm” could result in collisions
with global consequences.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

              A let’s say “normal” president would have shown much more caution
       prior to invading Iraq. Even burning with desire to show his father that he re-
       ally had valor, so much so that he “went beyond him” with respect to Saddam
       Hussein. In all certainty, this hypothetical president would have concerned
       himself with forging an indispensable reputation as a “real friend” (and repu-
       tation, in politics, is almost everything) as the truth will come to light, sooner
       or later. Not as a result of the police, but due to investigative journalism, that
       terrible two-edged sword, which is much more useful than prejudicial.
              This hypothetical president would also have concerned himself (even if
       only for opportunistic reasons) with the well being of the Palestinians who,
       without ceremony, were expelled from the land that they had occupied for
       centuries, following the last Jewish diaspora. Nevertheless, it should be re-
       membered that the Palestinians were not responsible for this diaspora. In
       the mist of the lyrical enthusiasm of creating an own State (a just idea in
       theory) American Jews and non-Jews alike simply forgot to think about the
       Palestinian people. Nevertheless, those who were unjustly forgotten also do
       not forget, hence the hotbed of repressed hatred that becomes manifest in
       the form of “terrorism” – or “resistance”, depending on the point of view of
       the party concerned.
              Although presidents prior to George W. Bush did not give a great deal of
       thought to the need to be equally fair with the Palestinians (when the degree
       of conflict was less, as there was a smaller influx of Jews into the region), the
       problem has become more acute in recent decades, requiring much closer
       attention on the part of W. Bush. This attention has been denied, principally
       because the president’s mode of thinking is highly influence by members of
       his entourage who are more concerned with the profits of the arms industry
       (beside themselves with contentment in the current climate of war) and the
       annoying dependence of America on Middle East petroleum. Internationalists
       usually emphasize the evident selective haste of Bush in “building liberty and
       democracy” in petroleum producing regions. In those countries where there
       is no petroleum, there seems to be very little concern for liberty. He does this

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

because he imagines that, acting in this way, he acts as an “expert” patriot,
of far-reaching vision, so far-reaching that others (the “simpletons”) cannot
come anywhere near him. It is this that becomes evident in his speeches.
He appears to believe that the truth can be totally manipulated, however,
even if not totally, enough to guarantee a sufficient degree of approval in
opinion polls.
       However, I am diverging from the subject of this article: the real threat
to America. The threat that I am referring to is not that related to bombs and
terrorist attacks on American soil. I am referring to the institutional threat
currently faced by American democracy. It is not a threat to buildings, sub-
ways, aircraft or ships. Rather, it is an intimate threat, capable of eating away
at the very democratic kernel of the great country that practically invented
the least defective form of government organization, a formula subsequently
imitated by almost all countries said to be democracies.
       What, however, is the cause and effect relationship between the danger
represented by W. Bush and American democracy? Am I not exaggerating?
Could the American nation become anti-democratic, evidently dictatorial,
as a result of someone like Bush, a figure of very average intellectual capa-
bilities? Is it possible that this simple-minded citizen could have the abil-
ity to push the heavy and powerful locomotive of American Democracy off
the rails? Anyone who considers him or herself to be at least moderately
informed would – I’m sure - immediately dismiss such a possibility. One of
these people, on hearing my conjecture, responded, without hesitation: “Im-
possible! Absurd! The United States will never become a dictatorship!”
       Prophecies are the source of demoralization of prophets. In order to
safeguard their reputation, they should only make predictions regarding the
far distant future. Just like this, with imprecise enunciations, because if their
predictions are subsequently found to be erroneous and the prophet in ques-
tion is no longer in the land of the living (and the dead deserve respect), or
even if still alive, a subtle excuse will be arranged in order to say that he
didn’t exactly affirm this or that. The prophet’s reputation, as in the case of

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       Nostradamus, is saved by doubt and the infinite number of possibilities re-
       garding interpretation. Despite the danger of demoralization, I insist in my
       claim that a dark threatening cloud hangs over American democracy, which
       is not synonym for Bush.
              What exactly is this very real anti-democratic peril - via Bush – that
       threatens the American people? It is that Bush, due to his somewhat limited
       insight, fearing that, on leaving office, he has to live as a prisoner, surround-
       ed by security men (such is the legacy of hate and resentment that he will
       leave behind at the end of his term as president), will do everything possible
       to ensure that America feels constantly “under threat”. This was certainly
       one of the reasons behind the free hand given to Israel to invade Lebanon and
       destroy bridges, homes, buildings, vehicles and anything else that moves or
       remains immobile (suspect immobility, a sign that one is dealing with a ter-
       rorist in the undergrowth). It is inconceivable that the Israeli premier would
       initiate the bombing, with so many negative international repercussions,
       without the authorization of the American president.
              It is not difficult to imagine what runs through the mind of the current
       occupant of the White House: “As long as I maintain my people fearful of
       terrorist threats, they will support me. As they so notably supported me fol-
       lowing the events of September 11th. In the eyes of the public, my approval
       climbed from a little over thirty percent to more than eighty percent. There-
       fore, as a politician, I cannot relax, simply calming the fears of my electors.
       The best way of guaranteeing, to my benefit, this hatred of the United States,
       will be to unconditionally support Israel. As the Israeli people are terrified
       by the threatened extinction of the State of Israel” (my note: the also fearless
       Iranian president has been going about his business uttering this nonsense),
       “without being psychologically able to think in a rational manner, the Israeli
       government is going to continue massacring Lebanese and Palestinian citi-
       zens, generating the hatred and peril that are so necessary for me to continue
       as president of the United States”.
              I am certain that, at particular times in their lives, already weary but

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

still in office, many dictators have had the desire to live in peace simply as
one who has relinquished his former position of power. With enough money
to live comfortably until death, and still leave sufficient means for their chil-
dren and grandchildren to live in a decent manner, it must be very tempt-
ing to have a quiet life, without perilous enemies or bodyguards, reading,
travelling and giving presentations, etc. However, this kind of tranquility
becomes impossible for dictators. After reaching a certain point in their gov-
ernments, abandoning power means that their lives are certainly at risk. All
those who have suffered serious wrongs will attempt to have their revenge.
Either through lawsuits or bombings, or a simple slap in the face or an un-
expected kick up the backside. A dictator who has generated a significant
degree of hatred cannot walk the streets alone. For a number of years during
the period that Brazil was a dictatorship, an ex-minister of Justice maintained
a team of well-armed security men, even when he was at home. Would it
be imaginable, one asks, for Hitler, Stalin, Pinochet, Lenin, Idi Amin Dada
and many others to walk the streets alone after creating so many enemies
when in power? If even largely democratic ex-presidents have had to set up a
“preferential court” in order to avoid acts of trivial revenge, through lawsuits
brought against them by offended parties, imagine the situation of a head of
state who has generated immense hatred.
        It is this that is greatest peril facing Bush’s America. Deliberately aug-
menting the overall feeling of threat as a formula for remaining in power.
Threats create a need for a protective “father”.
        However, there is another alternative, a bold one, which, if implement-
ed, would not only save Bush, but also America and the whole world, from
the path leading to a new order of political and military chaos: basic recogni-
tion that conflicts - all conflicts – have to be resolved by competent impartial
courts. By duly legitimized “third parties”.
        If, for centuries, it has been unanimously recognized that conflicts
between individuals should be resolved by a “third party”, which imposes
its ruling after hearing both sides involved, why, one asks, do we insist on

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       stupidly believing that the Arab-Israeli conflict will be resolved through an
       agreement reached between these two adversaries? With so much death,
       fear and blood undermining the sense of justice of the parties involved, it will
       be impossible to arrive at an agreement that is strictly established by both
       litigants. There is a need for the UN to both “grow” and “become more appar-
       ent”, at least and initially as far as its “judiciary” component is concerned,
       imposing the fairest solution and creating financial compensation for those
       who lose territory as a result of the ruling that is made.
               If George W. Bush, so bold in certain aspects, had the insight and cour-
       age to make a “universal court” a viable proposition (this already exists in the
       form of the International Court of Justice – although castrated as far as its
       power to enforce its own rulings is concerned), he would go down in history.
       And he would leave it via the front door, not the back door, as his current des-
       tiny seems to be, if there is no change in his viewpoint. If he undertook such
       a courageous act, he would “turn the table” on public opinion, obtaining uni-
       versal recognition. Even though I may only be an irrelevant opinion monger,
       I would immediately cancel all the negative opinions about him that have
       been revealed in this text. In addition, such cancellation would not only be
       based on opportunism and falsity. I have the conviction – perhaps too charita-
       ble – that human beings are the victims of limitations for which they are not
       wholly responsible. Bush is a good husband, a good father, a good son and a
       man who fears God. In theory, such qualities are ideal in any man, but they
       are not sufficient for a true statesman. He is also a patriot, although currently
       with a strict, outdated view of what is meant by patriotism. Nevertheless,
       this cannot come into conflict with love, or at least respect, for all peoples of
       the world. Bush has not yet reached this stage, but it is not impossible that
       this comes to occur. If some of the self-seeking friends that surround him (i.e.,
       Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld) say that this new view prejudices “the business”,
       it is time to tell them that they have already profited to a sufficient extent.
               An International Court of Justice, with fair judges, designated by enti-
       ties of recognized impartiality, would come to judge all conflicts that could

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

lead to wars, applying not only International Public Law, but also rules of
equal justice and the general principles of law. Authorization for the use of
equal law (including financial compensation) would be indispensable, as rul-
ings that are “difficult to swallow” go down more easily when material dam-
ages are not too excessive.
       The National Priority Project website informs us that the current cost
of the invasion of Iraq is in excess of three hundred billion dollars. With 10%
of this amount applied in compensation for those parties most prejudiced as
a result of the International Court ruling, the judicial decision would signify
staunching the flow that is bleeding the American taxpayer dry. Think about
it, Bush. And also think about the inner contentment of one day being able to
go for a walk without bodyguards. Still persecuted? Yes. Not by terrorists in-
tent on vengeance, but by autograph hunters. This kind of life is more suited
to your friendly smiling nature, and is at your disposal with just a few strokes
of the pen. There will be no lack of “scholars” of notable competence in this
field to assist you in this praiseworthy undertaking.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               David Grossman, Israeli writer

             A possible precursor?
             I have repeatedly criticized the stance adopted by the Israeli govern-
       ment with regard to its Arab neighbors.
             In my writings, I have stressed the prepotent policy of certain Israeli
       leaders. Most notably, Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, who appear to
       have unrestricted confidence in the effectiveness of brute force as a means
       of “resolving” (a mere illusion) the problem of sharing (?) space with the Pal-
       estinian population. I reflected on the fact that the Palestinians also consider
       themselves to be the victims of past events (the Jewish “exodus/return”), for
       which they were not themselves responsible. Notably, a “return” that did not
       take into account, even to the slightest extent, the fact that “hyper-adverse
       possession” had occurred of land abandoned at the time of the so-called “sec-
       ond diaspora”. Centuries after the expulsion of the Jews and led by the Zi-
       onist movement, they managed to convince worldwide public opinion that
       they had, as a people, a right to a “homeland”. For both historic and religious
       reasons, in their opinion, this homeland would have to be Palestine. The suf-
       fering experienced by Jews during the Holocaust gave them a right to obtain
       a “safe haven” where they would not be subject to successive rounds of hu-
       miliation and persecution, such as those that occurred in the past.
             All this was absolutely correct, or tolerable, although it would have
       been better if the Zionists had accepted other areas, offered by the British
       - Uganda, for example, with an amenable climate for those accustomed to
       living in Europe. However, the offer was apparently rejected on religious
       grounds rather than other reasons (proximity of lions and Zulus).
             What was wrong, at least from a quantitative point of view, in sizing
       the choice of a “definitive homeland”, was that of brushing aside, ignoring,
       the normal reaction of a people, the Palestinian people, that were expelled
       from an area that they had occupied for a number of centuries. If this prob-
       lem had been confronted in a prompt and responsible manner by the inter-

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

national community, prior to the mass immigration of Jews, with the offer of
reasonable compensation for displaced Palestinians, establishing a definitive
frontier for the occupation of each people, the world would not have wit-
nessed so many deaths and so much suffering, generating a disquiet that
currently torments populations both near and far from the area in question.
It is likely that the events of September 11th 2001 would not have occurred,
or other violent terrorist acts, which now hang, no longer like “swords of
Damocles” over our heads, but in the form of powerful explosives capable of
flattening whole city blocks.
        As our planet, without exaggeration, seems to be a political madhouse
(in fact, it is much worse, because no patient in any psychiatric hospital has
the “sovereign right” to live out his or her derangement), the outlook will
continue to be gloomy as long as there is not at least an international court
that is not only able to pass rulings on conflicts between countries and peo-
ples, but also enforce compliance with its decisions, irrespective of whether
or not the party that is in disagreement with the ruling is actually willing to
comply. This is something that does not occur in the case of the current UN
International Court of Justice, as the effectiveness of its rulings are depen-
dent upon the “good will” (that’s a good one….) of the litigants concerned.
A mere Homeric judicial perfume, discarded centuries ago by all countries
when they rule on conflicts within their own frontiers. If all States (without
exception) know that, on an internal level, it is useless to expect conciliation
between enemies with opposing interests and that there is a need for an im-
partial third party to resolve the issue, why is it that in all conflicts between
States, especially those of a more serious nature, with thousands of dead,
problems are resolved by the imposition of political, diplomatic, economic or
military might. Always force, or the threat of its use.
        Given that everything in life may have some kind of use (even snake
venom is currently used in the preparation of medicaments that “thin” the
blood), our vague hope is that the “Israel – Lebanon – Hamas – Hezbollah”
tragedy becomes transformed into the first really judicial, not solely diplo-

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       matic, “case” to be decided by a “third party”, a Court with powers of juris-
       diction conferred on it by the international community. It is this court that
       would not only apply the standards of International Public Law, but also cri-
       teria of equal justice and the general principles of law, thus making it pos-
       sible to award indemnifications and compensatory damages to those par-
       ties that lose territory as a result of a court ruling. There will be no lack
       of especially impartial and cultured judges, designated by the international
       community, capable of establishing a fair solution for the complex problem.
       Obviously, prudence would recommend that none of the judges be of Arab
       or Jewish origin, or even remotely identified with the interests of the two
       peoples involved.
              All this, however, has already been repeated ad nauseam on this site,
       but it is worthwhile repeating because, paradoxically, the truth, exactly when
       it is all too obvious, needs to be repeated if it is to be driven into the hard
       human skull.
              So why is mention made of David Grossman in the title of this article?
              Grossman is an Israeli pacifist writer who was unknown to me until
       yesterday. By mere chance, while browsing the Internet, I came across the
       transcript of a speech he made beside the grave of a much-loved son who
       was killed in the recent invasion of Lebanon. The young man commanded a
       tank that was destroyed in an explosion. With total credibility, his father’s
       speech describes the good character of his son, who was about twenty years
       old. And, with immense moral courage, the speech warns his people of the
       prospect of a dark future arising from the increased level of hate of Arabs who
       lost hundreds of relatives and properties as a result of the kidnapping of two
       Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. The prospect is indeed worrying, as the inter-
       national community itself did not look kindly on the exaggerated reaction to
       the kidnappings - even the “mainstay of support” weakened. And George W.
       Bush will not always be in power, despite his best efforts to this end, putting
       fear into the electorate.
              What impressed me in David Grossman’s words – revealing his moral

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

singularity – was the absence of hatred for the Hezbollah combatants who
killed his son. A young man who, according to his father, was always ready to
help his fellow men (commanding a tank does not invalidate the moral quali-
ties of its crew, obliged to defend the interests of their country). In his speech,
David managed to have an overview of things, not only from the right per-
spective but, more specifically, that of a lucid and courageous pacifist.
       “Valiant” caricaturists and semi-illiterate individuals usually describe
pacifists as fearful fat or thin figures, holding flowers, averse to any kind of
friction, ready to forgive because they are incapable of fighting. But this is not
the case as far as David Grossman is concerned. The speech he gave required
courage under present conditions.
       While on the subject of courage, there follows a suggestion that will
only reach the eyes or ears of David Grossman with some difficulty, even if
this article, originally written in Portuguese, is translated into English and
read by the editorial staff of an Israeli newspaper.
       This is the suggestion: Why doesn’t Grossman head a movement (in
Israel, at the UN and in the USA) with the objective of strengthening the prin-
cipal judicial organ of the United Nations (the International Court of Justice),
in such a way that it is attributed with the powers necessary for making a
ruling - and enforcing this ruling – regarding the “Palestinian issue”? A ruling
that establishes the fairest possible frontier and resolves other outstanding
points of disagreement (i.e., whether or not Jerusalem is to be partitioned,
walls, etc). A ruling that is not only limited to international legal rules – a
thankless area this one, full of omissions..., but allows for the application of
equal justice with compensatory indemnifications.
       Should Grossman manage to achieve this objective, mankind would not
forget him. He would perhaps deserve, if not the Nobel Prize in Literature (I
have not yet read a book of his authorship), at least the Peace Prize. With this,
the invasion of Lebanon would ultimately have been of some kind of use,
creating a milestone in the evolution of mankind.
       Coming from a Jew, such an initiative would make a far greater impres-

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       sion than a similar proposal coming from a Palestinian, as Israel possesses
       immensely superior military strength. There is not presumed to be fear on
       the part of the strongest. In addition, it would be the initiative of an Israeli
       with the authority of someone who has lost a son in the war, whose mind
       has not been poisoned by a thirst for vengeance. The world would start to
       return to normal. It would be the great judicial precedent, the inaugural step,
       bringing about the partial reformation of the UN. Henceforth, rulings would
       come to be made on conflicts between states and populations by impartial
       judges. Not in the manner that occurs at present, with predominance of the
       force mustered by the parties involved or whoever is backing them. And so,
       finally, the voice of justice and reason prevails rather than that of cannons.
       Don’t thousands of past and future dead deserve such an attempt?
              There are really decisive moments in History. The crisis involving Rus-
       sian missiles bound for Cuba in 1962 was one such moment. The tearing
       down of the Berlin Wall was another. Even a book can spark a change that
       has been brewing for decades. Something like cutting out a tumor. The novel
       “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” speeded up the abolition of slavery in the United States.
       Qualitative leaps forward only occur when there is a psychic and moral elec-
       tricity in the air that favors a more audacious step. It is the case of the inva-
       sion of Lebanon and the odor of human blood in the Palestinian air.
              With his acceptance by the Jewish people, Grossman can take this ini-
       tial step. His son’s spirit would smile, concluding that he did not die in vain.

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      Gaza: retaliation in kind for the shoe-throwing incident?

       In Iraq, when the journalist threw his shoes at Bush (an act that left
me feeling revolted by its grossness, after all, there are limits that cannot be
overstepped when it comes to the manner in which a protest is made against
politicians visiting a country), I could not help thinking that something very
concrete and serious would likely happen as a consequence of such an affront.
The days passed and I was surprised at the absence of any kind of reprisal on
the part of the proud American nation, rightly offended by this humiliating
symbolic gesture which, although specifically directed against its president,
indirectly offended the self-respect of a powerful nation, not accustomed to
be publicly scorned, as in the case of the shoe-throwing incident, followed by
words considered to be especially offensive (“dog!”) in the Arab world.
       At the end of his mandate, it would be politically very difficult for Bush
to personally and officially impose a “chastisement” befitting this personal
affront which, I repeat, was unwarranted. Then the Israeli attacks against
Hamas occurred in Gaza, with hundreds of deaths. So I thought, perhaps with
exaggerated mistrust, could the hand of Bush be involved here, giving sup-
port, or even encouraging the attack against buildings and anything else re-
lated to Hamas? Tenacious American investigative journalism will perhaps
show us, a few months or even years from now, the existence of some kind of
link, not only vaguely suspicious, between the “shoe-throwing incident” and
the Israeli attacks in Gaza. Although the affront occurred in Iraq and not in
the area that is currently under attack, there is evident identification (in the
eyes of Bush) between the assailant journalist and the political tendencies of
Hamas, a mortal enemy of the American government.
       I hope (in all sincerity, although this may be hard to believe) that even
the most “inquisitive” journalists are unable to find this kind of connection
between one thing and another, which would only aggravate the far from
satisfactory biography of an American politician who, deep down (very deep
down), only desired the “best” for his country, although in not a very intel-

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       ligent manner.
              As I have already mentioned in previous articles, Bush is (or rather,
       was, given that he no longer has any kind of future) a politician who is the
       victim of his own weak judgment and character. A consequence of nepotism
       in the political arena. If he were not the son of an ex-president, he would not
       have risen as far as he did. If he blatantly lied prior to invading Iraq, he did
       it “in good faith”, as a “good courageous patriot” (justifying his actions in
       this way), with a view to reducing the alarming need for oil of his country.
       It seems funny that everyone is against nepotism, but not in the political
       field, which is exactly where it can be the most damaging, as decisions made
       by the “nepot” affect millions. Political parties anxiously seek surnames of
       substance, the sons of great politicians (giving little importance to their in-
       dividual characteristics), as they know how much reverential awe for “blue
       blood” continues to be present in the “bones” of the electorate. And, in the
       case of Bush, the wish to demonstrate his worth to his father ended up ag-
       gravating his poor judgment, due to the military and economic might of his
       country. In summary, Bush occupied a position that far exceeded his natural
       potential. It is to be hoped that this serves as an attenuating circumstance in
       the judgment of History.
              While on the subject of lack of judgment, I have always been intrigued
       (age makes me ever more mistrusting) regarding the immense stupidity (the
       term is crude but pertinent) of Hamas in continuing to fire its rockets against
       Israel. With almost no significant consequences. If I am not mistaken, there
       was only one Jewish fatality in recent attacks, prior to the aerial retaliation.
       An Egyptian authority was also surprised at this absurd strategy of firing
       rockets that almost always serve to cause alarm. Repeating an Egyptian prov-
       erb, he said that “if you can’t kill the dog, don’t keep pulling its tail”.
              If there have not been any significant bellicose benefits for Hamas (i.e.,
       the death of many Jews), such rockets have been of enormous benefit to the
       Israeli government, providing it with justification (real or apparent, or a mix-
       ture of both) for full-scale attacks against the Palestinians. To date, it is said

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

that there are around three hundred dead and seven hundred wounded as a
result of Israeli attacks involving the use of aircraft and helicopters armed
with missiles. Repeating myself: for one Israeli death, three hundred Palestin-
ian deaths, together with seven hundred wounded. Only an enormous lack of
discernment could justify this strategy adopted by Hamas.
       It should be remembered that, in a situation of armed conflict, discus-
sions that are of real importance (for example, peace in Palestine, with the
creation of a Palestinian State) remain at a standstill. And the longer such dis-
cussions remain at a standstill, the better it is for those “hard line” “falcon”
Israeli politicians who favor the expansionism necessary for building a great
Jewish nation. With Hamas rockets causing a nuisance (more to the ears than
anything else), more enlightened Israeli politicians, the “doves”, lose support.
       Returning to the subject of mistrust (great scientific discoveries arose
from the “mistrust” of more speculative human spirits regarding what might
“lie behind” observable phenomena), such a hypothesis may be absurd, but
could it be that Mossad is subtly encouraging the foolish Hamas policy of
insisting to launch rockets that cause little damage to the enemy but delay
a peace agreement. If I were a member of the Israeli intelligence service, if I
lived with deep-seated hatred of the Palestinians, and if I considered the good
of my country above any kind of ethical consideration (something that I do
not do, if only because one day the farce will be exposed), the idea could pass
though my mind of subtly infiltrating a few Mossad agents into the Hamas
organization, with a view to always keeping the wound of hatred open - ex-
pressed in the form of rockets. Such repressed hatred would facilitate the
conviction of Hamas that a “virile” attitude would not be that of dialogue,
“lowering one’s head” and “obeying the infidel dog”, but rather one of “chas-
tising” or at least “disconcerting” the Israelis “who drove us from our land”.
       I do not know how deep investigative journalism is able to dig in Israel.
Perhaps any such investigation, or the disclosure of what has been found,
is minimal, given that the country in question feels a constant sense of dis-
quiet, surrounded as it is by hostile nations. Any revelation of recondite un-

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       derhand policy, such as that mentioned above, would not only be headline
       material, but would also threaten the actual survival of a country that still
       runs a certain degree of risk (albeit remote) of “disappearing from the map”,
       if denied the external support that it has been receiving to date. It is differ-
       ent, for example, from the exposure of an ugly secret in the government of
       the USA. There, a president may even find himself obliged to renounce his
       post. However, his renouncement would not affect the existence of his coun-
       try. In the case of Israel, a large scale political scandal would have immense
       consequences. Any journalist who exposes an underhand move, such as the
       aforementioned infiltration for dishonest purposes, would really be acting as
       a traitor to the young nation. In the event that Mossad subtly encouraged, in
       one way or another, the Palestinian rocket attacks, such underhand dealings
       may only be exposed to the light of day several decades from now. And by
       historians, not journalists.
              Well, I will end here. It is my ardent wish and desire that my specula-
       tions have no basis. Perhaps I have been watching too many spy films. I hope
       that Bush has not even moved a finger in the sense of suggesting an Israeli
       attack as retaliation in kind for the shoe-throwing incident during which he
       demonstrated such unexpected agility. It may be that many comment jokingly
       on the incident, saying that both the aggressor and the victim likely trained
       hard together, practicing the throwing technique used and the rapid evasive
       response. I also hope that those launching rockets in Gaza are only “foolish”
       on their own account, without the influence of the astute Israeli intelligence
       service - a model of effectiveness, capable of thinking the unthinkable.
              Anyway, I will be paying close attention to the media. I find it strange
       that, to date, no mention has been made in the media of the tenebrous hy-
       pothesis that I put forward, in my infinite incredulity.

