Condoleezza Rice at the Waldorf Astoria
On October 1, Dubya’s National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, delivered a speech at the exclusive Waldorf Astoria in New York. Members of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research were in attendance. The Manhattan Institute is a CIA-sponsored far right “think tank” (founded in 1978 by William Casey, who subsequently became Reagan’s CIA director). The Manhattan Institute concerns itself with such things as “welfare reform” (dismantling social programs), “faith-based initiatives” (blurring the distinction between church and state), and “education reform” (destroying public education).
It is curious Rice would deliver a speech before the Manhattan Institute, considering the organization’s close relationship with Charles Murray, a far right ideologue who wrote The Bell Curve in 1984, a book that essentially argues black people are genetically and intellectually inferior to white people.
Rice’s speech consisted of a series of generalities related to various aspects of the Dubya Doctrine. These sorely need translation and clarification. What follows is a series of quotes lifted from Rice’s speech, followed by commentary.
Foreign policy is ultimately about security — about defending our people, our society and our values, such as freedom, tolerance, openness and diversity.
She is only partially right. Certainly, US foreign policy is about security — the security of the only remaining post-colonialist super-power and the multinational corporations it fronts. This alliance is increasingly confronted with global resistance to its greedy desire for unimpeded access to labor and natural resources. Freedom, tolerance, and diversity have nothing to do with it — in fact, these lofty (and, in a predatory global business sense, impractical) ideals are significant obstacles. Even so, they sound inspirational when laced through an Orwellian speech delivered by a Dubya functionary with a Chevron oil tanker named after her.
President Bush’s new National Security Strategy offers a bold vision for protecting our nation that captures today’s new realities and opportunities.
The ideological foundation of Bush’s National Security Strategy is simple: the US will no longer tolerate economic rivals such as Germany and Japan or possible military rivals such as China and Russia. As Dubya’s NSS document outlines, “America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.” Or, as Dick Cheney said when he worked for Dubya’s daddy, “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union.” The Borgs of Star Trek fame could not have said it better: You will be assimilated — or else we will drop cluster bombs on your neighborhoods and water treatment plants. The NSS document, which is available on the White House website, does not speak quite so bluntly, preferring instead to use more polite language to express these ideas. Actions, however — in Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan — speak louder than words.
We will defend the peace by opposing and preventing violence by terrorists and outlaw regimes.
But only terrorists and outlaw regimes the US disagrees with. US-backed terrorist states — Israel, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and others — have nothing to worry about, so long as they don’t get any funny ideas like Saddam Hussein. If they insist on going their own way like Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, well, there will be trouble, maybe even a whole lot of dead people.
US allies — or, more appropriately, client states — are defined by their obedience, not their values. Iraq is a perfect example of a client state that became an “outlaw regime” after it served its usefulness and its leader became troublesome and disobedient. The message of the brutal sanctions imposed on Iraq over the last decade is simple: the people of Iraq will suffer for allowing themselves to be ruled by a cruel dictator who once received ample US aid (including chemical and biological weapons).
Pre-emption is not a new concept. There has never been a moral or legal requirement that a country wait to be attacked before it can address existential threats. As George Shultz recently wrote, “If there is a rattlesnake in the yard, you don’t wait for it to strike before you take action in self-defense.”
“Pre-emption” is a clinical substitute for “first strike.” Immanuel Wallerstein had something to say about this: “First strikes are against international law. First strikes are immoral. If it is a political error, we may survive that. An error in law (of this magnitude) undermines the very possibility of law. And an error in morality (some call it a sin) is one that transforms us, not visibly for the better.” As for rattlesnakes — they usually don’t bite unless threatened. Of course, it helps as well not to feed them, encourage them, and make sure they don’t end up in the front yard.
What none of us should want is the emergence of a militarily powerful adversary who does not share our common values.
In other words, if a third world nation is against the IMF, World Bank, structural adjustment programs, “lower marginal tax rates,” sweatshop conditions for workers, and US military bases — the only “common values” worth consideration — the leader of that nation will be deposed, possibly killed. In the not too distant past, troublesome leaders were often assassinated by the CIA or its surrogates: Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Salvador Allende in Chile, and Zia ul-Haq in Pakistan. In the future, truly fortunate leaders who have fallen from grace will be allowed to share a prison cell with Manuel Noriega.
The United States will fight poverty, disease and oppression because it is the right thing to do — and the smart thing to do. We have seen how poor states can become weak or even failed states, vulnerable to hijacking by terrorist networks — with potentially catastrophic consequences.
This sincerely transcends the boundaries of doublespeak. In fact, the US is doing precisely the opposite of what Rice says here. As the Institute for Economic Democracy points out, the World Bank, IMF, NAFTA, GATT, the “military colossus” of the United States is in fact insisting “other nations reduce their education, reduce their health care, eliminate supports for industry, reduce the wages of an already impoverished labor force… developing countries [are] expected to lower their living standards and export more minerals, lumber, and food, all to pay debts that did little for their economic development… for the enrichment of a reconstituted financial aristocracy, the emerging corporate mercantilists,” otherwise known as multinational corporations. Indeed, such conditions ultimately lead to “hijacking by terrorist networks,” i.e., indigenous anti-colonialist movements of national liberation, such as the Zapatistas of Chiapas, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The “catastrophic consequences” for the “weak or even failed states” Rice mentions will be multiplied by US military power, resulting in even more Amariyah bomb shelter and Chorrillo ghetto incidents, more Uruzgan wedding “accidents,” more terror, impoverishment, starvation, and hopelessness. The US, following the path blazed by the NSS document and its architects, will create more “poverty, disease and oppression,” not less.
