"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Thursday, February 17, 2005

U.S.A, Inc.

U.S.A, Inc.

"Like any corporation, the United States chooses profit over humanity. But the United States is unique in that it operates less like Unocal or Halliburton and more like the mafia, complete with “hits” upon any competitors which might threaten the existing order (“nothing personal, just business”). But even the most violently diabolical members of organized crime can only drool with envy at the military might the U.S.A., Inc. has at its disposal to enforce its will upon the world."

The corporation is, by nature, an exploitative entity. I’ve pointed this out in conversation only to have the notion summarily rejected, the defense being that this corporation or that corporation is not exploitative, so the hypothesis must therefore be false. The fallacy should be obvious enough, however, to the careful observer. The hypothesis is not that all corporations are exploitative, but that the corporation is exploitative. Nor is the former a corollary of the latter.

As self-evident as it may seem to some, there are others who might consider the statement to be “liberal” rhetoric emanating from the margins of society, and who therefore require some demonstration of its accuracy should they be expected to take the hypothesis seriously.

To do so is a laborless enough task. One need merely point out that corporations, by law, are required to maximize profits for their shareholders. Thus, when any conflict of interest arises, the corporation will inevitably choose to do that which brings in more mammon, rather than that which serves the public interest. It should come as no surprise, then, that exploitation occurs as a result.

Take the environment. This is perhaps the most obvious area in which corporations are exploitative, and even those who would deny the hypothesis would be reluctant to assert that corporations are not naturally exploitative of the environment. Given the choice between doing what’s right for the environment (such as, say, not polluting), and making a profit, the route the corporation will take is no great secret.

Fortunately, there are times when the law of the corporation which demands profits for its shareholders may be trumped by other public laws, such as those which seek to preserve the delicate balance of the natural world in which we live. Thus, the corporation, given the choice, will always exploit the environment for profit unless there is some act of legislation preventing it from doing so. Naturally, therefore, when deregulation occurs, increased exploitation results.

Or take wages of labor, a matter in which, to provide evidence for the hypothesis, I will defer to a higher authority. “The workmen,” wrote Adam Smith, “desire to get as much, the masters to give as little as possible. The former are disposed to combine in order to raise, the latter in order to lower the wages of labour… But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and every where in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual state.”

Furthermore, “Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen,” Smith also noted, “its counselors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.”

Tacit conspiracies to depress wages of labor – what any laborer, at least, would describe as exploitation – are not the only conspiracies in which corporations engage. “People of the same trade seldom meet together,” Smith wrote, “even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

I will add one final observation from the renowned economist: “The monopolists, by keeping the market constantly understocked, by never fully supplying the effectual demand, sell their commodities much above the natural price, and raise their emoluments, whether they consist in wages or profit, greatly above their natural rate.”

I submit these observations of the nature of corporations by this competent authority as evidence of their exploitative nature. It should be noted, however, that the absence of any sort of conflict of interest for any particular corporation will naturally mean no exploitation occurs. It is where such a conflict of interest occurs that it is in the nature of the corporation to choose the more exploitative of routes.

It might be prudent to include a few specific examples of exploitation which exist today as a result of corporations’ inability to rise above their nature. The outsourcing of U.S. jobs to foreign countries is one example of particular concern in recent years. Not only does this represent what the American labor force views as a betrayal, but it also results in the exploitation of foreign labor forces.

To the corporation, what matters is the numbers, and the fact that they can pay someone in a third-world country a tiny fraction of what they would have to pay an American worker to accomplish the same job. As Smith observed, one method of maintaining profits is by depressing wages. It being the nature of the corporation to maximize profit, it should come as no great surprise that it will view the opportunity to replace a labor force receiving reasonable wages with one receiving barely enough to provide food on the table, a roof over a few heads, and modest coverings for a few naked bodies – or less – with great enthusiasm. Humanity is simply not a variable in the equation.

