Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Daniel Patrick Welch: It's the Policies, Stupid

It's the Policies, Stupid:

Why The World Won't And Shouldn't Give A 'New' US President Any Honeymoon
By Daniel Patrick Welch

As Americans gather to excerise their god-given right to pick the leader of the free world, that world huddles anxiously in the far-flung corners of the planet to see what comes next. This has all been posited as good news for John Kerry, who is poised today to take control of the massive house of cards left behind by one of the most criminal organizations since the Nixon White House.

But even if the Republicans manage to fall short in their racist and anti-democratic quest to steal enough votes to cling to power, a new president can't expect a free pass. Whoever takes the oath in January - giving the current administration, by the way, another two months of Rump Parliament leeway to ruin everything even further - whoever wins the Big Prize will inherit a free world so angry and fed up with US policies that no amount of finesse, charm or tweaking can force the genie back in the bottle. Score one for the people of the world.

The one thing George Bush has done right is to unmask the darker side of US imperial dreams. For this, he is routinely excoriated even by "true" conservatives, stalwarts of his own party, by liberals, moderates and blind, left-handed pipewelders - in short, everyone - all who decry the loss of US "influence" in the world at large. Please allow me to thank God. [note: this is not a Grammy acceptance speech]. In an earlier piece before the US invasion, I wrote that "Mark my words: this war signals the beginning of the end of the US as a world power." [Fair Warning, March 2003, ].

Following the axiom that only a pompous jackass quotes himself (those who know me well can opine, both friend and foe) let me elaborate further: There is not a single war in history where the aggressor does not claim to have been provoked. Nobody cares what kind of forged documents we can cook up, or how many Americans the government can dupe. All the childish, macho, swaggering crap, all the "freedom fries" and "liberty toast" in the world won't wash the bad taste it leaves it the mouths of world opinion…. Over the next few decades, our standard of living will slide as the world community recoils.

Why should it be otherwise? As Paul Simon sang of a different war a generation ago, "You can't expect to be bright and bon-vivant so far away from home/so far away from home".

The right wing, of course, is desperate to hold on to power, trotting out all the tricks they can muster to intimidate, obfuscate, bluster and steal their way to a second wave of unmitigated destruction. They are well on their way to succeeding, as 200 million bucks buys a lot of neat stuff. [see Palast's expose, An Election Spoiled Rotten, .]

But despite the ouija board polling industry, the phenomenally uninterested and incompetent press, and a largely comatose US population, it seems obvious that Bush is also hated by his own people, though certainly not by the margins seen in the rest of the world. There's enough mistrust to ignite a civil war and fuel a new axiom, "if he wins, they stole it."

It has always been Kerry's election to lose. The problem is what happens next. If Bush is booted today, there are precious few safeguards (fewer than ever, thanks to the work of this administration) against the US war machine.

The trouble is that in the ponzi scheme of US politics, voters are asked to chose between shapeshifters, magicians, sound bites and teams of spinmeisters equally prepared to argue that their man did and did not mean whatever it is that he did or did not say. Hey diddle-diddle, she's the one in the middle.

Absent enormous political courage, it leaves little room for a mandate; the winner simply sits at the helm of a huge, unwieldy ship that dangerously steers itself, its rudders fixed and sails rigged by corporate interests unresponsive to anything but their own power.

The antiwar movement, the vestige of the US "left," has promised a sort of November 3 Movement, aimed at sustaining the opposition to US policies that victimize the world's people. However, it has been an outgrowth of the stampede toward Anybody But Bush; the logic was that it is so essential to get rid of Bush that these forces should hold their fire against Kerry until Satan is safely out of the way. The trouble, of course, is that the myriad variables that make this avenue appealing to a certain crowd will also conspire in the same and different ways to make it essential to hold off in the future.

Tomorrow is when the November 3 movement will begin to break down, its collapse fueled by the internal contradictions that have brought it about.

The clock is ticking on US empire. What the world needs is a sustained, vigorous, coherent and unyielding opposition to the policies that have brought us to this point. None of that will come from any new administration. It will be forced on it by challenge from below and from without. The US left can get on board if it chooses; for much of the world, however, it seems that the train is already leaving the station.


© 2004 Daniel Patrick Welch.

Reprint permission granted with credit and link to . Writer, singer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife, Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The Greenhouse School ( Some of his articles have been broadcast on radio, and translations are available in up to 20 languages. Links to the website are appreciated at .

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news