Very few people will dispute the fact that George Bush, is one of the most experienced persons to be elected as the President of the United States. AYale patrician; he was a decorated fighter in the 2nd World War; a Texas oil man; Congressman; U.K. Ambassador; Head of the CIA; Vice President; and from the 10th of January, America’s 41st President.
The Inaugural speech of President Bush, was quite intriguing, by all accounts. It further underscored the moderation, in tone and style, that has characterized him, from the time it became clear, that he had won the Presidency. The extremist, Reaganite-type Republican, Bush, gave way to a centrist, that has come to be described as an East-Coast, old-style Republican.
There is no gainsaying the fact, that he inherited the Reagan legacy. What seems clear, is that he is unlikely to be the typical right wing ideologue, that was the Reagan of most of the eight years in the White House. Many commentators are convinced that the George Bush presidency, will not be an imperial one.
But what then is the essence of the George Bush agenda? How will he unfurl his banner? Soon after the election, he called for a “kinder, moregentle America”. The same theme re-echoed in the Inaugural Speech. On January 20th, George Bush was asking for an America that was “less enthralled by material things”, and similarly,he called for “better hearts and finer souls”. He wanted America to re-discover the “sense of what it means to be a friend”.
An indication of his commitment to fight the menace of drugs that have eaten deep into the fabric of American society, and has increased the gross earnings of organised crime,was similarly given. Bush promised to stop the scourge! An opinion poll conducted just before the inauguration, had indicated that the greatest problem Americafaced, internally, was the drug problem. It was as if Bush was then following, and not leading public opinion.
The response of right-wing circles, connected with the highest echelons of monopoly capital, has been of equal interest in assessing George Bush. To be sure, he is not setting out to dismantle the eight years of Reaganism, which from the perspective of these circles, were golden years. But how far will he go in toadying to the legacy?
Irwin Stelzer’s American Account column of the London Sunday Times of January 15,1989, was a useful distillation of the thinking of the hierarchies of the “captains of industry”. Irwin reminded us of successes of the Reagan years, which included the removal of double digit inflation, unemployment, and interest rates in excess of that was halved.Furthermore. “Reagan radically changed the nature of business-government relations. The Democrats view that ‘if it moves, regulate it, and if it earns, tax it’, was replaced with a bias for entrepreneurship, against regulation and hostile to taxation.” In other words, the Reagan years facilitated the consolidation of the growth of the profits of the TNCS.
Where then does George Bush stand? Irwin Stelzer was not sure: “what American businessmen now wonder is whether Reagan’s replacement by the less ideological Bush will mark the beginning of another era of activist government”. The fears are not allayed by the selection of self-styled pragmatists into the various positions in the new administration.
For Irwin and his ilk, why did George Bush make Jim Baker his Secretary of State? James Baker, who did not hesitate to manipulate the value of the Dollar when, in his views, the currency markets got it all wrong.
Or take Nicholas Brady, the new Treasury Secretary. He is not in favour on Wall Street. Why? He dared to propose a host of regulations of the securities business after the stockmarket crash of 1987.Not only that though. He opposes waves of highly leveraged takeovers that have “done so much to shake up the business establishment”. Hardly the C.V. of a dedicated Reaganite!
One other aspect of the Bush Agenda, is the hand of co-operation that he has stretched out to Congress. Both Houses are Democrats-controlled. At the Inauguration, he called for the two bodies ( Executive and Legislature) to work for the realization of the hopes of the American people. For a commentator like Irwin Stelzer, the Congress is left-wing! Jim Wright, the House Speaker, a friend of the Sandinista government of revolutionary Nicaragua, an advocate of higher taxes of the wealthy, has spoken well of George Bush. Even Jesse Jackson seems to believe thatGeorge Bush was a bit more concerned about poverty and inequality, than Reagan ever was.
Then there is the issue of the environment. The concern around it, has become a veritable political issue of the past decade. Even Thatcher in England, is under fire from environmentalists. Bush is not spared either. He has designated William Reilly, former President of the World Wildlife Fund and Conservation Foundation, as the Head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Is anything wrong here ? Well the “cost of the environmentalist agenda would appear on company books, rather as added government expenditure”. Bad news for the profit motive!
Internationally, while there might be less abrasive, conservative talk, the conservative essence of Foreign Policy will not change. Bush has not rejected the so-called Reagan Doctrine. The fact that he proclaimed the end of dictatorship at the inauguration, should not lure the peoples of the developing countries into any illusions.George Bush feels as passionately committed to the Reaganite SDI or STARWARS programme. He has vowed to continue support for the UNITA bandits in Angola, even if the chances for diplomatic relations with the Angolan government seem brighter.
How far can George Bush go, in the area of disarmament? Will he be able to follow the Soviet lead in that area ? Clearly, the American and other peoples, are in support of positive steps in this regard. Can he defy the very reactionary, hot heads of the Military-Industrial Complex ? There are no easy answers for these questions.
George Bush will have to work out concrete action that certainly would negate the sop of Camp David in the Middle East. As the death toll of Palestinians rises on a daily basis, and Israeli intransigence hardens into steel. The Palestinian people, and their organisation, the PLO, have also shown without doubts, that they are for peace. At the same time they are laying down their lives to achieve their homeland.
Bush has come to power, at a point in world history, when the trend is towards the removal of crisis elements from international relations. We have witnessed the developments in Indochina, Southern Africa, the Gulf, Afghanistan, and even in the relationship between the two antagonistic camps of capitalism and socialism.
But for the rest of us, the debt crisis is still a noose around our necks. Today, Third World debts have reached $1.3 trillion dollars. In order to repay these debts, Structural Adjustment Programs have been instituted. The burden of the adjustment programs is being carried by children, women, and the working people. It has been calculated that America’s yearly deficits roughly equal the amount of money they take away from us in the repayment of the various spurious debts incurred by the regimes of our various countries.
Again these scenarios bring to mind, the fact that imperialism will not be what it is, if it is not a blood-sucking system; if it does not extract surplus value from the labour power of working people; if the commodities of the developing countries are not underpriced; if it does not flex its muscles of bellicosity; and more.
”… And gentler the face of the world”, under the George Bush Presidency ? It is not too promising a picture when all the factors are summed up.