Friday, December 02, 2005

Kim Scipes 'Beginning of the End - for the Empire'

It's the Beginning of the End-For the Empire, Not Just the War
by Kim Scipes on Z-Net (December 01, 2005)

There's avery interesting piece by American labour activist Kim Scipes. He's been wanting to write something, following the successful mobilisation against the war on Sept 24th, along lines from Winston Churchill in, "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Two months later and there is the criticisms being made in Congress of the ocupation policy by Vietnam vet John P. Murtha.
"Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown more dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled. … I have concluded that the presence of US troops in Iraq is impeding this progress".

Scipes points out the ideological importance of this: it's not that Murtha has become a lefty 'peacenik', he believes in an American presence in the middle east, but that for someone with his background and credibility to attack the government's war policy is a threat to Bush.

Scipes says that 'Murtha's statement moves us from "the end of the beginning," I believe, to "the beginning of the end"'. But there's also been Hurricane Katrina and 'one point needs to be made about that hurricane and the aftermath: as limited as it's been, for the first time in 25 years, we've have been able to have a serious widespread public discussion about poverty and race in this country. Katrina tore the scab off these issues.'

SCipes adds to this 'National Priorities Project' research showing that 44 percent of military service people recruited in 2004 are from the rural areas, 'which basically means they are poor whites'. Michael Moore has shown 'that recruits are coming out of the impoverished inner cities, with African Americans and Latinos being forced into the military by lack of viable economic alternatives. In other words, we have a economic draft currently taking place in this country, "drafting" our poor men and women of all colors into the military-and many, to Iraq.'

More: "US is spending approximately $450 billion for the military this year. That does not include the almost $250 billion for the Iraq war to date, nor he $44 billion for our vaunted intelligence systems that failed so obviously on 9/11."
While at the same time: "our society is becoming more and more unequal-in fact, not only much more unequal than any other so-called developed country in the world, but more unequal than a number of the poorest countries on the face of the Earth, including Bangladesh! (See for a report from last year.) We have General Motors, once the most powerful corporation in the world announcing 30,000 jobs will be cut in the near future. We know 45 million Americans have no health insurance. We know African-American and Latino poverty rates are more than double that of whites. We know women make around 74% of what males make. Additionally, our schools are in desperate shape and our drop-out rates are incredible."

And Scipes political conclusiond: "amazingly, the left has seemed incapable of taking advantage of the situation. Our organizations should be growing like crazy, our finances expanding. Yet, if this is happening, it certainly is not being made obvious.

"There are all kinds of reasons for this. Rather than rag on the left for our deficiencies, I'm going to argue that our biggest problem collectively is that we are being too timid; we have not taken advantage of what is going on. And we need to get off our butts and strike while the iron is hot!
Yet, I don't think it is enough to challenge the war, and the "war president." I basically think that the war is over, politically, although that doesn't mean there won't be a lot more killing and dying going on between today and when the US withdraws (and afterwards).

"I believe that for the first time in 30 years we can have perhaps our biggest issue heard and responded to by the American public. We need to ask in every place, and in every way imaginable, a simple question: How should the US act toward all the other nations of the world: do we want to continue trying to dominate them, or do we want to find ways to help other countries and try to live in peace and harmony?

"The choice is stark. If we want to continue dominating other countries, we will have to keep pissing away $400 billion (give or take) every year from here until infinity. We must be willing to force our sons and daughters into the military to fight wars for the US Empire-and no one can explain satisfactorily how Rumsfeld can keep 135,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely without reinstating the draft. We have to accept our social problems, since we won't have the resources to address them and fight the war, so that means millions will be uninsured, and our schools will only get worse, as millions suffer from inadequate health care.

"On the other hand, if we want to live in peace and harmony, the US military could be drastically reduced, confined simply to defense of the country's borders (and not allowed overseas); the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank could be used to address developmental and international financial failures around the world, rather than causing them; our health care "system" could be replaced with a single-payer plan than spends its resources in preventing and treating bad health while promoting good health; and we could address the glaring disparities in our residentially-based school systems, which hurt people of color the most. And we could use the money to create jobs, and/or create opportunities for all to contribute to the well-being of our society."


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