This is an edited transcript of the interview with Joel Dejean by Mike Billington on April 20, 2022. Mr. Dejean is the LaRouche Independent candidate for U.S. Congress from Texas’s newly-created 38th C.D. Mr. Billington is an Editor for Executive Intelligence Review magazine.
Mike Billington: Greetings! This is Mike Billington, co-editor of the Executive Intelligence Review. I’m here today with Joel Dejean for an interview for EIR, for the Schiller Institute, and for The LaRouche Organization.
Joel Dejean is a LaRouche Independent candidate for Congress in the 38th District in Texas, running against a Republican favorite, Wesley Hunt. Joel was born in Haiti. He moved with his parents at the age of six to the Bronx, a Borough of New York City, and in 1972 won admission to the prestigious Bronx High School of Science, which is part of the New York City public school system. He earned a degree in Electrical Engineering from the state university at Stony Brook, followed by 8 years working at the Texas Instruments defense electronic group, where he worked on projects, for the U.S., Australian, and South Korean air forces.
He has been a collaborator of Lyndon LaRouche’s Fusion Energy Foundation, and the LaRouche political movement since 1985.
In 1995, while Joel was campaign for a LaRouche associate in France, he suffered a severe retinal tear in his right eye and returned to Houston. Efforts to save that eye failed as did work on the left eye, leaving him blind. But this has in no way stopped his full-time effort to fight for the future of mankind. He’s able to read anything he wishes on the internet, through various apps, and also has access to audio books and to 500 newspapers and magazines from the National Federation of the Blind. In fact, his campaign slogan is that he’s the only candidate with a positive vision for the future.
Welcome, Joel! Would you like to add anything about your career?
Joel Dejean: Well, the only thing I’ll add, is that in July of 1969 I was 10 years old, and I remember being on a family vacation to the Niagara Falls area. The evening of July 20, I remember watching Neil Armstrong come down the ladder of the Lunar Lander and take that “giant leap for mankind.” That inspired me to study real science and eventually become an engineer, and that’s how I ended up in Texas.
Billington: You’ve run for office in Texas before. You ran for the Houston Independent School Board in the fall of 1993, and then in 1994, for U.S. Congress from the 25th C.D. in Texas, campaigning for Lyndon LaRouche’s solutions to the unfolding economic and strategic breakdown.
What made you decide to run again, at this critical moment in global history?
Dejean: Back then, we were running as LaRouche Democrats. LaRouche himself, in January of 1994 was still in prison. He was paroled just a few weeks later. We were trying to revive the tradition of the Democratic Party—the Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy tradition of scientific optimism and a control of the banking system.
Now, in 2022, both parties have completely lost any idea of the tradition of the American System. The idea of running now as an Independent, is, [a reflection of what] LaRouche said on his 90th birthday: Party politics is out, party politics is corrupt. So, we have to provide an alternative to the American people. Because if you look at the policies coming from the Republicans and the Democrats, they are in goose-step, marching toward war, depression, and famine. We have to give the American public in Texas, in the nation, and the people of the world an alternative.
Billington: So, both you and Diane Sare—a LaRouche Independent candidate running from New York State for the U.S. Senate against Chuck Schumer—are actually running as national candidates, to build a movement of citizens to take responsibility for the current global crisis of civilization, the impending dark age of economic and strategic collapse, which at this point no one can avoid.
What inspired you to join the LaRouche movement in the first place?
Dejean: The first time I ran into the LaRouche movement was March 23, 1983. I didn’t even know about him then. I had just completed a round of flight tests with an upgraded infrared detection system at the Eglin Air Force Base in the panhandle of Florida. I had gotten wind that President Ronald Reagan was going to give a national Defense speech on TV that evening. I watched the President saying that we had to get the scientific community that gave us nuclear weapons to now give us the capability to make those same weapons “impotent and obsolete.”
Although I wasn’t working on strategic weapons, but tactical weapons, that speech spoke to me directly. I was inspired by that speech. The next day, when I went in to work, I found almost no reaction.
