Public Comment

Commentary: Discerning Change

By Irving Gershenberg
Thursday August 07, 2008 - 12:33:00 PM

Two three years from now, looking back at this upcoming election, with an Obama or McCain in the White House, how might we tell if their promise of change has, or is being, fulfilled? Yes, here during the summer of 2008, awaiting election day, we have been promised change, and change we do desire. But what that change might consist of remains elusive, vague. What we do have, and in abundance, is rhetoric, the promise of change. Of course, we know for certain, come Jan. 20, one kind of change that we will surely get is the departure of President Bush. But if that is all, if nothing else, noting substantial changes, then will we still be content to say that change indeed has occurred? 

For me, no! What follows is my very short list of what must occur (not all, but some of what must happen, and my list is really a lot longer than this) in the international sector, for me to be content, for me to be able to say, two to three years from now, that our 2009 newly inaugurated president has indeed fulfilled a promise and delivered change. I suggest that each of us create his/her own list and now make it available to all candidates. 

1. Renounce the Imperial Presidency, ensure that no action in the international sector is taken without first obtaining the approval of Congress. 

2. Reduce/dismantle dramatically the number of military bases/outposts that we maintain around the globe. We currently have a military presence in at least 150 countries including large scale deployments in over 20 of them. Few of these bases are for fighting wars, most are manifestations of imperialism, showplaces of American power. No U.S. military bases to be left in Iraq after 2010. 

3. Terminate all “status of forces” agreements with countries in which U.S. military forces are stationed or operate; allow crimes committed abroad to be adjudicated by local courts. 

4. Recognize the legitimacy of all governments elected in free/fair contests—start by recognizing Hamas as the legitimate government of the Palestinian people. 

5. Emphasize human rights concerns by terminating support—militarily and economically—of governments that oppress women and/or resident minorities, governments such as those currently in power in Saudi Arabia, Uzbaqkistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc. 

6. Recognize and adhere to the authority of the World Court. 

7. Stop financing the sale of military equipment via the World Bank, IMF, U.S. Department of Defense loans or “gifts” to other countries; drop all subsidies to U.S. arms producers. 

8. Cut off the flow of money that finances the various secret intelligence agencies maintained by the Pentagon and other agencies of government. 


Irving Gershenberg is a Berkeley resident.