Bush Clears the Way for Corporate Domination


By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted May 5, 2006.

Antonia Juhasz, author of 'The Bush Agenda,' explains what Bush really means when he says he wants to spread freedom around the world. Tools

When George W. Bush says that he wants to spread freedom to every corner of the earth, he means it.

But of course the president that turned Soviet-era gulags into secret CIA prisons in order to do God-knows-what to God-knows-whom isn't talking about individual freedom. He means corporate freedom -- freedom for the great multinationals to extract everything they can from the world's resources and labor without the hindrance of public interest laws, environmental regulations or worker protections.

Bush's vision of a free world actually looks just like the corporate globalization agenda pushed by a succession of American presidents in institutions like the World Trade Organization.

But this administration yearns for freedom too much to leave it up to trade negotiators. Unlike his predecessors, Bush isn't content to use carrots and sticks and a liberal dose of arm twisting to advance that agenda. His administration has made the neoliberal policies euphemistically referred to as "free-trade" a centerpiece of its national security policy.

Bush is willing to use the awesome force of the United States military to guarantee the freedom of the world's largest multinationals.

In her new book, The Bush Agenda, Antonia Juhasz peels the veils away from Bush's agenda -- imperialism, militarism and corporate globalization -- and exposes who drives it: a group of hawkish ideologues with an unprecedented relationship to major defense and energy companies.

Juhasz shows that the invasion of Iraq -- an invasion that was as much economic as military -- was the centerpiece of a larger project: the creation a New American Century in which the end-goal of American foreign policy is to enrich the corporate elites, and dissent at home will not be tolerated. Juhasz is a wonk -- she got her start as a staffer for Rep. John Conyers -- but the book is as readable as it is deeply researched.

I caught up with Juhasz last week at Washington's Union Station, just blocks away from the White House, to chat about The Bush Agenda.

Joshua Holland: [19th century Prussian military philosopher Carl von] Clausewitz said that war is an extension of politics by other means. You suggest that for the Bush administration, war is an extension of corporate globalization by other means. Run down your basic premise.

Antonia Juhasz: The Bush administration has implemented a particularly radical model of corporate globalization by which it has teamed overt military might -- full-scale invasion -- with the advancement of its corporate globalization agenda. And this model is particularly imperial -- that's one of the things that makes it different from, for example, the Reagan or Bush Sr. regimes. As opposed to simply replacing the head of a regime that is no longer serving the interests of the administration, the Bush team has gone further -- using a military invasion to fundamentally transform a country's political and economic structure.

It is also using an occupation to maintain that altered structure, which is the definition of imperialism in my mind: spreading the empire by changing the very laws of foreign nations to service the empire's needs. And, as Bush is repeatedly saying, "Iraq is only the beginning." I detail the rest of the empire's pursuits across the Middle East in the chapter on the U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area.

The fundamental purpose of the book was to determine how this model came to be, where its advocates hope it will go and who its advocates are so that we can better dismantle it.

JH: But Bush isn't the first to use a full-scale invasion -- unilaterally -- in furtherance of those goals. I think of Reagan's invasion of Grenada to knock off Maurice Bishop, a moderate socialist.

AJ: There was no occupation, and it wasn't done the same way that the Bush administration -- using its own tools, its own people, its own policies -- to explicitly restructure the entire functioning of the country's economy to serve its own ends. Reagan wanted a different leader, a leader that would meet his needs and that was enough. Bush has locked in an entirely new economic and political structure. I'm certainly not justifying the invasion of Grenada, but for me that was quantitatively different.

JH: What is Pax Americana -- the "American Peace" -- and what is it about the original Roman version, Pax Romana, that makes it a poor model to emulate?

AJ: I talk about Pax Americana because that's what members of the administration talk about -- Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Libby, Khalilzad, Perle, Zoellick, Bolton. … In fact, there are 16 members of the Bush administration that were also participants in the Project for the New American Century, which was very clear that the U.S. not only has a Pax Americana but should seek to maintain it.

This is problematic because it seeks to achieve the Roman model, with an all-powerful emperor who ran his kingdom on 50 percent slave labor, who eliminated all guarantees of civil liberties and eliminated all civic participation, but maintained the fallacy of public institutions and participatory government to keep the elites at bay -- to make elites feel like they had the presence and prestige of serving in government.

So there were senators and there were "representatives of the people," but of course the emperor appointed those he wanted to sit in the senate, and he chose those who would serve his interests. And then he appointed regional overlords to oversee the rest of the empire. In addition, the idea that Rome generated peace -- that it really was in fact a Pax Romana that guaranteed peace for the rest of the world -- is false. To create the empire, there was an enormous amount of war and bloodshed, and also to maintain the empire there was continued fighting as nations and peoples were forced to acquiesce.

However, there was a period of about 200 years where there was relatively less struggle within Rome over who would rule. But one key reason Rome was able to maintain that internal peace was all the money that the empire poured into public services -- building aqueducts, providing services, supporting intellectual thought and -- as I say in the book -- creating the Western Canon.

The Bush administration has chosen all the worst elements of the Roman Empire: the lack of civil liberties and the movement towards a nonrepresentative government run by a dictator. Even the most conservative Republican columnist will admit that Bush has consolidated more and more power in the executive branch than any president in modern history. And he's increased the proportion of people in the United States in the lower income sphere, people who have to work day in and day out in order to meet basic needs like health care, and who often aren't able to meet those needs. I argue that that is a modern form of slavery.

And while the administration is explicitly imperial -- it is trying to annex other nations through its military and its economic policy -- its not putting any of that attention to public education, public resources and public services. So we are getting the worst of the worst. And just as it was a myth that the Pax Romana created world peace, the Pax Americana clearly generates more global insecurity. Acts of deadly terror have increased every year of the Bush administration; they increased more than three-fold between 2003 and 2004.

JH: So he's not just the worst president ever, he's also the worst …

AJ: … Yes, he's also the worst emperor ever.

JH: You're blunt about calling Iraq an economic invasion. Most analyses are geopolitical, but you put it together with the long-standing wish list of the corporate globalists. Can you tell me about Bremer's 100 rules and what Bearing Point is?

End Part I