Wednesday, September 08, 2004


America Deserves Better # 27

Dear friends,
It is too long since I have addressed ADB. I have been busy with energy, my other preoccupation. Today one of my ADB correspondents sent me an article that nicely makes my next letter. This article addresses the most dangerous and repulsive aspect of the Bush administration. It reflects megalomania, pure and simple. The author of this piece underestimates the effect of vindicating the Vulcans' position through reelection of Bush. The next step for megalomania unchecked is increased aggression and atrocity abroad, and supression of dissent at home. Even tinpot dictators like Mussolini could pull that off. Bush himself may not have the will to such action, but the war in Iraq suggests otherwise, and never underestimate Cheney and Rumsfeldt.
Do we really need a "defense" (theres an Orwellian term for you) budget that equals the rest of the world's defense budgets combined? What threat could we possibly face that justifies such a travesty? Obviously the only possible such threat would be one of our own making, - turning the entire rest of the world aggressively against us. One can't imagine a more dangerous or more unAmerican posture for our nation.
Obviously we would be much better off with the military budget halved, the deficit sharply reduced, and a renewed network of allied nations. That won't happen if Bush is reelected.
Do we really want a government that follows the warped writings of of an extremist middle-east mind, the kind of mind that we just expended a fortune to remove from Iraq? America deserves better. Defeat this administration.
Sincerely yours, Murray
Beware the Vulcans: Why this US Vote is so Critical
August 26, 2004 by the Globe and Mail / Canada by Lawrence Martin
In his book The Rise of the Vulcans , James Mann writes of what he calls one of the most significant foreign policy documents in decades. Written in 1991 by the Pentagon's Zalmay Khalizad, the paper set forth "a new vision for a world dominated by a lone American superpower, actively working to make sure that no rival group or group of rivals would ever emerge."
Formal alliances were to be downgraded, and collective security given short shrift. American muscle would be the arbiter of the new world order.
Mr. Khalizad was part of a pack of Pentagon hard-liners -- or Vulcans, as some of them liked to call themselves -- that included Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz.
Though it is generally accepted that 9/11 triggered the changes in the world's power dynamic, these men had been plotting since the late 1960s, as the even-tempered Mann book reveals, to bring an end to great power diplomacy and the collective security system.
The Khalizad document became their bible and, when Ralph Nader handed the Republicans the White House in 2000, they began implementing its tenets. If they win the election this fall -- the most high-stakes election in memory -- they will try to finish the job.
The influence of the Vulcans has been pivotal. As the Cold War closed and their manifesto was being written, there were other options open to the United States. As they did after the Second World War, the Americans could have chosen to strengthen multilateral organizations and forge a new concept of collective security. They could have scaled back their overseas power and devoted resources to domestic afflictions. Some in Washington advocated big defense-spending cuts, with the savings going toward making America the real shining city on the hill -- one without the poverty and the glaring inequalities and the health-care shortages. But the cuts would have left the Pentagon with only 10 times the might of its average competitors, as opposed to 20. The Vulcans wanted 20.
George Bush Jr. took office speaking of the need for alliances and power-sharing. "If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us," he said of the world's other nations. But when he surrounded himself with supporters of the Khalizad document, the die was cast. Unilateralism became a buzzword. The Iraq war -- largely a product of the enthusiasms and exaggerations of Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Wolfowitz -- signaled that the old balance-of-power system was going up in smoke, replaced by the new one-superpower world view.
For the United States, the irony is considerable. It has long held claim to being one of the great democracies. But what, as the critics ask, is democratic about one country running, if not subjugating, a world of more than 200 nations?
The election in November is so critical because it will be seen as either ratification or repudiation of Vulcan unilateralism. On the face of it, the Democratic Party is hardly proposing radical change. John Kerry is fuzzy on Iraq and no dove on military spending. He ludicrously plans on increasing the already-hyperventilating Pentagon budget, making it the biggest in history when the military capacity of the enemy -- pockets of terrorists as opposed to giant armies and arsenals -- is the smallest in history.
But Mr. Kerry is running to the right of how he would govern. His heavily liberal record is that of an internationalist. A victory by him would signal a major attitudinal shift. As he makes ringingly clear, he wants to rebuild alliances, reinvigorate the concept of collective security and make America respected in the world again.
While Bush must be somewhat chastened by the "weapons of mass destruction" fiasco, by the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and by the thousands of deaths his war has engendered, he would see victory as vindication. Other nations would recoil. They would fear more politics of confrontation, more polarization, more war. Hatred for America would escalate.
There would be no search for a new internationalism favored by Canada and other nations because, as The Rise of the Vulcans makes clear, the Vulcans' underlying philosophy is that they need not reach accommodation with anyone.
They are an odd breed, these men. They hate dictatorship, unless they're doing the dictating.

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