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Foreign Correspondent
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis


Copyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2004

1 November 2004

A broad majority of people around the globe share the same feeling about next week's American elections: better the devil you don't know than the one you do.

The Bush-Cheney partnership has been the most radical and certainly the most rightwing presidency in memory. Their re-election will likely produce an even more aggressive US foreign policy driven by religious fundamentalists and the military-petroleum interests.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, humiliated and sidelined, is expected to resign and be replaced by one of Bush's neocons Praetorian Guard.

Scott McConnell, editor of American Conservative magazine, accurately sums up the Bush Doctrine: `His international policies have been based on the hopelessly na´ve belief that foreign peoples are eager to be liberated by American armies — a notion more grounded in Leon Trotsky's concept of global revolution than any sort of conservative statecraft.'

Recently, former US National Security chief Brent Scowcroft, the dean of Republican foreign policy experts and advisor to Bush's father, issued an unprecedented warning about the baleful influence of Israel's far right over Bush. `Sharon has got him wrapped around his little finger,' said Gen. Scowcroft.

A second Bush term could bring US attacks on Iran and Syria, as Israel's PM Ariel Sharon has urged, and widening Mideast conflict. More troops and money will be poured into the Iraq quagmire. A military draft will almost certainly become necessary to support Bush's imperial goals.

Neither Bush nor Kerry are telling Americans two hard truths: first, the principal cause of anti-American terrorism is the oppression of Palestinians, and US support for dictatorial regimes across the Muslim World.

Second, Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are already lost. Not on the battlefield, but on the strategic level.

War is the extension of politics by other means, as von Clausewitz postulated. Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan must be judged defeats because no viable political solution is remotely in sight in either nation now run by unpopular US-imposed puppet regimes. Soviet-style rigged elections will not legitimize them.

Kerry's plans for Iraq are specious: no important nations are likely to help the US colonize Iraq. Kerry's biggest failings have been his spineless support for war in Iraq, and his pandering to special interests over the Mideast. Ariel Sharon may also twist John Kerry around his finger.

The best President Kerry could do is talk tough while finding a way out of Iraq. But he will be harassed by Republicans and neocons crying `treason,' and forced to wrestle the huge budget mess Bush left behind. He will have to deal with a Congress likely dominated by hostile Republicans.

In Asia, Bush is on a collision course with nuclear-armed North Korea. Neocons are pressing for a confrontation that could ignite a major war. Kerry will be far likelier to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the Korean crisis.

The pro-war necons around Bush are also pressing a hard line against China that risks a clash over Taiwan. China will not allow itself to be bullied by anyone. Kerry has rightly called for cooperation rather than ideological antagonism towards China.

Europeans are dismayed and frightened by Bush and his aggressive polices. If Bush wins, Europe, led by France and Germany, will speed up its growing alliance with China, an entente that can quickly become an anti-US pact. This could prove to be a key post-election strategic development.

Kerry would abandon Bush's unilateralism, quickly restore relations with Europe, and return America to its former course of internationalism and multilateralism. How much Kerry would follow his campaign pledges to protect US industries from foreign price competition remains to be seen.

Bush's anti-Islamic entente with Russia's Putin has tacitly encouraged restoration of dictatorship in Russia. It will be too late for Kerry to do anything about this grave development.

Unless the next US administration imposes a just peace on Israelis and Palestinians and ends the occupation of Iraq, anti-US terrorism will intensify, and the US will find itself at war across much of the Islamic World.

Bush has debauched America's finances by his US $290 billion wars and $521 billion deficit. Whoever wins, the global economy will be hit by waves of inflation caused by Bush's ruinous spending that will have serious ramifications for currencies and the always fragile international banking system.

Kerry is a weak candidate with a lackluster record. But at least he is a sensible, educated man who will bring in a team of moderate advisors that do not want to launch catastrophic foreign crusades or spend like drunken sailors. Kerry is a cautious internationalist; Bush an unapologetic Bible-belt imperialist.

Most non-Americans believe the US under Bush has become a menacing rogue state that threatens world stability and peace. For them, anyone is better than George W. Bush.

To read previous columns by Mr. Margolis: Click here

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    Eric Margolis
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