Editorials: Turning the tide against COVID? and An unsustainable empire

On May 27 890 people got their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine at this improvised drive-through facility in Penonome. Most have since received their second shots. Seguro Social photo.

Are we gaining ground against COVID-19?

This epidemic comes in waves everywhere. As Panama’s COVID death toll approaches 7,000, at the moment it seems that our third wave is but a ripple.

What appears to be happening is that Panamanians have received about one-third of all the vaccination shots we need. At two apiece, it’s nearly nine million, with something like three and a half million doses injected. Plus, the total number of people who have been infected and recovered officially approaches half a million but is surely higher.

A lot of Panamanians now have antibodies, from vaccinations or prior infections. Perhaps not yet a majority, and not everybody has had both shots. The vaccinated – partially or fully – and the previously infected may not all be fully immune, but if they do catch the virus, hospitalization or death are less likely. As mean as the the recently arrived Delta strain might be, those who have antibodies who get it tend to be not so severely affected as the unvaccinated.

Meanwhile, there is a massive popular response to the call to be vaccinated. By contrast, we had an anti-vaxxer demonstration the other day in Panama City, which drew a pitiful small segment of this country’s religious right, who spouted made-in-the-USA slogans and conspiracy theories.

Panamanians want to be vaccinated and are getting vaccinated. It seems to be keeping the death toll down. That’s good news, even if it should not be mistaken for this epidemic’s end.


20 years of war propaganda at an end. Here, US forces were searching and destroying the Taliban’s mountain redoubts in 2012. Elsewhere they were winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. So it was reported. US Army photo by Specialist Matthew Leary.

An unsustainable empire

Donald Trump is blaming Joe Biden for the US defeat in Afghanistan. Some Democrats, outraged by the hypocrisy and demagoguery of this, are blaming Donald Trump.

In the former case, just more lies spun for the consumption of a whacko crowd that believes in QAnon stuff and looks up to street scum like the Proud Boys. No fact, no argument, no persuasive reasoning will counter such lies amidst that crowd. They just need to be defeated at the polls, mocked by the popular culture and driven to the social margins.

Democrats? There is first of all an old division between hawks and doves, whose lines got blurred at the outset of the Afghan war. The United States was, after all, attacked. A lot of people who before and since opposed “regime change” adventures supported a war against al-Qaeda and its Taliban hosts because of the 9/11 attacks. Barbara Lee stood alone in Congress in opposing war.

But then – mostly not in the major US corporate media – word got out that the United States and its warlord allies were using the most appalling torture. Things like crowding captured Taliban into shipping containers in freezing weather, locking the doors, and waiting for their captives to suffocate or freeze to death. Like shipping suspects off to a worldwide gulag of torture chambers. Like the quotidinary abuse in the prison at Bagram Air Base.

Soon, by the apparent bribery of warlords whom George W. Bush had hired and trusted, Osama bin Laden was able to slip away. That war aim unaccomplishable by that administration, the proffered justifications for keeping up the war in Afghanistan shifted to the ridiculous. Probably the stupidest of the missions through which the United States and its allies crept was “nation building.”

Yeah, right. Afghanistan was to be remade in an American image. But this is a country, like Vietnam, Ireland and Norway, that can be overrun and occupied but never fully subdued. Alexander the Great conquered Afghanistan but its incorporation into the classical Greek and Roman world was a mission never accomplished. The Mongols came and stayed for more than a century, but also had to leave. The British and the Russians learned about Afghanistan the hard way. Now the Americans have been shown, although there is a real question about whether anything will be learned.

But along the way many of the doves in the Democratic Party regained their voice. A younger generation came of age never knowing an America not at war, and in a society in economic stagnation or decline for most. The political imperatives that were imprinted in the mind Joe Biden when he was young, the neoconservative villain-casting featured in Jeff Bezos’s paper and all that “war of civilizations” stuff don’t much impress the millennials.

There are those Dems of a generally progressive bent who say that US forces should have stayed on and fought for the sake of Afghanistan’s women and girls. However, Afghan feminists have long opposed the US presence. War is unhealthy for women, girls and other living things. Let us see if Washington is truly convinced about the oppression, to the extent that it fully recognizes sexism in any number of places as a reason for flight that gives rise to legitimate refugee status.

That’s a bottom line for the USA. There has been a day of reckoning, and taking in the men who fought for the Americans is necessary but hardly sufficient. There are a lot of women and girls who did not take part in the war, whose plight ought to be recognized.

A day of shame? For those who did things of which to be ashamed, perhaps.

Joe Biden has done nothing shameful in pulling the plug on the Afghan war. Let’s hope that he acts honorably and effectively in handling the refugee crisis.



               No wise man ever wished to be younger.

Jonathan Swift                   

Bear in mind…


Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

Søren Kierkegaard


A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader. A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.

Eleanor Roosevelt


You can be very wild and still be very wise.

Yoko Ono


Contact us by email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

These links are interactive — click on the boxes