excerpts from the book
by Peter Phillips and Project
Seven Stories Press, 2003, paper
The Neoconservative Plan for Global Dominance
Over the last year, corporate media have
made much of Saddam Hussein and his stockpile of weapons of mass
destruction. Rarely did the press address the possibility that
larger strategies might also have driven the decision to invade
Iraq. Broad political strategies regarding foreign policy do indeed
exist and are part of the public record. The following is a summary
of the current strategies that have formed over the last 30 years,
strategies that eclipse the pursuit of oil and that preceded Hussein's
rise to power:
In the 1970s, the United States and the
Middle East were embroiled in a tug of war over oil. At the time,
American military presence in the Gulf was fairly insignificant
and the prospect of seizing control of Arab oil fields by force
was pretty unattainable. Still, the idea of this level of dominance
was very attractive to a group of hard-line, promilitary Washington
insiders that included both Democrats and Republicans. Eventually
labeled "neoconservatives," this circle of influential
strategists played important roles in the respective Defense Departments
of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush Sr. at conservative
think tanks throughout the 1980s and 1990s and today occupies
several key posts in the White House, Pentagon, and State Department.
The principals among them are:
* Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, our
current vice president and defense secretary, respectively, who
have been closely aligned since they served with the Ford Administration
in the 1970s;
* Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz,
the key architect of the postwar reconstruction of Iraq;
* Richard Perle, former chairman and current
member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, which has great
influence over foreign military policies;
* William Kristol, editor of The Weekly
Standard and founder of Project for a New American Century, the
powerful, neoconservative think tank.
In the 1970s, however, neither high-level
politicos nor the American people shared the priorities of this
small group of military strategists. In 1979, the Shah of Iran
fell and U.S. political sway in the region was greatly jeopardized.
In 1980, the Carter Doctrine declared the Gulf "a zone of
U.S. influence." It warned (especially the Soviets) that
any attempt to gain control of the Persian Gulf region would be
regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the U.S. and
repelled by any means necessary, including military force. This
was followed by the creation of the Rapid Deployment Force-a military
program specifically designed to rush several thousand U.S. troops
to the Gulf on short notice.
Under President Reagan, the Rapid Deployment
Force was transformed into the U.S. Central Command that oversaw
the area from eastern Africa to Afghanistan. Bases and support
facilities were established throughout the Gulf region, and alliances
were expanded with such countries as Israel, Saudi Arabia, and
Since the first Gulf War, the U.S. has
built a network of military bases that now almost completely encircle
the oil fields of the Persian Gulf.
In 1989, following the end of the Cold
War and just prior to the Gulf War, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell,
and Paul Wolfowitz produced the Defense Planning Guidance report
advocating U.S. military dominance around the globe. The plan
called for the United States to maintain and grow in military
superiority and prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge
us on the world stage. Using words like "preemptive"
and military "forward presence," the plan called for
the U.S. to be dominant over friends and foes alike. It concluded
with the assertion that the U.S. can best attain this position
by making itself "absolutely powerful."
The 1989 plan was spawned after the fall
of the Soviet Union. Without the traditional threat to national
security, Cheney, Powell, and Wolfowitz knew that the military
budget would dwindle without new enemies and threats. In an attempt
to salvage defense funding, Cheney and company constructed a plan
to fill the "threat blank." On August 2, 1990, President
Bush called a press conference. He explained that the threat of
global war had significantly receded, but in its wake, a new danger
arose. This unforeseen threat to national security could come
from any angle and from any power.
Iraq, by a remarkable coincidence, invaded
Northern Kuwait later the same day.
Cheney et al. were out of political power
for the eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency. During this
time, the neoconservatives founded the Project for the New American
Century (PNAC). The most influential product of the PNAC was a
report entitled "Rebuilding America's Defense," <www.newamericancentury
org>, which called for U.S. military dominance and control
of global economic markets.
With the election of George W. Bush, the
authors of the plan were returned to power: Cheney as vice president,
Powell as secretary of state, and Wolfowitz in the number-two
spot at the Pentagon. With the old Defense Planning Guidance as
the skeleton, the three went back to the drawing board. When their
new plan was complete, it included contributions from Wolfowitz's
boss Donald Rumsfeld. The old "preemptive" attacks have
now become "unwarned attacks." The Powell-Cheney doctrine
of military "forward presence" has been replaced by
"forward deterrence." The U.S. stands ready to invade
any country deemed a possible threat to our economic interests.
Homeland Security Threatens Civil Liberty
As reported widely in the mainstream press,
the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) represents the most
extensive restructuring of the U.S. government since 1947-the
year the Department of War was combined with the army, navy, marines,
coast guard, and air force to create the Department of Defense
(DOD). The new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) combines
more than 100 separate entities of the executive branch, including
the secret service, the coast guard, and the border patrol, among
others. The DHS employs over 170,000 federal workers and commands
a total annual budget of $37 billion. But what does this mean
for the people of the United States? What sort of long-term effects
will it have on the day-to-day lives of average Americans? These
questions have received scant attention in the corporate media.
The concept of homeland security was thrown
around the Pentagon long before the events of 9/11. Originally
titled "Homeland Defense," it was placed within the
Pentagon's "Operations Other Than War (OOTW)" command,
under the stand-alone civil disturbance plan called the "Garden
Plot." Over the years, homeland defense has been extended
by a host of presidential decision directives and executive orders.
Now, following the events of 9/11, the
initial concept has ballooned into a vast, powerful, and far-reaching
One DHS mandate largely ignored by the
press requires the FBI, CIA, and state and local governments to
share intelligence reports with the department upon command, without
explanation. Civil rights activists claim that this endangers
the rights and freedoms of law-abiding Americans by blurring the
lines between foreign and domestic spying (as occurred during
the COINTELPRO plan of the '60s and '70s). According to the ACLU,
the Department of Homeland Security will be "100 percent
secret and 0 percent accountable." Meanwhile, the gathering,
retention, and use of information collected is a central focus
of the Bush Administration's new agenda. Officially established
to track down terrorists, information can be collected on any
dissenter, American citizen or not, violent or not. The classification
of recent peace marches and protests as "terrorist events"
within DOD and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) documents
is one example of the dangerous potential of these mandates.
