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Concerned About Cheney


Today's likely selection of Dick Cheney as Governor George W. Bush's running mate should give many people a reason for pause. There will be numerous arguments against the selection but none, I think, as important as the fact that Dick Cheney as Bush's running mate represents a deepening of the influence that the military-industrial complex will have over a Bush White house. For all of the talk of his conservative running record but "moderate" personality, Cheney is a throwback to the Cold War era and in the pocket of the private defense establishment.

There was no bigger supporter of the unbridled growth of U.S. military spending and the exporting of U.S. weapons of war, than Dick Cheney. Far from just a silent partner, Cheney advocated and participated in the proliferation of massive amounts of weapon sales in the Middle East. Cheney led the pack in the use of "arms-sales" diplomacy in order to cobble together the anti-Iraq coalition in the Gulf War - offering nations in the region weapons in return for their support in getting Saddam Hussein out of the way.

In fact, in early-1991 when then-President Bush was publicly calling for arms sale reductions and regulation it was Cheney who was quietly doing the opposite. It was Cheney who was working the members of the U.S. Congress in order to win support for increased weapons sales into the region. And it was Cheney who advanced the effort to have the U.S. government subsidize the sales pitches of U.S. weapons manufacturers in that part of the world - nothing short of corporate welfare for weapons manufacturers. From transportation expenses to set-up costs, the U.S. government took care of whatever the defense industry needed. This, of course, is the same Dick Cheney who advocated a Balanced Budget Amendment while a member of the U.S. Congress and who waged war against welfare for the poor. Obviously he has two different definitions of "welfare".

Cheney, with the help of U.S. Undersecretary of State, Paul Wolfowitz, paved the way for struggling Defense companies like General Dynamics to benefit from government subsidies that enabled it to sell its goods at international arms and air shows. Wolfowitz and Cheney's provision of "welfare" saved defense-exporting firms millions of dollars in expenses and in 1992 was responsible for $20 billion in U.S. weapon sales. From Raytheon to General Dynamics, when help was needed, it was Cheney and Wolfowitz upon whom they called.

It was Cheney who vigorously backed the contra effort in Nicaragua and who voted against imposing economic sanctions on South Africa's apartheid government in 1986. And one can only wonder what his vision of U.S. foreign policy in Central America and Africa is today.

There can be no doubt that with Cheney and Bush together in the White House billions of dollars will be devoted to military spending, not for the poor and underpaid men and women of the U.S. armed forces, but for excessive and wasteful spending on research, weapons and planes and on subsidizing the sales of U.S. weapons across the world -many of which will continue to find their way into Africa, but at a higher clip. And wasteful and unworkable projects like the much talked about missile defense system will get a green light from Cheney. And the result will be billions of dollars in wasted taxpayer money and a transfer of wealth scheme where millions of Americans have their tax payments transferred into the bank accounts of a handful of defense contractors.

A Bush - Cheney administration, in essence, means a blank check for the military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned America about in his Jan. 1961 farewell address. It means a return to the Cold War mentality where might makes right and it means that the U.S., when it should be a force for peace in the world will have its biggest advocate for aggression - right in the White House.

There are some serious concerns about Dick Cheney.


Cedric Muhammad

Tuesday, July 25, 2000

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