§ Strengthen the Middle Class. George Bush has redistributed wealth more than George McGovern was ever accused of–except upward rather than downward. His $1.7 trillion in tax cuts on income, estates, dividends, capital gains and corporate earnings has been a program of plutocracy posing as populism. Such “soak the middle class” fiscal policies have only compounded the flat real income of blue-collar workers over the past thirty years–the result of declining unionization, the temping of jobs, the Wal-Marting of wages and benefits, and the outsourcing of high-end manufacturing and technology jobs. No wonder so many families feel like they’re running faster after an ever-accelerating bus.
It’s time to become liberal hawks in the class war of ideas. Public policy should now ask whether a proposal closes the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us in terms of income and services. Ways to do that include providing more healthcare coverage for the uninsured, creating a living wage, providing for preschool and after-school programs, pursuing energy security starting with a 5o percent increase in auto-fuel efficiency and investing in job training–to be partly paid for by reversing unproductive tax cuts for the top 2 percent.
§ Strengthen Collective Security. As World War II was drawing to a close, FDR and Churchill developed plans for international peace and financial institutions so allies could pool their resources and interests to defuse future threats. This approach is even more necessary in today’s world of stateless evils–of shadowy terrorists carrying devastation in backpacks, brilliant scientists selling the nuclear secrets stored in their brains, invisible pollution drifting from Chernobyl to Hartford and AIDS-carrying lotharios seducing women in different countries.
Older maxims, that “might makes right” and “bigger is better”–or the perception of the United States as the Lone Ranger and our allies as Tonto–is hopelessly counterproductive in a world dominated by “problems without passports,” in Kofi Annan’s phrase. Simply walking away from the ABM Treaty, Kyoto Protocol, Small Arms Agreement, International Criminal Court, Chemical and Biological Weapons Convention and UN Commission on the Status of Women–as well as our growing calamity in Iraq–has alienated the populations of nearly every nation on earth.
These are just two of the ones that stood out for me. The neocons are very good at talking tough, tough like school yard bullies. Their inability to even remotely estimate the consequences of their actions have made the middle-east a mess and America less safe. The least they could do is have the people that could most afford it to pick up some of the tab.
“American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan,” the Times reported.
“As recently as 2005, American intelligence assessments described senior leaders of al-Qaeda as cut off from their foot soldiers and able only to provide inspiration for future attacks. But more recent intelligence describes the organization’s hierarchy as intact and strengthening,” the Times wrote.
The Times quoted one American government official as saying “the chain of command has been reestablished” and that al-Qaeda’s “leadership command and control is robust.” [NYT, Feb. 19, 2007]
In the face of this al-Qaeda comeback, the Bush administration is reportedly debating whether to launch military strikes inside Pakistan. But that would risk destabilizing the dictatorship of Gen. Pervez Musharraf and conceivably provoking the nightmare scenario of Islamic fundamentalists gaining control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
In other words, more than five years into the “war on terror,” Bush has overseen a strategy that has simultaneously alienated world public opinion – with scandals over Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and secret CIA prisons – while fueling Islamic extremism and giving new life to the 9/11 masterminds.
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group described the situation in Iraq as “grave and deteriorating.” But the same description would fit for the broader strategic position of the United States in the Middle East.
With the British making definite plans to get out of Iraq and treating Bush treating Afghanistan like a bastard child that he would prefer to ignore we have shrill calls for esclating our presence in Iraq. Dick Cheney has recently said that Democrats were playing into al-Queda’s hands, when on the contrary it seems to those of us in the business of facing reality that it is conservative who dance to al-Queda’s tune. For al-Queda to continue to spread its influence all America has to do is allow Cheney and Bush to continue policies that have been the worse of failures. In the snark department Jack Balkin suggests our way out is to privatize national security,
I propose that each President be given a personal National Security Investment Savings Account modeled on the proposed Social Security Investment Savings Accounts. Under this partial privatization of National Security, each Commander-in-Chief would be given a specific amount of money taken from the national budget that he could invest in stocks, bonds, or other financial investments. He can then use the proceeds to fund any military actions or preemptive strikes he likes.
After all, it’s his money.
Like most Americans, Commanders-in-Chief should be encouraged to save responsibly for their future military invasions and preemptive attacks. This will end the culture of dependency created by the failed liberal policies of the past, where Commanders-in-Chief failed to save money for military aggression in their golden years, knowing that an indulgent Congress would bail them out.
At least when Republicans are in office we might also consider privatizing Federal Emergency Management since even with billions of taxpayer funds at their disposal they couldn’t handle America’s biggest emergence since 9-11, Year After Katrina, Bush Still Fights for 9/11 Image. If we are struck by another 9-11 style attack or another natural disaster on the scale of Katrina just remember that all is well Bush will be circling in a plane overhead and talking to a Brownie clone about his choice of neck ties.
It’s not just America, most people in the world have a collective memory of about two weeks. Ronald Reagan gave America one big shaft, Dick Cheney was his SOD, Donald Rumsfeld’s company was selling nuclear plant parts to North Korea and Saddam was their best buddy. That history should have been a warning, The Reagan Legacy
The standard line is that he won the cold war, but elsewhere in this issue Jonathan Schell corrects that notion. It is also worth noting that this man who yearned so much for freedom and democracy in Soviet-bloc nations showed limited concern for democracy and human rights in other parts of the globe. After Democrats and Republicans in Congress passed sanctions against the apartheid government of South Africa, Reagan vetoed the measure. His Administration cuddled up with the fascistic and anti-Semitic junta of Argentina and backed militaries in El Salvador and Guatemala that massacred civilians. It moved to normalize relations with Augusto Pinochet, the tyrant of Chile. Reagan sent George Bush the First to the Philippines, where the Vice President toasted dictator Ferdinand Marcos for fostering “democracy.” Pursuing a quasi-secret war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, the Reagan Administration violated international law and circumvented Congress to support contra rebels engaged in human rights abuses and, according to the CIA’s own Inspector General, worked with suspected drug traffickers. Reagan covertly sent arms to the mullahs of Iran and courted Saddam Hussein, even after his use of chemical weapons. He appointed officials who claimed nuclear war was winnable, thus raising the chances that miscalculations by the Soviet Union or the United States would plunge the world into chaos.
“A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt