Archive for June 3rd, 2008

From Jayne Lyn Stahl at The Huffington Post

What might get lost in the ad nauseum mainstream media coverage of the gladiator-style struggle for the Democratic Party presidential nomination is what the Associated Press calls a “landmark treaty” which received a formal thumbs-up on Friday at a meeting, in Dublin, of more than 100 nations, including many of our partners in NATO. Not only does the treaty call for banning munitions cluster designs, but demands the destruction of stockyards within the next ten years.

What’s more, not only did the U.S. boycott these negotiations, it joined other major manufacturers of cluster bombs, Russia, China, India, Israel and Pakistan, in doing so. Our focus and that of the other munitions’ manufacturers was not on how deleterious cluster bombs are, but on their military (i.e. monetary) value.

One defense analyst even went so far as to argue that “only countries that don’t fight wars” would draft a treaty like this, and say that its value is strictly “feel good.” We haven’t seen this kind of logic since the fall of Rome. No one from the Defense Department, so far, has said what would happen if and when a European country orders cluster bomb munitions from U.S. bases on the continent.

That India joins the U.S. in this militarist circus only shows just how far they have strayed from the days of Gandhi and “passive resistance.” Remember, it was Mahatma Gandhi who said “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” We can guess what Gandhi would have to say about who India is in bed with now; the artful draft dodgers, and Texas oil men.

Indeed, anyone opting for disarmament who dares to approach 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will have to check their bags at the door. We not only are a military industrial complex, we have a military industrial complex, which means this is no longer just a wartime economy, this is a country that has made a religious fetish of combat. That we’ve also become occupation zealots is obvious from how many military bases we’ve amassed world-wide, as well as reports of plans to keep contractors in Iraq long after troops are removed.

Make no mistake, any candidate who talks about nuclear nonproliferation and doesn’t include India, Israel, and the U.S. as among those who need to honor nonproliferation agreements is blowing smoke up our ass. Any candidate who claims to be strong on national security and doesn’t want to actively revisit efforts at de-profitizing warfare is one that is moving us closer to nuclear annihilation.

Similarly, any leader who puts the manufacture of cluster bomb parts which can only maim, and kill, thousands of people, as we saw in Lebanon in 2006, ahead of the greater good doesn’t deserve to use the White House john.

What possible value can cluster bombs have in the advancing of civilization? And, by what kind of skewed, twisted logic can anyone in government claim that no pre-emptve strike against Iran is “off the table,” justify a build-up to war in light of that country’s uranium enrichment program while, at the same time, engaging in brazen steroid use when it comes to the arms race? What does it tell you about a defense analyst that he would suggest any effort at disarmament is merely a placebo?

That 111 countries met, many of whom we consider allies, to formalize a treaty that would, in essence, neutralize our artillery power speaks volumes about our descent not merely from the moral high ground, but from honoring a generation of international efforts away from the chaos of war, and towards the survival of the planet. This treaty isn’t just about cluster bombs — it is a breathtaking indictment, and condemnation of American militarism, and war profiteering, we’ve seen in a long time.

We have a right to answers from those we elect as to who’s making the money from these cluster bomb parts, as well as other wartime manufacture, and how much of our tax dollars are going to subsidize these companies, and ensure that they meet their bottom line.

Arguably, the only difference between a drug dealer and a defense contractor is that a defense contractor gets government subsidies. While some might argue there are drug dealers, largely in our inner cities, who might be getting government subsidies, too, the point is that war is not only toxic, it’s heroin, and we must eradicate the demand before we can touch the supply. But, how can we do that when the world’s richest countries are growing richer on war?

Nobody can deny that there is some serious erosion in the moral high ground when, as some human rights groups assert, the U.S. allegedly holds detainee, and terror suspects, on prison ships out at sea. If this is how we intend to maintain “national security” by egregious human rights violations while, at the same time, allowing Osama bin Laden to text message his Al Qaeda pals in Afghanistan, then something is seriously awry.

If we can figure out that there may be life on Mars, we can find a way to have a peace-based global economy, and it has to start in our own backyard. This is a message both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama share — moving towards a green economy, and if Obama wins in November, he must be held to account for a hyperactive Defense Department every bit as much as John McCain. It is our tax dollars that stoke their fire for war.

Think about the hypocrisy of any government that boycotts negotiations to destroy cluster bombs, spitting in the face of disarmament, when you hear the tired, counterfeit argument about Ahmadinejad, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, as we get closer to war with Iran.

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Here’s the latest gem from the Vice President

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Vice President Dick Cheney apologized Monday for what his spokeswoman called “an inappropriate attempt at humor” that implied that inbreeding is common among West Virginians, a remark that elicited outrage from the state’s senior senator.

Asked during a question-and-answer session at the National Press Club about the fact that a search of his family tree found he is a distant relative of Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential front-runner, Cheney said the two politicians were unlikely to hold a family reunion.

He said that the Cheney line on his father’s side of the family dates to 1630’s, and a Cheney family line on his mother’s side dates to the 1650’s.

“So, I had Cheneys on both sides of the family — and we don’t even live in West Virginia,” Cheney cracked. After pausing for laughter from the crowd, Cheney added, “You can say those things when you’re not running for re-election.”

Afterward, West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd lashed out at Cheney for the “insult to all Americans.” In a written statement, Byrd declared that Cheney showed “contempt and astounding ignorance toward his own countrymen” with the comments.

“Now that he or the administration he represents no longer needs their vote, Mr. Cheney apparently feels that he is now free to mock and belittle the people of West Virginia,” said Byrd, a Democrat. “With his trademark arrogance, the vice president even added, ‘You can say those things when you’re not running for re-election.’ ”

He added, “This pitiful comment is not entirely surprising when you consider the source. Vice President Cheney’s words reflect the attitude of an administration and a party that says what they must to get elected and then turns their backs on those they promised to represent.”

Shortly thereafter, Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said Cheney’s “offhand comment was not meant to hurt anyone.

“On reflection, he concluded that it was an inappropriate attempt at humor that he should not have made. The vice president apologizes to the people of West Virginia for the inappropriate remark,” McBride said.