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 countrys
civilians and infrastructure. That having been said, lets
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
Bush has consistently said that he will increase the Pentagons
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 Husseinstyle
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 worlds 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 dont fly, smart bombs and missiles that miss their
targets, and helicopters that cant 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 theres 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, its 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.
Bushs 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
North Koreas response to this "benefit"? Its
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 Bushs 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 hes 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 daddys 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 Israels recently elected prime minister,
the hard-liner hawk Ariel Sharon, despite growing international
criticism of Israels 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 states 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 governments 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
Colombias 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
Finally, Bushs version of education reform is another important
piece of the story. A large part of a childs 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
governments 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 nations 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 governments agenda without question.
If Bushs 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 Georges plans. We must actively educate the American
public about Bushs 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,
http://www.looksmart.com; "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,
http://www.looksmart.com; "U.S. Sacrifices Lives, Democracy
and Money in Colombian Drug War," Draft NOtices,
Nov.-Dec., 1999; President George W. Bushs inaugural address,
January 20, 2001, http://www.whitehouse.gov; Colombian Military
Cooperation with Paramilitary Forces, Press Statement, February
13, 2001, http://www.state.gov; Press Briefing, Secretary Colin
L. Powell, February 9, 2001, http://www.state.gov.
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter
of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (www.comdsd.org).