As part of homeland security, the USA
Patriot Act of 2001 allows the government increased and unprecedented
access to the lives of American citizens and represents an unrestrained
imposition on our civil liberties. Wiretaps, previously confined
to one phone, can now follow a person from place to place at the
behest of government agents and people can now be detained on
the vague suspicion that they might be a terrorist-or assisting
one. Detainees can also be denied the right to legal representation
(or the right of private counsel when they are allowed to meet
with their attorneys).
William Safire, a writer for The New York
Times, defined the first Patriot Act as a presidential effort
to seize dictatorial control. No member of Congress was given
sufficient time to study the first Patriot Act that was passed
by the house on October 27,2001. In some cases, while driving
the act through Congress, Vice President Cheney would not allow
the legislation to be read, publicly threatening members of Congress
that they would be blamed for the next terrorist attack if they
did not vote for the Patriot Act.
The Domestic Security Enhancement Act
of 2003 (Patriot Act II) is accused of posing even greater hazards
to civil liberties. The draft proposal of Patriot Act II was leaked
from John Ashcroft's staff in February of 2003 and was stamped
"Confidential -Not for Distribution." Patriot Act II
was widely editorialized against in the U.S. media but full disclosure
of the contents, implications, and motivations were underdeveloped.
In particular, there are three glaring areas that warranted greater
coverage by the American media:
* The second Patriot Act proposes to place
the entire federal government and many areas of state government
under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Justice
(DOJ), the Office of Homeland Security, and the FEMA NORTHCOM
* Under Section 501, a U.S. citizen engaging
in lawful activity can be picked off the streets or from home
and taken to a secret military tribunal with no access to or notification
of a lawyer, the press, or family. This would be considered "justified"
if the agent "inferred from conduct" suspicious intention.
One proposed option is that any violation of federal or state
law could designate a U.S. citizen as an "enemy combatant"
and allow him or her to be stripped of citizenship.
* Section 102 states that any information
gathering can be considered as the pursuit of covert intelligence
for a foreign power-even legal intelligence gathering by a U.S.
reporter. This provision could make newsgathering illegal, and
therefore, an act of terrorism.
In addition, the Bush Administration is
calling for a repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, a law
passed after the Civil War to prohibit the deployment of federal
military forces onto American streets to control civil action-otherwise
known as martial law.
One fear among civil rights activists
is that, now that the details of the Domestic Security Enhancement
Act/Patriot Act II have been revealed, the proposals contained
therein will be taken apart, renamed, and incorporated into other,
broader pieces of legislation within the Department of Homeland
U.S. Illegally Removes Pages from Iraq
Throughout the winter of 2002, the Bush
Administration publicly accused Iraqi weapons declarations of
being incomplete. Yet the truth of the situation is that it was
the United States itself that had removed more than 8,000 pages
of the 11,800-page original report.
This came as no surprise to Europeans
however, as Iraq had made extra copies of the complete weapons
declaration report and unofficially distributed them to journalists
throughout Europe. The Berlin newspaper Die Tageszeitung broke
the story on December 19, 2002, in an article by Andreas Zumach.
At the same time, the Iraq government
sent out official copies of the report on November 3, 2002. One,
classified as "secret," was sent to the International
Atomic Energy Agency, and another copy went to the U.N. Security
Council. The U.S. convinced Colombia, chair of the Security Council
and current target of U.S. military occupation and recipient of
financial aid, to look the other way while the report was removed,
edited, and returned. Other members of the Security Council such
as Britain, France, China, and Russia, were implicated in the
missing pages as well (China and Russia were still arming Iraq)
and had little desire to expose the United States' transgression.
So all members accepted the new, abbreviated version.
But what was in the missing pages that
the Bush Administration felt was so threatening that they had
to be removed? What information were Europeans privy to that Americans
According to Niman, "The missing
pages implicated 24 U.S.-based corporations and the successive
Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. Administrations in connection
with the illegal supplying of Saddam Hussein's government with
myriad weapons of mass destruction and the training to use them."
Groups documented in the original report that were supporting
Iraq's weapons programs prior to Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait
* Eastman Kodak, DuPont, Honeywell, Rockwell,
Sperry, Hewlett-Packard, and Bechtel;
* U.S. government agencies such as the
Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Agriculture (DOA), and
Department of Defense (DOD);
* nuclear weapons labs such as Lawrence-Livermore,
Los Alamos, and Sandia.
Beginning in 1983, the U.S. was involved
in 80 shipments of biological and chemical components, including
strains of botulism toxin, anthrax, gangrene bacteria, West Nile
fever virus, and dengue fever virus. These shipments continued
even after Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran in 1984. Later,
in 1988 Iraq used the chemical weapons against the Kurds.
But perhaps most importantly, the missing
pages contain information that could potentially make a case for
war crimes against officials within the Reagan and the Bush Sr.
Administrations. This includes the current Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld-for his collaboration with Saddam Hussein leading up
to the massacres of Iraqi Kurds and acting as liaison for U.S.
military aid during the war between Iraq and Iran.
Treaty Busting by the United States
The United States is a signatory to nine
multilateral treaties that it has either blatantly violated or
gradually subverted. The Bush Administration is now rejecting
outright a number of those treaties, and in doing so places global
security in jeopardy as other nations feel entitled to do the
same. The rejected treaties include: The Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty (CTBT), the Treaty Banning Antipersonnel Mines, the Rome
Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a protocol
to create a compliance regime for the Biological Weapons Convention
(BWC), the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and the Anti-Ballistic
Missile Treaty (ABM). The U.S. is also not complying with the
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the
Chemical Weapons Commission (CWC), the BWC, and the U.N. framework
Convention on Climate Change.
The ABM Treaty alone is a crucial factor
in national security; its demise will destroy the balance of power
carefully crafted in its original blueprint. The Bush Administration
has no legitimate excuse for nullifying the ABM Treaty because
the events that have threatened the security of the United States
have not involved ballistic missiles, and none of them are in
any way related to the subject matter of the ABM Treaty. Bush's
withdrawal violates the U.S. Constitution, international law,
and Article XV of the ABM Treaty itself. The Bush Administration
says it needs to get rid of the ABM Treaty so it can test the
SPY radar on the Aegis cruisers against Inter Continental Ballistic
Missiles (ICBM) and so that it can build a new test facility at
Fort Greely, Alaska. In addition, some conservatives have willingly
dismissed the ABM Treaty because it stands as the major obstacle
towards development of a "Star Wars" missile defense
The NPT is crucial to global security
because it bars the spread of nuclear weapons. The U.S. is currently
in noncompliance with the NPT requirements, as demonstrated in
the January 2002 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review. Moreover, critics
charge that the National Ignition Facility (NIF) under construction
at Livermore lab violates the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT),
which the U.S. signed in 1996, but has not ratified. The CTBT
bans nuclear explosions, and its language does not contain any
"exceptions allowing laboratory thermonuclear explosions."
The twentieth century was the bloodiest
in human history, with a total of 174 million people killed in
genocide and war. As the world becomes increasingly globalized,
it increasingly needs an international legal framework through
which the people of the world can be protected from heinous criminal
acts, such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
It is an understanding of this reality that may explain the votes
of the 139 countries that signed the Rome Treaty and the 67 ratifications
that have resulted in the establishment of the International Criminal
Former U.S. president, Bill Clinton, signed
the Rome Treaty supporting the ICC when he held office. However,
in an unprecedented action, George W. Bush actually erased Clinton's
signature (a United States president has never before "unsigned"
a treaty). And his administration has declared it has no intention
whatsoever of cooperating with the ICC.
Furthermore, in what is being called the
Hague Invasion Act, the GOP-controlled House Appropriations Committee
voted to authorize the use of military force to "rescue"
any American brought before the ICC. Erica Terpstra, a parliamentary
representative in the Netherlands, where The Hague and ICC are
located, states that this "is not only a gesture against
the Netherlands...but against the entire international community."
While proponents of ICC consider it the
most important development in international law since the Nazi
war crimes Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II, the Bush Administration
insists it would limit U.S. sovereignty and interfere with actions
of the U.S. military.
This unprecedented rejection of and rapid
retreat from global treaties that have in effect kept the peace
through the decades will not only continue to isolate U.S. policy,
but will also render these treaties and conventions invalid without
the support and participation of the world's foremost superpower.
U.S./British Forces Continue Use of Depleted
Uranium Weapons Despite Massive Evidence of Negative Health Effects
British and American coalition forces
are using depleted uranium (DU) shells in the war against Iraq
and deliberately flouting a U.N. resolution that classifies the
munitions as illegal weapons of mass destruction.
Nobel Peace Prize candidate Helen Caldicott
states that the tiny radioactive particles created when a DU weapon
hits a target are easily inhaled through gas masks. The particles,
which lodge in the lung, can be transferred to the kidney and
other vital organs. Gulf War veterans are excreting uranium in
their urine and semen, leading to chromosomal damage. DU has a
half-life of 4.1 billion years. The negative effects found in
one generation of U.S. veterans could be the fate of all future
generations of Iraqi people.
An August 2002 U.N. report states that
the use of the DU weapons is in violation of numerous laws and
U.N. conventions. Maj. Doug Rokke, ex-director of the Pentagon's
DU project says, "We must do what is right for the citizens
of the world- ban DU." Reportedly, more than 9,600 veterans
have died since serving in Iraq during the first Gulf War, a statistical
anomaly. The Pentagon has blamed the extraordinary number of illnesses
and deaths on a variety of factors, including stress, pesticides,
vaccines, and oil-well fire smoke. However, according to top-level
U.S. Army reports and military contractors, "short-term effects
of high doses (of DU) can result in death, while long-term effects
of low doses have been implicated in cancer." Our own soldiers
in the first Gulf War were often required to enter radioactive
battlefields unprotected and were never warned of the dangers
of DU. In effect, George Bush Sr. used weapons of mass destruction
on his own soldiers. The internal cover-up of the dangers of DU
has been intentional and widespread.
In addition to Doug Rokke, the Pentagon's
original expert on DU, ex-army nurse Carol Picou has been outspoken
about the negative effects of DU on herself and other veterans.
She has compiled extensive documentation on the birth defects
found among the Iraqi people and the children of our own Gulf
War veterans. She was threatened in anonymous phone calls on the
eve of her testimony to Congress. Subsequently, her car, which
contained sensitive information on DU, was mysteriously destroyed.
In Afghanistan: Poverty, Women's Rights,
and Civil Disruption Worse than Ever
While all eyes have been turned to Iraq,
the people of Afghanistan have continued to suffer in silence
in what is considered to be their worst poverty in decades. The
promised democratic government is too concerned with assassination
attempts to worry about the suffering of its people. They still
have no new constitution, no new laws, and little food. Ethnic
and political rivalries plague the country and the military power
of the warlords has increased. While the International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF), the 4,500-strong foreign peacekeeping
unit, is assigned to defend only the capital, private armies of
an estimated 700,000 people roam Afghanistan continuing a traditional
system of fiefdoms.
The Nation covered the failure of the
improvement of women's rights after the U.S. invasion. Despite
the fanfare (stripping the burqa and the signing of the Declaration
of Essential Rights of Afghan Women), little has changed for the
average Afghani woman. Many women have yet to stop wearing the
burqa due to fear of persecution and the new Interior Ministry
still requires women to receive permission from their male relatives
before they travel. According to former Women's Affairs Minister
Dr. Sima Samar, the ministry is severely underfunded. As of April
2002, Dr. Samar had no access to the Internet and was unable to
afford to operate her satellite phone. She was also receiving
many death threats. Dr. Samar resigned later that year and is
currently working as a human rights commissioner. Hafiza Rasouli,
a UNICEF project officer, stated, "We felt safer under the
Taliban." As for the future loya jirga, or grand council,
that will help determine governmental policies, only 160 seats
out of 1,450 have been guaranteed to women.