Some might argue that this is not exploitation since it provides foreign laborers with jobs they might otherwise not have. But this argument fails to take into account other natural factors, such as the lack of regulation in foreign countries that are under more despotic rule than our own. It ignores such matters as that of children laboring fourteen hours a day in sweatshops. It is precisely by abusing the rights of the laborer, accommodated by the lack of legislation enforcing the protection of such rights, that the corporation is able to pay such low wages. Attempting to paint such exploitation in the color of benevolence is nothing more than an act of denial on the part of corporate apologists.

Corporations are also more than happy to take advantage of lax environmental regulations in foreign countries. Thus, corporations which might be required by law in our nation to take measures to protect the environment can operate in other countries without concern over investing in such protective measures. Why pollute our country when we can pollute somebody else’s at a fraction of the cost?

Another aspect of corporate exploitation is the willingness to collude with despotic regimes. Corporations’ willingness to support tyrants for mutual profit is another common theme in exploitation regularly ignored by the apologists of what has been dubbed “globalization”.

But besides being exploitative in nature, there are other disturbing features of the corporation, such as their designation as legal “persons”. By defining “corporations” as legal “persons”, they can legally claim the same “privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States” referred to in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

The traditional explanation for that amendment is that it recognized the rights of blacks. Under this interpretation, it can be argued that corporations can claim to have “rights” such as those protected by the first ten amendments – an implication with dangerous enough consequences.

But the amendment nowhere mentions “rights”, only “privileges”. It speaks of “persons” who are “subject to” the United States government. This language should be enough to cause any true republican to raise an eyebrow.

First, there is a fundamental difference between “rights” and “privileges”. Rights, as defined by the Declaration of Independence, are God-given and inalienable. Privileges, on the other hand, are granted by one man to his fellow man and are quite alienable. The founding documents established a republican form of government for the union of States that is subject to the people. We the People, with God-given inalienable rights, established a government subject to our authority and granted it certain privileges.

Suddenly, with the 14th amendment, a different form of government was described. In this form of government, the people are subject to the government, rather than vice versa. In this form of government, the people are granted privileges from the government, rather than vice versa. In short, whereas the Constitution established a republic, the 14th amendment described a democracy.

For all the talk these days about “democracy”, one might never guess that the founding fathers despised that form of government. A democracy, they recognized, is mob rule. It’s two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner, to borrow the analogy. In a republic, on the other hand, one man and the law is a sovereign in an impenetrable fortress. A democracy grants privileges, a republic recognizes rights. There is, in short, all the difference in the world between a republic and a democracy.

What is certain is that the 14th amendment created a new class of citizens. What exactly this new class of citizens is, however, is slightly more ambiguous. It is commonly taught that this new citizenry was the black population, which was raised to the level of white citizenry. In reality, if one may accurately judge from the language, what occurred is that the status of the entire population was lowered from being citizens of a republic to being citizens of a democracy, and from having God-given inalienable rights to having government-granted privileges.

Understood in either context, the consequences of the legal designation of corporations as “persons” is essentially the same. In either interpretation, it means that corporate entities have equal standing under the law as individual citizens, something that should be considered neither appropriate nor desirable. Corporations should rightfully be bound by stricter regulations than those which govern individuals in their relations with one another.

It is not that the corporation has been given the same status as sovereign citizens of the republic, but that the republic has been replaced with a democracy and every citizen denigrated to the level of the corporation; while the regulations governing corporations have not been met with any similar denigration. The end result is that, whichever paradigm one chooses to live by, corporations have more power and influence in society than should exist in a just and equitable society.

And thus it is that we have come to be regulated by commercial law, rather than by common law; by the law of the sea rather than by the law of the land. We have all become corporate entities, having surrendered our republic in favor of democracy, our rights in favor of privileges, and our sovereignty in favor of servitude by some other name. We have entered the rabbit hole of legalism, where nothing is as it seems; or the matrix, if you prefer, designed to give the appearance of freedom but lacking its most fundamental and essential characteristics.