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      “Neopatriotism”, Bush and Obama

       At one particular time or another, somebody creates a new term. If it is
a good idea, it “takes on”. It becomes incorporated into the language. It takes
its place in dictionaries and enriches and harmonizes communication. The
new word is even useful for saving energy from the point of view of muscle
use. It saves the diaphragm, tongue, lips and even arm movements - princi-
pally if the vigorous speaker is Italian - if you will pardon my pleonasm. It
is popular belief - not yet scientifically proven simply because nobody has
shown an interest in the task - that these passionate Europeans and their
descendents gesticulate to a greater degree than peoples of other races. In all
certainty, more than those of restrained Japanese, English and Nordic origin.
       I have long concerned myself with the idea that humanity is in need of
a new form of communication; or, even better, a new brain. Yes, a new brain,
already with billions of extra neurons at birth, for if it were not so, however
much the individual studies, he or she will not be able to accompany the
vertiginous advance of human knowledge. Man, even if cultured, is currently
badly informed - because he is incapable of assimilating, analyzing and syn-
thesizing the huge mass of news and knowledge that cannot find space in
the thin layer (between one and four millimeters) of the cortex. As a conse-
quence, he will make erroneous or only partially correct judgments regarding
almost everything: about himself and about others; in choosing leaders, in
elections; about which legislation is most suitable from the point of view of
general interest; what really is “general interest” (an extremely difficult dis-
tinction); the exercise of a profession; choice of a spouse or equivalent; diet,
etc, etc.
       There are those that predict that, with the passing of time (I have al-
ready touched on this subject in another article), the computer, very much
quicker and more rational than human beings, will take over the reins of
power, it only being necessary for its artificial “intelligence” to advance to
the point of self-awareness for this to actually happen. At the present time,

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       such an idea may seem to be exaggeration or science fiction, but it is a real
       possibility in the scientific field. Furthermore, going beyond this, it may be
       that future scientists will be able add corresponding Ethics to artificial intelli-
       gence, to a degree that is greater than that which we currently exhibit, inher-
       ent in living beings. Perhaps it will not be necessary for scientists to program
       such Ethics, as this is not the enemy of rationality - just the opposite. There is
       no reason to presume that, once artificial intelligence has been created, this
       will not spontaneously “segregate” a purer form of ethics, free of contamina-
       tion by such instinctive, glandular influences as envy, carnal jealousy, thirst
       for vengeance and the like. Following the creation of complete artificial intel-
       ligence, it will only remain for information technology scientists to take the
       precaution of keeping a button within reach that will deactivate the super-
       computers in the event that they intend to initiate a “great rebellion”. Never-
       theless, autonomously intelligent computers will serve as lucid coordinators
       of think tanks, thinking at a velocity that is one thousand times greater than
       that achieved by their slow-witted flesh and blood colleagues.
             Considering that the aforementioned advance will only occur many de-
       cades or centuries in the future, dependent as it is on advances in the genetic
       engineering field or the well-intentioned handling of stem cells, we remain,
       for the time being, with the question of “neologisms”, these synthesizers of
       new ideas.
             Patriotism is a highly valued word. It expresses an idea that is already
       associated with an emotion. It suggests altruism, self-sacrifice for one’s coun-
       try. When Samuel Johnson, the great English essayist and lexicographer, said
       that patriotism may be the “the last refuge of a scoundrel”, he was attacking
       the scoundrel, the blasphemer; not patriotism itself, this being a word that,
       when pronounced, deserves a certain aura of respect.
             However, the world has turned many times. It has become ever-more
       unified and globalized. That which happens in one country has repercussions
       on others. The last American presidential election appeared to be a global
       election, with people from all continents giving voice to their “vote” in favor

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

of the candidate who most “represents” them, in a manner of speaking. In
view of its power, a well-led United States of America means greater potential
happiness for all other countries. One more sign that, without even noticing,
we are moving in the direction of a global (obviously democratic) federation.
When the USA errs, it is not only North-Americans that suffer.
       The old patriotism - that which only takes the advantages of its own
country into account - is already outdated, even pernicious. In the medium
or long term, it backfires. Hence the almost euphoria shown by young people
and idealists throughout the world following the victory of Barack Obama,
who promises to engage in dialogue even with those considered to be “evil”.
One should not forget that, almost without exception, those considered to
be “evil” sincerely imagine themselves to be “good”. For example, does the
terrorist walking to his death wearing an explosive-laden vest imagine him-
self to be a bandit? Enmity may originate from an invincible feeling of being
wronged. Only intense and frank dialogue, with necessary and fair conces-
sions, can remove the detonator that will cause the explosion, killing in a
non-selective manner.
       As far as I am concerned, Obama represents “neopatriotism”. Instead of
simply “crushing” those who look at us with hatred, also try to understand
the origin of this hatred. Who knows, maybe there is some kind of valid rea-
son for so much resentment. If there is, we acknowledge our mistake. We
concede to that which should be conceded. Only if there is no injustice un-
derlying the animosity, if terrorism is simply the fruit of despotism, bad faith
or gangsterism, will it be appropriate to use force, even devastating force.
“Neopatriotism” does not mean weakness or passivity. It only means aware-
ness that the world is ever more unified, whether we like it or not. It is an
immense social organism which, in a similar manner to biological organisms,
will only be able to grow successfully when all its individual parts interact
in harmony. And the United Nations Organization has still not attained this
degree of scope. It needs to do this as soon as possible. The current global
financial crisis has provided proof of such a need. Otherwise, without a con-

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       science to orientate or re-orientate the so-called “invisible hand” of market
       economies, or the roguish “imbecilic hand” of certain financial “wise-guys”,
       we will have ungoverned economic growth, oppression, revolt and conflicts.
       Cancer enjoys total independence in its growth; it is an excellent example of
       an unrestrained being, but not even for this reason is it a model for human-
       ity. When uncontrolled, it ends up in a coffin. It kills its host, but it also dies.
               George W. Bush and his Vice President, Cheney, represent to old style
       of patriotism (maybe even well-intentioned). In his prayers, before going to
       sleep, W. Bush probably asks himself, in his conversations with God: “Lord,
       where did I go wrong? Did I act wrongly when, thinking of the well being
       of the American people (who I hold so dear), I altered or “forced” the “truth”
       regarding the cause and effect relationship between September 11th and Sad-
       dam Hussein? In truth, I lied, but with unswerving patriotic intent. What is
       so reprehensible in this? What statesman, at any time or in any country, has
       not lied, to a greater of lesser degree, in order to benefit the interests of his
       country? If I lied to my own people, it is because I could not openly say that
       I was lying. I could not make one address to those outside my country and
       another to those inside it. It would be an aberration, contradictory. I acted
       like a good attorney, who can even lie in benefit of his client. After all, with
       the invasion, which did not exactly have the desired outcome, I gave the
       Middle East a good “shaking up”. The modernization of Iraq will infect the
       whole neighborhood. I brought down a cruel tyrant and, at the same time,
       tried to benefit my country, disconcertingly dependent upon Middle Eastern
       oil. Is there something wrong with being a patriot, diminishing this lack of
       security? If Osama Bin Laden had not encouraged Iraqi resistance, I might
       have been considered the statesman of the century. I ran a risk and paid the
       price. “Sorry, but I do not feel that I am to blame...”
               It is highly likely that he still thinks like this. The victim of an outdated
       viewpoint, of being mistaken: he is not aware that everything in this world
       has evolved, including the concept of patriotism. The planet is moving to-
       wards a single world, although he just cannot see it.

                                                       Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      Walter Cronkite, the famous American journalist and an advocate of
world government, when referring to those who considered such an idea to
be utopian and “impractical”, retorted: “what is so “practical” about war?”
The problem is that, in order to prevent wars, it is necessary to give a new
meaning to patriotism.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               “Radovan Karadzic and the trouble he is going to cause...”

             The aforementioned Serbian psychiatrist, under the guise of a poet,
       a politician giving rise to significant local repercussions, a bearded fugitive
       and, finally, a defendant at the International Criminal Court for the Former
       Yugoslavia, will certainly bring about substantial changes in the procedural
       rules of the Court that is judging him. Why?
             Because he has invoked the right to put forward his own defense,
       which is permitted by the current standards adopted by the Court in ques-
       tion. After him (it would cause a bad impression to remove permission for
       self-defense after initially granting it), it is quite foreseeable that the Inter-
       national Criminal Court will no longer allow defendants to personally put
       forward their own defense, unless they have specific abilities, as in the case
       of ex-attorneys, judges or prosecutors. Experience gained with the judgment
       of Slobodan Milosevic should have already taught us that temperamental and
       extroverted politicians never lose the opportunity of transforming a show of
       defense into a platform for themselves. Did they ever imagine a Fidel Castro
       putting forward his own defense? If in speeches, not defending himself, he
       can continue for five hours, how long would it take if he were speaking in his
       own defense?
             In these cases, defendants, not having any kind of specific professional
       education, make abuse of the excuse or “right” of ignoring the most elemen-
       tary procedural rules. At any moment, they provoke incidents and arguments
       with those present in the courtroom, even (or principally) the judge who is
       presiding over the proceedings. The magistrate, having no means of restrain-
       ing the jaw and tongue of the irreverent defendant (concerned about demon-
       strating exemption and tolerance regarding the judicial ignorance of the de-
       fendant), ends up being at an apparent disadvantage, due to the difference in
       tone of voice. He becomes transformed into someone who is being accused,
       due to the fact that he only patiently explains - while the defendant only at-
       tacks. People of limited education think: “The judge is at a disadvantage ...”

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       In all likelihood, every legal professional has already had the unsavory
experience of arguing with people who are ignorant and furious, either justly
or unjustly. They cannot understand the need for rules for everything: for
making accusations, for defending and for passing judgment. The accused
has nothing to lose, but the magistrate does have something to lose. This
is what occurred in the case of Saddam Hussein, when he was judged by
a special court in his own country. Assuming that he had nothing to lose,
as he would be hanged anyway, Saddam said what he wanted, whenever
he wanted, also raising his voice. At a certain point in the proceedings, the
principal judge, a highly educated Kurd (accustomed to other environments),
requested that he be removed from the case. Saddam, when questioned at
the beginning of his interrogation (in line with standard procedures) regard-
ing his name, replied, almost shouting, more or less in the following manner:
“You know perfectly well what my name is!!! I am the president of Iraq!”, and
it was in this insolent tone of voice that he continued in the “bullfight”. All
the time, he said exactly what he wanted. After all, he was “authorized” to
turn the court into a circus, because he has the excuse of not having any ju-
dicial education. He did not even recognize the jurisdiction of the court - the
same occurring with Milosevic and Karadzic.
       En passant, many internationalists say that the Bush government was
against the judgment of Saddam by an international court (as occurred with
the Nazis, in Nuremberg), because the United Nations (and its courts) no lon-
ger permit the death penalty. Such a prohibition was non-existent when the
Nazis were judged. Accusing and judging Saddam at an Iraqi court, it would
be possible to hang him, as events actually turned out. As far as the Ameri-
cans were concerned, it would be easier to pacify Iraq with Saddam silent, in
his grave, rather than speaking or agitating the whole time, even in a prison.
As a result, in strict terms, although violating accepted international justice
(a president was condemned by a court set up by occupation forces), the
Americans were “strategically correct”. Imagine what Iraq would be like to-
day with a live Saddam, adding fuel to the hostilities. The annual body count

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       would be even higher.
              Another alteration that will likely occur to the procedural norms of the
       International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia (following judgment
       of Radovan Karadzic) will be a reduction in the permitted number of witness-
       es, for both the prosecution and defense. An enormous number of witnesses
       bring about an elevated degree of sluggishness, it being highly likely that the
       defendant will die while he or she is being tried. This is what happened in the
       case of Slobodan Milosevic, who was imprisoned for around eight years and
       died prior to judgment. The defendants in such judgments are generally indi-
       viduals of advanced years and the emotional strains of a court case certainly
       do not contribute to their longevity. Heat attacks function like an “avenger”,
       killing without passing judgment. If death occurs, the case is closed, which
       makes it possible for followers of the deceased to argue that their leader
       would prove his innocence, if the trial had come to its intended conclusion.
       For reasons of doubt, delay in the trial ends up benefitting recollection of
       those who should be remembered as individuals to be condemned.
              In the first fortnight of April 2008, I spent two weeks in Holland, in the
       city of The Hague. I visited several international courts and, thanks to the
       generous letter of introduction of a person of outstanding legal knowledge
       in the international field, Minister Francisco Rezek, I managed to obtain two
       highly valued interviews, filmed for DVD. In order to make the most of my
       stay in the so-called “Low Countries” (they really are low, at a level below that
       of the North Sea - hence the canals, windmills and clogs ...), I attended part
       of a trial at the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia - the
       same one that will judge Radovan Karadzic.
              I arrived at around 09:00 hrs, a few minutes late. Through a window
       (probably armored glass), I was able to accompany the questioning of a prose-
       cution witness who, luckily for everyone, spoke English, dispensing with any
       need for an interpreter. In the area where I was accompanying the proceed-
       ings, there was also a television screen showing who was asking the ques-
       tions and who was replying, with perfect sound. The interrogating attorney

                                                              Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

was an Englishman (as far as I know, more than half the attorneys working
in the international field are English), with the traditional wig that has no
intention of hiding the fact that it is a wig. It is more of an ornament than a
wig, conceived, logically, I suppose, in order to disguise baldness. As its use
became customary, it is even placed on the thickest heads of hair, although,
as chance would have it, this was not the case of the attorney who was put-
ting forward the questions.
        The attorney in question (astute but extremely delicate in his choice of
words and tone of voice) broke down and minutely examined each statement
made by the witness, even those that were the simplest and clearest, in striv-
ing to identify any insecurity or imprecision. At certain times, a young wom-
an on the prosecution team (in my opinion, surprisingly young to be there ...)
made a technical objection, addressed to the three judges that comprised the
bench. The chairman of the tribunal decided on the objection and the English
defense attorney proceeded with his endless questions, seemingly striving
to find the smallest breach. His patient and persistent voice was capable of
penetrating solid rock.
        Suddenly, the chairman of the tribunal, with all courtesy (certainly con-
trolling himself), asked the defense attorney how much time he had planned
to dedicate to questioning that particular witness. When the Englishman
said, almost smiling, that he intended to spend another five hours, I could
take no more and left. That was enough for the patience of a poor Brazilian.
The court suspended the session, scheduling a return for so-many minutes
later. I did not return - if solely for the reason that my “listening skills” are not
as good as they might be.
        I do not know how many more witnesses would be heard. As there are
normally several dozen, I imagine how it is highly likely that successive de-
fendants in trials involving genocide, war crimes and crimes against humani-
ty will give up their souls to the Creator (or the Devil) before being sentenced.
        Besides being a psychiatrist, Karadzic is a practicing poet. Add to this
the fact that he has outspoken ideas regarding construction of Greater Serbia.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       A mixture of such wordy ingredients can only result in lengthy dissertations
       (with or without temporal pertinence) regarding his real or imaginary mis-
       sion of defending Bosnian Serbs, “purifying” the region. In addition, he will
       be automatically forgiven for the lack of appropriateness and measure in his
       interventions “because, after all, I am not a student of Law”. As he said at the
       beginning, he does not even recognize the legitimacy of the Court, defending
       himself, according to his own words, as he would defend himself from a natu-
       ral phenomenon - a hurricane or earthquake, for example. He will therefore
       be free to transform the Court into a radio station, TV channel and electoral
       platform. With the advantage, furthermore, of mixing politics with poetry
       and psychiatry - the ancient science of the crazy. It is the judges who will go
       crazy, attempting to maintain order in the Court. I hope I am mistaken.
              It may be said that the fact that Karadzic has no legal education is ir-
       relevant, because if he had, he would also be able to take advantage of the
       confusion and procrastination. In an even more competent manner.
              It may be a paradox but, in this case, judicial ignorance helps in delay-
       ing the sentencing of the defendant who is known to be guilty. The attorney,
       judge or prosecutor who is defending himself does not wish to appear ridicu-
       lous, making declarations at the wrong time and in an erroneous manner. A
       sense of shame holds him back. His education and self-respect repel the idea
       of talking nonsense in court, even more so when being seen on television. He
       at least hopes that History will describe him as an intelligent man. On the
       other hand, the layman who defends himself (thinking, more importantly,
       about the “audience”) is just not concerned with procedural rules, with the
       excuse of considering himself as “not part of the legal profession”. Through-
       out the world, more tolerant judges know, from their own experience, that
       petitions written by ignorant individuals give rise to many more problems
       than those prepared by competent professionals. At least one knows exactly
       what they are contesting.
              In conclusion, the self-defense of Karadzic will at least have one merit:
       it will cause repercussions at the International Criminal Court for the Former

                                                        Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

Yugoslavia, inducing it to implement procedural modifications that allow for
just sentencing but without excessive delay. If the defendant wishes to de-
fend himself personally, he should only do so during the closing allegations,
once all the evidence has been gathered, when the defendant can say exactly
what he wants, before sentencing.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               “Hot-head” Governors and Pins

              An immensely fascinating and rather enjoyable intellectual sport is
       that of speculating on the effects of pure chance. In fact, “chance” is a term
       that is only commodious, as chance itself is not the fruit of pure chance. It ad-
       heres to a strict cause-effect relationship, not always clearly discernable, such
       is the concomitant interference of thousands of other “chances” (there it goes
       again) in the crossing over of various cause-effect relationships. If acciden-
       tally swallowed by a boy, a pin, or indeed any other insignificant object, can
       decide the future of the planet. This small object may travel slowly through
       his body, reaching his heart several years later, when the boy - now an adult
       - is on the point of making a decisive decision regarding the destiny of hu-
       manity. I had an uncle who died in this manner, without reaching maturity.
              Is what I said above obscure? Not really. For example, if George W. Bush
       had unwittingly swallowed such a pin when he was a child and, afterwards,
       fearful of the reprehension of his parents, had not revealed the fact to them,
       coming to pass away prior to the year 2000 election, the world would be a
       very different place today. There would probably not have been any invasion
       of Iraq, because any other American president in office, normally more pru-
       dent, would have checked the (erroneous) information related to the alleged
       role of Saddam Hussein in the September 11th attacks in 2001. In the same
       way, he would have required more solid evidence that Saddam Hussein was
       in possession of the arms of mass destruction that were subsequently not
       found to exist. As Bush was being “pin-pricked” in another manner - in the
       soul - offended by the not only arrogant but also criminal attitudes of Sad-
       dam (the tyrant had planned to explode a bomb in order to kill the elder Bush
       while he was on a visit to Kuwait in 1993), mere suspicion of the existence
       of powerful lethal weapons, inflated by Republican “hawks”, fell on fertile
       ground, anxious to find a motive, or pretext, for bringing down the openly
       posturing enemy. As a result, the USA provoked a tumult that it is difficult
       to get out of without suffering humiliation. A tumult that has widespread

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

repercussions as a consequence of globalization. When things are not going
well for the United States and the country reduces its purchasing power, the
remainder of the world suffers with the state of the economy of its rich client.
       Personal limitations - Bush seems to be proud to be strictly “a man of
action” - also prevent the head of the most powerful country in the world
from discerning, with lucidity, the most intelligent attitude to take in relation
to the already rancorous conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinian
Arabs. To an ever greater extent, in modern times, thought should precede
action in the life of those in government. Hasty actions become fatal. What’s
done is done and not even God can change it. Not even theologians dare to
claim that God can change the past. It would be equivalent to denying his
existence, being contradictory inconsistent, something unthinkable in an in-
fallible being. At most, God can erase the facts from memory.
       There is no longer any room in the current world for Bush-style gov-
ernors, impetuous “blusterers” who act first and think later. Unfortunately,
there is a certain degree of risk that McCain would act in this way, if he were
to be elected. If Bush were a man of the kind who is more inclined to read-
ing or reflection, concerned, above all, with being fair, he would not have
been influenced to such a great extent by that suggested to him by his advi-
sors, vice-president and “tough guy” secretaries of defense - only interested
in their own good and that of the USA (“the rest is the rest”). Greater concern
with a more wide-ranging, global form of justice would certainly have had
the effect of avoiding the September eleventh attack.
       Why this hypothesis? Because the attack simply arose from hatred.
There was no financial interest on the part of the terrorists involved. And
what is it that principally feeds this hatred? The suffering of the Palestinians,
expelled from their lands, after a period of occupation of nearly two thousand
       Is Osama bin Laden a fanatic, a fundamentalist who ridiculously wishes
to force the world to believe in that which he believes? Yes. But he is also a
man who still has plenty of money to spend on his fantasies. He wants to

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       convert the whole world to Islam by force. Money in the wrong hands - and
       unwholesomely determined hands - is a catastrophe. Even, in the last in-
       stance, for the actual owner. Bin Laden will never have any peace. He lives in
       a mobile “death row”, in various caves which may explode at any moment,
       the target of a missile. And, after death, his soul (for those who believe in
       the existence of the soul) will not even have the consolation of being remem-
       bered for any length of time, because the world evolved and advanced far
       beyond his narrow-minded convictions. In prosaic terms, his soul was only
       “mal-informed”, mal-synchronized with the times in which he lived. A waste
       of determination - a quality, in theory, much appreciated.
              However, this fundamentalist hatred would not have been so intense,
       damaging and contagious - encouraging a legion of suicide attacks - if it
       had not had the emotional reinforcement of scenes of injustice committed
       against the Palestinians. If the Palestinians had been treated in a more hu-
       mane manner, even as an American ultimatum; if Bush had also taken the
       interests of the expelled Palestinians into account - as he should have, given
       the privileged position of his country in the world - he would have simply
       sent out this message to the Israelis, his American lobby and the rest of the
       world: “We, Americans, hereby swear to preserve the existence of Israel. We
       will never abandon this new nation, created by a people that has suffered so
       much in the past and now deserves tranquility. However, it is our moral duty
       as a preponderantly Christian nation and a world leader, to also look to the
       Arab populations that, without any blame of their own, have ended up being
       the victims of the uncontrolled return of the Jewish people. This being the
       case, the establishment of frontiers between these two peoples is inevitable.
       If the two sides cannot arrive at an agreement, by deadline “x”, it will be the
       responsibility of the UN to determine such frontiers, indemnifying those who
       have been prejudiced by such a decision”.
              However, this was not the policy adopted by Bush. He did not spend
       hours meditating on the issue, far from the “hawks” adept at war - always
       good business for manufacturers of arms and accessories. He did not make a

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

determined attempt to proceed with the diplomatic efforts initiated by the
Clinton government. This omission led to the discouragement and disagree-
ment of those Arabs most adept to war - irrespective of whether or not they
were fanatics - revolted by the pro-Jewish partiality of this powerful nation. A
nation that could, with its influence, wealth and military power, bring pres-
sure to bear on the creation of a new form of international justice that is
more effective than the current variety. It would be sufficient to give the
International Court of Justice greater powers, making compliance with its
rulings obligatory. This would not have been so difficult. Now, however, it
seems to be too late for Bush to obtain long-lasting peace in the region. His
prestige is minimal. Only his successor will be able to build freely negotiated
peace in the region or, preferably, an international legal body that can really
avoid wars or make them cease. I have already touched on this topic in other
articles, but it is worthwhile repeating my opinion.
       At this point, we will leave the controversial president who even has a
few engaging traits. He is likeable and receptive. He would do well in public
relations. He is loyal to his friends, a good husband, a good father, an excel-
lent son, God-fearing, cheerful and patriotic. His problem is that he is not the
right man for the position he holds, which is highly demanding on its occu-
pants. Today, patriotism has to be exercised in a manner that is different from
the patriotism of a few decades ago. With the rise of intense globalization, all
heads of government (particularly the most powerful) need to be aware that
their decisions, although legally directed solely to their own country, end up
having significant repercussions in other nations. It is no longer sufficient to
please the electorate of their country. It is necessary, at all costs, to attempt
to avoid prejudicing other countries. At least their voice should be heard, and
in a sympathetic manner. In a world that is ever more “neo”, it would not be
possible to lack “neopatriotism”, this being different from the previous ver-
sion, which was only concerned with an individual country. “For my home-
land, everything; for the rest, nothing!”
       The magazine “Newsweek”, dated February 11th 2008, published an

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       extensive and detailed report by Evan Thomas and others about John McCain,
       the senator who, at the present time, seems to be the most likely Republican
       candidate in the upcoming American elections. It is an article that should be
       read by all those interested in international politics (principally by the Ameri-
       can electorate), as it is almost a book - well summarized.
              McCain entered politics as a war hero. On October 23rd 1967, during
       the Vietnam War, he piloted a navy fighter aircraft over the city of Hanoi. His
       mission was to drop a few bombs on the city. This was an especially risky
       task, as he had to do this while under an intense barrage of artillery shells
       and SAM missiles which, in his words, looked more like “flying telephone
       poles”, given their size.
              One of these missiles locked on to his plane and exploded the right
       wing. While the aircraft fell spinning to the ground, he activated his ejection
       seat, escaping certain death. However, for some reason, it was a violent ejec-
       tion, breaking his right leg and both arms. He parachuted into a lake and,
       once detained by the enemy, his shoulder was shattered by a blow struck
       with a rifle butt, the effects of which are felt to this day. Besides this, he
       received bayonet wounds in the ankle and groin. Almost dead, he ended up
       recovering. He spent five years in a Vietnamese prison, subject to the rigors
       of extremely aggressive interrogations, during which he suffered beatings
       and blows in order to force him to reveal military details. By all accounts, it
       seems that he did not reveal such details, or revealed them in an incomplete
       manner. Nevertheless, given that John McCain is the son and grandson of
       admirals (the guards called him “the crown prince”), the communists offered
       him his freedom after one year in prison for propaganda reasons. MacCain,
       however, refused this privilege, saying that he would only accept liberty if
       all his fellow brothers in arms had the same benefit. As this was denied, he
       continued to be imprisoned for a further four years, only being released in
       1973, as the result of a peace agreement. He returned to his country as a hero.
       Some time later, he divorced his wife and married the rich heir of a drinks

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       According to the authors of the article, McCain is a nice guy. He likes
to tell and hear jokes, but cannot be easily opposed. At such times, he loses
control, becomes red in the face and shouts. On one occasion, he even pushed
the person who was speaking with him, Strom Thurmond, a ninety-year-old
senator. This is without even mentioning that, sometimes, when especially
irritated, he reverts to such swear words as “Fu.. you!” - as used against Sen-
ate colleague John Cornyn, from Texas. Anyway, this is what is stated in the
article in the American magazine.
       On the other hand, McCain is a respected man and certainly incorrupt-
ible. When it is suspected that there is something less than honest hidden
within a proposed law, he opens his mouth, argues and even harasses em-
ployees. He is feared.
       Weighing up all his virtues and defects, everything seems to indicate
that, as far as his country is concerned, he is a person compatible with the
presidency. Because, after all, he is honest and a patriot.
       However, in terms of improving the image of the USA (currently an es-
sential task), the possibility that he may become president of such a militarily
powerful nation gives rise to a certain degree of apprehension. A “hot-head”
as president of a relatively unimportant country does not represent a risk of a
global conflagration. This is due to the fact that, as his country is weak, with
no nuclear or biological weapons, the “hot-head” in question will soon be
deemed to be an international outcast in the event that he intends to assume
an attitude of emperor. For example, how could there be dialogue between a
“hot-head” American president and a representative of Hamas or Hezbollah,
or even the current president of Iran? Without dialogue, things will continue
to be as they are. Given the current situation, it is not enough for a man to
be honest. The greatest warriors are not necessarily the best diplomats, and
       With regard to this aspect, it would be far better - for the USA and the
world - if the future American president were a man or woman who is not
only honest and courageous, but also, and more importantly, calm and ca-

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       pable of listening to resentment that has been bottled up for a long period of
       time. Without going red in the face and replying with a raised voice. On this
       point, Barack Obama seems to offer the best perspective, much better than
       Hillary Clinton, who is also a little “hot-headed” and has already stated that
       she will not lower herself to “converse with terrorists”. Such a narrow clas-
       sification is debatable in a world that is still highly impregnated with cases
       of injustice. Chemical analysis of a terrorist may show the presence of infec-
       tions originating from many blows received in the past. The matter is a little
       technical, and not one for especially impatient politicians.
              By the way, there will be another article with a comparison of the per-
       sonalities of Obama and Hillary, with detailed biographies. The mind and
       temperament of politicians deserve more attention than their “programs”, as
       the latter are always prone to alteration and pleasing their television audi-
       ences. On the other hand, temperament is difficult to change. And it is not
       possible to rely on pins. It is far better to investigate biographies.

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      The Idealism of Oscar Niemeyer

       The left-wing monthly magazine “Caros Amigos”, which I have only
just read, but dates from July 2006, published an extensive and intelligent in-
terview with the famous architect Oscar Niemeyer, considered, almost unani-
mously, to be a genius in his profession. As everyone knows, Niemeyer is a
communist who has never attempted to conceal his convictions. These con-
victions are vigorously and fearlessly defended (he is one of the few people
with the courage to stand up for Stalin), it being impossible to doubt his
sincerity. He says what he thinks. Besides this, he does not attempt to ap-
pear more than he really is, a very common weakness when people are inter-
viewed. The understandable concern to shine, to appear more intelligent or
cultivated than one really is, does not even pass through Niemeyer’s mind.
Greater authenticity is impossible.
       Precisely because he is intelligent, ordinary and sincere, that which he
expressed in the interview can be considered as the epitome of the socialist
set of ideas. And it is this set of ideas that we will examine in this article.
       The socialist ideal, when really felt and held (as in the case of Niemeyer,
Luis Carlos Prestes, Trotsky and innumerous others), does not have a definite
“birthday” or point of origin. In all certainty, our cave-dwelling ancestors
already differed amongst themselves in terms of human solidarity. Perhaps
certain aged Neanderthals, already toothless at 38 years of age, weakened
and incapable of hunting, ate better than their equivalents in the neighbor-
ing cave. Nuances of concept - “scientific socialism”, for example – may have
dates (an event, a speech, a book, etc), but here we are dealing with an ideal
in its widest, most spontaneous and – if we have the courage to use the word
- most sentimental form.
       The ordinary vision of brutal inequality, the humiliation of the poor
and unemployed, has had considerable influence in nurturing socialism. It is
impossible to deny the importance of compassion, a feeling that dispenses
with theoretical education. Due to intellectual pride, the great theorizers of

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       socialism strive to minimize this most “trivial” fundamental aspect of their
       doctrine. They deal with the subject in an abstract manner, like great social
       scientists. Almost geometricians, they use arguments that are sometimes dif-
       ficult to follow, practically only accessible to professors of sociology and eco-
               Happily, this is not the case with Niemeyer, still as coherent and lucid
       in his interview as he has been throughout his one hundred years of life. He
       really feels sorry for those who are poor and needy. And he makes this very
       clear. He despises capitalism, ardently desires its immediate extinction and is
       sympathetic to any government that intends to make its country fully social-
       ist. If he read the interview, Hugo Chavez would likely have drawn strength
       from it.
               Following this introduction, and recognizing the individual value of
       this great artist in reinforced concrete, there is a need for a few arguments in
               The weak point in socialist theory lies in the assumption that man is an
       essentially just, altruistic, benevolent and impartial being, showing solidar-
       ity with his fellow men. This is not what we find in the real world. Man is “es-
       sentially” the contrary of this list of virtues. He is still dominated by instinc-
       tive animal responses. A minimal part of his soul is concerned with solidarity
       with his fellow men. At least at the beginning of this century, what is evident
       is an anxiety to be or have (more “have” than “be”) more than one’s neighbor.
       Almost everyone aspires to “differentiated treatment”. Banks are well aware
       of this and classify their clients by number of stars (without showing any fear
       of offending their more modest account holders). Perhaps they are not wor-
       ried about aggrieving their poorer clients because it is not they that choose
       the bank, it is their bosses. A small number of stars means more delays and
       fewer smiles, comfortable seats and cups of coffee. And if the bank, in an im-
       petuous show of egalitarianism, came to treat all clients in the same manner,
       it is possible that it would subsequently lament this “excess democracy”, as
       it would lose some of its best clients.

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      It will be said that this vulgar “ardent desire for differentiation” is ex-
clusively associated with capitalism - “this renegade regime” – and some-
thing nonexistent in socialism, it not being possible to say that such pride is
inherent in human nature. However, this is not exactly true. Everyone knows
that, prior to the fall of the European “communist world”, high-ranking em-
ployees of the communist party enjoyed privileges that were inaccessible to
mere workers. The “nomenclature elite” had advantages that contradicted
the intended equality preached by the regime. Such differentiation was de-
nounced by writers who, for this reason, brought down the wrath of satel-
lite governments on their heads. At the time when communism was at its
height in the Soviet Union, bureaucrats pretended to piously believe in Marx-
ist theories and the speeches of their leaders. When communism fell, there
were almost no protests. “Ideological conversion” was immediate, providing
evidence that the Marxist conviction demonstrated previously, over a num-
ber of years, was simply a desire for comfort and power, a wish to rise in the
established hierarchy. To minds such as these, Karl Marx was only a ticket to
commence their journey. In all certainty, the wives of these employees (gener-
ally more skeptical and realistic than their husbands) were well aware of such
things and pushed them forward in this direction. They did not want to be
inferior to their friends.
      Given that man is still encumbered (for how much longer?) with the
instinctive, animal and avaricious onus of intending to be something more
than his neighbor - at least in terms of wealth and well being - it is not yet
prudent to encourage ideas regarding the formation of wholly socialist or
communist countries. Being far too elegant, the theoretical suit of clothes
just would not fit the naked hunchback with dirty nails. Besides this, the
creation of a communist state at the present time - in the style intended by a
Hugo Chavez -would only lead to wars or arms races, in a world that is ever
more tormented by fear.
      It should not be forgotten that socialism, exactly because it is more
concerned with the distribution of wealth than its creation, does not have the

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       economic capacity to compete, in material terms, with the capitalist world.
       Countries that are uncompromisingly socialist are always poor. Winston
       Churchill once said that the inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing
       of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
              Wars are costly. They consume a great deal, and not only human blood.
       Modern technology, extremely sophisticated, requires an enormous amount
       of financial resources for the construction of aircraft that even dispense with
       the presence of a pilot. During the first war in Iraq, Iraqi tanks were easily hit
       by American fire. The Iraqis had no idea exactly where the rockets came from,
       in order to fire back at the enemy. Their technology was only sufficient for
       fighting the Iranians, not for confronting the United States. The USA, being
       technologically precautious, did not teach Saddam more than they believed
       that he needed to know. The marksmanship was not that of the American
       soldier, but a computer, which never missed its target. As a mere horrific
       hypothesis, should the Americans wish to annihilate Venezuela, they would
       be able to accomplish this in a few hours. They do not act in this way solely
       for political and economic considerations that it would take too long to go
       into here, and you the reader know them better than I. Mention is only made
       of this destructive potential in order to emphasize that, at the present time,
       making warlike threats against the capitalist world is an infantile procedure.
       If he is intelligent, Chavez should improve his manners, calming rather than
       challenging his main petroleum client. Precisely because capitalism has a side
       that is useful, forceful and advantageous for humanity. One just does not
       throw out such a great source of energy. And capitalism is exactly this: a so-
       cial technique for the release of energy.
              To those who tolerate the use of metaphors, I would like to take the
       liberty of saying that the energy released by capitalism has a certain similar-
       ity to the force liberated by the atom. Although the latter is minimal in size,
       it has in its interior a “disproportional” amount of energy which, if put to
       good use, could illuminate the whole planet if one so desired. Irrespective
       of whether it is nuclear or individual in nature, energy is equally capable of

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

serving to the benefit or detriment of mankind. It only depends on who is
responsible for handling it.
       To the contrary of socialism, capitalism liberates the citizen - this small
social “atom” - to invent and undertake whatever it is that he or she sees
fit, as long as this does not cause any evident verifiable damage to the com-
munity. Besides this, in all races and populations, there is a small percentage
of people with creative minds (or minds that are terribly persistent in their
efforts) who, even when they egoistically only think of themselves and their
families, end up constructing things and inventing techniques that, when
successful, spur their countries forward with a vigorous impulse. As such
discoveries and innovations would not result in any profits if they remained
inactive, they end up being patented and transformed in realities that give
rise to technological advances. Who invented the cell phone? I don’t know,
but obviously the initial idea came from one individual or several people. If it
were the case that such people had to wait for orders from the government -
“invent this thing!” - progress would be very slow. The bureaucracy inherent
in socialism (more concerned with avoiding a situation where some individu-
als become more wealthy than others), suffocates a large part of individual
creativity or productivity.
       Given that people vary a great deal in their physical, intellectual and
moral attributes, a regime that imposes a particular philosophy (maintaining
vigilance in order to ensure that all individuals remain “equal”) ends up plac-
ing the country in fetters. It is this that occurred with socialism in its pure
state in the now-extinct Soviet Union.
       Therefore, China appears to be taking the right path, with its hybrid
system of permitting the harmonious coexistence of two regimes. China rec-
ognized that man - with all his defects associated with egoism - needs to be
free in order to produce and generate wealth. Once wealth is created, a por-
tion that is understood to be most suitable (levied in the form of taxes) is de-
ducted in order to maintain the State. The same thing occurs in Scandinavian
countries, which manage to mix both systems, without any ostentation. Care

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       is taken of the citizen from the cradle to the grave, but they accept the game
       of capitalism. No difficulties are put in the way of creating companies. Besides
       this, the system functions in a manner that is so ideal that the rich avoid any
       ostentation. In such countries, it is considered “unseemly” and “vulgar” to
       display one’s wealth. It is an aspect that others have to discover. On the other
       hand, those who receive unemployment benefit (a considerable amount by
       our standards) feel ashamed of this situation, and do not show any intention
       of continuing to receive payment without working for any length of time.
              Of course, as a human being, a capitalist can be immensely avaricious.
       Once a highway has been privatized, and if left without any government su-
       pervision, the capitalist would install a toll booth every two hundred meters.
       Someone once said that capitalism is good but one should not trust capital-
       ists. In order to avoid this economic “greed”, there are regulatory agencies
       that function - or should function - as the “super-ego” of capitalism. The State
       will always have mechanisms in place in order to clip the wings of those busi-
       nesspeople most prone to unwholesome ambition.
              However, capitalism also has its negative side: it brutalizes man. It
       transforms him into a machine for making money. The world becomes an
       arena. Even an envied CEO may have sleepless nights, worrying about “pro-
       ducing results” and attaining targets. If such targets are not attained, he is
       simply cast aside, no importance being given to any good excuses that are
       put forward. There will always be others who have the ambition to occupy
       his position. Young women of lesser status are forced, either directly or indi-
       rectly, to lie a little (or a lot) on the telephone, when the product they are try-
       ing to sell is not of very high quality. Even sex becomes a commercial article,
       in newspapers, on the Internet and inside and outside companies. Those who
       are able should look after themselves, because life is short and female beauty
       endures for an even shorter period of time. “Who will guarantee that my old
       age is free of embarrassment?”
              If all this is true of capitalism, it is also true of socialism, but with the
       aggravating factor of greater poverty.

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       If we really want a world that is less imperfect, an image comes to
mind that adequately summarizes the path to be followed: humanity is a
boat in which the motor is capitalist, but the helmsman has socialist tenden-
cies. Only tendencies (not fanaticism), because if he turns the wheel too far
to the left, the boat will come to navigate in circles. Once all the provisions
have been consumed, the crew and passengers will feel pangs of hunger. The
only reason they do not get to the stage of cannibalism is that, prior to this,
the desperate passengers will toss the helmsman into the sea.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq? What’s this, Bartle Bull?!

              As Carlos Lacerda, the brilliant journalist and politician who enchanted
       and startled Brazil for many years - contributing decisively to the suicide of
       Getúlio Vargas - used to say “what is important is the version, not the fact”.
              In reality, virtuosity in the preparation of texts, in conjunction with
       specialized culture, is rather like a “judged case” in the judicial area: “white is
       made to look like black, and black to look like white”. The “real” truth, always
       problematic, is another department altogether. For example, in judgments
       made during Trial by Jury, proof, in itself, has a relative value. Just as impor-
       tant, or even more important - if there is weakness in the expository ability
       of the opposing party - is the capability of persuasion, that which in past
       decades was known as “oratory”, a technique that is currently somewhat
       out of fashion as it is associated with theatrical exaggeration, with eyes full
       of tears. Deceiving human beings is a widely cultivated art. In everything: in
       advertising, business, politics and the arts. Those people who watch shows
       by the illusionist David Copperfield are only unable to believe their own eyes
       because the artist confesses that his illusions are no more than tricks.
              I repeat, what is really important is the version. The fact is irrelevant.
       This is the first thought that comes to mind reading the somewhat lengthy
       article - for newspapers - by Mario Vargas Llosa, in the “O Estado de S. Paulo”
       newspaper dated 11-11-2007. The Peruvian novelist and article writer makes
       a review of the essay entitled “Mission Accomplished” by Englishman Bartle
       Bull, referred to by Vargas Llosa as a “specialist” in the Middle East. Dear
       reader, always mistrust the label of “specialist”, this being a verbal formula
       used in order to ensure that others accept your opinion with less criticism. It
       is necessary to have a certain degree of courage in order to openly contradict
       a “specialist”.
              Returning to the main topic, with a great deal of aptitude (or possibly
       astuteness), Bartle Bull shows the invasion of Iraq as, after all, something
       positive. In the summary made by Vargas Llosa, Bull “ignores the question

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

of whether the decision to intervene in Iraq was right or wrong - something
that historians will decide in the future” - and limits himself to comparing
the current situation in the country with that found almost four and a half
years ago, when the United States, Great Britain and a group of allied coun-
tries decided to put an end to the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. He main-
tains that, at the present time, coalition forces are present in Iraq with the
agreement of a democratically elected government and with a mandate that
is renewed by the UN each year (...). To his way of thinking, the strategic ob-
jectives of intervention have been attained. Iraq did not disintegrate and its
territorial and political unity seems to be firmer now than previously...” And
so he goes on, indirectly praising, under the guise of “objectivity”, the policy
of George W. Bush in the Middle East.
       I don’t know what is behind this article by Bartle Bull. Is he sincerely
seeking the truth, or is it a desire to please the controversial American presi-
dent, for one reason or another. There is certainly astuteness when he “ig-
nores the question” (the most prickly and important one, it should be noted)
“of whether the decision to intervene in Iraq was right or wrong - something
that historians will decide in the future”.
       Practically all the best informed people in international policy (without
self-seeking connections with the Bush government) know that, in bringing
down Saddam Hussein - a dictator not seen in a good light but who was
nevertheless the president of a country - Bush saw an excellent opportunity
not only to improve and tranquilize petroleum supplies to the USA, but also
satisfy a long-standing grudge against this violent head of state. Reportedly,
Saddam even made plans to kill the elder George Bush. And - do not doubt
this noble sentiment - it is difficult for a good son to forget such an offense.
Following the attack on September 11th 2001, the auspicious idea occurred
to W. Bush that Saddam was the mentor of this aggression. With this, various
issues would be resolved. These included the more tranquil - and certainly
cheaper - provision of petroleum; the exemplary downfall and punishment
- deservedly, if he were correct in his suspicions - of a perverse aggressor

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       who dared to attack America on its own soil, killing innocent civilians; and,
       finally, an opportunity to obtain the support of the American public through
       his vigorous response to the attack. At the time, opinion polls were not very
       favorable with respect to Bush. In crowning these private reasons for bring-
       ing down a foreign government (an illegal act in terms of International Law),
       Bush placed a philosophical cherry on top of the cake - that of political melio-
       ration of the Middle East. Once Saddam had been deposed, democracy - with
       elections, etc - would be implemented in Iraq and spread, in a contagious
       manner, throughout the whole region. Apparently, the bruising remedy of
       invading Iraq would not have any significant side effects.
              The fact is that, on investigating the origin of the attacks on the Twin
       Towers and the Pentagon, no evidence was found indicating that Saddam
       Hussein was behind this diabolical plan. The individual who actually planned
       the attacks was Bin Laden, a Saudi subject who had fallen out with his family
       and who dwelt on the idea, because he daydreamed, that (for better or worse)
       the world had to become Muslim - a kind of craziness, although not peaceful.
              When it was found that Saddam was not responsible for the September
       eleventh attacks, it was therefore necessary to encounter some other kind of
       hazard in Saddam. “I know!”, suggested an imaginary “falcon”: - “The per-
       verse dictator is fabricating and stockpiling atomic and biological weapons”.
       In fact, this was also found not to be true and, after the invasion, nothing was
       encountered. Thus, summing up, the invasion was the fruit of bad faith or
       suspect political precipitation, something strange in a country with sophis-
       ticated intelligence agencies. Bush, however, being the practical man that he
       is, didn’t give up so easily: “Well, as we are already here, there is no reason
       why we should not develop the “cherry” (using the metaphor of the cake
       once again), transforming Iraq into a democracy and hanging its perverse
       president”. And it is this that was done.
              Bartle Bull, however, cleverly avoids dealing with this ethical issue.
       Even when it is clear that the political reasoning behind the invasion was in-
       defensible. It didn’t help matters saying, in a commodious manner, that this

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

task would be left for future historians. He went off on a tangent, avoiding
the actual ethical aspect of the invasion.
      Shortly after the invasion of Iraq, I wrote an article purely as a specula-
tive exercise (it can be found on my website www.franciscopinheirorodrigues. stating that future historians could see this invasion as a benefit to
humanity, even if it does violate International Law and ethical standards. The
reason for this thinking is that, for decades, the Middle East has been “shack-
led” (it’s the best word I can think of) by political-religious concepts that
impoverish and retard the development of its peoples. If it were not for pe-
troleum and gas, blessings granted by nature, the misery of the region would
be unbearable. And as the political-religious connection has an invincible and
explosive armour shell due to religion - those who dare to dismantle it run
the risk of losing their life - only a political “shakeup” of great magnitude
would be able to change this situation. Such a “shakeup” would be the inva-
sion of Iraq, even if almost totally based on untruths.
      In a certain way, my speculative exercise coincides with the view put
forward in the article by Bartle Bull. The difference is that I recognize the
ethical infraction committed by the Bush government, whereas Bull seems to
agree with it and even advocate it.
      Bull emphasizes that the Sunni Muslims have already started to accept
the Iraqi government and that an initial glimpse of democracy can be seen
in the invaded country. Perhaps in five or ten years, democracy will work,
without terrorism. Our prayers are that this will be the outcome, as the popu-
lation cannot continue to live indefinitely in endless purgatory. At the heart
of the matter, it is the well being of the people that is of concern. With the
passage of time, the worst injustices can be forgotten and even transformed
into useful steps forward. People need to live, work and progress and cannot
afford the luxury of eternally lamenting injustices suffered in the past. In
present-day Japan, if young people are questioned as to whether they hold a
grudge against the Americans, for the nuclear bombs dropped in 1945, most
would say that one is dealing with “water under the bridge”. They would say

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       this while perhaps chewing gum, completely westernized. The passage of
       time cures wounds and consolidates the very fabric of society.
              The history of humanity shows us innumerous invasions and instanc-
       es of abuse of all kinds. This was routine. More numerous or better armed
       groups invaded neighboring areas, killing the men and raping the widows
       and daughters. Over the years, the widows or daughters of those who were
       killed became transformed into wives and, perhaps, even came to love their
       new husbands. Things of the past... The Vikings, ferocious warriors that they
       were, used to lay surprise siege to the castles of England and Scotland, de-
       manding that the most beautiful young women be handed over to them. In
       the event that their demand was not met, they burned the castles and killed
       all the men. As those under siege had no other alternative, the young wom-
       en were carried off to Scandinavia and transformed into spouses, produc-
       ing comely children. There are those that affirm that Scandinavian women
       are particularly beautiful as a result of the continuous “plundering” of genes
       transmitting beauty. Nevertheless, not even for this reason can it be asserted
       that the snatching and rape - initially... - of the women were praiseworthy
       actions. However, it seems that Bartle Bull thinks in a similar way when he
       leads us to understand that Bush did the right thing by invading Iraq.
              It is clear that, with the passing of time, the situation will normalize in
       Iraq, with positive repercussions throughout the region. However, the human
       and material price has been excessive, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqi
       dead and several thousand American soldiers dead or crippled. With half of
       the sum spent on this war, the African continent could have achieved an im-
       mense step forward in quality, in terms of health, education and productivity.
              If the ultimate result of such violence were envisaged in a benevolent
       manner - as Bartle Bull suggests it should be - Hitler would have been a great
       involuntary benefactor of the Jews. This is because, by the mass killing of
       Jews, he made worldwide public opinion, rightly shocked, totally sympa-
       thetic to their desire to have a homeland, a land wholly their own. If it were
       not for the Holocaust (whatever the exact number of those exterminated),

                                                         Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

perhaps the State of Israel would not exist today in Palestine. This State
would possibly be located in Argentine territory or in Uganda, areas that
were offered to the Jews, but not accepted because their religion required
(always religion...) that their homeland be Palestine. Such tenacity, in turn,
generated the equally tenacious resentment of the Palestinians, who had
been there for centuries and were gradually expelled, without any kind of
consideration whatsoever. Such injustice is currently the major source of
nurture of Islamic terrorism.
      Any human action or omission (when one expects action) generates con-
sequences. Therefore, it would not be surprising if, with the passage of time,
things come to normalize in Iraq and a western style of democracy is installed
there, with benefits that disseminate throughout the whole Middle East.
      In closing, it can be said that Bull made an erroneous lunge with his
horns at the red cape, when he should have also butted, or at least grazed,
the Texan toreador. The “mission accomplished” has been too costly, in all
senses of the word.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               Testosterone and its influence on politics

              Even anyone who is only minimally curious regarding the role of bio-
       logical factors in the behavior of human beings knows that testosterone - a
       hormone produced naturally by the testicles (in men) and the ovaries and
       super-renal glands (in women) - has a great deal of influence on people’s
       daily lives. In men, production of this hormone is between twenty and thirty
       times greater that that found in women. In theory, the greater the level of
       production of this hormone in an individual, the greater the degree of aggres-
       siveness and propensity for sexual activity. The same seems to occur in other
       species of mammals. In a cage of gorillas or chimpanzees, a few injections of
       a large dose of this hormone in a male monkey that has always been one of
       the most tranquil and submissive makes his aggressiveness increase together
       with his tendency to dominate both females and other males. He becomes
       the cage “strongman”.
              A study performed by James Dabbs and Alan Booth on 4,462 members
       of the armed forces between 30 and 40 years of age (I presume they were
       Americans, but the same result should be obtained in the case of all races and
       communities) showed that men with the highest levels of testosterone pro-
       duction have the least propensity to marry and, when they do wed - perhaps
       already with inner doubts as to whether they will be able to maintain a mo-
       nogamous relationship indefinitely - they show a greater number of marital
       problems than men with low production of this hormone. According to the
       aforementioned study, the probability of extra-marital relationships occur-
       ring in “studs” is double that which is found in individuals with lower levels
       of testosterone production.
              This story is not mentioned here in order to favor or pardon the weak-
       nesses of those who have the “luck/misfortune” - there is generally a pre-
       dominance of misfortune - of being born with this hormonal asset. Ideally, in
       theory, a highly sexualized husband, but with steadfast moral values, can re-
       main faithful in marriage - even when his partner has totally lost her physical

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

attractions - whereas a husband who is not well endowed in this area - and
also as far as good sense is concerned - may act as a “Don Juan”. That which
Nature gives us or denies us at birth may, in theory, be compensated by natu-
ral strength of character, the influence of religion or strict moral education
- as long as this is fully accepted. In theory, I repeat, given that the normal
situation found is that of a person behaving according to his or her nature.
Good old-fashioned “willpower”, so applauded by our ancestors, is no longer
stimulated. It has gone out of fashion, replaced by chemical resources, plastic
surgery and other “tricks” that dispense with the disagreeable task of fight-
ing against ourselves.
       Despite being a woman, Margaret Thatcher had a greater degree of
courage than that shown by many politicians of her time. Ben Gurion, one
of the founders of the State of Israel, used to say that Golda Meir was “the
only man in my cabinet”. And both women were normal or, to put it a bet-
ter way (one can never be too cautious in this minefield of nomenclature),
they maintained the standard heterosexual procedure of the majority. They
married, had children, etc. There are two forms of bravery: that which is
physical, natural, muscular and glandular in origin, and that which arises
from the mind or “spirit”, depending on the preference of the reader. For the
benefit of those who do not know, in antiquity, in those countries that al-
lowed the practice of castrating boys, such individuals sometimes followed a
career in the armed forces and became generals and admirals capable of great
military achievements. It is possible that they acted more “coldly” than their
colleagues charged with higher hormone levels, but perhaps with greater ef-
fectiveness and no lesser tenacity. Generals need to have astuteness rather
than physical courage.
       An interesting aspect of the hormone in question lies in the fact that
it has no influence on choice of the object of desire. It was thought that by
giving homosexuals testosterone injections they would be transformed into
heterosexuals. This, however, did not occur. Such injections only stimulated
their libido, without altering their sexual preferences. All this possibly goes

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       to prove that sexual inclination (disregarding trauma in infancy and certain
       inducements) is governed by the brain - or to a much greater extent by the
       brain than the chemical composition of the blood.
             After this brief and amateurish biological digression, the reader is prob-
       ably asking: what does all this have to do with the “politics” referred to in the
       heading of this article. I will explain.
             In the western world, there is a long list of politicians who have been
       prejudiced by their extramarital “fickleness”, in all probability the result of
       a high natural hormone level. Presidents of the republic and ministers have
       already suffered due to this “hormonal revolt”. Clinton - a very reasonable
       president, much better than his puritanical successor - was almost subject
       to an impeachment process. Not for that which physically occurred between
       him and a trainee, but because he allegedly lied when giving evidence under
       oath - denying the facts with prodigious hermeneutical contortions without
       actually arriving at the expression “sexual relations”. His political enemies -
       some possibly more adept at womanizing than Clinton - did everything they
       could in order to ensure that a verbal slip would mean his removal from the
       presidency. In this area, the degree of hypocrisy is truly impressive.
             If he had not been assassinated when at the peak of his attraction, John
       Kennedy would certainly have undergone many trails and tribulations when
       details of his private life came to light. Something that would have happened,
       sooner or later, given that American investigative journalism knows no lim-
       its. Whoever read “The Dark Side of Camelot”, subtitle “Sex and Corruption in
       the Kennedy Era”, by Seymour Hersh, must have felt somewhat disappointed
       on getting to know what went on behind the scenes of the presidency of a
       leader who impressed through his enthusiasm, congeniality and youth. And
       even more impressed, in a negative manner, by the influence of his father,
       who was an extremely astute and ambitious man, without any scruples. As
       a public man, John Kennedy’s “weak point” lay in his sexual behavior - toler-
       able in a single man, but inadequate in the case of the president of a country
       with deep-seated Christian roots.

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       Franklin Delano Roosevelt who, to my mind, was one of the greatest
presidents of any country, at any time, also had his moments of, let’s say,
conjugal “irregularity”. Despite the fact that he was confined to a wheelchair,
due to poliomyelitis contracted in adult life, he had a long-lasting love affair
with his nurse. As his public prestige was immense, gossip mongering jour-
nalists abstained from writing on the matter with the usual obduracy em-
ployed when a president is detested. He was saved from this by the press, due
to his strength of character and superior vision as a statesman. In England,
various politicians have had their reputation ruined as a result of being “be-
trayed”, at some point in time, by hormonal “influence”. In continental Eu-
rope, extra-marital affairs on the part of presidents and prime-ministers are
tolerated to a greater extent; however, there is a need for great competence
in leading the country - as well as prestige in the eyes of the public - in order
to contain the unwholesome curiosity of reporters (who are not always saints
themselves...). Enemies - saints and sinners - are always watchful. Not actu-
ally concerned with the question of morals, but with the political gains they
can extract from personal weaknesses in the struggle for power. After all, the
personal sexual life of politicians, in the so-called Christian Civilization, has a
somewhat excessive role, sometimes allowing the rise to power of mediocre
individuals, who only rise in this way because they are good husbands. It is
the country that suffers with this kind of distortion. Ultimately, in the life of
public men, the natural “poison” of such a hormone means that they can find
themselves in a “compromising situation”, in other words, exposed to the
danger of demoralization or blackmail.
       I am not saying here that married politicians do not need to behave as
such. The ideal is as follows: the highest degree of correctness in both public
and private life. I would just like to mention that politicians should be judged
to a much greater degree based on their overall qualities as statesmen rather
than their marital behavior. Their private lives should continue to be private.
A problem that is solely their own and that of their spouses.
       So what is the point I am trying to make, besides recommending a

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       certain degree of tolerance with respect to the marital failings of good
              My ultimate intention is that of comparing the level of vigilance that
       politicians are subject to in the western world with that encountered by poli-
       ticians in the Islamic world. This is because the Islamic religion allows a cer-
       tain degree of polygamy, according to the legislation in effect in each country.
       Given that he no longer feels any enthusiasm for his wife (or any number of
       his wives), the political head of Islam, incited by the “vile hormone”, is able
       to add another one. He does not need to “betray” anyone. And, as there is no
       “betrayal”, he is not subject to attacks on the part of his gossip mongering
       adversaries. No time and energy is wasted concealing “his crime”. There is
       no traditional “compromising situation” that shadows the movements of the
       western politician.
              I have never interviewed, nor read any interviews given by Muslim
       wives (although I intend to do this in the near future), telling of what they
       feel when their husband has other wives living under the same roof. Is there
       no jealousy among them? I only know that the oldest wife retains a certain
       degree of ascendance over her younger “colleagues”. Islam allows a man to
       have more than one wife, “as long as he treats them well”. However, would
       it be possible for the man to love them equally?
              Simply dealing with this topic causes discomfort, principally for mar-
       ried readers with a Christian or Jewish background. As far as these individu-
       als are concerned, it seems undisputed and decent that a man can only love
       one woman; never two, simultaneously. If this is the case, how is it possible
       to explain the apparent tranquility of Muslim homes in which a man cohabits
       with two or more women?
              An extraordinary Jewish writer, Isaac B. Singer, who was awarded the
       Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978 was, to my knowledge, the only writer to
       have clearly stated, in one of his books (I do not remember which one), that
       a man can love more than one woman at the same time. Imagine the moral
       courage that he had to gather in order to say something like this, confronting

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

a very real taboo, not only among Jews, but also among Christians. If he ex-
ternalized this thought during a presentation, he would certainly be lynched
by the married women present; although perhaps defended by a few single
or separated females. For my part, as an amateur novelist, I am sure that men
are only naturally monogamous when blindly in love. Once the phase of be-
ing blindly in love has passed, they are no longer essentially monogamous. If,
however, a man does continue to act in a monogamous fashion, it is certainly
due to the influence of religion or special moral education.
       Finally, what is the conclusion of this article? Is the author really in-
sanely suggesting that Christians should adopt legalized polygamy in order
to neutralize the damage (fighting between couples, separations, divorces,
wrongs done to younger children, “paparazzi”, yellow journalism, impeach-
ment of good politicians, etc) caused by the savage and irresponsible hor-
mone known as testosterone?
       This is unthinkable, both at the present time and in the next few de-
cades. However, when the right moment arrives, humanity will find the path
to be followed. It will discover a point of equilibrium in addressing the advan-
tages and disadvantages of this hormone (both constructive and devastating
at the same time) that allowed for the propagation of life, creative impulse
in the arts, and heroic and sporting achievements. Even Law, principally the
Penal Code, owes part of its construction to the anti-social effects of this
problematic hormone.
       A little philosophical digression is perhaps tolerable in the current
world, in which anything and everything is open to discussion, with a great-
er or lesser degree of wisdom and ferocity.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               Chile-Peru Maritime Frontier Dispute

              Asking the reader’s pardon for my continuing insistence regarding the
       need for world government, beginning in the jurisdictional area - for this pur-
       pose we have the International Court of Justice, although this organ is still
       rather anemic due to its dependence upon the UN Security Council in order
       to implement its decisions - which the latter only does when convenient - , a
       few brief thoughts are in order here concerning the current dispute between
       Peru and Chile with respect to the new maritime map adopted by Peru.
              Peru is only at fault regarding the adoption of an adequate “method”
       or “process”, changing treaties signed in 1952 and 1954 without consulting
       Chile. Such treaties, even if unjust and signed under pressure, cannot be uni-
       laterally broken without any kind of “supervision” on the part of a higher au-
       thority. A specialist and impartial “third party”; a presumably competent and
       equidistant “judge”. If one of the parties does this, using force, the other sees
       itself as obliged to react, even in a warlike manner, concerned that it may be
       demoralized in the eyes of fellow citizens, who are generally mal-informed.
       Occasionally obtuse “patriotism” obliges “forceful responses” on the part of
       the government that is prejudiced by the breaking of treaties, even if they
       are unjust as far as the other party is concerned. The ability to feel another’s
       pain is a rarity.
              With regard to the “merit” of the case, the substance of the conflict,
       everything seems to indicate that Peru has good grounds for its action. It is
       now necessary for the International Court of Justice - it should be convened,
       with urgency - to re-establish international justice, that of the most real and
       profound kind, taking into account not only the actual text of the treaties,
       but also the way in which they came into being and fairness criteria. It is not
       sufficient to simply interpret the wording of these treaties. As the Bible says
       “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life”. Even in the internal justice of
       individual countries, if one of the parties involved convinces the judge that
       a particular contract, or even part of it, is the evident result of trickery or

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

coercion (either physical or economic), thus causing unjust harm to the other
party, it can, as judge, pronounce a decision that corrects the evident injus-
tice implicit in the contract.
       Looking at the diagrammatic map shown in today’s “Estado de São
Paulo” newspaper, it can be seen that, in the aforementioned treaties, Chile
managed to ensure that its maritime waters had a line parallel to the Equator
as their uppermost limit. With this, it seriously prejudiced Peru, as the coast
of this country curves to the left, in a westerly direction, thus significantly
narrowing the area in which it is free to exercise offshore fishing activities.
If there were not this curve to the west, Peru would not be able to complain.
However, this inclination to the west exists. If this curve were even more
accentuated, Peru would totally lose its offshore fishing area along a consid-
erable extent of its coastline. One only needs to look at the map in order to
see who is right in terms of merit, although the “method” employed by Peru
cannot be condoned. If this country approaches the International Court of
Justice with a view to obtaining a ruling regarding its claim - and it persists
in urging fairness - it will certainly win its case. In addition, the two countries
in dispute do not have that enormous political clout that encourages the los-
ing party to not comply with the ruling. Only extremely strong countries in
economic and military terms (e.g., USA and Russia) can afford the luxury of
non-compliance with rulings made by the highest court in the world. Such
countries do not include Peru and Chile.
       Now, as a certainly unnecessary reminder, it is hoped that the Interna-
tional Court of Justice is not sought solely to say whether or not the unilat-
eral breaking of the aforementioned treaties was “illegal”. If the court is only
approached in this limited manner, it is going to say - technically bound by
the form in which the initial request was made - that Peru is in the wrong, it
breached contracts. It is essential that Peru approach the International Court
of Justice not with a view to discussing the recent act of breaking prior agree-
ments, but in order to examine the intrinsic validity of the 1952 and 1954 ac-
cords, which were certainly signed under an intense threat of the use of force.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

              The interests of Bolivia should also be included in this recommendable
       future appeal, as this country has claimed an outlet to the sea for decades.
       Such an outlet has not been obtained due to its weaker position in economic,
       political and military terms. Perhaps the Chilean government (currently led
       by a highly admirable woman) would even look on the Bolivian claim with
       a degree of personal sympathy, but the half-ignorant “patriotic” masses, a
       neurological plague inherent in all countries, oblige those in government to
       adopt attitudes that are more ignorant and intolerant than their personal
              If successfully resolved by the International Court of Justice (there is no
       lack of technically qualified magistrates, they are the cream of International
       Law), this dispute between the two countries in question - essentially three,
       if one also includes Bolivia - would not only be of extreme benefit to the re-
       gion, but it would also show the world that this UN Court is a highly reliable
       body and a blessing to humanity. Passing judgment that is truly wise, legal
       and moral, it would demonstrate that very little escapes its scrutiny and that
       it is possible to neutralize disputes before they even materialize.

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      Condoleezza and her legacy

       On 06-11-2007, the magazine Newsweek published a report and an in-
terview, entitled “The Lady and the Veep” and “The Times are Different”,
respectively, which reveal a certain degree of frustration on the part of US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, for not having a achieved a “big break-
through” to date during her tenure of the most important foreign policy posi-
tion of that powerful nation. So important that, in some way, “American for-
eign policy” is almost like saying “internal policy”, such is the influence and
omnipresence of the USA in innumerous countries. If not a physical military
presence, at least one of a mercantile, cultural and ideological nature. And
Rice is notably low key in expressing any hope that this “big breakthrough”
still comes to occur by the end of President Bush’s mandate.
       Rice is an engaging, intelligent, disciplined and tenacious woman, with
a loyalty that I am only not defining as “canine” because the term would im-
ply a fault, a lack of personality. Voluntary blindness is not recommendable
in anyone, much less so in a position that requires, due to its complexity, not
only one pair of eyes, but various, as in the case of spiders. Besides being
both extensive and sticky, the global spider web is subject to the advance of
a variety of yellow, Slavic or fundamentalist arachnids. There are rival spi-
ders appearing everywhere, including the region found to the north of South
       Loyalty is a noble quality that should be present in any Secretary of
State. Such a person will never be able to “betray”, even in a mild manner, the
president who called him or her to office. If the Secretary of State disagrees
with the President’s policy and is unable to influence him with absolute in-
tellectual honesty, the person in question should request to be relieved of his
or her duties. In the event that a decision is made to continue in office, this
person will have to forfeit most of his or her own personal vision, although
he or she may still remain useful to the country by counterbalancing the pos-
sibly mal-intentioned influences of other politicians who have an effect on

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       the President’s way of thinking. At present, Rice is being useful to the Ameri-
       can nation because she counterbalances the high degree of influence of Dick
       Cheney, a self-confessed “falcon” who only thinks of patriotic armed attacks,
       strategic advances and, probably, the good profits of those interests that he
       sponsors. He should be the idol of the American arms industry - the more
       conflicts the better… -, as well as oil-related interests. If it were not for Rice
       and possibly Bush, he would have already ordered the bombing of Iranian
       nuclear facilities. In all certainty, Cheney honestly considers himself to be a
       great patriot. Not of the “simple, besotted, nice guy” kind, but of the “realist”,
       “tough guy” kind, someone who values the only thing that really matters on
       the international scene: military and economic power. These are almost al-
       ways powers that go hand in hand, because sophisticated artifacts are costly.
       But let’s forget Cheney, who came in here like the meddlesome person he is.
              Some time ago, I wrote an article, published on the Internet - “Condo-
       leeza, Distance Yourself from Bush!” (
       br) - “advising” (who do you think you are, you insignificant person?) Rice to
       leave the Bush government if she wishes to be considered one day as a candi-
       date in an American presidential election. At the time, Bush already showed
       evidence of several involuntary deficiencies regarding his capacity in deal-
       ing with important problems. But Condoleezza preferred to stay. In part, for
       sure, in order to remain in evidence in the news, but also, one presumes, for
       reasons of loyalty and patriotism (every individual is a potpourri of motives,
       although he or she normally only mentions the most admirable). Remain-
       ing in government, she would serve as a counterpart to the bellicose fury of
       Donald Rumsfeld, the then all-powerful Secretary of Defense; and to Cheney
       himself, also well-versed in force and good business dealings. By remaining
       in office, she did a lot of good for her country, but not much for herself, if she
       intended to attain a level never previously reached by a woman (moreover, a
       black woman) in the USA, namely: the presidency of the republic.
              However, there is no reason for Rice to lose heart. She still has an im-
       mense chance in her remaining months. She could attempt to convince her

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

esteemed Bush to inaugurate a new chapter in the turbulent history of hu-
manity: give the International Court of Justice the power that it still lacks
and demoralizes it - i.e., the power to require compliance with its decisions.
As everyone knows, this court is able to issue judicial rulings and decide on
disputes between individual states. However, it does not have sufficient clout
to enforce the sentence. The losing party in the suit only complies with the
court ruling if it so wishes. Once judgment has been passed, sovereignty, a
concept that we may currently think of as “ailing” and outdated, prevents the
court from forcing the losing party - therefore the wrongful party - to comply
with that which has been decided. In those cases when the court decision is
not obeyed (something that frequently occurs), it is able to direct the matter
to the Security Council - often referred to as the “muscles” of the UN. Once
the decision has been turned over to the Security Council, the International
Court of Justice “washes its hands” of the matter. In fact, the Security Council
is at liberty to consider the sentence with political focus, subject to various
“social conventions” and convenience criteria in which straightforward force
plays a preponderant role. This being the case, the Hague Tribunal - the court
is based in this Dutch city - loses even more relevance. It becomes a kind
of institution for high-level academic studies, the dream of all jurists in the
international field, because the cream of those well-versed in International
Law are to be found therein, with the advantageous prohibition of exercising
any other kind of lucrative activity, gains exempt from income tax and a long,
renewable mandate. In summary, what was originally “justice” in the hands
of the Court becomes “politics”, or the justice of the strongest, in the execu-
tion phase. In those cases where there is such justice, as the Security Council
may also “forget” the issue.
       If, thinking now of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this “one step fur-
ther” were taken - obligatory compliance with the court ruling - and the
peace attained that has been awaited for more than forty years of bloodshed,
Condoleezza would be remembered as one of the greatest minds - and even
hearts - of the century, well deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize. Then it would

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       be perfectly possible to consider a presidential candidacy. Bush himself would
       come to be seen in a new light, pardoned for most of his lies, from his point
       of view certainly only “well-intentioned untruths”...“something inevitable in
       politics... where have you come across politics without lies?... even my read-
       ers lie all the time, in their business dealings!... and Saddam was a monstrous
       tyrant!... he did not have such arms, but what if he should have them one
       day...” - according to his non-verbalized view. At the end of his time in office,
       he would be able to give talks on the speaking circuit, confessing that he
       erred, “but in good faith, thinking seriously of God” - I have no doubt of his
       faith - “and the well-being of my beloved American people” - of which I also
       have no doubt. I would say that he finally discovered - alone or after being
       advised by Condoleezza - the impossibility of mortal enemies becoming rec-
       onciled or coming to an agreement in conflicts impregnated with bitterness.
              This “one step further” in international justice will not be easy, but
       not impossible if led by the United States, with its immense influence. The
       natural mistrust of all countries in relinquishing even a minimal part of their
       sovereignty will be able to be counterbalanced by the certainty that the new
       regimen will also bring them benefits, when they become the victims of use
       of force and are unable to retaliate.
              There is no reason to be apprehensive regarding the imposition of rul-
       ings as decided by the International Court of Justice. In its decisions, this
       court may make wide-ranging use of impartiality, getting away a little from
       the strict standards of Public International Law. For example, the Palestinians
       who were expelled from their lands - as occurred in the case of the Jews in
       their two “diasporas” - could be indemnified, if it is understood by the fifteen
       judges that such a measure would be the best way of diminishing problems
       inherent in a mass return from Lebanon and refugee camps in other parts
       of the Middle East. Satisfactory compensation would be of great assistance
       in reducing pressure in that great boiler of consolidated bitterness. Inter-
       national judges would also be able to be great conciliators. What is most
       important is that the question of this tremendous conflict - which may still

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

bring the world to the brink of atomic war - be resolved, not by the parties
directly involved, poisoned by hatred, but by an impartial “external” agency,
as is elementary in any kind of internal justice within individual states, even
those of the most insignificant nature.
       Islamic fundamentalism would also lose a large part of its current viru-
lence if the Palestinians came to be at least partially satisfied with a good
decision on the part of the International Court. A Palestine at peace, its young
Arabs in employment or studying, with easy access to the Internet, is the
best antidote to fundamentalism and its twin brother, terrorism. “Why kill
myself” - the young Palestinian would ask - “if I have what I want, am able to
make progress in life and demonstrate my value as a human being?”
       The main problem for Rice - if she has the courage to inaugurate this
new way of fighting without arms - will be that of convincing arms industry
stockholders that this “anti-war” about-turn will not be so prejudicial for
them if they are simultaneously offered some kind of economic compensation.
This article cannot suggest what such compensation should be, as it would
be necessary to have more in-depth knowledge regarding the possibilities of
the American economy. It is essential for Rice to be well aware that, without
some kind of ingenious financial compensation, nobody, not even a saint, will
accept changes that mean they are ultimately out of pocket, however noble
the intention may be. There are no exceptions to this basic truth. And if Rice
manages to convince Bush that, with the proposed advance, he himself, not
her, may be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Texan will certainly have a
few nights of agreeable insomnia, followed by a lot of diplomatic and media
action. Humanity will be thankful for the change. Terrorism would come to
solely be the manner of expression of a few crazed individuals, unorganized
and almost inoffensive.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               A Great “Slip-Up” by the European Parliament

              If there were already good reason to praise Mario Vargas Llosa, not only
       for his writing talents, but also for the moral stances he assumes (the world
       would be thankful if there were “a man”, a person of “character” within ev-
       ery writer), his article published in the “O Estado de S. Paulo” newspaper, on
       6-5-07, only makes one’s respect grow for his intellectual honesty. The para-
       doxical title of his article (“In defense of the right to lie”) is further proof of
       his intellectual courage in a world that is “addicted” to blindly following the
       predominant tide of opinion, without reflecting for a moment’s reflection.
              In summary, what are we dealing with here? Vargas Llosa criticizes
       the European Parliament for having declared, with a crushing majority (only
       two or three abstentions), that negation of the Holocaust is a crime worthy
       of punishment. In other words and, certainly depending on future judicial
       details, if a journalist or historian, in good or bad faith, places the truth or
       even the extent of the Holocaust in doubt, he or she may be incarcerated. If,
       for example, you conclude and seriously attempt to prove that there were
       “only” three million deaths, instead of the always mentioned six million, you
       run the risk, or even the certainty, of going to jail. There is nothing more ob-
       scurantist than this. And even worse: coming from highly qualified people in
       cultural terms. Could it be that the aforementioned decision is a kind of “cou-
       pon” - advance payment anticipating the daily fifteen minutes of stupidity to
       which every human being has a right?
              Vargas Llosa, sensibly and personally, does not place the existence of
       the undisputable massacre of the Jews in doubt. There are the statements
       of witnesses, personal letters, official papers, photographs, films, ovens, gas
       chambers, electrified fences, empty drums of lethal gas, walls, skeletons and
       a lot of other things that testify to the horrors of the “final solution” decreed
       by a statesman who not only had a touch of insanity - embedded in ferocious
       eloquence - but also tons of deranged hatred. So deranged that he made a
       victim of himself, committing suicide after leading not only millions of en-

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

emies to their deaths, but also his “friends” - his mesmerized followers. If
Hitler had been captured alive, it is highly likely that, after being hanged, a
detailed autopsy on his brain - performed at the time and currently repeated
on his frozen cortex, with the best technical resources available - would re-
veal something that is physically capable of explaining his bizarre behavior.
He was not capable of perceiving reality. Stalin once commented that “his
error was that of not knowing how to stop in time”.
       The reason for such an obscurantist decision on the part of the Euro-
pean Parliament lies in outbreaks of anti-Semitism in Europe and the clumsy
even grossly ignorant attempts of certain second rate “historians” to deny
the obvious. However, in spite of the biased absurdities of these anti-Semites,
it is not by creating historical and cultural taboos - with threats of jail - that
it will be possible to resolve the problem of anti-Semitism. Currently, this sen-
timent is largely nurtured by the improvident conduct shown by the Israeli
government, sweeping the revolt of the Palestinians under the carpet. The
Palestinians, at no fault of their own - after all, it was not they who brought
about the two diasporas - were expelled from their lands, in a brutish man-
ner, without compensation, following the great return of the Jewish people in
search of a homeland. This great wound, still open and which, if not duly dis-
infected, will still bring about many amputations, even those that are the di-
rect result of endless conflicts. And, even worse: using atomic saws because,
sooner or later, several Arab countries will produce the bomb. They will say:
“If Israel can have the bomb, why not us”? The most lethal bacteria - Osama
Bin Laden for example, with his sick fundamentalism - are largely nurtured by
this gangrenous tissue. However, this is a lengthy discussion that is destined
for another occasion.
       The European Parliament will state that it established this prohibition
in order to protect the Jews. However, this is an error, as it is a protection that
enhances vulnerability rather than safeguards. In matters of historical inves-
tigation, the greater the degree of prohibition, the greater the interest that is
aroused. The anti-Semites will malevolently say: “You see? They prohibited...

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       It’s proof that there are many murky secrets hidden under the wraps of six
              In the two-thousand year history of the catholic church, there are cer-
       tain aspects of which its upper hierarchy is not proud, however, intelligently,
       no Pope in more recent times has had the boldness or bad idea of attempting
       to prohibit, with penal legislation, a historical investigation of a lapse of some
       kind on the part of the head of the church or even priests who have been led
       astray. When there is found to be blame, the church asks for forgiveness; or
       it indemnifies in the event that a case goes to court. It does not implement a
       “cover-up”, with threats of jail or even excommunication.
              Nobody in their right mind can deny the enormous harm caused to
       Brazilian justice by the accusation - or finding - that certain “black sheep”
       judges did not resist the seduction of money, negotiating decisions related to
       the bingo business and fiscal issues of great consequence. But what would
       be better? Prohibit, threaten with prison, whoever investigates such accusa-
       tions, or allow them, in accordance with current legislation? Without doubt,
       the latter is the correct response. In a universe of more than fourteen thou-
       sand judges, it is better to think of the “moral salvation” of the vast majority
       - permitting the investigation - rather than the undeserved “comfort” of the
       few judges who erred for far from noble reasons. If there were a “cover-up
       operation”, with threats of jail, the public would conclude that the justice
       department as a whole is infected, which is just not true. The sluggishness
       resulting from a ludicrous procedural legislation is one thing, the individual
       value of each judge is quite another.
              With respect to investigative freedom, irrespective of whether or not
       it is historical in nature, the United States - at least prior to the era of W.
       Bush, a deviant parenthesis that will probably not continue in future gov-
       ernments - merits respect. There is no reason to die of unconditional love
       for this powerful nation, but the truth should come to light. Sooner or later,
       matters that are disagreeable to the government end up being investigated,
       despite efforts to the contrary by those involved. As a small example, it is

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

worthwhile remembering what happened a few decades ago, when a small
group of physicians, with the support of the American government, decided
to perform an experiment that could be said to be on a par with the activities
of Nazi scientists. In order to study the evolution of untreated syphilis (if I am
not mistaken, penicillin already existed), once the disease was verified, these
physicians simply did not warn the affected patients. They were only obliged
to present themselves at a health post for periodic examinations. It should be
emphasized that the physicians did not contaminate the patients; they only
kept quiet and accompanied the evolution of the disease. These “guinea pigs”
were poor people, most of whom were colored. It is likely that the objective of
the study was that of determining to what point the body’s natural defenses
are capable of dealing with a bacterium that courses slowly through the vic-
tim’s body in an occult manner, attacking the bones, spinal cord (paralysis),
eyes and brain, sometimes leading to madness. This approach was likely ex-
plained as “scientific curiosity”, considering evidence that, centuries ago, en-
tire regions of Eastern Europe had been contaminated by the hidden disease
and, after several generations, even without treatment (penicillin did not ex-
ist), freed themselves of it thanks to the natural defenses of mothers during
pregnancy. However, even so, the use of duped human beings as guinea pigs
is shocking. And when the matter had been duly investigated, President Bill
Clinton, during a formal audience, with the presence of the few people with
the disease who were still alive and hundreds of the victims’ descendants,
asked for forgiveness and indemnified those prejudiced in the name of the
American government which, long before he came into office, authorized
such research. A black page in the history of the USA, but less black now fol-
lowing the authorized investigation and subsequent confession, request for
forgiveness and payment of compensation.
        This short-sighted decision made by the European Parliament has as
parallel in the Turkish Constitution, which prohibits any mention of the
genocide of around two million Armenians. If they have already occurred,
can facts “disappear” by decree? No. They continue to be facts. It is accept-

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       able that they are not stimulated to continue simmering the whole time in
       public opinion, solely for the profit of the media, as this may lead to rancor
       and violence and every government should encourage peace. However, pro-
       hibiting articles, research and investigations leads to something even worse:
       the demoralization of those responsible for hiding, prohibiting and impris-
       oning. Vargas Llosa reminds us that various Turkish journalists and writers,
       including a Nobel Prize winner, have been taken to court for mentioning the
             As it is possible to see, Europe is not always synonymous with Civiliza-
       tion. Or at least intelligent civilization, the whole time. The misfortune, it
       seems, lies in the daily fifteen minutes granted to the mule that is dormant
       within all of us and which needs to flex its muscles, kicking its hind legs as a
       stretching exercise.

                                                         Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

     The International Court of Justice has Blundered

       Nobody could be more anxious than the undersigned for our planet to
proceed in a rational manner in the resolution of conflicts between States.
I mean a real resolution, not a mere “recommendation” of the kind that is
currently made - a procedure that makes the actual idea of an “international
court” rather anemic. A court that only “recommends” is seen more as a cen-
ter for university studies or an agency issuing assessment reports. By way of
analogy, what would the ordinary citizen think, when claiming a debt within
his own country, if the sentence handed down by the judge only “recom-
mended” that the debtor pay the debt, doing nothing to actually compel him
to pay? I know that, at international level, in order to confer effectiveness
on the decision, it would be necessary to modify the sacrosanct - although
potentially distorted - concept of sovereignty, a tremendously necessary step
forward. If - by way of an en passant argument - the countries that comprise
the Amazon region and those Asiatic nations where there are extensive tropi-
cal forests resolved, by mutual agreement and in a supremely “sovereign”
manner, to cut down their trees, the human race would have no way of pre-
venting this act, however absurd the decision may be.
       In my modest opinion, such interference in large-scale conflicts should
have a scope that is much wider that that involving ordinary divergences be-
tween sovereign States. It should even exist in conflicts between States and
other organizations, which are not formally of a state nature, but sometimes
even more powerful than States themselves. Large international corporations
and unlawful organizations, as well as terrorists (terrorists of the kind that
use ideological and religious arguments in order to justify their underground
struggle) are not really “embraced” by a far-reaching international judicial
solution, because they are not “States”. If such organizations had an inter-
national court where they could be heard, perhaps the court decision would
approve certain claims, considering them to be fair, thus making terrorist
violence disappear or greatly weakening it.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

              Notwithstanding this need for a wider sphere of action on the part
       of international courts - for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - it was
       with great deception that we received the decision of the International Court
       of Justice regarding the lawsuit brought against Serbia by Bosnia, claiming
       financial compensation for the atrocities committed against Muslims during
       the so-called Bosnian War (1992-1995).
              Based on the main part of the text of the decision, published in the
       media, the first impression (which seems to be the only possible one) is that
       strictly political considerations prevailed in the concern for justice to be done.
       In Brazil, if such a decision were to be handed down by an internal court, it
       would pave the way for what we call “embargos de declaração” (amendment
       of judgment) - a legal recourse that has the objective of better clarifying that
       which has been decided, or resolving contradictions or omissions inherent
       in a judicial ruling. An individual judge or court can decide in the way that
       seems to be most prudent, although it is not possible to be omissive, vague
       or self-contradictory. Both the winning and losing parties are able to claim
       the existence of a lack of clarity and coherence in the ruling. Judging from
       the portions of the text of the decision that reached the general public, in the
       case of Bosnia there was no coherence whatsoever, with all due respect to the
       15 reputable jurists who participated at the hearing.
              I know very well that, in matters let’s say of “exceptional dimensions”,
       principally those involving fantastic sums of money, political considerations
       may have an influence on the court decision. It would be judicial fanaticism
       to always practice the principle of “Fiat justitia, pereat mundus” (“Let justice
       be done, though the world perish”). If for example, during an expropriation
       suit, where a court ruling has already been established and there is no fur-
       ther possibility of annulling it, the sentence determined, through an evident
       error (conceptual or mathematical), that compensation for expropriation of
       the property was to be one hundred times greater than an amount consid-
       ered humanly fair, it would be up to the party with expropriationary powers
       to take some kind of action in order to avoid this “assault” on the public cof-

                                                         Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

fers actually taking place. The same could be said of complying with a deci-
sion, in matters of functionalism, which would result in the total destitution
of state finances.
       In the case of the lawsuit brought against Serbia by Bosnia, given rec-
ognition of the fact that genocide had taken place, the party instigating the
suit was only desirous of establishing a compensation amount to be paid by
the defendant, as Serbia allegedly promoted or encouraged, or failed to pre-
vent the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims. In the suit in question,
Bosnia did not demand that anyone be imprisoned, as responsibility for judg-
ing individuals is not that of the International Court of Justice but another
entity, the International Criminal Court.
       The International Court of Justice recognized (there was undisputable
proof) that genocide - the deliberate intention to liquidate entire communi-
ties - had occurred. But it stopped there. It did not have the courage to see
this through to the end. Perhaps it thought that it would not be politically
“convenient” to label a State (Serbia) that intends to be part of the European
Union as guilty of genocide. And Serbia would be a welcome member of this
community for various reasons, including the fact that it would serve as a
counterbalance for the possibly excessive increase in Muslim populations in-
tegrating the European Union. If Serbia were to be labeled as guilty of geno-
cide, it would no longer be able to enter the European Union, at least as long
as the “blemish” remains. It can be inferred from the court decision that the
only parties guilty of genocide are the generals and other individuals who
actually carried out the massacre, who should be judged by a different court,
the International Criminal Court, or other specific tribunal.
       With a view to “granting” something to Bosnia in the decision, the In-
ternational Court of Justice mentioned that “...Serbia could and should have
taken action to avoid genocide, but it took no such action” (words taken from
an article published in the “O Estado de S. Paulo” newspaper on 27-2-07,
page A12). Therefore, let’s say, there was omission. And omission, when there
should be action, means that there is an obligation to indemnify, in all civi-

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       lized legal codes.
              The court also rejected the Serbian argument that the Belgrade (Serbia)
       authorities did not have sufficient power to intervene in the massacre. Ac-
       cording to the British reporting judge associated with the proceedings, this
       allegation is “highly conflicting with its known influence on the VRS (Bosnian
       Serb Army). If - and this is up to the critics to decide - genocide has been rec-
       ognized, together with connivance or deliberate omission on the part of the
       Serb government in preventing the extermination of thousands of people,
       the usual judicial consequence would be that of sentencing Serbia to pay
       compensation, the value of which would take account of the financial status
       of the condemned country, in the same way that occurs in any kind of sen-
       tencing involving a pecuniary penalty. Besides this, aggravating the error,
       the ruling added that financial compensation would not be “ appropriate
       form of reparation” (same journalistic source).
              If indemnification is not an “appropriate form” of reparation, what
       would be? Imprisonment of “the State”? Impossible, as the State is an ab-
       stract entity, it just won’t fit behind bars. Imprisonment of members of the
       Serbian government? Also impossible, as this would be the responsibility of
       another court, and the defendants, generally aging, would die before sen-
       tence is passed. The end result was impunity regarding the massacre.
              In terms of justice and prestige, it would be better if the International
       Court of Justice had shown the courage of consistency and established a com-
       pensation amount that was harsh but bearable by Serbia. In all probability,
       other countries would be able to assist Serbia (Russia and Germany, for ex-
       ample) in obtaining the funds necessary for compliance with the court ruling.
       Thousands of widows, children and spouses of Bosnian Muslims would have
       some kind of compensation for the loss of their loved ones, and Serbia, its
       head held high, having served its sentence, would be able to request entry
       into the European Union, free of any feeling of blame - a sentiment already
       present in a speech made by its leader, suggesting a request for a formal apol-
       ogy to the legislative assembly.

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       As I have not read the statutes of the International Court of Justice,
I do not know whether it is possible, in legal terms, for a review of its rul-
ing. To my knowledge, there cannot be an appeal, which is a pity. However,
who knows, maybe there is the prospect of innovation in the field of legal
proceedings - with immediate application, something that is always possible
in this area. The Law should be seen as a living organism rather than a dead
one. Through the establishment of a reasonable and bearable compensation
figure, all those involved would end up gaining, including, in moral terms,
Serbia itself. Furthermore, even the Court would end up gaining, showing
itself to be capable of evolving in the judicial area. Procedural laws can be
applied immediately.
       Taking a backward step (if it occurs with a view to doing justice, not for
reasons of fear) is actually a virtue, not a sign of weakness. This is a golden
opportunity for the Court to show the world that international tribunals are
fair and reliable, and have the courage to improve the actual rulings that
they make. In Brazilian courts, it is not unusual for a collegiate body to grant
a petition for an appeal against a declared judgment, correcting some kind
of contradiction made by the actual bench. “What’s the problem? If we err,
we take a backward step, thus maintaining consistency”. The idea of justice
should always take precedence over concerns regarding the erroneous pres-
tige of “never taking a backward step!” The matter is also of interest to those
who favor an effective form of international justice, my favorite topic. At in-
ternational level, sentences that are unjust in part and immutable bring the
idea of global justice into contempt.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               The Justice Minister’s Confession

               At the ceremony during which he officially took leave of his post, jurist
       Márcio Thomaz Bastos, apparently said that “I accepted the post for reasons
       of vanity, but I soon perceived the importance of the ministry for the country
       and the lives of its citizens” (“O Estado de S. Paulo” newspaper, 01-02-07,
       page A8).
               This statement surprised me for two reasons: for his sincerity and for
       having the courage to say it in public. Such things are usually said confiden-
       tially, to a few close friends, as there is always the fear that adversaries - there
       are always some, irrespective of our behavior - take advantage of the oppor-
       tunity to disparage the statement saying that the “sole” characteristic of this
       indiscreet “sinner” is his vanity. “He actually confessed to it!” In public office,
       the rule - rarely violated - is that the speaker follow the advice of Machia-
       velli and other authors of the same kind, or rather, genre, never admitting
       something that could even remotely be able to be taken advantage of by the
       mental dishonesty of those who are always on the lookout for some kind of
       slip in the sincerity of individuals in positions of high office.
               I spoke of “friends” and “adversaries”, but this was erroneous. Such
       designations are sometimes not as simple as they seem. You could have an
       adversary who is more faithful than a friend. There is nothing that prevents
       a “friend” from being afflicted with double or triple personality and carefully
       safeguarding the “confession”, like a treasure, in order to use it against you
       one day. And it is not even necessary for him to have been objectively of-
       fended in order to use the precious poison. “Objectively” is something highly
       subjective. Inside, he might hate him. For any kind of reason: prejudice; pride
       (feeling forced to have distasteful gratitude); envy, often concerning some-
       thing totally insignificant (insignificant for you, as you are aware of his short-
       comings, but not for him). Even a spouse can be a potential enemy. His or her
       “love”, proclaimed with such frequency, the desire for you to “be happy!”, can
       be come instantly transformed into mortal hatred - a philosophical miracle

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

- if he or she finds evidence that your ardor has cooled, and that there is, or
might be, “someone else”. “Damn you! You only have the right to love me!”
And hatred has the memory of an elephant when it comes to locating the
least “confession” of blame in the cerebral filing system. Caution is the order
of the day, even when dealing with the spouse or loved one of equivalent
standing. The expression “a stab in the back” has become an aphorism, as it
fits the description of this phenomenon like a glove.
       As far as I am concerned, public “confessions” are a sign of evolution in
the political habits in general of those in public office, however bad their be-
havior may be. If transparency, for the reasons outlined above, can prejudice
the transmitter of that which is “politically incorrect” (just look at the case of
President Lula, who says what he thinks, speaking in an improvised manner),
it only benefits the public, which gets just a little close to the always ques-
tionable political truth. One of the goals and advantages of democracy is that
it allows the populace to gain a greater insight into what goes through the
mind of its leader. If the public has no such knowledge - because the leader
only reads speeches that have been prepared by aides - how is it possible to
appraise it? Purely based on the actions taken by the government? A good
method, objective but incomplete, as it is also necessary to understand the
“soul” of the leader, which is revealed through improvisation. The picture is
thus more complete. It is this that makes a CEO get on a plane and go to a
distant country - dispensing the use of e-mail - for face-to-face discussions
when the business negotiations in question are extremely important and the
confidence factor will be decisive in closing a contract worth millions. In the
case of governors, unforeseen circumstances occur and the public may for-
give shortcomings if it feels that intentions were really good. Solely reading
speeches that have been prepared by media “experts” means that it is only
possible to have an insight into the “soul” of the ventriloquist.
       Nevertheless, on taking leave of his post, our minister was not the first
to reveal his feelings regarding the exercise of public office. In an interview,
when questioned why he entered politics, Winston Churchill replied: “For

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       reasons of vanity”. The interviewer then asked him why he had remained so
       long in politics. He replied: “Rage!” This is not surprising, considering a man
       of such a combative nature, confronting Hitler when all other European gov-
       ernments demonstrated a conciliatory approach, in an attempt not to irritate
       the ferocious dictator. In politics, defeat weakens the soul. By the way, not
       only in politics. Whosoever is not combative remains rather sad on the side-
       lines and considers withdrawal, disillusioned with the “evil of the world”.
       On the other hand, after a few days feeling “downhearted”, those who are
       obstinate feel a growing desire for revenge in the core of their being. It’s as
       if they were contaminated by an incurable disease. They will never abandon
       electoral disputes, only if already in their coffin. Even inside it, the corpse
       would perhaps smile: “I’ve gone down in history, one way or another...”.
              I have a book at home, “True Confessions” by Jon Winokur, solely con-
       taining the confessions of celebrities. With a view to illustrating this article
       with a few quotations, I leafed through a few pages searching for the confes-
       sions of great politicians. However, I found practically nothing about them
       in terms of, let’s say, “risky” confessions. There are a few, which I will quote
       relying solely on my memory, although these are really forms of self-praise.
       The weightiest confession is that of Richard Nixon: “Sometimes, at the end of
       the day, when I am smiling and shaking hands, I have a desire to kick them”.
       There are many self-depreciating confessions in the book, although these are
       made by cinema artists like Burt Reynolds, on stating that “My films are of
       the kind that they show in airplanes and prisons, because nobody can walk
       out”. William Holden (the oldest among you will remember him) even said: “I
       am a prostitute. All actors are. We sell our bodies to the highest bidder” (the
       contracts). There are also disconcerting newcomers. Madonna, for example,
       said that “My sexual image is there, right in front of me. Everyone probably
       thinks that I’m a raving nymphomaniac, that I have an insatiable sexual ap-
       petite, when the truth is I’d rather read a book”.
              Politicians rarely confess in public. Lincoln, an essentially modest man,
       occasionally made a joke about himself. However, he had the right to do this,

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

without injury, because he was who he was. An anecdote regarding modesty,
not about Lincoln, said: “This fellow is very pretentious! Too modest! He is
not of such great importance that he is able to be so modest!” But one should
not exaggerate, not even a president. There is a phrase stated by the late
Gerald Ford. Censured for something - I don’t remember exactly what - ap-
parently excusing himself, he said: “I am a Ford, not a Lincoln”, making an
analogy between two types of vehicles.
       In summary, congratulations to our minister taking leave of his post
for his frankness. If you, the reader, are familiar with the two cinema actors
mentioned previously, you will certainly agree that both were professionals
of personality, transmitting integrity. Authors of weak character would not
have the courage to say what they said. Sincerity is a sign of inner strength.
Without this strength, the truth remains caught in the throat, with fear of
       Coming back to our ex-minister, I sincerely don’t know whether exer-
cise of the extremely difficult office served to improve or worsen his prestige
as a jurist, or preserve as it was. Each individual will have his or her own
opinion. The topic is far from pacific, as could not be otherwise when one
considers incidents involving the invasion of attorneys’ offices by the Federal
Police. No office or consultancy can be considered an inviolable “sanctuary”,
bearing in mind that it could function (in a worst-case hypothesis) as a ware-
house for firearms and munitions, or house a cocaine laboratory, but it also
cannot be invaded with the vague objective of apprehending some kind of
“compromising evidence” (a degree of imprecision that obliged police offi-
cers to carry away all the documents they encountered and even computers).
However, in this case, it is not known whether fault lies in the Federal Police
Department or the order issued by the judge.
       Given that the topic is confession, I would like to take this opportu-
nity to explain why, as a judge, I started to dedicate myself (what? really?)
to literature. I confess that it was for the same reason that led Churchill to
politics: vanity. I thought, why not be a “novelist”? It’s an agreeable title, full

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       of charm. And why did I continue to insist? Also for reasons of rage. Rage at
       the refusal of originals by certain publishers. Perhaps they were deservedly
       refused, but never in the opinion of the author. And in my coffin, or in the
       freezer (my latest novel, “Criônica”, revolves around the topic of cryogenics)
       I would coldly think, like those stubborn politicians, that I fulfilled my role.
       At least as far as my efforts and progressive knowledge of text writing “tech-
       niques” are concerned, in my opinion much more important than natural
       talent. My affliction is that I like reading more than writing. “When I read,
       I learn something new.” When I write - I thought - “I don’t learn anything”.
       This is not true. One also learns by writing, as neurons enjoy a certain de-
       gree of independence, communicate with their neighboring colleagues and
       arrange confusion that you cannot control, not even with tear gas.
              With regard to the exercise of public office, it is still necessary to
       make a few comments that might be of interest to young people who are
       in doubt about the path they should follow: the natural talents required for
       each profession do not always coincide with the “propensity” of the person
       concerned. This individual may feel enormous enthusiasm for this or that
       activity, but his brain functions more effectively doing something else. I have
       always considered myself to be a fair person, this, by the way, being a quality
       of little “brilliance” in intellectual terms. Uninformed wizened old men may
       be extremely fair. On deciding, like a judge, I first sought the opinion of my
       inner being, my instinct of justice. Once the reply had been obtained, I sought
       the legal articles that backed up what my instinct had already decided - if my
       long-trusted instinct were not openly against the legislation in force, as I am
       also not crazy. Sometimes it is necessary for a certain degree of effort in order
       to make things “fit”.
              Nevertheless, my attraction was to literature, science and international
       politics rather than law. I started to study law in order to be a diplomat,
       but certain circumstances led me to another area. With a diploma in hand, I
       ended up being a judge, but I have no regrets, as I was a judge at a time when
       the magistrature was highly respected and there was not the flood of cases

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

that is currently drowning my ex-colleagues. In addition, “legal proceedings”
were less fluid and turbulent. One knew how to grasp the tiller. And all my
colleagues in the magistrature with whom I had dealings were models of
integrity. No attorney - here I am speaking of São Paulo - would have had
the idea of attempting to bribe a judge. If you doubt this, consult former at-
torneys. And, the supreme advantage: as a judge, I never had to take orders
from anyone, a privilege that is not enjoyed by other public servants. This in-
cludes diplomats, who are obviously forced to follow the advice of superiors.
Now retired, I can give myself the luxury of penetrating, to a certain extent,
the fascinating world of international relations, observing the planet from a
somewhat higher viewpoint, something almost intoxicating. It is not neces-
sary to be in a space station in order to enjoy this diversion.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               The Hanging of Saddam

               What exactly is the “seriousness” of our feelings and reasoning? Al-
       most nil. In our opinions, we are influenced by every change in the wind.
       And here one is not merely dealing with volubility of character. Even people
       with “steadfast” ideas change their opinion, according to what is transmitted
       to them by their senses, most notably sight, rather than deep-seated judg-
       ment. If those who are “steady as a rock” do not alter their opinion, it is of-
       ten because they do not want to see their reputation undermined. A change
       may have come about internally, but it is only possible to express this in ho-
       meopathic doses. It’s more “decent” this way. If they demonstrate an abrupt
       change of opinion, how would this affect those individuals who have little
       faith in their own judgment and are psychologically dependent upon them?
       It is for this reason that Margaret Thatcher used to say that politicians should
       not stand in the middle of the road. They cannot be half right and half left. If
       they do behave in this manner, “excessively fair” (my expression, not Thatch-
       er’s), they will be knocked down by traffic on both sides. “We can’t count on
       this pretentious individual...”, murmurs a party colleague. This is because we
       are ninety percent emotion.
               You’ve seen those windsocks at airports? We are very similar, things
       and people. Not only me, but everybody. Marionettes controlled by the im-
       pressions arriving at our flesh-and-blood computer, principally those of a vi-
       sual nature. This means that, if the images received were different - mere
       images - our opinion would perhaps be the opposite. Is this not something
       to be considered strange in the proud and “logical” champions of biological
       and cerebral evolution of our planet? After all, do we reason with our mind
       or with our eyes and ears? The sight and sound of a weeping woman can
       change many things...
               I have always been in favor of the death penalty, although I’m not in-
       clined to do anything in order that such a penalty may come into effect in
       Brazil. As far as “an eye for an eye” is concerned, there is a certain propor-

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

tionality involved, although primitive, as well as a useful intimidating effect,
when the sentence is served to the letter of the law. However, it is a sentence
that has gone out of fashion, sounding like something from a horror muse-
um. Nevertheless, it always seemed to me that the origin of the aversion that
it arouses lies in the circumstance of the execution having been filmed and
exhibited, without the “visual complement” of the scene of the victim being
stabbed, raped, shot, burned alive or bludgeoned to death, depending on the
case in question. I believed that if the scene of the terrified and blood-soaked
victim appeared on television (using professional actors) together with the
execution scene, the “windsock” of indignation would totally change direc-
tion. We would even applaud the gallows.
       Saddam was hanged. It seemed to be a fair decision, as he was respon-
sible for the deaths of thousands. Despite this, when I watched his final mo-
ments on the Internet (there was unauthorized filming of the event), I practi-
cally changed my mind regarding the issue of capital punishment. And after
two hours I changed my opinion once again, after reading a list of his cru-
elties and seeing photos of Kurdish women and children after a poison gas
attack. My eyes governed my opinion to a greater extent than my reasoning.
Did they decide for me? Several years ago, whilst partially accompanying the
deliberations of a jury, I heard an eloquent criminal lawyer, Waldir Troncoso
Peres, ask the members of the jury - without expecting a reply, of course -
whether any of them had ever gone into the home of a thief. I presume he
was referring to the miserable environment of a cheap and non-aggressive
petty thief, with a family to support. The most inflexible boss in the world,
who enters, by chance, the home of his company elevator operator, perhaps
feels an immediate desire to increase the man’s salary. Solely due to the fact
that he went into the house. It’s in the eyes, the eyes...
       Given that Saddam was sentenced in a “legal” manner - even though it
would have been better if he had been tried by an international court, without
hostile judges - his request to be executed by firing squad was, reprehensibly,
denied. He wished to die as a soldier. Bush could have allowed him his wish,

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       making a request to or putting pressure on the Iraqi government to this end.
       He alleged (falsely, from my point of view) that local legislation determined
       that capital crimes be punished by hanging, and “dura lex, sed lex”. Falsely,
       because Bush himself is not so fanatical when it comes to obeying laws, most
       notably international laws. I do not believe that the Iraqi justice department
       would have had the courage to deny a request of this nature made by the
       United States, which practically assembled the court and selected and trained
       its judges, all of whom were presumably enemies of the defendant. No men-
       tion is made of whether Sunni Muslims figured amongst the judges. Besides
       all this, laws can be changed. It was of greater interest to Bush to have Sad-
       dam hanged rather than shot. Only that, due to the simple detail of hanging,
       especially a filmed hanging, even more American soldiers will die, the victims
       of explosions generated by exacerbated hatred. The generosity of the victor
       with respect to the vanquished, even when obviously political purposes are
       involved, always generates a degree of sympathy. However, in order to per-
       ceive this, it is necessary to have a certain amount of intelligence.
              I would like to make a rather strange confession: when Saddam was
       pulled from the hole in the ground in which he had taken refuge (not a very
       intelligent strategy, as someone would end up revealing the secret...), I felt
       tempted to offer my services as one of the attorneys that would comprise his
       defense team. As an attorney - I’m a member of the “Ordem dos Advogados
       do Brasil - OAB” (Brazilian Order of Attorneys) - I could, without any infrac-
       tion of professional ethics, offer my services in Saddam’s defense, as long as
       I did not require payment. And, like me, hundreds of attorneys throughout
       the world had the same idea, unknown and illustrious stuffed shirts seeking
       a “shop window”. In my case, I sought a moment of intense emotion, the
       excitement of being part of a trial of such importance. At the time, one of
       Saddam’s daughters was in Syria. By obtaining the e-mail address of the Iraqi
       consulate or embassy in Syria, it would probably have been possible to get
       my offer to her - just another one amongst hundreds. Evidently, I would have
       had to limit myself to suggesting a few defense strategies, as I do not speak

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

Arabic and even my English is only sufficient for reading purposes, not for
speaking fluently. If I had managed to avoid the death penalty, it would have
been an exceptional victory, as Saddam actually committed many crimes.
        If I had been a member of the defense team (mere rumination), I would
have suggested the following attenuating factors: a) Saddam had a difficult
childhood, with no lack of beatings, at the hand of a rather sadistic stepfather
who did not spare him such punishment. This had undesirable effects on the
boy’s character, with repercussions in adult life; b) Iraq is an artificial state,
“set up” by the British following the First World War, without any respect for
the inherent nature of the three groups that make up the country, namely, the
Kurds and Shiite and Sunni Muslims. I would argue, merely by way of com-
parison, that if, at the beginning of the twentieth century, a “country” com-
posed of English, French and German groups had been forcefully created, I
am sure that only an iron fist, both highly feared and implacable, would have
been able to govern this indigestible mixture, in order to prevent these three
peoples from continually quarrelling amongst themselves; c) Iraq was - and
still is, as the Americans still say to this day - an uncontrollable mixture of
antagonisms fuelled by that grand master of discord that cannot be resolved
through any kind of logical argument, namely: religion. You can discuss any-
thing on this planet, with the exception of religion. That which goes against
our religion is only disrespect or an insult. If disobeyed (I would say to the
judges), Saddam could only “keep his house in order”, this artificial house,
through fear and the effective use of brute force; d) I would say that, when
the Kurds attempted to kill him during a visit, Saddam thought that if he did
not react vigorously, “avenging” and “punishing” the failed assassination,
he would have been demoralized, indirectly encouraging further attempts
on his life. For this reason, as it was not possible to identify, with any degree
of precision, those who comprised the group involved in the conspiracy, he
ordered that an indeterminate number of people be killed; e) furthermore, I
would say that, in the Middle East, this manner of punishing an indetermi-
nate number of people, when one does not know who made an assassination

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       attempt, is still currently routine practice (this seems unjust to Westerners
       today, but not at the time of the Second World War). Another case in point,
       although on a smaller scale, concerns the Israelis, who, when victims of a Pal-
       estinian terrorist attack, take revenge by bombing and demolishing houses
       that are only presumed to harbor terrorists, or friends or families of terror-
       ists, even if innumerous innocent civilians die as a result of such reprisals.
       I would say that this is the normal, although primitive, manner of “doing
       justice” in the Middle East. And Saddam was a head of state in this region,
       governing an especially complicated country, even by regional standards. In
       the Middle East, it is thought that if there is no “exemplary punishment” for
       each terrorist attack (giving little importance to the individual “blame” of
       those who are exterminated), we will be encouraging further attacks and will
       be labeled as “weak”.
              Saddam was no sweet-smelling flower. He lacked an ingredient indis-
       pensable to a great statesman: a certain degree of benevolence or empathy,
       even if used in moderation, as must be the case in matters of state. His only
       virtue was his courage, which he had, or leaned to have, in excess. He rose to
       the highest political position not as the result of his intelligence, which was
       only average, but due to his bravura, which he continued to exhibit right up
       to his last moments, by refusing a hood and insulting his adversaries. Cou-
       rageous even with the rope around his neck. If he were more intelligent, he
       would have thought twice before invading Kuwait. And, once deposed, he
       would have not sought refuge in a hole in the ground, in terrain already tak-
       en by the enemy. Perhaps his courage (in not fleeing from Iraq) affected the
       mediocre intelligence that he had at his disposal. It is possible that he wanted
       to remain not very far from the invader, intending to lead a resistance move-
       ment. In order to do this, he needed to stay close at hand, even if it meant
       hiding in an underground den. Such courage was his downfall.
              As you can see, even virtues need to be used with moderation. When in
       excess, even smartness can be prejudicial, said Tancredo Neves. Courage is a
       virtue. Churchill once said that courage is rightly considered the foremost of

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

virtues, for upon it, all others depend. With a few plastic surgery operations
and living in some Arab country, Saddam could have been alive today and
doing that which he most enjoyed, namely: quarreling. In an overall interna-
tional context, and looking at things in the long term, his death will probably
help in pacifying the world. However, in the short term, it is adding a quite a
few flames to the already large bonfire that is the Middle East.
       So here is my farewell to the hypothetical and virtual ex-client who, as
far as bravura is concerned, deserves the respect that is normally due to the

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               Crimes and sovereignty

              I have highly illustrious precursors, including Kant, when I never tire of
       insisting that, to an ever greater extent, nations need to renounce large por-
       tions of their sovereignty in favor of a global democratic federation, in order
       that the world may be less chaotic, unjust and self-destructive (see pollution).
              This is not “mere” idealism; utopian propensity; fanciful optimism (in
       the style of J. J. Rousseau, where man is born essentially good and subse-
       quently corrupted by society); altruism and the like. Man is both good and
       evil, in varying proportions, according to genetic makeup, education (formal
       and informal), the cocktail of beatings and caresses received since childhood
       and assessment of the legal and social advantages or risks that surround his
       activities. If it is advantageous to be good, either here or in the afterlife, he is,
       even if basically not so. He dances according to the music being played. But
       that’s enough of generalizations; the reader has no time to waste.
              When a law student, I was highly impressed by the fact that a foreign
       citizen, duly sentenced by the courts of his country, was able to move freely
       about Brazil, make a Brazilian woman pregnant, father a son and, as a result,
       free himself from the threat of extradition and completing his sentence. It
       seemed to me to be the easiest and most enjoyable preventive “habeas cor-
       pus” in the world. At liberty thanks to a gratuitous, illiterate, but for all that
       extremely effective, unqualified attorney, the respected “Mr. Spermatozoid”.
              Ronald Biggs, an engaging Englishman, who took part in the multi-
       million pound Great Train Robbery of 1963, was one such case. After serving
       a few months of his prison sentence in the United Kingdom, he scaled the
       wall and fled to Australia. As he certainly did not feel safe in that country,
       which has strong ties with England, he ended up residing in Brazil, after
       becoming aware that several benevolent legal concessions exist here that
       are well-suited to his case. He became emotionally involved with a good-
       hearted nightclub dancer, made her pregnant and, as a result, guaranteed
       that he would be able to stay in the country. The British government sought

