Behind the Bipartisan Drive Toward War


not a well-known organization, and only occasionally mentioned in
the media, the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
has been prominent in behind-the-scenes foreign policy formation
in the U.S. for over three quarters of a century. The CFR is the
publisher of


, which calls itself “the most influential periodical
in print.” But the Council is much more important than that.
In the words of Council members Marvin and Bernard Kalb, the CFR
is “an extremely influential private group that is sometimes
called the real State Department.” Richard J. Barnet, another
Council member, stated that membership in the organization could
be considered “a rite of passage for an aspiring national security

importance of the Council stems from its role as the central link
that binds the capitalist upper class and its most important financial
and multinational corporations, think tanks, and foundations to
academic experts in leading (mainly eastern) universities, and government
policy formulation and execution. The CFR’s goals are to continuously
work out the general framework for American foreign policy and to
keep public debate within “respectable” bounds, that is,
acceptable to the corporate power structure and the wealthy upper
class it serves.

its financing, leadership, and membership, the Council is close
to the largest multinational and blue chip corporations, including
big oil companies, industrials, life insurance companies, law firms,
and investment and commercial banks. In recent years, for example,
leading corporate benefactors of the Council have included ABC,
AOL Time Warner, American Express, Aramco, ATT, British Petroleum,
Bristol-Myers Squibb, Chevron Texaco, Citigroup, Corning, Deutsche
Bank AG, Exxon Mobil, Federal Express, J.P. Morgan Chase, Lockheed
Martin, Metropolitan Life Insurance, Morgan Stanley, Nike, Pfizer,
PricewaterhouseCoopers, Prudential Financial, Shell Oil, Sony, Toyota,
UBS PaineWebber, Verizon Communications, and Xerox.

leadership and membership of the CFR includes corporate leaders
like David Rockefeller, Peter G. Peterson, and Douglas Dillon, as
well as key government leaders from both major parties past and
present. Its 4,075 members (64 percent from New York and Washington,
DC) pay as much as $2,600 a year as dues (less depending upon age,
place of residence, and business status) and become members only
after being approved by the Council Board of Directors. The CFR
calls itself “nonpartisan” but the correct word is bipartisan;
it has a large representation from both major parties. There are
many members from current and past Administrations and Congress.
Except where otherwise noted, the following are all listed as current
CFR members or leaders in the Council’s 2002

Annual Report


  • Presidents:
    George H.W. Bush (former member), James Earl Carter, Bill Clinton,
    Gerald R. Ford

  • Vice Presidents:
    Richard B. Cheney, Walter F. Mondale

  • Secretaries
    of State: Madeleine Albright, James A. Baker III, Warren Christopher,
    Alexander M. Haig Jr., Henry A. Kissinger, Colin L. Powell, William
    D. Rogers, George P. Shultz

  • National Security
    Advisors: Richard V. Allen, Samuel Berger, Zbigniew Brzezinski,
    Henry A. Kissinger, W. Anthony Lake, Robert C. McFarlane, Condoleezza
    Rice, W.W. Rostow, Brent Scowcroft

  • Secretaries of
    Defense: Harold Brown, Frank C. Carlucci, Richard B. Cheney, William
    S. Cohen, Robert S. McNamara, Casper W. Weinberger

  • CIA Directors:
    Richard Helms, George Tenet, Stansfield Turner, William Webster,
    Frank G. Wisner II, R. James Woolsey

  • U.S. Senators
    and Congresspersons: Howard H. Baker Jr., Alfonse M. D’Amato,
    William H. Danforth, Christopher J. Dodd, Richard A. Gephardt,
    Newton L. Gingrich, Barney Frank, Peter H.B. Frelinghuysen, Geraldine
    A. Ferraro, Bob Graham, Chuck Hagel, Jane Harman, Gary Hart, Bob
    Kerrey, John F. Kerry, Joseph I. Lieberman, George S. McGovern,
    Daniel P. Moynihan, Claiborne Pell, Charles H. Percy, Warren B.
    Rudman, Charles E. Schumer, Steven J. Solarz, Adlai E. Stevenson,
    Robert G. Torricelli, John William Warner

final source of Council influence is its Studies and Publications
program. The Studies Program is the CFR’s think tank, where
strategic medium and long term foreign policy planning is conducted
and the challenges of crisis situations aggressively faced. A number
of Study Groups, Roundtables, and Forums are continuously in operation
at the CFR New York headquarters, groups which bring together members
to focus on a key issue, nation, or part of the world under the
leadership of one of the Council staff (which now includes over
100 scholars). The purpose of these studies is to influence both
government and wider publics. The studies program is scholarship
at the service of corporate interests, bringing together business
and government leaders with leading academics, as well as a smaller
representation from foundations, think tanks, and leading media.
After extensive study and discussion, a consensus is usually reached
and an article for

