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November 2002 (Volume 54, Number 6)

» Notes from the Editors
November 2002 (Volume 54, Number 6)
On September 10, of this year, an interview entitled, “Nelson Mandela: The U.S.A. is a Threat to World Peace,” appeared as a Newsweek web exclusive, http://www.msnbc.com/news/806174.asp. In this interview, Mandela reviewed some of the history of U.S. interventions in the Middle East—including U.S. support of the Shah of Iran, which led to the Islamic revolution in 1979, and U.S. arming and financing of the mujahedin in Afghanistan, which led to the rise of the Taliban. He went on to say, “If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace. Because what [America] is saying is that if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries. That is the message they are sending the world. That must be condemned in the strongest terms.” Later, on September 16, when Washington condemned as mere duplicity Iraq’s offer to allow unconditional inspection of its weapons facilities by U.N. inspectors, and again threatened war, Mandela asked: “What right has Bush to say that Iraq’s offer is not genuine? We must condemn that very strongly. No country, however strong, is entitled to comment adversely in the way the U.S. has done. They think they’re the only power in the world. They’re not and they’re following a dangerous policy. One country wants to bully the world” (Guardian, September 19, 2002).

No doubt Mandela, despite the fact that he is probably the most universally respected statesman in the world, will be privately ostracized, and, if politically feasible, publicly vilified by the ruling circles in the United States, for having the audacity to challenge the global projection of U.S. power in this way. But there is little doubt that the vast majority of the people in the world would agree with his statements. That the United States under the Bush administration is firmly committed to military, political, and economic expansion is written in red letters in the administration’s new National Security Strategy, transmitted to Congress on September 20. This document attempts to justify the belligerent posture of the United States toward states in the periphery, and the use of its full military force on recalcitrant third world states and societies, in the name of the defense of the United States and its military installations around the world. A few quotes from this document aptly illustrate Mandela’s point that “the attitude of the United States of America [at present] is a threat to world peace”:

  • The events of September 11, 2001, taught us that weak states, like Afghanistan, can pose as great a danger to our national interests as strong states.
  • While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country.
  • At the time of the Gulf War, we acquired irrefutable proof that Iraq’s designs were not limited to the chemical weapons it had used against Iran and its own people, but also extended to the acquisition of nuclear weapons and biological agents. In the past decade North Korea has become the world’s principle purveyor of ballistic missiles, and has tested increasingly capable missiles while developing its own WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction] arsenal. Other rogue regimes seek nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons as well. These states’ pursuit of, and global trade in, such weapons has become a looming threat to all nations.
  • We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends.
  • Counterproliferation [in relation to weapons of mass destruction] must be…integrated into the doctrine, training, and equipping of our forces and those of our allies to ensure that we can prevail in any conflict with WMD-armed adversaries.
  • The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction—and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.
  • The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression.
  • [T]he United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia, as well as temporary access arrangements for the long-distance deployment of U.S. forces.
  • The United States must and will maintain the capability to defeat any attempt by an enemy—whether a state or non-state actor—to impose its will on the United States, our allies, or our friends…. Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hope of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.
  • We will take actions necessary to ensure that our efforts to meet our global security commitments and protect Americans are not impaired by the potential for investigations, inquiry, or prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose jurisdiction does not extend to Americans and which we do not accept. We will work together with other nations to avoid complications in our military operations and cooperation, through such mechanisms as multilateral and bilateral agreements that will protect U.S. nationals from the ICC.
  • In exercising our leadership…we will be prepared to act apart when our interests and unique responsibilities require.

After reading these statements, it would be difficult for any objective analyst to avoid the conclusion that this new national security strategy is in fact the declaration of a new imperial order to be backed up not only by the threat but also the aggressive employment of overwhelming military force. As Mandela declared in his September 10 interview, “There is no doubt that the United States now feels that they are the only superpower in the world and they can do what they like.”

Our colleague and comrade W. H. Locke Anderson died after a long illness last September 22, aged sixty-eight. Locke came to MR in the late 1980s, first as the author of “Apologizing For Capitalism,” which appeared in this magazine in March 1987. It was followed by a number of pieces distinguished both by their critical insight and their clarity. Within the year, Locke was invited by Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff to join MR as associate editor and took on a range of editorial assignments, including criticizing manuscripts, doing substantive and textual editing with authors, and, in general, became an invaluable member of the MR family.

Locke graduated from Williams College and went on to do graduate work at Harvard University where he was a teaching fellow and instructor in the economics department. He received his Ph.D. in 1960. From there he moved to the University of Michigan where he was a professor of economics for the next twenty-eight years. In 1963–1964, he served as a Senior Staff Economist on President Lyndon Johnson’s Council of Economic Advisers, and in 1965 was a visiting professor at Texas Christian University.

Locke Anderson’s academic career was distinguished by any measure. But as time went by, Locke found himself increasingly critical of U.S. domestic and foreign policies and of the academy as it supported and colluded with these policies. As a consequence he became increasingly estranged from the tradition of neoclassical economics in which he had been trained. Like many of his contemporaries in the 1960s, he turned to the left; and, like a smaller number of them, he came to understand that only Marxism provides the intellectual equipment needed to understand the reality of a modern capitalist society. While at Michigan, Locke joined with colleagues from all over the country to organize what became the Union of Radical Political Economists. Finally, in 1988, he decided it was time to leave the university and seek more effective ways of using his energies. With this in mind, he took early retirement and moved to New York. On arrival, he came to see Magdoff and Sweezy at MR. Locke had met them earlier in Ann Arbor, which led to his writing for MR. This was the beginning of a relationship that ripened into an editorial collaboration lasting more than a decade, and ending only with Locke’s illness. During his years in New York, Locke was involved in a variety of community activities, working with his partner Beth Reed on behalf of the homeless with hands-on work in an organization called El Guapo. He was also a member of the Abyssinian Baptist Church and was active in the church’s social ministry.

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