I‘ve been browsing, with great unease, some of the neocon sites discussing what they should do after the upcoming US election.
One of the most frightening thing about Bush’s first term has been his massive deregulation by deliberate neglect — simply ignoring and not enforcing social and environmental laws and regulations put in place by previous administrations, giving carte blanche to corporations and security forces to simply ignore existing laws with impunity. This is easily accomplished by starving the authorities and agencies responsible for enforcing these laws of budget and information, and by putting zealous hands-off neocons in charge of them.
All this is likely to change, one way or another, after the November US elections. If Kerry wins, which is looking increasingly unlikely, the corporations will have to deploy their armies of lawyers to entrench the de facto deregulations and discourage the ‘re-enforcement’ of social and environmental laws. The strategy for this would appear to be to argue that what Bush giveth away, rightly or wrongly, Kerry has no right to take back.
But if Bush wins, the strategy will be to permanently entrench the gains made by non-enforcement of the laws by either eliminating the laws entirely or, even better, eliminating the social and environmental regulatory authorities or agencies. The new mantra of the neocon corporatists is self-policing. In Bush newspeak that means, of course, no policing. We all saw how effective this approach was with the spectacular corporate frauds of the last decade, led by Bush buddy Ken Lay’s Enron. Nevertheless, we should not be surprised to see a flurry of eliminations of laws, regulations and regulatory authorities, positioned as cost-cutting, streamlining and ‘self-policing’ initiatives, in the early days of a second Bush presidency.
The second thrust of the new neocon agenda is indemnification of corporations against consumer litigation. Bush will be encouraged to use a few big-headline egregious abuses of contingent-fee and class-action litigation to ban these recourses outright, to put strict caps on individual settlements, to provide corporations with more power to intimidate consumers with devastating countersuits, and to put certain privileged industries and groups out of the reach of the courts entirely. The test case for this is the California ballot initiative entitled Limitations on Enforcement of Unfair Business Competition Laws. This initiative, if successful, will prohibit consumer groups from suing corporations to prevent fraud, false advertising or other deceptions. Business groups have poured millions into this, led by Nike, which failed in its earlier attempt to establish a legal right to lie to consumers about its sweatshop operations.
Next on the agenda is expansion of the war in the Mideast with a ‘pre-emptive’ attack on Iran to curtail its nuclear weapons capability. Financing such a war will require severe cuts to government services. Services of a regulatory nature will be replaced by self-policing. Other services will be privatized to corporations that will have free rein to make them profitable. Services that can’t be offered privately at a profit will be simply eliminated. More important than paying for the war, however, will be manning it. There are no countries willing and able to provide significant numbers of troops for a long war against Iran and then Syria and, inevitably, Saudi Arabia. And US voluntary recruits are maxed out, so a reinstatement of the draft is clearly in the cards. Of course, those with money, power and connections will be able to avoid active duty, as Bush did in Vietnam.
Patriot Act II will certainly be back on the agenda if Bush is re-elected. Kerry is so terrified of alienating moderate ‘swing’ voters that he is not making a big issue of this draconian, terrifying legislation, which would effectively suspend many civil liberties that Americans take for granted, and, worse, would give Homeland Security vast new powers and immunity from disclosure or justification of their actions. Those powers would be applied arbitrarily at the absolute and unrestricted discretion of individual officers, with no recourse to the victims. This is a flagrant abrogation of the US Constitution and of the fundamental rule of law. Just as in Latin American and Asian countries under juntas with similar unrestricted powers, American citizens who dare oppose or protest the actions of the government of the day will simply ‘disappear’.
And finally, the neocons are furious at the suggestion that the UN should have suprarnational authority over acts of misconduct carried out by Americans, including war crimes (under the International Court of Justice) and execution of foreign nationals for crimes committed in the US. The US has exercised its executive veto in the UN so often in the last four years that it has become a laughing stock, and these vetos completely undermine the credibility of the UN as well. The simple solution, in the eyes of the neocons, is to withdraw from the UN, to make it clear once and for all that the US does not recognize its authority and considers itself above international law. Expect a re-elected Bush to conveniently present this as an ultimatum to the UN when it invades Iran — join us or we quit.
Repeal of social and environmental protections, prohibition of consumer litigation against corporations, massive elimination and privatization of essential government services, more hugely expensive and dangerous wars in the Mideast, reinstatement of the draft for the poor and middle classes, abrogation of civil liberties, and withdrawal from the UN. This is the worst case scenario if Americans are foolish enough to re-elect Bush. If it comes true, America will have alienated itself from the rest of the West, and evolved into a corporatist state, a rogue nation. If we ever needed proof that the political and economic systems of society are incapable of solving the problems that threaten the survival of our planet, we will have it.