Foreign Affairs

or a full length Council
on Foreign Relations book is produced. The article or book represents
the views of the author, but it is widely and correctly understood
to result largely from the efforts and thinking of the entire group.
The CFR has dealt with crisis situations such as World War II and
the post Vietnam War period by setting up an expanded set of special
study groups. For example, the Council established the War and Peace
Studies Program in 1939 to plan for United States involvement in
the war and to set out the war aims and type of post war world for
which the U.S. should be fighting. The 1980’s Project was set
up in the mid 1970s to plan for and create the current neoliberal
world system we now have.

terrorism on September 11, 2002 resulted in a new burst of CFR activity
to plan yet another “new world order.” The Studies Program
since 9/11 has had as a central focus “America’s Response
to Terrorism,” consisting of 14 Roundtables headed by 12 Council
Fellows. One of these was the Henry A. Kissinger Roundtable on Terrorism,
directed by Kenneth M. Pollack, the CFR’s Olin Senior Fellow
and Director National Security Studies. In the months after September
11, Pollack and other CFR scholars wrote a total of 10 books, 20
major journal articles, about 100 op-ed articles in major national
and international newspapers, made over 1,000 appearances as commentators
on radio and TV shows, testified before Congress, and gave briefings
to key governmental officials, including, in the words of the CFR

Annual Report,

special briefings for “members of President
Bush’s inner circle.” With day-to-day foreign policy largely
in the hands of Council members Condoleezza Rice (National Security
Adviser), Colin Powell (Secretary of State), Dick Cheney (Vice President),
Paul Wolfowitz (Undersecretary of Defense), George Tenet (CIA head),
and John D. Negroponte (United Nations Representative), the CFR
has undoubtedly had a warm reception for its views.

The CFR’s Drive for a War on Iraq


“Next Stop Baghdad?” article by Kenneth M. Pollack appeared
in the March/April 2002 issue of


As mentioned above, Pollack was at the time the Council’s
Olin Senior Fellow and Director of National Security Studies, directing
a CFR Roundtable on Terrorism and America’s response. An expert
on Iraq, Iran, and the Persian Gulf, Pollack is a Yale and MIT graduate
who has worked for the CIA, the National Security Council under
Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and has also been a research professor
at the National Defense University. An expanded version of the “Next
Stop Baghdad?” article was published in October 2002 by Random
House as a Council on Foreign Relations book entitled

The Threatening

A review of the book in the November/December issue of

Foreign Affairs

called it “…exceptionally thoughtful.
If any book can shape the current thinking on Iraq, this one will
assuredly be it.” Pollack’s blunt conclusion in both the
article and book is, “The United States should invade Iraq,
eliminate the present regime, and pave the way for a successor…”

admits that Iraq has little to do with terrorism or al Qaeda and
goes on to argue that the containment and deterrence policy, which
was mutually successful for 45 years during the conflict between
the U.S.-led NATO powers and Soviet Russia, will not work in the
case of Iraq because of the nature of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Pollack’s argument against containment and deterrence is thus
based on the assumption of Saddam Hussein’s supposed “pathologies,”
and the belief that he cannot be deterred, a problem that becomes
more serious if he gets nuclear weapons. Therefore, due to the threat
that Saddam might destabilize oil supplies from the Middle East,
he has to be overthrown and a friendly government installed. This
is where the argument about weapons of mass destruction comes in
and why Iraq is seen as different than North Korea, in the view
of ruling circles. Saddam can impact the western world through impacting
the world’s access to oil, North Korea cannot.

