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From dsteele@mdi.ca Wed Oct 18 18:11:52 2000
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2000 23:36:01 -0500 (CDT)
From: Dave Steele <dsteele@mdi.ca>
Subject: The Real Choice in 2000
Organization: ITServices, University of British Columbia
Article: 107097
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
X-UIDL: 0KD!!8Z"#!jX?!!I)R"!

The Real Choice in 2000

By Dave Steele, in Ithaca Today, http://ithacatoday.com/
17 October 2000

A friend of mine remarked last week that everyone deserves the right to vote in our Presidential elections. That's everyone in the world, not just Americans. She's got a point. The President of the United States wields unparalleled power over the entire planet. And the fact that most of the world has no voice in his decisions is painfully obvious.

Last week's Presidential debate highlighted her point. I admit I didn't watch. I can't. Watching these guys gets me way too upset. Friends, though, tell me that Al Gore and George W. Bush seemed to agree on an awful lot. And much of their agreement was on policies which, to put it mildly, are not at all good for the world.

Gore and Bush agreed that spending more money for an anti-ballistic missile "defense" system was a good thing. As a number of prominent physicists <http://www.ucsusa.org/arms/ltr.physicist.html> have pointed out, such a system is not only unfeasible, it's profoundly destabilizing. "ABM defense" violates the 28-year-old Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty; it threatens to start a new global arms race. The arms industry will certainly benefit, though.

Gore and Bush agreed that our invasions of Grenada and of Panama were right and proper. Neither mentioned that Reagan's pretext for the invasion of Grenada, a so-called military airport, was being built for tourist traffic. Funded largely with money from that hotbed of revolutionary zeal known as Canada, the new airport was surrounded by hotels under construction. Nor did Gore or Bush mention the hundreds (or thousands --- we've never been given accurate figures) of people killed in the invasions.

Neither Gore nor Bush mentioned that these invasions were in direct violation of international law. Fact is, if the invasions were legal, then Panama and Chile, Iran and Nicaragua, Guatemala and Vietnam (and a host of others) would be entirely within their rights to swoop into Washington, blast their way to the White House and scoop up our President for trial in their own countries. The United States government has been responsible for extensive violence and killing in all of these countries --- and for the overthrow of many a democratically-elected government. Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia and others have seen their democracies nullified and murderous "governments" placed in their stead under the noble guidance of our Presidents. Certainly the crimes Manuel Noriega committed against us look puny in comparison.

Gore and Bush both support continuing the sanctions against Iraq. Through those sanctions, we're starving Iraqi people to death. At least half a million men, women and children are dead because of the sanctions. Genocide is what former UN Assistant Secretary-General Denis Halliday calls it all.

On the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Gore and Bush both side with Israel. Neither mentions that the Oslo peace agreement will, at best, relegate the Palestinians to "Bantustan-style arrangements," as Noam Chomsky calls them. And even this deeply unbalanced agreement has been routinely breeched by Israel. Small wonder that Palestinians are rising in anger. They've been oppressed for over 50 years now. I am deeply saddened by the deaths and injuries among the Palestinians, the Israelis and the crewmen on the USS Cole. But it's not hard to see why this is happening.

Gore and Bush support the extension of "free trade," modeled on NAFTA --- a system of "free trade" that requires that other countries open their industries to takeover by our corporations. You can be sure that, under either Bush or Gore, these requirements will be strictly enforced. Enforcement of labor and environmental provisions, of course, will be strictly voluntary --- if the provisions appear at all.

Gore and Bush agree also on massive military aid to Colombia, where a civil war has displaced hundreds of thousands. Both say they'll expand the military. Both supported the war against Yugoslavia. Domestically, Gore and Bush favor scaled back welfare for the poor and continued subsidies for the corporations. They both laud the drug war. Neither proposes universal access to health care.

In short, Al Gore and George Bush both represent the interests of big money and power. Big surprise. Their campaigns are financed mainly by the very rich --- a fact goes that goes a long way in explaining the similarities of the two men's positions. Most Americans, let alone the other citizens of this world, have precious little say in the policies that they advocate.

Fortunately, Gore and Bush are not our only choices. Ralph Nader <http://votenader.org/>, running for the Green Party, and David McReynolds <http://votesocialist.org/>, the Socialist Party candidate, advocate a very different role for America. Both call for big cuts in military spending. Neither would fund the "missile defense" program. Both advocate diplomacy over intervention; real aid over corporate take-over. Neither would keep this country in NAFTA nor in the WTO. McReynolds would pull us out of NATO, too. Under either of these men, universal health care would be a priority.

Where Nader and McReynolds differ is in the extent of the domestic reforms they advocate. The Greens would rein in corporations through regulation and lawsuits. The Socialists would abolish them, transferring factories and corporations to worker and community control. (These are democratic socialists, akin to the anarchosyndicalists of 1930s Spain). As for small business, McReynolds says, "That's the spice of American life. We are not interested in abolishing small business. The enemy of small business is not the Socialist Party. The real enemy of small business is, in fact, the corporate structure."

Both McReynolds and Nader would make great, reformist Presidents. Of course, in the present system, it is highly unlikely that either will have the chance.

Nevertheless the choices this year are real and they are stark. Yes, for progressives, for the country and for the world, Gore may be somewhat the lesser evil than Bush. Certainly, on a woman's right to choose, Gore is better than Bush. Remember, though, that when you're choosing the lesser of two evils, you are still choosing an evil. Gore, as much as Bush, will pursue unjust and destructive policies, both foreign and domestic. Bill Clinton has proved no better than George Bush, Sr. on these matters. Iraqi sanctions are still in place; it wasn't George Bush who signed NAFTA or the bill "ending welfare as we know it." Bill Clinton signed both of them. Why should we expect better from Gore?

I'm not trying to say that choosing to vote for Ralph Nader or David McReynolds is without potential negative consequences. What I am saying is that a vote for Gore or a vote for Bush has guaranteed negative consequences. A vote for either of them is a vote to continue this country's long history of aggressive foreign policy; a vote for more of the same unjust social order. Greed and powerlust are the driving forces in our government and in our economy. Whatever else it says, a vote for Nader or McReynolds says, "I don't want to be complicit in that. I want to be part of a better world."

You have a great privilege in being able to vote in this election, a privilege most of the world will never have. So think carefully before you enter that booth next month. Your vote really matters. Not just at home, but across the world.

Some relevant links:

Info on US interventions and the SOA
Albert Einstein's "Why Socialism?"
Noam Chomsky's "Notes on Anarchism"
Anarchist FAQ's http://www.abforestry.co.nz/rray/faq/index.html

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