The Hightower Report
Arming the World; and Another Bush Mess to Clean Up
Arming the World
At last, George W. has carved his legacy in stone, and it truly is monumental. Working with military contractors that backed his presidential runs, Bush has become history's No. 1 gunrunner! He has now sold or given away more war weaponry to more countries than any other U.S. president. Hoo boy – let's hear it for George.
This year has been his best. Bush's Pentagon sales force, which acts as broker between U.S. weapons makers and foreign buyers, has produced $32 billion in sales this fiscal year, a giant leap from the $12 billion in business it generated in 2005. Fighter jets, missiles, tanks, drones, helicopters, warships, you name it – the Pentagon has been turned into a Weapons "R" Us megastore for the world. Y'all come!
There's been a rush on sales this year, because it's the last of the Bush-Cheney reign, and the U.S. industry fears that the next administration might tighten up a bit on such proliferation. Bush & Co. are eager to rearm Iraq, for example, hoping to buy its long-term acquiescence to a permanent U.S. military presence in that increasingly balky nation, so there's been a big push there.
But sales are – pardon the pun – booming all around the world. In addition to Iraq, recent hot new markets include Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, India, Morocco, and Pakistan. In Bush's first term, sales to these governments totaled less than a billion dollars, but sales in the past four years have – pardon another pun – exploded to nearly $14 billion.
A Bush appointee who helps coordinate some of the biggest arms sales insists that such profligate spreading of weaponry will cement George's legacy, because, "This is about building a more secure world." Yeah, sure – security is no longer a warm blanket; it's a bomb.
Another Bush Mess to Clean Up
Watching the Bush administration in its final few months is like watching one of those scenes in a submarine disaster movie when the "aa-oogah" horn blows and crew members rush every which way to jerry-rig pipelines, crank balky machinery, twist gauges, and fire torpedoes as the captain barks orders.
In agency after agency, the Bush-Cheney crew is scrambling in similar fashion – frantically diverting, manipulating, and generally rigging our governmental systems to deliver benefits to narrow corporate interests. From environmental agencies to the Pentagon, Bushites are rushing through new rules, executive reorganizations, and convoluted procedures designed to lock in pro-corporate policies and tie the hands of the next administration.
The latest submarine effort comes from the Justice Department, which has issued a 215-page "policy guidance" paper for future antitrust regulators. The very idea that this bunch would offer anything in the public interest is ludicrous, since the Bush crew never met a corporate monopolist it wouldn't hug. In fact, in Bush's eight-year reign, his Justice Department has filed exactly one case charging anti-competitive practices. One! And, of course, that one was not against a big monopolistic predator like Wal-Mart but instead was a small-potatoes case involving a West Virginia newspaper.
So, we need not be surprised that the new policy they've put forward is one to protect monopolists, not consumers or competitors. In fact, the policy is so unbalanced that even the Federal Trade Commission took the unusual step of blasting it, calling it "a blueprint for radically weakened [antitrust] enforcement" that will allow monopolies to act "with impunity."
They say the worst job in the circus is cleaning up after the elephants. Here's another Bush mess that's going to have to be cleaned up.
For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.