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BUSH WATCH...BERNARD WEINER
Bernard Weiner, playwright-poet and Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at various universities, was a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle for 19 years, and is co-editor of The Crisis Papers.
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Bushism as Greek Drama:
"Hubris" and "Tragic Flaws"
By Bernard Weiner
April 26, 2006
The world of theatre that I've swum in for decades as a drama
critic provides a useful prism through which to view today's
political events and players.
This is especially true when thinking about drama from ancient
Greece and Europe's Renaissance. Those periods remind us how
often human tragedy repeats itself over the centuries. (Which is
why many modern directors return so often to the wisdom of these
ancient plays, often staging them with contemporary conceits so
as to make the connections overt for their audiences.)
Much of ancient Greek drama focuses on the disastrous results of
"hubris," an overweening pride and arrogance that can lead
rulers to go outside the ethical/legal boundaries. (See "Oedipus
Rex," "Antigone," "The Orestia.") Almost invariably, because
their reckless attitude upsets the delicate balance required for
proper rule, punishment or even tragedy results -- and not just
personal, but for society as a whole.
NIXON, REAGAN & CLINTON
Nixon, coming off a landslide GOP victory in 1972, committed
"hubris" by thinking himself immune from normal laws ("When the
President does it, that means that it is not illegal," he
claimed) by authorizing secret wiretapping, breaking & entering,
bribing of witnesses, etc. -- the felonies that came to be subsumed
under the rubric "Watergate." To avoid his imminent impeachment,
Nixon resigned, the only President to do so in American history.
Reagan, a popular Republican president in the 1980s, had his dip
into hubris by engaging in the Iran/Contra scandal (illegally
selling arms to enemy Iran in order to secretly finance
anti-government guerrillas in Nicaragua), and then claiming the
violations of law never happened. Reagan probably avoided later
criminal prosecution when GOP President George H.W. Bush
sandbagged the scandal by pardoning key participants "pre-emptively,"
before questioning under oath could begin.
The Democrat Clinton entered the halls of hubris when he,
believing a President could get away with anything, lied about
having engaged in dubious conduct with a government intern. He
was impeached but the Senate did not convict, believing, along
with the overwhelming majority of the American people, that
lying about sex did not constitute a "high crime" against the
country or Constitution.
BUSH'S UNPRECEDENTED HUBRIS
Now we have Bush Junior, who has attempted to codify his
power-grabbing hubris by claiming that the President can do
whatever he chooses to do as long as he does so as "commander in
chief" during "wartime." Using this dictatorial theory, Bush has
authorized torture, illegal spying on U.S. citizens, breaking &
entering into citizens' homes and computers without their ever
knowing such violations of privacy occurred, leaking classified
information to friendly reporters, and on and on.
The scale of Bush's hubris is unprecedented in American history,
which may be why, five years into his rule, even friends and
conservative supporters are opposed to his unconstitutional grab
for power. Many of them recall Bush's predilection for operating
outside the laws and traditions of our democratic republic;
three times he has expressed an affinity for dictatorship. What
may have been Freudian-slip jokes when uttered several years ago
-- such as: "it would be much easier if this was a dictatorship,
as long as I get to be the dictator" -- now don't seem so funny.
THE "TRAGIC FLAW"
Which brings us to the next theatrical concept from the Greeks,
and honed in the works of Shakespeare in the Elizabethan period
in England more than 400 years ago: the "tragic flaw."
The essence of this theory is that, by and large, rulers are not
brought down only, or even mainly, by external events -- rather,
they bring ruin upon themselves because of some significant
deficiency in their own character, a "tragic flaw" in their
psychic and ethical makeup. They are consumed by overweening
lust for power, or don't mind using immoral means in the service
of good ends, or can't control their obsessions, etc. Think:
"Macbeth," and ambition; "Othello," and jealousy; "Hamlet," and
Nixon's "tragic flaw" was his paranoia, needing always to know
what his political opponents were up to, hence the break-in and
wiretapping of the Democratic Party headquarters, the building
of his "enemies' list," digging up personal information for his
"dirty-trick" operations against political opponents, etc.
