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Inside a shadowy banking system that secretly moves trillions of dollars around the world.
With Bushs new nukes, the world gets more dangerous.
The Failure of Brand USA
Why the Bush administration can't sell America abroad.
Learning from Enron
Will Washington ever get it?
Its time to fight the Enronization of the media.
Colombias generals finally have the war they want, but their countrys people pay the price.
Sharons Lessons in Terror
War crimes tribunal for Cambodia proves elusive.
Polluters rewrite the Clean Water Act.
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FILM: What Time Is It There?
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BOOKS: C.L.R. James: A Life.
The Invisible Band
MUSIC: Gorillaz in our midst.
March 15, 2002
Bushs new nukes and far-flung bases take the war into a dangerous new phase.
eorge W. Bush and his administration are more dangerous than anyone could
possibly have imagined before he took office. This is the conclusion correctly
drawn by most of the worlds democracies after the tardy revelations about
the Pentagons Nuclear Posture Reviewsecretly approved in January
but only recently leaked to the Los Angeles Times by frightened congressional
sourceswhich reverses the long-standing unofficial U.S. doctrine of no
first use of nuclear weapons. Its a cause for serious fear,
editorialized Le Monde, while Londons largest-circulation daily,
the Mirror, bannered the headline, Lets Nuke Em All.
The new policy contemplates the use of nuclear weapons in circumstances never
before approved, including the failure of conventional weapons to destroy military
targets, in response to chemical or biological attacks, or in the event
of surprising military developmentsa perilously open-ended definition.
Even if one sets aside the ethical problems posed by the new doctrine, the move
is pure folly that accelerates the dangers of nuclear proliferation.
The doctrine calls for developing a new generation of so-called tactical mini-nukeswhich
would have to be tested, of course, violating nuclear testing bans signed by
the United States. But Bush wouldnt have to wait: The low-yield
B61-11 nuclear bomb, designed to penetrate underground bunkers, is already in
the U.S. arsenal and has been deployed in Europe since 1997. (Of course, mini-nuke
is a highly misleading vocable: Hitting Saddam Husseins presidential bunker
in Baghdad with the B61-11, for example, could cause upwards of 20,000
deaths, according to the Physicians for Social Responsibility.)
At the sub-cabinet level, where real decisions get made and options for political
leaders are skewed one way or another, the Bush administration is crammed with
proponents of the use of tactical nukes. They include: Stephen Hadley, Bushs
deputy national security adviser; Robert Joseph, a member of the National Security
Council; Stephen Cambone, now a senior Pentagon policy planner; and William
Schneider, another Bush defense counselor. These four co-authored a report published
last year by the National Institute for Public Policya conservative think
tank funded in part by the military-industrial conglomeratesdeclaring
that nuclear weapons can ... be used in counterforce attacks that are
intended to neutralize enemy military capabilities.
No less than the head of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Stephen
Youngerresponsible for counter-proliferation programsexpressed
his enthusiasm for small, precision-guided, low-yield nukes in a paper he wrote
last year titled Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century. And Secretary
of State Colin Powell, whose flacks have been assiduously portraying him to
the gullible Washington press corps as dovish, called the Nuclear Posture Review
prudent military planning.
The Bush doctrine has not only changed nuclear weaponry from a tool of deterrence
to just another option for war-fighting. It has extended their threat to non-nuclear
countries (in further violation of U.S. commitments)including, by name,
four Islamic ones. But neither Libya nor Syria have nuke programs. Despite their
best efforts, Western intelligence agencies have been unable to uncover any
credible evidence that Iraq has restarted its deliverable nuke program, effectively
dismantled by U.N. inspectors during the 90s. And Irans nuclear
program is stalled and years away from developing usable weapons. Moreover,
the new doctrine for the first time proposes the use of nukes to defend against
any attack on a roster of U.S. allies, including Israelwhich has its own
substantial nuclear arsenal of at least 300 deliverable warheads. Yet from the
supine Democratic Party leadership, one has heard not a peep of protest against
Bushs new nuclear strategy.
t the same time, in the six months since September 11, the Bush administration
has moved to develop new bases in a wide swath of the world and put U.S. forces
into action in a greater array of countries than at any time since World War
II. Anyone who thinks these new bases will be eliminated once the war
on terrorism is over is dreaming.