concludes that other nations, regional and European powers, might
join the U.S. attack in order to “…retain political and economic
influence in Iraq later on.” He sees a possible major problem
once Hussein has been driven from power:  “…the United
States would be left ‘owning’ a country of 22 million
people ravaged by more than two decades of war, totalitarian misrule,
and severe deprivation. The invaders would get to decide the composition
and form of a future Iraqi government—both an opportunity and
a burden. Some form of unitary but federalized state would probably
best suit the bewildering array of local and foreign interest involved,
but ideally this decision would be a collective one: as in Afghanistan,
the United States should try to turn the question of future Iraqi
political arrangements over to the U.N., or possibly the Arab League,
thus shedding and spreading some responsibility for the outcome….
In the end, of course, it would be up to the United States to make
sure that a post-Saddam Iraq did not slip into chaos like Lebanon
in the 1980s or Afghanistan in the 1990s, creating spillover effects
in the region and raising the possibility of a new terrorist haven.”

Pollack asks and answers the question of when to attack Iraq. He
argues on the one hand that it would be an error to launch an attack
before al Qaeda is made “innocuous,” adding that: “…it
would be a mistake to jeopardize success by risking a major break
with U.S. allies—something that a serious campaign against
Iraq might well make necessary.”

the other hand, too long a delay in going to war could make it very
hard to muster necessary domestic and international support.


views are supported by other Council leaders, who clearly want a
preemptive war on Iraq sooner rather than later. In a December 2002
interview, Council member Rachel Bronson, who is the CFR’s
Director of Middle East Studies and an Olin Senior Fellow, made
the following pro-war comments: “…in my mind, in a war of
our choosing, we should choose the most advantageous period for
fighting and the summer is not that. I am more optimistic now than
I was earlier because the inspectors got in early. That completely
changes the calculus…. The chances for a military action are probably
about 75 percent. There’s about a ten percent chance of a coup,
and a fifteen percent chance that Washington still doesn’t
get the diplomacy right and an attack gets pushed off to the fall.

  • “Q. That’s
    been your view all along? Not only that war is inevitable, but
    that we should launch it?

  • “A. Yes.
    It is strategically sound and morally just. The Middle East is
    a strategic region for us. It is where oil does play into all
    this…. It is about stability in the region. Saddam has been
    very destabilizing…. Strategically trying to get rid of one
    of the most destabilizing forces in the Middle East is a good
    idea. But the moral aspect doesn’t get as much play as it
    should…. When Secretary Albright said it was not us causing
    the suffering of the Iraqi people, but Saddam, technically she
    was right. And everyone in the region agreed; but what they couldn’t
    understand was why we pursued a policy knowing that Saddam would
    use it to his advantage to torture his people. We were complicit.
    We have to get rid of this monster. He is our Frankenstein.”

CFR leader sanguine about the prospects for war is CFR Vice President
and Director of Studies Lawrence J. Korb, who likes to point out
that the U.S. actually made a profit on the last war on Iraq. In
a recent interview Korb made the following comments:

  • “Q. Everyone
    remembers the allied land invasion in 1991 to liberate Kuwait
    that lasted three days. What kind of military action will we have
    this time? Will it also be a quick one?

  • “A. I think
    if there is a military action and it occurs during the winter
    and you get support from countries in the region it will be over
    in less than a month. What you will have this time is simultaneous
    air and ground operations….

  • “Q. Can
    the United States afford this? How much will this cost?

  • “A. If
    you talk about cost, you have the incremental cost of the operation.
    We have a $400 billion annual defense budget. You won’t have
    to buy much new equipment. For a one month war, counting the buildup
    underway, you are talking about an incremental cost of about $50
    billion…. The Persian Gulf campaign in today’s dollars
    cost $80 billion.

  • “Q. That
    was essentially paid by the Saudis, right?

  • “A. The
    last war was actually paid for by the Saudis, the Germans, and
    the Japanese. We actually made a profit on that war…. What we
    did after the war was over was make the books come out even…
    we actually collected more than we actually spent.”