Reagan's "tragic flaw" was his simplistic view of the world,
divided into "the evil empire" (the Soviet Union) and us good
American guys; this stark black-and-white view of reality led
him illegally to sell armaments to another enemy (Iran) in order
to find ways around Congressional laws that prohibited U.S.
funds going to the anti-Communist Contra guerrillas in
Clinton's tragic flaw, again derived out of a weak aspect at his
core, was his need for constant affirmation, which he could
assuage by finding a woman who would sexually service him out of
ROVE'S M.O.: DENY AND ATTACK
Bush is the apotheosis of all those weaknesses into one
humonguous Tragic Flaw unlike any that has been seen in American
politics, with worldwide consequences that result in hundreds of
thousands of deaths and maimings. What is different is that the
other leaders, at some level, knew they were misbehaving and
tried like the dickens to hide the evidence. These politicians
were undone when they came to learn, once again, that the
coverup is always worse than the crime.
Bush, of course, has tried to conceal his many mistakes, but
when that doesn't work, the Rovian approach for Bush is to
loudly assert, in a threatening in-your-face manner, that his
worst weaknesses are really his strengths. (For example, he's
violating laws and the Constitution in order "to protect
As the many violations and scandals begin breaking through the
denial dam, the policy is altered to proudly assert a
"constitutional right" right to do whatever Bush and his cohorts
are doing or planning on doing. In short, a variation of Nixon's
claim (a theory knocked down instantly by the Supreme Court in
the early 1970s) that whatever the President does is ipso facto
legal. Most legal scholars today support the Supreme Court's
outright dismissal of that claimed right to abrogate the
Constitution and upset the separation of powers structure -- but
let us not forget that Bush may well have a working majority on
today's Supreme Court.
From where does Bush's tragic flaw derive?
ORIGIN OF THE DISEASE
In almost any area of governance you can think of, George Bush
is ridden with the fault-lines of his tragic flaws -- and may
have borrowed some from earlier leaders.
Bush is so bereft of self-esteem (much of it derived from his
upbringing, by constant humiliation by his parents, by a string
of personal and business failures, by his inability to admit
error and tell the truth), that he can't help himself from
over-compensating by displaying a persona of cockiness and
belligerent authority. In short, the bully syndrome: deficient
on the inside, aggressive on the outside. Bush, let us remember,
delighted in blowing up frogs with explosives as a child.
Incompetent by nature and practice, Bush surrounds himself with
yes-men and those who likewise are boastful bumblers. Basically
ignorant, dogmatic and intellectually incurious, Bush easily is
manipulated and swayed by those few insiders he trusts; namely,
Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the architects of
his political ideology and modus operandi.
One can sense that the American people during the past year or
so figured out that Bush and his crew are way over their heads
when it comes to intelligent leadership -- witness the debacle
that is Iraq, the post-Katrina-disaster federal "assistance"
they thoroughly botched in New Orleans, the economy which has
put future generations trillions of dollars in hock, the
Medicare and Social Security messes, Plamegate, domestic spying,
torture, etc. etc.
When Bush uncorks another of his deficient media performances
these days, a majority of the American people simply don't pay
much attention anymore to what he says, since they know it bears
only the slightest connection either to what he is doing or to
the activities of Rove, Cheney and Rumsfeld behind the curtain.
IMPEACHMENT AS A NECESSITY
Many citizens, numb and apprehensive, seem fixated on somehow
riding out the next two-and-a-half years of disastrous policies
and destructive consequences under Bush. Or perhaps they suspect
that something will come along, maybe the Republicans losing the
House or Senate in the November midterm election, to finally
offer some hope for the future -- including Bush and Cheney
resigning rather than to face impeachment. Don't count on it.
These guys will have to have the stake of impeachment and
conviction driven through their hearts to get them to vacate the
White House -- which is why we have to keep driving this issue
this early in the process. We have to make it a viable,
mainstream option and reasonable topic for discussion.
Certainly, our immediate future -- the pending attack on Iran,
perhaps using "tactical' nuclear weapons -- does not offer the
slightest bit of encouragement. On the contrary, I'd say the
odds are 50/50 that America will survive that reckless
adventurism, which potentially could lead to a World War
WHY GENERALS ARE SPEAKING UP
As we prepare to march and demonstrate Saturday in New York and
elsewhere against the war in Iraq, it is essential that we remember
there's another war re-flaring in Afghanistan and that Bush&Co.
are quite eager to take us into the maelstrom of still more
military madness in Iran. A trifecta of dangerous, reckless
That's why the generals are speaking up (finally!) in opposition
to the Cheney/Rumsfeld war policy, and why we need to crank up
our opposition on the civilian side. We did it decades before
with regard to the Vietnam debacle, and helped bring that
conflict to a close, and we can do it again here with regard to
Iraq/Iran. But only if we're ready to do the heavy lifting to
build a truly effective oppositional Movement. Let's get to
Stop Us Before We Kill Again!
