By John Stanton
United States was chastised recently by the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) for its reckless tax cutting program which
has contributed greatly to the increased the size of the US
federal deficit. The IMF expects the US budget deficit to
exceed $550 billion over the coming years, a staggering five
percent of America's yearly economic output. According to
Kenneth Rogoff, IMF Economic Counselor, the United States
is on the "biggest external borrowing rampage in the history
of the world with current account deficits projected at five
percent for as far as the eye can see."
With the USA sucking up cash from domestic and world markets
and savings accounts to feed its perpetual war programs, little
room remains for private investors to borrow at reasonable
interest rates. Productivity is set to decline since American
businesses have fired all the employees they can and, subsequently,
have outsourced millions of jobs to foreign countries. To
alleviate the coming disaster, the IMF recommends that the
US reenact the Budget Enforcement Act which would bring back
some sort of fiscal reality to the regime in Washington, DC.
So what gives here? Since when does the IMF lecture the
USA? For that answer, we have to back to the year 2000.
From 2000 to 2003, a mere 36 months, the US federal budget
and state budgets, have collectively gone from budget surplus
to budget deficit. It's far too easy to blame the mentality
of the dotcom era and toss around terms like "overvaluation."
That's the Wall Street version. There's more to it than that.
Since 2000, the current administration has gone out of its
way to downsize and demean government (and its employees)
at every level choosing only to promote and fully fund the
military-industrial complex and intelligence, law enforcement
and homeland security functions. In this administration's
view, every other government function, including social security,
belongs in the private sector where the administration's friends,
family and assorted shady connections can make a profit. To
them, government provides a smoke screen to move money around,
to increase the take.
Each day, Americans learn that "their" government has lied
to them. Fudged unemployment figures, misleading environmental
reports, flimsy and false intelligence, and censored news
are all designed to keep the investors fat and happy and the
facts locked away from the public.
It is a clever system that Saddam Hussein or Benito Mussolini
would recognize and, arguably, could effectively preside over.
Such is the system that America's head cheerleader in charge,
George "The Lip" Bush (moniker given to Bush, the head cheerleader
for Phillips Academy, Andover, full-contact football in the
1960's) now promotes and operates in. It's always worth recalling
that Bush II was inserted into the oval office by the US Supreme
Court in 2000 amidst documented election fraud in the state
of Florida. And it is always worth remembering that Al Gore
(starting center and captain of Saint Albans' full-contact
football team in the 1960's) won the popular vote by 600,000.
Looking backwards, it is clear that the US began its slide
to a third rate power in November of 2000 as its voting mechanisms
are easily corrupted. In 2003, voter fraud in both the electronic
and paper realms continues to bring into question the legitimacy
of some holding office and the very foundations of American
Empty Lives and Crumbling Infrastructure
With the will of the electorate dangerously ignored and
the election stolen, the aborted election of 2000 produced
an illegitimate president whose tortured thinking, mangled
language, false machismo and sideline qualities have guaranteed
that Bush and his followers will live forever in ignominy.
In Bush, millions of discontented and empty Americans - those
who could never make the team or grade and who live vicariously
through myth, cinema, sports and the military, and, not coincidently,
cheer the loudest for conflict - have their day.
They are the ruthless and conniving neo-conservatives and
Chicken Hawks. They are the pitiful people who rename French
Fries to Freedom Fires. They are the lazy Americans who refuse
to take the time to dig for the facts through tools like the
Internet depending instead on the government and big media.
They are the silent and cowardly racists who long to be vocal
about their hatred of minorities and immigrants.
Like a wrecking ball through a building, these people, cheered
on by Bush have destroyed government programs designed to
improve the quality of American life and decrease the suffering
of the poor and unemployed. They have charred the reputation
of all Americans by engaging in war for the flimsiest of rationales
and they have squandered any good will that the USA could
muster internationally by undercutting every treaty and international
governing body. The USA ranks last among industrialized
nations in the provision of non-military foreign assistance
to developing nations as a percentage of Gross National Product.
Then again, if the USA can't take care of itself, what is
the world to expect?
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will come
out with another of its "infrastructure report cards" on September
4, 2003. That report assesses the quality of roads, bridges,
school buildings, water systems, and electrical grids. The
ASCE gave the infrastructure a grade of D+ in 2001 and suggested
that $1.3 trillion was needed to fix things up. Given the
swelling federal and state deficits, tax cuts and uncontrolled
defense spending, it is unlikely that anything more than patchwork
to the nation's infrastructure can be made.
If the following teaser by ASCE is any guide, a D+ may be
the high water mark. "On September 30, the federal Transportation
Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21) will expire, leaving
our nation without a coordinated directive for preserving
and improving our roads, bridges and transit systems. Also
up for federal reauthorization are the Safe Drinking Water
Act and the Clean Water Act. Are we headed for more catastrophes
like the recent blackouts that crippled parts of the Northeast
and Midwest, or are we making progress on raising the grade
of America's infrastructure above a D+?"
