BY ERNEST F. HOLLINGS
As a veteran of World War II, I knew that the war was being run by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower.
Today, as a 38-year veteran of the U.S. Senate, I can’t tell who is running our wars.
For example, both the CIA and Department of Defense appear to be running the war in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama takes responsibility, as he recently did over the killing of a U.S. hostage. But we all know that the president only authorized the drone killing and had no knowledge of the target. No one in charge.
I remember well when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld started the War on Terror. In 2006, Secretary Rumsfeld issued the Pentagon’s “Quadrennial Defense Review Report” proclaiming that the United States would war against any or all “whoever seeks to destroy our free way of life.”
Then Rumsfeld deployed GIs around the world to find someone to drone kill and to prevent Russia and China from attaining hegemony in regions around the world. Front-page headline in the April 25 Wall Street Journal: “American special operators landed in 81 countries last year, as the U.S. seeks new ways to project power.”
Of course the U.S. is not training troops in 81 countries. The U.S. is looking for someone to drone kill, to continue the War on Terror, which we ought to stop. At this point, no one is in charge of the War on Terror.
The president and Congress must realize that drone killing doesn’t eliminate terrorism — it spreads terrorism. Today, directors of the CIA become Secretaries of Defense, like Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, and they continue the War on Terror.
Years ago, President Obama started drone killing in Yemen for Saudi Arabia. Once hailed as a signal success of the Obama administration, the drone killing has developed into a civil war in Yemen. Sen. John McCain complains that the CIA is in charge of drone killing and he thinks Defense should be in charge. Actually, no one is in charge.
A column by E.J. Dionne in the April 27 Washington Post tells how: “The world’s democracies, perhaps especially our own, face a peculiar set of contradictions that are undermining faith in public endeavor and unraveling old loyalties.”
That’s because Wall Street, the big banks and Corporate America want to keep the offshore profits flowing, so they contribute to the president and Congress to do nothing about competing in globalization; to do nothing about China’s closed market, predatory practices and devaluing its currency; to do nothing to attract Corporate America to invest and produce in America; to do nothing about maintaining a strong economy; to do nothing about limiting the offshoring of jobs; and to do nothing to protect the production of products vital to a strong economy. The president and Congress do nothing. As Dionne writes: “... politicians in democratic countries ... are not doing a very good job, and the unfolding 2016 campaign doesn’t inspire much confidence that they’ll do better.”
No one is in charge of protecting and building the U.S. economy.
Now negotiations ensue between President Obama and Democrats in Congress to enact the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bill. Thomas Friedman, quoting the president, wrote in the April 30 Post and Courier: “These trade agreements can help build trust, coordination and growth that tilt the balance in all countries more toward global cooperation ‘than hunkering down in protectionism or nationalism and letting others, or nobody, write the rules.’ ”
The United States has already written rules for free trade to protect labor, the environment, antitrust, etc. Our trouble is that China violates the rules and the president and Congress do nothing about violations.
The TPP might set new rules but the president and Congress will take the contributions and do nothing about violations of the rules.
Bottom line: No one is in charge of free trade.
Ernest F. Hollings, a Democrat, served from 1959-63 as S.C. governor and from 1966-2005 in the U.S. Senate.