As of July 2002, the life expectancy for
the people of Afghanistan is 46 years. The average yearly income
per capita is $280. As for the children, 90 percent are not in
school. After 23 years of war, the adult male population has been
decimated, and many children have taken the place of their fathers
and mothers as the breadwinners in their families. Some scavenge
for scrap metal, wood, or bricks, while others hammer sheet metal,
fill potholes, or build coffins. They are lucky to earn five cents
an hour. More than one out of every four children in Afghanistan
will die before the age of five. The growth of more than half
these children is moderately or severely stunted from malnutrition.
A UNICEF study has found that the majority of children are highly
traumatized and expect to die before reaching adulthood. Beyond
this, the region is just overcoming a three-year drought, which
killed half the crops and 80 percent of livestock in some areas.
In January 2002, the Tokyo conference
pledged $4.5 billion for reconstruction, of which donor nations
promised $1.8 billion this year. Nearly one year later, barely
30 percent of what was promised had been delivered. The U.S. government's
own contribution has been half that of the European Union. The
$300 million granted in 2002 was quickly spent. The U.S. government
has been hesitant to put funding into the ISAF or reconstruction-oriented
groups and has been more focused on building an Afghan national
army. However, the simultaneous funding of local warlords, now
being referred to as "regional leaders," is undermining
Africa Faces Threat of New Colonialism
Today, Africa is the most war-torn continent
in the world. Over the past 15 years, 32 of the 53 African countries
experienced violent conflict. During the Cold War years (1950-1989),
the U.S. sent $1.5 billion in arms and training to Africa thus
setting the stage for the current round of conflicts. From 1991
to 1995, the U.S. increased the amount of weapons and other military
assistance to 50 of the total 53 African countries. Over the years,
these U.S.-funded wars have been responsible for the deaths of
millions of Africans and the subsequent displacement, disease,
and starvation of many millions more.
In June 2002, leaders from the eight most
powerful countries in the world (the G8) met to form a New Partnership
for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as an "antipoverty"
campaign. One glaring omission, however, is the consultation and
representation of the African nations. Not one of the eight leaders
was from Africa. The danger of the NEPAD proposal is that it fails
to protect Africa from exploitation of its resources. NEPAD is
akin to Plan Columbia in its attempt to employ Western development
techniques to provide economic opportunities for international
investment. Welcomed by the G8 nations, this development plan
reads like a mad dash to grab up as much of Africa's remaining
resources as possible.
According to Robert Murphy of the U.S.
State Department's Office of African Analysis, Africa is important
to "the diversification of our sources of imported oil"
away from the Middle E3;t. The U.S. currently gets 15 percent
of its total oil imports from the African continent. By 2015,
that figure will be 25 percent. Rather than a plan to reduce African
poverty, NEPAD is a mechanism for ensuring that U.S. and other
Western investments are protected.
All over Africa activists, trade unionists,
and women's organizations are mobilizing against NEPAD. It is
clear to them that the "solutions" put forward by NEPAD
are in direct contradiction to what is really needed to deal with
the problems faced by Africa today. The objective of NEPAD will
be to provide "increased aid to developing countries that
embrace the required development model." The harrowing effects
of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank debt on the
African continent will neither be addressed nor revoked by the
new program. Under NEPAD, Africa's natural riches will continue
to be bought and sold by the autonomous Western powers-that-be
under the namesake of "development" and with the feigned
support of the African people.
Meanwhile, the food shortage in Africa
is now widespread. Dr. Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, general
manager of the Environmental Protection Authority in Ethiopia,
explains that drought is not the cause of famine in Africa. Storage
and transport are the two big problems. The year before last in
Ethiopia, when there was a surplus of food, farmers could not
sell their produce (locally or on the foreign market) and thus,
did not get the capital they needed for future crops. One hundred
kilos of maize would sell for as little as $4 and Saudi Arabia
wanted to buy this cheap maize. However, by the time the maize
got to the port, its price tripled because transport costs are
so high. It was marginally cheaper for Saudi Arabia to instead
buy maize that came all the way from the U.S. The U.S. is underselling
starving nations and the food shortages are actually exasperated
by this practice.
Loans provided by the IMF, World Bank,
and G8 have traditionally included strategies known as Structural
Adjustment Programs (SAPs), which came in to effect in Africa
in 1980. SAPs require that governments reduce public spending
(especially on health, education, and food/storage) in order to
pay Western banks. They must also increase exports of raw materials
to the West, encourage foreign investment, and privatize state
enterprises. Instead of reducing the debt, since 1980, SAPs have
increased African debt by 500 percent, creating a domino effect
of disasters (prolonged famine, conflict, abject poverty, and
environmental exploitation) linked to an estimated 21 million
deaths and, in the process, transferring hundreds of billions
of dollars to the West.
Bush Administration Behind Failed Military
Coup in Venezuela
The April 11, 2002, military coup in Venezuela
was supported by the United States government. As early as last
June, American military attaches had been in touch with members
of the Venezuelan military to examine the possibility of a coup.
During the coup, U.S military were stationed at the Colombia-Venezuela
border to provide support and to evacuate U.S. citizens if there
were problems. According to intelligence analyst, Wayne Madsen,
the CIA actively organized the coup. "The CIA provided Special
Operations Group personnel, headed by a lieutenant colonel on
loan from the U.S. Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North
Carolina, to help organize the coup against Chavez," he said.
Since his 1998 election, President Hugo
Chavez had increasingly socialized the Venezuelan government.
One of his most controversial moves was to double the royalties
charged to foreign oil companies by Venezuela's national oil company,
PDUSA, abolishing a 60-year-old agreement with these companies.
Venezuela is the fourth largest oil-producing nation, and the
third largest oil provider to the U.S. As the leader of OPEC,
Chavez has encouraged lowering oil production to raise prices.