I took another two years before I ran into LaRouche organizers. I was on a trip in Los Angeles. I started reading LaRouche’s material. I joined the Fusion Energy Foundation. That’s when I got a clear conception of what Reagan had been talking about. He wasn’t talking about off-the-shelf technology; he was talking about new physical principles, although he didn’t put it in those terms.
Once I met the LaRouche organization, I was inspired to learn more and more, and that’s how I came to know Lyndon LaRouche.
High-Level Texas Gerrymandering
Billington: Your District was recently created, as I understand it, through gerrymandering by a Texas state government which is Republican-led, and includes much of the world-famous Houston Energy Corridor. The gerrymandering was actually designed for your opponent, Capt. Wesley Hunt, a West Point graduate who was a helicopter pilot in the Iraq War, who is supported and funded by Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, James Baker III and others from the military-industrial complex.
What is Hunt’s program, and what is the choice you are presenting to the voting public in contrast to that of Capt. Hunt?
Dejean: Here’s the irony: Hunt claims to be against the Green New Deal, but on his website he says he is for decarbonizing the economy, he’s for a shift away from fossil fuels. His version goes that he wants to wait until Russia, India, and China get rid of fossil fuels first. So, he wants them to commit suicide, and then we can join them. Hunt’s policy is the same as that of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the same as James Baker III—it’s for the Green New Deal, if not in name, but in actuality. His other policy is to confront Russia, crush their economy. His policies are leading us directly toward World War III with Russia and China.
A Fusion Energy Science Driver
Billington: You’re well-known as an expert on the science of nuclear and fusion energy. You’ve given classes and you have written articles on the necessary transformation of the way we live, through the development of fusion power as opposed to the Green New Deal—fusion power which could provide essentially unlimited energy for all of mankind.
What is your message regarding fusion, and why has its development been sabotaged over these past 60 years since President John Kennedy called for a crash program before he was assassinated?
Dejean: I was always for nuclear power—mostly nuclear fission power. As a matter of fact, when I was in the 5th grade I made a model of a nuclear reactor. The only thing I couldn’t get was yellow cake, so it never went critical. But I was always for nuclear power. Matter of fact, my last year at Stony Brook the IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers professional association] caucus in the university [of which I was a member] visited the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant. It was scheduled to come online within a few months, but Mario Cuomo, at that time Governor of New York State, shut down that plant and, after $5 billion being spent on building it, not one watt of power was produced.
So, as I ran into the Fusion Energy Foundation, I saw that not only was LaRouche in favor of fission nuclear power, he was in favor of a full-fledged development of fusion power, not just for energy, but for things like space propulsion, a way of getting to Mars and other destinations at a high-enough speed so that the occupants of the spacecraft will have a chance to arrive at their destination ready for exploration.
Billington: You’re already well-known in Houston. You’ve spoken several times in the recent past to the Houston City Council as a strong opponent of the Green New Deal, both because of the faulty science behind the carbon argument, but also because it’s used to justify the banking cartel’s diversion of credit from industry and agriculture and scientific research, in order to bail out the bankrupt trans-Atlantic financial system.
How are people responding to your message?
Dejean: Last year on Feb. 9, I testified to the Houston City Council and the Mayor, Sylvester Turner, one week before the deep freeze hit Texas. We both—Joe Jennings also testified with me—warned the City Council and the Mayor that their adoption of the Green New Deal and the Climate Action Plan would not only threaten Houston as an energy capital; it would lead to brownouts and blackouts. One week later, the whole State froze over, which obviously was blamed on global warming. We had a blackout for 48-96 hours, depending on your neighborhood, and close to 1,000 Texans died, freezing in the dark.
The people I mentioned that to, realized that not only was I right, but that this whole sham of global warming is a fraud. However, people like Sylvester Turner went on national television one week later to say that the freeze proved that global climate change is real. So, they are too dense to get it, but the population has reacted quite positively to what I said.
Billington: You spoke recently to the Houston City Council, right?
Dejean: There’s a little town in 38th C.D. called Bunker Hill. I went up there on the 19th and had 3 minutes to speak. I began by referencing the other Bunker Hill near Boston, and referenced that 247 years ago, on April 19, 1775 the Battle of Lexington and Concord occurred, which led in June 17 that same year to the Battle of Bunker Hill. I said that while we eventually lost that battle to the British, that battle proved that the Continental Army was a formidable force that eventually forced the British out of Boston.
