Bush Agenda,

Ambitions of Empire

excerpted from the book

The Bush Agenda

Invading the World, One Economy at a Time

by Antonia Juhasz

HarperCollins, 2006, paper

Free trade is shorthand for a number of economic policies that expand the rights of multinational corporations and investors to operate in more locations, under fewer regulations, with less commitment to any specific location. Advocates contend that these companies and individuals, freed of burdensome government regulations, will amass great wealth and become engines of economic growth. Their wealth, in turn, will filter down through the economy, enriching even the very poorest members. One common image offered to depict the benefits of free trade is of a rising tide of wealth lifting all boats in its wake.

Critics, including myself, refer to the same policies as corporate globalization, pointing out that while they do generate vast wealth for certain multinational corporations and investors, those benefits rarely spread throughout a society. Instead, governments are restricted from using policies proven to benefit small local business, workers, consumers, or the environment, while being required to expand policies that benefit multinational corporations. The result is increased economic inequality both within and between nations, and greater economic and political insecurity, including job loss, poverty, and even disease. While the policies free multinational corporations from government regulation, they cost the rest of society a vast amount of economic and social security.

One year prior to the September 11 attacks, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency predicted increased religious extremism and violence as a result of increasing global inequality, warning that "the rising tide of the global economy will create many economic winners, but it will not lift all boats .... [It will] spawn conflicts at home and abroad, ensuring an even wider gap between regional winners and losers than exists today . ... Regions, countries, and groups feeling left behind will face deepening economic stagnation, political instability, and cultural alienation. They will foster political, ethnic, ideological, and religious extremism, along with the violence that often accompanies it".

The Bush administration itself represents the first time in history that the president, vice president, and secretary of state are all former energy company officials. In fact, the only other U.S. president to come from the oil and gas industry was Bush's father.

The Bush years have been a record-breaking bonanza for the oil industry. The twenty-nine major oil and gas firms in the United States earned $43 billion in profits in 2003 and $68 billion in 2004. Oil profits were so high in 2005, that the top three companies alone (ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips) earned nearly $64 billion between them, more than half of which went to Texas-based ExxonMobil, which recorded the single most profitable year of any corporation in world history in both 2004 and 2005.

Companies such as Halliburton and Chevron, which respectively count the vice president and secretary of state as former officials, are key allies to the Bush Agenda. The Bechtel Corporation, the largest engineering company in the world, with extensive work in the oil and gas field, has exercised influence over the Bush Agenda through its current and past executives, including current board member and former company president, George Shultz, Ronald Reagan's secretary of state. Lockheed Martin, the country's largest military contractor and the world's largest arms exporter, has also played a lead role, with no fewer than sixteen current and past company officials having held positions within the Bush administration.

The George W. Bush years have been remarkably rewarding for each of these companies, particularly in the post-Iraq invasion period. Indeed, each company has a long history in Iraq, played a lead through company executives past and present in advocating for war against Iraq in 2003, and has since profited greatly from that war. Chevron had its most profitable year in its 125-year history in 2004, earning $13.3 billion-nearly double its profits from the year before. The record did not last long, however, as 2005 brought more than $14 billion in profits. Bechtel's revenue increased from $11.6 billion in 2002 to $16.3 billion in 2003, to $17.4 billion in 2004. Halliburton's stock price has nearly quadrupled in value from March 2003 to January 2006, while Lockheed's stocks more than tripled from early 2000 to January 2006. Vice President Cheney is a stockholder in both Halliburton and Lockheed.

Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the WTO administers agreements on issues as broad and far-reaching as agriculture, telecommunications, government procurement, and services on behalf of its members. It provides a forum for expanding these agreements and negotiating new ones. The WTO monitors the internal laws of its members, arbitrates disputes between governments over its rules, and enforces its rulings through the imposition of sanctions. Every two years, the WTO holds ministerial level meetings at which high-ranking government officials finalize negotiations on existing and newly proposed WTO rules.

Before the WTO, multination trade rules dealt largely with the movement of goods between countries, primarily tariffs, which are taxes applied to goods as they enter or exit a country, and quotas, which dictate the number of a specific product that can enter or leave a country. While the WTO continued to regulate these aspects of trade,

it went further, moving inside of countries and regulating their internal laws. Every law or government policy that has the potential, whether intended or not, to impact foreign companies or investors is / open to WTO regulation.