Chavez has irritated the U.S. in many
ways. In 1999, he altered the constitution, changing the law to
provide unused land to the landless (who make up more than half
of the population of 24 million) and angering powerful plantation
owners. Chavez also refused to allow U.S. planes to fly over Venezuela
during their military activities in Colombia. President Chavez
was also the first head of state to visit Saddam Hussein in Iraq
since the embargoes in 1990.
Because of the close relationship that
many of Venezuela's wealthy have with the United States, the coup
took place with little opposition from Venezuela's long-established
business and political community. The Bush Administration was
quick to endorse the change in government, which put Pedro Carmona,
a wealthy businessman and former business associate of George
Bush Sr., into office. Carmona's first move as president was to
"dissolve the Constitution, national legislature, Supreme
Court, attorney general's office, and comptroller's office."
In the United States, corporate press
covered the coup from a sympathetic anti-Chavez perspective. On
April 11, the alleged murder of 17 anti-Chavez protesters (itself
a response to sniper fire that killed protestors at a pro-Chavez
demonstration) was pointed to as justification for Chavez's removal.
Yet the two following days, which resulted in the killing of as
many as 40 pro-Chavez protesters, the deaths were hardly mentioned.
Television stations in Venezuela refused
to cover the anti-coup protests, choosing instead to run their
regular program schedule. Five out of the six major networks are
owned by a single owner, who supported U.S. involvement in Venezuela.
CIA Special Operations psychological warfare (PSYOPs) produced
television announcements, purportedly by Venezuelan political
and business leaders, saying Chavez "provoked the crisis
by ordering his supporters to fire on peaceful protestors in Caracas."
Despite the distorted media coverage in
Venezuela, a huge anti-coup civil protest involving hundreds of
thousands of people began. Several branches of the Venezuelan
military joined the anti-coup forces. The streets of Caracas were
flooded with protestors and soldiers vehemently chanting anti-Carmona
slogans. Within two days, Carmona stepped down and Chavez returned
Corporate Personhood Challenged
Since the founding of our country, a debate
has raged over the nature of corporations and whether they should
be entitled to the same right to legal "personhood"
as actual people. This idea of corporate personhood has recently
come under scrutiny.
It was back in 1886 that a Supreme Court
decision (Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company)
ostensibly led to corporate personhood and free speech rights,
thereby guaranteeing protections under the First and Fourteenth
Amendments. However, according to Thom Hartmann, the relatively
mundane court case never actually granted these personhood rights
to corporations. In fact, Chief Justice Morrison Waite wrote,
"We avoided meeting the Constitutional question in the decision."
Yet when writing up the case summary-which has no legal status-the
court reporter, a former railroad president named J.C. Bancroft
Davis, declared: "The defendant Corporations are persons
within the intent of the clause in Section 1 of the Fourteenth
Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids
a state to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection
of the laws." But the court had made no such legal determination.
It was the clerk's opinion and misrepresentation of the case in
the headnote upon which current claims of corporate personhood
and free speech entitlements now rests.
In 1978, however, the Supreme Court further
entrenched the idea of corporate personhood by deciding that corporations
were entitled to the free speech right to give money to political
causes-linking free speech with financial clout. Interestingly,
in a dissent to the decision, Chief Justice William Rehnquist
pointed out the flawed 1886 precedent and criticized its interpretation
over the years saying, "This court decided at an early date,
with neither argument nor discussion, that a business corporation
is a 'person' entitled to the protection of the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."
But more recently, in December 2002, Porter
Township, Pennsylvania, unanimously passed an ordinance denying
corporate claims to personhood. The township is the first and
only local government in the United States to deny these civil
and constitutional rights to corporations. Porter Township and
neighboring Rush Township have laws that govern the local dumping
of Pittsburgh-generated sludge by charging the dumping companies
a "tipping fee." In 2000, Synagro Corporation, one of
the largest dumping companies in the nation, sued Rush Township,
claiming that as a corporate citizen, the township violated Synagro's
Fourteenth Amendment rights. In response, Porter Township, passed
its precedent-setting ordinance claiming that the dumping company,
or any corporation within its jurisdiction, may not wield personhood
and free speech privileges. A more high-profile challenge to corporate
personhood involves a lawsuit against Nike and its claims on Third-World
labor practices. In 1998, Nike CEO Phil Knight wrote a New York
Times op-ed piece responding to criticisms of Nike's Asian labor
practices. As was widely reported in the mainstream press in mid-April
of 2003, San Francisco consumer advocate Marc Kasky filed a lawsuit
against Nike, believing the company misled the public about its
labor practices. Nike, however, claims that the First Amendment
protects Nike's statements, making it irrelevant whether the statements
are true or false. In May 2002, the California Supreme Court ruled
against Nike, saying its statements were commercial speech and
can therefore be regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. This
ruling, writes Justice Joyce L. Kennard, "means only that
when a business enterprise, to promote and defend its sales and
profits, makes factual representations about its own product or
its own operations, it must speak truthfully." On April 26,
2003, the Ottawa Citizen provided some pro-Nike coverage of the
current case against Nike saying, "The case began some years
ago when antiglobalizers accused Nike of exploiting workers at
its factories abroad. The Nike bashing was unrelenting, and the
company fought back." Hartmann's article also notes The New
York Times' editorial support for Nike saying, "In a real
democracy, even the people you disagree with get to have their
say." That's true, says Hartmann, but Nike is not a person-it's
On June 26, the Supreme Court sidestepped
the potential landmark decision by dismissing the Nike case, sending
it back to San Francisco. The court agreed that the case presented
"novel First Amendment issues" and that a California
trial would help resolve the facts. The case should go to trial
in San Francisco by fall 2004.
U.S. Military's War on the Earth
The world's largest polluter, the U.S.
military, generates 750,000 tons of toxic waste material annually,
more than the five largest chemical companies in the U.S. combined.