CFR’s Twin War Aims


mid-2002 the CFR, together with the James A. Baker III Institute
for Public Policy of Rice University, established a 23 member planning
group to formulate the U.S. war aims and the political and economic
rules for a post-war Iraq. One of the project directors was Rachel
Bronson and members included Kenneth Pollack, as well as corporate
leaders (Boeing, PFC Energy), university professors (Princeton,
Yale, Vermont) a Naval War College professor, a Senate on Foreign
Relations staffer, and representatives from the Cambridge Energy
Research Associates, the Brookings Institution, the James Baker
III Institute for Public Policy, and nine staffers from the CFR.
A report,

Principles for U.S. Post -Conflict Policy in Iraq,

was produced
by the Council in late 2002.


his introduction to the report, Council President Leslie H. Gelb
points out that two essential matters must be put in order prior
to going to war: “…preparing the nation for the increased
likelihood of a terrorist response on American soil; and pulling
together realistic plans for what America and others—above
all the Iraqis themselves—will do the day after the fighting
ends… It is to meet the second concern, the day after the battle
subsides, that the Council on Foreign Relations and the James A.
Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University join intellectual
forces…. What these working group leaders, working group participants,
and experts who addressed them have done is to create the first
intellectual road map for thinking our way through a post-war Iraq.
The document is comprehensive, most thoughtful, and above all, practical
and useful. It should be used to engage the administration, Congress,
the media, and the wider public on this critical and pressing foreign
policy issue, namely thinking about the dangers and opportunities
that lie ahead in the gulf, and the Arab and Islamic worlds.”

report begins by pointing out that it is based on the “…assumption
that full-scale military operations will be necessary and of relatively
short duration” and stresses that the U.S. could win the war
and easily lose the peace, creating serious long term problems.
A three-phase approach is proposed to create a post-war Iraq friendly
to U.S. interests. It includes a short term period of U.S. military
rule, a middle period of UN supervision, and finally a sovereign
Iraqi government. One of the key early problems will be “finding
the right Iraqi allies…making possible an early exit.” In
addition, a “vigorous public diplomacy campaign” is seen
as necessary to convince skeptical publics at home and abroad that
U.S. objectives and intentions are just. In this regard the


report states: “One of the most important issues
to address is the widely held view that the campaign against Iraq
is driven by an American wish to ‘steal’ or at least control
Iraqi oil. U.S. statements and behavior must refute this…. A heavy
American hand will only convince them and the world that the operation
against Iraq was undertaken for imperialist, rather than disarmament,

the body of the report has a section called “The Lure of Oil:
Realities and Constraints,” as well as an addendum called “Oil
and Iraq: Opportunities and Challenges,” which is almost as
long as all of the rest of the report text. In the sections focusing
on oil, lip service is given to Iraq’s control of its own oil,
while, in fact, the report argues that national control of Iraqi
oil must be scrapped and an “economy based on free market principles”
and a “level playing field for all international players to
participate” be created. The report goes on to point out: “Paragraph
30 of UNSCR 1284 already authorizes the UN secretary-general to
investigate ways that oil companies could be allowed to invest in
Iraq. Thus, the legal basis for the UN to authorize and oversee
foreign investment…already exists.”

report also makes clear that the Iraqi oil contracts that French
and Russian companies now have will be challenged: “Finally,
the legality of post- sanctions contracts awarded in recent years
will have to be evaluated. Prolonged legal conflicts over contracts
could delay the development of important fields in Iraq…. It may
be advisable to pre-establish a legitimate (preferably UN mandated)
legal framework for vetting pre-hostility exploration agreements.”

the “right” Iraqi allies are installed under U.S. military
and political control, it is obvious that the large American multinational
oil corporations will soon be in charge of and will immensely benefit
from Iraq’s giant oil resources, which are second only to Saudi
Arabia’s in the world. This is obviously imperialism, despite
the fact that CFR leaders are anxious to avoid the term. OPEC’s
bargaining power could also be destroyed by such “free market,”
“level playing field” policies, harming the interests
of many poor countries.

control of oil is one strategic aim of this war, another goal is
“modernizing the Arab world.” Fouad Ajami, an active Council
member, discussed this issue in the January/February issue of


. Early in his piece, Ajami comments on why the reformation
of the Arab world should now be a concern of the U.S.: “Above
and beyond toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein and dismantling
its deadly weapons, the driving motivation of a new American endeavor
in Iraq and in neighboring Arab lands should be modernizing the
Arab world. The great indulgence granted to the ways and phobias
of Arabs has reaped a terrible harvest—for the Arabs themselves,
and for an America implicated in their affairs. It is cruel and
unfair but true: the fight between Arab rulers and insurgents is
for now an American concern…. It was September 11 and its shattering
surprise, in turn, that tipped the balance on Iraq away from containment
and toward regime change and rollback…. Thus far, the United States…power
has invariably been on the side of political reaction and a stagnant
status quo. A new war should come with the promise that the United
States is now on the side of reform.”

