Where are we headed? What’s behind the bellowing bellicosity of the Bushites, so mindlessly amplified by the war-whooping media and so meekly permitted by the stunning silence of the Democratic leadership?
George W. and his coterie of Machiavellian super-hawks have America in a red, white, and blue war fever, and by damned, they sure whomped ol’ Saddam, didn’t they? With the skill of our troops and the overwhelming Armageddon-level of U.S. firepower (which, by the way, happens to be the Clinton military—the same level of troop readiness and armed might that these very hawks loudly derided just a couple of years ago as treasonously inadequate), they had no trouble forcing “regime change” in Iraq.
Never mind that it came with heavy doses of what “Rummy” Rumsfeld so delicately and dismissively calls the “untidiness” of civilian deaths and post-war chaos; never mind that Saddam’s supposedly ferocious military had been decimated since 1991 and simply didn’t have the punch that the Bushites claimed; never mind that this brutish and immoral totalitarian never did unleash any of those weapons of mass destruction we were told he had and definitely would use; and never mind that Bush never was able to come up with a coherent rationale for spending so much of our military effort and global good will to get rid of this particular thug at this particular time—we’re instructed by the chest-thumping militarists running our government that this is no time for questioning. Indeed, they gloat that they “won,” that they have been proven right, and that anyone wanting to question them now had best move to France.
Sorry, George, but I can’t help asking questions, because—hey, I’m American! The inalienable right to question authority is established in the founding documents, and our maverick spirit goes to the core of our national character. When we stop questioning, we stop being American.
So where are we headed? After the September 11th attacks on our soil and our people, Bush said the national mission was clear: kill Osama bin Laden, oust the Taliban, and crush the Al Qaeda network. Nearly two years later, Osama lives, the Taliban is reestablishing its authority in Afghanistan, and the terrorist network is newly energized.
Well, yes, says George, but we had to rally an international coalition and divert from Osama so we could kill the Beast of Baghdad—that was our clear national mission, he told us. Okey-dokey, even though they couldn’t organize an actual coalition and even though Saddam might yet be alive, his repugnant regime is gone, so mission accomplished, right?
Well, no—Bush now says we’ve only begun. We’ve moved in retired General Jay Garner (a honcho of the Pentagon contractor that makes the technology that guided the missiles that struck Iraq) to rule Iraq for the next few months (or years, or whatever), and we’re moving Halliburton, Bechtel, Fluor, and other Bushite-connected corporations into the country to rebuild it, plus ExxonMobil and other U.S. corporations will get the first grab at reallocated Iraqi oil deals, so our extended mission in Iraq is nation-building and oil-dealing.
Well, at least the White House and Congress can begin to think about shifting back from guns to butter, as well as refocusing on the real threat that Al Qaeda terrorists pose to our people, right?
Uh, not so fast, says George, didn’t I mention Syria? Syria has weapons of mass destruction and is linked to Al Qaeda terrorists, and President Bashar Assad is a terrible person, so we won’t rest until we bring regime change and democracy to the Syrians. That’s our new national mission.
George’s little secret
Let me be clear: These people are nuts. Bush himself is aglow with messianic zeal, convinced that he’s not merely battling Saddam, but is God-chosen (even if the American voters, damn them, didn’t choose him) to rid the world of evil. He’s crossed the line from thinking he’s right to thinking he’s righteous. Scary. His zeal is fueled and directed by the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz Axis of Arrogance, which is hyped up on a toxic blend of unadulterated hubris, bile, and testosterone.
The Bushites said their Iraq attack was about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, but he was only the ante in a much larger global game that they’re deliberately not telling us about—a scheme so grandiose, so un-American, so destructive to what We the People want our country to be that they dare not come right out and declare it.
Instead, under the vague rhetoric of eliminating the threat of terrorism (and always with our flag snapping smartly in the war wind), the stated mission keeps shifting, from Osama to Saddam to Assad . . . and on to Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia . . . and the establishment of American Empire in the entire Middle East . . . and then on to other regions that the Bushites believe are in urgent need of regime change.
It’s world war that Bush’s hyper-hawks have in mind for us, stretching over many, many years. Indeed, in the bunkered roosts deep within the White House, Pentagon, and State Department, the likes of Cheney, Rummy, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Kenneth Adelman, Elliot Abrams, and other veterans of such ideologically inspired misadventures as the Iran-contra scandal, refer to their present Middle East ambitions as World War IV, (counting the Cold War as No. III).
Far from being conservatives who believe in limited government they are autocrats who believe that empire is America’s unalterable destiny and that their duty is to use the overpowering totality of our nation’s military and economic might to impose it. They have no patience with the democratic process. Congress? Ignore or defy it. The Constitution? Suspend any parts of it in the name of national security. The media? Embed it in the “cause,” misguide it, manipulate it. The international community? Berate it, ignore it, mock it—hey, we are the international community. Democrats? Ha!
