Jump to content
The Education Forum

Kerry/Edwards v Bush/Cheney

John Simkin

Recommended Posts

As someone living in a country headed by a man who appears to be Bush’s puppet, I am taking a keen interest in the US presidential election.

In the UK we are more concerned with the intelligence of presidents than their sexual morality. It was why we liked Clinton, Kennedy and FDR, but had severe doubts about Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

John Kerry has the overwhelming support of people in the UK. Blair close relationship with Bush has severely hurt his standing in the UK (he will survive because the Tories are so weak at the moment). Older people like me remember Kerry’s brave statements about the Vietnam War. True, he lacks charisma, but so do most politicians, including Bush.

Some people seem to dislike the fact that Kerry is extremely wealthy. It is true that in the UK this would be a disadvantage (in fact rich people are rarely elected to public office, although they are often appointed to top jobs). However, it does not seem to be unusual in the US. If a politician has to be rich, I would rather that it was the result of family money (as with JFK and FDR) than the result of dubious business dealings (LBJ).

Kerry’s choice of Edwards is an interesting one. Some political commentators have claimed that Edwards will be unable to win any states in the South. However, others have pointed out that since LBJ lost the South to the Republicans (after the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act), Democrats such as Carter and Clinton have won substantial votes in this region.

One commentator has claimed that Edwards has been chosen because it underscores the dead-end of conservatism in the person of Dick Cheney.

I would be interested in hearing other people’s opinions on this subject.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Edwards might well have been the Democratic standard-bearer if John Kerry hadn't early locked in the most seasoned operatives in the Iowa caucuses; as it was Edwards finished second. The Democrats decided to avoid characteristic factional warfare and to support the figure they believed could win. It was no judgment against Edwards, whose campaign was indefatigable, appealing in small towns and rural areas that had fallen off the map for Democrats. At the big Democratic dinner in March, where Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter anointed Kerry, Edwards raced to center stage to lift his arms alongside the next nominee - devoid of bitterness, and as public an announcement as he could make that he was campaigning for running mate.

When Kerry chose Edwards their complementary natures were obvious, down to Edwards' succinctness. By having Edwards, Kerry acquired his "two Americas" theme as one of his own.

And just as Edwards underscores the endurance of the southern Democratic tradition, he underscores the dead-end of conservatism in the person of Dick Cheney. The thread of the Democratic tradition in the south, now represented by Edwards, opposes that represented by Bush and Cheney. These southern politics have been in conflict since President Andrew Jackson split with his vice-president, the original theoretician of southern reaction, John C Calhoun.

The Jacksonian slogan was "opportunity for all, special privilege for none". But the Calhoun wing of the party triumphed, leading to the civil war and the long rule of the Bourbons, or local oligarchs. African-Americans were disenfranchised under Jim Crow, and poor whites, sharecroppers and mill hands, like Edwards's father and grandfather, were manipulated by racial fears and hatred of intruding Yankees like Kerry's ancestors.

The Bourbon Democratic party of the south came to an end with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Republicans, no longer the party of Lincoln, absorbed the new conservatism that followed, converting the once solid Democratic south into the solid Republican south. But the Republican project was never as stable as it seemed. In 1976, Jimmy Carter carried most of the south, and twice Clinton broke off important states and moved them into the Democratic column. Now this mantle, worn by Clinton and Carter, and before them Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman, falls on the shoulders of Edwards.

Bush's supra-southern strategy involves exploiting patriotism, resentment and fear. The threat, real enough, is external, and it is brandished to maintain the status quo. His compassionate conservatism is an updating of planter paternalism. But his agenda is deregulation, low taxes and hydrocarbons. His politics in the south fundamentally rests on a division between godless them and God-fearing us. Beneath that, he requires a near unanimous white vote to compensate for the near unanimous African-American vote. If more than one-quarter to one-third of the white vote goes into the Democratic coalition, depending on the state, the Republicans lose.

The solid Republican south must have a solid white vote in every southern and border state to maintain a Republican in the White House. A single crack topples the entire edifice. That fragility accounts for the ferocious struggle in Florida.

