• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

State of the Union and the New Cold War

Any who doubted the characterization of the war on terrorism as a new Cold War had only to listen to the State of the Union address, Bush’s most depressing speech since he launched his unlimited war with his address to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001.

The following points, all stunningly reminiscent of the 1950’s and early 1960’s, are easily discerned from the text of the speech:

We are once again a beacon of civilization, on a higher moral plane than others, opposing absolute evil — not only did Bush refer twice to the “civilized world,” meaning us and our close allies, we also learn that Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, along with their “terrorist allies” constitute an “axis of evil.” In a stunning display of hypocrisy, Bush even indicted Iraq for attempting to weaponize anthrax, something the United States has been doing itself. Although couched in universalist terms — “the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, private property, free speech, equal justice and religious tolerance” — this renewed, over cultural supremacism is no less odious than that of the supposedly bygone colonial era.

We assert as forcefully as we did in the days of fighting the “international Communist conspiracy,” that the war on terrorism allows us to intervene wherever we like, if we so choose — “some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake: If they do not act, America will.” Once again, any development anywhere is a threat to our national security, and “all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation’s security.”

We need permanently higher military budgets in order to “defend” ourselves (with useless and expensive high-tech programs like missile defense and the joint-strike fighter, not with ways to defend against realistic terrorist attacks) — “My budget includes the largest increase in defense spending in two decades, because while the price of freedom and security is high, it is never too high: whatever it costs to defend our country, we will pay it.” Bush’s proposed new military budget is $379 billion, an increase of $48 billion over the already unexpectedly high 2001 budget — the increase alone is larger than any other nation’s military budget.

We are once again beset by internal enemies — “And as government works to better secure our homeland, America will continue to depend on the eyes and ears of alert citizens.” This is not yet at the level of the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings and pamphlets on how to tell if your neighbor is a communist that characterized the 1950’s, but it is a significant step closer.

Our “economic security” is essential to our national security, so disagreements on economic policy and on how high corporate profit should be must be submerged to an artificial national unity. Congress must pass an energy policy that involves more drilling for oil in the United States, must give the president Trade Promotion Authority (popularly known as fast-track) in concluding “free trade” agreements, and must make the Bush tax cut permanent — all in the name of security.

We are called once again to sacrifice for a very particularly conceived “national good” — “My call tonight is for every American to commit at least two years 4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime to the service of your neighbors and your nation.” The newly created USA Freedom Corps needs volunteers to help preserve our “homeland security.” The call for citizens to do some form of public service, in itself, is not a bad thing, but the choice to ask them to prepare for possible terrorist attacks instead of trying to provide education, housing, and social services to people who need them is about attempting to mobilize the time and energy of the people in the service of the existing power structure and about co-opting other kinds of popular mobilization.

In sum, the war on terrorism will involve more frequent military interventions, with less of an attempt to placate international sensibilities, and with the constant excuse of protecting American security. It will involve more overt appeals to Western cultural supremacy, although couched in universalist terms. It will involve more arms proliferation and a growth of military spending, and a lessening of democracy in this country, both in terms of the public’s ability to affect decisions and in terms of individual freedom to dissent from the course advocated by dominant institutions.

If this were the whole story, it would be a very depressing one. But excess inevitably produces a reaction and empires sooner or later overreach themselves.

This country has already seen an antiwar movement spring up with unprecedented speed, in the aftermath of September 11. Twin upcoming events, the planned protests at the World Economic Forum in New York, and the gathering of an estimated 50,000 people at the “alternative” World Social Forum (in its second year already far larger than the WEF) will signify the depth and breadth of resistance to the renewed projects of American imperial domination and domestic social control articulated in Bush’s speech.

If the power fantasies of the Bush administration are met with renewed and increased popular mobilization, the frightening world envisioned in the State of the Union address may not come to pass.

Rahul Mahajan serves on the National Boards of Peace Action and the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, and is a member of the Nowar Collective. He is the author of the forthcoming The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism, out in March from Monthly Review Press. He can be reached at rahul@tao.ca

More articles by:
June 03, 2020
Anthony DiMaggio
Revolution, Not Riots: Prospects for Radical Transformation in the Covid-19 Era
Jennifer Loewenstein
From Mississippi to Minneapolis: Leaving the ‘Abyss of Despair’
Kenneth Surin
The UK Compared With Other Countries on the Pandemic
Paul Street
“Total Domination”: Popular Rebellion in the Shadow of Trumpism-Fascism
Kenn Orphan
The Sadism of American Power
John Pilger
The Coup Against ‘The Most Loyal Ally’
Eric Murphy
The Police Are The Out-Of-Towners Provoking Violence
Melvin Goodman
How the Washington Post Accommodates Disinformation
Rev. William Alberts
It’s the Worshippers Who Are “Essential”
Georgina Downs
No, the Public Fury Will Not “Move On” Prime Minister!
George V. Wright
It is Happening Here
M. G. Piety
Tales from the Dark Side of Customer Service, or “Christians” Giving Christians a Bad Name
Chandra Muzaffar
A Superpower in Chaos
Thomas Knapp
Time to Stop Messing Around and Strike at the Root of Police Violence
Thomas M. Hanna
The Oligopoly That Controls Our Digital Infrastructure Has Deepened Economic and Racial Divides
Andrew Stewart
The Ethics of Police Murder Video Exhibition: Democratizing The News Feed, Re-Traumatizing The Survivors, Or Both?
Binoy Kampmark
Death, Protest and George Floyd
David Rovics
Who’s Trashing Downtown Every Night and Why?
Harvey Wasserman
Trump Is No Accident
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Biden and the Common Sense Voter
Timothy Ingalsbee
Ecosystems, Logging and the Definition of Insanity
Elliot Sperber
The Birds of Brooklyn
June 02, 2020
Zoltan Grossman
Deploying Federal Troops in a War at Home Would Make a Bad Situation Worse
Nicholas Buccola
Amy Cooper is Christian Cooper’s Lost, Younger Sister 
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming is Nuclear War
Patrick Cockburn
An Unavoidable Recognition of Failure: Trump’s Withdrawal From Afghanistan
John Feffer
Is It Time to Boycott the USA?
Kathy Kelly
Beating Swords to Plowshares
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Urban Riots Revisited
Sam Pizzigati
“Failed State” Status Here We Come
Ron Jacobs
In Defense of Antifa
Cesar Chelala
Bolsonaro and Trump: Separated at Birth
George Wuerthner
The BLM’s License to Destroy Sagebrush Ecosystems
Danny Antonelli
The Absurdity of Hope
Binoy Kampmark
Sinister Flatulence: Trump Versus Twitter
John Stanton
How Much Violence and Destruction is Enough for Depraved American Leaders and Their Subjects?
Richard C. Gross
The Enemy Within
Thomas Knapp
Trump’s “Free Speech:” Doctrine: Never, Ever, Ever Mention He’s a Liar
John W. Whitehead
This Is Not a Revolution. It’s a Blueprint for Locking Down the Nation
June 01, 2020
Joshua Frank
It’s a Class War Now Too
Richard D. Wolff
Why the Neoliberal Agenda is a Failure at Fighting Coronavirus
Henry Giroux
Racial Domestic Terrorism and the Legacy of State Violence
Ron Jacobs
The Second Longest War in the United States
Kanishka Chowdhury
The Return of the “Outside Agitator”
Lee Hall
“You Loot; We Shoot”
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail