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From Draft NOtices, May-June-July 2001

The Bush Regime: Militarism’s
"Finest" Hour

— Ray Wolf

Well, the reign of King George II certainly started off in an interesting fashion — the first person in over a century to take the White House without winning the popular vote. So what can we expect from him? Of course, there will be the usual stuff — you know, lies to the American people, assaults on welfare for people while quietly increasing corporate welfare, blatant disregard for international law except when it benefits the U.S. economic agenda, and, if needed, inventing an enemy and then bombing the hell out of that country’s civilians and infrastructure. That having been said, let’s take a look at how the Bush regime will affect those of us working for peace and social justice as well as the world at large. In this article, five primary areas of concern will be covered: military spending, North Korea, the Middle East, Colombia, and education reform.

Bush has consistently said that he will increase the Pentagon’s budget. In his inaugural address he said, "We will build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge. We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors." Who exactly is going to seriously challenge the United States with anything but Saddam Hussein–style saber rattling? The U.S. military is already the most powerful and technologically advanced in the world, possesses the most nuclear weapons and probably the most biological and chemical weapons, and is arguably the most active and well trained. Nearly fifty percent of the federal discretionary budget goes to support past and present military expenses. How would building U.S. defenses "beyond challenge" prevent "new horrors" in this century? Many of the world’s horrors in the last 50 years were initiated or covertly instigated by this powerful military, so building it up should invoke only more of the same.

Bush plans to "modernize" the U.S. military, which is "Shrubspeak" for new ways to transfer public money to the gold-lined pockets of weapons manufacturers. For starters, this means we can all look forward to a new generation of planes that don’t fly, smart bombs and missiles that miss their targets, and helicopters that can’t evade the tarmac for very long, much less the enemy. But the big enchilada is the asinine "Star Wars" national missile defense system.

News flash: despite some $70 billion spent over two decades, the national missile defense system DOES NOT WORK! Results were so abysmal that the contractors resorted to falsifying test results. But there’s an even bigger concern. Not that the United States is known for honoring treaties, but a national missile defense system is in violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty between the U. S. and the former Soviet Union. And, as Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del) pointed out in early February, "A U.S. missile defense program would prompt China to increase its missile program. To which India would respond with its own buildup, and Pakistan, in turn, would react the same way to India." Domino Effect, anyone? But then, it’s hard to think of a more profitable way to enrich the CEOs of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, et al. than reigniting the arms race.

U.S. allies have been less than supportive of Star Wars, and Russia, China, and North Korea have been vocal in their opposition. Bush’s response to world concerns has basically been "who cares?" Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that the U.S. will consult with its allies, but "[we] are not going to be knocked off track of moving in that direction [towards national missile defense] as long as the technology points us in that direction." Would that be the non-existent technology? Powell also said that the United States is not being arrogant and is not trying to "force anything on the rest of the world" and that the administration wanted to hear from their allies and "hear from China and Russia particularly, and see if we can convince them that there is a cooperative way to approach this that will benefit all of us."

North Korea’s response to this "benefit"? It’s threatening to restart long-range missile testing. The Bush regime plans to take a more hard line approach in dealing with North Korea, which North Korea feels "is an attempt to reverse the past course of conciliatory and cooperative relations between us and the United States and break our will with force." As North Korea knows well from past experience, force is the preferred method of "negotiation" for the United States. In the past year, North and South Korea have taken important steps toward reconciliation with each other without inviting the U.S. to participate. The regressive policies of the Bush regime have already undermined this positive step toward more peace in the world.

On to the Middle East. Although the United States has been bombing Iraqi civilians on a regular basis since the "end" of the Gulf War, allegedly to enforce no-fly zones invented by the United States and Great Britain, Bush turned up the heat by ordering more intense air strikes on February 16. The new attacks were near Baghdad, not in the no-fly zone. As he has done many times in the past, Saddam Hussein provided the United States with an excuse for aggression by attempting to strengthen his air defenses, apparently with help from China. While Bush’s actions certainly appear to be business as usual for the U.S. war machine, there may be a coming policy change.