I referenced that there was a British officer who after the battle said, “Any more victories like this will lose the war,” which they eventually did lose. I referenced that today the British control Capitol Hill, from the President who’s called for regime-change in Russia, to the Senators like Sen. Chris Coons from Delaware, who has called for American boots on the ground in Ukraine, to lunatics like Sen. Roger Wicker from Mississippi, who has called for dropping nuclear bombs on Russia.
You have this whole Capitol Hill operation in the Congress. The Democrats and the Republicans are, like I said, in lockstep in goosestep, marching toward World War III, totally oblivious to the control that the British retain over Capitol Hill, in our government.
Billington: You write in a campaign statement from March 22—which I read—that we are now facing “the front end of the final hyperinflationary collapse of the Western dollar-based, liberal, free-market edifice of Western finance, forecast decades ago by economist Lyndon LaRouche.” You note that the unsustainable bubble of several quadrillion dollars in gambling debts that can never be repaid is driving a policy of fascist austerity and outright starvation globally.
What is the solution?
Dejean: The solution is really quite simple. LaRouche laid it out back in June of 2014 in his “Four Laws to Save the Economy.”
The first step is we have to reintroduce President Franklin Roosevelt’s Glass-Steagall Act, where we separate the commercial banks from the investment banks. We have to control the issuance of currency. We have to nationalize the Federal Reserve, so that we can issue long-term, low interest credit to infrastructure—things like high-speed rail, water management. The Fourth Law is that we have to have a full-scale, crash program to get controlled thermonuclear fusion, hopefully within the next decade.
Combine that with China and Russia, and India and the United States—the Four Powers—all working together, we could overwhelm this London-Wall Street dying financial system, and we can get the world on a firm security, and economic development architecture.
Rebuild and Develop Afghanistan and Haiti
Billington: You have also spoken out against the extreme evil being done to Afghanistan through the sanctions after 20 years of destruction, imposing sanctions even stealing their [financial] reserves that were on deposited in the U.S. and European banks. Afghanistan, as well as your birthplace, Haiti, represent two of the most serious threats of outright genocide now facing the conscience of mankind.
How have you acted on this, and what do you propose?
Dejean: Back in October, I held a rally outside the Houston office of the Federal Reserve, demanding that the $9 billion in Afghan funds being held by the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury be released. It was bad enough that the U.S. stole $9 billion in Afghan national money after spending $2 trillion in destroying that nation over the last 20 years.
I have endorsed the Schiller Institute’s plan for development of Afghanistan, and we released a plan in October for the development of Haiti. The plan for Haiti was originally proposed by two Chinese companies five years ago, that they would fund and develop water, sanitation, and power for the city of Port-au-Prince. Haiti, which is not a sovereign country, was told by the IMF and the U.S. State Department that they have no right to work with China. So, after the earthquake of 2010, and after the earthquake of August 2021, nothing has been rebuilt, except for a few fancy hotels for the non-governmental organizations that come in like vultures to feast off the carcasses of Haitians.
I support the Schiller Institute’s plan to develop Haiti. Today, charcoal provides 75% of the power used in Haiti. I have called for Haiti to be the first nation to go from charcoal power to fusion power in the next 10 years, with the help of the U.S. and China. That’s the way out for Haiti; that’s the way out for Afghanistan.
Now that they’ve gotten away with stealing $9 billion funds, the same Treasury Department and Federal Reserve system has stolen $300 billion from Russia. These guys are the biggest bank robbers in history.
Support China’s Belt & Road Initiative
Billington: Indeed. The world-famous MD Anderson Medical Center in Houston was one of the first targets of FBI Director Christopher Wray, both during the Trump administration and continuing in the Biden administration, carrying out an outright McCarthyite war on Chinese and Chinese-American scientists in the United States called the China Initiative, threatening them with arrest. Many have been arrested, and many have been thrown out of their jobs on the false claim that because of their collaboration with Chinese scientists, were somehow functioning as spies.