The instant Kerry announced Edwards, the Republicans opened an attack on him as a trial lawyer. Yet, in 1998, when Edwards first ran for the Senate in North Carolina, his Republican opponent, Lauch Faircloth, spent $2m on advertising depicting Edwards and Clinton as "two tobacco-taxing liberal lawyers who are well known for stretching the truth". The ads backfired, Edwards won handily.

In one of his cases, involving a girl left brain-damaged by hospital neglect, Edwards told the jury: "She speaks to you. But now she speaks to you not through a fetal heart monitor strip; she speaks to you through me." The tradition for which Edwards now takes his stand is as open to demagogues as to statesmen, but in the mouth of a statesman it can undo a demagogue.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dan Briody has just published a book (The Halliburton Agenda). It tells an interesting story.

In 1992 Dick Cheney, head of the US Department of Defence, gave a $3.9m contract (a further $5m was added later) to Kellog Brown & Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton. The contract involved writing a report about how private contractors could help the Pentagon deal with 13 different “hot spots” around the world.

The KBR report remains a classified document. However, the report convinced Cheney to award a umbrella contract to one company to deal with these problems. This contract, which became known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Programme (Logcap), was of course awarded to KBR. It is an unique contract and is effectively a blank cheque from the government. KBR makes it money from a built in profit percentage. When your profit is a percentage of the cost, the more you spend, the more you make.

KBR’s first task was to go to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. KBR arrived before the US Army. Over the next few months KBR made a profit of $109.7m. In August 1994 KBR made $6.3m in Rwanda. Later that year they received $150m profit from its work in Haiti. KBR made its money from building base camps, supplying troops with food and water, fuel and munitions, cleaning latrines and washing clothes.

The contract came up for renewal in 1997. By this time Cheney had been appointed as CEO of Halliburton. The Clinton administration gave the contract to Dyncorp. The contract came to an end in 2001. Cheney was now back in power and KBR won back the Logcap contract. This time it was granted for ten years. The beauty of this contract is that it does not matter where the US armed forces are in action, the KBR makes money from its activities. However, the longer the troops stay, the more money it makes.

KBR is now busy in Iraq (it also built the detention cells in Guantanamo Bay). What is more Halliburton was given the contract for restoring the Iraqi oil infrastructure (no competitive bid took place).

Cheney sold his stock options in Halliburton for $30m when he became vice president. He claimed he had got rid of all his financial interests in Halliburton. However, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) discovered that he has been receiving yearly sums from Halliburton: $205,298 (2001), $162,392 (2002), etc. They also found he still holds 433,333 unexercised stock options in Halliburton.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John Kerry's political education is far deeper than that of senators who have merely legislated. He has journeyed to the heart of darkness many times and emerged to tell the tale. It was not simply that Kerry's commander in Vietnam was the model of the blood-thirsty bombastic colonel in Apocalypse Now. Kerry's combat experience didn't end in the Mekong, but moved into the dangerous realm of high politics. From his first appearance on the public stage, giving voice as a decorated officer to the anti-war disillusionment of Vietnam veterans, when Richard Nixon and his dirty-tricks crew targeted him, he has uncovered cancers on the presidency. This is why the Bush administration fears him. He has explored the dark recesses of contemporary history, often without political reward. Tarred as a "flip flopper" by Bush's $85m TV ad campaign, Kerry in fact is one of the most consistent politicians of his generation.

In his first month as a senator, in January 1985, he discovered the thread that would unravel the Iran-contra scandal - the creation of an illegal foreign policy apparatus run out of the national security council by Reagan's military aide, Oliver North, and the CIA director, William Casey. Kerry had the training and instincts of a prosecutor. As a district attorney in Massachusetts, he smashed the local mafia. Now, as senator, he has surrounded himself with tough investigators. In south Florida, they found men accused of drug-running who were shipping guns to the Nicaraguan contras and claiming to be instructed by the NSC. They tracked down a contra adviser in Costa Rica known as "Colonel Flaco", who had evidence that North was involved in financing the contras with Colombian drug money. The path led further, to Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and to Saudi funding sources. Kerry won support from Republicans on the Senate foreign relations committee to launch an official investigation, in large part because of the drug aspect. (Concerned about heroin addiction among Vietnam veterans, Kerry had followed the geopolitics of drugs.)