At the core of America’s foreign policy is our resolve to stand on the side of men and women in every nation who stand for what the president has called the “non-negotiable demands of human dignity” – free speech, equal justice, respect for women, religious tolerance and limits on the power of the state.
Except in Saudi Arabia, of course. So strong is the sense of “human dignity” in Saudi Arabia that women are severely discriminated against in employment, education, and family relationships. Even small infractions by women — such as drinking orange juice in public — are punished by the al-Mutawa’een, or the religious police, usually with beatings. By late September 2000, at least 104 Saudis and foreigners had been beheaded, exceeding in nine months the total of 103 that Amnesty International recorded in 1999. The government does not allow criticism of its policies or any independent thought or activity that might challenge the status quo. The minority Shi’a Muslim community is at constant risk of indefinite detention without charge or trial. For its respect of “human dignity,” Saudi Arabia receives $3 billion a year in military aid from the US.
The “non-negotiable demands of human dignity” are only cited when an enemy, such as Saddam Hussein, is to be vilified. No such criticism is forthcoming for “democracies” such as Israel, a nation that continually violates UN resolutions and severely curtails the most basic human rights of Palestinians. As a reward, the US showers $2.1 billion in military aid and $600 million in economic support on Israel per year.
US foreign policy, as Condi Rice would have it, is not designed to ensure “human dignity,” but rather to erect authoritarian bulwarks against the aspirations of millions of people in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Central and South America.
We do not seek to impose democracy on others, we seek only to help create conditions in which people can claim a freer future for themselves. Germany, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey show that freedom manifests itself differently around the globe — and that new liberties can find an honored place amidst ancient traditions.
Condi may wish to ask the people of Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey — or the people who fall under the purview of these favored nations — about the condition of their freedom.
In Indonesia, torture is commonly used to punish, intimidate, extract confessions or extort money from suspected supporters of independence movements and people involved in land and labor disputes. So freedom-loving was the government of Indonesia in 1975 that it invaded East Timor and — with US provided equipment and Henry Kissinger’s blessing — killed 200,000 people for the crime of demanding independence. When the East Timorese population voted against continued integration with Indonesia in 1999, militia thugs and Indonesian security forces killed an additional 2,000 people. As a reward for slaughtering voters in East Timor, Indonesia was the largest recipient of US foreign aid among East Asian countries in 1998-2002, according to the Congressional Research Service and the Library of Congress.
In South Korea, under the dictates of the National Security Law, students, activists, trade unionists, publishers, and others are arrested and detained for belonging to student or activist groups with left-wing views and ideas. According to Amnesty International, political prisoners are often detained without a warrant, deprived of sleep for several days, questioned throughout the night, threatened and sometimes beaten. At least three criminal suspects are reported to have died in custody between late 1997 and the early months of 1998 as a possible result of ill treatment.
As for Turkey, the Anti-Terror Branch of the Security Directorate of Turkey’s Ministry of the Interior is notorious for torturing and mistreating political detainees and prisoners. “Torture methods are constantly updated and improved to inflict pain but to avoid marks or bruises that can be documented by human rights groups within Turkey or state forensic doctors filling out mandatory detention medical reports,” reports Human Rights Watch. Kurds, which comprise approximately 20% of the Turkish population, suffer immensely. 30,000 Kurds fighting for national self-determination have died at the hands of the Turkish military since 1984. Considering Turkey’s impeccable human rights record, the US has decided to reward the nation with $17.5 million in military aid.
We have the ability to forge a 21st century that lives up to our hopes and not down to our fears. But only if we go about our work with purpose and clarity. Only if we are unwavering in our refusal to live in a world governed by terror and chaos. Only if we are unwilling to ignore growing dangers from aggressive tyrants and deadly technologies.
The US will focus on the “growing dangers” and “deadly technologies” of official enemies — members of a proscribed “axis of evil,” such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, and North Korea (a list that will undoubtedly grow and shrink as new enemies are created and eliminated). The terror of client states will continue to be rewarded with ample foreign aid; meanwhile, in America, the corporate media will conceal or gloss over any uncomfortable facts, such as the daily murder of Palestinians or the 5,000 children who die every month in Iraq as a direct result of US and UN imposed sanctions.
“The goal of conservative rulers around the world, led by those who occupy the seats of power in Washington, is the systematic rollback of democratic gains, public services, and common living standards around the world,” writes Michael Parenti.
Condoleezza Rice’s vision of the 21st century is one of perpetual war, incessant conflict devised to capture the planet’s natural and human wealth for a very small number of people while impoverishing the rest. In the post-Cold War era — now that the US has no rival, no counter balance — the gloves are off and the sky is the limit. Now talk of nuclear war is bandied about as if it were nothing more than another tool for conquest. As the US gears up for the second salvo in this war — against the people of Iraq — fear, loathing, and hatred of the US government and its leaders grows. If anything is certain about the future Bush, Rice, and the chicken hawk neocons have mapped out for us, it is that we can expect more war, more terrorism, more suffering — and maybe, with nuclear weapons — the use of which Dubya put back on the table with his Nuclear Posture Review earlier this year — the end of the planet as we know it.
“We are not hated because we practice democracy, value freedom, or uphold human rights,” Robert Bowman, Vietnam veteran and bishop of the United Catholic Church in Melbourne Beach, Florida, writes. “We are hated because our government denies these things to people in Third World countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism and in the future, nuclear terrorism.”
KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org