This China Initiative has recently been shut down under enormous pressure from Americans, not just Chinese-Americans, but Americans who recognize this was an abomination to be taking place in the United States. But the witch hunt against all things Chinese is continuing.
You, I know, have spoken out against this. What have you done to counter this anti-China hysteria?
Dejean: You may remember that during the last few months of the Trump administration, they actually shut down the Houston Chinese Consulate. Over the last 5 years, we’ve had a series of meetings with representatives from the Houston Chinese Consulate, talking about the Belt & Road Initiative. We had one meeting where the Chinese Consulate representative and a representative of the Pakistani Consulate here met with the Schiller Institute at a university campus to discuss the Belt & Road Initiative.
I have continued to call for the Belt & Road Initiative. I’m also calling for the U.S. to join that in what was called the North America Belt & Road Initiative. We should be part of this massive infrastructure-building. The FBI has shut down all of the Consulate activities in Houston. They have gone after Chinese scientists, and they say that the fact that Chinese scientists are working on a cure for cancer is somehow a national security threat. I continue to denounce that.
My campaign went to the Chinese New Year’s Festival this past February and got out a statement I put out on working with China. We don’t need to be enemies of China and Russia. We need to collaborate on the frontiers of science, in space, fusion, and medicine.
Organizing in District 38
Billington: Now, of course, the focus has shifted to an all-out demonization and attack on Russia—a total degeneration of international relations with Russia from the West, and the massive and illegal economic warfare against Russia, openly aimed at destroying the Russian economy. Supposedly, this is justified by Russia’s military operations against Ukraine, but as we now all know, the U.S. killed millions of innocents and drove millions more out of their homes in totally illegal wars against Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and more, and never faced justice for these crimes.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche and the Schiller Institute have called for an international conference of all nations to establish a new security and development architecture for all nations based on the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which settled 150 years of warfare in Europe, by establishing sovereign nation-states that recognized their interest to be the interest of the other, and forgave all previous alleged crimes committed on both sides, in order to establish peace through development.
I know you’re working on this. How are you organizing for this event, to have this international conference, and to prevent this extreme danger of a war with Russia, which also, of course, could be nuclear, and will almost certainly include a similar war against China?
Dejean: There are a significant number of Muslims in the 38th C.D. I don’t know the exact percentage, but my campaign has gone to several of the mosques in the District, or right near the District. We have spoken to the people coming out of the service. We mentioned the obvious hypocrisy of the U.S. being “so concerned about the poor Ukrainians,” and not giving a damn about the millions of people killed in the illegal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya. The reaction has been quite positive for a large number of Pakistanis. We were speaking to them about how [Pakistan Prime Minister] Imran Khan was being targetted for daring to speak his mind and saying that Pakistan is not a slave to the West. You saw what happened last week, where Khan was overthrown.
I’m continuing to organize with the Muslims in the District, and have scheduled an event for next week, where we will bring together contacts that we have met on the college campuses. There are four community college campuses in the District where we have gotten probably over 100 student contacts of all ages.
There are a lot of veterans going to these community colleges—veterans of the Iraq War, veterans of the Afghan War who are trying to make something out of their lives, who have realized that their efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan were totally wasted, not by their service, but by people like my Republican opponent, Wesley Hunt, a graduate of West Point, and is campaigning, proud of the fact that he had 55 combat missions flying Apache attack helicopters in Iraq. As a reward for his service, he became a diplomatic liaison to Saudi Arabia—the very nation that financed and supplied the hijackers who took down the World Trade Center towers in New York City and attacked the Pentagon.
I issued a call, challenging Wesley Hunt to “fess up” to what he was doing in Saudi Arabia, and whether he is still proud of his disgraceful service in Iraq. So far, I’ve gotten no response.
I continue to organize on the campuses, at the mosques, and all over the District—city councils, wherever we can find people. Like I said, I’m holding this event next week to bring these forces together.