out his theme, Ajami argues that U.S. control of Iraq can be a base
for a pro-U.S. transformation of the entire Arab world, including
Egypt, by a new Pax Americana: “The case for war must rest
in part on the kind of vision the United States has for Iraq. The
dread of ‘nation-building’ must be cast aside…there
will have to be a sustained American presence if the new order is
to hold and take root. Iraq is a society with substantial social
capital and the region’s second largest reserves of oil….
For Pax Americana, Iraq may be worth the effort and the risks. America
has been on the ground in Saudi Arabia for nearly six decades now,
in Egypt for three. In both realms, there is wrath and estrangement
toward America. What has been built in Arabia appears in serious
jeopardy. The aid and help granted to Egypt has begotten nothing
other than ingratitude and a deep suspicion among frustrated middle-class
Egyptians that the United States wishes for them subjugation and
dependence. There is an unfathomable anti-Americanism in Egypt—even
among those professionals who have done well by the American connection.
There appears to be no liberal option for Egypt…Iraq may offer
a contrast, a base in the Arab world free of the poison of anti-Americanism.”

further develops his argument by focusing on what he believes that
America must do to transform Iraq: “Saddam did not descend
from the sky; he emerged out of his world’s sins of omission
and commission. The murderous zeal with which he went about subduing
the Kurds and Shi’a was a reflection of the deep atavisms of
Arab life. There, on the eastern flank of the Arab world, Iraq and
its “maximum leader” offered the fake promise of a pan-Arab
Bismarck who would check the Persians to the east and, in time,
head west to take up Israel’s challenge…. It has often seemed
in recent years that the Arab political tradition is immune to democratic
stirrings. The sacking of a terrible regime with such a pervasive
cult of terror may offer Iraqis and Arabs a break with the false
gifts of despotism…. If and when it comes, that task of repairing—or
detoxifying—Iraq will be a major undertaking. The remarkable
rehabilitation of Japan between its surrender in 1945 and the restoration
of its sovereignty in 1952 offers a historical precedent…in the
space of a decade, imperial Japan gave way to a more egalitarian

the future implications of this American imperial burden—the
domination of the Arab world— are outlined by Ajami: “The
Arab world could whittle down, even devour, an American victory.
This is a difficult, perhaps impossible, political landscape. It
may reject the message of reform by dwelling on the sins of the
American messenger…. It can throw up its defenses and wait for
the United States to weary of its expedition. It is with sobering
caution…that a war will have to be waged. But it should be recognized
that the Rubicon has been crossed. Any fallout of war is certain
to be dwarfed by the terrible consequences of America’s walking
right up to the edge of war and then stepping back, letting the
Iraqi dictator work out the terms of another reprieve. It is the
fate of great powers that provide order to do so against the background
of a world that takes the protection while it bemoans the heavy
hand of the protector. This new expedition to Mesopotamia would
be no exception to that rule.”

Arrogance of a Super Power


the close interlocks of personnel between the CFR and the U.S. government
and the bipartisan nature of the Council, it should come as no surprise
that CFR views are clearly reflected both in the Bush administration’s
foreign policies and the policy positions taken by leading Democrats
in Congress. Democratic Party leaders in the House and Senate, a
number of them also members of the Council (for example Gephardt,
Kerry, Graham, Lieber- man, Dodd), have generally supported the
Republican foreign policy agenda and most Democratic Senators voted
for authorizing President Bush to go to war preemptively against
Iraq at his own discretion. As of early January 2003, the current
Democratic presidential candidates are almost all pro-war. As mentioned
above, key members of Bush’s own foreign policy team (Powell,
Rice, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Tenet, Negroponte) are also members
of the CFR and are actively planning the military and diplomatic
aspects of a war on Iraq.

animating vision for the CFR/Bush administration’s foreign
policy is for a global empire/Pax Americana, extending the existing
policing of the world role to becoming hegemon as well. This view
is reflected in the September 2002 Bush administration document
“National Security Strategy of the United States.” This
official document discounts the importance of a variety of international
treaties, including nuclear nonproliferation, in favor of unilateral
U.S. actions under the doctrine of “counter-proliferation,”
meaning missile defense and preemptive attacks on countries perceived
to be a threat to the United States. Containment, deterrence, and
building an international architecture of treaties, alliances, and
agreements, key aspects of U.S. policy for five decades, are now
largely dead. The words of the document follow the Council ideas
on pre-emptive attacks discussed above: “We will not hesitate
to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense
by acting pre- emptively…[including] convincing or compelling
states to accept their sovereign responsibilities.” The result
is that the United States is on the verge of starting a major war
as the aggressor.

