Respect Your Enemies

I just re-read the Is Truth Enough? article by George Caffentzis. It struck me in two ways. First, in relation to the transfer of power to Iraq, George wrote the following:

the situation is going to change on July 1, 2004 [note: the transfer actually happened two days early, on June 28th]. Using a classic “prestidigital” trick, the Bush Administration on that day will swiftly transform an occupying army into an “invited police force” asked to keep order by a “transitional” government concerned about terrorism in its borders. At that very moment, guerrilla resistance fighters will officially become terrorists, and hence open to the kind of treatment accorded to fighters in Afghanistan (including shipment to Guantanamo). Our movement will then have to face the consequences of this categorical slight-of-hand, since we will find ourselves attacked by the Bush Administration as supporters of terrorism.

George’s prediction, apparently, is coming true, as today the new “Iraqi” government adopted an “emergency powers law” — a description that sounds all-too-familiar to the USA-PATRIOT act — which “gives the interim government the power to declare martial law, set curfews and detain suspected insurgents.” Sounds familiar. I hope they are making more space at Guantanamo Bay.

The second thing that struck me about George’s article is in relation to the main themes of my thinking lately, specifically about John Kerry and the criticism of Fahrenheit 9/11. George writes:

The antiwar movement’s lack of interest in the Bush Administration is one reason why we fail to grasp the underlying imperatives propelling its actions. We look at the ungrammatical President, the secretive Vice-President, the Dr. Strangelovian Secretary of Defense and the Lady Macbeth-like National Security Advisor and conclude that they are “just” lackies of a right-wing conspiracy fueled by the “majors” in oil industry. Such reductionism is not completely accurate, for they are responding to a major crisis throughout the machinery of capitalism that goes beyond (but definitely includes) the profits of the oil companies and the “control of Mideast oil.” The Bush Administration has offered a “solution” to this crisis: a war on terrorism, and all that it means. Their political replacements (perhaps the Democrats) might offer a more multilateral, more union-friendly varient of “the war on terrorism” or a completely “new” solution, but either option must deal with the world-wide crisis of neoliberalism, because that is their business as residents of the White House.

This crisis of neoliberalism is the one unifying, underlying factor that explains US foreign policy in the last three decades. It explains why 9/11 happened in the first place, and it explains why the US government has responded in seemingly illogical ways with its war on terror. There is no solution to the crisis of neoliberalism that does not entail dramatic reorganization of the global economy. And if such reorganization does not happen willfully, carefully, and intellgently, then it will collapse on itself.

We are facing a choice between fundamental change directed intelligently, or collapse, chaos, violence, and greed as desperate people fight viciously for the scraps of flesh left from the dead thousand-scaled dragon of neoliberalism.

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