Saturday, November 04, 2006

LETTER TO DEM: Iraq War & business first foreign policy

I got a nice campaign letter from Barbara Ann Radnofsky entitled "No More Iraqs," which was good as far as it went, but failed to get to the heart of the problem. My letter isn't meant as a criticism of her, but as a call for a real re-assessment of the core of our foreign policy that few Democrats seem willing to do (Byron Dorgan and a few others excepted).

Dear Ms. Radnofsky,

Thank you for the email on parallels to Vietnam, but in the case of Iraq, there is an even bigger issue than response to strategic threats, particularly since the Bush administration knowingly exaggerated the threat Iraq would pose to us even if they did have nukes. The issue is how much corporate and financial interests dictate our foreign policy, often to the detriment of the safety of the American people since it incites such resentment in the countries these policies target.

In the case of Iraq, the business interest was oil. Bush cancelled Iraq's oil contracts with Russia, France, and others and gave them to American corporations. Gen. Jay Garner the first guy we sent over to run Iraq said seizing the oil and the radical privatization of their economy would incite an insurgency. He was right, and immediately fired.

Saddam was a bad guy, but this business first approach also trumps democracy when democracy doesn't produce the results business likes. Bush vetoed the Iraqi parliament's first choice for prime minister, and backed a recall and even coup against Hugo Chavez, who has been elected and re-elected by wide majorities with international election monitors watching (in stark contrast to our own presidential elections). Chavez' primary sin seems to be driving a hard bargain with the oil companies and having the audacity to ask for the same royalties on his oil that the US gets on our oil--about 13-16%, and is actually using some of the money to improve the lives of his citizens. Far from suppressing freedom, I heard him take a question from a reporter whose paper's owner backed the coup against him. In the US, a reporter like Helen Thomas who merely says something critical about the president is ignored for years and in the case of Dan Rather, literally run out of his job.

Chavez is likewise popular in the rest of South America because our pro-corporate, pro-banking foreign policy, neoliberalism, has had such brutal effects there.

I like capitalism. I think I have better tennis shoes and computers because of it. But our foreign policy is not merely promoting capitalism, but giving a structural advantage to a few at the expense of the rest of the world and the average American.

If we stopped invading countries that elected leaders who stand up for their people, and stopped writing trade agreements that make the poor poorer, and create a race to the bottom for the lowest wages which is sucking American jobs out of the country, wages here would stabilize because they would be doing the same elsewhere. If we allowed people to choose their own government (without our troops guns in their faces or expectation of a military coup if they make the "wrong" choice) and run their own economies, they will be less likely to become terrorists who want to fly planes into our buildings.

The past few years it has become painfully clear that even our own democracy takes a back seat when oil companies see a prize like Iraq's trillions of dollars worth of oil. If the true goal of ensuring the profits from that oil went to American corporations were presented honestly to the American people, stripped of any talk of WMD, terrorist boogey men, spreading democracy, or even the less embarrassing lie that we need to invade to get access to the oil (which can be done far more cheaply through negotiating contracts as China and other countries are doing) few Americans would support the war apart from major shareholders in oil companies.

If the Democrats take over Congress, it would be nice if they changed things so the worst criticisms of our foreign policy are no longer true.

Links to sources on Iraq's oil & neoliberalism:

public relations


colorado bob said...

Good one Prof. I'd like to reprint that one on my usual Sunday Screen Shot tomorrow. If you don't mind.

I had a pretty good idea just now, How about a dummy notice from the " First Federal Bank of Political Capitail " . Notifying Bush that his Political capitail funds are seriously overdrawn.

Fees and Charges
Amount he's overdrawn

It would make a good item for Wed. morning if this election breaks the way it seems to be going.

colorado bob said...

here's a good one :


colorado bob said...

I found a good spot for those hands ;