North learned of Kerry's work and told the Secret Service and the FBI that Kerry was protecting a possible presidential assassin. The FBI harassed "Flaco" and determined he was no threat, but he was intimidated into silence. Republican staffers leaked information about Kerry's investigation to the Reagan White House and justice department. An assistant US attorney in Florida, prosecuting a case based on Kerry's leads, was ordered by the justice department to drop the matter. Virtually the entire Washington press corps dismissed Kerry's effort as a fantastic delusion and ignored it.

In October 1986, Kerry questioned the neoconservative assistant secretary of state for Latin America, Elliot Abrams, who brazenly lied about foreign funding for the contras. This testimony led, in time, to Abrams pleading guilty to a felony. (He was pardoned by Bush Snr and is now NSC chief for Middle East policy.)

A month later, the Iran-contra story broke in a Lebanese newspaper. However, Kerry was excluded from the congressional investigating committee for the sin of having been prematurely right. As consolation, he was given chairmanship of the subcommittee on terrorism, narcotics and international operations. After three years, he reported that "individuals who provided support for the contras were involved in drug trafficking; the supply network of the contras was used by drug trafficking organisations; and elements of the contras received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers. In each case, one or another agency of the US government had information regarding the involvement, either while it was occurring, or immediately thereafter."

Kerry's work on the contra-drugs connection led him to discover a link to BCCI, an international banking operation that was a front for drug running, money laundering and terrorism. He launched an investigation that exposed its criminal "corporate spider web" in 1992. His report pointed to new areas that should be investigated, including "the extent to which BCCI and Pakistan were able to evade US and international nuclear non-proliferation regimes to acquire nuclear technologies".

From Vietnam onwards, Kerry has probed the inner recesses of government, pursuing a persistent and cumulative investigation into the underside of national security and terrorism. If the Democrats had held the Senate for a sustained period of time, his proposal to regulate the netherworld of money laundering, which was not enacted, might even have helped stymie al-Qaida. He has experienced the abuse of justice; had his patriotism impugned; battled enemies foreign and domestic; tried to restore accountability; and fought on, down to today - which is why he is running for president.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The candidate has been anointed and he has accepted the challenge. America is now supposed to have an idea of what makes John Kerry tick and, in November, we shall see whether he has what it takes to do what Bill Clinton did and defeat an incumbent Bush.

If defining Kerry has dominated events in Boston this week, a more interesting question is whether this is an election worth winning. For those who believe any price is worth paying to get rid of Bush, the answer, of course, is a resounding yes. Yet one look at the state of the world's biggest economy suggests that this may be a good election for the Democrats to lose. The next four years could be tough for the US - very tough indeed - and it would be fitting if Bush were left to clear up the almighty mess he has created...

America is not in recession, and unemployment is falling rather than rising. The dollar is not pegged against other currencies, so there is no fixed target for the speculators to aim at. Moreover, if you believe Bush, the economy is just dandy after four blissful years of Republican stewardship.

This, though, is a bit like saying that a sprinter has just smashed the world record in the Olympics while failing to mention the cocktail of performance-enhancing drugs that has been ingested. What has happened to the US economy under Bush is pretty simple. In Bill Clinton's second term America had its own version of the South Sea bubble; share prices for worthless IT companies soared, making consumers believe they were richer than they actually were. When the bubble burst, policy makers merrily responded by creating another bubble, this time in the property market. Interest rates were cut so that consumers could carry on borrowing, while the government did its bit to keep the party swinging by irresponsibly cutting taxes (primarily for the rich).

The result has been predictable. A trade deficit of 5% of GDP is evidence that the US has been living beyond its means. A similar budget deficit shows that the govern ment, too, has been failing to match what it spends with its tax revenues. In any country south the Rio Grande, such a combination would mean that the IMF would be on the scene before you could say "structural adjustment".

The dollar's role as a global reserve currency means that Washington can paper over the cracks for a while by selling government bonds to its creditors. But if the laws of economics can be bent, they cannot be broken. The only long-term solution to the twin deficits is a dose of the medicine swallowed by Britain after Black Wednesday. Cutting the trade gap means exports go up and and imports come down. A cheaper dollar would help exports, but it would make imports dearer and threaten higher inflation. Higher taxes or lower spending are needed to curb consumer spending and close the budget deficit.

