Jim Hightower

The Enemy of My Enemy is Me


An ancient aphorism of war declares: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Well, what if you arm your “friend” to fight your enemies, but the “friend” later turns on you, using the weapons you provided—are you then your own enemy? Or are you just bone-deep stupid? For the past 20 years or so, America has been the biggest arms dealer in the world, supplying weapons to practically anyone and everyone who has the money—or to anyone whose “friendship” is deemed by Washington to be temporarily convenient. These alliances of convenience often turn around and bite us on the butt. When our troops went after Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan, for example, they were fired at with made-in-the-USA stinger missiles, supplied to Taliban leaders by Ronald Reagan and Bush the First when the Taliban was our “friend” fighting our enemy, Russia, which is now our “friend.” And what a scream it is to hear Bush the Second wailing that our worst enemy is now Saddam Hussein, the evildoer who is so horrific that he’s used chemical weapons—supplied by Reagan and Daddy Bush back when they considered Saddam our “friend.”

Then there’s Pakistan, who’s our “friend” today, getting more than a billion dollars a year in U.S. military aid, even though its ruler is a vicious military dictator who only a few months ago was denounced by the White House as an anti-democracy fiend. But, as one expert noted, “In the past 20 years, Pakistan was our friend, then our enemy, friend, enemy, friend.” The United States sells more arms than the next nine arms dealers combined, all for the profit of a few corporate munitions makers—even though our own troops often end up paying the price. To help stop this careless proliferation, call Peace Action at 202-862-9740.


Here’s an economic indicator soaring up, up, and awaaaaayyy: It’s the pay of CEOs! Even if a company’s stock plummets, its workers are fired, and its accountants are under federal investigation for cooking the books and looting the pension fund—the boss hog is still wallowing in the big bucks, now taking an average of more than $11 million a year in personal pay. Well, the bosses oink, we deserve it—besides, we’re just being paid what the market will bear. It’s how capitalism works, so get over it. Hey, doesn’t capitalism now operate in a global market? Haven’t you been telling us that you don’t have to pay fair wages to American workers, because you can roam the global labor market and get workers for, say, 13-cents an hour in China—or even import skilled software engineers from, say, India to work for a third of the pay of U.S. workers? So here’s my plan: Let’s import CEOs! We can get them a whole lot cheaper from abroad—and get good ones, too. Did you know that the top bosses of major corporations in Europe, Japan, Latin America and elsewhere are delighted to do CEO work for only a million or two a year. American corporate bosses now are hauling away about 500 times the pay of a typical worker in their corporations—not exactly a plus for company morale. But the ethic in other countries is much more fair—bosses in Mexico, for example, are paid only 45 times what the typical worker makes, in England it’s 25 times, and Japan it’s 10 times. So come on you boards of directors. Start applying a little global competition to the executive suite.


It’s rising, getting bigger and bigger all across the country. The “it” is a burgeoning American peace movement, flowering beautifully in the toxic climate of Bush’s increasingly strident irrational and petulant warmongering. Every week, there are tens of thousands of American marching in the streets, attending prayer vigils, protesting Bush and Cheney events, holding teach-ins, and otherwise doing the hard work of democracy, confronting the powerful as best they can while the White House pounds the war drums. The people, however, mostly are not swallowing it. When I say “the people,” I don’t mean just the campus groups and peace organizations. Now they’ve been joined by the president of the AFL-CIO and several hundred thousand union members who are stoutly patriotic… and just as stoutly opposed to Bush’s war. They are joined by the Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, evangelical Christians, Catholic Bishops, and other church groups that are aggressively organizing against George’s Iraq Attack. They are joined by Mothers Against War, a mushrooming grassroots group that began in a living room in Massachusetts. They are joined by a veterans group led by vets who were in the last war against Saddam, when George the Elder was president. They are joined by corporate leaders who oppose the madness. They are joined by Black Voices for Peace, which has launched a poor people’s peace movement, just as Martin Luther King, Jr. did back in ’68. Join the rebellion. Visit www.unitedforpeace.org or call 415-255-7296, ext. 311.

Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To order his books or schedule him for a speech, visit www.jimhightower.com. To subscribe to his newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, call toll-free 1-866-271-4900.