And so it is that “United States” has come to be defined as “a Federal Corporation” (Title 28, VI, Chapter 176, Subchapter A, Section 3002) with all the implications of that designation. Our nation has come to be the most exploitative upon the face of the earth. Only a great act of self-delusion could prompt one to assert any differently in the face of the supporting evidence.

Like any corporation, the United States chooses profit over humanity. But the United States is unique in that it operates less like Unocal or Halliburton and more like the mafia, complete with “hits” upon any competitors which might threaten the existing order (“nothing personal, just business”). But even the most violently diabolical members of organized crime can only drool with envy at the military might the U.S.A., Inc. has at its disposal to enforce its will upon the world.

And the U.S. is not afraid of using this might, as it is only too eager to demonstrate, in order to advance its agenda of domination, particularly, if recent history is any judge, with regard to the natural resources of the Middle East. Apologists for U.S. aggression commonly charge its critics with being “anti-American”. These apologists rightfully recognize that being “American” means sharing in the beliefs and principles laid out by the founding fathers in the founding documents, but fail to recognize that, by this very definition of the word, it is our government itself which is violently “anti-American”.

The problem of exploitation runs thick in the heart of our nation today. The nature of corporations can only be overcome by enforceable regulations which protect the rights of individuals. So long as we have a government that is more protective of corporations, however, than of individuals, exploitation will continue to increase until the remains of our republic are swept into the dustbins of history. If this is not the future we desire for ourselves, then it’s time to restore the republic, and to take back the reins of government from those who have usurped it.

For those who would insist that this is anti-American-speak, I submit the following evidence to the contrary:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

You just can’t get much more American than that.

Jeremy R. Hammond - Email - jrhammond001@hotmail.com

© 2005 Jeremy R. Hammond. All rights reserved. You may republish under the following conditions: An active link to the original publication must be provided. You must not alter, edit or remove any text within the article, including this copyright notice.

The Ties That Blind

It is known throughout the world that the U.S. has acquiesced for decades in Israel's obtaining and expanding its own nuclear weapons, while at the same time the U.S. is trying to stop other nations, particularly in the Middle East, from doing the same.

US Foreign Policy Dangerously Slanted Toward Israel

Editors' Note: The following talk in Santa Fe, NM was given on February 12, 2005. Bill was one of three speakers, and his wife Kathy was another. (An article including her talk will be forthcoming.) The event, organized by the Santa Fe Chapter of Veterans for Peace, was an evening of talks and discussion along with videos, pictures, and graphics displays on "Palestine/Israel: Human Rights and Policy Perspectives."BILL CHRISTISON
Former CIA analyst

We've already mentioned that Kathy and I have helped to rebuild Palestinian houses. These were houses destroyed by the Israeli government -- acts of destruction to which our own government in Washington never raised any objection. Helping to rebuild them was our small act of rebellion, on the ground in Palestine, against Israeli and U.S. policies. I'd like now to connect this small act to our broader and even more rebellious views on U.S. foreign policies in general.

To keep the discussion on the Israel-Palestine issue, the first point I want to make is that practically all U.S. foreign policies -- including those that concern areas other than Palestine -- are very significantly affected by U.S. actions and policies on Palestine itself. I believe it is a fact that a majority of the six and a half billion people in the world today literally hate most major U.S. foreign policies and that, while there are a number of reasons behind this hatred, one of the important reasons is the past 80 to 100 years of U.S. actions with respect to Palestine. When Noam Chomsky and Tariq Ali were recently in town, Chomsky commented that five years ago much of the world regarded the United States as a rogue state and the greatest threat to their existence. He then went on to say: "Since then, the situation has become far worse. It's now not much of the world . . . but most of the world. . . . George Bush has . . . succeeded in a few years in making the United States the most feared and often hated country in the world." Tariq Ali later made it clear that he agreed.

This is a tragedy. The U.S. government seems to be deliberately enmeshing itself ever more deeply in international crises of its own making, particularly in the Middle East. President Bush will almost certainly continue aggressive policies resulting in even more hatred against the United States. New wars are likely, and the U.S. will probably be the aggressor.