The clearest early rendering of the ideas that would become the Bush Agenda took shape in the 1992 "Defense Planning Guidance" (DPG), which was one of the final products of the George H. W. Bush administration (1989-1993): It provides much of the Bush Agenda's military framework. The DPG is a classified, internal planning guide for the Pentagon prepared approximately every two years. It is not intended for public consumption. It describes America's overall military strategy and represents "guidance" from the president and the secretary of defense to the four military services on how to prepare their budgets and forces for the future.

The 1992 DPG was written by six men who served in the administrations of both Bush presidents: Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, Scooter Libby, Eric Edelman, and Cohn Powell. These men, together with later authors of key Bush Agenda documents, have known and worked with each other, shared and sculpted ideas, and refined their positions for well over a quarter of a century.

The authors of the draft DPG ... called for the continuation of the war economy, including maintenance of existing troop levels and expansion of U.S. security commitments abroad. They envisioned a world in which the peace dividend was translated into the creation of a superpower so militarily and economically dominant that no other nation would even strive to compete against it, now or in the future.

As written in the draft DPG, they envisioned a system where "the world order is ultimately backed by the US ." The United States would "show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. Second, in the non-defense areas, we must... discourage them [the advanced industrial nations] from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. Finally, we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role".

The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was established in 1997 as an advocacy group dedicated to the proposition that "American leadership is good both for America and for the world." The signatories to the Project's original statement of purpose include six people who served in both Bush administrations: Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, Zalmay Khalilzad, Peter Rodman, and Paula Dobriansky. Five others served both Bush presidents in either formal or advisory positions: Richard Perle, Eliot Cohen, Francis Fukuyama, Dan Quayle, and Henry S. Rowen. In addition, Donald Rumsfeld, Robert Zoellick, Elliott Abrams, and Richard Armitage have all signed key Project letters.

While the bulk of the eighty-plus-page report is focused on expanding America's armed forces, military might is not the only consideration. The authors explain that "American containment strategy did not proceed from the assumption that the Cold War would be a purely military struggle ... ; rather, the United States would seek to deter the



Soviets militarily while defeating them economically and ideologically over time." The authors indicate that America's superpower status comes from the combination of its military might, technological know-how, and its possession of the "world's largest economy." They also state that America's "political and economic principles are almost universally embraced" and that the "challenge for the coming century to preserve and enhance this American peace.

In 2000, PNAC's report established the Axis of Evil by explaining that "adversaries like Iran, Iraq and North Korea are rushing to develop ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons as a deterrent to American intervention in regions they seek to dominate' The report places Iran next in the shooting order after Iraq: "Over the long-term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has. And even should U.S.-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region."

The National Security Strategy begins by declaring, once and for all, I that the Cold War is over and the United States has won. This victory is interpreted to mean that "our way" is not only the right way but also the only way for the entire world: "The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory of the forces of freedom-and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise." The National Security Strategy adds, "We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every corner of the world." If, for the moment, we take at face value that America's way is "freedom, democracy, and free enterprise," it becomes clear that the goal of the NSS is Americanization of the world, using the American model of government and the American model of economics.

In order to fund a military that has the capacity to fight a phantom ( menace anywhere at anytime, or everywhere all of the time, the annual U.S. defense budget under Bush (as reported by the U.S. Department of Defense comptroller) has steadily skyrocketed. Bush's first defense budget, at $317 billion in 2002 (set prior to September 11, 2001) was larger than those of the next twenty-five nations combined. The budgets steadily increased from there to $355 billion in 2003, $368 billion in 2004, $416 billion in 2005, and $419 billion in 2006. The price tag for the War on Terror itself goes even higher, in addition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as all three wars have been funded separately from the defense budget through supplemental spending bills to the amount of some $300 billion by 2006.

The uniting of corporate globalization policy and military warfare is crystallized in the 2002 National Security Strategy. Unlike the earlier documents in which economic policy is mentioned mainly as an afterthought to military strategy, President Bush devotes a full one-third of his national security agenda to defining his global economic strategy.

Under the heading, "Ignite a New Era of Global Economic Growth Through Free Markets and Free Trade' the National Security Strategy provides a list of policies that the administration will advance with other countries to loosen government regulations on corporations. They include: legal and regulatory policies; policies that encourage business investment, innovation, and entrepreneurial activity; tax policies-"particularly lower marginal tax rates that improve incentives for work and investment"; "sound fiscal polices to support business activity"; and, of course, free trade.

Specific proposals are saved for the president's free trade agenda. A comprehensive corporate globalization agenda, in which policies that free American corporations abroad are used as tools for advancing the administration's national security interests, clearly emerges as a central component of Bush's National Security Strategy.

The Bush Agenda

Home Page