Injustice and Dangers of U.S. Strategy


the 1940s the CFR’s War and Peace Studies Project laid the
groundwork for a new U.S.-dominated world order. In the 1970s the
CFR helped refine and modify this global order with a series of
study groups collectively labeled the “1980s Project.”

Both of these projects were influential in creating the current
neoliberal, corporate world order and the overwhelming military,
economic, and cultural dominance of the U.S. The terrorism we have
recently experienced at the hands of quasi-feudal and reactionary
fundamentalist forces is a direct and poisonous outgrowth of this
corporate globalization. Corporate globalization dissolves old ways
and existing communities without adequately replacing them. It aims
at forcing billions of people in the global south to serve the profit
and accumulation needs of rich corporations located in North America,
Western Europe, and Japan. Some of the aims of corporate globalization
are unfettered capital mobility; open markets so that even fragile
economies can be dominated by outside corporations; exploitation
of low wages and weak environmental standards; use of the International
Monetary Fund and World Bank to constrict public spending and eliminate
needed services; and the privatization of well-functioning public
enterprises resulting in further corporate control, layoffs of workers
and higher prices for the people. The results have been catastrophic:
corrupt, dictatorial, uncaring governments; a huge and widening
gap between the rich and the poor; 1.3 billion people in the Global
South living in absolute poverty, another almost 2 billion living
on $2/day; 50 million deaths each year from malnutrition alone;
and pandemics—the Ebola virus, sleeping sickness, TB, AIDS
to name just a few—caused by poverty and rotting public health

injustice of the current order has created massive suffering for
billions of people, while the rich become still richer. By its very
nature the system of corporate globalization economically colonizes
nations in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East, undermining
their sovereignty, and helping to create the chaos of failed states.
Giant corporations whose only concern is profit have become more
powerful than governments. The International Monetary Fund’s
structural adjustment and forced privatization programs severely
hamper the ability of many governments to maintain social safety
nets or deliver needed services to the people. This not only uproots
people and creates poverty, it also destroys the glue that holds
a given society together.

government-sponsored actions in the last 55 years have resulted
in the mostly successful destruction of the worldwide left and progressive/populist
forces creating a fertile ground for fundamentalist forces like
al Queda. The weak and failed states of our era are thus one product
of an imposed corporate globalization. Fundamentalism and terrorism
arises in the disintegrating peripheral societies created by this
process. It is a way of trying to restore the integrity of ravaged
communities and the powerless people within them.

the injustice, suffering, and terrorism that corporate globalization
creates in the Third World, there is the question of the dangers
posed by the new preemptive imperialism of the CFR, Bush administration,
and its supporters in the Republican and Democratic parties. In
the past, when one nation unilaterally seized the role of setting
international norms and standards, determined what threats existed,
preemptively made war, and claimed absolute sovereignty for itself,
even as it imposed conditional sovereignty on others, sooner or
later that nation has had a serious price to pay. Any nation deciding
upon such a perilous course is likely to be heading for a fall because
its actions tend to trigger antagonism and resistance, eventually
creating a hostile world united against it. Thus encirclement awaits
any nation, which consistently ignores the interests of others.

