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Michael: check this piece out

Conservatively Speaking

The long-time progressive’s pitch to the disenfranchised Right

By Pat Buchanan;Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader recently accepted Pat Buchanan’s invitation to sit down with us and explain why his third-party presidential bid ought to appeal to conservatives disaffected with George W. Bush. We think readers will be interested in the reflections of a man who has been a major figure in American public life for 40 years—and who now finds himself that rarest of birds, a conviction politician.

Pat Buchanan: Let me start off with foreign policy—Iraq and the Middle East. You have seen the polls indicating widespread contempt for the United States abroad. Why do they hate us?

Ralph Nader: First of all, we have been supporting despots, dictators, and oligarchs in all those states for a variety of purposes. We supported Saddam Hussein. He was our anti-Communist dictator until 1990. It’s also cultural; they see corporate culture as abandoning the restraints on personal behavior dictated by their religion and culture. Our corporate pornography and anything-goes values are profoundly offensive to them.

The other thing is that we are supporting the Israeli military regime with billions of dollars and ignoring both the Israeli peace movement, which is very substantial, and the Palestinian peace movement. They see a nuclear-armed Israel that could wipe out the Middle East in a weekend if it wanted to.

They think that we are on their backs, in their house, undermining their desire to overthrow their own tyrants.

PB Then you would say it is not only Bush who is at fault, but Clinton and Bush and Reagan, all the way back?

RN: The subservience of our congressional and White House puppets to Israeli military policy has been consistent. Until ’91, any dictator who was anti-Communist was our ally.

PB: You used the term “congressional puppets.” Did John Kerry show himself to be a congressional puppet when he voted to give the president a blank check to go to war?

RN: They’re almost all puppets. There are two sets: Congressional puppets and White House puppets. When the chief puppeteer comes to Washington, the puppets prance.

PB: Why do both sets of puppets, support the Sharon/Likud policies in the Middle East rather than the peace movement candidates and leaders in Israel?

RN: That is a good question because the peace movement is broad indeed. They just put 120,000 people in a square in Tel Aviv. They are composed of former government ministers, existing and former members of the Knesset, former generals, former combat veterans, former heads of internal security, people from all backgrounds. It is not any fringe movement.

The answer to your question is that instead of focusing on how to bring a peaceful settlement, both parties concede their independent judgment to the pro-Israeli lobbies in this country because they perceive them as determining the margin in some state elections and as sources of funding. They don’t appear to agree with Tom Friedman, who wrote that memorable phrase, “Ariel Sharon has Arafat under house arrest in Ramallah and Bush under house arrest in the Oval Office.”

Virtually no member of Congress can say that, and so we come to this paradoxical conclusion that there is far more freedom in Israel to discuss this than there is in the United States, which is providing billions of dollars in economic and military assistance.

PB: Let me move on to Iraq. You were opposed to the war, and it now appears that it has become sort of a bloody stalemate. You said you would bring troops out of Iraq within six months. What if the country collapses and becomes a haven for terrorists? Would you send American troops back in to clean it up?

RN: Under my proposal there would be an international peacekeeping force, and the withdrawal would be a smart withdrawal during which there are internationally supervised elections. We would have both military and corporate withdrawal because the Iraqi people see the corporations are beginning to take over their economy, including their oil resources. And we would continue humanitarian assistance until the Iraqi people get on their feet. We would bring to the forefront during the election autonomies for Kurds, Sunnis, and Shi’ites. So this would not be like a withdrawal in Vietnam where we just barely got out with the helicopters.

TAC: You often mention corporations. What is the theory behind this or what are the alternatives to corporate economic power? I presume you are not talking about state ownership or socialism, or perhaps you are �

RN: Well, that is what representative government is for, to counteract the excesses of the monied interests, as Thomas Jefferson said. Because big business realizes that the main countervailing force against their excesses and abuses is government, their goal has been to take over the government, and they do this with money and politics. They do it by putting their top officials at the Pentagon, Treasury, and Federal Reserve, and they do it by providing job opportunities to retiring members of Congress. They have law firms that draft legislation and think-tanks that provide ready-made speeches. They also do it by threatening to leave the country. The quickest way to bring a member of Congress to his or her knees is by shifting industries abroad.

Concentrated corporate power violates many principles of capitalism. For example, under capitalism, owners control their property. Under multinational corporations, the shareholders don’t control their corporation. Under capitalism, if you can’t make the market respond, you sink. Under big business, you don’t go bankrupt; you go to Washington for a bailout. Under capitalism, there is supposed to be freedom of contract. When was the last time you negotiated a contract with banks or auto dealers? They are all fine-print contracts. The law of contracts has been wiped out for 99 percent of contracts that ordinary consumers sign on to. Capitalism is supposed to be based on law and order. Corporations get away with corporate crime, fraud, and abuse. And finally, capitalism is premised on a level playing field; the most meritorious is supposed to win. Tell that to a small inventor or a small business up against McDonald’s or a software programmer up against Microsoft.

Giant multinational corporations have no allegiance to any country or community other than to control them or abandon them. So what we have now is the merger of big business and big government to further subsidize costs or eliminate risks or guarantee profits by our government.

PB: Let’s move to immigration. We stop 1.5 million illegal aliens on our borders each year. One million still get through. There are currently 8-14 million illegal aliens in the United States. The president is mandated under the Constitution to defend the States against foreign invasion, and this certainly seems to constitute that.

RN: As long as our foreign policy supports dictators and oligarchs, you are going to have desperate people moving north over the border.

Part of the problem involves NAFTA. The flood of cheap corn into Mexico has dispossessed over a million Mexican farmers, and, with their families, they either go to the slums or, in their desperation, head north.

In addition, I don’t think the United States should be in the business of brain-draining skilled talent, especially in the Third World, because we are importing in the best engineers, scientists, software people, doctors, entrepreneurs who should be in their countries, building their own countries. We are driving the talent to these shores—

PB: How do we defend these shores?

RN: I don’t believe in giving visas to software people from the Third World when we have got all kinds of unemployed software people here.

Let’s get down to the manual labor. This is the reason the Wall Street Journal is for an open-borders policy: they want a cheap-wage policy. There are two ways to deal with that. One is to raise the minimum wage to the purchasing-power level of 1968—$8 an hour—and then, in another year, raise it to $10 an hour because the economy since 1968 has doubled in production per capita. PB: Say we went to $10 an hour minimum wage. It is 50 cents an hour in Mexico. Why wouldn’t that cause not 1.5 million, but 3 million to head straight north where they could be making 20 times what they can make minimum wage in Mexico?

More

http://www.amconmag.com/article/2004/jun/21/00006/

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