Let's take a minute and ask ourselves precisely what are these policies that the U.S. seems bent on pursuing and that I believe should be changed if we want to see any peace and stability in the world in years to come? The U.S. policy to dominate global oil markets is an obvious one. The U.S. drive for empire and global political domination is another. Then there are the immoral wars against "terrorism" as self-servingly defined by Washington and its allies. There are also the policies of killing thousands of innocents in Afghanistan and Iraq that the U.S. refuses even to count; as well as the policies implementing the injustices of a U.S. version of economic globalization that has widened the gap between rich and poor in many nations. And then too there are the ever-expanding and wasteful military expenditures of the U.S.; more new American military bases almost everywhere; the continuing U.S. support for authoritarian governments in the Arab world, Central Asia, and elsewhere; and the new nuclear weapons that a blatantly hypocritical U.S. government wants to produce while futilely trying at the same time to prevent unfriendly nations and non-state entities from obtaining nukes, and while Washington adamantly refuses to negotiate seriously on reducing and eliminating our own nukes. That's a pretty long list. But please note: neither democracy, nor freedom for the rest of the world, nor concern for human rights is among these real policies of the U.S.

Please note also -- despite Israeli and U.S. governmental propaganda to the contrary, something else needs to be on this list: that is, Washington's massive support for the Israeli government's policies toward Palestine, and the U.S.-Israeli special relationship. These are key U.S. policies in encouraging the U.S. to wage aggressive war against Iraq and soon perhaps Iran, but they are also key U.S. policies that encourage future terrorism against the U.S. and its allies. Furthermore, it is known throughout the world that the U.S. has acquiesced for decades in Israel's obtaining and expanding its own nuclear weapons, while at the same time the U.S. is trying to stop other nations, particularly in the Middle East, from doing the same. Controversial though the subject of the Israeli-U.S. relationship may be, it is important that we face it directly.

Specifically, what we need to debate most seriously is the one U.S. policy goal that above all else needs changing -- empire-building and global domination, first and foremost in the Middle East and Central Asia. And that will bring us back once again, and very shortly, to the Israeli-U.S. relationship.

Ending the current drive of the U.S. for greater empire and domination would be the best possible way to improve the chances for future peace in the world and to reduce the global hatred of the U.S. that seems to be intensifying everywhere. I believe most strongly that it will NOT be possible to reduce this global hatred except by changing U.S. foreign policies from top to bottom. Today the U.S. government, largely controlled by an elite of corporate and military-industrial interests that are opposed to meaningful democracy, is actually damaging the security of the United States as well as the entire world.

The policies we should work to change include all the various means employed by the U.S. to extend and strengthen its global domination. Specifically, we should end right now the occupation of Iraq, give up any control over events there, and pay the full price for having the U.N. take over the problem. Then we should forego our veto power in the Security Council on any question involving Iraq. Next, we should eliminate any and all plans for military action against, and future domination of, Iran, Syria, other areas of the Middle East, and other parts of the globe that we wish to dominate, like North Korea. We should also drastically cut the ever-rising military expenditures of the U.S., the rising military presence of the U.S. in many parts of the Middle East and Central Asia, and we should end the pursuit of a "made in the USA" version of economic globalization that many peoples of the world see as a weapon in our drive for global political domination.

We should also slash rather than expand the money we spend on intelligence and covert actions. Since September 11, these activities have made up a growing proportion of total U.S. global policies. Should not questions be raised by Americans themselves about the ignoble image of the U.S. this trend presents to the world? Do we lack so much confidence in our own diplomatic and overt policies -- our alleged support for democracy, for example -- that we have to rely increasingly on covert actions to implement them? Should not the use of covert actions by the U.S. be cut rather than increased? Don't such actions usually wind up being a cause rather than a cure of more terrorism against us? Yet more and more covert activity is what the groups now running the U.S want. Why?

