Bush’s war for oil

The warnings are coming thick and fast that the Bush administration is determined to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein in a U.S.-orchestrated “regime change.” It matters not that the entire world is opposed to this dangerous war, that the U.S. will essentially wage it alone at a cost of thousands of lives and tens of billions in tax dollars. There are deep fears that a war with Iraq could push oil prices sky high, plunging the economy into a depression.

Bush has stiff-armed Congress, the United Nations and the Arab League, claiming he needs no authorization to launch this war. Bush has a multitude of motives for unleashing this attack and none of them have anything to do with bringing peace, security or a democratically elected chief of state to Iraq. Iraq has billions of tons of oil reserves and seizing control of those oil fields is the overriding issue in his war plans.

Bush is once again declining in the public opinion polls just when he and his Republican cohorts are exposed as deeply entangled in the corporate Wall Street scandals. He needs a war to divert attention from the nation’s real problems and to bolster his approval ratings, crucial to restoring GOP control of the Senate and preserving GOP control of the House.

Whipping up a war frenzy is Bush’s only hope for winning these elections. There are even some in the Bush Administration who favor a lightning strike with 80,000 troops as early as October in what they call the “Baghdad First” or “Inside Out” strategy of leapfrogging into Baghdad in hopes of assassinating Saddam Hussein.

These menacing war scenarios call for immediate protest from the people. We urge our readers to send Bush and Congress a “No U.S. Conquest of Iraq” through the on-line Democrats.com petition we feature in this week’s edition. It is just a first step toward building a mass movement against Bush’s war.

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Senate puts business first

The Senate continued its generosity in the days before its August 3 recess. Trouble is, the wrong people were the beneficiaries.

In the first place, the 64-34 vote in favor of Fast Track gives the Bush administration almost unlimited authority to finalize the terms of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The treaty, five years in the drafting, will give U.S. transnational banks and corporations the unrestricted right to hopscotch through every country in the hemisphere (except Cuba) in search of ever more profit and ever less labor and environmental standards.

“Big Pharma,” the pharmaceutical monopolies that dominate the manufacture and sale of presciption drugs, didn’t do too bad, either. While they took a couple of hits when the Senate passed measures making it easier to market generic drugs and to reimport drugs from Canada, they ducked a big one when the GOP blocked making prescription drugs a guaranteed and comprehensive Medicare benefit.

Union sources say more than two million manufacturing jobs have been shipped to Mexico since NAFTA became effective in 1995. Bad as that is, the FTAA promises to wreak even more havoc. Wages, conditions and social protections are lower in other Central American countries than in Mexico, where manufacturing wages are far below the U.S. average.

Opponents of the FTAA point to the impact of its provisions dealing with trade in services and finance, not only on labor and environmental standards, but also on regulations governing banks and insurance companies. Since signatory countries are required to “harmonize” their laws and regulations (generally downward), opponents rightly fear that the process will strip U.S. workers of hard-earned rights and protections.

Given that 20 Senate Democrats voted for Fast Track, there’s little chane the issue will be revisited. But that is not the case with prescription drugs, where public pressure can still force the Senate to pass a Medicare drug benefit.

We’ll be watching – and voting – in November. Hope you will, too.

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