H S on Fri, 1 Feb 2002 15:16:02 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] Militairy capitalism

Dear Nettime,
State of the Union and we immediately see the outline of the coming of militairy capitalism, described by:
By Tom Barry

(Editor's Note: Excerpted from a new Global Affairs Commentary,
available in its entirety at
http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2002/0201onward.html .)

President Bush went to Capitol Hill to tell the American people and
their representatives that the U.S. is committed to protecting "the
civilized world against unprecedented dangers." These threats issue from
"an axis of evil" that spans the globe. Riding on his popularity as
commander-in-chief, Bush framed his State of the Union address as a new
vision for U.S. foreign policy.

Are U.S. policymakers ready to pursue world war against evil? Apparently
so. The applause for this aggressive new view of U.S. foreign and
military policy rose enthusiastically from both sides of the aisle
during the State of the Union address. Afterward, in his televised
response to the president, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt
assured Americans that Democrats stood "shoulder-to-shoulder" with the
administration in its global military campaign. Such support is not
limited to political elites. Opinions polls show significant support for
taking military action against countries like Iraq and Somalia.

A rapture of patriotism, triumphalism, and militarism has seized
America. But, as Bush delivered his call for more war, not everyone was
clapping. Listening closely, you could hear the hissing. Looking around,
you could see the dissension and disgust. No, not on Capitol Hill, but
around the world where Bush is counting on "our allies" to join
America's expanded crusade. His description of the U.S. commitment to
use "freedom's power" to bring peace and prosperity to the entire world
may ring true for many Americans. But for much of the rest of the world,
any new assertion of U.S. might and right is greeted with skepticism.

This week at the World Social Forum in Brazil, tens of thousands of
activists will be speaking for the world's disadvantaged and
disenfranchised. Bush's promise to spread freedom and prosperity in the
wake of his global war will be rejected, and rightly so, as imperial
drivel. In Porto Alegre, as elsewhere, there will be great sympathy for
the American victims of terror. But it will also be noted that U.S.-led
globalization strategies, such as those embraced by Argentina, are
leading to economic and social disintegration the world over--and
widening a global divide.

At the World Social Forum, questions will be raised about whether
another $48 billion in the U.S. military budget will increase global
peace and security--or whether this new U.S. military spending will, as
it has it the past, fan the flames of war between and within states. The
world does indeed face unprecedented dangers. But on the other side of
the deepening international divide between economic status and
worldviews, terrorism is just one of the many new threats to
international peace, stability, and development. For the most part, the
other dangers are not ones that can be met with U.S. firepower and
weapons superiority. President Bush would have gone a long way toward
narrowing the global divide if he had moved beyond the platitudes about
America's commitment to freedom to assert a new U.S. commitment to rein
in corporate power, join the campaign to end world hunger, build
democratic means of global governance, and confront the pressing
challenge of climate change.

Like Gephardt, many Americans stand shoulder-to-shoulder as the nation
marches forward--intervening wherever it chooses, spending whatever it
takes, and blithely accepting the collateral damage. But the U.S.
government may soon find that its allies are few, that popular support
for the new jingoism is shallow, that victories will be few, and that
evil often dwells within. "History," said Bush, called America to
action. But if we embrace militarism, as the president advises, history
will not judge us kindly.

(Tom Barry <tom@irc-online.org> is codirector of Foreign Policy in Focus
(online at www.fpif.org).)


By Stephen Zunes

(Editor's Note: Excerpted from a new Global Affairs Commentary,
available in its entirety at
http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2002/0201sou.html .)

President George W. Bush's State of the Union address on January 29,
2002 was the first in many years to focus primarily on foreign policy.
Despite widespread accolades in the media and strong bipartisan support
in Congress, a careful examination of the language and assumptions in
the address raise disturbing questions about the direction of U.S.
foreign policy under the current administration. What follows are some
excerpts consisting of the majority of the speech addressing foreign
policy issues and interspersed with some critical commentary. This
should not be interpreted as in any way minimizing the very real danger
from terrorism, or the need for a decisive response, nor to imply that
Bush administration policy regarding terrorism and other foreign policy
issues has been totally negative. Yet the failure to recognize the
misleading verbiage and to recognize the dangerous implications of such
words--however eloquent and reassuring to a nation that has experienced
such trauma in recent months--will not only make us less safe from the
threat of terrorism, but will deprive Americans of our greatest defense
and asset: our freedom to question and challenge government policies
that are not in the best interests of our country and the world.

"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of
evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.

None of these states are among the most heavily armed countries in their
regions, let alone the world. Similarly, unlike such U.S. allies as
Morocco, Israel, and Turkey, none of these states currently occupies any
neighboring country. It is particularly disturbing that Iran, in its
significant if uneven steps toward greater political pluralism and
rapprochement with the West, is linked with the hostile totalitarian
regimes of Iraq and North Korea.

"By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and
growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them
the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt
to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of
indifference would be catastrophic.

The United States has consistently opposed calls for the creation of a
zone free of weapons of mass destruction for both East Asia and the
Middle East. The Bush administration is continuing the U.S. policy of
nuclear apartheid, where the United States may bring nuclear weapons
into the region on its planes and ships and U.S. allies like Israel,
Pakistan, and India are able to develop nuclear weapons, but other
countries can not. While all three of these countries singled out by
President Bush have been linked to terrorist groups in the past, none
have ties to Al-Qaeda and there has been no evidence to support the
contention that they would pass on weapons of mass destruction to
individual terrorists.

"The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous
regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.

A worthy goal, except that there is no evidence that these regimes have
such weapons to threaten us with or are anywhere close to procuring
them. There are far more real dangers to be concerned with facing
America and the world already, including AIDS, environmental
destruction, growing inequality, and other threats which were not even
mentioned in the president's address.

"America will lead by defending liberty and justice, because they are
right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere. No nation owns
these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from them. We have no
intention of imposing our culture, but America will always stand firm
for the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law, limits
on the power of the state, respect for women, private property, free
speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance.

This from an administration which provides large-scale military,
economic, and diplomatic support to the reactionary, misogynist,
fundamentalist regime in Saudi Arabia, not to mention Israeli occupation
forces in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and Moroccan forces in
occupied Western Sahara. Indeed, according to Amnesty International, the
majority of recipients of arms transfers from the United States engage
in a pattern of gross and systematic human rights violations. Regarding
the denial of imposing culture, one only need look at U.S. pressure at
the World Trade Organization to eliminate safeguards protecting
indigenous film industries and other cultural institutions from
U.S.-based multinational corporations.

"Our enemies send other people's children on missions of suicide and
murder. They embrace tyranny and death as a cause and a creed. We stand
for a different choice, made long ago, on the day of our founding. We
affirm it again today. We choose freedom and the dignity of every life.
Steadfast in our purpose, we now press on. We have known freedom's
price; we have shown freedom's power, and in this great conflict, my
fellow Americans, we will see freedom's victory.

It will be very difficult for freedom to triumph if America's closest
allies in the war include such regimes as the family dictatorship in
Saudi Arabia, the medieval sultanate in Oman, the crypto-Communist
autocracy in Uzbekistan, and the military dictatorship in Pakistan.
Indeed, it has been U.S. backing of such regimes which has been partly
responsible for the rise of anti-American extremism in those parts of
the world.

(Stephen Zunes <stephen@coho.org> is a senior analyst with Foreign
Policy In Focus (online at www.fpif.org) and associate professor of
Politics and chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Program at the
University of San Francisco.)