ROYAL PARK, Mich. – “The American people know in their gut that the Enron issue means corruption,” said U.S. Peace Council, Michigan District member Prasad Venugopal.

Venugopal addressed the Detroit-area Gray Panthers, Feb. 23 on Enron’s links to Bush administration’s foreign policy. Following the lecture, the Detroit Gray Panthers resolved to organize a bus to travel to Washington D.C. on April 20 to participate in the anti-war march called by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition.

“We have to take up Enron as the issue of the day,” Venugopal said. He reminded the audience of Enron’s international role. The company was in Afghanistan for several years before the September attacks along with several other energy-related corporations.

Enron worked closely with the Indian government to develop oil and natural gas interests in the region. Enron, according to Venugopal, even sought to use its influence in the Bush administration to threaten India for refusing to pay for its “white elephant” operations there. Never before has the interests of U.S.-based corporations been so closely linked to the executive branch as international trade deals, corporate maneuvers and multinational investments decisions are made by the executive branch-controlled National Security Council (NSC). In the NSC, “the people are getting worse and worse,” Venugopal pointed out.

Enron’s particular role in Central and Southern Asia has to be exposed, especially as Bush seeks to expand his never-ending war in order to hide his involvement in political corruption, Venugopal said. The complex of relations in Central and Southern Asia are difficult to untangle, but what is clear is that the war danger between Pakistan and India, already comprised of frequent shelling, rocket fire, and civilian deaths, can easily escalate into nuclear war.

Venugopal told Detroit seniors that India has consistently played numerous sides in its ambitious drive to regional dominance within the framework of U.S. imperialism. India has purchased weapons from the U.S., developed long and short-range missiles to counter China and Pakistan, has purchased weapons from Russia to appease their fears of heightened U.S. influence, but also has increased its military cooperation with the U.S. armed forces in exchange for a “sphere of influence throughout the Indian Ocean region.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan has opposed India’s expansionist and militarist ambitions by pursuing its own, also within the framework of the Bush “war on terrorism.” In conflict with India over the disputed Kashmir province for several decades, Pervez Musharraf’s existence as head of state in Pakistan depends almost entirely on Pakistan’s incorporation of the province. This increases the war danger between these two nuclear powers, who both threatened to use nuclear weapons in their 1999 war.

Paralleling, though on a smaller scale, the unprecedented and unnecessary proposed military budget increases in the U.S., India and Pakistan have used the situation to attempt to advance political and economic goals in the region. The Bush administration has encouraged both. In this manner, they have encouraged intensified war danger, increased terrorist activity, and the threat of many more civilian deaths.

India, for example, in the recent round of military largesse lavished by the Bush administration, immediately conferenced with defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and others to purchase engines for jet fighters and other killing machines with “aid” dollars. The interconnectedness of corporations, the Bush administration and the influential link to the defense industry and “national security” reveals the special role companies like Enron, with a relatively long history in Central and South Asia, plays in international politics.

This is why, Venugopal said, the exposure of Enron and political corruption in the Bush administration is linked to the many-sided struggle to stop the war, to fight against increased military budgets, to oppose privatization, to end racism, to defend workers’ rights and so on. Further, U.S. peace organizations must build links with international peace organizations. As Venugopal put it, “we must globalize the peace and justice movement.”

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