Bush has established military baseswhich will have combat aircraft and
at least 3,000 personnelin the countries of oil-rich Central Asia, including
the brutal authoritarian regimes in Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan. In
Georgiawhere Edward Shevardnaze long ago abandoned his image as a democratic
reformer to pursue an authoritarian course built on a cult of personalityBush
has given enough military aid to triple the countrys military budget,
sending in 200 military advisers and dozens of Huey helicopters (which will
be used not simply against supposed al-Qaeda forces, but against recalcitrant
Chechen and Abkhazian minorities). These bases will only stimulate paranoia
in the powerful military establishments in Moscow and Beijing, spurring their
demands for more resources and weaponsespecially in light of the Nuclear
In the Philippineswhere, on the island of Basilan, a Manila-directed
army of more than 7,000 soldiers has been unable to eliminate less than 100
illuminès of the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas because the local population
supports themBush has sent in 660 U.S. troops, 30,000 machine guns and
$100 million in military aid, which works out to more than a million bucks for
The United States has also sent 100 military advisers to Yemen to help in combat
against local tribes, and special forces are going into Sudan to prepare an
attack in Somalia. Add to this our existing bases in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and
Kuwaitas well as our new bases and troop concentrations in Afghanistan
and Pakistan and huge naval patrols in the Red Sea and the Arab Gulfand
its no wonder that the world views Washingtons new forward strategy
as part of an imperial design at the service of U.S.-dominated globalization.
Given all of the above, Bushs declarationgod bless our coalitionwith
the flags of 179 nations as his photo-op background when the White House marked
the six-month anniversary of the September 11 attacks, masks the degree to which
his simplistic, unilateralist policies (as French foreign minister
Hubert Vedrine put it) have spooked the war on terrorism alliance.
That, of course, includes his widely reviled axis of evil speech.
Consider Bushs attempt to rally support for a new war on Iraq. In Europe,
only the fascist-allied Silvio Berlusconi of Italy and arch-conservative Jose
Maria Aznar of Spain unequivocally support it. Tony Blair faces a rare Labor
Party revolt against his solidarity with Bush on Iraqeven within his own
cabinet. And as Dick Cheney emerged from his bunker for a tour of a dozen nations,
including the Middle East, to prepare them for new attacks on Iraq, Jonathan
Freedland in the Guardian summed up the position neatly:
There is none of the Arab support that made the 1990-91 Gulf
War viable. ... The Saudis, nominal joint commanders last time, are begging
America to stay away now. Kuwait will not allow itself to be used as a base
for U.S. troops. Turkey fears any attempt to stir the Kurds against Baghdad
will only energize Turkish Kurds against Ankara. Nor are Shias in southern Iraq
likely to join the American effort: They feel betrayed by Bushs father,
who called on them to revolt, only to abandon them to their fate. Their backers
in Iran are not exactly on side with the Bushies either, not since they were
lumped into the axis of evil.
inally, theres Afghanistan. Declarations of victory over
the Taliban and al-Qaeda were premature, as the offensive against their regrouped
forces in Gardez and Shah-I-Kot in the east made clear. The Pentagons
own numbers tell the story: When the ground campaign began in Afghanistan on
October 7, it estimated opposition forces at 35,000 men; but now it admits it
has yet to account for 20,000 of them. Theyre not in Cuba nor in the caves.
Theyve faded into hospitable Pashtun villages or exfiltrated through the
mountains to Pakistan (not counting those buddies the Pakistani intelligence
services flew out of harms way under the noses of U.S. forces).
The government of Hamid Karzaihand-picked by the CIA as the interim head
of stateis virtually powerless outside Kabul (and his control is shaky
therewitness the recent assassination of one of his ministers). And just
as the Pentagon was declaring the campaign in Gardez nearly over, Karzais
government warned that large numbers of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters
were regrouping across southern Afghanistan in the provinces of Wardak, Ghasni,
Khost and Paktia. Karzai ordered 1,000 troops to these Pashtun areasall
Tajiks loyal to the Northern Alliance (as were the 1,000 soldiers Karzai previously
sent to Gardez with U.S. military approvalprovoking outrage among Pashtun
The nefarious consequences of the war in Afghanistan predicted by those of
us who opposed it have come true. Warlordism has returned in force, ethnic cleansing
of Pashtuns has been reported in the north and east, opium cultivation has aggressively
rebounded. Control of drug crops is one reason for internecine armed combat
among the erstwhile, purchased U.S. allies at the regional level,
as the country spins closer and closer to full-scale civil war.
Americas military campaign continues to kill Afghan civilians. French
commanders in Afghanistan have refused to send their Mirage fighter planes on
many U.S.-requested missions because they feared murky American targeting would
cause even more civilian casualtieslike the March 6 raid in which even
the Pentagon admitted women and children were killed. Food aid is being sidetracked
by local warlords and turned into a racketonly those villages that pay
get food. Malnutrition is stunting the growth and killing untold numbers of
Afghan children. And remember Laura Bushs pleas for support of the war
to help Afghan women? Karzais womens minister, Dr. Sima Samar, complains
that not a single dollar of the aid for womens programs (particularly
education) promised by the United States and Britain has yet materialized.
One could go on, but even from these brief summaries it is clear that the militarization
of the campaign against terrorism has brought with it new dangers and new slaughters
of the innocent. The long war has only heightened global insecurity, not diminished
it. And theres worse to come.