This combination worked in the UK, but was mightily unpopular. Unless Bush or Kerry have a brilliant plan for a perpetual bubble economy, one of them is going to have to face reality. At the moment, the Democrats have only one thought: winning. But if they lose they will at least have the consolation of seeing Bush cleaning up his own vomit.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The zealots in Bush's White House are neither insane nor stupid nor particularly shady. Rather, they openly serve the interests of the corporations that put them in office with bloody-minded efficiency. Their boldness stems not from the fact that they are a new breed of zealot but that the old breed finds itself in a newly unconstrained political climate.

We know this, yet there is something about George Bush's combination of ignorance, piety and swagger that triggers a condition in progressives I've come to think of as Bush Blindness. When it strikes, it causes us to lose sight of everything we know about politics, economics and history and to focus exclusively on the admittedly odd personalities of the people in the White House. Other side-effects include delighting in psychologists' diagnoses of Bush's warped relationship with his father and brisk sales of Bush "dum gum" - $1.25.

This madness has to stop, and the fastest way of doing that is to elect John Kerry, not because he will be different but because in most key areas - Iraq, the "war on drugs", Israel/Palestine, free trade, corporate taxes - he will be just as bad. The main difference will be that as Kerry pursues these brutal policies, he will come off as intelligent, sane and blissfully dull. That's why I've joined the Anybody But Bush camp: only with a bore such as Kerry at the helm will we finally be able to put an end to the presidential pathologising and focus on the issues again.

Of course, most progressives are already solidly in the Anybody But Bush camp, convinced that now is not the time to point out the similarities between the two corporate-controlled parties. I disagree. We need to face up to those disappointing similarities, and then we need to ask ourselves whether we have a better chance of fighting a corporate agenda pushed by Kerry or by Bush.

I have no illusions that the left will have "access" to a Kerry/Edwards White House. But it's worth remembering that it was under Bill Clinton that the progressive movements in the west began to turn our attention to systems again: corporate globalisation, even - gasp - capitalism and colonialism. We began to understand modern empire not as the purview of a single nation, no matter how powerful, but a global system of interlocking states, international institutions and corporations, an understanding that allowed us to build global networks in response, from the World Social Forum to Indymedia. Innocuous leaders who spout liberal platitudes while slashing welfare and privatising the planet push us to better identify those systems and to build movements agile and intelligent enough to confront them. With Mr Dum Gum out of the White House, progressives will have to get smart again, and that can only be good.

Some argue that Bush's extremism actually has a progressive effect because it unites the world against the US empire. But a world united against the United States isn't necessarily united against imperialism. Despite their rhetoric, France and Russia opposed the invasion of Iraq because it threatened their own plans to control Iraq's oil. With Kerry in power, European leaders will no longer be able to hide their imperial designs behind easy Bush-bashing, a development already forecast in Kerry's odious Iraq policy. Kerry argues that we need to give "our friends and allies ... a meaningful voice and role in Iraqi affairs", including "fair access to the multibillion-dollar reconstruction contracts. It also means letting them be a part of putting Iraq's profitable oil industry back together."

Yes, that's right: Iraq's problems will be solved with more foreign invaders, with France and Germany given a greater "voice" and a bigger share of the spoils of war. No mention is made of Iraqis, and their right to a "meaningful voice" in the running of their own country, let alone of their right to control their oil or to get a piece of the reconstruction.

Under a Kerry government, the comforting illusion of a world united against imperial aggression will drop away, exposing the jockeying for power that is the true face of modern empire. We'll also have to let go of the archaic idea that toppling a single man, or a Romanesque "empire", will solve all, or indeed any, of our problems. Yes, it will make for more complicated politics, but it has the added benefit of being true. With Bush out of the picture, we lose the galvanising enemy, but we get to take on the actual policies that are transforming all of our countries.

