US & World Politics

The US and World Politics Blog is a preliminary compilation of three forms of communication: 1. Current issues of import. 2. Significant or intersting comments from the Boston Tea Party Chatroom chatters, server. (I plan to move all chats to a separate blog) 3. Letters written to representatives.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Enemies Examined

Cold War Candidates Examined: Revisited

When I first published Cold War Candidates Examined in April 23 2001, Bin Laden had not yet organized the destruction of the World Trade Center, Bush had not yet abstracted the presidency away from the Constitution and used 911 as a pretext to replace it with the US Patriot Act, and Congress had not yet given him nearly unlimited authority and funds to wage war forever.

The US president had also not yet sown fear in the body politic in order to rally support for his hated presidency, as well as promoted a hateful, negative worldview. Also, I said that Laden was a sympathetic rogue which was correct at the time. He no longer is. Let's revisit.

That year, China downed an American spy plane, the EP-3E Aries II, inside Chinese territory. I suspected that the incident had something to do with a changing relationship of the US with the world, specifically with the US's need for a new military buildup and world-wide military expansion, perhaps as traumatic and monetarily costly as the Cold War of the middle of the last century that finally ended with the reversion of the USSR back to classic Russia.

But Soviet Russia had a saying, "The revolution is as inevitable as spring and as mighty as the spring floods" which could be updated to, "America's new world-wide military campaign is as inevitable as an increase in U. S. military spending and as mighty as the outpouring of political nostalgia for it." I was correct.

At that time, all the pieces for a new military campaign were just emerging; they are now in place: A convincing reason, a formidable enemy. But not just formidable enemy would do. It must have the following essential characteristics, I said: It must be perceived to be significant, formidable, evil, "distant", either psychologically and/or geographically, and must require a large budget to combat so that war profiteers can have an incentive to milk it for as much money as they can and for a long duration. Without a big, juicy budget, prosecuting a big war would just would not be profitable enough for war profiteers.

In 2005, these conditions were largely met, and have already been in place for two years. Our representatives and the president have convinced Americans of the justification for the expenditure of vast sums of taxpeyr money and even developing a staggerting debt.

I then examined all of the candidates currently bandied about as replacements for the Soviet Union:

Russia: I guessed correctly that Russia would not be the one. Its tax base is reduced to an extent so that it's economically disabled, and, what taxes it can collect are not enough for a military buildup that will effect the US any time soon. It is militarily weak, it's preoccupied with internal problems, its former Communist satellites are cleaved away and unconcerned, and are politically disabled. "Russian arms production for foreign or domestic use is 10 per cent of the 1991 level. Russian military expenditure is today only 18 per cent of Soviet spending in 1987". It would probably be decades before it could remount its previous peak level of threat to the West.

For these reasons, it no longer has the ideology of the old Soviet Union that helped it to develop an effective methodology to catholically promote and be the staging ground for worldwide instability. Russia is not a credible threat, therefore, no one in the US can remake it into a great enemy, no matter how much cold warrior Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney can provoke them. President Clinton only managed a muted response from Russian president Putin when he and Europe subsumed many of its former satellites into NATO.

China: It only seems like a likely candidate. It's big, it seems formidable, it's distant in both senses, and its ethnic Yellowness and cultural mystery still makes Cold Warriors yelp in rapturous joy that these properties allow them an excuse to demonize it. The new US administration is doing all it can to frame China as our great enemy militarily in spite of the fact that China has not risen to take the place of the Soviet Union as a peer arms trade competitor to the West: its arm exports fell by nearly two thirds, from 2.6 billion in 1987 to less than one billion today. Further proof that China is not a military threat is that the Free Enterprisers faction in Chinese government has liberated a large chunk of the People's Liberation Army's budget when it introduced the One China Policy a handful of years ago. At that time, the military budget stood at around four billion dollars per year. It is estimated that it has been pared down to about 2.3 billion this year, a reduction of around 42 per cent.

So China is not the military threat it once was to the US and is unlikely to ever naturally become one to the extent that hysterical US Right Wingers, like Richard Armitage, crow about it from their rooster's perch. Surprisingly, it's becoming formidable on the economic front and will soon be competing for the world's oil resources with the West that is likely to make it into an enemy in five to ten years.