overreach can also become a serious problem, because failed states
have to be invaded, occupied, and rehabilitated at great expense.
At the same time, the “great power” depreciates and undermines
the international rules, treaties, security partnerships, and organizations,
which not only preserve and protect everyone’s rights, but
are needed to put nations back together. Other countries begin to
feel that they must have weapons of mass destruction in order to
protect their own sovereignty, so such weapons proliferate. This
creates more instability, which then has to be controlled. The unconstrained
preemptive actions of the “great power” also destroy the
rules and norms regarding self defense (Article 51 of the UN Charter
becomes meaningless), encouraging others to preemptively attack
their neighbors should a problem arise. Lacking any norms justifying
force, the basis for such preemptive attacks becomes less and less
clear, hunch or inference can then be enough to set off a war using
nuclear weapons with potentially catastrophic consequences for the
earth and its life forms. The bipartisan CFR/Bush imperial policy
is unsustainable and extremely dangerous. Unchecked power exercised
outside any international norms or rules is a prescription for disaster.
Bush’s hubris and planned long march through Iraq and other
so called “rogue” states is indeed a situation that will
not only result in the disaster of endless war, it will assure that
this war can never be won.

Another Foreign Policy is Possible


then would a non-imperial, peaceful, coherent and sustainable United
States foreign policy look like? The United States should take the
lead in creating a world of peace, democracy and social justice

  • Supporting the
    right of self-determination for all peoples in the Middle East,
    including the Kurds, Palestinians and Israeli Jews; withdrawing
    U.S. troops from the region; ending both the sanctions on Iraq
    and support for corrupt and authoritarian regimes such as Saudi
    Arabia, the Gulf States, and Egypt

  • Renouncing the
    use of unilateral U.S. military interventions, making confidence
    building steps toward renouncing weapons of mass destruction,
    including nuclear weapons, and strongly promote international
    disarmament treaties

  • Ending complicity
    in all forms of terrorism worldwide

  • Abandoning IMF/World
    Bank/World Trade Organization/NAFTA economic policies that enforce
    the mass misery of corporate globalization and beginning a major
    foreign aid program directed at popular rather than corporate

  • Ratifying the
    Kyoto protocols on global warming and promoting even stronger
    international agreements to protect the ecosystems upon which
    all life depends

  • Supporting a
    strengthened United Nations and a renewed regime of international

  • Closing all
    military bases on foreign soil and cleaning up any toxic wastes
    left behind

  • Creating economic
    security by replacing oil dependence with reliance on renewable
    energy and ending corporate domination of American political and
    economic life

  • Adhering to
    U.S. and international laws

have a chance to implement such a foreign policy the struggle for
a real democracy at home must be intensified. Today there is no
real national dialogue about our foreign policy. The American media
largely reflects the views of the corporate upper class. Current
U.S. foreign policy is very undemocratic. The term “national
interest” is based on the interests of the powerful only, not
the interests of the American people. Our political system is controlled
by corporate campaign cash. Our Congress is composed of people selected
in gerrymandered winner take-all legislative districts. American
politics needs serious reform, including public financing of all
elections, Instant Runoff Voting, Proportional Representation, free
media access for all ballot qualified candidates on an equal basis,
and an end to the Electoral College. Once these reforms are in place,
a real dialogue about our future can more fruitfully take place.

it is hypocritical for George W. Bush and his Admin- istration to
impose their version of “democracy” on anyone anywhere,
since Al Gore received more votes than he did in the 2000 election,
and that Bush achieved power only through fraud in Florida and manipulation
by a Republican dominated Supreme Court. The Bush administration,
with the help from both major parties, has, using the excuse of
fighting terrorism, also seriously undermined the civil and constitutional
rights of all Americans, with the misnamed PATRIOT Act, other laws,
and new bureaucracies. It has detained immigrants without trial,
even denying two arrested American citizens their constitutional
right to an attorney. These anti-democratic measures, which allow
secret warrentless searches of people’s homes and other violations
of civil liberties, take the U.S. even further from being any kind
of model to emulate and should be repealed.

the long term it is only through democratic, collective decision-making
in both the public and private spheres that we can avoid the disasters
that we are now facing. That decision making must confront root
causes, central among them capitalism and empire. The grip of oil
imperialism, or any other kind of imperialism, cannot be broken
within the framework of the current order. Thus we must build a
world apart from corporate capital and one that does not require
a fossil fuel economy. It is the solidarity, courage, and resistance
of the people at all levels, especially at the workplace and in
the streets, that appears to be the only way we have a chance stop
the barbarism we now face. We as citizens have never faced a more
urgent duty.

Shoup is co-author of

Imperial Brain Trust: the Council
on Foreign Relations and U.S. Foreign Policy

(with William Minter)
published in 1977 by Monthly Review Press.