Sanctions and The War in Ukraine
Billington: I should also mention and ask about the situation in Ukraine, where our media, our Congress, the Biden administration, both major political parties are all talking about “saving the heroic Ukrainians,” while denying the self-evident and extensively proven fact that the cutting edge of the Ukrainian battle against the people of the Donbas since the coup in 2014 in which the U.S., Victoria Nuland, and Joe Biden openly supported neo-Nazi forces—with swastikas—supporters of Stepan Bandera, Hitler’s ally in Ukraine. And that we’re now proudly supporting what can only be described as a neo-Nazi force carrying out mass murder in Ukraine, while trying to blame everything that happens on the Russians.
I’m sure you have been speaking out against this, and I wonder if you want to comment on it.
Dejean: Yes. I’ve gone to several conservative Republican meetings, and brought this up, that Wesley Hunt and his backers, like James Baker III, are pushing policies that are leading us directly toward war with Russia—not so much over Ukraine, but I’ve spoken out to say that it was the last 30 years of NATO expansion, where after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall coming down, James Baker III promised the Soviet government, Gorbachev personally, that NATO would not move “one inch” to the East, if Gorbachev allowed the reunification of East and West Germany under NATO. Baker was truthful, in the sense that NATO didn’t move one inch to the East; they moved 1,000 kilometers to the East.
Any time I mentioned that this fight around Ukraine is leading toward a U.S.-Russia war, I’ve had no one say, “Yeah, we should attack Russia; we should go in for the kill”—lunatic policies that are coming out of the U.S. Senate right now.
There is a reaction against the propaganda, but given the real history of the 2014 coup in Ukraine, and the policy of regime-change that worked so successfully in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and our attempted regime-change in Syria, people realize that we’ve been going down the wrong road. And to back either a Republican or Biden Democrat is suicide.
Billington: The sanctions policies against many nations, but now emphatically against Russia and China, and their theft of foreign nations’ reserves, which you mentioned, is now driving the majority of the world’s nations to move away from dealing with the dollar at all, since that’s used as the justification for stealing their reserves and imposing sanctions. They’re now beginning to trade in local currencies, and Russia and China, and others are even setting up a totally alternative financial structure, independent of the dollar.
If the world devolves even further into these warring blocs, a war and global chaos will certainly become unavoidable. How can we bring Americans, and Europeans, to understand that their future depends on cooperation with all nations, rather than the dying delusion of a unitary superpower controlling the world from Washington and Wall Street?
Dejean: The spearpoint of changing the United States is Diane Sare’s campaign for the Senate from New York state, where she began petitioning yesterday, and my campaign here in Texas against these Republican lunatics like Wesley Hunt. We have to mobilize people in the oil industry, scientists, people in NASA. Ordinary Americans do realize that their self-interest is in working with Russia, working with China to develop the world, or lacking that, we’re going to march right down to World War III, where no one will come out with that war.
Fusion Energy with Helium-3
Billington: Thanks. Would you like to add anything?
Dejean: Yes. Today, we are recording this interview on April 20, is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 16 landing on the Moon. We went to the Moon, not just to beat the Russians. We landed six landers on the Moon over a three-and-a-half-year period. The astronauts of Apollo 16, Charles Duke and John Young collected 200 pounds of lunar samples which they brought back to Earth. It turns out that in those lunar samples, unknown at the time they were collected, is an isotope of helium, helium-3, which is very rare on Earth, but there is an estimated one million tons of helium-3 on the lunar surface, which we could have access to.
Helium-3 happens to be the perfect fuel for second-generation fusion reactors, using deuterium from seawater and helium-3 from the Moon. Chinese scientists have estimated that if we were to develop the helium-3 on the Moon, we would have enough fusion power to take care of the needs on Earth for tens of thousands of years. And, there’s plenty of helium-3 in the large, gaseous planets like Saturn and Neptune, so we would never run out.
So, the Chinese are aware of this. That’s why they’re pushing for a lunar program. As Lyndon LaRouche said in 1987, for his 1988 campaign for President, we have to develop fusion propulsion so we can get to Mars in a matter of days, instead of months. We can’t keep using chemical rockets like we’ve been using for the last 60 years, if we hope to develop Mars.
