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Privatize Bombing Rights
Paul Corrigan

17 June 2001

On June 14, 2001, President Bush announced that the Navy would cease its bombing exercises on the Puerto Rico Island of Vieques "within a reasonable period of time." Bush made the pledge during his whirlwind tour of Europe. The campaign of civil disobedience to protest the bombing exercises has garnered national and international attention. News outlets, including The New York Times, have reported that the administration is concerned that the continued bombing exercises on Vieques would negatively affect Bush's standing with Hispanic voters. Nowhere is the Hispanic vote more important to Bush than in the state of Florida.

Bush is not responsible for the 60 years of bombings on Vieques and the related environmental carnage, but, as President, he must respond promptly to the groundswell of popular support to get the Navy to immediately cease and desist. The movement has widespread support across religious, environmental, and political groups on Vieques, within Puerto Rico, and on the continental United States. The administration has floated out 2003 as a target date to stop the naval exercises. Based on current reactions, the political pressure will be great enough that Bush will have to accelerate the end of the bombings.

Knowing that President Bush has a love for private-public partnerships, I think I know what he really means when he says: "The Navy ought to find somewhere else to conduct its exercises." Bush's decision to relocate the bombing exercises must be a part of the privatization initiatives at the Department of Defense. The Navy will give the excitement of the rockets' red glare and the bombs bursting in air to the state that can help Bush the most in the 2004 election, Florida.

Governor Jeb Bush will enter into negotiations with Disney officials on a public- private partnership that will combine the bombings with a new Disney theme park, "War World." The marketing opportunities for Disney would be endless. Pearl Harbor II can be filmed on location in Orlando. We already know Disney doesn't need Hawaiians to make a movie set in Hawaii. Don't forget that Disney already has one of the world's largest submarine fleets. If Disney can't build a big enough pond for War World (with the help of the Army Corps of Engineers), then who can? War World will be better than virtual reality. The good will created will keep the Florida electoral votes securely in the Bush camp. Disney and McDonald's will together sell War World action figures and videos to kids. This campaign will mass-produce more Republicans than a Southern Baptist convention during a blackout. For once, I can truly say that Bush is a genius.

I don't know about you, but I am spending my tax rebate on Disney stock.

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