World Economic Forum
As many of you know, the World Economic Forum begins its 2002 meeting in New York City this Thursday. In response, and to protest the dominant role of multinational corporations in controlling the world's resources, a vast array of non-governmental organizations and activist groups are staging a series of counter-summits, panel discussions, teach-ins, street protests and parties.
In midtown Manhattan, on Monday, February 4, The Nation Institute is teaming up with Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, the International Forum on Globalization and Friends of the Earth to host a roundtable exchange on globalization politics after September 11.
You can find information, including event calendars, regarding expected World Economic Forum-related activities in New York City this week at The Nation's new WEF resource page. Currently available at:
And check out The Nation's site for new editorials, columns, articles and reports on a wide-range of topics, including Enron, the Middle East, Afghanistan, welfare politics, Huey Freeman, the new education bill and much more. All available now at:
Hate of the Union
By June Thomas
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2002, at 9:00 AM PT
Overseas reaction to President Bush's first State of the Union predictably focused on the sections about the war on terrorism, but the ferocity of the reaction was unexpected. A commentary in Britain's liberal Guardian, headlined "Hate of the union," claimed the address "proclaimed an escalation of the US war on terror that has more to do with justifying national missile defence than with September 11." Considering the three countries named as the "axis of evil," the paper's Washington correspondent noted that while it was always likely that the Bush administration would target Iraq, Iran has a democratically elected president and parliament, "albeit constrained by a conservative theocracy," and North Korea "has hitherto been seen as an inward-looking oddball dictatorship, with few outside links to global terrorism." Iran and North Korea earned their presidential shout-out because they both have
missile development programs, and "[w]ithout their inclusion on the list, [missile-defense] critics could argue that September 11 made the expensive and elaborate scheme all but irrelevant for the foreseeable
future." The Financial Times drew no connection to missile defense, but agreed, "North Korea and Iran do not belong in the same breath as Iraq.To lump them together is simplistic and will alienate new allies in Asia, Europe and the Middle East."
The speech was clearly intended for domestic consumption, but several papers worried how it would be perceived abroad. Britain's Independent declared: "[Bush's] forthright views will play well at home. But many outside America are likely to find them distinctly disturbing." The Financial Times noted that three of the four terrorist groups named by the president target Israel, "To single them out may sound right in Ohio and Wisconsin. It does not in the Middle East."
In France, Libération was surprised by the president's tone, which it said was "more martial than ever," while Le Monde concluded that Bush's rhetoric lacked credibility. Le Monde said that by forming anti-terror alliances with Russia and China, countries that use terror tactics against their own citizens in Chechnya and Tibet, the United States becomes party to their acts. The editorial concluded by noting that China and Russia are the main suppliers of suppliers of "military programs" to Iraq, Iran, and
The Times of London approved of the address for having made the "Bush Doctrine" on terrorism "much more coherent." The editorial also endorsed the "naming and shaming" of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, which it perceived as fusing the war on terror "with a determined drive to contain
or overthrow rogue states which trade in weapons of mass destruction. "His reserving the authority to take whatever pre-emptive measures might be necessary to prevent any of these countries reaching the point where they can exercise political blackmail." The editorial concluded, rather ominously, "It is hard to conceive how Mr Bush could make such a speech and then wait months before initiating military activity."
During the speech, the president praised those governments that are "acting forcefully" to eliminate terrorism in their midst, and added: "But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will." The Sydney Morning Herald reacted:
No hint here that he understands that he is talking of sovereign nations, some of whose governments are not so much timid as bankrupt and powerless. No acknowledgement, either, that "terrorist" is a term used not only to describe misguided fanatics intent on destroying Western civilisation, but also by oppressive regimes to demonise their internal enemies, who are often drawn from suffering ethnic or religious minorities.
In the Philippines, where, as the president noted in the State of the Union, U.S. troops are currently on a training mission, the political establishment took umbrage at what was perceived as a ischaracterization of the nation's record on terrorism and a threat of unilateral action by the United States. Former President Fidel Ramos told the Manila Times, "[Bush's] speech was not well researched by his ghost writers," and complained that Bush failed to acknowledge the Filipino government's role in preventing terrorist attacks such as the plots to assassinate Pope John Paul II and former President Bill Clinton. Filipino Justice Secretary Hernando Perez also balked at Bush's belligerence. He told the Philippine
Inquirer, "It's clear in my mind that one president of a friendly country does not threaten another friendly country. We don't depend on what the Americans claims to be necessary. We do seek assistance from them in case of need, but that doesn't mean they will run the foreign policy of our country."
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