Rogue States: For the first two years after 911, NeoCons have trotted out the rather nebulous idea of "rogue states". President Bush has had the CIA operate domestically by publicly replacing the desiccated USSR with Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and North Korea. But they do not seem to have such capability. All of their armed forces have been in steep decline for a decade and a half, with the exception of Iran that is currently arming itself with nuclear missiles to protect it from an American invasion and President Bush's promise to not exclude using tactical offensive nukes in the Middle East. But this defensive gambit poses no direct offensive threat to the US.

Taken as a group: since the late 1980s their military spending has fallen 70 per cent." This means they now spend only 30 per cent of what they spent during the height of the Cold War. "Their arms imports are barely 10 per cent of what they once were." They are anemic.

By 2001, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) had already even downgraded the military threat of Iraq to an ever-diminishing level. "The DIA calculates that by 2005 their threats are likely to be less than 20 per cent as large as those of the early 1990s." So no way are so-called "rogue states" a real threat as militarists promote them. While the American public largely agrees, President Bush nevertheless invaded and occupied Iraq, a country whose military adventurism was contained according to Condoleezza Rice and Powell. This simply proves that Bush's America is more of a threat than Iraq was.

Drugs, Pot Smokers, and Drug Cartels: The US is mounting a massive propaganda campaign to promote the idea that pot smokers are the evil of the world and a threat to a stable and efficient work force. It has even packed up to 30 per cent of our prisons with pot-related criminals. Reality TV shows like Cops have shown policemen dressed in the latest military assault gear giving testosterone induced "high fives" at finding a pot field in someone's back yard and apprehending a pot grower. But because the pot business is not inherently violent, law enforcement's violent and intrusive tactics make cops themselves look like the bad guys.

The Right-Wing introduction of the federal RICO statute escalated the war on citizens disguised as an escalation on the war on drugs. The RICO statue allows any police force to seize property without due democratic process. This meant that police could take property, cars, houses, and land, solely on the basis of suspicion based on probable cause and do it legally. One of the most prominent examples occurred about four years ago in California. The Malibu City Police Department invaded an old man's house. He could barely see. "It is the District Attorney's opinion that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was motivated, at least in part, by a desire to seize and forfeit the ranch [adjacent to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area] for the government."

Last year (2000) former President Clinton gave the Columbian military forces one billion dollars plus to continue to ineffectually fight a cacophony of freedom-fighting insurgents, small-time pot and cocoa farmers, and drug lords. In the process the war has sprayed defoliants on people, legitimate agricultural plants, and drinking water. This war is broadening. Not only that, but because citizens in the USA know that the US is not only a consumer of Columbian drugs but also a huge producer itself, the War on Drugs in Columbia begins to reek and exposes the weakness of the argument that freelance druggists are a threat.

By these questionable tactics and the results they produce, mere suspects, pot growers, and even drug lords to some extent have been made to look like martyrs and US authorities as bullies. So, no, suspects, drug producers, refiners, distributors are not good candidates. Who else?

Taliban of Afghanistan: Recently, the iconophobic Taliban have trotted themselves out to further denigrate Arabia from which might well up more needed terrorists. But the Taliban is no worse than a typical toothless, inbred, US redneck playing a banjo on a rustic porch. Just recently, the Taliban's feeble attempt to meet even this standard fell short, when they promoted their misogynist ways as well as vilified themselves so dramatically with their public destruction of historically significant statues of Buddha. After all, an in situ statue, having no economically measurable value, is just a virtual museum piece".

I made the case that China only seemed a strong candidate but actually was not. While it attacked defenseless Tibet and destroyed its culture and artworks, and crushed the fledgling democracy movement, along with an emulated Statue of Liberty, in Tienamen Square, is making wholesale censorings of its fledgling internet, even demanding and getting Google to self-sensor by creating a sort of separate Google for China that would not mention such unspleasantries as Tienamen Square. But none of these events, in part or in whole, have so far convinced the American public that China is dastardly enough to qualify as the next great enemy.

It certainly was not for lack of want for not trying. Anti-Chinese feelings seemed to have been generated. Extreme feelings of anti-Chinese hate just take more effort, until a critical mass is reached. If allowed to develop at its own natural pace, critical mass would take years but the US can't take that long. Public outrage must be generated more quickly.