The other day, I was ranting to a friend about Kerry's vicious support for the apartheid wall in Israel, his gratuitous attacks on Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and his abysmal record on free trade. "Yeah," he agreed sadly. "But at least he believes in evolution." So do I - the much-needed evolution of our progressive movements. And that won't happen until we put away the fridge magnets and Bush gags and get serious. And that will only happen once we get rid of the distraction-in-chief. So Anybody But Bush. And then let's get back to work.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

This madness has to stop, and the fastest way of doing that is to elect John Kerry, not because he will be different but because in most key areas - Iraq, the "war on drugs", Israel/Palestine, free trade, corporate taxes - he will be just as bad. The main difference will be that as Kerry pursues these brutal policies, he will come off as intelligent, sane and blissfully dull. That's why I've joined the Anybody But Bush camp: only with a bore such as Kerry at the helm will we finally be able to put an end to the presidential pathologising and focus on the issues again.

As you would expect, Naomi Klein's reason for crossing this particular political picket line is subtle and clever...which does not remove the fact that she is crossing a picket line of course.

If you want to convince people that the Democrats and Republicans are just two names for the same party - the party of the corporations - then urging them to vote for one rather than another is wrong. It may be seen as the "lesser evil" but the lesser evil is still evil.

Anyone who wants to vote against the war and against the corporations can vote for Nader. Sometimes it is better to vote for what you want (and perhaps not get it) than to vote for what you do not want...and get it.

Socialist Alernative have a statement on the CWI website http://www.socialistworld.net/

Edited by derekmcmillan
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you want to convince people that the Democrats and Republicans are just two names for the same party - the party of the corporations - then urging them to vote for one rather than another is wrong. It may be seen as the "lesser evil" but the lesser evil is still evil.

Anyone who wants to vote against the war and against the corporations can vote for Nader. Sometimes it is better to vote for what you want (and perhaps not get it) than to vote for what you do not want...and get it.

I do not see the logic of this argument. You are of course right to argue that Bush and Kerry are not socialists. However, nor is Nader. All votes for Nader will benefit Bush. This only makes any sense if a Bush government would be no different than one led by Kerry. Is there any evidence that this the case? Bush’s pre-emptive strike policy is having a disastrous impact on world events. Everyone has a responsibility to do all they can to get this dangerous man removed from power.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The question is at what point do we stop voting for the "lesser evil." The answer of the union leaders and the "Demogreens" in America would seem to be "never." It is never a good time to break away from the two party system. In reality, as Naomi Klein acknowledges, it is a "one party system"...one party for the rich and powerful.

The Republicans will always field some unconscionable travesty and therefore the Democrats will expect to profit from this....so the "other team" batting for capitalism will be elected.

Nader/Comajo are anti-war and anti-corporation. Kerry is not. A movement against the parties of the corporations can be built around the Nader/Comajo campaign. Naomi's only argument for voting for Kerry is to expose him: it is not good enough. This is not a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party. Big business has bought and paid for the soul of the Democratic Party.

Nader detailed some of the dirty tricks which the Democrats have used against him in an interview with Amy Goodman


No saviours from on high are going to deliver us and Nader does not believe that any more than I do. People who vote for Nader/Comajo are rejecting the doctrine of the lesser evil for good and all. People in this country ought to understand this - is Blair less evil than Howard? It is a time for "difficult decisions" ....In this country the time is ripe to oppose both parties of war, both parties of the corporations - and the same is true of America.

Edited by derekmcmillan
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

The Cubans seem to be enjoying George Bush's problems. Here is an article by Gabriel Molina that appeared in a recent edition of Granma.

President George W. Bush is steadily becoming more similar to Richard M. Nixon in the days leading up to the latter’s resignation.

“From what people who work there tell me, this White House looks more and more like Richard M. Nixon’s,” stated George Harleigh, a retired professor who worked there with Nixon.

Harleigh compared the Bush of 2004 to the Nixon of 1974, during the scandal involving Cuban-born “plumbers” who were spying on the Democratic Party leadership, which unleashed an avalanche of revelations regarding the dirty methods that characterized the Nixon administration.

President Fidel Castro’s remarks during his July 26 speech regarding the effects of alcoholism on W. Bush have caught national and international attention. An July 29 article on the web site Capitol Hill Blue (CHB) signed by Teresa Hampton and William D. McTavish refers to Bush’s bad humor and isolation, a recurrent theme among his advisors and employees, who find him “retreating into a private, paranoid world where only the ardent loyalists are welcome.”

“Bush’s erratic behavior and sharp mood swings led White House physician Colonel Richard J. Tubb to put the President on powerful anti-depressant drugs after he stormed off stage rather than answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Richard J. Lay. “Keep those mother****** away from me,” he screamed at an aide backstage. “If you can’t, I’ll find someone who can.” However, White House insiders are saying that the strong prescription medications seem to increase Bush’s sullen behavior towards those around him,” the article reads. At the White House, it is said that access to Bush is very controlled. Only advisors such as Karl Rove and Karen Hughes are allowed. Even the White House chief of staff has complained that he has less and less access to the President.Tom Ridge, who is Homeland Security Secretary, and heading the government’s war on terrorism, says that he has little time with the president, and “gets most of his marching orders lately from Ashcroft,” the CHB article reads. RUMSFELD HAS FALLEN FROM FAVOR

The article quotes one senior Homeland Security aide as saying, “Too many make the mistake of thinking Dick Cheney is the real power in the Bush administration. They’re wrong. It’s Ashcroft...” It continues by quoting aides who say that Bush and Ashcroft “both believe they are on a mission from God.” Cheney continues to be in Bush’s tight inner circle, but Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld “has fallen out of favor and tells his staff that ‘no matter what happens in November, I’m outta here,’ “ the article reads. Not just Justin Frank – the prominent Washington psychiatrist quoted by Fidel – attributes everything to “Bush’s paranoid and hallucinatory personality.” Dr. Frank’s colusions have been confirmed psychiatrists including Dr. James Grotstein, Professor at UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Medical School.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” the article quotes one aide as saying. “We can’t have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.”

Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after July 8, when Bush, upset, stormed off, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship with Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay, who was indicted for fraud.

Bush’s mental stability has become the topic of Washington whispers in recent months. Capitol Hill Blue first reported on June 4 about increasing concern among White House aides over the President’s wide mood swings and obscene outbursts.

At first, loyal Republicans dismissed the reports as anti-Bush propaganda, but they were later confirmed by Dr. Frank, who refers to a life sprinkled with sadism, from exploding frogs and insulting journalists to “pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad.”

One Republican Party consultant – who obviously didn’t want to be identified – is already advising aspiring congressmen to keep their distance from Bush, saying that the real possibility that the president’s behavior is not good for the party or the country needs to be faced.


More recently, on July 30, Capitol Hill Blue revealed that Nancy Reagan, the former First Lady, told the Republican Party that she would not support the reelection of George W. Bush.

Ronald Reagan’s widow, a Republican icon, has turned down a number of invitations to appear at the party’s National Convention and she told Ed Gillespie, the party’s president, that she would not tolerate the use of the words or images of her late husband in the re-election campaign.

Ron, Nancy’s son, spoke at the recently concluded Democratic Convention, and in Esquire magazine, he wrote “George W. Bush and his administration have taken normal mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. They traffic in big lies.”

His sister Patty joined Ron in opposing Bush. The only member of the family who supports Bush’s reelection is Michael Reagan, the adopted conservative son of the late former president.

Whatever the reason, old experts and authorities on the White House see a strong parallel between Bush and Nixon. It is not by chance that Cuban groups associated with the CIA and former dictator Batista have taken charge of the dirty work of both presidents, notably during Watergate, and in abominable drug trafficking to finance the war against the Sandinista Revolution. The conclusions of a 1978 U.S. Congressional Committee that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy refer to the involvement of some of those Cuban terrorists.

Since the 2000 elections, they have convinced Bush that he owes them his election, and they are collecting on the debt, meddling in U.S. policy on Latin America, via Roger Noriega, today’s figurehead for sinister characters like Otto Reich, the Díaz Balarts and the Ros family.

Recently, a spokesman for the Democratic Party said that they would try to make electoral mileage in Florida out of Bush’s recent outrages against Cuban-Americans. But in order to get non-voters in that state to the polls, one has to get down to brass tacks: to break with the fascist, embezzling, murderous fundamentalism of those terrorists.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Who could honestly describe the 2004 contest of George Bush and John Kerry as a domestic affair? There's a reason why every newspaper in the world will have the same story on its front page on November 3. This election will be decisive not just for the United States but for the future of the world.

