So when Jamaica - also known as Mother Nature's Beautiful Daughter - is expressing fear at another four years of a Bush presidency, there is something horribly wrong. Ian Boyne of the Jamaica Gleaner wrote a powerful essay in yesterday's edition, and I'm posting it in hopes that many Americans will see how our government has been downright scaring other countries. If this is an image you like - a government that's seen as a bully to the gentler parts of the third world - then I guess my desire for you to vote for Kerry might be far fetched.
Read this. Pass it along. It's something missing from American media - perspective. I'm unashamedly reprinting the whole thing here. It's worth it. Boyne wants to speak to America through his homeland newspaper. We're happy to give him his voice.
The US election: What's at stake?I'd like to be online for a live chat right here at 6pm Election Night. If not, please talk among yourselves - it'll be a great support group of the people who frequent this joint. Just click the button to join in.
published: Sunday | October 31, 2004
Ian Boyne, Contributor
"In the 25 years since I started working in mental health, I have never experienced the intensity of focused fear on the outcome of an election as I am experiencing this year. Many of my patients are as afraid of having another four years of a Bush presidency as they are of the terrorists."
New York Psychologist Mary Frederick.
IT'S NOT just many Americans who are scared to death of George W. Bush's return to the White House for another four years: Much of the world is equally, if not more, terrified at that not unlikely prospect. Never has a U.S. President caused as much consternation and apprehension in the international community as has George W. Bush, America's 'born again' president. Many Americans are worried to death that Mr. Bush has so squandered America's goodwill and has so angered militant Muslims and other American detractors that American security is actually more threatened, rather than strengthened, under the Bush presidency.
The Europeans and the people of the Third World have perhaps even greater reasons to be alarmed at the prospects of George Bush's being declared winner on Tuesday night: It will mean a victory and the legitimising of a most pernicious doctrine, that of pre-emption; and the justification of a style of leadership which elevates force over international law and unilateralism over multilateral cooperation and consensus-building.
No less a prestigious journal in international relations than Foreign Affairs, in its just-released November/December issue, raises serious questions about the dangers of the Bush Doctrine of Preemption, or anticipatory self-defence. In an article on 'The sources of American legitimacy', Robert Tucker, professor emeritus of American foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University, David Hendrickson and Robert J. Fox, distinguished service professor at Colorado College say, "How to restore legitimacy has thus become a central question for U.S. foreign policy."
The scholars show the long history of American adherence to the principle of international law and multilaterialism, however chequered has been the practice.
"Just as civilisation itself is distinguished by the insistence that conflicts be settled by means other than brute force, so U.S. post-war leaders insisted that international relations be ordered by the same principle."
The scholars note the contempt of the Bush administration for international law and any notion of constraint on U.S. power. They quote Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John Bolton, who said in the late 1990s that, "It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so, because over the long term the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States."
This is the kind of official arrogance and demagoguery which have characterised the Bush administration, and which accounts for the fact that the entire world will hold its breath on Tuesday to see whether such an administration will be unleashed on the world for another four years. As America is the only superpower standing, with unprecedented power as an empire, it is vitally important that it has a leader who respects international law and who is not a law unto himself, listening only to God.
Hendrickson and Tucker in their Foreign Affairs piece say that Europe's aversion to the world's greatest power "taking the law into its own hands" is not simply postmodern sensibility. Objection to such unilateralism "has been at the core of Western reflection on international relations since the birth of the modern state system and it was axiomatic to America's founders who erected the constitutional regime on the proposition that power must be checked and balanced."
The scholars commented poignantly: "It is a part of the pathology of U.S. power today that the evident need for a constitutional check on the world's most powerful state a constraint the United States would welcome if it were true to its political heritage is now seen to stem from spiteful anti-Americanism."
The Bush administration's failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on the environment, as well as the Comprehensive Test Tan Treaty, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the International Criminal Court, as well as its declaration of war on Iraq without United Nations authority, is part of its official doctrine of unilateralism and global supremacy. Its vision of the New American Century is a frightening one, and one which will keep the world awake on Tuesday to see just who its next world leader will be.
KERRY FOR WORLD PEACE
John Kerry is not what the doctor ordered, so to speak, but he is better for international peace and security. He respects the rule of law and believes in working closely with key players in the international community. He would restore the multilateralist approach to US foreign policy (though I make the disclaimer that US foreign policy practice before George Bush was not ideal and made in heaven).
John Kerry would begin to build back the soft power of the United States and would win back key constituents in Europe, the Middle East and the wider Third World. John Kerry has had to talk tough and to demonstrate that he can be a big bad wolf, too. America after 9/11 has no patience with a pacifist. That's why John Kerry is running and not Howard Dean.