An effort had to be made, therefore, to strengthen China's candidacy by increasing its qualifications. It could be argued that the US government has already staged several incidents in attempting to achieve a critical mass of hate toward it.

1. The American Spectator and the Washington Times incessantly trumpeted the allegation that Vice President Gore somehow allowed himself to be influenced by China during his visit to a Buddhist Temple. Not only was this a smear against Buddhism but against China too.

2. A despicable attempt to vilify China occurred when the Clinton Administration vilify China by imprisoning the innocent ethnic Chinese national, Wen Ho Lee. It was a seven-month solitary confinement, as if to emphasize China's evil nature through him. The Executive Branch accused the National Chinese Lee, a scientist, of giving China secret data taken from Los Alamos. The subsequent Cox Commission report generated much anti-China fever in the West, even though the report showed no first-hand evidence that China stole any nuclear secrets.

3. The US angered China by threatening to sell destroyers equipped with Aegis detection technology to Taiwan. This has passed.

4. The US Central Intelligence Agency pinpointed the location of the Chinese Embassy in Serbia and the Pentagon then bombed it, killing several employees. A few months before 911, the Chinese say that the US has repeatedly flown a spy plane provocatively close to China, and within the South China Sea which it considers its territorial waters.

5. A handful of Pentagon generals have expressed their educated opinions that the next great war will be with China. At what point this strong belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy is anyone's guess. And China played right into Cold Warrior's hands, inadvertently or not, by allegedly downing the EP-3 Aries II surveillance plane. Read more on the EP-3 here.

6. Some Fundamentalist Republicans agree with the generals and sound even relieved that this piece of the End-Time fulfillment puzzle seems to be falling into place.

7. On the American TV show, 60 Minutes, Andy Rooney even tried to whip up some patriotic anti-Chinese hate by pointing out that the small, hand-size American flag that he was waving into the air in circles was made in China. Interestingly, this brings up the question of whether burning this Chinese US flag is patriotic or defamatory.

No, the US could not make China into a next enemy, at least not for the early 21st. Century. Perhaps when it becomes economically stronger in about 10 to 15 years it might be their turn to be the bad guy of the world.

So if Russia, China, "rogue states", the Taliban, and druggies (domestic terrorists don't count because we can't put a Missile Defense Shield over only a portion of our citizens) have proven largely ineffectual in providing a real threat to the US, then where do NeoCons find the genuine article? Well, there aren't any more qualified nations and, since these are the likeliest candidates for assuming the responsibility taking on the mantle of the great enemy, we have to pick one from these. The US already did a Cold War with the former USSR. Been there; done that. The public will not fall for an encore with it.

Bin Laden: And I was ultimately wrong about bin Laden and his Al Qaeda who, in 2001, were only beginning to emerge out of the rocky hills of Afghanistan and into the world's TV screens: Bearded, swarthy, turbaned, and unable to speak English. This is nbot to say that they were insignificant political and military presences before 1001. No. Before they became a world-wide movement, the US largely trained them to fight the USSR invasion force in Afghanistan and they helped to defeat it.

Who better to embody ultimate political evil for Cold Warriors? And he helped former Cold Warriors but current NeoCons in the effort because he did everything he could to focus US military and political might on himself. He was so far implicated in several international bombings and one of his associates has been found guilty of attempted murder here in the US. In retaliation, President Clinton bombed Laden's medicine factory in an attempt to promote his evilness but all we did was deny him and his friends medical care and in the process made him into a sort of sympathetic rogue. Of course, the Rightwing congress of the time was on a cost-cutting campaign so did not appropriate the funds needed for Clinton to wage an effective war on bin Laden.

This weak response only enabled and encouraged bin Laden to grow stronger and more organized. But then Laden planned the bombing of the World Trade Center, killing approximately 3000 salespeople, arms dealers, international financiers and support staff. His attack on the WTC was tantamount to attacking Wall Street, the purse strings of the well to do. He transformed himself from a mere rogue to becoming the inspiration for, and a role model to, disaffected Moslems. He became their messiah. NeoCons loved this. He became their pretext to transform a war on terrorists into a perpetual war on terrorism, which meant that he became an excuse to destroy American civil liberties.

- end Enemies Examined -

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