Cleaning up the cabinet

By the

January 18, 2001

Many across our country have risen in indignation over the nomination of John Ashcroft to be the attorney general, and perhaps their anger is justified. But Ashcroft is not the greatest threat to American democracy in George W. Bush’s cabinet. While Ashcroft’s positions on many social issues are extreme, the American public is fully aware of what we are getting from the former Missouri senator. It is President Bush’s first, most public and most well-received secretary-designate who threatens the underpinnings of our government and our society.

With the confirmation of Retired General Colin Powell as the Secretary of State a foregone conclusion, military minds have become the axis of power in President Bush’s administration. Not since the days of his father’s reign over this city have journalists written seriously about the military-industrial complex. But in the incoming administration, the positions of power accorded Vice President-elect Richard Cheney and Powell stand as testament to the renewed strength of the military. With Powell leading the Department of State, the often-tenuous line between diplomacy and military strength has disappeared. In the past, we could chart our international policy as a function of the dialectical tension between the Departments of State and Defense. Now, that tension has disappeared, leaving our country with a growing war machine eager to pick a fight. Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon, formerly separated by the Potomac, have now been bridged. (icnaconvention.org) With two old-school military men in command at each department, a complicit Vice President and a trigger happy President willing to let the genie out of the bottle, a crisis must be just beyond the horizon. We seem to be headed into a period of increased militarization; this at a time when there is no “clear and present danger.” General Powell and Cheney are content to steer a course for our nation informed by a Cold-War era paradigm of international relations, at a time when such a world view seems hopelessly antiquated. A missile defense shield or a new generation of armored personnel carriers won’t fix the situation in the Middle East. The Bush administration should redefine its goals for the military, and shape a sensible policy regarding military expansion; with an eye towards the problems our nation faces today?not the enemies it may perhaps meet one day in the future.

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