Page 8


what kind of nation is going to be there in Kuwait, it’s tricky. That’s a question for those who support the invasion to go after. There have been calls for U.N.-sanctioned elections to be held rather than restore the monarchy that exists. Some of the opposition forces the legitimate opposition forces in Kuwait don’t like that. They would rather have the Emir put back and work it out themselves. They don’t like the fact that ‘parliament has not met. But on the other hand, they would rather work that out them, selves. Tough call. One we shouldn’t make. ‘ I would like to just give the hawkish argument, as I understand it. That this is similar to Korea. That you have a real bad guy. You have a fairly solid international consensus that someone’s got to stop this guy. Now our ‘allies, Germany and Japan, express an un=willingness to do much more than say, “Yes, you Americans should stop him.” So if the United States doesn’t jump in and destroy this guy, then it condones a sort of aggressive international behavior. And we’ll have a lot of Saddam Husseins. How do you respond to that? Well, there isn’t, as near as I can tell, an international rush to use military force to stop Saddam Hussein. There’s clearly an international consensus that he should be stopped. It’s real interesting to try to figure out what would have happened without the United States in this. You’re saying it has to be the United States. Take the United States out of it and what would happen? You know, the Arab League was sort of meeting and talking about how to deal with this Arab problem. And then the United States came in in the midst of these meetings, came in pushing for immediate United Nations Security Council resolutions, then pushed for an invitation from the Saudi Arabian government to come in there. You had [Defense Secretary] Cheney running around saying “Can you take us?” If the United States wasn’t leading, both diplomatically and militarily, it seems that the most likely thing would have been an embargo. I’m not even sure there would have even been a blockade. It would have been a reliance on some kind of economic and diplomatic pressures. It would have taken a long ‘ time for that to happen. If the United States doesn’t respond, does it condone agression? It condones aggression all over the world. Aggression takes place every day … there are 20 to 30 acts of aggression internationally every year. The United States has even been known to contribute to that occasionally. Panama, Grenada, you know we’re on that list. So this notion that we’re going to protect the world from naked aggression is another One of these well, it’s like calling Saddam ‘Hussein “Hitler.” It’s very effective in terms of arousing emotional response on the part of 8 DECEMBER 7, 1990 the United States if your objective is to have support for a military option. It doesn’t contribute to clarity of thought. Well, given that, what do you think the real reason is? There have been other acts of aggression that we don’t do anything about. There is a great book by Graham Allison called The Essence of Decision, ‘where he looks at the Cuban missile crisis 10 years later. And he tries to go back and figure out what happened. What was the essence of decision in that situation. I think it’s complex. I think it’s multi-causal. Just take the personal level. President Bush was personally in trouble. His son was about to become the poster child for the S&L scandal, a huge national problem very largely pushed out of the national spotlight by this event. He was in trouble domestically. A recession was going to happen. He was in trouble over taxes. I don’t want to make it a conspiratorial view of history I don’t want to say that George Bush said, “Ah, here’s a way to get Neil off the hook.” So the first thing is personal stuff. Bush was under fire. “The way to the American Dream now is through the nightmare.” The second thing, and this is sort of following the Allison model, is organizational. The Pentagon was under fire. We spend about $170 billion actually it’s probably about $200 billion when you consider veterans’ benefits and stuff which is never included in this total defending West Germany against an attack from East Germany. Or as somebody said recently, defending Luxembourg against an attack by Czechoslovakia. Some of us were saying: We’ve got some roads, we’ve got some job problems, health care. There are a few things that we could do to make this country stronger economically and socially. It would mean, however, for that institution of the Pentagon, lost power, lost money, lost budget, lost job slots. So I think there were organizational pressures. When the question was posed, “What do we do?” the Pentagon was quick to say “Put them all over there.” The Pentagon commissioned a study called “Discriminate Deterrents” two years ago, in which they called for a reorientation of military strategy, away from confronting a Soviet threat in Europe, which they perceived as declining, toward being prepared to deal with Third World conflicts, conflicts over resources to shift to more of a rapid deployment force. There’s a paper that Michael Clare, the Amherst professor that you see in The Nation a lot, mentions. As one talking point, Saddam Hussein was described as sort of the ideal enemy to ease this transition. So you had these institutional pressures within the military. You have personal pressures on George Bush which make it attractive. Are we going to be a geo-economic power or are we going to be a geo-military power? Here’s this resource over in the Middle East. And if we go over there and take control of it militarily, it gives us a feW more years, a few more decades. Germany and Japan are going in the direction of building their economic strength, being powerful in markets, subsidizing their companies, training their workforce so that it’s highly educated, motivated. So they’re going the economic route and the United States is losing that battle. Peter Peterson might argue that that decision’s already made. That we are geomilitary and the economic Or Paul Kennedy. I think that’s right. Clare claims that debate was actually engaged in in the White House in the spring. You know, there was this talk about the peace dividend. There was a respectable conservative Republican position, which says you take care of business at home, economically. So now, what’s happened in the sand, is if you think of the United States as the Statue of Liberty, she’s come to a fork in the road. And that fork in the road is the choice between investment in economic power, human resources, environmental improvements, the domestic route to power, or to go and continue to take what’s left over from our past human capital investments in the military and sit on the oil and say “Well, you’ve got to deal with us.” And Kennedy’s argument, historically, and I think logically, is to say that you can’t do that forever. Maybe this does give you 10 years. And maybe it gives you 20 years. And you have people dying. You’ve got to understand me, it’s real interesting, this interview. It’s clear that you are more concerned about a more analytical kind of investigation of this issue. And I want to be level with you: I come to it from an emotional base. I’ve got my own etchings off the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall. That’s where I come from. And I can give you the analysis that’s kind of appropriate. But when it comes down to it, when you go that geomilitary route, what you’re talking about is, basically the working families of the United States having their sons and daughters die. That’s what you invest. And frankly, the best estimates I come up with, is that about a third of our force over there is non-white. So you’re asking black and Chicano and Puerto Riqueno people to die for an Administration that just refused to sign a very moderate civil rights bill. It’s a very ugly to me, it’s like the El