Monday, November 01, 2004

US elections — not much of difference

PV Vivekanand

IT would not be an overstatement that the Americans would be deciding the immediate course of the world events when they vote in presidential elections today.
A vote for incumbent George Bush means continuation of the neoconservative agenda for American domination of the globe and Israeli domination of the Middle East. It translates as continued US-engineered tension around the world leading to increasing threats to the security of the American people at home as well as outside from those whose lives are threatened by direct and indirect American actions, policies and strategies.
However, a Bush defeat against John Kerry would not necessarily mean a reversal of the neoconservative campaign
since the neocons are also present among Democrats and it would only be a matter of time before they assume control of a Kerry White House. At the same time, a Kerry administration would take its own time installing itself in power and digging its feet into the ground. This might offer a temporary reprieve in the aggressive American approach to global issues.
(For us in the Middle East, a change at the helm in the US would mean a change in this region only if the administration, old or new, shifts from its lopsided Israel-oriented policy and approach, and that is not likely to happen whether Bush is re-elected or is replaced by Kerry).
The only justification, if any at all, for the American behaviour on the international scene is the unprecedented attacks of Sept.11, 2001 that saw nearly 3,000 innocent people getting killed. The assaults were deemed to have jerked the Bush administration into launching the war against terrorism that led to the invasion of Afghanistan (perhaps justifiable in view of the fact that the group blamed for the attacks was sheltered there). However, there could be no justification for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, notwithstanding the post-war argument that Saddam Hussein was bad for the people of Iraq as well as the entire neighbourhood and the US was doing us all a favour by toppling him. Let us not forget that it remains a very real threat for us in the region that Iraq, which is spinning out of control, could split up and we would be at the receiving end of the spillovers of such a development.
The Americans would be better off to remind themselves of a few points as they vote today with terrorism on the forefront of the debate on who should be the next president and the Sept.11 attacks in hovering over the backdrop:
It has been established that the administration had received enough intelligence tip-offs about an impending terrorist attack in 2001 but did little to ward it off. Today, the administration is deliberately holding back vital information
on the attacks themselves as if it is trying to shield someone.
All official investigations into the attacks were shrouded in secrecy and all the facts were never placed before the American people if only because the administration did not extend the kind of co-operation that was essential to establish the truth.
One would have thought that, given the gravity of the Sept.11 attacks, the administration would have come forth with honesty and tranparency about an incident that shook the entire world and uprooted many American lives.
The bottom line is: The way the Bush administration handled the search for the true facts of the Sept.11 attacks is at best suspicious. Instead of rooting out the threat of terror attacks, it has only worsened it with its actions. Today, America is not any safer than it was before Sept.11. If anything, the threat is greater today, as leading American commentators have pointed out.
On the Iraq front, it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was in the cards from the day Bush took over the White House in January 2001 and Sept.11 provided the fig leaf he was seeking in order to implement the plans.
Almost every word Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and others in the administration have uttered in their drive to justify the war on Iraq has been proved untrue. And the Americans should be left wondering what they have gained by spending some $200 billion and sacrificing more than 1,100 American lives (not to mention the several thousand American soldiers who were maimed for life while in action in Iraq). They would be better off also to remind themselves that Israel is undoubtedly the sole beneficiary of the war against Iraq — paid for by their tax dollars — while they are told to make welfare sacrifices.
In a broader context, the Americans should remember that the world is slowly waking up to the reality that the US has turned itself into an international bully under the Bush administration. The world has seen the administration using the United Nations when it suited it to do so and dumping the world body when it deemed it fit to do so. The international community has seen how it deceived not only the American people and their elected representatives but also some countries into supporting a war based on deception, outright lies and cooked up intelligence data devoid of truth.
Beyond anything and everything, the US is unwilling to accept the reality that the threats its people face today are directly linked to its biased policies towards the world, particularly the Middle East.
Come to think of it then, it does not really matter whether Bush or Kerry wins in today's elections. The world would be a better place only if there is a paradigm shift in American thinking and the Americans are given a opportunity to vote for and insist on the restoration of respect for very basic founding principles of their great nation and application of those ideals on the international scene.