Nearly every country in the world is opposed to continuing the U.N. sanctions against Iraq in their present form. The latest bombing enabled Bush to show U.S. hawks that he’s not afraid to deploy military muscle. With that credential under his belt, he can blame the Clinton administration for not properly enforcing the sanctions, thereby losing world support. Bush will, of course, conveniently forget his daddy’s role in developing and enforcing those sanctions. One option that the administration is considering is pushing for "smarter sanctions" that would more directly affect Saddam Hussein and spare the people of Iraq. However, no one seems to know how this would be done. Who knows how many more Iraqis will die before they figure it out?

Israel is the most urgent hot spot in the Middle East. Every day brings more news of violence between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians civilians, and more U.S. posturing that it advocates peace — but always under circumstances that maintain economic and military ties between the U.S. and Israel. Bush is adamant in his support of Israel’s recently elected prime minister, the hard-liner hawk Ariel Sharon, despite growing international criticism of Israel’s actions in the last six months. The hypocrisy of U.S. neutrality in brokering a peace deal is not likely to change under the Bush administration.

Ignoring its client state’s human rights violations is a problem not only in Israel, but in Colombia as well. State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher recently said that "It has long been the position of the United States that cooperation between members of the Colombian armed forces and paramilitary groups is unacceptable . . . Moreover, the United States provides no aid to any unit of the Colombian security forces for which we have credible evidence of gross violations of human rights." The reality is that the United States government has known for years that the Colombian military is among the most brutal and oppressive in the world. It has also known for years that the Colombian military has long been partners with right-wing paramilitary groups in both human rights abuses and drug trafficking. Furthermore, both the U.S. State Department and former "drug czar" Barry McCaffery have admitted that there is no way to determine with any accuracy which Colombian units are guilty of human rights abuses and which are not. Nor is it possible to determine whether the funds are being used to fight the mythical drug war or the Colombian government’s civil war against the leftist guerrillas.

Before the end of the Clinton era, an additional one billion dollars of military aid was committed to the Colombians. And despite Colombia’s lack of progress in the arena of human rights, which was required before the release of the money, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Clinton pushed through the release of the funds. Bush has done nothing to reverse this course of action and has shown no indication that his regime will alter it.

Finally, Bush’s version of education reform is another important piece of the story. A large part of a child’s core values are formed during the school years and through the school system, so consider these points. Bush is a big supporter of increasing standardized testing of students. Combined with the alarming trend toward compulsory testing to receive a high school diploma, teachers are forced to "teach to the test" to adequately prepare their students. This change results in even less critical thinking skills taught to students — especially in the area of the government’s actions. Now add in the fact that Secretary of State Colin Powell is a big supporter of the expansion of militarism being taught in the nation’s high schools via Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) and military partnerships in elementary schools. It all adds up to a school system designed to produce citizens who accept the government’s agenda without question. If Bush’s national school voucher system is passed, the disparity in quality of education between the affluent and the poor is likely to increase. The private school tuition of the affluent will be paid by public funds and the poor will be left to languish in increasingly impoverished public schools, which may then feel forced to accept military programs to offset their reduced resources.

The Bush administration provides peace and social justice activists with increased opportunities to prevent these scenarios from becoming reality. We must instruct our representatives in Congress to oppose King George’s plans. We must actively educate the American public about Bush’s regressive policies through protests, leafleting, letters to the editor, involvement in schools to counteract military recruitment, and anything else that will nonviolently undermine the Bush regime. Our biggest challenge is to move beyond "preaching to the choir"! We must continue to take the risk of publicly airing our views to the entire world and building bridges with new constituency groups.

Information sources: Agence France-Press, February 13, 2001,; "Another Decade, Another Bush, Ten Years after the Gulf War: Kaboom!" Media Monitors, February 22, 2001; Associated reports, February 6, 8, 10, 21, and 22, 2001,; "U.S. Sacrifices Lives, Democracy and Money in Colombian ‘Drug War’," Draft NOtices, Nov.-Dec., 1999; President George W. Bush’s inaugural address, January 20, 2001,; Colombian Military Cooperation with Paramilitary Forces, Press Statement, February 13, 2001,; Press Briefing, Secretary Colin L. Powell, February 9, 2001,

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (


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