A Complete Fraud
The new democracy according to
Bush, Blair, bombs and business
by Tony Benn
CovertAction Quarterly, April / June 2001
The election of President George W. Bush aroused a great deal
of worldwide interest, not least because of what happened in Florida
and the Supreme Court decision.
"New Labour" in Britain was severely shaken because
Prime Minister Tony Blair had established close links with the
Clinton-Gore administration. It had argued that they shared his
belief in the mysterious ideology of the "Third Way."
To see that philosophy rejected left a political vacuum they are
now trying to fill by pretending that George W. Bush shares the
But, looked at more deeply, the re-establishment of the Republicans
in the White House, even as the Congress is finely balanced, does
pose very serious threats to the peace and stability of the world.
Perhaps the first and most obvious effect has been observed
with the decision to bomb Iraq, which has absolutely no legal
basis in the Charter of the United Nations to which the United
States is still officially committed.
In that sense, the February bombings conducted by Bush and
Blair were acts of terrorism and those who died in these bombings
were victims of war crimes.
Since the sanctions were imposed, costing the lives of over
half a million innocent Iraqi civilians, the enormity of what
has been done there stands out.
Of course, the Bush-Clinton-Bush years have a certain continuity
about them which makes it even harder to unravel what the real
policy is going to be from now on.
Bush seems to be set on a course of world domination especially
by means of introducing the NMD (Nuclear Missile Defense system)
or "Son of Star Wars" rearmament program, which will
allow U.S. spacecraft to destroy any land installations in the
THREAT TO PEACE
The immediate consequence has been to alienate European allies
in NATO and the Russians and the Chinese. It could trigger a new
global arms race costing billions of dollars at a time when world
poverty represents a far more direct threat to peace.
The President has no intention of allowing NATO or the UN
to play any part in shaping his foreign and defense policies.
It is not inconceivable that the United Nations, like the League
of Nations before the Last world war, could be effectively rendered
Bush seems to combine the isolationism that led the American
Senate to reject the League of Nations after the First World War
with a readiness to act unilaterally in a truly imperial style.
One of the tragedies of this, from a British point of view,
is that Britain has gone along with American policy with very
rare exceptions since 1945, the most noteworthy Prime Minister
Harold Wilson's rejection of Lyndon Johnson's request for British
military support in Vietnam.
For many people in Europe and worldwide, the subservience
of London to Washington is something of a puzzle because as a
member of the
UN Security Council, a significant member of the European
Union and with important Links with the Commonwealth, Britain
would seem ideally placed to play a more independent role in world
However, the so-called special relationship which, we are
told, gives us unique influence in Washington is, in fact, a complete
The plain truth is that successive British governments have
boasted about our independent nuclear deterrent when, in fact,
Britain is entirely dependent on the United States for access
to the technology that allows Trident nuclear submarines to fly
the British flag.
In reality, if any British government ever tried to fire those
missiles, they could not be targeted without the global satellite
navigation system, controlled from the Pentagon, being switched
on to make it possible.
In return, the U.S. has many bases in Britain supervising
our intelligence services and our nuclear policy.
This is why Mr. Blair had to go along with the bombings of
Iraq and why, when the detailed all new Star Wars plan is published,
the Prime Minister will, after the impending British election
is safely over, announce his full support.
However, it would be a mistake to think that the policy of
the new President will be limited to military interventions around
the world whenever U.S. economic or strategic interests appear
to be threatened-though that is certainly likely to happen.
Much more serious is the American domination of and support
for the World Trade Organization and the IMF, which are forcing
poor countries to open their doors to multinationals and privatize
their services including those in health and education.
The budgets of the public services everywhere in the world
are enormous and Big Business wants to get at them to create captive
markets for the services they provide in the interests of their
own shareholders and at the expense of those who work in them
and depend upon them.
All this may sound very pessimistic-but I still retain my
optimism for the future of those who believe in democracy, political
morality, internationalism and socialism.
Perhaps the most interesting example of the counter-pressures
that are building up occurred at Seattle at the end of 1999 when
a very wide coalition representing the trade unions, the peace
movement, the churches, the environmental movement and many others
decided to make a stand.
This has mobilized many millions of people who have become
totally disconnected from the electoral process because they quite
properly see that process has been corrupted by the virtual purchase
of the democratic process by the corporations themselves.
NEW WORLD ORDER
If democracy is ever to be threatened, it will not be by revolutionary
groups burning government offices and occupying the broadcasting
and newspaper offices of the world.
It will come from disenchantment, cynicism and despair caused
by the realization that the New World Order, (proclaimed by the
first President Bush after the Gulf War,) means we are all to
be managed and not represented.
The low turnout in elections as we saw in America and are
seeing in Britain is a direct result of the growing public realization
that this is the case.
Recollecting as I do that similar circumstances brought Hitler
to power in the 1930s, the Seattle movement will have to turn
its mind to political action that makes use of the ballot box
and the voting machine to secure a change at the top.
This is not in any way incompatible with direct action-but
those who organize it must have a clear political objective that
Looks beyond pressure to the winning of power in the seats of
Looking back over the years since the 1917 Russian revolution,
it is clear that the existence of an anti capitalist superpower
represented a very powerful pressure upon Western capitalism.
This led it to accept colonial liberation to avoid what they saw
as the risk of the old colonies going communist.
It is even true that the welfare state, whether it be under
Roosevelt's New Deal, or Prime Minister Attlee's post-war Labour
government, was tolerated by capital to prevent the spread of
socialist ideas in the West
Now that Stalin's communism is gone, we are seeing the brutal
nature) of capitalism exposed and this has) produced the counter
movements that we are now witnessing.
At present, all governments have to bend their will to the
demands of the transnationals but if the popular movements become
strong enough, there is no doubt that they will have to be taken
into account by any politician who wants to be reelected, even
in the semi-democratic societies in which we now Live.
For me, one of the most powerful signs is that all these arguments
are as clearly understood in the United States as they are in
Europe and the rest of the world, even if at present, this represents
a minority movement.
One of the greatest problems we face is that the media deliberately
and systematically deny us knowledge of what is happening(at this
level in every country and never report the radical international
conferences that have been established on this new network with
their own websites and email communication systems.
It is quite clear that the internet poses a serious threat
to the privileges of the rich and powerful for exactly that reason.
All the emphasis on crime and drugs and pornography used to justify
the suppression of the internet is really aimed at suppressing
knowledge of the radical politic alternatives that are now available.
Even if Washington does achieve the total military domination
of space and the transnationals keep up the pressure directly
and through the undemocratic institutions they control, people
cannot be held down forever.
The parallel with apartheid is as good as can be found since
the blacks who were disenfranchised won the day against a white
elite which controlled the army, the police and the media.
They would not accept exclusion from power and neither should
Tony Benn is a British Labour Party Member of Parliament.
He held several cabinet positions from 1966 to 1979. He is a socialist
and advocate of "participatory democracy"