Co-editors: Seán Mac Mathúna John Heathcote
Consulting editor: Themistocles Hoetis
Field Correspondent: Allen Hougland
The great showbiz extravaganza
In the next few months the direction of the world's economic and social policies will be decided in the USA Presidential elections. I will not refer to them as the American elections, because the USA represents only a minority of the people living on that continent; although all the states on that land mass will be directly affected by the outcome of this race.
Indeed, government policies across the world will be directed, and in many cases dictated, by the make-up of the new regime.
The presidential race is never less than a great showbiz extravaganza, where any discussion of politics - the practical application of social theory - takes a back seat to public grandstanding and backroom bargaining. Putting on the best show and offending the least number of citizens not yet too disillusioned to abstain from the voting ritual - especially those with the largest wallet - generally guarantees a place at the top trough.
In this election the public are faced with two candidates who conform to the typical presidential model. Both white, male and emerging from a similar WASP political/ business class that view one as an extension of the other. As a (black) Hollywierd actor once said about voting in the US, you're given the choice between the size of boot on your neck.
For millions of US citizens, the vote is meaningless; and they blithely abstain in greater numbers each time they are given the choice. This is a situation fostered by poverty and lack of education, the greatest tool of capitalism's hegemony; as well as a deep-rooted cynicism towards the largely unaacountable central government, with its hidden agendas and security agencies.
However, for the rest of the world, the spectacle of this election presents a source of trepidation for the future. It has become more apparent in recent weeks that Amerika's supremacy in the military-industrial pyramid has been confirmed by the sinking of the Kursk and other disasters within the Russian military-techno sphere.
Technology at war
Revelations, in both the Russian and Western press of the terrible state of Russia's Northern fleet; the degradation of both equipment and the morale of the personnel only seem to impress how far they have fallen from superpower status.
The experience in Somalia in the first Clinton presidency was probably enough to remind the old draft-dodger that foreign adventures are best carried out by paying or manipulating others to do your dirty work. (And there is no shame attatched to draft-dodging, unless you present yourself as the next world sherrif, ready to export aggression around the world, after getting Daddy to buy you a safe commission in the National Guard - air division, of course. You never heard of the Texan Air Force? Thats where W spent the Vietnam War. )
Clinton's greatest crimes were his readiness to sacrifice his principles for short-term gain, in areas of social welfare, and law. But he was intelligent enough to rein in the worst excesses of the rich cabals and military corporations, without getting shot. His punishment was public humiliation instead. But there are areas where the President dare not tread, and one of those is in challenging the right of those military-industrial cabals to determine the foreign policy of the USA.
Even as Clinton fades out of the spotlight, he is sanctioning the next stage of the US destruction of its southern neighbour, Colombia. In a move that has been widely compared to the ghastly slide into the South East Asian fiasco, the largest "aid" package ever has been delivered to the government of Colombia. Ostensibly to aid the war against narco production and trafficking, it is no coincidence that the revolutionary armies in the country are within spitting distance of the capital, and power.
Clinton will be earning big dollars on the lecture circuit, or flaunting his cigar in Hollywood by the time that the country is aflame, toxic and a graveyard for GI, guerilla, and the thousands of non-combatants who will inevitably be slaughtered.
But we can be sure that even if he dared object, the project would be pursued in a different way perhaps, but it would continue regardless.
Just as the Star Wars II programme, a highly flawed idea and inoperable in practice, has been already sold to the American public as their salvation from the perils of the outside world.
The fact that it does not seem able to tell the difference between a balloon and an incoming missile; or the fact that it will raise the stakes in an arms race that has never stopped does not seem to detract from its appeal to the US candidates, and we are led to believe, their supporters.
What is without question is that the companies involved in the project will be soaking the US treasury for years to come. Without public oversight; and without the possibility of refund if, in the direst circumstances it failed to work.
Both the candidates appeal to a wish for what has become known as 'isolationism' in the American public. The further to the right of the political spectrum of a candidate, the more 'isolationist' he will appear to be.
