Alfred de Grazia


An address prepared for delivery at the United Nations World Summit Conference for a Sustainable Future, Johannesburg, South Africa, August 25-September 4, 2002.

Sustainable Development is whatever we do that is both good for us and good for our descendants. What is good is a long list of mutually supportive achievements.

Often we mistakenly imagine that sustainable development can be accomplished without hot and dirty politics and that somehow it can surface out of nowhere. In fact, we realize, when we are honest with ourselves, that every kind of sustainable development involves hard struggles of people against people, of ideas against ideas. The best action we can take on behalf of sustainable development is often surprisingly easy, in itself, but it follows and is the outcome of a bitter political struggle. For example, the great ideas of the Rights of Man emerged in practice from terrible English, American and French Revolutions.

So I am putting my shoulder to the wheel of sustainable development in the way I know best -- as a political philosopher and historian. I am going to grapple with American politics as the source of some of our problems, and more particularly the politics of the United States and Israeli governments as obstacles to sustainable development.

As I speak, it will become more and more apparent that resolution of the chaos of the Near East will be one of the largest most practical leaps that we could possibly take into a world with a sustainable future. But to put the Israelis and Palestinians in a position to solve their problems together and wisely, we must engage in a political campaign, a forceful, unhesitating, and aggressive campaign. It is a campaign in which we should banish a thousand bad leaders and gain a thousand good leaders.

At this moment of history, the Government of the United States of America is less liked by the people of the World than at any time since its famous Declaration of Independence of 1776.

As if to confirm the worst tendencies of the Bush Presidency, the Congress, both Senate and House, when the month of May, 2002 began, voted overwhelmingly for resolutions that praised the cruel behavior of the Israel government, and lashed out against the impotent Palestine authority. It was not only a kick to a needy beggar. Congress at the same time declared that it was going to give Israel better shoes for kicking the beggar.

Then last month, July, the same U.S.Government said it would soon go to war - they used to call the overpowering of weak opponents an expedition - against another "rogue" state. It would strike whenever it pleased. The White House has become skilled at inventing bad names to apply to other nations - terrorists, and rogues, and biological poisoners, and anti-Americans, and even anti-semites.

"War" is itself a bad name. But heads of governments like such "wars" because these give them emergency legal powers weakening human rights and liberties, lets them stir up and rally a reluctant people, squelches the press and the opposition parties, and lends a dramatic effect to their pitiful characters.

We love the United States - but we love it for what it once was, or might be - not for what it is today. We love it for bringing democratic constitutions to Germany, Italy, and Japan. We love it for its progress in fighting ethnic prejudice, invidious discrimination, and racism within its own borders. We love it and its voluntary organizations for the aid they have often given to countries around the globe.

Today the US is a menace to the world. After striving for two hundred years to grow out of its primitive and pretended isolationism, the US now tells the world that it will do whatever it pleases. Externally, as well as domestically, it surges towards a Garrison State.

Most of the world cheered when the Soviet Union withdrew from the horrendous costs of competing with the US as a Superpower. Now we ask anxiously whether that was a good thing. For now the US, as the Sole Superpower, acts as if it will condense and concentrate in its own behavior the evils of the Soviet Union - now you get "Two Evils for the Price of One!"

The next American step, if we read the New York Times, Le Monde, and other news sources, will be a blitzkrieg against Iraq.The ongoing death toll owing to the international sanctions driven by the US against Iraq is 8,000 persons per month, 96,000 a year, in a nation of 23 millions. In proportion to populations, the equivalent in deaths from similar economic sanctions would be 1,152,000 Americans dead from the sanctions. And we all know how America hates to lose a single soldier. But Iraq's 23 million people, hating America and internationalism, increase by leaps and bounds, like many other countries, without the means of raising the young properly. So what kind of world is America breeding? The United Nations, which is finally and just now becoming a true world representative government, discovers that it is about to be cast into the ash heap by the United States. Can it be that the United Nations has begun to perform its job too well to be tolerated by the American elite, plutocrats, isolationists, fundamentalists, and militarists?

Because of fear of Iraq and other Arab states, Israel has long ago developed a military machine second to none in the Middle East. It has

resisted every attempt to control its development of the worst weapon -- the nuclear bomb, and has enough of them to threaten the destruction of the whole of the Middle East. And to wipe Irq off the map -- if the winds did not change diastrously for everyone. All of this could have been prevented by the USA making known what everyone knows anyhow, that the USA would not stand by and let Israel be conquered, even it meant the use of atomic weapons. So we are faced with an unreliable ally possessed of weapons it does not need and that keep the country economically un-viable. Worse, it gives the world the fifth largest exporter of deadly weapons. .

