Police Brutality
America in Iraq

Police Brutality

As an activist herself, Naomi Klein is gravely concerned about the increasing brutality in the actions of police and security forces against both activists and protestors. The protests staged against many influential meetings have caused the police to adopt more severe tactics in preparation for them, beyond simple reactionary or containment methods. Some forces resort to scare tactics to oppress free speech, others, more lethal approaches. In any case, Naomi Klein sees police actions as no longer a matter of reacting to protests for the purpose of keeping "order" in the city, but, rather, a matter of controlling protests to appease expediency.

In her columns, Klein often mentions instances where police used tear gas. She describes it in her April 2001 column, "Indiscriminate Tear-Gassing," as "a substance that by definition does not discriminate, is indifferent to perimeters, protest tactics or politics" (Fences and Windows, 147), to the point of gassing a fifty-year-old woman from Ottawa twice and even the paramedics which had been sent to treat those who were gassed. By using an indiscriminate toxin in an attempt to curb protestors, Naomi Klein believes that police do not care who is being "good" or "bad" but only about who is opposing them.

The escalation in police brutality has reached the point where, as the title of one of her August 2001 columns "Getting Used to Violence" implies, the public is becoming indifferent to the horrors inflicted on activists. Whether it be "a protester shot dead, then backed over by a police jeep" or "activists sleeping in a school...woken and beaten bloody, their teeth scattered on the ground" (Fences and Windows, 149) or even, as Naomi Klein states in a moment of sarcasm, protestors who come "armed with swimming goggles and vinegar-soaked bandanas...ready for battle (never mind that this gear was meant as protection against the inevitable tear gas and pepper stray, which even the most peaceful and law-abiding demonstrators have sadly come to expect from the police)" (Fences and Windows, 37), too much of it is being seen, and Naomi Klein believes that it will lead to the desensitization of the masses and the depiction of protestors as dissenters and criminals—stifling the free speech on which democracy is built. [top]

America In Iraq

Contrasting many of the opinions set forth by commentators of the situation in Iraq, Naomi Klein believes that America had a clear plan in what it was going to do after the fighting was over. Instead of claiming that the government fumbled in the aftermath of the war in Iraq, she states in her columns that America was attempting to fulfill its own mission: to turn Iraq into a capitalist's — as well as an economic globalization proponent’s — dream, all by cracking open a previously confined market and a rich oil source to American companies.

When President George W. Bush declared that the war was over, there was talk of reconstruction in both in the war-torn towns and within the corrupt government. What Naomi Klein sees, however, is the fine print to all of these helping hands—the laws designed to allow America to exploit Iraq's people and resources for its own profit. Klein focuses her attention on L. Paul Bremer, whose economic reforms served only to benefit foreign investors under the guise of assisting Iraq. These reforms essentially opened Iraq's market to foreign corporations, allowing them to do business in Iraq for much cheaper than they would otherwise, all at the expense of the Iraqi people.

In her article "Let's Make Enemies," Klein spoke to Hamid Jassim Khamis, the managing director of the Baghdad Soft Drinks Company, and a man who seems to only have profited from the war. With the American occupation, his plant will finally begin producing "one of the most powerful icons of American culture: Pepsi-Cola." Depsite this major investment, Khamis has become disillusioned with the management of Iraq by Bremer and the United States government, describing it as simply chaotic. The death threats and dangerous circumstances surrounding him outweigh all the good that the United States has done for him; even he cannot fully support the occupation anymore.

Klein agrees that the United States occupation of Iraq has been a disaster, but she sees it as a far more insidious event than other writers do. Iraq has been used by America to make money through the country's dependence on it—financial exploitation at its finest. It is reversible, Klein believes, but only if America acts before the losses cut too deeply. Staggering cuts in the public sector and the privatization of its resources only serve to hurt Iraq, no matter what financial gain such practices may lead to; they only cause instability in Iraq, which leads to hatred toward the occupying forces. And, at the moment, more enemies are one thing America does not need, especially when America isn't in the "right" of things — a truth which Naomi Klein openly puts forth. [top]