"This election fundamentally is about the safety of our children, our streets, our airspace," says former Ronald Reagan Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein in an interview with U.S. News and World Report (November 1, 2004) The American election is not about the economy, social security, education etc. It is about the war on terror and who is the best man to protect America's interests.
John Kerry has to pander to these interests and concerns. The world only benefits because Kerry believes that in delivering security to his fellow Americans he needs the cooperation of the Europeans, Middle East players and the United Nations. He believes that he can't go it alone. (See America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order, by Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, foreign policy scholars trained at Oxford and Cambridge. It unmasks the new world order of the doctrinaire set now influencing the Bush administration).
POLITICS OF FEAR
This election, more than any other, is about the politics of fear. John Kerry can't ignore this. He has had to spend all of his time over the last few months trying to convince American voters that he is tough, resolute, decisive and is a butt-kicker when needs be. The Republicans have cast him in the role of a flop-flopping 'softie' who would endanger the security of the American nation and would, in effect, be an invitation to terrorists.
The extent to which George Bush emerges the victor on Tuesday would be the extent to which his politics of fear has triumphed. Fear is a most powerful human motivator, far more powerful than reason, Kerry's chief weapon. But fear almost always trumps reason.
For many, the thinking is as simplistic as that of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo: "The simplest of all issues is war: It's incredibly easy to understand: Evil people came and killed 3,000 right in the heart of our country. We have to destroy them and we have a president who is a genius at communicating simply..."
Kerry is a more nuanced thinker, not given to simplistic arguments and clichés, the stock-in-trade of George Bush. But simplistic, either-or, black-and-white rhetoric works far better on the campaign trail, as Kerry might learn painfully on Tuesday night.
The Economist this week makes the point that over the last four elections no incumbent President has received more votes than the opinion polls indicated he would, but that the challenger usually receives about four per cent more. So the President's getting 50 per cent in the polls and Kerry's getting 46 per cent should not be as worrying to Kerry. If the President falls below his 50 per cent and is seen in the polls as having just 46 per cent or 48 per cent then he should be concerned. It is felt that the swing voters are likely to vote against the incumbent. But then this is no ordinary election. The world did change since September 11, 2001.
The Kerry campaign, I still maintain, has hurt itself by not cleverly and astutely addressing the concerns of the religious community. Many secular commentators don't realise the power Bush wields though the support he receives from Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. Anti-Catholic feelings run strong in certain conservative religious circles in the United States, plus the fact that Kerry is pro-choice and opposes Bush's proposed constitutional amendment to protect the sanctity of man-woman marriage.
People are wondering why is Bush getting so much support from black Americans and Kerry getting less than is traditionally garnered by Democrats. Many blacks are religiously conservative and we underestimate the power of religious television in America. The American Religious Right is not just praying and fasting but working at the grass roots to keep their Born Again President in office to withstand the forces of The Devil who wants to keep religion out of schools, sanction gay marriage and push the "abortion and feminist agenda".
The liberal Nation magazine, in its November 8 issue formally endorsing John Kerry for President, deplores the fact that Bush has "pandered to a base of religious fanatics, many of whom are looking forward to a day of 'rapture' when Jesus returns to earth and kills everyone but them." But it is a powerful base.
WAR AND THE ECONOMY
The shocking report of a group of scientists on Thursday that up to 100,000 civilians might have been killed since the war in Iraq will make little difference to the Fundamentalists and those gripped by fear. That US$140 billion has been spent on a war which was illegal and unnecessary and which diverted resources and focus from the real war on terror and Osama bin Laden will mean little to many American voters.
On the economy, the Bush administration has been a failure. A US$236 billion surplus has been turned into a $422 billion deficit. As of September 30, the US debt is US$7.3 trillion, a record high. The minimum wage is now at an inflation-adjusted 50 year low. President Bush is the first President since Herbert Hoover to have a net loss of jobs approximately 800,000 over his four-year term. The Bush administration implemented regulation which made millions of workers ineligible for overtime pay. Twenty per cent of Bush's tax cut recipients receive 68 per cent of the benefits.
On economic and security grounds, the Bush administration has been a failure: No weapons of mass destruction found, no links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda verified, no links between Saddam Hussein and September 11. A war which has been bungled and which has claimed more than 1,000 US lives and over 7,000 injured, with insurgencies rising every day.
Yet, George W. Bush is likely to win the elections on Tuesday. Perhaps his Fundamentalist brothers and sisters are right that the world is really coming to an end.