This is a team that’s been together for 30 years or more, and they’re not about to play according to anyone’s rules but their own. (Case in point: Elliot Abrams. Remember him? He was an Ollie North operative in the illegal Iran-contra scheme of the Reagan White House. Caught, he lied to Congress and the people. He was convicted of perjury. But Daddy Bush gave him a Christmas Eve pardon in 1991. Ten years later, not only has this notorious abuser of executive power resurfaced—he’s now in charge of Mideast policy in Bush the Son’s White House.)
Washington Monthly investigative writer Joshua Micah Marshall reported last month that “the American people have no concept of what kind of conflict the president is leading them into.” Marshall notes that “the White House really has in mind an enterprise of a scale, cost, and scope that would be almost impossible to sell to the American public. The White House knows that. So it hasn’t even tried. Instead, it’s focused on getting us into Iraq with the hope of setting off a sequence of events that will draw us inexorably towards [their] agenda.”
Sure enough, the military had barely raised the U.S. flag over Baghdad before the Bushites began to point frantically to Syria, with George W. using the same lines he had used to rationalize his invasion of Iraq. Other Bushites suggested that Assad is harboring Saddam, saying ominously that the Syrians should “ponder the implications of their actions.”
The bully on the block
Lest you think that I’ve rowed my little boat onto the shoals of conspiracy theory, let me point out that the Bushites have actually written down their military and economic plan for empire. The first draft was written back in 1991 by Wolfowitz and backed by Cheney (then Secretary of Defense) and Colin Powell (then head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff).
Titled “Defense Planning Guidance,” it argued that even though the Soviet Union had collapsed, the U.S. should not divert any military spending to domestic needs (remember the debate over how to spend the “peace dividend”?), but instead should beef up military spending so our forces can prevent any other nation—friend or foe—from rivaling our world authority.
Powell presented this plan to Congress in 1992, declaring: “I want to be the bully on the block.” And he’s supposedly a dove!
When Clinton defeated Daddy, this global arrogance went into cold storage, but with Boy Bush taking the presidency eight years later, the whole arrogant team was back . . . and so was the bully. Last July, George trekked up to West Point to deliver a speech officially proclaiming the “Bush Doctrine,” which embodied the full, hairy hulk of the bully policy. The media establishment didn’t grasp the enormity of what essentially was a “Bush Dictate” to the world, so coverage was superficial and fleeting, but if you read the document (titled “The National Security Strategy of the United States”—www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/ nss.html), you’ll see their scheme for empire laid out.
Iraq is the opening shot, and eliminating Saddam is the least of it. Now comes the imposition of a U.S.-designed regime, complete with a crude effort to install Bush favorite Ahmad Chalabi as Iraq’s new leader (he’s a London banker who hasn’t lived in Iraq since his youth, is mistrusted by Iraqis and other Arab leaders, and was convicted of bank fraud in Jordan).
With or without Chalabi, the conquering Bushites intend to remake Iraq in their own image, not only sinking billions of our tax dollars into favored U.S. corporations to handle the reconstruction of everything from the oil industry to the government, but also imperiously decreeing that the infamous World Bank and the IMF will set the terms for Iraq’s “new” economy.
And, to send a message to the entire region that the bully is on the Arab block to stay, the Bushites intend to maintain a permanent military presence in Iraq (which conveniently borders both Syria and Iran).
The cost of empire
Congress has not voted for this—or even debated it. The American people have not voted for it—even those who supported Bush in 2000 and who backed his call to remove Saddam have not been consulted about a perpetual war for empire, much less assented to it.
After the “thrill” of flag-flying military triumph, even conservatives have to be sobered by the cost of the march to empire. But we’ll pay far more than money. The enormous well of global good will directed toward the people of America and toward our long history of democratic idealism is being drained by these vainglorious men who propose to stomp through the world establishing their economic, governmental, and military regime over others. Far from making our world more secure, the Bushites are creating unfathomable resentment.
Worst of all, however, is their willingness to kill democracy here at home as they assert an autocratic right to impose their corporatized democracy elsewhere. They’re essentially operating on executive whim. Every coffee shop in America had lively discussions going, but the closest Congress got to war policy was to rule that the term “French fries” would be removed from the menu of the House cafeteria.
The Bushites are a government gone amok, bizarrely postulating that the world’s oppressed will love them for their jingoistic imposition of a New World Order. Of course, instead of love, the swaggering Bushites are earning only undying enmity, giving corporate and military imperialism an American face and address. Saddam was barely out of town, for example, before thousands of Iraqi Shiite and Sunni Muslims spontaneously united in the streets of Baghdad with chants of “No to Bush!” and “America is God’s enemy!” All over the world, consumers are shunning American products in anger at our arrogance.
All of this pushes America itself into a downward spiral of more and more militarization—changing our beloved country from a beacon of democratic values to a global enforcer of American empire. The Bushites are taking us to a place that is not America. The media, Congress, Democratic Party, and most of the judiciary seem content to go along.
But will we? As always, the great hope of American democracy is in the people themselves. The first step is to recognize fully where our “leaders” are leading us—then daring to say NO” as loudly and as often as we can, organizing at the grassroots to take our country back from the Bushite hijackers.
The work of the peace coalition has only begun: It’s imperialists we’re fighting.