That is the future that I’m laying out to my constituents in Texas—is that we could use the tradition of Apollo, use the tradition of American science, which developed nuclear power, not only to develop the Moon and Mars, but give the children of today something to look forward to. Right now, all they have to look forward to is starvation and war. We have to give them a future.
Billington: Thank you, Joel Dejean, candidate in Texas for U.S. Congress. I think this extremely optimistic message, so desperately needed in a nation fearful and demoralized by the degeneration of our economy and the danger of global war, should ring true and inspire both young and old in your District and around the country. We will make sure this interview gets spread far and wide.
Dejean: Thank you, Michael.
Welcome to the campaign!
DUMP SCHUMER! VOTE NOVEMBER 8TH FOR DIANE SARE FOR US SENATE
Diane Sare is on the November 8th ballot in New York State as the “LaRouche Party” independent candidate for U.S. Senate.
Download and print 11×17 Sare for Senate window posters
|VOTE Diane Sare for US Senate
|Nuclear Power NOT Nuclear War
|Why is Schumer afraid to debate?
Diane’s Press Kit is available HERE.
Diane Sare Illustrates How Corrupt & Biased Our Voting System is:
Comment: THE Crime Syndicate in control of America’s voting is not going to support these Candidates Pointing out Their Crimes. LOL Nor is the media as the Criminals OWN the U.S. Media. Only Warmongers represent the Crime Syndicate Running America so only Warmongering Congressional Candidates are Financed by them. Look at the Financiers of the Mob Candidates and you will see the workings of the Crime Syndicate in Action in Amerika! Proof Americans Have No Representation Within Their Gov’t Below. Wars For Profit ONLY Benefit the 1% as They Reap Huge Profits While Americans Pay the War Bills!
By Leonard C. Goodman / Original to ScheerPost
Arecent poll conducted by the Quincy Institute found that 57% of likely voters strongly or somewhat support the US pursuing diplomatic negotiations as soon as possible to end the war in Ukraine, even if it requires Ukraine making compromises with Russia.
Despite relentless pro-war propaganda, a majority of Americans are not on board with their government’s strategy of pouring endless weapons into Ukraine’s war with its nuclear-armed neighbor and hoping for the best. They are concerned about the costs of this war – more than 60 billion taxpayer dollars have already been spent, with much of that money filling the coffers of U.S. arms manufacturers.
Americans are also concerned about the growing risk of nuclear Armageddon. In 2019, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists kept the Doomsday Clock set to two minutes before midnight following the United States’s unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Then on January 20, 2022, as tensions escalated between Russia and Ukraine, and also between the U.S. and China, the clock was reset to 100 seconds from midnight — on “doom’s doorstep.”
Unfortunately, as numerous academic studies have shown – such as the 2017 study by political scientists Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens – the concerns of “ordinary Americans [have] little or no impact” on federal government policy, which is directed by economic elites and by organized groups representing business interests.
The most influential business groups directing foreign policy are the U.S. arms manufacturers. Bomb makers like Raytheon require zones of active conflict to meet Wall Street’s profit expectations. Manufacturers of big-ticket items require hostile relations with larger nations like Russia and China to justify new sales of aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, F-35 fighter jets, and new generations of nuclear bombs. The mineral extracting industries also exert great influence, demanding an empire of at least 750 military bases in 80 countries to crush the will of local people who might oppose foreign exploitation of their resources.
I have seen firsthand how the wealthy shape government policy to favor their business interests through lobbying, think tanks, political action committees, and of course bundled campaign contribution checks to both Democrats and Republicans and especially to the Congressional lawmakers on the key committees and appropriations subcommittees. In short, wealthy people demand that their servants in government act decisively to assure a high rate of return on their investment capital. And the politicians reliably deliver the goods. So much so that, in the eyes of the wealthy, government leaders are competent and highly responsive. Whereas working people often see federal officials as useless at best, and more often as arbitrary and oppressive.
And because Congress exempts itself from any meaningful ethical or conflict-of-interest rules regarding the industries it oversees, its members are permitted to take campaign cash and other financial favors from corporations that profit from war, and simultaneously appropriate taxpayer funds to these same companies.
The conflict in Ukraine has been a bonanza for the arms industry. The runup to the war saw NATO expand east towards Russia’s border, requiring each new NATO state to purchase arms compatible with U.S. weapons systems. The 2014 US-backed coup that ousted Russia-leaning President Viktor Yanukovych opened the door to a policy of arming Ukraine. Russia’s invasion earlier this year accelerated the profiteering, as U.S. taxpayers were required, without hearings or debate, to purchase billions of dollars’ worth of weapons from U.S. arms makers for shipment to Ukraine. As of the end of October, the US committed $18 billion in arms and other equipment to Ukraine since the war began on February 24.
The voice of the war industry can be heard through its think tanks. A recent analysis in Jacobin Magazine found of the top 50 think tanks with donors disclosed, 79% took arms industry cash. The arms industry spreads its largesse among both conservative outfits like the Heritage Foundation and liberal ones like the Center for American Progress, all of which share a pro-growth attitude toward Pentagon spending.
A recent think tank story in the Guardian by Brookings Institution senior fellow Steven Pifer summarizes the arms industry’s position on the Ukraine war: Russia is losing. The Ukrainian military “has driven Russian forces back in the east and south of the country and appears poised to recover further territory…For Ukraine, seeking negotiations in the current circumstances has zero appeal…Strong continued US financial and material support for Ukraine’s effort to drive the Russian military out thus is central to ending the war on acceptable terms.” Predictably, Pifer’s column does not mention the danger of nuclear war.
Arms industry think tanks also urge less diplomacy and more provocation towards China. A recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by Hudson Institute and Hoover Institution fellow Nadia Schadlow asserts that any cooperation with China is just a “fantasy.” Reckless acts, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s incendiary trip to Taiwan this past summer, are applauded. Others argue that we must spend even more taxpayer dollars on weapons to prepare for simultaneous wars in Asia and Europe.
Think tanks elevate the ideas profitable to industry sponsors. They encourage our leaders to send more weapons into conflict zones, and to shun diplomacy. And they provide the talking points for public officials to spout while they ignore the concerns of their constituents.
The scholarship coming from pro-war, industry-funded think tanks could never carry the day if there were an actual debate. Not to worry. Congress holds no debates or public hearings on vital issues of war and peace, thereby allowing poorly-reasoned arguments for more war and less diplomacy to become official policy. Meanwhile, the mainstream media does its part by excluding anti-war voices from their platforms.
Congress’s need to avoid any public debate over its industry-friendly foreign policy explains why the toothless letter sent October 24 by a group of “progressive” House Democrats, gently suggesting that the Biden administration “pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push,” was met with such a vicious backlash from party leaders. Unsurprisingly, the so-called progressives immediately folded and withdrew their letter.
Despite populist rhetoric, progressive Democrats are beholden to the donors that finance their party, including Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics. These donors want the war to continue. And they don’t want any debates about diplomacy or the risk of nuclear war. They don’t care if the Democrats get trounced in the midterm elections or that voters are growing tired of electing representatives who always step up to fund war, but never jobs, housing or health care.
The arms industry owns both of the corporate parties and has nothing to fear if Republicans take over Congress in 2023, notwithstanding warnings by some, like House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, that there will be no more “blank check” for Ukraine if Republicans win back the House majority. A Republican Congress might cut back some of the aid to Ukraine. But the weapons will continue to flow.
The failure of progressive Democrats to stand up and fight for their professed principles demonstrates yet again that dissenting voices inside of a corporate-controlled party serve no function other than to help sell the lie that the party represents ordinary people and not just wealthy donors.
The situation in Ukraine is becoming more dangerous every day. And the industry groups directing foreign policy are ill-equipped to protect the world from nuclear Armageddon. Publicly-traded corporations are profit-seeking engines focused on quarterly earnings. The personal views or morality of corporate directors is immaterial. They are under fiduciary obligation to maximize profits for the shareholders. And profit models show that ramping up hostilities with Russia and China will increase profit projections. The danger of nuclear annihilation literally does not compute.
Recent comments by President Biden suggest that he sees this danger. A seasoned cold warrior, Biden understands that in a conflict between nuclear powers, there has to be direct lines of communications between leaders, as there were between Kennedy and Krushchev during the Cuban missile crisis.
