The biggest threat to world peace and our nation’s security emanates not from the caves of Afghanistan, but from the Oval Office in the White House. If anyone thought that Bush’s talk about unending war was hyperbole, they now know they were wrong. Afghanistan, it appears, was a dress rehearsal for military aggression, regardless of international law or world public opinion, against other sovereign states and peoples.
To prepare for this endless cycle of war, the Bush administration is not only targeting a group of what it calls “rogue states,” beginning with Iraq, but it is also transforming the U.S. military and military doctrine in keeping with its unabashed imperialist posture on the global stage.
Bush’s budget this year alone calls for an increase in military spending of $48 billion, bringing the total to nearly $400 billion. And, according to Pentagon boss Donald Rumsfeld, this is only a down payment on an ongoing process of transformation of our military forces.
As for the changes in military doctrine, Bush, in his recent commencement speech at West Point, said with a straight face, “America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish.
“For much of the last century,” he went on to say, “America’s defense relied on the Cold War doctrines of deterrence and containment. In some cases, those strategies still apply. But new threats also require new thinking. We cannot defend America by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in tyrants … If we wait for threats to materialize we have waited too long. Homeland defense and missile defense is part of stronger security … Yet the war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge … our security will require all Americans to be forward looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives.”
One would hope that this revision in military doctrine, which officially sanctions for the first time preemptive strikes against other states, is a momentary lapse of sanity by the administration and that it will soon come to its senses.
But that is about as likely as snow falling in Florida in July. Actually, this doctrinal revision is cut from the same cloth as the administration’s decision to walk away from the ABM treaty, to build a missile defense system, to deploy nuclear weapons in space and to utilize nuclear armaments in a wide range of military theaters.
In effect, the Bush administration and the reactionary grouping of transnational corporations gathered around it are moving humankind on a new and perilous course, the consequences of which could be catastrophic to all humanity and our planet.
What exacerbates the war danger further is that the collapse of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago leaves no comparable state rival on the world stage with the strength to contest U.S. imperialism’s plans to dominate the world.
In a recent issue of Foreign Affairs, Stephen Brooks and William Woldforth write:
“In the military arena, the United States is poised to spend more on defense in 2003 than the next 15-20 biggest spenders combined. The United States has overwhelming nuclear superiority, the world’s dominant air force, the only truly Blue-water navy, and a unique capability to project power around the globe. And its military advantage is even more apparent in quality than in quantity … No state in the modern history of international politics has come close to the military dominance these numbers suggest … Previously, leading states in the modern era were either great commercial and naval powers or great military powers on land, never both … [But today] the United States has no rival in any critical dimension of power.”
What are the consequences of all this? According to the authors, the major practical consequence is that “the sources of American strength are so varied and so durable that U.S. foreign policy today operates in the realm of choice rather than necessity to a greater degree than any other power in modern history.”
With perhaps a few amendments, the same assessment, albeit a dangerously mistaken one in my view, informs the outlook and decisions of the principal foreign policy-makers in the Bush White House.
Thus, the administration’s habit for recklessness, aggression and undisguised contempt for international treaties, laws and partners is not simply the work of policy makers in the White House and Pentagon gone mad or crazy (although they are). But, rather, these dangerous tendencies come from their estimate of the overwhelming preponderance of power of U.S. imperialism vis-à-vis the rest of the world.
What bearing does this have on the White House’s present policy toward Iraq? At one time I was of the mind that U.S. imperialism’s oil and geopolitical interests in the Middle East were the reasons behind the rush to invade. But internal Pentagon documents and recent speeches of Cheney, Rumsfeld and the other architects of Bush’s foreign policy lead me to amend that conclusion.
The invasion’s aim is to solidify its political and economic interests in the Middle East, to be sure. But it is also to serve as an object lesson to its friends as well as its foes in every region of the globe that the power of U.S. imperialism is absolute and will remain so for decades to come.
To put it differently, the Bush administration wants the invasion of Iraq – in addition to securing U.S. imperialism’s position in that region of the world – to forcefully impress on the rest of the world what it is already convinced of: that its singular ability to rapidly project massive and overwhelming military force into every nook and cranny of global space with near impunity, insures its dominance over our planet for the full length of the 21st century.
What is more, if that entails regime change, violations of international law and treaties, loss of life on a massive scale and political instability, it is a price that the war makers inhabiting the White House and doing the bidding for transnational corporate interests are willing, even eager, to pay.
In fact, instability, in the eyes of this administration, offers not headaches, but new opportunities to project U.S. military power against unsuspecting foes and reconfigure the political terrain in the interests of U.S. imperialism.
Obviously, this is a lot to ask the world to swallow and it comes as no surprise that both states and peoples of varying political views are showing reluctance.
Indeed, what the administration had hoped would be a compelling and incontrovertible demonstration of its commanding power – the invasion of Iraq – has turned into an unexpected site of a growing struggle between the Bush administration, on the one hand, and a worldwide movement on the other hand.
The opposition stretches from Gerhard Schroder to Nelson Mandela to some leading figures in the Republican Party to hundreds of millions across our globe.
Recent public opinion polls suggest growing skepticism and declining support for the invasion among the American people.
In contrast to the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, millions of people are refusing to be cowed into silence. Demonstrations, petitions, town hall meetings, resolutions and other forms of protest actions are attracting more supporters and broader public sympathy. So much so that the conventional wisdom – that the invasion is a done deal and only the timing needs to be settled – should be rejected.
Needless to say, much more has to be done to amass sufficient political strength to derail the administration’s invasion plans. The false claims justifying the invasion have to be challenged and the real aims have to be revealed to millions of peace- and democratic-minded people. Mass demonstrative actions have to be combined with intensive political lobbying of the Congress to unequivocally oppose the administration’s plans to introduce a resolution supporting the invasion of Iraq.
Newspaper ads signed by prominent leaders and activists in big-city and small-town newspapers are needed. A flood of letters should find their way daily to the editors’ desks of local newspapers, making clear the indissoluble connection between military intervention and war preparations on the one hand and declining living standards, budget cuts for people’s needs, the curtailment of democratic rights, the heightening of racial and gender inequality and attacks on immigrants on the other.
Efforts to present an alternative voice in the major mass media should be pursued as well.
Resolutions should be introduced in trade unions and community organizations. University campuses should become strongholds of anti-war activity, like they were in the late 1960s.
And candidates running for office should be asked to take a stand on Iraq as well as other issues like the economy, corporate corruption and deregulation, health care, taxes, public education, racial profiling and democratic rights and other domestic concerns. Bush, for obvious reasons, would like to divert public attention from these latter issues.
A major struggle is shaping up across our country and planet. Sitting on the sidelines is not a sensible cloice. What is at stake is the right of each of us to live on this earth in peace. And that is not a right that we should relinquish easily.
Sam Webb is national chairman of the Communist Party USA.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org