Shortly after the
USA invaded Iraq, Nelson Mandela went to the News Media and declared
station: "The United States has emerged to become the
most dangerous country on earth." A
recent poll reveals 32 per cent of Australians are "very
worried" about US foreign policy. Here's why:
1. Nuclear Revivalism.
By expanding its stockpile of nuclear weapons and the ways it
can deliver warheads, the US is re-charging the arms race.
Having unexpectedly refused to ratify the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty in 1999, the US is poised to
resume nuclear testing. In 2002, George Bush dumped the long
standing Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia and revived
the Reagan era nuclear program of national missile defense,
also known as "star wars".
2. Nuclear Treaty
Violations. The 1968 Non Proliferation
Treaty provides that states without nuclear weapons must
not acquire them and those that do must progressively reduce stocks.
The US has flouted this provision, while trying to stop other
nations from acquiring their own weapons. In addition, it is
cranking out a new generation of nuclear warheads.
3. Nuclear Brinkmanship.
In 1994, the US reached an agreement with North Korea (the
Framework Arrangements) to provide parts and technical help for
the country's nuclear power plants, which it failed to honor.
This breach - plus the nomination of North
Korea as an agent of evil - has propelled Pyongyang into strategy
of nuclear brinkmanship. "We will continue to expand
our atomic forces", it announced in April, for as long as
the US "tries to isolate and suffocate" Korea. Meanwhile,
the Asian doomsday clock keeps ticking. India, Pakistan and China
possess the bomb, Iran is accused of seeking one of its own, and
Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are presumed to share the same intentions.
4. The militarization
of outer space, the "fourth dimension of warfare".
According to documents on its websites, US Air Force Space Command
is developing nuclear warheads and versatile spacecraft that can
strike any target on earth within minutes. The
aim is to create an instantaneous global strike force, a range
of exotic new weapons and achieve "full spectrum combat dominance"
in space. This includes nuclear capability. While the USA
maintains it is doing this to protect in interests in space, it
does not want other nations to do likewise to protect themselves
from a possible US pre-emptive strike! When
US government and military officials speak of the "defense
of American interests," they do not mean the "security
and welfare of the American people," but merely the financial
interests of U.S. big corporations that turned struggles
and wars into the biggest business enterprise in the history of
the entire human race.
international laws, treaties and conventions, including those
it has ratified. A senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, Ivo
Dalder, puts it in a nutshell: "America
will use international institutions and abide by international
laws, when they advance its great mission. But it will abandon
institutions and ignore international laws when they constrain
its freedom to act unilaterally". (SMH April 9/05).
Isn't this the modus operandi of a professional criminal? The
US is currently in flagrant breach of the Geneva Conventions and
key articles of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (especially
Article 5: No one shall be subject to torture or to cruel or inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment).
6. Institutionalized cruelty. The brutality of today's
US military is compounded by its culture of implausible denial.
On April 15/04, as the Abu Ghraib revelations were starting to
surface, the then US Assistant Secretary of State, Richard Armitage,
told a Washington press conference: "We are the most humane
military in the world. We punish our people when they exceed bounds,
and we do it transparently. We regret every single civilian life
which is lost" This is odd, seeing
there had been numerous confirmed reports of families slaughtered
at check points, bombed at outdoor markets and exterminated at
wedding parties (in both Iraq and Afghanistan). Even today,
three years after the US invasion, Iraqi children are dying limbless
in hospitals without aspirin. Civilians are still being beaten
and shot, even at prayer.
7. A Serial War
Criminal. All cultures are shaped by their past, few more
so than the US military. In the Second World War, three months
after the defeat of the German army in May 1945, Europe was at
peace and Japan was on the verge of surrender. At this time, on
August 6, US President Harry Truman announced that an "American
airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese
Army base", though he was well aware the target was a city
of 400,000 inhabitants. Despite Truman's pledge that the
US wanted to "avoid, as much as possible, the killing of
civilians", the world's first Atomic bomb was detonated without
warning 600 meters above the Shima hospital in the center of the
city during morning rush hour. Between a quarter and a half of
its people were instantly incinerated, and over a 1,000 had agonizing
8. The infliction of childhood deformities. The US Military
continues to use depleted uranium (DU), both to armor its tanks
and strengthen its shells, despite its well documented medical
consequences. The soaring cancer, leukemia
and malignancy rates that followed the first Gulf War have been
linked to the use of DU, and the weapon's trail of radioactive
dust can enter the food chain through the soil and the water table.
Exposure to DU can cause kidney damage, cancers of lung
and bone, neurocognitve disorders, chromosone damage and birth
defects. (See The New Nuclear Danger, Helen Caldacot, 2002). During
the second siege of Falluja, DU shells were used to blast through
the dwellings of civilians. This is military immorality at work.
9. The disinformation
industry with a global reach. This all started years ago as
an acceptable, almost charming, culture of exaggeration in advertising,
tabloid journalism, PR, the movies, etc, and has since blossomed
into a full blown mindscape of institutional distortion. So
now the norm of civilized life in the 21st Century is to navigate
spin, lies, illusions, propaganda, "non core promises"
and "plausible denials". Soon after the twin
towers collapsed, another sound could be heard across the US;
the mass media barons closing their minds. A typical outcome is
the recent poll showing 57 per cent of Americans still think Iraq
had weapons of mass destruction before the start of the war, while
6 in 10 say they still believe Iraq provided support to al-Qaida.
10. Eating the planet. America continues to act in its
own self interest, regardless of the interest of the world as
a whole. While this may have been okay 50
years ago, it is now the ethical equivalent of piracy. How
can a country so innovative in its use of technology, become so
stuck in the Darwinian swamp, when it comes lightening its earthly
footprint? A landmark study backed by 1,360 scientists from 95
countries, has recently warned that almost two-thirds of the natural
systems that support life are "seriously degraded".
The consequence, according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Report, are imminent abrupt changes that will harm humans, including
the emergence of new diseases, sudden changes in water quality,
of "dead zones" along the coasts, the collapse of fisheries,
and shifts in regional climate.
3 REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
1. The flair and persistence of domestic dissent. Despite
its anemic trickle into the mainstream, free speech is alive and
frothing in a myriad of tributaries. On the net, in thoughtful
glossies, at concerts, in cafes, in Flash art, at public meetings,
at poetry slams, in small town newspapers, even on military blogs,
in docos, in ginger-group emails & on alternative radio and
TV, such as the above mentioned Democracy
Now. Today's alternative media thrive on foreign news sources,
which offer a counterpoint to the head-in-the-sand corporate staples
and, perhaps for the first time in decades, reveal the sad standing
in which the US Government is widely held. The blogs reap the
reward of mainstream mendacity. From the first thud of the war
drums, radical bloggers ridiculed the official reasons for invading
Iraq and the manipulation of public hysteria. Long
before Colin Powell addressed the UN with his bogus charts and
anthrax props, such claims had been discredited.
2. The revival of Protest Music. This
had completely passed me by, until a tip-off from extreme blogger,
Kaminski. Much of it is inspiring, embracing many genres,
and every bit as revolutionary as the soundtrack of the years
spanning the Civil Rights movement and the counter culture. The
daughters of George Bush have reportedly presented their dad with
an I-Pod. Here are suggestions for his playlist (all available
online, if you know where to look): Falluja,
by David Rovics; What Would You Do,
Sonic Jihad; Know Your Enemy,
Dead Prez; It's a Rich Man's War,
Steve Earle; To Kill the Child,
Roger Waters; We Can't Make it Here;
James McMurtry; Self Evident,
Ani Di Franco; Bomb the World,
Michael Franti, who sums it all up: "We can bomb the world
to pieces, but we can't bomb it into peace."
3. The growing legion of truth seekers. These
are the freedom fighters of the information age, the foot soldiers
of the NGO's, the anonymous cyber-mice who ferret out and post
"lost" Government documents, as well as the few remaining
investigative journalists who put truth telling before flag waving,
as well as - yes! - conspiracy theorists, maligned by coincidence
theorists and others partial to official sources. While some "alternative"
scenarios put forward to account for 9/11 seem delusional, that
doesn't vindicate the version insisted upon by the White House,
or its hand picked commission, where George Bush & Dick Cheney
were allowed to testify in secret, together and not under oath.
The Bush administration received 'dozens of urgent, credible warnings
that the attacks were coming', including a Presidential Daily
Briefing of Aug. 6, 2001, entitled "Bin Laden Determined
to Strike in U.S" , reporting "patterns of suspicious
activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings."
Nothing was done. Even today, it is still not known who really
hijacked the planes. For more on this, and numerous other anomalies,
you may profit from a sceptical tour of the waterfront with Steven
T. Jones in the March 05 San Francisco Bay Guardian.
You might even agree that 9/11's most bizarre
conspiracy theory of all is the one put forward by the White House.
Anyway, thank God for free speech, even in its diminished version,
which is all that's left between us and Orwell's 1984. According
to a recent US poll, almost 50% of New York City residents believe
"some U.S. officials knew in advance that attacks were planned
on or around 9/11/01 and that they consciously failed to act",
which brings to mind the Reichstag fire. In the event, we may
never know who struck the first match, but the whole world will
go on feeling the heat for years to come.