Tuesday, October 26, 2010

'The Paralyzing Influence of Imperialism'

In 2003, an event concluded a process just over a century old. When the first weapons of Shock and Awe fell on Baghdad, a new age and a new definition of the United States of America and the political theory that governs it as a nation truly descended. History is now compelled to record the new, and for America, revolutionary definition in its annals. No matter his decree, his desire, or his delusions, this single event and the severely drastic and indeed revolutionary change it has caused, will forever remain the legacy of the forty-third President of the United States of America. Simply stated: our Republic is dead and an Imperial America has risen.

Having been born in one of the oldest cities in New Jersey, with a childhood fascination with the colonial-era, the American Revolution, and its Civil War, the death of the Republic has caused me to mourn. In spite of its cultural and societal flaws, the fact that all of my ancestors were arbitrarily relegated to its lowest tier, and all its imperfections, I loved the Republic. I loved what it was supposed to be and the extremely arduous efforts undertaken by Americans to make it practically so. And yet regardless of my love and that of millions of others, death came to it. I suppose that it is within the natural order of things, that like men, nations cannot escape the inevitability that all things must end. However, that which cannot be denied and is equally true is that within the confines of democratic-republic, a nation only perishes due to the neglect of duty and the absence of vigilance by its citizens.

So many excuses have been offered about the busy lives of The People, cluttered with work, family, and other time constraints thereby making them unable to engage in the work necessary for self-government. Millions of others have simply lost all faith in government and though government is culpable in its lack of providing adequate education, necessary basic resources to those most in need, We, The People-the individual citizen-are to blame that fewer and fewer take the time to vote or to gather the information in order to make informed decisions in electing officials or in the judgment of policy. In recent years, too great a majority of The People, even the educated, have followed the Cult of Punditry and Personality-a select group of individuals-the celebrity actor, singer, band, artist, comedian, and sometimes prominent journalist-it would seem The People accept being told how, and what, and why to think about any given issue or on the contrary, to ignore it completely. Alternatively, and more accurately describing the proponents of the Conservative movement, an individual is selected from among The People in order to utilize a particular group’s ethnic/cultural sentiments of morality to engender and steer the thinking about what issues are important; how issues should be viewed; and who should be elected. Democrat and Republican, conservative and liberal; the great majority of political parties are more concerned with their individual self-interest, accumulating personal fortunes, political legacies, and ruling for the benefit of the few instead of governing for the benefit of the many. Each Party can claim to be moral, just, or correct in regards to the other. With very few exceptions, almost no elected official in the Federal Government, and one would imagine within State governments, can truly be viewed as men and women of conviction and honor. The large majority of our elected officials are the most veracious hypocrites who speak of freedom and liberty, while enacting legislation that makes slaves of their fellow citizens. As God, The Most High, The Most Exalted as my Witness, the vast majority of Americans, including our elected officials themselves, are beholden to masters who control capital, the means of production, and communication. In the early years of the Republic, there was a natural meritocracy that existed, though almost exclusively for white men, but that is not our point here. For the enterprising, the courageous, and the bold who were truly starved for freedom from European monarchs and aristocrats, America provided an opportunity to improve their station in life. So starved were these people for freedom, that theft and murder became virtues. Myths were created that dehumanized their adversaries, thereby making it easier to kill or enslave, while simultaneously elevating the Anglo-Celtic to positions of supposed natural superiority based on culture, language, and religion. For the early American, God had created them to rule and to instruct all others in the method of proper civilization. This myth, which endures today, became The Founding Principle of American Cultural Heritage, laid the foundation, and determined drive towards hegemonic, imperialistic goals. While much of that which was codified in law contradicts it, The Founding Principle of American Cultural Heritage was unique in that it did not require drafting or the need to be spoken. It was manifested in the notions of morality-of right and wrong. After the last hostile Native was forced onto the reservation; after the slave was free to remain unequal; after slavery itself would be defined by wages, and not necessarily skin complexion and bloodlines: a class of individuals began to acquire such immense wealth and political power, thereby becoming masters of People and Government.

