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Republicans on the offensive

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Issue 1742

Republicans on the offensive

THE CAMPAIGN for Nuclear Disarmament has called a demonstration at 10 Downing Street in a week’s time. It will demand that the British government does not cooperate with US president George W Bush’s plans for a crazy new missile defence system, the “Son of Star Wars”.

George Bush openly declared that business balance sheets are more important than the potential death of the planet last week. He restated his plans to spend $26 billion on the new missile programme and he fully backed murderous repression carried out by Israel in the Middle East.

Tony Blair was the first European leader to rush to Washington and be photographed with Bush after his election. This is why it is right to protest against Bush and the New Labour backing for his policies.

BUSH PUT two fingers up to the rest of the world last week and said he would not abide by the Kyoto protocol on global warming signed by the US in 1997. It involved only the tiniest reforms-reducing greenhouse gases by 5 percent below 1992 levels by 2012.

The US has just 4 percent of the world’s population, but it is responsible for 25 percent of the greenhouse gases which are dangerously warming the planet. These gases come from unregulated power stations, industrial plants and cars. Bush made the speech. But big money was talking.

During two months in office Bush has shown that he is the polluter’s friend. He has also thrown out new standards limiting the amount of arsenic in drinking water, and has allowed mining companies to ignore fines for environmental damage.

Bush was born into the oil industry and followed his father into the business. His vice-president, Dick Cheney, was the top executive at Haliburton, the world’s largest oil services company, from 1995. Bush and Cheney took $47 million from energy companies for their campaign and then installed representatives of the biggest polluters at the centre of Bush’s administration.

The interior secretary is Gale Norton, who made a name for herself concocting bizarre legal theories to defend corporate polluters. She argued the US constitution means the government has to pay polluters not to damage the environment. She is a follower of Reagan’s interior secretary James Watt. He argued that there was not much point worrying about the environment, as “I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns.” Norton was a lobbyist for the National Lead Company and co-founded Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, which is sponsored by the National Coal Council, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, the National Mining Association and the Chlorine Chemical Council.

Her answer to the energy crisis in California, caused by the deregulation and private ownership of the service, is to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. The national security adviser is Condoleeza Rice, former director of Chevron Oil, who has an oil tanker named after her. Bush’s biggest corporate backer is energy supplier Enron Corp, which gave $1 million to his campaign. As Texas state governor he made sure Enron was one of 26 companies exempted from compliance with clean air laws.

Bush is rewarding his backers by throwing the Kyoto agreement in the bin. It is a disgrace that New Labour continues to regard him as a friend. Michael Meacher, New Labour’s environment minister, responded to Bush’s speech with, “I certainly don’t think we should despair or try to ostracise the US.”

Star Wars

“THE National Missile Defence system is central to the way we look at the world,” said Bush last week. It will enable the US military to further its dream of being able to launch a nuclear strike without being open to retaliation. It will encourage every other ruling class to spend more and more on yet more horrific weaponry. The rulers of the US also hope that by forcing China and Russia to spend more on weapons they will not be able to challenge the US economically. The British government says it has not yet made up its mind about the Bush project. There are deep splits among European governments about whether to back it.

If New Labour does go ahead it will be at a huge price. A single 20-missile battery would cost over 2 billion a year. Disgracefully, earlier this year Geoffrey Hoon, the defence secretary, said, “As the United States is our closest ally, we would want to be helpful should it make a specific request on the matter of the National Missile Defence.” Next week’s demo should be the start of a wave of protest.

Right to stand and be counted

SOME NEWSPAPERS have argued that Bush’s move shows it was a mistake for left wingers to vote for Ralph Nader in the US presidential election. But Clinton and Gore were not at all serious about implementing the Kyoto agreement. Clinton allowed greenhouse gas emissions to rise by 12 percent between 1992 and 1997.

Clinton did nothing to confront a Senate which had passed a resolution forbidding any treaty which harmed US “economic growth”. Gore would have been no better. Meanwhile deputy prime minister John Prescott says last week shows he was right to push for a deal over climate change at The Hague last year. But his “deal” simply meant giving in to the right wing and big business in the US.

Israel kills six in raids

BUSH LINED up totally with Ariel Sharon, the war criminal who leads Israel, last week. “The signal I am sending to the Palestinians is, stop the violence-and I can’t make it any more clear. I hope that the Palestinian chairman Yasser Arafat hears it loud and clear. He’s going to hear it on the telephone.” Bush was speaking just as Israeli helicopter gunships were returning from a murder mission against Palestinians in Ramallah.

More Palestinians died when they protested at the raids. Israeli troops killed three Palestinians, including two teenagers, in Gaza as street demonstrations took place following the attacks. On Friday of last week thousands of Palestinians battled Israeli troops in a “day of rage”. Israeli troops murdered six people.

Six months after the Palestinian revolt against Israeli oppression began, at least 380 Palestinians, one third of them children, have been murdered by Israeli troops and settler militias. Some 69 Israelis have died.

More than 12,000 Palestinians have been injured, and many crippled, says the Palestine Red Crescent Society. Palestinians have lost land as Israeli forces have bulldozed thousands of hectares of crops in what are called “security measures”. Thousands of Palestinian families have fled homes destroyed or damaged in fighting, and many now live in tents.

The economy is in shreds, and more Palestinians live in poverty than before the uprising started. United Nations figures show that 110,000 Palestinians who formerly worked in Israel are now unemployed.

Up to 40,000 Palestinians now live under an Israeli-imposed military curfew in Hebron, and at least 80,000 are cut off in villages by Israeli blockades. None of this worries Bush. When he was elected some observers believed he would be less sympathetic to Israel than the previous Clinton administration. But US policy towards Israel is not about which party gets the bulk of the Jewish vote.

It is about US strategic and oil interests in the Middle East. So, just as he serves the big companies over the environment, Bush is following their line by supporting Israel in the Middle East.


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