My Side

President George Bush named three countries in his “Axis of Evil” that are subject to his preventative war on terrorism. He focused this war insistently on Iraq, although Iran and North Korea have more advanced nuclear capability.

He was counseled by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Rumsfeld insisted at a cabinet meeting on Sept. 12, 2001, before the identities of the 9-11 attackers were known, that “Iraq should be a principal target of the first round” of a war on terrorism. At the following Camp David meeting, Wolfowitz advocated that Iraq be held immediately accountable.

Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz are signatories to the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Other members (who are working in our government) are Vice President and founding member Dick Cheney, Elliot Abrams of the National Security Council, Richard Perle of the U.S. Defense Policy Board and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

This think tank was founded in 1997 to promote the establishment of global military and economic pre-eminence for the United States, based on a belief that American leadership is good for the world. PNAC urges the United States to create an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity and our principles, and to “shape a new century favorable to American interests.”

In order to effect this foreign policy, the United States must “discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or aspiring to a larger regional or global role,” Wolfowitz has written.

PNAC argued for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and a substantial American force presence in the gulf thereafter. In other words, we will be there a very long time.

With the tragedy of Sept. 11, the PNAC group and its members in government gained terrific political capital for their agenda and were able to achieve direct contact with, and even control of, the White House.

This administration’s aggressive and costly foreign policy, leaves us, who wield influence through the vote, holding the bag. This policy is heavily influenced by this unelected elite, housed in the executive branch and weighted towards spending in the narrowed interests of a political class empowered by corporate contributors.

The total cost of the war against Iraq is currently $74 billion. Our maintenance costs continue at $4 billion per month plus $2 billion in debt interest per month. These billions drain our wealth (which is held in common) from which we in the nonwar sector could benefit.

Using Denver’s share as an example, these enormous expenditures could build 1,568 additional affordable housing units or could convert 27,000 additional cars to natural gas; 2,784 students could have four-year university scholarships; 47,056 children could have health care.

The price of funding a continuous state of war is that 47.6 percent of what you paid in income taxes last year is consumed by the military and its related costs of veteran care and interest on the national debt.

Think what would happen if we added 24 percent (half the Pentagon’s chunk) to the paltry 3.2 percent now spent on education. That would be a real investment in unbeatable pride, strength and security.

I look to my country for justice, accountability and balanced representation.

We need a renewed political system, since both current parties serve the short-term interests of dominant corporate campaign contributors.

We need to stand with the emerging global movement for peace and justice so that in concert we can bring about changes in who makes the decisions for our nation and in whose interests those decisions are made.

We do have the clout to challenge the regnant corporate and military sectors that urged us into this bloody war.

I want to reclaim a just world; one in which the right to access to life-sustaining resources is justly shared, a world where reclamation of empowerment can no longer fuel terrorism.

– Mabel Macdonald of rural Glenwood Springs is an anthropologist and peace researcher.

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