While it is true that there have always been wealthy people and families in America with easier access to power, never before did wealth so easily translate into control over the institutions of power as it did at the aftermath of the American Civil War. When the Confederacy had been vanquished, so too had the best remnants of the agrarian, Jeffersonian-Jacksonian theory of American society. The plantation class, either dead or bankrupt, and deprived of their slaves meant that control of capital and the means of production was now to be concentrated in the banks, markets, and families of the North-eastern section of the United States of America. In the antebellum America, there were only a few American corporations. Yet, Kevin Phillips states in his Wealth and Democracy, that with the first shots fired at Fort Sumter, nearly a hundred corporations would be formed and made very profitable prior to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, and the symbiotic relationship of the War Powers of Government and American Business was born. In order to secure start-up capital from a financial institution during the Civil War, an individual or group would first need to obtain a government contract from the War Department to arm, feed, or clothe the soldiers in the Grand Army of the Republic. Once the contract was obtained, the corporation was formed, and received a loan from a bank for the construction of factories that would produce large quantities of goods with the utmost regard for cost effectiveness. If not the birth, then certainly the maturation of the American Industrial Revolution coincided with the Civil War. At the war’s conclusion and the mechanisms of industry in place, products were marketed to the American public, in particular, those who lived and worked in cities, which grew more crowded, larger, and were havens for the millions of newly arrived immigrants who provided cheap labor. These socio-economic realities, the Founding Principle of American Cultural Heritage, the symbiotic relationship between the War Powers of Government and American Industry were the catalyst of American Imperialism. Cleavaged with the Imperialism, the principles of the Republic continued to thrive in a very practical sense. The ideals and principles under which it stood were being encroached upon and this fact did not go unnoticed.

Prominent men and elected officials who truly believed in their duty as citizens were compelled, perhaps for the first time in the nation’s history, to defend the Republic on the basis of the very theory of its politics. These individuals, and the millions of citizens that rallied at their call, knew of the violent determinism of American Cultural Heritage. They had seen the awesome economic power of American industrialization, the corporations, and the financial markets. They’d witness the rise of a particular group of their fellow citizens who, simply based on their wealth, the access it allowed to political power, and the control it granted over political institutions truly made them first among equals; a kind of untitled nobility or American Aristocracy. In 1898, these citizens realized that their nation was mobilizing for an unprecedented military engagement and spoke of the affects it would bring to the validity, claims, and principles of American Political Theory in the practical reality of their time. Their collective voice has echoed for decades, yet has been ignored, or worst, simply forgotten. With the conclusion of the Spanish-American War, the concept of what we now term National Security had so drastically been altered than previously perceived by men of law and politics. The United States of America had engaged in its first military conflict to seize land-colonial land-from another world power. For our purposes, it is of the utmost importance to highlight that it was not merely the land or its conquest for American Pride that was at stake, but rather the geo-political position of said land and its relation to global commercial markets. Carl Schurz, a U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Interior in the Hayes Administration explained it so provocatively at the Twenty-Seventh Convocation of the University of Chicago on January 4, 1899. He said:

The University of Chicago has done me an honor for which I am profoundly grateful. I can prove that gratitude in no better way than by uttering with entire frankness my honest convictions on the great subject…a subject fraught with more momentous consequence than ever submitted to the judgment of the American people since the foundation of our constitutional government. It is proposed to embark this republic in a course of imperialistic policy permanently annexing to it certain islands taken, or partly taken, from Spain in the late war…If ever, it behooves the American people to think and act with calm deliberation, for the character and future of the republic and the welfare of its people now living and yet to be born are in unprecedented jeopardy. To form a candid judgment of what this republic has been, what it may become, and what it ought to be, let us first recall to our minds its condition before the recent Spanish War. Our government was, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘the government of the people, by the people, and for the people’. It was the noblest ambition of all true Americans to carry this democratic government to the highest degree of perfection and justice, in probity, in assured peace, in the security of human rights, in progressive civilization, to solve the problem of popular self-government on the grandest scale, and thus make this republic the example and guiding star of mankind…indeed, we were not without difficulties and embarrassments, but only one of them, the race antagonisms between the negroes and the whites, especially where the negroes live in mass, presents a problem which so far has baffled all efforts at practical solution in harmony with the spirit of our population, wealth, power, and civilization, and incalculable richness of the resources of our country, capable of harboring three times our present population, and of immeasurable further material development. Our commerce with the world abroad, although we had colonies, and but a small navy, spread unprecedented rapidity, capturing one foreign market after another, not only for the products of our farms, but also for many of those of our manufacturing industries, with prospect of indefinite extension. Peace reigned within our borders, and there was not the faintest shadow of danger of foreign attack…We look down the pitying sympathy on other nations which submissively groaned under the burden of constantly increasing armaments, and we praised our good fortune for having saved us from so wretched a fate…then came the Spanish War…According to the solemn proclamation of our government, the war had been undertaken solely for the purpose of liberation of Cuba, as a war of humanity and not of conquest. But our easy victories had out conquest within our reach, and when are ours arms occupied foreign territory, a loud demand arose, that pledge or no pledge to the contrary, the conquests should be kept, even the Philippines on the other side of the globe, and that as to Cuba herself, independence would be a provisional formality…Thus we observe now that business men with plenty of means are casting their eyes upon our ‘new possessions’ to establish mercantile houses there, or manufactories to be worked with native labor; and moneyed syndicates and ‘improvement companies’ to exploit the resources of those countries, and speculators and promoters to take advantage of what may turn up-the franchise grabber, as reported, is already there-many having perfectly legitimate ends in view, others ends not so legitimate, and all expecting to be more or less favored by the power of our government; in short, the capitalist is thinking of going there, or to send his agents, his enterprises in most cases to be directed from these more congenial shores…if we are true believers in democratic government, it is our duty to move in the direction towards full realization of that principle and not in the direction away from it. If you tell me that we cannot govern the people of those new possessions in accordance with that principle, then I answer that this is a good reason why this democracy should not attempt to govern them at all. If we do, we shall transform the government of the people, for the people, and by the people, for which Abraham Lincoln lived, into a government of one part of the people, the strong, over another part, the weak. Such an abandonment of a fundamental as a permanent policy may at first seem to bear only upon more or less dependencies, but it can hardly fail in its ultimate effects to disturb the rule of the same principle in the conduct of democratic government at home. And I warn the American people that a democracy cannot so deny its faith as to the vital conditions of its being-it cannot long play the king over subject populations without creating itself ways of thinking and habits of action most dangerous to its own vitality-most dangerous to those classes of society which are the least powerful in the assertion, and the most helpless in the defense of their rights. Let the poor and the men who earn their bread by the labor of their hands pause and consider well before they give their assent to a policy so deliberately forgetful of the equality of rights.

In another example, William Jennings Bryan, a Congressman, three-time Democratic candidate for the Presidency, Secretary of State in the Wilson Administration, concurred with Schurz’s conclusions. Speaking at the 1900 Democratic National Convention, Bryan delivered The Paralyzing Influence of Imperialism:

If it is right for the United States to hold the Philippine Islands permanently and imitate European empires in the government of colonies, the Republican Party ought to state its position and defend it, but it must expect the subject races to protest against such a policy and to resist it to the extent of their ability…someone has said that a truth spoken can never be recalled. It goes on and on, and no one can set a limit to its ever widening influence. But if it were possible to obliterate every word written or spoken in defense of the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence, a war of conquest would still leave its legacy of perpetual hatred, for it was God Himself who placed in every human heart the love of liberty. He never made a race of people so low in the scale of civilization or intelligence that it would welcome a foreign master. Those who would have this nation enter upon a career of empire must consider not only the effect of imperialism on the Filipinos but they must also calculate the effects upon our own nation. We cannot repudiate the principle of self-government in the Philippines without weakening the principle here. Lincoln said that the safety of this nation was not in its fleets, its armies, its forts, but in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere, and he warned his countrymen that they could not destroy this spirit without planting seeds of despotism at their own doors. Even now we are beginning to see the paralyzing influence of imperialism…A colonial policy means that we shall send to the Philippine Islands a few traders, a few taskmasters, a few officeholders, and an army large enough to support the authority of a small fraction of the people while they rule the natives. If we have an imperial policy, we must have a great standing as its natural and necessary complement. The spirit which will justify the forcible annexation of the Philippine Islands will justify the seizure of other islands and the domination of other people, and with wars of conquest we can expect a certain, if not rapid, growth of our military establishment…A large standing army is not only a pecuniary burden to the people and, if accompanied by compulsory service, a constant source of irritation but it is even a menace to a republican form of government. The army is the personification of force, and militarism will inevitably change the ideals of the people and turn the thoughts of young men from the arts of peace to the science of war. The government which relies for its defense upon its citizens is more likely to be just than one which has at call a large body of professional soldiers. A small standing army and a well-equipped and well-disciplined state militia are sufficient at ordinary times, and in an emergency the nation should in the future as in the past place its dependence upon the volunteers who come from all occupations at their country’s call and return to productive labor when their services are no longer required-men who fight when the country needs fighters and work when the country needs workers…The principal arguments, however, advanced by those who enter upon a defense of imperialism are: First, that we must improve the present opportunity to become a world power and enter into international politics; Second, that our commercial interests in the Philippine Islands and in the Orient make it necessary for us to hold the islands permanently; Third, that the spread of the Christian religion will be facilitated by a colonial policy; Fourth, that there is no honorable retreat from the position which the nation has taken. The first argument is addressed to the nation’s pride and the second to the nation’s pocketbook. The third is intended for the church member and the fourth for the partisan…The growth of the principle of self-government, planted on American soil, has been the overshadowing political fact of the 19th century. It has made this nation conspicuous among the nations and given it a place in history, such as no other nation has ever enjoyed. Nothing has been able to check the onward march of this idea. I am not willing that this nation shall cast aside the omnipotent weapon of truth to seize again the weapons of physical warfare. I would not exchange the glory of all empires that have risen and fallen since time began. The permanent chairman of the last Republican National Convention presented a pecuniary argument in all its baldness when he said: ‘We make no hypocritical pretense of being interested in the Philippines solely on the account of others. While we regard the welfare of those people as a sacred trust, we regard the welfare of the American people first. We see our duty to ourselves as well as to others. We believe in trade expansion. By every legitimate means within the province of government and constitution we mean to stimulate the expansion of our trade and open markets.’ This is the commercial argument. It is based upon theory that war can be rightly waged for pecuniary advantage and that it is profitable to purchase trade by force and violence. [Benjamin] Franklin denied both of these propositions. When Lord Howe asserted that the acts of Parliament which brought on the Revolution were necessary to prevent American trade from passing into foreign channels, Franklin replied: ‘To me it seems that neither the obtaining nor retaining of any trade, howsoever valuable, is an object for which men may justly spill each other’s blood; that the true and sure means of extending and securing commerce are the goodness and cheapness of commodities, and that the profits of no trade can ever equal to the expense of compelling it and holding it by fleets and armies. I consider this war against us, therefore, as both unjust and unwise’. I place the philosophy of Franklin against the sordid doctrine of those who would put a price upon the head of an American soldier and justify a war of conquest upon the ground that it will pay…It is not necessary to own people in order to trade with them…Trade cannot be permanently profitable unless it is voluntary. When trade is secured by force, the cost of securing it and retaining it must be taken out of profits, and the profits are never large enough to cover the expense. Such a system would never be defended but for the fact that the expense is borne by all while, the profits are enjoyed by the few. Imperialism would be profitable to the Army contractors; it would be profitable to the ship-owners, who would carry live soldiers to the Philippines and bring dead soldiers back; it would be profitable to those who would seize upon the franchises, and it would be profitable to the officials whose salaries would be fired here and paid over there; but to the farmer, to the laboring man will be the first to suffer if Oriental subjects seek work in the United States; the first to suffer if American capital leaves our shores to employ Oriental labor in the Philippines to supply trade of China and Japan; the first to suffer from the violence which the military spirit arouses, and the first to suffer when the methods of imperialism are applied to our government. It is not strange, therefore, that the labor organizations have been quick to note the approach of these dangers and prompt to protest against militarism and imperialism. The pecuniary argument, though more effective with certain classes, is not likely to be used so often or presented with so much enthusiasm as the religious argument…The religious argument varies in positiveness from a passive belief that Providence delivered the Filipinos into our hands for their good and the glory to the exultation of the minister who said that we ought to ‘thrash the natives until they understand who we are’, and that ‘every bullet sent, every cannon shot, and every flag waved mean righteousness’. We cannot approve of this doctrine in one place unless we are willing to apply it everywhere. If there is poison in the blood of that hand, it will ultimately reach the heart. It is equally true that forcible Christianity, if planted under the American flag in the far-away Orient, will sooner or later be transplanted upon American soil…When our opponents are unable to defend their position by argument, they fall back upon the assertion that it is destiny and insist that we must submit to it no matter how much it violates our moral precepts and our principles of government. This is a complacent philosophy. It obliterates the distinction between right and wrong and makes individuals and nations helpless victims of circumstances. Destiny is the subterfuge of the invertebrate, who lacking the courage to oppose error, seeks some plausible excuse for supporting it. Washington said that the destiny of the republican form of government was deeply, if not finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the American people.

The foundation of the Imperial America, though cleavaged with the Republic, was formally constructed with the first shots fired in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines; moreover, those in positions of power were well aware of that which they were embarking. The Republic remained due only to the millions of its citizens who still believed in its spirit and honored the hundreds of thousands of their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and countrymen who lay dead in graves in Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg. The warnings of Schurz and Bryan reflected the ideals that were still very much alive and robust in the hearts of the vast majority of ordinary Americans at that time. While the First World War only increased the lands and dominion of Great Britain and France, it also solidified an alliance with the aforementioned nations with the United States, thereby thrusting the American Republic into the forefront of international affairs. Wilson’s vision of the League of Nations, the edifice on which the United Nations would later rest; the birth of a new nation that would prove to be a great adversary to the United States; the financial center of the Western world shifting from London to New York: all followed the horror of World War I. The Second World War would prove to the event that mobilized the United States to a position of prominence and leadership among the nations that followed the model and theory of free market capitalism. This was unimaginable just ten years prior when the nation struggled to find a political-economic policy that would lift it out of the Great Depression. By the end of 1945, the United States of America emerged as one of the only two of the world’s most powerful nations. As the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics began to acquire ‘satellite-protectorate’ nations in Eastern Europe and the Communist political ideology began to the Third World and simultaneously, the hold of the British and French empires began to collapse, the United States of America felt compelled to ignore the warnings of Schurz and Bryan and began to fulfill its Destiny. The theoretical argument offered to the American people by their government was as follows: in order to protect the very idea of Freedom, the elected official, policy advisers, intellectuals, and business removed the destiny of the Republic out of the hands of the People and allowed exterior force to disturb the Republic and foreign influence be permitted to change its course. The mission of the United States of America had begun its second greatest and revolutionarily altering course towards abandonment of democratic-republicanism, the primacy of the welfare of the average American citizen, and guarding the principle of the People being sovereign; and increasingly, speedily, became more concerned with maintaining American influence and prestige in the eyes of the world and possessing a superior level of military strength as compared to the Soviets. It was precisely the ability of the Soviet Union to gain allies, particularly in the Third World, which if unchecked, could prove calamitous to the economies of the United States and Western Europe that posed a threat to American interests. In relation to several commodities, in particular importing petroleum and exporting arms and technology, the United States needed the capacity to extract natural resources cheaply and control trade markets in foreign nations. Since 1945, there is no doubt that the foreign policy of the United States began the next phase in the culminating process that would propel the Imperial America experiment. Chalmers Johnson cites in his The Sorrows of Empire, that the United States of America currently has military installations of considerable size and cost on nearly continent of the globe. The Expeditionary Force of the United States Marine Corps boasts that it can place approximately 2,500 men and their essential material and equipment anywhere in the world in 48-72 hours, under the strategic caveat that a larger force of Marine and U.S. Army personnel would follow. These are military policies born in the Cold War (and even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, said policies remain in effect and existence in our contemporary time). While it is unnecessary for the vitality of any democratic-republic to hold such policies, any empire must utilize military force to impose its will on other nations. The Imperial America experiment is no different than any other empire in history, and as von Clausewitz wrote, ‘war is merely the most extreme form of politics’. Under the precepts of American realpolitik, any subordinate nation can be sacrificed for any reason that is politically and commercially expedient, therefore making war a necessary form of politics.

Consider this: in 1978, Baghdad was the wealthiest city in the world. A year later its neighbor, Iran, revolted in the spirit of democracy against its ruler, the Shah of Iran. The Shah enjoyed enormous political support and military aid from the United States. Iran’s ruler was just as, and perhaps even more, brutal than Sadaam Hussein has been portrayed in recent years. Politically-motivated executions, rape, and torture; a draconian secret police force; all were societal realities in the Shah’s Iran. These governmental violations of human rights were completely ignored by Washington. After the 1953 CIA-supported coup d’├ętat that supplanted Iran’s democratically-elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, any action taken by the Shah’s government that would eliminate threats to the strategic, geo-political position Iran held for the United States and its closest ally, the United Kingdom, were welcome by American officials and business interests. In 1977 the people of Iran, reminiscent of the French Revolution, seized they streets and in 1979, their government. The People of Iran had forced the Shah out of the country, and in October of 1979, the Shah was granted permission to receive medical treatment in the United States. The Iranian people demanded his return in order that he could stand trial for crimes against humanity against his own former subjects. President Carter refused, and in response, the Iranian people stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held its staff hostage. The only demand made by the Iranian people to the United States of America, was the return of the Shah who ordered the murder, rape, torture, and imprisonment of their relatives and fellow citizens. The inability of the Carter administration to successfully secure the release of the hostages, both militarily and diplomatically, along with a failing domestic economy, led to the election of Ronald Reagan to the American Presidency. Simultaneously, the Iranian Revolution shifted to an Islamic Revolution, with the ascension of the Ayatollah Khomeini gaining power in Iran. In the minds of policymakers and the new, Reagan administration, this had to be contained, Israel protected, the Carter Doctrine upheld, or could otherwise spread over the region into Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf Coast states thereby creating huge disruptions to the American economy. It was decided that a proxy war would be the best option to preserve American interests in the Middle East. The United States would support the Sadaam Hussein’s Iraqi government in a war against the Islamic Republic of Iran, first clandestinely, and then in 1986, publicly. It was in 1986 that President Reagan had Iraq removed from the State-Sponsored Terrorism List at the State Department and began sending hundreds of billions of dollars in military aid, including biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction to Baghdad and under the control of Iraqi dictator Sadaam Hussein. The Iran-Iraq War ended in a stalemate with some estimated two million dean, among them thousands of Iraqi Kurds who has revolted against Sadaam and were killed with the use of biological and chemical weapons provided by the United States of America.

By 1989, the Iraqi government was operating under huge budget deficits, and its southern neighbors, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates exceeded OPEC-mandated production quotas, increasing supply, thereby driving the price of the barrel lower. Both nations chief customer was the oil companies of the United States. The Iraqis complained to then U.S. Ambassador, Ms. April Gallespie, who informed Baghdad that Washington preferred that a negotiated settlement be reached with Kuwait, but that officially the United States had no opinion in a dispute among Arab states. Sadaam complied with the United States government’s request, and called a summit between his representatives and that of the al-Sabah family who rules Kuwait. The chief complaint of the Iraqis was that Kuwait was drilling in the Rumaila oilfield, which both nations claimed as their own. Kuwait offered $500,000 dollars in restitution for drilling along the disputed border, which the Iraqis naturally refused.  The Kuwaitis left the meeting and soon after Iraq invaded and conquered all of Kuwait. After a strong public relations campaign designed to foster support of the American people, the United States attacked Iraqi positions in Kuwait in order to liberate the tiny nation. Yet, as these events were taken place, neither Sadaam nor anyone in his government was focused on the situation within the United States, nor of course no one could read the mind of President George H.W. Bush. William Blum writes in his daunting Killing Hope:

It’s the first half of 1990. The dismantling of the Berlin wall is being carried out a daily basis. Euphoria about the end of the cold war and the optimism about the beginning of a new era of peace and prosperity are hard to contain. The Bush administration is under pressure to cut the monster military budget and institute a ‘peace dividend’. But George Bush, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, former Texas oil man, and former Director of the CIA, is not about to turn his back on his many cronies in the military-industrial-intelligence complex. He rails against those who would ‘naively cut the muscle out of our defense posture’, and insists that we must take a cautious attitude towards reform in the USSR. In February, it’s reported that the ‘administration and Congress are expecting the most acrimonious hard-fought defense budget battle in recent history’; and in June that ‘tensions have escalated’ between Congress and the Pentagon as ‘Congress prepares to draft one of the most pivotal defense budgets in the past two decades’. A month later, a Senate Armed Services subcommittee votes to cut military manpower by nearly three times than recommended by the Bush administration…’The size and direction of the cuts indicate the President Bush is losing his battle on how to manage reductions in military spending’ During the same period Bush’s popularity was plummeting: from an approval rating of 80 percent in January-as he rode the wave of public support for his invasion of Panama the previous month-to 73 percent in February, down to the mid-60s in May and June, 63 percent of 11 July, 60 two weeks later. George Herbert Walker Bush needed something dramatic to capture the headlines and the public, and to convince Congress that a powerful military was needed as much as ever because it was still a scary and dangerous world out there. Although the official Washington version of events presented Iraq’s occupation of neighboring Kuwait as an arbitrary and unwarranted aggression…the current conflict had its origin in the brutal 1980-1988 war between Iraq and Iran. Iraq charged that while it was locked in battle, Kuwait was engaged in stealing $2.4 billion of oil from the Rumaila oil field that ran beneath the vaguely defined Iraq-Kuwait border and was claimed in its entirety by Iraq; that Kuwait had built military and other structures on Iraqi territory; and worst of all, that immediately after the war ended, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates began to exceed the production quotas established by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), flooding the oil market, and driving prices down. Iraq was heavily strapped and deeply in debt because of the long war, and Iraqi President Sadaam Hussein declared this policy was an increasing threat to his country-‘economic war’, he called it, pointing out that Iraq lost a billion dollars a year for each drop of one dollar in the oil price. Besides compensation for these losses, Hussein insisted on possession of the two Gulf islands which blocked Iraq’s access to the Gulf as well as undisputed ownership of the Rumaila oilfield. In the latter part of July 1990, after Kuwait had continued to scorn Iraq’s financial and territorial demands, and to ignore OPEC’s request to stick to its assigned quota, Iraq began to mass large numbers of troops along the Kuwaiti border…31 July…Iraqi troops led by tanks charged across the Kuwaiti border, and the United States instantly threw itself into unmitigated opposition…[George Bush] now took full advantage of this window of opportunity. Within hours, if not minutes, of the border crossing, the United States began mobilizing, the White House condemned Iraq’s action…and announced that it was ‘considering all options’; while George Bush was declaring that the invasion ‘underscores the need to go slowly in restructuring U.S. defense forces’…Bush was seeking to enlist world leaders for collective action against Iraq, all trade with Iraq had been embargoed, all Iraqi and Kuwaiti assets in the United States had been frozen; and the Senate had ‘decisively defeated efforts to end or freeze production of the B-2 Stealth bomber after proponents seized on Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait to bolster their case for the radar-eluding weapons’...Within days, thousands of American troops and an armored brigade were stationed in Saudi Arabia. It was given the grand name of Operation Desert Shield, and a heightened appreciation for America’s military needs was the prevailing order of the day…’Less than a year after political changes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union sent the defense industry reeling under the threat of dramatic cutbacks, executives and analysts say the crisis in the Persian Gulf has provided military companies with a tiny glimmer of hope. If Iraq does not withdraw and things get messy, it will be good for the industry. You will hear less rhetoric from Washington about the peace dividend,’ said Michael Lauer, an analyst with Kidder, Peabody & Co. in New York. ‘The possible beneficiaries’ of the crisis, added the Washington Post , ‘cover the spectrum of companies in the defense industry’…meanwhile, George Bush’s approval rating had recovered. The first poll taken in August after the US engagement in the Gulf showed a jump to 74 percent, up from 60 percent in late July.

Sadaam Hussein was the immoral equivalent of the Shah of Iran, both of whom were allies to the United States of America for a significant period of time. Both killed and brutalized at the behest of the United States of America. Indeed, Sadaam was just as brutal, just as undemocratic; but his vision of himself in 1990 was in direct conflict with the economic and geo-political interests, both domestically and internationally, of George Herbert Walker Bush’s vision of the post-Cold War America. In the final analysis, like most leaders in the Muslim world, Sadaam had no conceptual understanding of the depth of Washington’s commitment to American realpolitik.

As a technical citizen of the United States of America, I, like Dr. King, had a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. And yet, in all truth, it is my elected officials, policymakers, Supreme Court justices, Defense secretaries, Secretaries of State, and all other holders of position of power who claim to be serving me and the rest of the American People; it is their commitment to American Realpolitik, and thus abandoning the political principle of democratic-republicanism, that has created, fostered, and maintained the State of Imperial America that destroys all dreams: that of Dr. King’s, that of my own, and the notion of an American dream.

Yet it is the moral coward that asks the question 'why', without asking the more important question of: what shall be done. And thus, having provided the why to the best of my capacity, I ask my people, my Ummah: what shall be done?

Isma'il ibn Bilal

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