By Bernard Weiner
April 20, 2006
The essence of Bush&Co. strategy, from January 2001 to today, can be
boiled down to this: We'll continue doing whatever we want to do until
someone stops us.
So, if you're wondering whether the U.S. will back off from attacking
Iran, or whether corporations will no longer be given the ability to
dictate Administration environmental policy, or whether domestic spying on
U.S. citizens will cease, or whether Scalia might recuse himself on cases
he's already pre-judged -- if you still harbor any or all of those
illusions, forget about it.
Since Bush&Co. openly carry out the most reprehensible crimes, with nobody
being able to prevent them from moving on to even worse atrocities, it's
almost as if their unconscious is screaming out for a political
intervention, reminiscent of that old plea from a tormented serial-killer:
"Stop Me Before I Kill Again!"
But consciously, as they sense their time in power may be coming to an
inglorious end and as they read their quickly-sinking poll numbers, they
can't help themselves from issuing their traditional, in-your-face dare:
"Stop me if you can, losers!"
This big-A "Attitude" started long before Inauguration Day, when Karl Rove
& Dick Cheney were devising their strategy and theory of governance. It
goes something like this: We need only one vote more than the other guys
-- on the Supreme Court, in the Senate, in the popular vote totals in key
states. Once we get our victory by whatever means necessary, we are then
the "legitimate" rulers. We can claim The People Have Spoken and that we
have a "mandate" for action and can do whatever we want. If you don't like
it, tough. If you're foolhardy enough, you can try again at the next
election and see where that gets you, suckers -- our side counts the
THE POSITIVES & NEGATIVES
The Bushistas look around and, though not happy with how their policies
have fallen out of favor, they can be somewhat sanguine. After all, their
fundamentalist base of about 33% is still hanging in there with them. The
mainstream media -- most newspapers, Fox News, radio talk-shows, cable
pundits -- are still more or less in their pockets. The bothersome
Democrats remain in the minority, marginalized in Congress and far away
from the levers of power. The votes are still tabulated by a few
Republican companies, many from e-voting machines that are easily
manipulatable by company technicians, even from remote distances. Another
major catastrophe -- a new war, a huge natural disaster, a major terrorist
attack -- can re-focus the headlines away from Bush&Co.'s current and
On the other hand, a determined prosecutor Fitzgerald is still out there,
deeply knowledgeable about what really went down in the manipulation of
pre-Iraq War intelligence. The military establishment is rebelling against
Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld war policies, openly in the case of those generals
who resigned to speak their minds, and covertly in the case of those
actively serving who are leaking their opposition to Jack Murtha, Sy Hersh
and others. More and more conservative and moderate Republicans are
backing away from too-close association with BushCheney, and there have
been a number of embarrassing defeats for the Administration in Congress.
Revelations of one Bush&Co. scandal after another keep coming (Katrina,
Abramoff, domestic spying, WMD lies, torture, Plamegate, Unitary Executive
dictatorship, and on and on).
Given all that -- and one suspects that is just the tip of the criminality
iceberg -- one would expect that Bush and Cheney would be approaching the
impeachment dock shortly. But while a majority of the public is willing to
consider or support making Bush and Cheney accountable for their lies and
corruption and incompetency, the weak-kneed politicians simply refuse to
even consider a censure resolution, let alone to pass one authorizing
impeachment hearings. In short, the Democrats have chosen not to put up a
real fight for either the future well-being of the Constitution or their
own political survival, preferring instead to watch from the sidelines as
the Republicans implode in corruption, scandal and disarray.
And so, with no effective opposition in their way, Bush&Co. simply keep
moving forward. Next stop: Iran.
THIS IS NOT JUST SABER-RATTLING
Though there is some speculation that all this talk about Bush attacking
Iran is so much saber-rattling to get the Iranians to back away from
pursuing their nuclear ambitions, I don't buy it.
Bush&Co. want this war for a variety of reasons: to further their
deeply-held goal (and Bush's sense of "legacy") of altering the
geopolitical makeup of the greater Middle East; to control the vast oil
reserves in the region; to provide yet another demonstration model to
Muslim rulers in the area not to mess with U.S. desires and demands; and,
of course, to wrap Bush in the warrior flag yet again as a way of
deflecting attention away from his domestic and foreign scandals by
counting on the public's fascination with footage of laser-guided
"precision" bombs striking the "enemy's" buildings and radar batteries.
("Precision" is in quotation marks because by now we know to anticipate
thousands of dead and wounded civilians when the missiles and bombs go
off-target. And, let us not forget, we haven't even brought up the subject
of the radiation effects that might ensue if, as is being planned, Bush
uses "tactical" atomic bombs, the so-called mini-nuke "bunker busters," to
get at Iran's deep-underground labs. If such WMD are employed by the U.S.,
hundreds of thousands could be killed or badly damaged by radiation, and
the area contaminated into the far future.)
The propaganda barrage being laid down by Administration spokesmen these
days is so utterly identical to the fog of lies that preceded the attack
on Iraq that it seems all Rumsfeld and Rice have to do is simply re-use
the original press releases and change the last letter of the target
country, "n" instead of "q." We even get ye olde "mushroom cloud" image
hauled out again, supposedly warning us about Iran's non-existent nuclear
weapons; this time, that mushroom cloud could well be one effected by the
U.S. bombers and missiles.
Even the fantastical expectations are as out of whack as what we were told
would happen in Iraq. There, we were promised, the American forces, in a
"cakewalk," would be greeted as "liberators," with kisses and flowers. In
Iran, we're told, much the same will occur, and the oppressed Iranians,
chafing at the harsh rule of the fundamentalist mullahs running the
country, will rise up and topple their repressive government.
Hersh writes: "One former defense official, who still deals with
sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military
planning was premised on a belief that 'a sustained bombing campaign in
Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise
up and overthrow the government.' He added: 'I was shocked when I heard
it, and asked myself, 'What are they smoking?'")
These predictions of a popular Iranian uprising, which arise out of
neo-con ignorance and desire, simply ignore the realities on the ground.
Imagine, for example, how U.S. citizens would feel -- even those opposed
to the Bush Administration -- if a bullying foreign power bombed the hell
out of our country's scientific and industrial laboratories, killing a lot
of our citizens in the process, and badly hampering our economic progress
for decades to come. If the attack included nuclear bombs, multiply those
angry reactions (and the resulting radiation deaths) by a thousand per
cent. How would the citizens react? Of course: The American people would
unite behind their leaders, beloved or despised, in resisting the
attackers. Much the same reactions should be anticipated from Iran's
In Iran's case, given that it's the major Muslim military and political
power in the region, that resistance might well lead to retaliation where
it hurts. Israel, America's one surefire ally in the region, probably
would be attacked, thus widening the already red-hot conflict; U.S.
warships in the area would be targeted by Iranian missiles; oil sales to
the West would be greatly reduced or cut off entirely, and perhaps other
oil fields in the region might be bombed; the Straits of Hormuz, which
control entry into the Persian Gulf, might be blocked to sea traffic;
Iranian assault troops might enter Iraq to support the insurgency, which
would have redoubled its attacks on U.S. forces; Iran-sponsored terrorists
would hit American targets both in the region and perhaps even inside the
United States. Plus, the Law of Unintended Consequences would lead to even
more ruinous events not even contemplated here as other Islamic nations
Surely, Iran knows how much the U.S. military is stressed these days in
Iraq and Afghanistan, how thin the troop strength is around the globe, how
so many U.S. troops are going AWOL or are not re-upping, how National
Guard troops and commanders are reacting negatively to their overuse
outside America's boundaries, how many in the Pentagon brass are opposed
to Bush policy, etc. The aim of the Iranians, in this scenario, would be
to get the U.S. bogged down in yet another land war in the region.
In short, it's not just the ineptly-managed quagmire in Iraq that is
behind much of the opposition from high-ranking officers and retired brass
in America's military command. Clearly, they are speaking out now because
of the prospect of another disaster about to unfold in Iran, which will
get young American troops slaughtered and tied-down in yet another
(Let us be clear. The military brass currently in revolt against Rumsfeld
and his superiors -- the unnamed Cheney and Bush -- are not liberal
activists energized by the issues of whether these wars are moral or legal
or even well-advised; they are arguing, for the most part, on how best to
properly manage such conflicts, how to more effectively conduct such
imperial adventures while keeping their troops safe. But, whatever their
motives, progressives should welcome any dissent that weakens the hold of
the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld triad on the levers of uncriticized power.)
