By William Markiewicz

Castro is being punished, Saddam Hussein is being punished, Milosevic is being punished ... As the punishment business is now in style it may be worthwhile to look closer at the combination of ideas and forces behind the punishing hammer.

There are basically three kinds of punishment: the one for the sake of the punished one -- this is what is usually applied with children and adolescents; the one done for the sake of society -- the punishment of criminals; and the third one is political punishment, which serves the interests of the punisher.

The punished of course must be weaker than the punisher, creating a potential for the abuse of power. The punished one, whether a child in the family, school child, worker, or soldier, knows well that each punishment is a link in the chain, which can easily slide into routine. All living beings from the most primitive to the human have an inclination toward routine. That's why the game of power and the first impression we project have such a tremendous effect in our social life.

Castro's regime still stands thanks to other Latin American countries which, though anti-communist, don't fancy U.S. interference in their region. Saddam Hussein was permitted to survive because there is nobody acceptable to the allies in line to succeed him. The choice is between fundamentalism and the disintegration of Iraq. So, the allies, not taking a clear stand, not knowing what to do with Saddam Hussein, simply impose chronic punishment that puts him in the position of a caged tormented animal. And the world watches with pleasure because a bad guy is punished. Carnival against corrida. If it were only him -- but the whole Iraqi nation pays. In TV wrestling we sometimes see a super-athlete competing against some pathetic character. Neither Iraq nor Cuba is a threat to world peace. China is, because it compensates its citizens' lack of freedom with improved economic conditions and an inflated national pride. We saw what that brought to Nazi Germany. Still, nobody predicts danger nor tries to curb China because it is too difficult, and also business is good there. Meanwhile, let's have a good time "punishing" Cuba, Iraq and other underlings.

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