And last but not least -- in fact this issue I'm about to raise is extraordinarily important even though it is also a tough, tough one to deal with -- I think all of us who want more peace in the world should work to weaken and discredit the alliance between the Bush administration and the religious fundamentalist Christian right in this country. I for one want more separation of church and state in the U.S. rather than less. I do not want to see a strengthening of any views that regard Christianity or Judaism as a "better" religion than Islam or Buddhism or any other religion. I also do not want to see any beliefs such as those known today as "Christian Zionism" achieve any influence over U.S. foreign policies. The entire issue of religion and politics needs much more intense discussion that we can give it tonight. Many moderate churches are already involved in such discussions, and we should encourage more discussions. This is one area where I think change could come sooner than we think. I hope so.

But aside from this religious issue, I know that many of my suggestions will sound like pie-in-the-sky to some of you -- utterly impossible to implement. It is necessary, however, that we sweep into the dustbin every one of the foreign policies I've talked about. These are policies that have been pursued for many years, with maximum intensity under the Bush administration, but with almost equal intensity at least since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the bipolar world in the early 1990s. These policies of global domination are not supported by just the Republican Party or just the Democratic Party. They are the policies of the wealthy and anti-democratic corporate groups that dominate both of our major political parties.

The fact that only 5 percent of the world's population resides in the U.S. means that we simply cannot dominate the rest of the world for long. The very effort of the U.S. to seek global domination is anti-democratic in the eyes of most of the world's peoples, who do not want to be dominated by the U.S. In addition, the drive for global domination will over time impoverish many average people here in the U.S., who see their hopes for better healthcare and education, and for lifetime living wages, fading farther and farther into a future they will never live to see. Yet once again, this is what the groups now ruling the U.S. seem to want.

To put it bluntly, U.S. foreign policies for far too long have been simply immoral, and the U.S. has been responsible for allowing, encouraging, and enabling far too much torture and far too many deaths, deaths totaling in the millions -- in areas from Indochina to East Timor in the Far East; to Chile and Haiti and Central America in our own hemisphere; to the Balkans, Turkey, and South Africa; to Palestine; to Lebanon; to Iran, and now to Afghanistan and Iraq. Global hatred of the U.S. is not the "hatred of our freedoms" that George Bush touts, but a very legitimate hatred of actions and policies that are predatory and murderous. The new U.S doctrine of preemptive war simply makes it all worse.

Let's take another look now at how the special status of Israel in U.S. politics relates to the U.S. drive for global domination. After decades of growing ties between the two countries, Israel is now so closely linked to the United States in concrete ways that it is actually a part of the U.S. military-industrial complex. Israel sells military equipment, with our knowledge, to countries to which the U.S. is restricted by law from selling -- for instance, to China. So many arms and types of arms are produced in the U.S. for Israel that it has become quite easy for Israel's lobbyists in Washington to go to individual congressmen and point out to them how many jobs in a given district depend on this arms industry and on not withholding arms from Israel. In this way, Israel becomes a direct factor in pressing the U.S. to continue its drive for empire and global domination, in expanding the U.S. military-industrial complex, and in keeping congressmen and other politicians in office -- politicians who serve first and foremost the ruling elite of the country.

Those of us who live here in New Mexico should be particularly concerned about this issue. In the National Laboratories of Los Alamos and Sandia, we have in our own back yard two very important pieces of the U.S. military-industrial complex, major contributors to U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities. Are there any links between these National Labs and Israel's nuclear weapons programs? Do the labs contribute in any way to Israel's nuclear programs, or Israel to U.S. programs? Are there any exchanges among nuclear specialists of the two nations? Or joint programs? Is it in the best interest of the world that the United States, very possibly encouraged by Israel, is expanding its nuclear weapons programs at this time? It seems to me these are appropriate questions to be asking our political leaders, especially when our own government is threatening the nuclear programs of certain other governments, which are quite appalled at the hypocrisy they believe they see in these U.S. actions.

My time's up, and I'm going to stop right here. Thank you

Bill Christison was director of the CIA's Office of Regional and Political Analysis. He has written extensively in recent years on the problems of U.S. foreign policy. He can be reached at: christison@counterpunch.org