Here’s a New Year’s gift from the Observer , an adaptation of a speech delivered by our publisher, Ronnie Dugger, to the Texas Democrats when they gathered for a strategy session in Converse on Dec. 13, 1975. I wish to discuss first, how we got into our present situation, and then how we’re going to get out of it. I Since 1960 a series of disasters has befallen the democracy none of us could have imagined. One can talk about them by numbering themI count sixbut each began earlier and all of them marbled the period. Nixon had his Six Crises, and then the Seventh. In the last 15 years we have all had Six Disasters, tending toward a nameless Seventh, one that could be the end for us and even for civilization. The first of these disasters is the failure to stop the spread of weapons of destruction. The swollen Eisenhower military budget and his warning against the military-industrial complex gave way to the even more swollen Kennedy military budget and the phony missile gap. In 1975 the U.S. is spending $30 billion just for weapons, including binary nerve gas. Edward Kennedy says, “We are preparing a whole new generation of doctrines of counterforce and ‘limited’ nuclear war that could still result in 20 million or more American deaths.” The Hiroshima bomb killed between 100,000 and 200,000 people. As of 1974 the U.S. nuclear stockpile was equivalent to 615,365 Hiroshima bombs. Nuclear weapons are emplaced in Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East, on ships and subs and planes, and as Sen. Stuart Symington said, “One miscalculation, one sudden terrorist activity, one paranoid leader could set the spark to worldwide nuclear holocaust.” By 1980 electric power reactors will have produced enough plutonium to make more than 50,000 nuclear bombs. Under the Pentagon’s arms sales programs, we are arming the whole world. In the last two years we have sold $20 billion worth of arms abroad. Nixon had the CIA supply arms for a border war as a favor to the Shah of Iran. The Soviets are matching or exceeding our excesses; 20 nations have the capability to produce nuclear weapons, and in five years there will be about 30. In The Four-Gated City, Doris Lessing wrote, in the world after the holocaust, “We were too reasonable . . . We did not know how badly the world had hurt itself . . . Suppose we had noticed before the disaster that we had no enemy? . . . I and some other fools played God saving handfuls of the homeless and starving while we allowed the governments to make certain the death of whole nations.” The second disaster has been the havoc we are wreaking on our own home, the earth. Three details. Now, very late, it is being realized that a group of industrial pollutants called PCBs are probably worse than DDT, and longer-lasting, and possibly cause miscarriages, sickly infants, and liver cancer. Now, very late, it is being realized that aerosol sprays may be weakening our atmospheric protection against the sun. And the ruthless commercial killing of whales continues despite the realization, very late, that whales and dolphins have brains bigger and in ways subtler than ours and may very well be the intelligent-life-in-another-form we are searching for in outer space. The third disaster has been not only Vietnam, the costly and merciless aggressive war we were tricked into fightirig and lied into continuing, but also the sickening collection of revelations about the CIA. Now we know that Eisenhower apparently ordered the assassination of Lumumba in the Congo; the U.S. gave guns to dissidents who killed Trujillo in the Dominican Republic; the CIA, plotting to assassinate Castro, dispensed or contemplated poison pens and pills, rifles, bacterial powders, and a contaminated diving suit to be given Castro as a gift, and the CIA paid the Mafia about $100,000 to kill him. The CIA was involved in plans to kill Sukarno of Indonesia and Duvalier of Haiti. The U.S. spent $13 million in Chilean politics in ten years, Nixon ordered a military coup to keep the democratic Marxist Allende from power, and the U.S. Ambassador to Chile told.Chilean President Eduardo Frei in 1973, “not a nut or bolt will be allowed to reach Chile under Allende. Once Allende comes to power we shall do all within our power to condemn Chile and the Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty . . .” We can see now that Vietnam was only the wildest rampage of a foreign policy gone mad. The fourth disaster was Watergate, the systematic use of federal power to subvert the democracy that created it, Ford’s pardon of Nixon, and certain related events. Now we know, too, that Lyndon Johnson used the FBI to investigate a newspaper and Goldwa ter campaign staffers; Robert Kennedy and Katzenbach approved the Martin Luther King wiretaps, the FBI sent King a letter suggesting he commit suicide shortly before he was murdered; the FBI faked letters to get the Communist Party and the Mafia into a war; the FBI conducted hundreds of illegal break-ins against left-wing groups; apparently J. Edgar Hoover himself ordered the destruction of Lee Harvey Oswald’s threatening note to the FBI before the assassination of John Kennedy; and Hoover had so much explosive personal information in his possession, 30 or 32 of his file drawers were burned or shredded upon his death. Fifth we realized, most of us, that our good fortune is in the world with, and helps cause, starvation abroad. In the fall of ’74 more than half a billion people were suffering from severe hunger. More than one out of every four of the children in the less developed nations die before they are five years old, and of those who survive, the brains of two out of every three are damaged by malnutrition. Yet we devote just one-fifth of one percent of our gross national product to the only international organization that gives interest-free loans to poor nations for development, the International Development Association. Throughout the period we have seen the underlying structural disaster, the displacement of democracy by corporate government. GM produces 53 percent of all the cars; the oil companies have their crisis and the only thing left of it is the high prices; OPEC and Aramco both hike their oil profits 350 percent in a five-year period; the biggest companies are increasingly the multinationals beyond the reach of any one government, and the vice-chairman of Mobil Oil said in 1975 that if foreign tax credits for oil companies are eliminated, Mobil might move out of the United States. Huge corporations, drenching us with billboards and massmoulded shops and stations, have infested the country, bankrupting family businesses, crushing competition, turning small businesspeople into hired hands by the millions. Bigness has become an evil in itself because bigness takes people’s work out of their own hands. In the wake of Watergate we learned some of the facts that before we had to guess were true. Lockheed admitted paying $22 million in bribes abroad and $106 million in five years in Saudi Arabia, millions of it for officials, using Swiss accounts. Northrop’s $30 million in overseas payments of a certain kind are being investigated, and parties for congressmen given by Northrop and Martin-Marietta sound like Texas lobbyists’ soirees for state legislators in the 1950’s. McDonnell-Douglas admits $2.5 million in questionable overseas payments. Among the oil companies, Phillips admits giving $600,000 in illegal corporate contributions in ten years, including gifts to 53 members of Congress and $30,000 for Nixon. Exxon admits funneling nearly $60 million to Italian politicians and political parties, using, with a subsidiary, 41 hidden bank accounts and January 16, 1976 3
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