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his extradition, however, as Biggs’ son was his dependant (of course...), and
no extradition treaty existed between the two countries (the old problem of
sovereignties), the fugitive continued to live here for as long as he wanted.
Free and (according the respective Wikipedia webpage) charging anyone
who so desired sixty dollars to have lunch and a chat with a “celebrity”. Ac-
cording to information provided by the fugitive himself, his portion of the
loot had been reduced to a minimal sum, as a result of attorney’s fees and
other expenses related to his fight against returning to prison. Neverthe-
less, when his longing for his homeland became unsupportable, he returned
to England and ended up being imprisoned. Now old, sick and debilitated,
photos of him aroused compassion in those of a more sensitive disposition
and inclined to pardon.
       What is interesting here (someone needs to write an academic thesis
on this sociological phenomenon) is that a large portion of society, principally
Rio society, even adulated him, considering his personal appeal and audacity
for having participated in a robbery the current value of which is equivalent
to more than one hundred million reals. “Success”, in any of its forms - politi-
cal, economic, sporting, artistic or “congenially criminal” - legitimizes any
kind of act. In the First World, male cinema artists, in order to reinforce their
reputation as “tough guys”, liked to be seen at shows and restaurants in the
company of high-ranking members of the Mafia. The affectation of adding
an air of shadowy danger to their status. This occurred in the case of Frank
Sinatra, Alain Delon and other inflamers of female hearts. A fictional English
politician, feeling that he was being more than a little blackmailed by the
person who was speaking to him, mentioned, wishing to impress, that he
had contacts “in high places”. To which the other replied, with assurance,
that he also had contacts, but “in low places”. This is something far more
intimidating, as evil can be inflicted with the power and speed of a lightning
bolt, without any bureaucratic hindrances.
       That which was mentioned regarding extradition only goes to show,
in summary, that in the difficult harmonization of sovereignties, crime very

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       often goes unpunished, or very nearly so. This, at least in theory, would not
       occur if there were a global federation or confederation, with worldwide
              Another example facilitating impunity lies in the setbacks faced by
       state prosecutors when they are overruled or delayed in their attempts to
       recover large amounts of money deposited abroad. Given that the money
       can be transferred to another bank or even another country in a matter of
       seconds, with a simple mouse click on a computer, the diligent prosecutor
       almost always arrives too late with his petition for freezing deposits made by
       those availing themselves of public money. While the prosecutor studies the
       banking legislation of the country where the money is to be found - wrestling
       with a language in which he is not fluent - and once again prepares a request
       for its return, the money in question has already been sent to another bank.
       And so everything starts all over again. Even the private creditor of a million-
       aire debtor, who has financial resources scattered all over the world, cannot
       manage to make demands or even subpoena the important debtor, making
       his credit – even if judged to be without further recourse to appeal – a very
       nice sum without any real significance.
              Extraditions are subject to the influence of the international prestige of
       the countries involved. In the case of the Canadians who were arrested and
       sentenced for kidnapping a famous São Paulo businessman, the Canadian
       government managed to arrange that they be repatriated in order to serve
       their sentence in their own country, with probably benevolent consequences.
       If, however, a group of Brazilians were arrested, in Canada or the United
       States, after carrying out kidnappings, it is highly probable that the Brazilian
       government will not be able to extradite them. With Bush as president, it
       would certainly not be possible.
              Even horrendous homicides end up being almost unpunished as result
       of this “excess” of sovereignty, with each country living in its own isolated
       world – pure political schizophrenia.
              Look at the 1981 case of the Japanese Issei Sagawa, who, in Paris, killed

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

and “raped” (in fact, he technically violated a corpse) an attractive female
Dutch student, a colleague of his at Université Censier in the city. He did this
because the Dutch girl (who assisted him with translations at the time, in his
apartment), refused his advances full of passion and libido. Issei, who has the
appearance of a somewhat developed dwarf with a large head (I’ve seen a
photo of him), was 1.48 m tall and weighed 44 kilos, very much less than the
Dutch girl. The girl, seeing him as only a colleague, ordered him to concen-
trate on the work they were doing. The Japanese got up, took a 0.22 caliber
rifle out of a cupboard behind the girl, and shot her in the back of the neck.
Following this, he had sex with the cadaver and then cut off the lips, nose,
breasts and private parts, storing them in the freezer of his refrigerator for
future consumption. And he actually ate a large part of this flesh prior to be-
ing arrested. He had this strange compulsion, associating the sex act with the
act of eating. The case in question is briefly described in the book written by
Canadian writer Max Haines, in Book V of his series entitled “True Crime Sto-
ries”. The story appears on page 121, in the chapter “Fantasies Turn to Can-
nibalism”. It’s a pity that this series has not been translated into Portuguese.
       After cutting up the girl’s body, the accused placed these mortal re-
mains in two suitcases, which he transported by taxi. He intended to throw
their macabre contents into a nearby lake. In the street, on leaving the taxi,
he noted that people were looking with mistrust at that small Japanese figure
dragging two suitcases that were much too heavy for him. Startled, he aban-
doned the suitcases on the sidewalk, thinking that there was no evidence
of him being linked to the homicide. The police only found him because, on
reading the newspaper headlines, the taxi driver remembered this strange
oriental man and took the initiative of informing the authorities.
       Following the gathering of irrefutable evidence against him (found in
his small apartment, principally in the refrigerator), Issei confessed to the
crime but was considered to be crazy and not responsible for his actions,
even though he was a cultured and intelligent man. He was fluent in German
and French, present in France for his doctorate degree in Japanese influence

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       on French literature. The judge determine that he be committed to a psychi-
       atric institution.
              Issei was the son of a rich Japanese industrialist. After spending three
       years in an asylum, his father managed to arrange for his extradition to Japan,
       under the condition that he remain confined in a sanatorium for the mentally
       sick. However, following 15 months of internment, he was discharged. The
       Japanese doctors concluded that he was normal. France could do nothing as
       each country has its own sovereignty. And, after all, what does being “crazy”
       really signify?
              After his release (according to Max Haines), Issei Sagawa wrote several
       books on his favorite topic - cannibalism. It is likely that the victim’s family
       (whose name I will not mention here, out of respect for the suffering of oth-
       ers) does not have a very high opinion of either the seriousness of Psychiatry
       as a profession or those intimate with the pompous word “sovereignty”, gen-
       erally pronounced in a solemn tone of voice.
              On the other hand, the family of Issei likely thought that everyone de-
       serves a second chance. After all, the Japanese guy spent four and a half in
       asylums for the mentally sick as someone “normal” according to the psy-
       chiatrists of his country. In all certainty, there will be those that think Issei
       became crazy as a result of unrequited love. Someone once said that “Man is
       the fire, woman the tow, and the Devil comes and fans the flames.”

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      A disturbing book: “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”

       It is disturbing, to say the least... If the author, John Perkins, an intel-
ligent and extremely highly informed American, is being sincere — and ev-
erything indicates that he is, as the truth has immense power of persuasion
— the directors of several large corporations and certain international banks
should reserve their seats of burning coals in hell, with every right to pro-
longed physical and spiritual agony. Before and after death. The harrowing
bone cancer would, at last, have a meritorious role in terms of divine justice.
       I confess that I have hardly started to read the book (published by Edi-
tora Cultrix), but from what I read, its basic content describes the work of
economic “hit men” who, in the case in question, use only such guiles as
persuasion and astuteness. They are hired in order to cheat weak countries
that have some kind of strategic interest for the USA. The ruse works in the
following way: these professionals, recruited by the US National Security
Agency, travel to developing countries and convince local governors to ac-
cept enormous development loans. This money would be used in large-scale
infrastructure projects (highways, power plants, airports, industrial parks,
etc), coming from the World Bank, USAID and other “aid” organizations.
       Up to this point, no problem, the underdeveloped are thankful. The
“catch”, according to the author, lies in two items, namely: 1) in order to con-
struct such projects, principally engineering projects, the country receiving
the loan would have to hire American companies; 2) it is impossible for the
country in question to repay the millions that are loaned, not to mention the
interest involved, but those making the loan available know this from the very
beginning, as such default on debt payments is their ultimate objective. The
idea was exactly this: keep these countries enmeshed in a web of debts that
ensure their political loyalty, including voting at the UN. It is common knowl-
edge that every debtor agrees to the demands made by his or her creditor.
       According to the book, given that it is American engineering companies
that perform the work, most of the money that is “loaned” does not leave

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       the United States. It just goes from Washington to New York and other cities
       where large construction companies are based. It is certainly true that work-
       ers in underdeveloped countries and some important local families manage
       to obtain a fraction of this wealth in the form of salaries and benefits, but
       the bulk of the financing does not even reach the aided country, which is
       enslaved for decades while American construction companies get richer. The
       objective of financiers is that of receiving interest and maintaining the de-
       pendence of the weak country for as long as possible.
              The author goes on to say that if the “economic hit man” does not man-
       age to convince the local governor to accept such loans, the “heavy mob”
       comes onto the scene, the “jackals”, who use much cruder methods to bring
       down or even kill — in a plane crash, for example — recalcitrant governors.
       And, despite these tactics, if it is still not possible to bring the emerging coun-
       try to submission, military aggression is used, inventing a pretext that may
       at least satisfy American public opinion. It should be noted — my opinion
       now — that the vast majority of the American people have no idea of what
       really goes on behind the scenes in providing these loans, not even of their
       country’s international policy.
              As the author of the book is a self-confessed ex-economic hit man, giv-
       ing a highly believable detailed account of his actions, it is essential that
       the World Bank and American entities that are accused respond, with good
       arguments and documentary proof, to such serious, truly revolutionary, al-
       legations that are capable of demoralizing a country which, until the arrival
       of the W. Bush era, induced a certain degree of international respect. For my
       part, at least, I had such respect, judging both people and countries by their
       overall defects and qualities, not by particular isolated defects. The USA al-
       ways seemed to me to be a generous country, the first to rush to the aid of
       the victims of disasters. And no country manages to impede the extremely
       egoistic dealings of some of its citizens. When it discovers such dealings, the
       USA manages, or at least attempts, to punish the guilty. Just look at the Enron
       case, with executives sentenced to prison terms.

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       One particular detail that aroused my initial suspicion, on the cover
of the book, was the actual expression “economic hit man”. It seemed to be
something thought up by a weak-minded individual intent on making an
impact. However, the explanation comes on page 37, given by a high-ranking
female employee of the company that hired the author for undercover deal-
ings. In the event of an accusation, “Who would take the matter seriously?”
According to her, a sense of humor was taken into account in choosing the
term, always used in the form of initials. Really, if a special agent were to
summon the press and confess to being an “economic hit man”, the term
itself would subject the whole story and its author to ridicule. In summary,
deliberate bad taste, with a view to demoralizing those potentially putting
forward accusations.
       When I started to leaf through the book, the thought that passed
through my mind was that it could have been maliciously commissioned by
Hugo Chavez, such is the virulence of its highly specific frontal attacks. How-
ever, the book was written prior to 2004 when, as far as I remember, Chavez
had not yet unleashed his verbal artillery against Bush
       On the other hand, there was something that impressed me: the fact
that the book in question had actually been published in the United States,
in San Francisco, California, in 2004, by an American publishing house that
I imagine is not of the backyard variety. If American corporations and the
World Bank indulge in such dealings of questionable morality, and an ex-
employee publishes a book on the topic — remaining alive and out of prison
—, this is proof that the country has a powerful antidote against all poisons
in its freedom of the press. Therefore, all is not lost for this powerful nation.
       With regard to the personal danger associated with his confession, the
author states, at the beginning of the book, that his daughter has undertaken
to replace him in his fight to reveal the truth, in the event that he suffers
some kind of suspicious “accident”. Henceforth, even a heart attack or lethal
lightning bolt will merit highly detailed investigation.
       After reading the whole book, I’ll come back to this space in order to

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       give my irrelevant final opinion on this literary accusation which, if read on a
       wide scale, would shake the very foundations of the so-called “American em-
       pire”. I will also check, on the Internet, whether the banks and corporations
       that were attacked have already defended themselves, in the USA, against the
       aforementioned allegations.
              Until such time, I think it would be useful if a good reviewer of works
       of this nature — Fábio Jardim, for example — could prepare an impartial
       summary of its contents, considering that relatively few people have time to
       read entire books.
              I have no knowledge of a recent political book with the same impact-
       causing potential. If the facts related in the book are true, it is possible that
       all victim countries, owing unpayable international loans, feel themselves to
       be justified in uniting with a view to universally defaulting on their debts.
       In an isolated manner, something similar has already occurred recently in Ar-
       gentina and, up to now, I have not noted any prejudicial impacts whatsoever
       on the government of Néstor Kirchner. To the contrary, I can only see profit,
       with the result that the country, following the almost total re-structuring of
       its debts, showed an upturn in economic growth. I cannot say whether this
       upturn in growth is going to die back in the future, but everything currently
       seems to indicate that it will continue.
              As every defendant has the right to counter the allegations put for-
       ward, we shall see — we repeat — whether some kind of defense exists for
       the all-too-smart plunderers that have been identified.

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       “Cryonics”: a polemyc plunge into the future

       When Alberto Santos Dumont, on October 23rd, 1906, in the fields of
Bagatelle, Paris, got to raise in the air his phantasmagoric and awkward “14-
Bis”, he couldn’t imagine that in that very moment he was casting the seeds
of a future branch of Law, the Aeronautical Law, accepted as an autonomous
branch in the most recent Brazilian constitutions.
       It is amazing to know nowadays that, in the second flight, on Novem-
ber 12th of the same year, the apparatus flew 220 meters in 31 seconds, in
the “vertiginous” 2-meter height. It was Humankind’s first controlled flight.
A speed – 37.5 km/h – that was slightly inferior, of course, to the “14 Bis”
great-great-great-grandchild, the supersonic Concorde.
       The evolution, as we may see, was fast. In May, 1927, Charles Lindbergh
made the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight, from west to east, proving
the human being’s creative speed, at least in the technical area.
       Those who occasionally have watched a documentary film on the his-
tory of rockets, would certainly get amazed with the disorientation of those
initial artifacts that, contradicting the engineers’ calculations, seem like gi-
gantic serpent fireworks, deprived of the slightest notion of the place where
they were going to fall. In those ancient documentaries it is impossible not
to laugh – seeing the escape speed of the legs of technicians, engineers and
workers – much higher, on the ground, than the “14 Bis” speed on the air.
       Filmed at a distance, the men look like desperate ants, running away
from the probable place of impact of that machine that was crazy and also
mortal, because it was filled with tons of fuel.
       In spite of that difficult beginning, in 1969 the “Apollo 11”, a spacecraft
designed to carry astronauts, landed on the Sea of Tranquillity in the Moon.
Something at first inconceivable, for many – even for those with a scientific
education – because spacecrafts don’t have flaps that may have influence
on their steering. Flaps are useless in the vacuum. As somebody has already
remarked, air is the enemy of the rocket and vacuum is the enemy of space-

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       crafts. And we shouldn’t forget that when the rocket is set in motion, our
       planet isn’t motionless. Earth’s rotation speed is significant. We aren’t cen-
       trifugally “spat” into space because of gravity. The shortest calculation error
       in the project and the spacecraft crew would be lost in the huge vacuum in
       a one-way trip. How was such voyage calculated with no errors? Today, the
       task is very easy, compared to the project of sending a spacecraft carrying
       astronauts to the planet Mars.
              The rocket “nuts” – don’t forget the chief one, the German Von Braun –
       didn’t know, at that time, that they were launching not only their rockets but
       also the foundations of another branch of Law, the Space Law, equally raised
       to recognition by the Constitution legislators (Art. 22 of the Federal Constitu-
       tion, 1988).
              Von Braun was so important to the prudent North-American people –
       who were not acquainted with the rocket technology at that time – that the
       launching bases of the “V-2” (rockets that tormented London in World War
       II) could be destroyed by the Royal Air Force, provided that the dorms where
       the scientists lodge were spared. A detail that raised difficulties to the Brit-
       ish pilots, forcing them to get dangerously near to select their targets. But
       the English pilots, though frustrated with the restraint, showed that they
       were a good shot. Von Braun and his associates survived the air raids and,
       when the war was over, were requested to work in the United States, urging
       the space conquest.
              A technological advance that, I suppose, is still going to shake our civi-
       lization – with obvious influences on the juridical area – maybe in a much
       deeper scale than the invention of the airplane or the rocket, is in the use of
       low temperatures as a way to preserve human bodies affected by severe ac-
       cidents or diseases that are still incurable.
              Our children maybe won’t, but at least our grandchildren who graduate
       in Law will have to pore over the creation of new juridical rules to discipline
       the prickly field of cryogenics, or cryobiology, in the item of conservation of
       human beings in extremely low temperatures for a future thawing. Conse-

                                                                Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

quently, there will be, in a remote future, a “Cryonics Law”.
        The preservation of fruit, meat, fish, semen or fertilized ova in an ex-
tremely cold temperature is routine nowadays. Such activities are connected
to cryogenics. However, for the “science” or technique – still incipient – of
preservation of human beings no specific term has been coined yet in Por-
tuguese. And the natural way for this “christening” seems to be the “Por-
tuguesecizing” of the English word cryonics, adopted by Robert Ettinger, a
North American Physics Professor, in his book The prospect of immortality,
published in 1964. The access to information on that subject in the internet
is only possible using the keyword cryonics.
        “Criônica”, therefore will be the probable designation of that latest re-
search area in Portuguese. Anyway, the word is of the least importance and
the subscriber hereto doesn’t object to the use of any other term that may be
best chosen by authorized minds in the academic world.
        Even the most tolerant reader must be wondering: - What causes the
author of this article to look for such an odd subject? Isn’t this issue better
located in a science fiction magazine?
        In fact, the subject fits both spaces. And in the Medical one as well. I
ponder, as a justification, that the Law graduates are also entitled to specu-
late on the future, though the Law is usually remembered only after the pio-
neer work of scientists and inventors. And only when the first conflicts of
interest arise. Law is like the night-clubs’ bully doormen or the police officer:
it is called only after the first fights start on the floor. Since in Brazil, at least,
there hasn’t already been any legal conflict connected with the freezing of
people for a future reviving – and not even the deliberate freezing in itself –
it is natural that even the word is unknown here. And I satisfy the reader’s
curiosity as to the source of the subject.
        Several months ago I read in the international news section of a news-
paper published in São Paulo that an English lady, probably with an incurable
disease – the news was very concise, almost telegraphic - , had contacted a
company, or an entity in England that is dedicated to this new and odd activ-

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       ity of preservation of human beings in liquid nitrogen – minus 196º Celsius
       – up to moment when science will be able not only to cure the disease, but
       also to repair the damage caused by the prolonged freezing.
              The news also said that the price demanded for the preservation of the
       whole body was very high – save that the newspaper committed a mistake,
       it was US$ 800,000. So, since she didn’t have such amount of money, the lady
       hired the company just to preserve her head (“neuro-suspension”), implying
       a cost reduction to US$ 300,000. She surely relied on the future possibility,
       though a remote one, of a “body transplant”.
              Seemingly, the lady has paid dearly because, currently in California
       there is an entity named “Alcor Life Extension Foundation” that charges one
       hundred and twenty thousand dollars to preserve the whole body. A reduc-
       tion that seems to be a large progress, in terms of diffusion of the idea – tak-
       ing for granted that it is a serious entity. The exotic side to the initiative
       doesn’t imply dishonesty. And, for what I’ve read, a huge enthusiasm is trans-
       mitted to those people interested in turning the mere possibility into reality.
              Since it was a news on an actual fact, not a science fiction joke, or hor-
       ror literature - provided that it was an unlikely irresponsibility of the news-
       paper – , I got interested in the issue as a subject for a future fiction work,
       without thinking in the legal developments.
              The backers of the revolutionary novelty are supported by the theo-
       retical possibility of preservation of cells, in the liquid nitrogen temperature
       – minus 196º Celsius, as I’ve said – up to the moment when not only the dis-
       ease will be easily cured but also the damages caused by the freezing will be
       restored. With the occasional “bonus” of an indefinite prolongment of life in
       case the aging process is detained or restored.
              It is no news that the extreme low temperature paralyzes the activities
       of the cell-destructing toxins. And in cold regions there are cases of people
       found apparently dead, with a severe hypothermia, frozen for two or three
       hours, who, when properly heated and with the aid of medicines, are able to
       return to their normal condition. And, as I’ve said, the freezing of bovine and

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

human sperms is a scientifically trivial procedure and there is no evidence
that the calves and persons conceived with frozen sperm are in any way infe-
rior to those conceived as usual.
       The large technical problem in cryonics – let’s adopt, at least for the
moment, this designation – resides in the fact that our cells contain a high
percentage of water. And when water freezes there is the building of crystals
provided with edges that pierce the cell membrane. As I’ve deduced, in the
freezing process, water also “leaks”, freezing outside the cells, among them.
With the changing from water into ice crystals, there is an expansion of the
liquid; something similar to the rupture of pipes that take water to the hous-
es in the cold climate Countries.
       In order to minimize such cell damages, the entities that currently
freeze human beings remove the individual’s blood soon after the decease,
injecting in the individual’s arteries and veins a substance named glycerol,
which mitigates the problem of crystal building. And they soak the bodies
in anticoagulant agents, allowing the water to remain in very low tempera-
tures without freezing. Those liquids are at least similar, I suppose, to those
utilized in the vehicles’ radiators in cold Countries.
       The enthusiasts of cryonics have their stakes in the invention of a fu-
ture technique that will solve the ice crystals problem. Much larger problems,
they say, have already been solved by humankind. Why would this sole one
be unsolvable?
       Another approach of the new pioneers is in the future use of nano-
technology, that is, the technique of creation of microscopic “machines”
that, when injected immediately after thawing, would repair, one by one,
the damaged cells. As far as I know, the person who developed the specula-
tions concerning this ultra-revolutionary outlook – nanotechnology, recon-
struction of things in the molecular level – is a man named Eric Drexler,
who published a book entitled Engines of Creation, and a more technical
work entitled Nanosystems.
       The use of nanotechnology (nano comes from the Greek nânos, mean-

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       ing dwarf) for the repair of millions of cells that were damaged by freezing
       is, from the intellectual point of view, more difficult to “be swallowed”. The
       manufacture of such “machines” seems to me something to be thought just
       in the very remote future, far beyond one century. It is certain that genetic
       engineering already works in the molecular level, changing the position of
       genes inside the cromossomes, but it is too much to believe that so soon
       those microscopic “machines” may be created – in protein, moreover! – and
       will be able to repair, one by one, the damaged cells.
              The champions of this new technique, nanotechnology, – which would
       be, in Biology and other areas, more revolutionary than the computer chip
       – argue that some viruses already do that without a previous universitarian
       education. Those minute beings adhere to a bacterium’s membrane, drill a
       hole there, inject their ADNs inside the bacterium and it starts generating,
       not new bacteria, but new viruses. They become “factories” or “wombs” of
       invading viruses.
              How nature gets such ingeniousnesses is actually a mistery. Religious
       people have a name for that. And a larger mystery is the very anatomy and
       physiology of the vertebrates. But we, human beings, “instructing” a “gad-
       get” created by Man, to repair the cells damaged, or cause the creation of
       healthy duplicates of those cells themselves will be a task for a very remote
       future, if we get there.
              I have nothing against this ambitious intention to utilize nanotechnol-
       ogy. The world has nothing to lose, except time, with such projects, but I sup-
       pose that science will solve the frozen cells’ impairment problem following
       another route: preventing the building of crystals.
              Someone with common sense may ask: “how is it that there are people
       in the USA who risk their money in such adventure when the technicians
       themselves confess that they haven’t already “ressucitated” any patient?
              The answer is simple. If the patient suffers from an incurable disease
       and just waits for death to be buried or cremated, the percentage of chance
       to return to life is zero. If someone is frozen and “awaken” within fifty or one

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

hundred years, the chance will be higher than zero, because scientific evolu-
tion is getting faster. In theory, at least, this fast freezing followed by a return
to the status quo is perfectly possible, provided that the proper technique is
       In 1966, a Japanese scientist, Isamu Suda, froze a cat’s brain after soak-
ing it in glycerol. One month later, he carefully thawed the brain. Submitted
to an EKG, the machine recorded traces of some brain functions. At least this
is told in an Internet page, “A short History of Cryonics”, written by Charles
Platt. The Japanese scientis’s thesis, according to the author, would have been
published in Nature magazine, a renowned periodical in the Biology field.
       There is also a good justification, or excuse, for the non-freezing so far
of patients maintained in refrigeration: they are people bearing incurable
diseases, almost always cancer, the disease for which there is still no safe
treatment. To thaw patients, at the moment, as a demonstration, would be an
irresponsibility and breach of contract. The entity’s commitment is thawing
the person when the disease will be perfectly curable and the technique able
to restore the damages caused by the cold itself will be applied. We must have
in mind that the extreme cold may also cause fractures.
       As the enthusiasts of cryonics say, some dogs were unfrozen, appar-
ently with no damage, but only a few hours after being frozen.
       As we see, we are rather in a gamble situation. And since a good part
of mankind likes to gamble, we suppose that very soon we will have some
gamblers, here in Brazil, staking their money.
       A problem that still hinders the diffusion of this unusual attempt to
survive is the financial cost. The entities that at first were devoted to that
activity received from the patients’ relatives the promise of a monthly con-
tribution for the defrayal of the service of preserving the body in liquid ni-
trogen. As thermally insulated as the body was in the box _”dwar” – some of
the environment heat penetrates in the aluminum container, causing part of
the nitrogen to evaporate. So, there is the need to add more liquid nitrogen
from time to time, costing money, not much, because nitrogen in itself is well

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       supplied in the nature.
              The experience, however, proved that this financial system wasn’t
       proper. The “dead person’s relatives soon lost their interest in applying their
       resources in something that was so uncertain – and conflicting with their
       own interests. If the “nutty old man” really “wakes up” – they seemed to
       think – won’t he demand the inheritance money back? And, without resourc-
       es for the maintenance of the bodies, the patients ended up unfreezing.
              In 1978, a demand arouse in the Unites States, severely shaking the
       already small trust of people in the fable of freezing people. The episode was
       known as “The Chatsworth Scandal”.
              Robert Nelson, the first “cryonaut”, a strong enthusiast of the subject,
       maybe a honest man who previously was a mere technician of TV sets, was
       the founder of “CSC – Cryonic Society of California”. Either in good or bad
       faith, he was accused, by the relatives of one of his patients, of negligence in
       the patients preservation, allowing them to thaw. Journalists, police officers
       and medical examiners obtained a warrant to examine the basement of the
       company and found out that the bodies were only partially frozen, resulting
       in the sentencing of CSC to pay high damages, together with the funeral
       agent who helped him in the works of preparation of the patients.
              At the Court, Robert Nelson alleged that the patients’ relatives who
       didn’t pay for the maintenance were the same claiming they were victims
       of pain and suffering. Those ones, on their turn, argued that they didn’t pay
       exactly because they didn’t trust in the business earnestness. As I infer – be-
       cause I don’t have means to examine the case deeply – the issue got similar
       to the old dispute over who came first: the egg or the hen.
              Anyway, the case had a ruinous repercussion to the cryonics reputation
       but it was useful to prove the system’s mistake of putting in the hands of
       the relatives of the “dead person” the task of paying for the patient’s main-
       tenance. Thus, the tireless enthusiasts of the novelty started demanding ad-
       vanced payment.
              The new financial technique, however, presented the drawback of re-