This pollution occurs globally, as the U.S. maintains bases in
dozens of countries. In the U.S., there are 27,000 toxic hot spots
on 8,500 military properties. Washington's Fairchild Air Force
Base is the number-one producer of hazardous waste, generating
over 13 million pounds of waste in 1997. Not only is the military
emitting toxic material directly into the air and water, it's
poisoning the land of nearby communities, resulting in increased
rates of cancer, kidney disease, birth defects, low birth weight,
The military currently manages 25 million
acres of land providing habitat for some 300 threatened or endangered
species. Groups such as Defenders of Wildlife have sued the military
for damage done to endangered animal populations by bomb tests.
The testing of low-frequency sonar technology is accused of having
played a role in the deaths of whales around the world.
Rather than working to remedy these problems,
the Pentagon claims that the burden of regulations is undercutting
troop readiness. The Pentagon already operates military bases
in and outside of the U.S. as "federal reservations"
which fall outside of normal regulation. Yet the Department of
Defense (DOD) is seeking further exemptions in Congress from the
Migratory Bird Treaties Act, the Wildlife Act, the Endangered
Species Act, the Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental
Plan Puebla-Panama and the FTAA
The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)
is a trade agreement intended to spread NAFTA's trade rules to
an additional 31 Latin American nations by 2005. Working in conjunction
with FTAA is Plan Puebla-Panama (PPP), a multi-billion-dollar
development plan in progress that would turn southern Mexico and
all of Central America into a colossal free-trade zone, competing
in the worldwide race to drain wages, working conditions, environmental
protection, and human rights.
PPP is the brainchild of Mexican president,
and former Coca-Cola executive, Vicente Fox. Fox set priorities
when he first took office, stating, "My government is by
entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs." Not surprisingly then,
the PPP emerges not as a strategy to end the endemic poverty in
this region, but rather to induce private investment/colonization
as it turns over control of the area's vast natural resources-including
water, oil, minerals, timber, and ecological biodiversity- to
the private sector, mostly multinational corporations. Seven hundred
and eighty companies of all sizes (including Harkin, Union Pacific-Southern,
International Paper, Exxon, Mobil, Dow Chemical of Mexico, Union
Carbide, and Monsanto) sent representatives to the PPP informational
meeting in Yucatan during the summer of 2002.
The ideas for the PPP area consist of:
the construction of new ports, airports, railroads, bridges, and
25 dams for hydroelectric generation; the upgrading of telecommunications
facilities, including a fiber-optic network; the upgrading of
electrical grids; highway construction; and the creation of wildlife
reserves to help facilitate "bioprospecting" by various
multinational seed, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
is the main backer of the Plan Puebla-Panama. The cost of $3.5
billion, which is 84 percent of the funds, will initially go for
massive road construction and improvement on two stretches of
highways. One of the highways will be from the Central America's
Caribbean coast up 1,745 km to the Mexican border with Texas,
and the other highway will run 3,150 km from central Mexico going
into Panama City. As trade routes, these two highways are intended
to open the entire Mexican and Central American corridor for business.
The taxpayers of the eight PPP countries will be the ones paying
for the development of the public-works projects that will benefit
private transnational capital and assure profits for corporate
Fox wants to transplant the maquiladora,
production-for-export model that has been applied with disastrous
results in northern Mexico. The American isthmus, the narrowest
part of the Americas, will be turned into a state-of-the-art foreign
product assembly station. Twenty-first century commodities are
increasingly produced in the Pacific Rim, with China's 1.2 billion
people leading the way with the largest and lowest-paid work force
in the world. But transportation is a problem when the largest
consumer bases are located on the U.S. Atlantic Coast and in the
upper Midwest. It is much cheaper to ship these goods unassembled,
using modern containerized shipping, but they still must be assembled
into finished products before reaching the market. Thus, the isthmus
offers unique strategic advantages as the shortest land route
between Pacific production and Atlantic consumption.
According to journalist Miguel Pickard
this project will turn 9 southern Mexico states and all of Central
America into a massive free-trade zone, competing in a race to
the bottom of the list of the world's wages, working conditions,
environmental regulations, and human rights policies.
Under the FTAA, multinational corporations
could leverage exploited workers in Mexico against even more desperate
workers in Haiti, Guatemala, or Brazil. The FTAA would intensify
NAFTA's "race to the bottom" and deepen the negative
effects of NAFTA already seen in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.
PPP is one more "development" plan instituted by transnational
corporations and international financial institutions that will
benefit the corporate bottom line, but result in more poverty
and displacement. More than 18 percent of the inhabitants of the
future PPP area belong to indigenous communities, 40 percent are
under age 15, and the majority 1t live below the poverty line.
U.S. Dollar vs. the Euro: Another Reason
for the Invasion of Iraq
President Richard Nixon removed U.S. currency
from the gold standard in 1971. Since then, the world's supply
of oil has been traded in U.S. fiat dollars, making the dollar
the dominant world reserve currency. Countries must provide the
United States with goods and services for dollars-which the United
States can freely print. To purchase energy and pay off any IMF
debts, countries must hold vast dollar reserves. The world is
attached to a currency that one country can produce at will. This
means that in addition to controlling world trade, the United
States is importing substantial quantities of goods and services
for very low relative costs.
The euro has begun to emerge as a serious
threat to dollar hegemony and U.S. economic dominance. The dollar
may prevail throughout the Western Hemisphere, but the euro and
dollar are clashing in the former Soviet Union, Central Asia,
sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East.
In November 2000, Iraq became the first
OPEC nation to begin selling its oil for euros. Since then, the
value of the euro has increased 17 percent, and the dollar has
begun to decline. One important reason for the invasion and installation
of a U.S. dominated government in Iraq was to force the country
back to the dollar. Another reason for the invasion is to dissuade
further OPEC momentum toward the euro, especially from Iran, the
second largest OPEC producer, which was actively discussing a
switch to euros for its oil exports.
