On January 20, be on the lookout for bonfires across the country and around the world, as ceremonial burnings of the Bush war doctrine light up the sky. A new administration provides an opportunity for change, after eight dark years of devastating wars and consistent violations of international law, matched by the shredding of the Constitution.
But even if the Republican reign of abuse of power and its drive towards empire is ended, it will take a powerful, mobilized antiwar movement across the United States – and indeed, around the world – to hold a new administration accountable to promises made, and to obligations undertaken and imposed.
The Bush administration came into office committed to an aggressive, militarized unilateralism – a tendency that skyrocketed after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when the White House used fear as a weapon to win public acquiescence to extremist policies which would once have met widespread outrage. Bush announced the “global war on terror” and used it to reaffirm and legitimize Americans’ fears. The cost in human lives, especially in
Now there is a new opportunity. What is required to reverse the devastation these eight years have wrought?
First, the occupation of
All of that is step one. Only then we can begin the long process of making good on our real obligations to the people of Iraq: real reconstruction — meaning money that goes directly to Iraqis instead of to U.S. war-profiteering contractors — and reparations for the damage to the country that began with the first Gulf crisis in 1990. Fulfilling this obligation will be difficult at a time of economic crisis at home, but
And beyond ending the existing wars, a new administration has the chance to reject the Bush administration’s unilateralism and militarism, and build an entirely new foreign policy based on multilateral cooperation and diplomacy – a whole new paradigm that recognizes there is no such thing as “national security,” there is only international security. But such a shift won’t be easy.
It means shutting down the 1,000-plus military bases around the world that have become the most visible symbol of the U.S. drive towards empire and a major cause of anti-Americanism in every continent. It means recognizing that the decline of
And we can’t assume that with a Democrat in the White House this transformation will happen automatically. It was Madeleine Albright, after all, then United Nations Ambassador for the ostensibly multilateralist
McCain has said he’ll keep the troops in
The world always pays attention to U.S. elections – the U.S. president exerts power far beyond our borders. But this time, people are watching with an urgent demand for change – for a real transformation, not cosmetic tweaks – that is palpable across the globe. The world wants a United States that stands as a partner with the other nations of the world, not a U.S. empire standing as a colossus above all others. The new administration could make good on that global wish – and in doing so make Americans, and the rest of the world, far safer than we are today.