The CIA's World Factbook 2003, buttresses the arguments
above indicating that "The war in March/April 2003 between
a US-led coalition and Iraq shifted resources to military
industries and introduced uncertainties about investment and
employment in other sectors of the economy. Long-term problems
include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure,
rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population,
sizable trade deficits, and stagnation of family income in
the lower economic groups."
Given the economic mismanagement of the Bush team and the
cloudy economic outlook for the USA, it comes as no surprise
that corporations have ranked China as the number one place
to do business, or that investors seek the safe havens of
countries that are investing heavily in infrastructure and
US Victories in Afghanistan and Iraq?
The vaunted military and intelligence and federal law enforcement
machinery of the USA failed miserably on September 11, 2001.
On that day while US civilian aircraft commandeered by Saudi
Arabians and Egyptians destroyed New York's World Trade Centers
and a portion of the Pentagon in Virginia, Bush, the commander
in chief, sat mumbling in a classroom in Florida while the
armed forces and federal law enforcement agencies sat idle.
While not "militarily significant", according to the Pentagon,
some 3,000 individuals of all nationalities lost their lives
in an event that was predicted and gamed out by terrorist
experts in the Pentagon and the world over. The Bush Administration's
incompetence led to a tragedy on that day and its arrogance
in the days and months that have followed have brought more
pain and suffering to all Americans and the world's citizens.
On September 12, 2001 in what should have become an unprecedented
civil law enforcement investigation to capture the terrorist
accomplices and bring them to trial by jury instead turned
into planning the subsequent invasion and occupation of both
Afghanistan and Iraq. In both cases victory was declared and
then undeclared. Two years on, the Taliban have retaken control
of large sections of Afghanistan and the rebuilding of that
country promised by the USA has not occurred. In Iraq, the
situation continues to deteriorate as the US suffers casualties
each day at the hands of a growing resistance army that includes
Sunni's and Shia's united in their hatred of Americans. The
US occupying forces are now employing the nefarious secret
police operatives who served Saddam Hussein so well. In an
odd twist, the US did the same in 1945 by employing SS and
Nazi operatives who served Adolf Hitler.
What is one to make of the US military might in these two
instances? Both were conventional technological and organizational
mismatches favoring Americans. The Afghanistan victory came
against an opponent with very little organized military power.
Victory was declared against this netherworld country (despite
Afghanistan's lack of an air force, at one point during the
conflict an American Air Force General said seriously, "We
have achieved air superiority.") but to this day the war goes
on and American soldiers rarely venture out from their heavily
Technically, on September 12, 2001, the Invasion of Iraq
began. No-fly zone mission packages were expanded to aggressively
pursue targets in and out of the no-fly zones. Special operations
crews were inserted behind enemy lines to begin air control
operations and to sabotage Iraq's critical infrastructure
and undercut support for Saddam Hussein. In 2003, the US military
machine rolled over Iraq in thirty days. Victory was declared
in Iraq, yet the war rages on and American soldiers die each
day at the hands of the Iraqi rebels.
So can Bush claim his war record is 2-0 in 2003, as he no
doubt does? Do these "victories" get asterisks that show a
mismatch as occurred in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 in
which the forces of the British led by Lord Kitchener slaughtered
the Sudanese Army (13,000 Sudanese killed, 48 British killed)?
Third World Logic of Leaders Kim Jong Il and George W.
Perhaps nowhere is the third world nature of Bush and his
countrymen and women more evident than in the design of nuclear
weapons policy. The Bush Administration wants to upgrade and
test the next generation of nuclear weapons. Did it have any
meaningful role in the glorious victories over Afghanistan
and Iraq? The answer is, of course, no. The nuclear forces
of the United States, and for that matter most nations, are
for chest pounding for the testosterone addicted. For the
US to let loose its destructive nuclear power would be senseless
if only for the simple reason that foreign markets mean domestic
livelihood. Let one fly, say, to North Korea, and the Chinese,
South Koreans and Japanese are not going to be pleased with
Feeling paranoid like his third world counterpart in North
Korea, Kim Jong II - and demonstrating the same intellectual
capacity - Bush has the US embarking on a nuclear weapons
upgrade and testing program. The Lip is going to build a ballistic
missile defense system, which has failed all tests to date,
to insure that no other nation can successfully deploy its
nuclear weapons against the United States. In this twisted
logic which is official "Bush Doctrine," nuclear weapons that
will never be used by the US for fear of the fallout they
would cause, or that will never be used to attack the US by
other nations possessing them for fear of massive retaliation
by the US, are going to be stopped by a ballistic missile
defense system that will never be used because not only does
it not work, but no one will ever know that because no nation
state will launch a nuclear missile at the USA.
If Americans don't believe they are in a third world country,
they had best think again.
John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in
national security and political matters. He is the author,
along with Wayne Madsen, of America's Nightmare: The Presidency
of George Bush II. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org