Archive for September, 2004

A Secure America in a Secure World?

September 10, 2004 Leave a comment

Most foreign policy think-tanks in the U.S. are little more than mouthpieces used by successive governments to legitimize their policies and actions. Foreign Policy in Focus is quite different, though it seems to suffer from the same lack of insight it accuses the U.S. government of. Some key notes:

Combating terrorism requires looking beyond any one terrorist event—horrific as it may be—to address the broader socioeconomic, political, and military contexts from which international terrorism emerges. Because terrorism is a particular kind of violent act aimed at achieving a political objective, a preventive strategy must address its political roots… Addressing root causes is one way of insuring that terrorist group efforts to mobilize support meet as inhospitable a social, economic, and political climate as possible.

I actually agree quite a bit with this statement and have said similar things in the past, but it fails to address the root causes of our actions. Addressing the root of our “enemies” is a good idea, but it is counter-productive not to address ours as well. Unfortunately, this is not a topic looked into by so-called “experts” or think-tanks like Foreign Policy in Focus. What role do corporations play in exploiting terrorism as a means of expanding corporate power? We can easily look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, etc for a sample. By providing a military pretext to be in a region we supply a reason for corporations to play a direct money-making role in the said countries. This simple concept follows with the below report samples.

End Support for Repressive Regimes: The United States must, in both word and deed, make a clean break with its history of support for repressive regimes throughout the world. Such a move would entail curbing military aid, expanding human rights and democracy, and reducing the dependence of the United States and its allies on oil imports from repressive regimes. Additional steps would include: (1) withholding military aid and opposing weapons sales to countries that systematically violate basic human rights, and (2) increasing support for human rights and democracy in North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Colombia, and elsewhere through bilateral and multilateral initiatives.

This section comes close to addressing our roots by noting our “dependence” on oil and supplying “military aid” to these “repressive regimes.” It is more than our “dependence,” it is also the power that comes from controlling that oil. Likewise for military support for “repressive regimes” (their repression creates a prime atmoshpere for investment since higher returns are more likely than in an enviornment that experiences “expanded human rights and democracy”).

In a RAND publication titled U.S. Nuclear Strategy for the Post-Cold War Era the author, Glenn Buchan, notes:

The dependence of the West and Japan on Persian Gulf oil and the power and wealth that comes from controlling that oil guarantee the U.S. interest in that part of the world for as far into the future as anyone can see.

The message is loud and clear: use our nuclear superiority to control certain regional resources to dominate global markets.

The United States should continue its strategic and moral commitment to Israeli sovereignty, but there is a distinction between Israel’s right to exist and support for the occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. Washington’s tacit approval of the occupation plays a major role in fueling anti-American extremism, sentiments that al-Qaida has opportunistically used to its own advantage.

And again, the naivety of the think-tank misses the root of our actions just like our government ignores the root causes of terrorism. The U.S. has long seen Israel as a “strategic asset” (which seems to be the same “strategic commitment” this group is refering to) in the region as a means for protecting the regions chief resource for U.S. global domination: oil. If the U.S. is to “continue its strategic… commitment to Israeli sovereignty” then what other type of approval is there for Israel’s “occupation in the West Bank and Gaza”? I am not questioning Israel’s right to exist, I am questioning our “strategic” support for Israel.

This takes us back to the RAND quote above and the purpose of the Iraq occupation, the support of the Colombian government, etc: domination of Gulf oil.

Address Poverty and Inequality: An expansion of broad-based development can, under certain conditions, weaken local support for terrorist activities and discourage terrorist recruits.

This is entirely true, but addressing poverty and inequality would also weaken profits and control in regions that we exploit. Supporting labor unions or promoting democracy (in the true sense where people are given a participatory role as opposed to a role as a spectator in which the population turns out regularly to the voting booths to choose the puppet on the left or the puppet on the right) would hardly serve the prevailing concept of increasingly centralized power and authority. It should be strikingly clear that fighting terrorism – whatever that means – and protecting the lives of populations is not the role of state governments. The role is to serve economic power and to protect that power with military might. The U.S. has taken on the global protector role and is basking in the “power and wealth that come from controlling” the global markets.

The focus of these foreign policy experts needs to be adjusted a little bit more to address the root causes of U.S. actions. It is not enough to say what the government should do without focusing attention on the powers that control the government and what reform they need. Remember, the U.S. government is not a dictatorship, it is – at least in a partial sense – a democracy which represents something and that something is money (which equates to power). The point of “addressing root causes is one way of insuring [State] efforts to mobilize support meet as inhospitable a social, economic, and political climate as possible.” That root is subservience to corporate power; the solution is self-management.


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