There is Only Us:The Dennis Kucinich Vision For Enduring World Peace
As the Bush Administration was busy bullying the UN Security Council into supporting its Iraq war resolution in the fall of 2002, the satirical newspaper The Onion ran a spoof headline: "Bush Seeks U.N. Support For 'U.S. Does Whatever It Wants' Plan." "I call upon you now," said the president in his lampoon speech before the world body, "to join us in our vision of America as the only country whose wishes matter."
In the past three years, the rest of the world community has seen unveiled a doctrine of preventive first strikes against "forces of evil" that have not attacked us. An obsession with overwhelming U.S. military superiority maintained over everyone into perpetuity. An insistence that everyone else adhere to rules of international order that we have no intention of following ourselves. Condemnations of the nascent nuclear arsenals of others while saying not one word about our own. Contempt for international organizations and any multilateral constraints whatsoever on the employment of American power. Rhetoric declaring that other nations must humbly follow our lead or become "irrelevant." An arrogant and barely concealed ambition to build a 21st Century American empire.
All of this has estranged and frightened and provoked enduring enmity in both the councils of other governments and the hearts of other citizens around the world. Millions of ordinary people around the world feel a sense of inferiority and wounded pride in the shadow of American power. Nations and peoples have long memories, especially of the humiliations they suffer during difficult times. And many, as a direct consequence, are now plotting to do us incalculable harm.
George Bush's foreign policies have made us new foreign enemies. George Bush's defense policies have weakened our defenses. George Bush's responses to 9/11 have made future 9/11's far more likely to occur.
So much for Republicans being "strong on defense."
Boys on the Fence
While many talk of a cycle of violence, Dennis Kucinich chooses to talk of a cycle of fear. America's overwhelming power and overweening behavior on the world stage generates fears in others ... which provokes behavior by others that, in turn, generates fears of our own.
No one can doubt that hard-core terror types exist who intend to launch attacks on American soil no matter what. Dennis Kucinich has made clear that he would not hesitate to use American military power to defend Americans against such imminent threats.
But the most glaring result of George Bush's foreign policies seems to be the phenomenon of self-fulfilling prophecies. When we treat others like enemies, then enemies they will surely become. There are undoubtedly today millions of teenage Muslim boys who are essentially on the fence. They have perhaps spent most of their childhood in Islamic madrasas. Their families have lived in desperate poverty for as long as anyone can remember. They are unemployed, idle and hold little hope for obtaining gainful employment. And they are debating within themselves whether take a stab at making it as a citizen of the world - or to enlist instead with the enemies of peace.
So far, George Bush's incentive program for these boys has been a singular, one-dimensional message: If you seek to do us harm, we will pound you. As Morton Halperin recently observed, the Bush Administration apparently believes "that the best way to deter suicide bombers is to threaten them with the death penalty."
What could be more delusional than the neo-conservative notion that our planet contains a finite number of terrorists that we can entice into Iraq and hunt down, and, by doing so, win the war on terror? During the Vietnam War, it was often said that every time we killed a Viet Cong guerrilla, we created two more. George Bush is all stick and no carrot. And if history has anything to teach us, it is that all stick and no carrot never works. All it does is to provoke new individuals to become new perpetrators and generate an endless Newtonian cycle of action and reaction.
How to Wind Friends and Influence Peoples - and Nations
Dennis Kucinich would accommodate rather than alienate, make friends instead of enemies and employ carrots far more than sticks. A Kucinich Administration would dry up the swamps of hopelessness, exploitation and humiliation that cause vulnerable individuals to be seduced down the false road of terrorism. Dennis Kucinich would offer those teenage boys - and all the poor and dispossessed members of the human community - some rewards for a better choice, some hope and opportunity, some promise of full participation in a prosperous and peaceful global civilization. In Dennis Kucinich's America, our great country would abide by Lincoln's great precept: "The only lasting way to eliminate an enemy is to make him your friend."
Next year, our great country will spend more on our bloated military machine than all the other countries in the world put together. This is a situation probably unprecedented in all of world history. In Chalmers Johnson's new book, The Sorrows of Empire, he offers a portrait of what he calls a "globe-girdling Baseworld" - 725 sprawling U.S. military outposts in 140 of the 189 countries in the United Nations. Oh ... and 234 U.S. military golf courses too. The christening last year of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan took us from 12 to 13 "aircraft carrier battle groups." No other country has even one.