Because of huge trade deficits, it is
estimated that the dollar is currently overvalued by at least
40 percent. Conversely, the euro-zone does not run huge deficits,
uses higher interest rates, and has an increasingly larger share
of world trade. As the euro establishes its durability and comes
into wider use, the dollar will no longer be the world's only
option. At that point, it would be easier for other nations to
exercise financial leverage against the United States without
damaging themselves or the global financial system as a whole.
Faced with waning international economic
power, military superiority is the United States' only tool for
world domination. Although the expense of this military control
is unsustainable, says journalist William Clark, "one of
the dirty little secrets of today's international order is that
the rest of the globe could topple the United States from its
hegemonic status whenever they so choose with a concerted abandonment
of the dollar standard. This is America's preeminent, inescapable
Achilles' heel." If American power is ever perceived globally
as a greater liability than the dangers of toppling the international
order, the U.S. systems of control can be eliminated and collapsed.
When acting against world opinion-as in Iraq-an international
consensus could brand the United States as a "rogue nation."
Pentagon Increases Private Military Contracts
President Dwight Eisenhower's final remarks
upon vacating the White House were "Beware the military-industrial
complex." With the war on Iraq, the government rapidly increased
the already growing privatization of much of its military operations.
Staffed largely by ex-military and Defense Department officials,
private companies- such as Kellogg, Brown & Root; DynCorp;
Cubic; ITT; and MPRI-have been aggressively snatching up government
contracts. One estimate, cited by Nelson Schwartz in Fortune magazine,
says that 8 percent, or $30 billion, of the Pentagon's total budget
for 2003 will go to private companies. Following 9/11, the Defense
Department released a study that concluded, "Only those functions
that must be performed by the Defense Department should be kept
by the Defense Department. Any function that can be provided by
the private sector is not a core government function." The
U.S. military has contracted with private military companies on
everything from kitchen and laundry duty to domestic recruiting
Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) is a subsidiary
of Halliburton, the energy company formerly headed by Vice President
Dick Cheney. By the time Cheney left Halliburton for the vice
presidency, the company had extensive involvement with the Pentagon.
While secretary of defense for Bush Sr., Cheney awarded Halliburton
a $3.9 million contract to "study and then implement the
privatization of routine army functions." Adm. Joe Lopez
(ret.), former commander in chief for U.S. forces in southern
Europe, as well as Cheney's aid under the elder Bush, is now the
senior vice president at KBR and responsible for military contracting.
KBR was given a 10-year contract entitled
Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP). This is a "cost-plus-award-fee,
indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity service," an open-ended
mandate for privatization anywhere in the world, according to
journalist Pratap Chatterjee. Whereas it used to take 120 to l80
days to deploy private companies to foreign military bases, a
72-hour notice is now all that is required. KBR was also given
$16 million to build a 408-bed prison for Afghanistan's enemy
combatants in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Last year, DynCorp won a State Department
contract to protect Afghan president Hamid Kharzai. The protection
force consists of former members of Delta Force and other elite
military units. DynCorp, in conjunction with several other companies
such as Airscan and Northrop Grumman, receives roughly $1.2 billion
a year to spray suspected coca fields in Columbia.
In April 2003, DynCorp was also awarded
a multimillion-dollar contract to build a private police force
in post-Saddam Iraq. Potential officers do not need to speak Arabic
and must be U.S. citizens and current or former police officers,
according to the London Observer. Private police provided by DynCorp
working for the U.N. in Bosnia were accused of buying and selling
prostitutes, including a 12-year-old girl. Others were accused
of videotaping the rape of one of the women. Ecuadorian peasants
are suing the company, alleging that chemicals sprayed over Colombia
spread into Ecuador killing legal crops and children. DynCorp
has been accused of destruction of legal crops and of committing
serious human rights violations.
Third World Austerity Policies: Coming
Soon to a City Near You
Policies traditionally carried out overseas
by international lending institutions such as the United States-led
World Bank or International Monetary Fund (IMF) are quickly becoming
part of the U.S. domestic economy. Privatization, loss of social
services, bifurcation of the economy, and an overall decline in
the lives of working people are an ongoing reality in the U.S.
Officially, IMF and World Bank measures
were imposed to curb inflation, increase exports, and strengthen
the fiscal condition of debtor nations, allowing them to pay back
their loans. In actuality, however, the common result of structural
has been depressed wages, reduced consumer purchase-power, and
environmental degradation, while boosting profit rates for multinational
investors. Small farmers, having lost their subsidies and import
protections, are driven off their land into overcrowded cities.
According to a number of economists, including the former chief
economist for the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, as Western investment
in the Third World increased throughout the '90s, so did poverty
and social instability.
The World Bank and IMF have a four-step
"reform" formula for each country. The formula includes
capital-market liberalization, privatization, market-based pricing,
and, finally, the introduction of "free trade." In step
one, capital is freed up to flow in and out across the borders.
Generally, the result is the increased flow of capital out to
external businesses with no guarantee that the money will flow
in through foreign investment.
Privatization is the second step. This
refers to the transfer of traditionally state-run services and
utilities like gas, oil, roads, water, post offices, and banks
to private companies. The problem, say critics, is that private
ownership of a country's framework leaves it unable to protect
its citizens or natural resources from abuses of power.
Step three of the program, market-based
pricing, is the point at which consumer purchase-power drops and
the local economy really begins to suffer. The country's political
leaders no longer have the ability to place local controls on
economic trends and the country and its citizens become vulnerable
to the whims of the global market.
The final step in the formula is free
trade. But "free" is a relative term when referring
to import/export values and global trade agreements. Third World
nations are not on the same economic footing as their industrialized
trade partners. Industrialized countries, influenced by their
corporate backers, usually override attempts at import protections
by Third World countries in order to procure local industries,
cheap labor, and natural resources.
Many of these policies had been established
slowly in the United States over a number of years, but the intensity
and speed with which they are now emerging is unprecedented. After
9/11, with much of the public distracted by terrorism and the
desire for national defense, business litigators and anti-labor
politicians stepped up the process of rolling back laws enacted
over the last 100 years to protect workers, the public, and the
environment from the excesses of industry. Just as with World
Bank/IMF policies in other countries, the goal is to privatize
profits and socialize losses. The vast majority of profits made
by a company will be concentrated in a few private hands, while
economic losses will be borne by the taxpayers through increased
taxation and denial of social benefits. This is a trend that represents
a huge shift in social and economic policy in the United States,
with long-term implications.
Argentina Crisis Sparks Cooperative Growth
The citizens of Argentina are cooperatively
rebuilding their country, rising above the financial devastation
caused by decades of privatization and military leadership. In
December 2001, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recipe had
gone sour, destroying currency values and employment levels. The
IMF "recipe" had used loans to prop up an overvalued
peso, as well as to push the multinational privatization of Argentine
The resulting crisis left thousands of
people unemployed. Fearing a run on the banks, the government
froze accounts, enraging a public that was already nervous about
losing its life savings. Millions took to the streets throughout
the country shouting, "Que se vayan todos!" (roughly,
"Throw the bums out!")
The president resigned and within a month
Argentina defaulted on $132 billion of foreign debt and suffered
a 25 percent unemployment rate, a middle class rapidly slipping
into poverty, widespread hunger, and mounting crime. What had
once been the world's seventh richest nation found itself in complete
economic, political, and social collapse...
The middle and lower classes have joined
in a grassroots movement to take back the country. The power vacuum
is being filled by an array of grassroots democratic organizations.
Asambleas populares (popular assemblies) are occurring all over
the country including over 200 neighborhoods in Buenos Aires alone.
These assemblies consist of people gathering in parks or plazas
to address problems facing their communities: food distribution,
health care, day care, welfare, and transportation. "The
spirit on the streets and in the assemblies is that people can
govern themselves," notes SIC magazine. According to one
poll, one-third of Argentines have attended a popular assembly,
and "35 percent say the assemblies constitute 'a new form
of political organization."' Many people have even disengaged
themselves from the formal peso economy by joining "barter
clubs"-neighborhood-based economic networks that let citizens
trade goods and services without dealing with the banks. The barter
system now accounts for $400-$600 million worth of business.
The spirit of the cooperative is alive
and well in cities, rural areas, and neighborhoods all over Argentina.
Neighborhood assemblies have organized alternative forms of survival
such as street-corner soup kitchens. Food donations are now replacing
money as the price of entrance to cultural events. Community gardens
... Argentina is awash in economic and
political chaos; however, it is clear that the Argentine people
have decided to take control of their communities. The current
rebuilding process does not depend on IMF recipes or capitalist
promises, but rather on the cooperation of hundreds of Argentines.
It's an enormous social experiment that could prove to be the
first great popular rebellion against capitalism of the twenty-first
century. When an entire people wake from the trance of political
passiveness, it seems that anything is possible.
U.S. Aid to Israel Fuels Repressive Occupation
U.S. aid to Israel over the course of
its 54 years of nationhood has fueled the illegal occupation of
Palestinian land superceding Palestinian rights to self-government.
Jimmy Carter raised the ire of the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other Zionist pressure
groups when he expressed support for a "Palestinian Homeland"
and criticized Israel's settlement policies. However, he never
favored the creation of a Palestinian state and did nothing to
slow the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. U.S. support of
Israel was greatly increased during the Reagan era, which represented
"a quantum leap in efforts to promote Israel and delegitimize
the Palestinians in the United States." Illicit arms technology
transfers to Israel resulted in a greatly enhanced Israeli military.
Under the Clinton Administration, even
while the "peace process" and the Final Status Talks
were ongoing between the Palestinians and Israel, U.S. economic
and military aid to Israel continued to accelerate from 1949 to
1997, U.S. aid to Israel, which has a population of 4.8 million,
totaled over $134 billion. The total U.S. foreign aid to Israel
[from 1949-1997] exceeded the total aid to all of sub-Saharan
Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined, which has a
combined population of 486 million.
During the last 25 years [1978-2003] U.S.
aid to Israel has been about 60 percent military aid and 40 percent
economic aid. There is a new plan to phase out all economic aid
by 2008 in order to have all the aid going to military. Israel
receives about $3 billion a year in direct aid and $3 billion
a year in indirect aid in the form of special loans and grants.
Under the Arms Export Control Act the U.S. can only sup-, ply
weapons that are used "for legitimate self defense."
The U.S. Foreign Assistance Act prohibits military assistance
to any country "which engages in a consistent pattern of
gross violations of internationally recognized human rights."
The Proxmire Amendment bans military assistance to any government
that refuses to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear
Weapons and to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities. All
three of these laws are currently being broken with aid to Israel.
Since 1982, the aid to Israel has been
transferred in one lump sum at the beginning of each fiscal year.
Aid to other countries is distributed in quarterly installments
throughout the year and they must account for specific purchases.
Israel is not required to account for the specific purchases that
the aid is being used for; it can be spent on anything-including
expansion of colonial settlement projects.
It is with this aid that Israel has been
able to continue the comprehensive and unrelenting occupation
of the West Bank and Gaza. Today, Israel is bulldozing Palestinian
farmers' olive trees in order to build an encompassing 30-foot-high
cement wall with gun towers and electric fencing to imprison Palestinians
and the entire West Bank. Israeli forces have commandeered the
Western Aquifer, which constitutes 50 percent of the West Bank
water supply, and thousands of acres of Palestinian agricultural
land. The wall around Jerusalem will bring the now-divided Holy
City fully under Israeli control and effectively strangle West
Bank economy and agriculture. The wall includes a 15-foot-deep,-foot-wide
trench (Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! reported it would be filled
with raw sewage), a dirt path that will be a "killing zone"
for Palestinians who try to access it, an electrified fence, and
a two-lane Israeli patrol road.
Since Israel barred most Palestinians
from working inside Israel, unemployment in the West Bank has
soared to over 50 percent. Agriculture is therefore more important
than ever. Square foot by square foot, olive tree by olive tree,
village by village, Israel is relentlessly taking over Jerusalem,
the West Bank, and Gaza with the full support of the American