When I say unreliable, I mean that the Israeli govenment is not only unruly in small policies but in the largest questions. Do we really want to trust nuclear weapons by the hundreds to a state some of whose leaders believe that the Nazi holocaust of Jews was the Will of God! It is bad enough that the Jewish enemies, the Arabs, already have presumed such a Divinity, the same, who is said to support the same kind of holy war or Armageddon. Such leaders would be prepared to destroy both their presumed enemies and their own people under conditions of hysterical fear.

Let us move on. We know how the US government has retarded world attempts to control the heating of the atmosphere. Maybe in a few years, hundreds of millions of people, threatened by floods and extreme climatic change, must flee their homes. And President Bush by then will be back at his air-conditioned ranch.

The US government has blocked and delayed many a move on the part of the World to combat racism. But it refuses to see any racism in the conduct of the Israel government. In so doing it frustrates the struggle against racism everywhere. The US takes the position of a man who has learned the one great lesson of his life badly. Racism has almost ruined America in times past. But now it pretends in world forums such as at Durban in Africa that there is no such thing as a racist Jew - by definition.

But only a fool can believe that any person who is discriminated against on grounds of his race must thereby automatically be purified of all racism himself. Racist Jews are common and have to be exposed just like any other racist -- black, Arab, East Asian, or European.

We know also how the United States government has wrecked attempts to bring equal justice into international criminal law. It wants to exempt its own citizens who are charged with crimes in the course of international operations from the compulsory processes of the world criminal courts of justice, while prosecuting other people's criminals.

We know, too, that the United States has spent enough money on armaments alone in the past fifty years to feed, house, clothe, educate, and provide basic medical care to every poor person in the world. The number of these poor has risen from one billion to three billion people meanwhile. And it will increase.

The world knows that all this is very bad. And insulting. It is imperialism, giving the conqueror privileges denied the dominated peoples.

But the World, too, is at fault, because the different nations let themselves be suckers for the myth of Sovereignty, which the US now turns against them. The US cries out for its sovereignty, as if it were Luxembourg. It's like the rich despot who grants that the poor man has a right to a miserable hut, while knowing very well that he can burn down the poor man's hut whenever he feels like it.

America no longer has the allies it could once claim - the United Nations is not in its pocket. The European countries are no longer individual supplicants to the USA. The English government may sometimes behave like the lap-dog of Uncle Sam, but it is trying to be let out into the English garden.

America boasts that it can strike anywhere in the world whenever it pleases. But who wants a strike? What the People of the World want to hear is that America can go wherever people wish it would go, on jobs of mercy, health, education, and democracy. They want to hear, too, that America will arrive carrying not bombs and spies and sanctions, but the makings of a better world. And, if they are not stupefied by the media, they know that what the USA spends every year on its armaments and armed forces could support all the poor of the whole world.

The wretched extremes of the world are worsening. I count here on my paper 46 - forty-six - troubles, all of them being grave problems around the world that are not being properly attacked, not receiving even one-hundredth, not 1%, of what they require of forcefulness, scientific attention and treatment. Each of them needs, too, a hundred times more than the small supply of moral indignation that is furnished it now. I have seen with my own eyes, in my travels to various parts of the world, and I have learned in my studies, too, in the past sixty-five years, the proof of the problems and the proof of their worsening. I need not explain them to you. You who are gathered here know them all quite well -- like the poor child living in a shack knows cockroaches.

If the world is to be made tolerable for all of humanity in the 21st Century, all of these troubles must be attacked at the same time (as they are in fact hopelessly jumbled but together at the present time) World policy must be always and consistently holistic! We cannot do otherwise. No miracle of nature arranges our problems so that they queue up, one at a time, for our convenience in handling them. It is highly doubtful, for instance, that any major world problem can be solved without solving first the problem of the overwhelming growth among the world's poor people. Today's population growth, let us face it, is a terminal disease of mankind.

Not one and certainly not all of the world's problems can be successfully dealt with without a strong world order. Such might be an improved United Nations, so strongly structured and empowered as to redress firmly all of these troubles simultaneously.

People of the World: do not be suckers for sovereignty! Trust in your United Nations. Trust in the European Union. Trust in your international organizations. Trust in the men of good will and high skills, not the militarists and corrupters and aggressors who storm around the world. The world organizations have many faults, but they are the hope of the future. American bombs and American monopolies and the American dollar are not your hope of the future. Nor are the weapons and chauvinists of your own country to be trusted.

Here is the long list of problems in alphabetical order. It will take me over a minute to read it to you: