Major General, USMC, Retired
It may seem odd that two people living in (semi)rural Japan would eat oatmeal for breakfast five or six days a week, but we do. Then again, there is much that may be considered odd about us. We buy 9 pound boxes of oats through Costco. On weekends we take more time and make French toast (K's recipe uses grated carrots) or pancakes. Almost always breakfast includes sliced bananas. (I am sure you are fascinated to read about our eating habits, but bear with me).
Our bananas come from the Philippines bearing various brand labels - Chiquita, Sumitomo, etc. When we buy a new bunch, I peel off the little brand stickers and put it on my shirt pocket while we're still in the store, which embarrasses K to no end, but gets the desired laugh or smile. Unless you grow your own food and buy only from people you know (which I truly hope to do some day), it is almost impossible to buy food without doing business with trans-national corporations these days. If you want bananas in Kashima, there is no other way to get them. Sometimes, the activities of these companies can be rather unpleasant. Should a consumer have to monitor the actions of each of the millions of people involved in virtually every economic aspect of his/her life? If you live in North America, try buying any bag of groceries that does not have something in it touched in some way by Cargill. Most folks have never heard of Cargill, but it is one of the largest privately held corporations in the world (assets over $213 Billion) and has its corporate fingers into every level of food production from soy beans in Brazil, to beef in Alberta, and GMO grains in between. My point is, in our modern global economy, things are connected in an almost infinite variety of ways.
Smedley D. Butler, as any US Marine will tell you, was twice the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. During his career, which he began at age 16 with a commission as a Second Lieutenant, he led men into battle in Cuba, the Philippines, Peking, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, and Haiti. During WWI he took charge of Camp Pontenezen in France, seeing to the care of 75,000 troops (16,000 of whom had flu when he arrived). His performance earned him even more decorations from the Army, Navy and French government, as well as the love of the men under his charge. Later, in an incident little known by most people today, Butler thwarted an plotted coup d'tat of the Franklin Roosevelt government by big business interests.
He always regretted having taken men into battle for the benefit of bankers and corporations: "I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested."
After his retirement, Butler wrote, "There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights." That was over 70 years ago. It seems we humans learn nothing from our own history and allow the same patterns to be played out over and over again. And thus we come to the terrorist who comes to my breakfast table. One of those "American fruit companies" was United Fruit, now known as Chiquita Brands.
Close on the heels of Bush's "good will" tour of South and Central America to reassure them that the US feels compassion for them and tell them all about the wonderful lives they will enjoy thanks to US investments and "free" markets (what has been going on for the last 125 years? one wonders), Colombians are demanding extradition of Chiquita Brands executives. Not for things the company did 100 years ago, but things they have been doing quite recently.
The chief federal prosecutor's office said on Friday it would ask the US Justice Department for information on Chiquita's role in smuggling 3,000 assault rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition to far-right paramilitaries in the region where the company got its bananas.
Chiquita settled a US Justice Department probe by agreeing to pay a $25 million fine and acknowledging that its wholly owned subsidiary Banadex paid $1.7 million to far-right paramilitaries labeled terrorists by the United States. Chiquita also admitted funding Colombia's two main leftist rebel groups, but the US complaint offered no information about how much it paid them.
No need to leave home to find "terrorists", they're in my oatmeal. The Chiquita Banana lady has been shown to be a real bitch. Now, please don't tell me anything bad about the Quaker man with the friendly smile on the cereal box. I'm sure there is plenty as he is owned by PepsiCo. But, please, not while I'm eating breakfast.
Trivia: Ironically, relative to this post, Smedley Butler was from a Quaker family.