Anyone who doubts it need only look at the last four years. The war against Iraq, the introduction of the new doctrine of pre-emption, the direct challenge to multilateral institutions - chances are, not one of these world-changing developments would have happened under a President Al Gore. It is no exaggeration to say that the actions of a few hundred voters in Florida changed the world.

So perhaps it's time to make a modest proposal. If everyone in the world will be affected by this election, shouldn't everyone in the world have a vote?

Today, people far from America's shores do indeed pay for the consequences of US actions. The citizens of Iraq are the obvious example, living in a land where a vile dictatorship was removed only for a military occupation and unspeakable violence to be unleashed in its place. The would-be voters of downtown Baghdad might like a say in whether their country would be better off with US forces gone. Perhaps John Kerry's Monday promise to start bringing the troops home, beginning next summer, would appeal to them. But they have no voice.

It's not just those who live under US military rule who might wish to choose the commander-in-chief. Everyone from Madrid to Bali is now drawn into the "war on terror" declared by President Bush. We might believe that war is being badly mishandled - that US actions are aggravating the threat rather than reducing it - and that we or our neighbours will eventually pay the price for those errors. We might fear that the Bush policy is inflaming al-Qaida, making it more not less likely to strike in our towns and cities, but right now we cannot do anything to change that policy. Instead we have to watch the US campaign on TV, with our fingers crossed - impotent spectators of a contest that could shake up our lives. (Those who feel the same way about Tony Blair should remember: at least we will get a vote.)

So we ought to hold America to its word. When George Bush spoke to the UN yesterday, he invoked democracy in almost every paragraph, citing America's declaration of independence which insists on the equal worth of every human being. Well, surely equal worth means an equal say in the decisions that affect the entire human race.

That 1776 declaration is worth rereading. Its very first sentence demands "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind": isn't that exactly what the world would like from America today? The document goes on to excoriate the distant emperor George for his recklessness, insisting that authority is only legitimate when it enjoys "the consent of the governed". As the world's sole superpower, the US now has global authority. But where is the consent?

By this logic, it is not a declaration of independence the world would be making. On the contrary, in seeking a say in US elections, the human race would be making a declaration of dependence - acknowledging that Washington's decisions affect us more than those taken in our own capitals. In contrast with those founding Americans, the new declaration would argue that, in order to take charge of our destiny, we do not need to break free from the imperial power - we need to tame it.

Such a request would also represent a recognition of an uncomfortable fact. It would be an admission that the old, postwar multilateral arrangements have broken down. In the past, America's allies could hope to influence the behemoth via treaties, agreements and the UN. The Bush era - not just Iraq, but Washington's disdain for Kyoto, the test ban treaty, the international criminal court and the rest - suggests that the US will no longer listen to those on the outside. As candidate Dole understood, only those with votes get a hearing.

Will this modest proposal fly? Will it hell. Despite Bush's smooth talk in New York yesterday, his position remains that America does not need a "permission slip" from anybody to do anything. If Washington won't listen to the security council, it's hardly likely to submit itself to the voters of Paris and Pretoria.

Besides, every good Republican knows the world is solid Kerry territory. A survey by pollsters HI Europe earlier this month found that, if Europeans had a vote, they would back Kerry over Bush by a 6 to 1 margin. Bush would win just 6% in Germany, 5% in Spain and a measly 4% in France. No Republican is going to cede turf like that to the enemy.

You would think those numbers would hurt Bush, making clear how unpopular he is in the world. But they don't. If anything they hurt Kerry, suggesting he is the candidate of limp-wristed foreigners and therefore somehow less American. We may find that a sorry state of affairs. But there is little we can do about it. In the democratic contest that matters most to the world, the world is disenfranchised.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am disgusted - not surprised just disgusted - at the dirty tricks which the democrats have been using against Nader.

When the Democrats go down to defeat they will not blame their own lacklustre performance. They will not blame the fact voters could not insert a cigarette paper between their policies and those of their opponents. They willnot blame their own spinelessness. They will blame Nader.

The issue on which Bush is blatantly wrong is the war. Over 1000 American servicement have paid the price for his policy as have ten times as many Iraqis. Kerry's vague and useless policy of perhaps withdrawing American soldiers from Iraq at some point in the future is of no bloody use to the mothers whose sons are out there now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...