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

quiring a high allowance for something that was so uncertain. And the rela-
tives of the “nutty old man” had good reasons to be against this decrease
in their financial prospects. Even because, let’s admit, the field is, in thesis,
promising to every sort of swindler. How may one know if the “ice business-
man” is really acting in good faith? Who may confirm that the “company”
will be operating within twenty, thirty or fifty years?
      Again, the bold North Americans found a more ingenious financial way
out: the patient, well before the end, even before getting ill, makes a life in-
surance, appointing the “freezing” entity as the beneficiary. With a relatively
low monthly premium, a thirty-five year old man is able to nourish within
himself the idea of being almost everlasting – assuming that within fifty or
one hundred years the aging process will be reversed by means of genetic en-
gineering. And the likely heirs will not feel themselves at risk, provided that
their beloved father makes a will expressly determining what his children
will definitively inherit after the freezing.
      The few entities working in that area in the USA advise the applicants
to hire the insurance as soon as possible because, the younger they are, the
smaller will be the premium demanded by the insurance companies. Remem-
ber that people suffering from severe diseases aren’t accepted by insurance
companies, and if one omits the disease in the proposal, the compensation
won’t be paid.
      As time went by, the entities in the sector also learned that they had
to operate in a more professional basis, decreasing the financial risks of a
compensation claim that may ruin any company. If one of those companies
has to pay a high compensation, it will be deprived of the funds required to
maintain the other patients who have nothing to do with that procedure, and
who will see their hopes thawed together with their physical shapes.
      Thinking about that, the companies started operating in distinct seg-
ments: some of them just take care of the first operations, soon after the
patient’s death. Others only take care of the preservation. Distinct company
objects and assets. If one relative thinks that his/her father was “pressed” to

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       sign the agreement when he wasn’t able to discriminate what he was doing
       because of his frail conditions – and he/she convinces the court of that – , the
       compensation will be sentenced only to the company that made the agree-
       ment with the patient. The entity in charge of preserving has nothing to do
       with this defect of the will, with that demand, and won’t be shaken at the
       point of risking the company object thereof.
              As we may see, when this odd activity reaches Brazil, the legal issues to
       be solved will be many. Mainly in the criminal area, for freezing the patient as
       soon after death as possible is in the core of this new activity. In many cases,
       the presence of paramedics – the future patient starts wearing a bracelet, or a
       collar, for the fast finding and calling of the technicians – beside the impend-
       ing corpse, waiting, alert, will be able to characterize inducement to suicide.
       A patient with the first symptoms of “Alzheimer’s disease” will find it conve-
       nient to be frozen before his/her brain gets fully damaged. Technically, there
       will be a suicide. And the “team” of the preserving entity will hardly be free
       from the suspicion of homicide or inducement to suicide. Another problem:
       if a criminal is frozen, is he/she under limitation during that time? The laws,
       as we see, must be deeply changed, mainly with the creation of surveillance
       mechanisms for the entities, maybe with the work of the Attorney General
       office. “And now this, on top of everything else!”, will be the reaction of any
       member of parquet.
              The religions will rise against the idea. They will say: “And the soul,
       how does it remain? During the freezing years, where will it be?” A Buddhist
       will say that it was reincarnated. So, how can we bring it back, leaving the
       new body it is in?
              It all sounds now as idle digression or almost as an insult. But I’m sure
       that Mankind will follow this way. Whether it is correct, I don’t know. Even
       because, especially if it is correct, social problems will arise, including the
       populational increase. Something that may minimize the development of
       that activity is the prospect, increasingly larger, of genetic engineering to
       change the aging process of people still alive, causing the cells to renew as

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

if it was a young body. And also the cure of diseases that are currently incur-
able. But certainly there will be incurable diseases, even with genetics engi-
neering. And maybe diseases that are still unknown.
       One thing is certain: mankind longs for immortality. In any possible
way. Spiritual or material. Previously, only material because there were no al-
ternatives. Now, with this mere enticement of a biological eternity, hundreds
or thousands of people will try to embark in this adventure, provided that it
is economically viable. They will purely and simply take the risk. Including
the risk of “waking up” in a fully different world, something that is, for many,
exciting, not sad. They assume that the “new world” will be less hostile than
the current one because it will be more civilized. Men and women from the
stone age waking up in the elegant Paris.
       There will always be the adventurers. The vikings risked their lives
through the seas, without being excessively prudent, even without a compass.
       For many, life is excessively short. Even now, with an average expectan-
cy of seventy-five years of age. Up to the twenty, the “yearling” happily goes
at a gallop through the world, neighing and kicking in joy – if it is lucky in
the “choice” of parents. Then, it falls in the rough fight for survival. It fights
to support the family, rarely working in something it really likes to do. Reach-
ing the retirement age, it would be able to make what it really likes to do, but
then, it realizes that its strengths are reaching the end, waving goodbye. And
it dies frustrated.
       Cryonics will be essential for the Space conquest. For mankind to reach
other solar systems, even in our galaxy, spacecrafts must carry extremely
longevous people, in view of the huge distances. And no astronaut expects to
live, at this moment, three hundred or four hundred years.
       Ars longa, vita brevis, has always been the artists’ complaint. And don’t
argue that our children and grandchildren will complete the works started
by us. No! They are born with other concerns. And they are entitled to them.
The parent is, say, a bright scientist, with a long work project in front of
him/her. The child, however, prefers to ride a motorcycle, write poems, con-

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       struct buildings, design cars or write law books. Each generation coming
       into the world is a new barbarian invasion, someone said. The scientist’s
       work will be, maybe, finished by a stranger. And a long time later, because
       he/she maybe won’t be so “devoted”. Even a doctor, dedicated only to his/her
       profession, will hardly be able to embrace all the medical knowledge of our
       time. And this limitation, for some, “hurts”. If, for one hand, there are people
       who rebuke that excessive intellectual curiosity, others defend it, saying that
       such curious people are the salt of the earth. Others would like to be fluent
       in several languages. For such curious people, our current life range isn’t sat-
       isfactory. There are those who enjoy living and are willing to fight for a very
       larger life range.
              So far, “eternity” was restricted to the soul, or memory. It had to do
       with leaving a good reputation on the earth. Writing a book, painting a fa-
       mous picture, composing an unsurpassed music, being nominated for the Os-
       car. At least the name of one street or on a bench in the square of some little
       town in the inland. Or even, paradoxically, if there is no other alternative,
       committing a famous crime, murdering a statesman or a rock singer.
              Mankind doesn’t accept the idea of nothingness. People turn restlessly
       in their tombs, half discarnate, grinding their teeth, fake or real, just to think
       that no one will remember them as important persons.
              This is mankind. And for that reason, I have no doubt that, even here
       in Brazil, entities will arise – honest or dishonest, as in every other activity –
       that will exploit this never fulfilled longing for a much longer and certainly
       more promising life in unknown times. If they wake up somewhat weak-
       minded – in case they wake up – what can we do? And the insurance compa-
       nies will be interested in that void that hasn’t been filled for the time being.
       The doctors themselves, currently cautious as to the subject – because they
       fear to get discredited – will take a better look into the technical possibili-
       ties. They will certainly conclude that the task of saving mankind from the
       diseases and from pain does not necessarily imply restricting their mission to
       the use of the technical resources currently available.

                                                            Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

      I close this writing with a request. If, occasionally, some doctor or sci-
entist reads this article and is interested in the subject, I would be very inter-
ested in knowing his/her arguments. Mainly if they are opposed to the actual
possibility, even in the future, of a successful unfreezing. After all, I’ve only
read articles published by the enthusiasts of the idea.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

                          Racism, Obama and World Government

               If there is a politician I respect, it is Barack Obama. Not only due to the
       fact that he attained, in an honorable manner, the presidency of the most
       powerful nation in the world, but also because he has partially broken down
       the racial prejudice that still restlessly lingers in the deepest layers of white
       American society. As here one is dealing with a prejudice related to skin color
       (it is not the case, as in the example of anti-Semitism, of white against white),
       the reaction against a man of dark-colored skin has, in my opinion, an in-
       stinctive, even biological component, its eradication being slower and more
       difficult. Hence a need for the law to intervene, hastening integration and
       weakening, little by little, this mysterious instinctive repulsion.
               The argument that cuts, by the roots, any moral justification for all
       kinds of racism is the following: nobody chooses their parents before being
       born. After being born, there is no way of changing such features as skin or
       eye color, height and level of intelligence. The most one can do is use the
       qualities with which you were born (and, depending on the case, certain de-
       fects...) in the best possible manner. Even if I think that, in statistical terms,
       races show slight differences - Negroes, for example, appear to have more ap-
       titude in athletics, football, boxing and basketball - what is really important
       is the individual. In this way, a blonde Swede could be born an athlete, where-
       as a black African boy could detest sports, preferring to dedicate himself to
       mathematics or poetry. Nature is capricious and every member of the Ku Klux
       Klan needs to be aware that his or her “whiteness” is merely accidental.
               What it is in Obama that distinguishes him from mediocre presidents
       is the knowledge that understanding one’s opponent, or even enemy, is of
       much greater value that the threat or use of force. With force, we are able to
       silence the hazard, but not eliminate it. To the contrary, we strengthen it. We
       encourage its secret maneuvers. We just do not know what is really going on.
               When Obama formed his government, he invited several politicians and
       technicians who had served during the Bush administration, although may

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

Democrats censured such choices; they were likely to be potential traitors.
Obama, nevertheless, inspired by the precedent of Lincoln, had the courage
to decide to the contrary. For two good reasons: politicians and technicians
who formerly saw him as a foe, came to see him as a reasonable man, only
interested in making the right decisions. Surrounded by people who served
in previous governments, Obama will come to have a view of problems that
is much closer to reality.
        Forgive me for this long and unnecessary introduction, but it is nec-
essary to warn this promising head of state not to allow himself to be con-
taminated by vestigial bellicose tendencies, as a result of the being in the
company of a few possible residual “hawks”. In dealing with the problem of
North Korea launching a long-range ballistic missile, Obama jeopardized his
good policy of never threatening another country. If only due to the fact that
threats should be fulfilled, or suffer the penalty of demoralization. However,
prior to the missile launch, he promised a “severe and united response on
the part of the international community” if Pyongyang went ahead with the
launch (“O Estado de S. Paulo” newspaper - page A14, dated 3-4-09).
       In fact, the missile was launched and no serious retaliatory measures
could be taken, as it is only necessary for a veto on the part of any one of the
five “big-shot” permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, in order to
prevent a military or especially “severe” response against the transgressor. In
this case, a dictator who is a little crazy and perhaps in possession of nuclear
weapons, which complicates the strategy even more. Given that Kim Jong-il
was already an example of mental imbalance, it is likely that his state of mind
deteriorated even more following the stroke that he suffered last August.
       With regard to the stance adopted by China and Russia, denying signifi-
cant sanctions against Pyongyang, for the first time in my life I find a situa-
tion in which the power of veto could actually assist humanity. In fact, in this
case, both military and economic measures would only aggravate the prob-
lem of nuclear proliferation. If there were aerial attacks against North Korea,
it is absolutely certain that the dictator would retaliate which as much force

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       as he could muster, with conventional weapons and perhaps even nuclear ar-
       maments. Despite the poverty in which its population lives, everyone knows
       that North Korea has a very large and well-equipped army. And there is no
       lack of bellicose insanity on the part of the current “Great Leader”. If he dies,
       one of his three sons (the bizarre “communist monarchy”) will continue the
       struggle, which will be bloody. Such a conflict would be much more explosive
       that that engaged in against Iraq - in all likelihood, with a certain degree of
       support on the part of China, a “technically” communist country. The USA
       and its allies would become involved in yet another war (the third), precisely
       at a very difficult moment for the global economy.
              With regard to the imposition of severe commercial sanctions against
       Pyongyang, based on historical evidence, it can be shown that the deliberate
       impoverishment of a country governed by dictators only serves to prejudice
       the civilian population. The anonymous population will certainly go hungry.
       Children will become undernourished due to a lack of milk, although there
       will be no lack of this product, or even caviar, for the friends of the “leader”.
       Trade isolation only works when the country being attacked has a democratic
       government, or when the dictator is already weak and isolated. This is not
       the case in North Korea. Thus, in certain exceptional cases, the right of veto
       on the UN Security Council is really a blessing.
              Obama, during a speech last Sunday in Prague, put forward a plan for
       “a world without nuclear weapons”. He proposed a reduction in the nuclear
       arsenal of both Russia and America. I have nothing against such a proposal, but
       Obama would do better proposing discussion of a significant, bold and defini-
       tive step for reorganizing the world, and not only in the economic sphere.
              What kind of step could this be? First and foremost, amplifying the
       jurisdiction, competence and effectiveness of international justice, which is
       currently limited by the sacrosanct and often abusive sovereignty of each
       state. Second, equipping humanity with standards for the great and inevi-
       table leap forward: a democratic world government (without the predomi-
       nance of any single country), with the voluntary and progressive adhesion of

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

its members. In a similar manner to creation of the UN, the European Union
and, long before, in the 18th century, the voluntary (yes, voluntary) coali-
tion of thirteen American colonies, united against England. The colonizing
English, the “foreign enemy” at the time, was the driving force behind the
union of such colonies, the very kernel of the powerful American state. There
is an urgent need for a world government. At the present time, the “enemy”
is both internal and external at the same time. It is global, given that the cur-
rent economic crisis has not left any country untouched. In addition, we have
two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan), with a risk of another two (North Korea and
Iran), besides unending tribal killings in Africa.
       Solely reducing the Russian and American nuclear arsenal of is not
enough. If, in theory, all countries of the world have equal rights (it’s in the
United Nations Charter), there is no logic in the “big shots” requiring that
North Korea and Iran abstain from furthering their aims in the nuclear tech-
nology field, which could be destined for both military and peaceful pur-
poses. Such countries, discriminated in this manner, can always ask, quite
rightly: “Why is it that the USA, China, Israel, the United Kingdom, France,
India and Pakistan can have nuclear weapons, and we cannot?! Isn’t this kind
of prohibition an explicit confession of racism? Are we, perchance, inferior
peoples, congenitally unbalanced, incapable of dealing with such advanced
forms of energy?
       Nuclear weapons are the direct fruit of fear. And fear, in turn, can give
rise to domination. The intimidated party always yearns to bind the party
that is alarming it. And the former does not wish to be bound. During the
Second World War, it was fear of the Nazis that led the Allies to build the
first atomic bomb. Hitler put pressure on his scientists to fabricate an ex-
traordinary weapon that would make TNT look like fireworks. This very real
Nazi threat motivated Einstein (a pacifist and adept in the subject of world
government) to propose to president Franklin D. Roosevelt that research be
accelerated for construction of the bomb before the Nazi dictator managed to
attain the same goal. His notion was well founded.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

              Israel has atomic bombs and has never given its permission for a count
       to be made. It is free of inspections. It alleges fear of being “wiped off the
       map”, as one of its enemies in the Middle East once said. An idiotic metaphor-
       ic flight of fancy, but one that Israel has the right to take seriously. Despite
       the liberty that Israel enjoys in fabricating nuclear weapons, Iran, which still
       does not have the bomb, sees itself as threatened with bombardment be-
       cause it does not allow UN inspectors to have total access to its nuclear in-
       stallations, which could also be destined for peaceful purposes. Where is the
       logic in this difference in international treatment? The North Korean dictator
       could say the same thing, irrespective of whether or not he is half crazy. This
       inequality of rules will only disappear with the formation of a world govern-
       ment, with a Global Constitution, with effective worldwide justice that pro-
       vides all nations with a sense of total security.
              Why, one asks, does the USA not put forward a proposal to Russia for
       total destruction of their respective nuclear arsenals, and not Just reduction
       in the stock of warheads? Answer: because both the USA and Russia fear
       China. It’s generalized fear, mutual distrust, which functions as cement and
       justification for spending trillions of dollars on security via weapons. Would
       it not be more rational if a global democratic federation gave an absolute
       guarantee that there would be no further armed attacks by one country
       against another?
              It seems strange that Obama - such an intellectualized politician and,
       above all, of good character - has still not mentioned the expression “global
       government or federation” in his speeches. As far as the term “global” is
       concerned, this only refers to financial control. Nevertheless, I presume that
       he has likely already thought about this broader hypothesis. He has only not
       dared to verbalize it because the government that preceded him alarmed
       the international community to such an extent (with supposed American su-
       premacy) that use of the expression “world government” would undermine
       his prestige. Everyone would immediately think of Bush and “American dic-
       tatorship”. First, he needs to gain the confidence and calm the minds of all

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

peoples, before daring to stir up a “hornets’ nest” that I am sure will produce
much more honey that stings.
      I’d like to make a bet. Before the end of his administration, Obama,
feeling the ground to be firmer beneath his feet, will approach the topic with
complete honesty and without any hidden “patriotic” intentions. As someone
once said, our future homeland is Humanity - a perfectly attainable dream.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

                    What should be done with Kim Jong Il? Nothing

              The ambitious, intelligent and persuasive global arms industry should
       be extremely excited with the challenges or “follies” (what else to call them?)
       of Kim Jong Il, the North-Korean dictator.
              In abstract terms, the client adored by the arms industry is fear. With-
       out it, there would be generalized insolvency in the cannon industry. Even
       worse than General Motors. On the other hand, the client respected in flesh
       and blood is any head of state or government sufficiently unscrupulous or
       courageous in resolving the problems of their country (principally those of an
       economic nature) by avoiding them through emotional saber-rattling.
              This is exactly the case of Kim Jong Il, the son of another dictator and
       likely the father of a third. This will only not happen if his son refuses the post.
       If this occurs, another family member will probably be proclaimed “king”. A
       strange case of royalty, of blue blood (or, in this instance, yellow) in a type
       of regime whose very essence (communism) resides in the closest kind of
       identification between leaders and led. Given that, in North Korea, there is no
       free press or free elections, the masses - lean, but not by choice - support the
       orders handed down by their irrevocable “father”, without further analysis.
              Considering that there is not even a shadow of democracy in North
       Korea and that its future (and that of the whole region) depends on just one
       man, and this depends on that which occurs in his mind, the best solution
       regarding the Korean nuclear threat lies in patiently awaiting a biological
       decision to be made. In the case in question, concerning his health. After he
       is gone, we will see what needs to be done. Attack North Korea? Only if the
       country attacks first, and in a concrete manner. This means without even con-
       sidering so-called “preventive attacks’, which would have extremely serious
       consequences in terms of destruction, deaths and radioactive contamination.
              Given that world government, or some semblance of such government,
       does not yet exist (this is something that needs to be changed as a matter of
       urgency), with powers, accepted by all countries, of immediate intervention

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

for “confiscation” or “extraction” (as in the case of a rotten tooth) of dicta-
tors who are putting various other countries at risk, and even those who
are under their domination (as in the case of Robert Mugabe, in Zimbabwe),
the wisest solution is not to encourage the warmongering of a head of state
who may not be in full control of his mental faculties for physical (stroke) or
psychological reasons.
       In the 1930s, if Hitler (after arming Germany with the largest war ma-
chine ever seen - externalizing his intention to dominate the world) had been
“extracted” from power by a democratic world government, we would not
have had the widespread slaughter that was the Second World War. Not even
its consequence, the so-called “Cold War”, which nearly became transformed
into an atomically “hot” war in 1962, at the time of the Cuban missile crisis.
This did not result in nuclear conflict solely because Nikita Khrushchev, a
simple-minded man (on one occasion, in the middle of a UN session, he re-
moved a shoe and began hammering it on the table, demanding attention),
but a man of great vision, had the good sense and moral courage to make an
about-turn, ordering the return of ships that were transporting nuclear mis-
siles destined for Cuba.
       In fact, this gesture of courageous prudence, which saved humanity
from a war that was likely to be nuclear, did not save the prestige of Khrush-
chev within the Soviet Union. Russian generals thought that he was “soft” in
dealing with the incident. Instead of being thankful for not being incinerated,
the star-studded and medal-bedecked generals criticized the retreat. They did
not understand the reach of this heroic gesture precisely because it was not
“heroic”, i.e., accompanied by the beat of drums. As a result, Khrushchev lost
his hold on power in his country. With the return of the missiles, internation-
al headlines remained fully focused on John Kennedy. This is just another ex-
ample that “taking a hard-line standpoint” is of “greater value” to the masses
than acting in an intelligent and discerning manner. Being fully aware of this,
dictators generally rely on shows of force - and it is the people who end up
being hurt. Just as in the case of the Falklands, a small-scale war destined to

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       distract attention from the problems that afflicted Argentina at the time.
              Any kind of military measures - “other options” - against Kim Jong Il, with
       a view to bringing his nuclear activities to a halt or destroying them would be
       counterproductive. Such military measures are unthinkable, given that North
       Korea has a numerous and powerful army. In addition, in an extreme situation,
       it could launch missiles with nuclear warheads. That would lead to chaos. There
       is no guarantee that the country would be flattened before pressing the launch
       buttons. Even if this occurred, following a sudden and precise attack by the USA,
       such a preventive attack would be an act of cowardice against a population that
       cannot be blamed for the foolishness of its head of government, the “master”
       and architect of public opinion. In a land where there is no freedom of the press,
       few think differently from their leader.
              Besides this, “hard-line economic sanctions” also do not function, as
       they augment the poverty of countries governed by dictators if such leaders
       are, rightly or wrongly, supported by the populace. It is only the poorest sec-
       tors of society that suffer. There will be no lack of food and other indispen-
       sible goods on the table of those in government and their supporters. And
       when hunger is a threat, there is an increase in the proportion of “friends of
       the ruler”, whose interest is that of getting enough to eat, this being a pri-
       mary drive embedded in all living beings. A lack of food in the stomach can
       have immense persuasive force.
              However, an irrefutable argument that reinforces popular support for Kim
       Jong Il has a factual basis: there is currently unequal treatment among countries.
       The UN Security Council requires that North Korea interrupt its nuclear program
       destined for arms production. The problem is that, for this to occur, it would
       have to maintain inspectors within its nuclear facilities, constantly checking
       whether the activities in question are solely being developed for peaceful pur-
       poses. This is very irritating for the country being inspected.
              I doubt (a normal reaction) that Israel would allow international inspec-
       tors, with Arab surnames, to scrutinize its nuclear installations. However,
       the five permanent members of the aforementioned Security Council (USA,

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

United Kingdom, Russia, China and France) are free to have as many nuclear
arms as they wish. Together, they could destroy the Earth many times over.
Besides the five permanent members, India, Pakistan and Israel also have
their nuclear arsenals, without any opposition on the part of the Security
Council. What is the conclusion drawn by the North Koreans (the same ap-
plies in the case of Iranians) as a result of this evident inequality? Are the
North Koreans in some way “inferior” or congenitally imbalanced? In theory,
is it not the case that all countries have equal rights?
       An article entitled “Que tal a velha diplomacia?” (Bush’s Best Exam-
ple), by Norman Dombey, Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics at Sus-
sex University, Great Britain, published in “The Guardian” and reproduced,
in Portuguese, in the “O Estado de S. Paulo” newspaper on 31-5-09, in the
supplement entitled “Aliás”, J5, specifies the breaking of several promises
made by the George W. Bush government to Kim Jong Il, resulting in retalia-
tion on the part of the dictator. The aggressiveness ingrained in Bush by the
well known “hawks” that surrounded him made a significant contribution to
the exaggerated reactions of the North Korean president, someone already
exaggerated in nature. He concluded that it was no longer possible to trust
the Americans. Thence the conclusion drawn by the aforementioned author
of the article that the Obama administration “blundered into sanctions and
threats”. For reasons of space, it is not possible to transcribe all the argu-
ments put forward in the article, but these can be read in the publication in
question. Well worth the effort.
       Another article, in the same Brazilian newspaper, dated June 1st 2009,
on page A12 (this time by Seumas Milne, previously published in “The Guard-
ian”), under the title of “Hipocrisia estimula proliferação” (Hypocrisy encour-
ages proliferation), also draws conclusions regarding hypocrisy and double
standards in the international field, allowing some countries to fabricate nu-
clear weapons and prohibiting others. In other words, the permanent mem-
bers of the UN Security Council and a few “allies” (Israel, India and Pakistan) have
the “right to have fear”. On the other hand, North Korea and Iran have no such

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       right. How is it possible to explain this inequality, without “shame”, in a world
       that reaffirms the existence of something that does not exist, i.e., equality? The
       explanation lies in the title of the aforementioned article: “Hypocrisy”.
               Nuclear weapons states are generally more respected than those not at-
       tributed with equal powers. This is a factor that also motivates Kim Jong Il.
       Given that the USA invaded Iraq, based solely on “mistrust” (in fact, just anoth-
       er pretext) regarding the existence of weapons of mass destruction, and Bush
       broke agreements and confronted the UN, Kim considered it safer to empha-
       size, through a loud-speaker, that his country was really in possession of nuclear
       power, albeit incipient. Apparently, Kim is afraid and knows that enemies of
       countries with nuclear arsenals think more carefully before attacking.
               Clearly, the more widespread nuclear proliferation, the greater the danger
       for all mankind. Proliferation should be avoided at all costs, but nota t the cost of
       a war that could become nuclear. It would be a case of contradicting purposes.
               Innumerous more prudent countries are not bothered, diplomatically,
       by this inequality. For example, Sweden, which already has the technology
       necessary for construction of atomic weapons, has explicitly decided not to
       construct them. Perhaps knowing that, as it stands, the country will not be-
       come the target of mistrust and hostilities. Brazil, which could construct such
       arms within a few years, has also preferred to follow a more peaceful path, if
       only due to the fact that it does not feel threatened. If atomic energy were to
       be developed for military rather than peaceful purposes, such a move would
       likely lead to rivalry on the part of Argentina. On the other hand, North Korea
       and Iran could argue that they indeed consider themselves to be in poten-
       tial imminent danger, if they continue to be “weaker” than their neighbors.
       Hence the union of fear and arrogance and, in the case of Iran, the need to
       impress the electorate.
               Summing up: what should be done in order to resolve the current im-
       passe? The reply to this question seems simple: Obama and his allies work,
       diplomatically, with a view to gaining the confidence of North Korea, Iran and
       Israel, with the urgent signing of a treaty guaranteeing that none of these

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

three countries will be attacked, unless they are considered to be evident ag-
gressors by a majority decision by the UN Security Council, without any right
to veto in this case. A treaty without conditions and without inspections of
any nature whatsoever.
       In the meantime, considering the current state of the world, there is
no way of impeding nuclear proliferation, the fruit of fear and/or arrogance.
Nevertheless, with the exception of some kind of insanity, no country, of
whatever kind, is going to want to initiate a nuclear war, which would also
end up incinerating the actual aggressor. Once such a treaty has been signed
by Obama, North Korea would have more confidence in “pieces of paper”. In
all certainty, the new American president would not be subject to demoral-
ization, for example, coming to be known as an “international trickster” or
even a “sluggard”.
       With peace ensured, albeit in a provisory manner, the world will be at
leisure to deal with other matters. Such “other matters” will have to include
the establishment of a new world order, more effective than that which cur-
rently exists. The immediate total abolition of nuclear arms is an illusion. The
USA is fearful of the growing power of China, and vice-versa. Israel is fearful
of Iran, and vice-versa. Even if all countries were to sign a treaty eliminating
their nuclear arsenals, there would be no guarantee that a few warheads
would not remain hidden, “just in case”. However, a new world order, which
definitively resolves the matter, is a topic that cannot be dealt with here.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

                                     Grave diggers of Capitalism

              According to newspapers, the managing director of IIF – Institute of
       International Finances, which represents world’s major banks, during an in-
       terview held on September, 14, 2009, declared to be against a “fixed limit” of
       indebtedness, enforced by government, for banks. He suggested this limit to
       be variable, depending on assets risks, according to the subjective opinion of
       bankers themselves, which implies on difficulty or no alertness. To acclaim
       his “advanced” or “ultra comfortable” opinion that banks cannot have any
       governmental really limiting control, concluded giving a crowning touch on
       contributor’s shoulders, saying “not being desirable to use moralist behavior
       to approach the payment problem” of bank top executives. It is really auda-
       cious on nowadays circumstances.
              In other words, according to him, “no moralist behavior” because “war
       is war”, “ the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, “finance is a subject for real
       males”, “ without competence one cannot settle”.
              What happens is that, when things go wrong and boat begins to sink,
       those fearless supporters of the slogan “only a competent person can sur-
       vive”, they are not ashamed of crying, run to government’s “mother lap”,
       asking for a help of trillions of dollars. This money at the end will come from
       idiot contributors’ patrimony. But, not as could be right, from the patrimony
       of those hasty executives, not so “competent” as demonstrated, and who
       enriched with the generous bonuses self given before the facts demonstrated
       that they were right on loan policy.
              Why did they have the courage to risk? Because they knew that if some-
       thing would get wrong, government could not deny the “safeguarding” loans
       and donations. On the contrary, it would happen a collapse with unimagi-
       nable consequences, demoralizing banking system and, consequently, all the
       rest of American economy, reflecting internationally. Authentic blackmailing,
       with chances of succeeding, as really happened.
              However, after reaching the top of tidal wave, loaded, “risk” support-

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

ers (in theory), they attack once more, arrogantly, pleading that government
does not have to be concerned with this story of risks of bank loans and
bonus immediately paid to executives. That’s why the mentioned speech of
the managing director of the Institute of International Finance is understand-
able, because each representative from any group feels the necessity of “call
to his side or to himself” for his peers benefit. The problem is that, in the
case of being analyzed, financial power behind IIF is so, that many heads, in
the political and media areas, will hurry, as is happening, to launch doubts
to the public about the necessity of imposing limits and responsibilities to
the handling of money deposits on banks which cannot allow the luxury of
“bankrupting”. They know that medium reader has not much time, or some-
times even cultural conditions, to distinguish with absolute certainty right
from wrong.
       This article’s title talks about “grave digger”. Could be an exaggera-
tion? Let’s see.
       Socialism supports the wonderful ideal of promoting solidarity, enlarged
planning, and equality among human beings. The problem is that behind the
theoretical and sincere intention of most idealists, some of them murdered by
tough realistic ones, also existing, perhaps mixed with the equalitarian ideal,
the purest selfishness and power sickness of the “boss”, Stalin, Fidel Castro,
Hugo Chávez, etc. and their minor partners in their power enjoyment. This
group, due to an impressing “coincidence” “do not leave the sugary”, sorry
for the expression, used only because of its force. When strong opposition
exists, brutal repression becomes almost inevitable against those who think
differently and oppose to the lifetime staying of the “leader”.
       The one that is occupying the “democratic throne” knows that if he
would leave power and stay in the country could be assassinated. The dictator
of the left, or even the one of the right, concludes that there is no “healthy”
back path. The eagerness for revenge observes him at each corner. Maintain
himself as lifetime dictator becomes, after some years on office, kind of legiti-
mate body self-defense.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

               The basic failure of “real Socialism” is in restraining citizens’ creativity
       which all together, summing up individual intelligences, can see better and
       farther than a bunch of autocrats. Even if among these exist brilliant minds,
       they suffocate some own ideas, pretty good ones…, because they fear to
       arise the jealousy of the “big boss”. He will not approve the contrast between
       his mediocrity and the special intelligence of some subordinates who can
       ambition his place.
               In summary, only a really democratic Socialism, but responsible, with
       free initiative stimulus, will allow future generations the union of entrepre-
       neurs creativity anxious for some security or protection that saturates all
       citizens souls. They want the State to take care of them from birth to death,
       since they work well and obey the laws enforced from their representa-
       tives. I do not feel anything wrong on it. Wrong is the State ignoring the
       necessity of security in unemployment, old age and illness for all hand or
       intellectual laborers.
               With Capitalism, the spontaneous individual creativity even originated
       at mean greed, or wished of having and being better than the neighbor, meets
       a favorable field to generate richness which can benefit all, even if this ben-
       efit is not in the beginning plans of the “selfish”. The general benefit, though
       unintentional is a useful collateral effect that justifies the maintenance of
       Capitalist system. This happens because generates jobs and taxes. But, the
       legislation must impose limits to human being’s greed, a powerful psycho-
       logical force, ubiquitous and useful, since being watched or maintained un-
       der the limits, as happens with all forces being of any type. If it would not be
       controlled, apparently, as the IIF intends, it is feared and demoralized. That’s
       why, the word “grave digger” was used.
               By the way, one of the smartest inventions of Capitalism was the cre-
       ation of the “corporate entity”, namely corporation, a legal fiction at the
       same time useful and “smart” as it allows the intelligent and balanced en-
       trepreneur to earn unlimitedly when his company has earnings and to loose
       in a moderate way when there are losses, unless the stockholder would be

                                                           Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

very careless investing all his money in stocks of the only company which
did not work.
      When a corporation goes bankrupt, bankrupt is the company, the part-
nership, the abstract entity, not flesh and blood. The stockholders never be-
come “bankrupt”. Only the bankrupt entity’s properties, when something
remains, are seized and sold, for the profit of creditors. The alert, precautious
stockholder when previews that the company is going to bankruptcy sells
his stocks and does not loose or loose less. Anyhow, his personal status is not
affected by the bankruptcy. When the company has earnings, these earnings
totally go to stockholders, of course, discounting the taxes that everybody
has to pay, rich or poor. In the case of large banks which gave origin to the
present situation, one might ask, it was by chance examined if CEOs were
much affected by bankruptcy in terms of patrimony?
      Such elementary notions, well-known by the reader, are remembered
here to stress that judicial world already allows this great privilege of allow-
ing unlimited earnings when the corporation has no problems or minimum
losses, or even none, at the moment of business liquidation. And now they
want the growth of the irresponsible bonuses?
      Ralph Byron Perry, a famous American philosopher, dead in 1957,
president of the American Association of Philosophy and Pulitzer prize
holder for Biographies and Autobiographies, objectively defined where is
the legitimacy for moral support to Capitalism. He said in other words that
the fundamental idea of modern Capitalism is not only on the individual
right of owning and enjoying what he earned, but on the thesis that exer-
cising this right benefits everybody.
      In the case of bankers who rushed to receive high bonuses, before their
policies correctness were verified, there were not of general benefit. And now,
they want us to allow them to once again go ahead. Another crisis like this
and Socialism will feel recovered from the economical failure of the Soviet
Union. Therefore, the “grave diggers” of the title, is a relevant qualification.
Unless they prove, in a great trial, not necessarily judiciary, that they were

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       victims of fate, an apparently impossible mission. A good criterion to know
       if there were acting in bad faith or frivolously when verifying this little de-
       tail: when crisis became clear, top executives, who earned the bonuses, lost
       money at the bank they administrated? If they lost plenty, they have acted on
       good faith. If they would not have lost anything or very little, they deserved
       to receive an economical punishment.
              However, it is not all lost defending, when brightly, Capitalism. The
       German magazine “Der Spiegel” published an interview with Dominique
       Strauss-Kahn, managing director of , IMF, that appeared in the “O Estado
       de São Paulo” newspaper on September15, 2009, B3, where the experienced
       economist contests Goldman Sachs executive director’s arguments after the
       crisis. The banker would have said that the “crisis” was inevitable; a “perfect
       storm” there weren’t any ways to protect from it. Dominique Strauss-Kahn,
       an expert on the topic, disagreed: “It is a mistaken metaphor. Human society
       is not a force of Nature. The financial crisis was a catastrophic event, but an
       event created by human action. The lesson which all of us must learn is that
       even an economy needs some kind of regulation, on the contrary, its function-
       ing is compromised”.
              As can be seen, the opinion of some grave diggers of the system itself
       can be neutralized by bright minds that can, in this case an obstinacy of
       Nature, be at any place, even in the polemic International Monetary Fund so
       many times in the past, attacked by us, Brazilians.

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

 Wouldn’t the equivalent of a Brazilian “Sorbonne” be useful?

       Our esteemed President Lula intends to acquire 36 Rafale fighter air-
craft, 4 submarines, the hull (how?!) of a nuclear submarine and 50 helicop-
ters, besides other associated items. By all accounts, total spending amounts
to 12 billion euros. For the time being. Costs to be paid by future govern-
ments. Just what is happening with Brazil?
       In all certainty, many Brazilians - or even foreigners - feel perplexed,
asking themselves what is the possible explanation of such bellicose concern
(far from modest) when there are so many non-military and urgent needs
that have not yet been addressed. Could it be that this is the inevitable result
of some kind of “thinking big”? Is it to protect us when the “pre-salt” is closer
to becoming concrete wealth from which it is possible to reap benefits?
       It is difficult to reply with certainty, given that I lack specialized infor-
mation in this field. For a long time, the Brazilian armed forces - which need
to be valued as they are really comprised of people who are capacitated, pa-
triotic and underpaid - have been insisting on the need for modernizing our
means of defense, currently almost reduced to scrap. If the defenseless and
ill-policed Amazon region were not enough, a black goldmine - the pre-salt
- has now appeared on the horizon. This something new that will result in
our country being seen in a new light, as in the case of other countries with
significant oil reserves. If Iran, Iraq and Libya were only rich in rocks and
sand, with no oil, they would not have appeared in international news with
the same polemic intensity.
       In summary, we should give a vote of confidence in the common sense
of our Armed Forces and the President of the Republic regarding the need for
so much spending on defense. If in doubt, pro-government. There being, as
promised, effective technology transfer, our engineers and technicians will
learn - in practice and not just from books - how to penetrate the complicated
secrets of a technology that has always been too distant from developing
countries. Besides this, jobs will be created. Our country appears to be taking

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       its first steps towards becoming a great power. Let it be so; however, it is to
       be hoped that Brazil continues to maintain it current pacifist aura.
               A possible undesirable side effect of the acquisition of these modern
       arms - in such quantity - is that of providing an incentive for an arms race in
       South America. In fact, this has already been initiated by Hugo Chaves, with
       a treasury full of oil money and constantly worried about a non-existent or
       remote real American threat. In addition, some more competitive Argentines
       will certainly come to put pressure on the government in Buenos Aires in
       order to not be left behind, also purchasing aircraft and submarines. Those
       who, in theory, may come to suffer indirectly from this policy are the poorest
       sectors of both countries, in the event that the jobs created do not compen-
       sate for such high spending.
               With a view to compensating for this apparent “warlike spirit” of our
       president (only apparent, as Lula is patient, does not lose his temper easily and
       is a diplomat by temperament), I would like to take the liberty of suggesting
       to Your Excellency, or the next president, whoever he or she may be, an idea
       which would not involve such significant expense and would neutralize the
       somewhat bellicose aspect of the acquisition in progress (although no contract
       has as yet been signed). Once transformed into reality, this “idea” would give a
       great deal of impetus to establishing the presence of Brazil on the international
       stage, in a rare combination of events so favorable to my country.
               I refer to the creation of a kind of Brazilian “Sorbonne”, so to speak.
       With another name, of course. An International Relations and Law study cen-
       ter that would not only be a “first” in the Southern Hemisphere, but which
       could have an “edge” over its equivalents in the Northern Hemisphere (Sor-
       bonne, Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard and wherever there are similar study cen-
       ters). For example, in Tokyo there is a center that prepares young people for
       working at the UN - something that we do not have here in South America.
               What would this “edge” be? A greater emphasis on well-founded studies
       and suggestions for remediating, to the greatest possible extent, current defi-
       ciencies in international justice and the actual United Nations Organization.

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

        In respectable circles, there are thoughts, and not only at the present
time, of reforming the UN. Perhaps a contingent of “new blood” - not ac-
tual blood, spilt in battles and terrorism - composed of Brazilians and South-
Americans - can help to convince the world that current Public International
Law has already become a little outdated and, for this reason, needs to be
rejuvenated. There is no lack of examples of this lack of modernization of
international norms: uncontrolled immigration of the destitute from Africa
and Eastern Europe, forcing the European Union to close borders, giving rise
to racism of economic origin; Jews and Palestinians who cannot manage to
come to an agreement, meaning that an international decision is desirable -
“coming from outside”. It should be remembered that, as a Palestinian State
does not exist, they cannot bring proceedings against Israel at the Inter-
national Court of Justice. This court, which unites the world’s best judicial
minds, has its hands tied, as its judges cannot alter its statutes, established
based on political criteria by the UN. In addition, it would not look good, mor-
ally, if its magistrates, after being nominated, came to claim greater decision
making powers.
        This evident international legal inadequacy encourages, for example,
some bad Israeli politicians (the good ones, being more discerning, have not
yet managed to attain positions of power) to create obstacles in peace negoti-
ations with the Palestinians, tolerating amplification of settlements. Besides
this, even if a Palestinian State does come to be created, proceedings can only
be brought against countries at the International Court if they have agreed
to this. Knowing that they are not in the right, they obviously do not agree.
How, in legal terms, is something so grotesque still permissible in a century
so advanced in learning?
        Another issue that is evidence of a need for changes in the existing
model of international justice is that regarding the current prohibition of
advances in nuclear knowledge in the case of certain states, whereas others
are not subject to any restrictions. The USA, France, England, Russia, China,
India and Pakistan openly admit to possessing nuclear arms and could, in all

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       certainty, augment their destructive power. In the case of Israel, everyone
       knows that it is in possession of nuclear arms, but the Israelis do not confirm
       or deny this and they do not allow inspectors to enter the country to inves-
       tigate the situation. It is simply inferred that Israel is in possession of “the
       bomb”, allegedly as a means of protecting itself from Arab resentment. It is
       clearly stated that, if the western world does not act against Iran, Israel will
       conduct the necessary aerial attacks, according to its own particular under-
       standing of the situation. And it is easy to imagine what could result from
       “preventive strikes”, without the prior authorization of international justice.
             The Security Council demands that North Korea and Iran not only be
       prohibited from manufacturing atomic weapons, but also that they open up
       their nuclear facilities to international agency inspections, in order to accom-
       pany the way in which the technology used is evolving, and with a view to
       ensuring that they do not manufacture - now or ever - “elementary” atomic
       bombs which, much more advanced, can be stockpiled in their hundreds or
       thousands in the arsenals of great powers. Such countries, quite rightly, feel
       that they are the victims of a double standard. They think: “It is only us that
       do not have the right to fear the possibility of aggression?” Because the prin-
       cipal underlying reason or excuse for possession of nuclear weapons lies in
       the need for defense.
              Kenneth Waltz, a highly respected “neorealist” professor at the Uni-
       versity of Columbia, USA, says that “the world exists in a perpetual state
       of international anarchy”. Without a “central enforcer”, means that states
       must act in a way that ensures their security above all, or else risk falling
       behind. “This is a fundamental fact of political life faced by democracies and
       dictatorships alike: except in rare cases, they cannot count on the good will
       of others to help them, so they must always be ready to fend for themselves”.
       In summary, in the case of the Iranians and North Koreans, it is difficult to
       understand why they are prohibited to do what others, who are stronger, do
       without any kind of hesitancy. If nuclear proliferation is unadvisable, which
       it obviously is, it becomes necessary to create international mechanisms that

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

provide absolute security for weaker countries, even though they may make
a verbal show of force. Such total security still does not exist and is some-
thing that needs to be thought about. Perhaps in greater depth at the pos-
sible Brazilian “Sorbonne”.
        This article would become too long if one continued to expose all the
weak points of our international regulation. To give another example, the
World Trade Organization cannot manage to prevent the USA and France
from protecting their farmers. Commercial “reprisals” (or what other name
they may have) could be taken, but everything requires a lot of time, in a
highly changeable market. For its part, accepting a denouncement, the Inter-
national Criminal Court ordered that the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir,
be apprehended in view of an accusation of several massacres. However, it is
unlikely that such an order will be fulfilled, given that he has the support of
neighboring countries. If, eventually, the ICC authorizes a “commando” op-
eration (perhaps not established in the Court statute) in order to kidnap the
accused, it is difficult to foresee what would happen afterwards, with a pos-
sible terrorist “reprisal” by his followers. The current impasse will likely end
up in cancellation of the arrest order, with a view to preserving the prestige
of an institution that could still come to represent an immense and effective
advance in global criminal justice. Another case: Cesare Battisti is currently a
thorn in the side of the Brazilian justice system. There is a subjective margin
for completely opposite interpretations.
       The “edge” over its equivalents of the Brazilian “Sorbonne” suggested
above, would be that of studying, in greater depth, possible and necessary
modifications regarding international justice, obviously without neglecting
the usual curriculum of subjects studied at the University of Paris and other
centers. This “home-grown Sorbonne” (so to speak) will not have any political
connotation of the “leftist” kind or opposition to currently existing univer-
sities established for the same purpose. It will be just one more university
teaching International Law and Relations, although the first, as I have al-
ready said, in the Southern Hemisphere.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

             Another, practical, objective of the Brazilian “Sorbonne” would be that
       of allowing not only Brazilians, but also other South Americans (especial-
       ly the sons and daughters of more modest families) to acquire preparation,
       without having to live in more distant countries, that enables them to work
       at the UN headquarters, its agencies and in various international agencies.
             Some will say that several Brazilian universities have professors of In-
       ternational Law who are versed in, for example, North American Law as well
       as or even better than many attorneys in that country, the same occurring
       with respect to International Law.
             This cannot be denied. However, such professors, or attorneys, are
       knowledgeable in International Law in Portuguese. This makes a difference, as
       Portuguese is not the language officially used at the UN. When and if it does
       become the official language, it will be less necessary to have an understanding
       of new languages. In Spanish-speaking countries, there are moves with respect
       to also making Spanish an official language at UN level. If the most competent
       monolingual Brazilian professor in International Law wishes to orally defend
       the interests of a client at international courts, he will have to delegate his
       mandate to a foreign colleague who speaks English or French fluently.
             In the case of those who wish to work at the International Red Cross,
       World Bank, International Monetary Fund, UN Headquarters, etc, it is not
       enough to present oneself with in-depth knowledge - solely in Portuguese - of
       the necessary topics.
             Hence the need for the suggested Brazilian “Sorbonne” to also hold its
       classes in English and/or French. Besides this, ordinary “tourist-level” English
       is not sufficient to work abroad in really important centers.
             Some may say: “If the language is so necessary, it would be easier and
       more practical for the father of the student to send his son or daughter to
       study in Europe or the USA”. It may be practical, but it is not always easy in
       economic terms. More wealthy families already do this, and are likely to con-
       tinue, given that it is possible to learn the language more quickly. However,
       more modest families cannot give themselves the luxury of this option, due

                                                          Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

to a scarcity of financial resources. Private universities are costly and there
are the problems of accommodation and sundry expenses. Promising talents
lose the opportunity of projecting the image of Brazil abroad, for reasons as-
sociated with a lack of family resources.
       The Brazilian “Sorbonne” could invite several foreign lecturers of par-
ticular prestige in order to give classes, which would be recorded and made
into DVDs (with payment of copyright fees) and subsequently used to accus-
tom the “ear” of students to understanding that which they perhaps already
know in Portuguese. Perhaps it would be advantageous to first attend the
class in Portuguese “live”, given by Brazilian lecturers, and then listen to the
“English or French version” of the same topic, with the lecturer present to
“pause” the DVD when necessary in order to explain, in Portuguese, anything
that has not been well understood.
       As this article is only an exemplification of what the Brazilian “Sor-
bonne” could come to be, I will not go further into the matter.
       Let’s see whether the government, or some educational entrepreneur
of greater vision, reacts to this suggestion, which could not be outlined in
greater detail for reasons of space.

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       Was there misconduct on the part of banks that gave rise to the crisis?

              Something that intrigues me, in times such as ours - when “hunting
       down the offender” is almost an obsession, even extending to topics of mini-
       mal importance - is the apparent indifference shown by the global media
       with regard to ascertaining, at the end of the day, whether or not offenses
       were committed or there was misconduct on the part of the CEOs that caused
       the enormous financial crisis which, to date, is afflicting not only the USA but
       also the whole planet. The only reason that the world did not “go bankrupt”
       was that trillions of dollars were injected into the expiring global economy.
              Few pondered the mere hypothesis of examining and eventually pun-
       ishing, in financial terms, the unscrupulous conduct (by all accounts) of direc-
       tors of the various American banks that gave rise to the crisis.
               There is a certain degree of international moral “legitimacy” in requir-
       ing the investigation of facts with such large-scale repercussions - also with
       a view to ensuring that they do not come to be repeated. If the judicial legiti-
       macy of those prejudiced is idealistic -given that we do not yet have a “global
       federation” - there is, at least, a great deal of international curiosity concern-
       ing what happened at the time when home ownership loans were made to
       people who were unlikely to be able to repay them. If there was a lack of
       scruples (as I believe was the case) on the part of some bank CEOs, the con-
       sequences of their lucrative folly - they received their recompense before the
       crisis erupted - are not being borne solely by their fellow American citizens.
              The whole world is suffering as a result of probable lack of financial
       scruples. It’s a chain reaction, a domino effect. Mere investors who lost a lot,
       but not everything, are suffering in both pocket and spirit. However, those
       suffering to a much greater degree are workers and entrepreneurs through-
       out the whole world who lost their jobs or are on the verge of bankruptcy
       due to stagnation of the economy of the great northern giant. The wagons
       helplessly follow the path taken by the locomotive in an ever-more unified
       world. Unemployment breaks down self-esteem, with organic and even con-

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

jugal consequences, without even mentioning the pure and simple despair
that hunger brings. The “smartness” shown by the directors of important
American banks that gave rise to the crisis should be examined with all theo-
retical and practical impartiality and rigor. At court level, where the right of
defense is assured, the evidence of experts is heard, and a financial sentence
would have practical effects. The “blah blah blah” of the media, with light-
weight conjectures, is no enough.
       From what it is possible to read to date, such a requirement does not
seem to have been taken very seriously. It is to be hoped that such an omis-
sion is only apparent - a question of priority. Of course, before chasing after
the assailant who stabbed the victim, it is necessary to assist him, as he is
bleeding on the ground. The American government “only” spent a few tril-
lion dollars in order to contain the crisis. It is to be hoped that, once more
pressing aid has been provided, the government spends an infinitely smaller
fraction of this amount on legal expenses in order to “clear up the matter”.
       If the CEOs are innocent, they will be content with a verdict. If they are
not... Anyway, there will be a universal educative effect, as millions of people
would accompany a trial of such extensive scope. Free classes, live, on the
double-dealing essence of the world of high finance. It would be good for the
whole world to acquire more in-depth knowledge of the morals - or lack of
morals - existing in this area as, in this way, everyone will have a better idea
of where to invest their hard-earned money, saved for their old age.
       As the American man of letters Scott Fitzgerald said, “rich people aren’t
like us”. It is true, but assailants are also different. It is to be hoped that the
executives in question are not on a level with the latter. This will eventually
be proved with the formal judgment of specific banking conduct in question.
Good for the CEOs who, arriving in heaven after death, will be able to show
Saint Peter a copy of the verdict that absolved them. It is likely that not even
the guardian of the gates of heaven is absolutely certain whether or not he
should bar the charming and persuasive individuals with collars and ties, ca-
pable of persuading him to make a few investments. Saintly souls generally

Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

       have no understanding of finances.
              It is common for specialists to highlight, quite rightly, that the Ameri-
       can government had no alternative but to bail out the large banking institu-
       tions that caused the whole vast problem, irrespective of the losses involved.
       Without the bail out, the breakdown of the banking system would have re-
       sulted in chaos. A social convulsion - all hell would be let loose on the planet,
       not only in the USA, but here, there and everywhere. As a consequence of the
       imprudence of giant banking institutions, large, medium and small compa-
       nies would go to the wall if the American government did not inject trillions
       of dollars in a mega-bailout.
              It is possible to speculate that, at the time of peak profits (via bonuses
       and other advantages) the following type of dialogue could occur between
       such executives: - “Between ourselves, David, don’t you think that we are
       taking too many risks? I’m concerned. We are getting richer all the time,
       but one day the bubble will burst...”. - “You worry too much, John. “Bubble
       will burst”, bah... What bubble? Ours? Never! I didn’t invest the money that
       I earned by honest (sic) means in real estate. There is a big wide world out
       there. Do you think that the government is going to let the banks go bank-
       rupt, leading to a collapse of the whole economy? If it did, the government
       itself would also collapse! Trust in what I am saying! A government bail-out
       will happen, there is no other option. Checkmate for our mediocre politi-
       cians! High finance has always been an area in which normal strict moral
       rules do not prevail. Economics is not an exact science. If the worst occurs,
       we could always argue that to err is only human. Just between us, the actual
       judges who come to judge the case don’t understand much about finance and
       will be left in doubt. And “in dubio pro reo”, the accused enjoys the benefit of
       the doubt. As far as legal experts are concerned, we will be able to influence
       them or invalidate their conclusions with our own experts, chosen perhaps
       from winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics. “Relax, pal!” How about it, are
       we going to play golf on Sunday?”
              It is both common and understandable that governments find them-

                                                             Thoughts, from Brazil to the world

selves to be obliged to meet absurd illegal requirements, in all forms of crimi-
nality. If a group of common bandits is surrounded when robbing a bank, or
anywhere else for that matter, and threatens to kill innocent people if their
demands are not met, the police usually concede. A vehicle is provided and,
if necessary, even money and a plane. However, once the hostages have been
released, a violent and tenacious pursuit is initiated in order to arrest the
criminals and apprehend the robbery or ransom money.
        In the banking area and perhaps others - I have no knowledge of all the
possible developments involved - it is to be hoped that the American govern-
ment proceeds in much the same way as it is accustomed to proceed in the
case of ordinary “kidnappers”.
       I have immense confidence in the character of Barack Obama and believe
that he will not fail to contemplate (once the eye of the hurricane has passed)
a need for in-depth investigation of the human errors that led to the crash of
the American “hyper-jumbo”, which did not set the whole planet aflame simply
because trillions of dollars were spent on fire extinguishers. If convinced of bad
faith, those prosecuting the “barons” will certainly request that their assets be
frozen, or, more fairly, a good part of such assets. “Just in case”, because if the
legal process takes too long, such ill-gotten profits will evaporate.
       If there is proof of bad faith, it is a case for saying that these people
are demoralizing the actual capitalist system. Capitalism is a system that has
advantages over its rival socialism, due to the fact that it is more in line with
human nature, which is preponderantly egoistic, ambitious and driven by
envy - an ugly but powerful source of motivation. The undeniable fact is that
capitalism generates wealth, companies, jobs and even culture. It is only that
unleashed, without reins, it becomes astutely ferocious and cannibalistic in
nature. Without the counterweight of ethics and without fear of being held
to accounts, the irresponsible executives inadvertently became canvassers
for Bin Laden and other inflammatory “reformers” throughout the world.
       Think about this, honest Obama, and let us wait and see.


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