January 1, 2000
The Wisdom Fund

Toward Justice And Peace

by Enver Masud

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- If there is a lesson to be learned from the events of the decade preceding the year 2000 it is that most U.S. foreign policy decisions are driven by greed -- the prescription of the renowned strategist Mr. George Kennan is still followed by the foreign policy establishment.

In 1948 when developing countries were beginning to emerge from Western colonial rule, Kennan "the leading dove and peace prize winner," in the top secret, U.S. Department of State, Policy Planning Study 23, prescribed in part: ". . . we have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population . . . Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity . . . To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality . . . We should cease to talk about vague and . . . unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization."

More simply stated, Kennan's prescription was: let greed be the determining factor. This prescription for U.S. foreign policy has not been superseded.

Security, as it should be, is at the heart of U.S. policy. But far too many decisions are rationalized as being security driven, when it is greed that is the determining force. The Gulf War is an outstanding example. It was fought for control of Middle East resources, not for U.S. security.

Geographically, the U.S. is among the most secure land masses. Yet it continues to out spend, by several orders of magnitude, all potential adversaries combined.

The $270 billion U.S. defense budget is five times that of Russia, China and India combined, about 20 times that of all the "rogue states," and about 100 times that of Iraq. It's $30 billion spending for covert operations alone is twice the total defense spending of the so called "rogue states."

Add to this the defense spending of U.S. allies, over $120 billion annually, and the figures get even more distorted. When the U.S. and its allies attacked Yugoslavia, armed forces with annual spending of $387 billion faced an enemy which spent less than one billion annually.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union at least $500 billion of unnecessary funding went for "defense." Despite this in 1996 President Clinton added $124 billion to defense and cut $55 billion from welfare.

It is the magnitude of defense spending that fuels the search for enemies.

This decade, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was a choice between the Yellow Peril (East Asia), and the Green Peril (Islam). Islam was chosen. And Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria were designated "rogue states." These were joined by Cuba and North Korea.

While these states may have engaged in terrorism, and other unsavory activities, they weren't doing anything that the U.S. had not done, and was doing. Using the same criteria applied to the "rogue states" it is difficult not to conclude that the U.S. itself is a rogue state, and so are England, Russia, and others.

The U.S. speaks of democracy, human rights, free trade. But these are merely slogans to coerce weaker nations to submit to exploitation by the West. The absence of democracy and human rights does not deter U.S. relations with another country, and it is not free trade that the U.S. seeks, but capitalism -- the latter seeks to eliminate free trade not foster it.

Capitalism is but a variation on the British East India Company which held monopoly rights to extract the wealth of overseas colonies. Today's version of the British East India Company are large mining companies, private power producers, etc. Indeed capitalism destroys the very conditions that economists such as Adam Smith have found to be essential to an efficient market likely to to improve conditions for all the people.

The world's 48 poorest countries account for only 0.4% of world trade and their share is shrinking. The 1998 United Nations Human Development Report notes that in 1960 the income of the 20% of the world's people who lived in the richest countries was 30 times the income of the 20% who lived in the poorest countries. By 1995 the ratio was 82 to 1.

The spread of free-market reforms in Latin America, failed to create enough new jobs to counter high unemployment rates caused by privatization and downsizing, and it increased the gap between rich and poor. The UN report says that in 100 countries, per capita income is actually lower now than it was 30 years ago.

Privatization created millionaires in Russia, while the vast majority of its citizens received even less than they had under the communist regime. "Free trade" saw the near collapse of Malaysia and Indonesia. By following the prescription of its foreign advisors Saudi Arabia saw its per capita income drop from $15,700 in 1980, to $5700 today. In 1982 Saudi Arabia had reserves of $170 billion. Today the national debt is almost that amount.

The U.S. speaks of its war on terrorism, but it is U.S. intervention in the affairs of other states that provokes retaliation and keeps the dollars flowing to the arms manufacturers. So the war on terrorism goes on. Again, greed is the driving force.

And major media inundate us with half truths, sometimes outright lies. Their propaganda is designed to divide the masses, when the common enemy is those who exploit the masses. Of course since the media itself is owned by a very small number of large corporations its loyalty to them is understandable.

But there have also been positive developments.

This decade has seen the rise of hundreds of organizations, thousands of individuals, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others working for a just and peaceful world.

The Internet has brought unprecedented power to the masses. Its potential has just begun to be exploited. Given a willingness to cooperate, with communication, and common purpose much can be accomplished.

The masses everywhere have much in common. They value survival, family, friends in roughly that order. Those with greater means look toward helping others, saving the environment, etc. And to some degree they search for something beyond all of that to satisfy the thirst for self actualization.

The war on Islam is being waged not because of differences in matters of faith, but because vast resources are to be had in Muslim lands, because the U.S. needs an enemy to justify defense spending, because the U.S. foreign policy establisment is not representative of the U.S. population, and perhaps even more importantly because Islam's prescription for a just social order is the direct opposite of Kennan's prescription.

Kennan's prescription leads to unbridled capitalism, and exploitation of the masses. Islam's prescription for a just social order opposes unbridled capitalism, supports free markets, and it cannot be overturned by legislation or executive order.

The war on Islam has about as much to do with faith as did the wars waged by the Europeans after the fall of Muslim Spain in 1492.

John Edwards, in History Today wrote: "On the second day of January [1492] I saw Your Highnesses' royal banners placed by force of arms on the towers of the Alhambra . . . and in the same month . . . Your Highness, as Catholic Christians and princes devoted to the holy Christian faith and the furtherance of its cause, and enemies of the sect of Mohammed and of all idolatry and heresy, resolved to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the . . . regions of India."

We know now that for Columbus, and the Europeans who came after him, the primary driving force was not that they were "devoted to the holy Christian faith and the furtherance of its cause." They raped, pillaged, murdered for gold, diamonds, and other wealth. Columbus' may have embarked upon his first voyage for the joy of discovery, but soon greed became the driving force. Uncounted millions were enslaved or died to satisfy that greed.

Soon other Europeans with similar desires spread across the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia, and China bringing with them slavery, death, destruction. Greed drove them on.

Greed is the determining force today for those who seek to exploit the resources of the Middle East, the Caspian Sea, Indonesia, hence, Islam is made the enemy to convince Americans, Europeans, Russians that war is necessary.

With the demise of the Soviet Union, the U.S. had an opportunity to create a New World Order based upon justice and peace. Instead its military ventures from Iraq to Kosovo have ignited the fuse for more wars.

Russia's genocidal attack on Chechnya is the result. And what little there was of world order, such as international law and the United Nations, is being deliberately trampled upon.

People dedicated to justice and peace can stop wars. They did it in the 1960's with the Viet Nam war. Awakened from apathy, they can do it again. The demonstrations at the WTO conference in Seattle may mark the beginning of this new awakening.

The real war is neither a war between different faiths, nor different races, nor different states. It is a war between those driven by greed, and those seeking justice and peace. As long as the those driven by greed seek ever greater resources and markets, or to control those resources and markets, the rest are likely to suffer. And it is the latter who are most likely to die in wars, while those who lead them into war reap the rewards of victory.

When enough people realize that the war on Islam is ultimately a clash of values -- greed versus justice, mercy, compassion -- we may be closer to a new world order which leads us toward justice and peace.

. . . makes vividly clear that religion is not the problem.--Karen Armstrong, "Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence," Knopf; 1St Edition edition (October 28, 2014)

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