Here is a critical thinking post coupled with a Sherlock Holmes-level mystery. If you’re not up to a puzzler at the moment, come back to it when you’re “fresh,” because this is worth pondering. And you should do it in this order:
1) First of all, click this link to a Huffington Post article and read about a provision added to the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act ($585 billion dollar Department of Defense/partial Department of Energy budgetary allocation);
2) Now, if you’ve focused on the unfairness of the US government giving away sacred Apache Indian lands without them, or anyone else, having any say in the matter, well, you are missing the point, and you should read it again, more critically. Take a deep breath, get over your (entirely appropriate) indignation and look at it again;
3) Can you see that the article is actually about 2 entirely different things, even on the face of it, they do not at ALL intersect. On the one hand, we have a brazen provision thrown in at the absolute last minute (it was on page 1,103 out of 1,700, presented at 11pm on the night before it was presented for a vote), and without public notification or opportunity for comment, negotiated behind closed doors by BOTH the House and Senate Armed Services Committee, essentially selling off, or giving away, vast amounts of our natural resources (copper) to a corporation located entirely outside the US, which is notorious for corruption and environmental devastation.
And then, towards the top of the article, right after the link to a YouTube video about copper mining (In which, at the 40 second mark, the narrator erroneously says that gravity is nature’s strongest force, which, actually, is the exact opposite. Gravity is the weakest force. Duh), with the sentence, “The Iran connection…” the reporter, Michael McAuliff mentions an Iranian connection. WTF…where did THAT even come from? I suspect that he is dropping bread crumbs for us, but it is impossible to know.
4) Okay, now, in this 4th point, I’m going to speculate a bit, but given what I am seeing, I suspect that the reality is even worse than anything I can make up. I am going to bet that a) the State Department forced Rio Tinto to boot the Iranians from their Board in 2012, and b) since the November 24, 2014 negotiation deadline has now passed without a lifting of the sanctions on Iran AND since we have promised to alleviate some of their economic suffering caused by our sanctions, and because it is part of the current Administration’s desire to keep Iran engaged in nuclear non-proliferation talks, (halfway down this article it says that the US and EU will suspend sanctions on, “Gold and precious metals, as well as sanctions on associated services,” AND since Rio Tinto appears to be vulnerable, and unable to extricate itself from the Namibian laws that chain it to Iran, this is a way to funnel money to the Iranians. I would have said, “or appease Rio Tinto,” except I suspect, for many reasons, that is not the case. Is it money laundering, a la Iran/Contra? I’ll leave that to others, but it’s certainly further insult to injury heaped upon Native Americans, who are being told (and not asked) to further sacrifice a piece of their history for America. I found this plea from a Native American, albeit too late to help, on an excellent website called Indian Country Today.
5) Now, if you go back to the original Huffington Post article at the beginning of this post and see that there is this line about Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla) apparently stomping his foot and throwing a hissy fit to get the “land package” out of this defense spending bill (except that he only got 18 votes in his favor, so he lost), well, you may be wondering what THAT was all about. I had previously read this on The Hill’s website and it seemed like a pretty big over reaction to National Parks, to be honest. Now, seeing the whole thing in a more “macro view,” and reading about Coburn’s background, it has become clear. He is part of a hardcore cadre in Congress who not only vehemently oppose lifting sanctions for Iran, but who actually want to ADD more substantial sanctions to not only penalize Iran for having nuclear capabilities and certainly not to contain them, but to destroy them. I am not going to opine on this, but I am pointing it out to explain Coburn’s actions. So, this smokescreen is Coburn having to explain, yet NOT explain, why he opposed this measure. Keep in mind, also (just to make things even more complicated) that Coburn is one of the biggest recipients of fossil fuel money in Congress. The closer the US gets to Iran, the closer Iran is to being able to unleash its vast oil reserves which have been crippled by sanctions. This will only drive oil prices down further.
But we’re not done yet, folks. The super ugly part here, for me, is that once this gets signed into law, the Huffington Post article says that the land becomes somehow private and is not subject to Federal environmental laws. Huh? So, it’s like an embassy or something…not under the jurisdiction of the United States. What does that even mean?
Let’s say that, for example, in my own private home, I decide to cook up some kind of bomb or nerve gas or drugs or something – if the authorities find out, they are going to come in and sort me out. I’m going to jail, whatever. Maybe shot. I dunno. But in the case of this horribly polluting corporation, based entirely outside the United States, they can just come in and do whatever the hell they want. There is virtually ZERO chance that they’re going to follow the rules here, especially if this situation is shoved down their throats. And, Rio Tinto admits that their process of extracting copper is so incredibly devastating to the land, that there WILL be land collapse, potentially taking out essential public highway sections in Arizona and which would be so devastating that they would be viewable from outer space. Which is, apparently, just fine with Congress.
And now that you have seen this story, if you would like to read more, sort of a “Monday morning re-cap,” here is a link to a New York Times article about the Iran Deal. And because this provision was attached to the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy (who oversee nuclear reactors), the legislation and its impact becomes unchangeable by the general public, or the Native American Tribes it violates. I am so sorry that this tragedy only just got discovered and written up and the Native American gentleman who tried to have his voice “heard” was unsuccessful. This is, by any definition, NOT an example of a democracy, whether you consider yourself a Democrat, Republican, Independent, whatever. Somehow, we’ve become more of a police state, left with a situation that no one wanted, much like what happens to those under the threat of fracking and other dangerous extractive processes.
And so, in the end who wins in this convoluted and crazy mess? Not a single one of us and certainly not the Native Americans who find themselves caught in the crossfire of extreme American self-interest. Again.