The very word 'isolationism' is misleading. The people of the US have become so sure of their power and dominion over the global economic and political structure(s), that they no longer want to know what their federal government has to effect in foreign places to maintain that power, and the ensuing wealth and living standards of the average US citizen. As long as their children do not have to be sent to die in those foreign places.
Which is why the idea of the 'nuclear shield', however far-fetched; and whatever it costs to construct, seems infinitely preferable to the idea of getting involved in another messy jungle war.
It might be instructive to those who assume that world domination rests on technology that (as has been recently revealed concerning the bombing of Yugoslavia), the deployment of even the latest armaments can be pointless unless a nation is willing to send its sons and daughters out to kill, and die. That is what war is all about, and it is some time since a US President dared step too far into that uncertain world..
The Green agenda
At this point it would be worth mentioning Ralph Nader, the Green candidate. Aside from his personal integrity, which most Americans would agree is of a completely different spectrum from that of the two establishment choices, the Green agenda is perhaps the only one which would start to address the real issues that this election should be about. The US' unrepentant consumption of a disproportionate amount of the world's energy; the resulting destabilisation of the global ecology. The North Pole looking like a puddle; islands sinking under the water; continents ablaze every summer.
However, even his most ardent supporters are being scared off from voting Green by the fear that their vote will let Bush steal the crown, in the same way that Perot's third party votes swung the election for Clinton eight years ago.
His successor, Pat Buchanan is so far right he almost slips round the other side. The former Nixon speechwriter espouses a Fortress America policy, which harks back to the isolationism of the 30's (ie. Hitler's OK, he's on our side), except with a nuclear edge. However, his distrust of a 'global economy' and his appeal to blue-collar populism mean that Bush will be singing that tune, if only to grab any disillusioned Republican votes that might think of going that way.
However, the stark reality is that this election presents the citizens of the US with a choice between two of the same old corporate candidates. To the rest of the world though, it is clear that one is potentially far more dangerous than the other.
The Bush family - an Amerikan nightmare
George W. Bush (many of our English readers have offered a guess at what the W stands for. . .) is depressing even for those who watch US politics with cynical disbelief.
A man who cannot tell the difference between Slovakia and Slovenia aiming to direct the foreign policy of the world's first superpower is one thing. The son of the last WASP President, George Herbert Bush (the elder); who manouvered himself into power in the so-called October Surprise conspiracy in 1980 with the help of his secret service (shades of Putin there), using a geriatric 3rd rate movie actor as a frontman.
His son, who did absolutely nothing in life without the help of his oil-rich father; who squandered his family's dollars in his youth; before realising that 'work' for people of his class does not really mean work, it means earning money from the sweat of those that work; and that the best 'work' for men of his class is controlling the lives of the lower orders.
It seems to be a rarely mentioned fact on that side of the Atlantic, that the compassionate conservatism in George W's Texas has been delivered with a sharp electric shock.. The state under Bush Jnr's regime has set new records in executing the poor, the backward, the unrepresented
His brother Jeb (Governor of Florida - they don't have a hereditary system in the States, do they?) is another willing executioner.
He is presented as the other half of the squeaky clean duo, with very little mention of that Savings and Loans scandal a few years ago. (When a bunch of rich guys took over the public institutions similar to British building societies, set up to help the working poor buy their own houses; and handed out massive loans to their rich friends, which of course never got repayed. Bye bye Savings and Loans, hallo trailer park. )
So, in our contention, both candidates offered for the Presidency have already been sanctioned by the string-pullers, the pupeteers behind the screen. All that the vote determines is how heavily the boot weighs on our necks.
Finally, to answer the question "Does it matter who wins?", the answer has to be yes. For us in the outside world as much as for the people who live there. (As we can see from the articles by Swann and Summers reviewed below).
Western Democracy is now a balancing act between economic liberalism with either a reactionary, repressive face ; or economic liberalism with a benevolent face. The ideas of socialism and communitarianism have been eradicated by the acceptance by our political leaders that they cannot challenge the primacy of finance and global corporations. Social policy is now determined within the parameters set by these unelected, anonymous powerbrokers. Freedom itself is now a commodity.
The power and freedom of an individual in society is determined by their wealth.
The presidential election in the US offers its citizens only the choice of sanctioning either of these options, cruel face or benevolent mask.It could be said though that the vote is used as an indicator of what the new regime will be able to get away with.
The Bush campaign, and George Jnr.'s proto-cabinet contain those same cold war hawks, spooks and monetarists who worked with his father and Reagan, and in some cases with Nixon.
The Republicans never forgave the Democratic leadership for exposing the corruption of the Nixon regime. It was perhaps the simple motive of revenge which persuaded the Republican Congress to pursue Clinton to the edge of impeachment - although they had to settle for sleazy marital infidelity, unable to make any corruption charges stick.
In the same way now they hope to reverse the last eight years of social legislation, and at the same time discover some new - or old - enemies that they can set up to frighten the US citizenry. Fear is the greatest friend of reaction, and the enemy of progress. The Cold War allowed the siphoning of billions of dollars from the US Treasury.
Unaccountable and untraceable due to the firewalls of secrecy, Clinton's ability to effect any meaningful redistribution of wealth was hampered by the repayment of this debt, through the taxes raised on working US citizens.
It is often said that Democrats are more likely to go to war than Republicans, if only to prove their imperial credibility.
However, it is worth comparing Clinton's forays into war (Somalia and Kosovo) to the Reagan - Bush adventures; which could be said to have had their genesis in the October Suprise. It culminated in the Kuwait War, with it's mass bulldozing of the Iraqi frontline, and the 'turkey shoot' of the road to Basra. The country left littered with depleted uranium and an even more paranoid dictator, who had originally been nurtured by the power that now set out to destroy him. As you read this, the country is still regularly bombed, and the children die from lack of food and medicine due to crippling sanctions.
Afghanistan was one of the most important moves in destabilising the USSR, and has left a legacy for the Afghans of a medieval religious tyranny who ban even singing in a ruined wasteland. For Europe, both East and West, it was the next step towards a permanent heroin problem
Then there was Nicuragua, where the cocaine supply was swapped for Agency hardware and know-how, to prop up the Somoza dictatorship and supresss the popular Sandinista Uprising. The paramilitary death squads got the guns, and the US ghettoes got crack; and along with crack, they got Aids, poverty, social breakdown.
And in between were all those little forays like Grenada, where the US really showed what it thought about British territorial power, and forgot to telegram the English queen before invading the island.
For those of us in Western Europe, the arrival of Gorbachev was greeted with relief; as someone brave enough to break the cycle of complicit insanity shown by the 'leaders ' of the free world. They threatened wholescale destruction rather than lose the power they wielded through the financial markets over the rest of the globe, and the dollar has an insatiable hunger that no ideology has been able to match.
It seems now though that the golden opportunity was wasted. Instead of a Europe existing in fruitful egalitarian harmony, the Cold War was pursued by different means. The degradation of the Russian military and the impoverishment of their country's wealth was largely due to the imposition of the "free market" (corporate monopoly) during the Yeltsin era; as well as the continuing cost of the 'arms race". This, and the aggression by the West against Yugoslavia, the last multi-ethnic unreconstructed socialist republic in Europe; as well as the threat of a new Republican Presidency promising renewed military spending and the Star Wars programme; leaves Europe facing the next five years with trepidation.
Inside the US itself, the suppression of dissent will be high on the Bush team's agenda. George W's description of a reporter as " . . . a major league asshole" , whose only crime was that he had described the effects of the Bush regimes health 'reforms' in Texas, shows a worrying attitude towards a democratic free press. One wonders how he would respond to the anti - capitalist movements as President. What is more worrying than the candidate's own attitude is the pedigree of the Republican "secret team", who will stop at nothing to achieve power.
So if George W is given the crown later this year, watch the paranoia quotient rising. But not too closely. While the population watches the bogeyman, the rich rob the pockets of the poor.