Publicly, Biden is staying on script, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper in a recent interview: “I’m not about to, nor is anyone else prepared to negotiate with Russia about them staying in Ukraine, keeping any part of Ukraine, etcetera.”
But behind closed doors, Biden recently told Democratic donors at a Manhattan fundraiser that the world faces “the prospect of Armageddon” for the first time “since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.” Vladimir Putin “is not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons, because his military, you might say, is significantly underperforming.”
Biden understands who is in charge, and he is begging his party’s donors to send him a lifeline, or an off ramp. Biden has reason for alarm. His key advisors are all industry lackeys. His Secretary of State Antony Blinken, our nation’s chief diplomat, has no significant experience negotiating with our adversaries. His greatest achievement during past government service in the Clinton and Obama administrations was finding a way to keep Pentagon budgets rising while transitioning from Bush-era ground wars to smaller scale sustainable operations. In the private sector, Blinken wrote memos advocating for new smarter, more sustainable wars, and he shared his list of government contacts to help clients obtain defense contracts. Blinken advocated for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the interventions in Libya and Syria, the 2014 Ukraine coup, and the Saudi-led mass atrocities in Yemen. All of these military adventures were disastrous for the people on the ground but highly profitable for the war industry. Blinken recently praised the bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines as a “tremendous strategic opportunity.”
Biden’s secretary of defense, Lloyd James Austin III, went directly from the board of Raytheon to Biden’s cabinet. Biden’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, was a senior fellow at a war industry-funded think tank, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Even if we manage somehow to survive the current crisis, the toxic mix of war profiteering and legalized bribery of our elected leaders will eventually lead us towards mutually assured destruction. The only question is whether we will perish in a nuclear war or by environmental collapse.
The best gift for the people of earth would be to greatly reduce the size of our war machine, which currently emits more climate-changing gasses than most medium-sized countries, and also to reduce the amount of lethal weapons we send around the globe, many of which find their way to the black market and mercenaries. But to do this, we will need a new political system that allows voters to elect a Congress that is not beholden to the two corporate parties.
A recent Gallup poll shows Americans’ support for a third U.S. political party is at an all-time high. Sixty-two percent of U.S. adults say the “parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed.” Even a record high of 63% of Republicans favor a third party. Yet the two-party duopoly uses its power to block access of third parties to ballots, debates and to federal matching funds.
Our system of winner-take-all elections also works against third party candidates by scaring voters into casting their ballot for the lesser of the two evil establishment candidates, rather than “waste” their vote on a third-party candidate, who the corporate media has declared unelectable. This problem can easily be fixed with a Ranked-Choice Voting system where voters rank the candidates in order of preference.
Congress will not fix this system on its own. One of the few ways we can exert pressure is to stop making financial contributions to the campaigns of candidates for national office who align with the Democrats or Republicans. We should not allow these candidates to claim grassroots support from working class voters. Even if that candidate claims to support an anti-corporate policy such as Medicare-for-All, their true loyalty is to their party, which has assured its donors that M4A will never become law.
I would not apply this absolute ban on donations to candidates for state and local office. Unlike their federal counterparts, state and municipal leaders must deliver actual services within a limited budget — education, garbage collection, sanitation, public safety — making it harder for them to completely ignore the concerns of constituents.
Many liberals still argue that it is important to support Democrats because of issues like reproductive rights and identity politics. However, it is the rigged system that forces the two corporate parties to agree on issues that impact corporate profitability, that thereby turns up the heat on the remaining issues making them more difficult to resolve. Democrats risk offending their donor base if they question war spending or for-profit healthcare. Thus they need issues like reproductive rights to remain unresolved so they will have something to run on in November.
Only by rejecting the corporate parties can we open up the debate to include other issues concerning voters, like ending wars for profit and fixing our healthcare system in which sick people avoid the doctor for fear of bankrupting their families. Once we break the corporate duopoly and its stranglehold on American politics, issues like reproductive rights will be easier to resolve by compromise. And we will also improve our chances of avoiding nuclear Armageddon.