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I was desperate for some relief from the Iraq war on cable television. All those generals -- along with quasi-governmental CIA creeps like James Woolsey -- made me feel like the entire world had been taken over by the worst of my former gym teachers. Fox News Channel was worse than Iraqi TV. FNC was more like the RNC. MSNBC waved a digitally enhanced flag and blessed the troops, by God. CNN sported Aaron Brown, who yawned about how it wasn't the media's job to show the ugliness of battle.
So instead, they just showed the nausea of war -- and still, the terrible doings in Iraq infected my soul and troubled my dreams. I realized I needed professional help, so I searched our sunny little burg for someone to talk to, a political therapist, if you will.
I found Jim Mullins, a world-traveling dissident who has been active in South Florida politics and international affairs for the past four decades. During more than 20 trips to Nicaragua, he came under attack by Contras in the town of Jalapa in 1984 and served as an Organization of American States election observer in 1990. He also went to Moscow to broker peace in the Afghanistan war, led a delegation to Cuba, and made trips to numerous countries in Europe as well as Egypt, Morocco, and China, among others.
Mullins, who at 82 still has a remarkably nimble mind, helped to bring the first chapters of Amnesty International to Fort Lauderdale and Miami and served as an officer of the American Civil Liberties Union during the 1980s, before he had a falling-out with the group. Today, he's an associate with the Center for International Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, and his writings have added some truly critical, homegrown thought to the Sun-Sentinel editorial page.
I spoke with him at his meticulously kept house in Delray Beach, where he lives with his wife of 25 years.
BN: How do you keep up with world affairs?
JM: I stay on the computer all day long. I refuse to watch television. It makes me so mad, I'm afraid I'm going to have a stroke. All I watch is BBC news -- and Jeopardy! to keep my mind sharp. I start my morning with articles on the World Press Review.
BN: In a year, what will Iraq be like?
JM: We're going to have a lot of trouble, obviously, with those Shiites. They are 65 percent of the population, and they are freed. Nobody is going to take it away from them now. And we think we can get around them?
BN: We're propping up Ahmed Chalabi, a criminal, to run the government.
JM: (Laughs) That is so obvious. Here's a guy wanted in Jordan for stealing $22 million out of a bank -- it's like one of the [George H.W.] Bush sons, huh? It's so transparent that it's sickening. And we're putting the Sunnis back in business. It's like Germany with the Nazis -- they know how to run the country. We are putting back the same people who ran this regime, other than the torturers.
JM: It's all the way down the line.
BN: We are becoming Saddam Hussein, aren't we? We watched the pilgrimage to Karbala that Hussein banned and now we're wondering how in the hell we're going to stop these people. We've already seen a bunch of protesting Shiites in Mosul.
JM: Look at who is speaking for the Shiites. The religious leaders. And if they hold an election, these people will win office, and our Army will have to nullify it. Saddam Hussein's government was a very modern government in many ways. Women had the same rights as men and were educated at the universities. He modernized Iraq, and the fundamentalists didn't like this. Now we're giving the guns back to the Sunnis, and it's all going to revert to the same bullshit. The only difference is now we'll control the oil.
BN: So it is about the oil.
JM: It's not about the oil per se. We can get all the oil we need without Iraq. It's about control of the oil. In 2000, Saddam Hussein petitioned the United Nations to denominate the oil he was selling in euros instead of dollars. Have you noticed that the euro is now 25 percent higher than the dollar? And the OPEC countries, the only way they could punish the United States would be to denominate oil in euros. If that happens, it will bring the dollar down and be a huge boon to Europe. One thing we're trying to do is control the Middle East so the oil will always be denominated in dollars. This is a big secret in the United States. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, nobody's talking about it. But it's all they talk about in Europe.
BN: American companies will also get the contracts to run those wells and move that oil.