Global Justice Ecology Project – 2005-04-01 07:25:29
Paul Wolfowitz, American Empire and the World Bank
The approval of Paul Wolfowitz, architect of the Iraq War, to head the World Bank advances the Bank’s role as an extension of US imperial power. Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank calls Bush’s choice of Wolfowitz, “an act of provocation,” that could, “bring street protests and violence across the developing world.”
Jim Vallette of the Institute for Policy Studies agrees stating, “choosing Wolfowitz for this job makes perfect sense if the Bush administration intends to completely alienate the world community.”
In 2002 Wolfowitz was one of the primary authors of the Bush administration’s National Security Strategy. In it he advocated pre-emptive war with Iraq. It further calls for US economic and military domination in every corner of the world and promotes the idea of pre-emptive attacks on any nation that in some way threatens American interests.
These ideas are not new, however, and were preceded by two others, a September 2000 document put out by the neo-conservative Project for a New American Century (which Wolfowitz Chairs) and a Defense Department report Wolfowitz co-wrote in 1992.
The 1992 and 2000 reports are very similar. Both promote a global missile defense system; budget increases for the US Defense Department, small, deep penetrating nuclear weapons and the specific targeting of Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
In the 1992 report, Wolfowitz argues that the US should be active in “deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” And the Times Online (of the UK) writes that in this report, Wolfowitz, “envisaged the use of nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry pre-emptively, ‘even in conflicts that do not directly engage US interests.'”
In its 2000 document, the Project for a New American Century promoted the idea that U.S. global dominance could be advanced by “some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor.”
With this history, the nomination of Wolfowitz to lead the World Bank is a clear sign that the Bush Administration is determined to use whatever avenues it can to pursue its goals of “full spectrum dominance” over the rest of the world.
Under current World Bank President Wolfensohn, the Bank has been somewhat resistant to advance the agenda of the Bush administration by financing projects in Iraq. With Wolfowitz at the helm, however, Vallette projects that “the World Bank may be able to complete what the Iraq Invasion started two years ago: US corporate control over the world’s second-largest oil reserves.”
Connections Between Military and Economic Domination
Wolfowitz is a concrete example of the link between shooting wars and economic wars. Both result in catastrophic loss of life. Both are being pursued in an attempt to secure control of resources and assure strategic military dominance. As two sides of the same coin of corporate globalization, both forms of war must be actively opposed.
“This nomination is an aggressive move by the Bush Administration to use international development policy, and the money of the World Bank, to impose its will on developing countries, just as it has used its military to impose its will on Iraq and Afghanistan,” said United for Peace and Justice National Coordinator Leslie Cagan.
While ending the war and occupation in Iraq would be a major victory for peace, there is a much larger, deadlier issue — US economic dominance- — that must be addressed. To ensure real peace requires a dramatic economic and political paradigm shift focused on dismantling the systems that promote and advance corporate globalization and its resultant social injustice and ecological annihilation.
As long as neoliberalism and oil fuel the world’s economies, securing the Earth’s dwindling resources will become increasingly important, inevitably leading to widespread instability and violent confrontations all over the world. The never-ending and opportunistic “war on terrorism,” of the US (the greatest success of which is growing new crops of ‘terrorists’), is used to violently pursue geo-political control of the Middle East and monopolize some of the world’s largest remaining oil supplies.
As the planet’s oil diminishes over the coming decades the US hopes this strategic geopolitical control will give it hegemony over this vital resource, enabling further global domination and the ability to continue unsustainable consumption levels (the US has 6% of the Earth’s population, but consumes 25% of the world’s resources including oil).
But while neo-conservatives like Wolfowitz are taking this addiction to oil to new heights, it is not new, nor strictly “conservative.” In 1980, President Jimmy Carter pronounced the Carter Doctrine, which states bluntly that the US will use whatever means are necessary to ensure the continued supply of oil. National security and the US military depend on oil. Indeed, the US economy cannot function without oil, the over-consumption of which is causing global climatic change, threatening the survival of the human race as well as most other life on earth.
Ending the Iraq War, averting climate catastrophe and realizing social justice in communities around the globe will require not merely “regime change” in the US from one party to another, it will require fundamental social transformation.
For corporate globalization is merely the refinement of old-style imperialism and colonization updated in the US by a military budget equivalent to that of the rest of the world combined; by the use of the word “democracy” to conceal the exploitation invited by “free market” policies; and by the corporate monopolization of mass media.
While Wolfowitz has been promoting violence to force populations into subordination, as the new head of the World Bank, he will be mastering the art of economic coercion as well.
Long before Wolfowitz, the US used its defacto veto power over the World Bank to subjugate and exploit the developing world. Devastated by a long history of imperialism and colonialism, poor countries are further ravaged by World Bank and IMF loans. The price for the loans is crushing debt and the imposition of conditions that recipient countries slash social services and open borders to privatization and exploitative foreign investment.
The World Bank further dispossesses, poisons and impoverishes communities by funding mega-projects (including oil development and large-scale hydroelectric dams) in poor countries. All of this is designed to empower giant corporations to wrest control of natural resources away from resident populations- mainly poor indigenous peoples and people of color-and ship them off to Northern countries.
These policies transform even human beings into expendable resources. In this regard, it could be argued that their logical extreme of “free trade” or “globalization” was already realized in the first wave of globalization: the three-continent slave trade.
Bodies like the World Trade Organization and trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement provide legal frameworks to further enrich corporations and disenfranchise local communities-overturning human rights, environmental and workers’ rights laws.
Global Warming and Our Finite Planet
The success of corporate globalization requires “unlimited growth”-a never-ending increase in the transformation of “resources” into capital. Control over these dwindling resources requires global military and economic domination.
What is the impact of “unlimited growth” on a finite planet? A World Wildlife Fund report found that one-third of the Earth’s natural wealth was lost from 1970 to 1995. The Smithsonian estimates that the Earth loses over 300 species per day due to habitat destruction.
Likewise, many native peoples are threatened with extinction. Global warming, the result of an economy overly dependent on oil, threatens all life on earth. The UN estimates that global warming-caused “natural” disasters have already killed 500,000 people. Environmental refugees outnumber refugees from military conflicts.
Corporate globalization, with its mandate to put profit first, above both planet and people, has pushed the Earth’s life support systems to the brink of collapse. This ecological crisis makes it increasingly obvious that an economic system based on the accumulation of wealth and unlimited growth is simply not sustainable.
UN weapons inspector Hans Blix states, “To me the question of the environment is more ominous than that of peace and war…I’m more worried about global warming than I am of any major military conflict.” More alarming however, is that global warming will lead to future wars.
The Pentagon concurs. According to London’s The Observer, a secret Pentagon report leaked to the press in February of 2004, “predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies.
The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.” The report concludes, “Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life. Once again, warfare would define human life.” An anti-war movement cannot ignore global warming.
Single Issue Politics vs. Cooperation;
Symbolic Protest vs. Civil Disobedience
We stand at a turning point. Movements can remain divided, working on single issues, confining activism to weekend marches, looking to “leaders” to solve these problems, and watching as future generations inherit devastated communities and ecosystems.
Or we can join together to rebel against the dark and cynical worldview that values life only according to the profits it conveys and rise up for compassion, justice and the future of all life on earth. By linking together we can create a powerful movement for change that successfully challenges these common economic, social and political roots of our issues.
US Imperilaism Must Be Stopped
To end the Iraq war and all economic, military and environmental wars, our symbolic marches and protests must grow to include direct action aimed at preventing business as usual.
Soldiers should be encouraged to refuse to fight and supported when they do so. Defense plants, stock exchanges and war profiteers must be blockaded. It must become impossible for the US corporate economy to function until this war and all war is stopped.
To stop an empire people must unite and people must resist.
“Symbolic resistance must never replace real civil disobedience. You cannot stop a war with a weekend march. We must refuse to comply with the status quo. We be many and they be few and they need us more than we need them.”
Your participation is needed. Start in your community. Get involved with groups working for real systemic change.
Global Justice Ecology Project
PO Box 412, Hinesburg, VT 05461 USA