WHY IRAN WANTS NUKES
Do I believe that Iran's rulers are nice, progressive guys who deserve our
active support? Of course not. Ahmadinejad mirrors Bush as a close-minded,
backward-looking, religiously-influenced fundamentalist leader, and Iran's
senior mullahs likewise. Do I believe Iran wants uranium-enrichment purely
to build nuclear power plants? Of course not. They desire to be the big
power in the neighborhood, plus they've seen how defenseless Iraq and
Afghanistan were treated, and how this differs from how the U.S. behaves
toward North Korea, Pakistan and India, all recent members of the
If for no reason other than their own protection against the two atomic
powers in the region (the U.S. and Israel), the Iranian government's goal
is to possess some nuclear-tipped missiles. Their atomic program is taking
its first babysteps these days. America's own intelligence analysts
believe it would take
anywhere from five to ten years to get to the point of Iran having a
nuclear arsenal. And, if both sides possess nuclear weapons, the world may
return to the days of MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, as a brake on
The Bush doctrine of "preventive" or "pre-emptive" war is to hit potential
enemies before they can even get on the track of building up their
weaponry. Hit 'em while they're weak and vulnerable, even if they have no
plan of attacking anybody (such was the case with Iraq) -- that's the
operating principle. The Islamic states are weak and vulnerable right now;
hit 'em. Iraq is weak and vulnerable; take it. Iran doesn't yet have a
fully developed nuclear program; blast it.
THE APRIL 29TH ANTI-WAR TEST
Nobody is sure when the U.S. attack on Iran will come. Given the
resistance inside the American military to launching such an attack, the
Bush propaganda machine may feel it needs a few more months to soften the
public's attitude to the "inevitability" of the move on Iran. (And to
obtain the international fig-leaf of a vaguely-worded U.N. Security
Council authorization vote for war.) Or they could judge that the
situation requires a "the-sooner-the-better" approach, before too much
opposition develops in the American body politic and around the globe.
Since this will not be a ground invasion, the air assault could happen at
any moment. I'm guessing we have maybe a month in which to head this
madness off at the pass.
Before the attack on Iraq in 2003, more than ten million people worldwide
marched in opposition to that imminent invasion. Three years later, there
seems very little organized resistance to the impending war on Iran. Only
now is the possibility of such a U.S. attack coming onto most folks' radar
screens. The peace movement seems puny in its ability to organize masses
of demonstrators these days, whereas the march of immigrants across the
country brought out millions.
We'll have a better sense of the strength of the peace movement on April
29, when the big anti-war march (the war being opposed is the one in Iraq)
will happen in New York City, this one organized by United for Justice &
Peace. Will those in the anti-war movement see the larger picture and
alter their approach and rhetoric and actions accordingly? We shall see.
Bush Visits His Shrink, Session #2
By Bernard Weiner
April 13, 2006
time we met, sir, you had me thrown out of the White House, thinking
me too aggressive with my questions. Now you're back for another session.
"It's worse. My world is falling apart. People aren't afraid of me
anymore. The whole Plame and Iraq-intelligence and NSA spying stuff is
coming at us full force, and we haven't got good answers. I can't sleep
well. I have more nightmares. Not even the pills help. My wife, my doctors
and my chief adviser more or less ordered me see you again. Otherwise, I
wouldn't have come, believe me."
"I do believe you. Many clients in the early stages of counseling get
very uncomfortable when the therapist brings up sensitive topics. It's not
unusual for them to lash out at the therapist rather than doing the hard
work of diving into that uncomfortable area and trying to deal with those
"I don't believe in therapy, doc."
"Do you mean you don't believe it exists? Or that it doesn't work, at
least that it wouldn't help you?"
"I've gotten to where I am today on the basis of my will and belief in
myself, and I see no reason to question myself now."
"But you seem to be suggesting that you've lost your hold over people
after years of doing what you're always done. So maybe it's the perfect
time to re-examine your patterns and your behaviors and see if any changes
need to be made. I'm happy to work with you, if you wish to do that."
"But if I start doubting myself, then the people will lose their faith in
me, and I'll lose more of my self-esteem, and so on. It's a no-win
situation. I want you to just move on to other areas, doc. But I want to
make sure again that our confidentiality agreement is still in place;
nothing I say leaves this room, right?"
THE SWAMP NIGHTMARE
"Yes, of course. OK, we can move on to other topics, and perhaps as we
talk, some of the other areas that need work will insert themselves. Why
don't you tell me about those nightmares you're having. What's the most
"It reminds me of the one I told you about during our first session. In
this one, I'm stuck up to my neck in black tar, in a swamp red with blood.
Sharks are circling me. I scream for help to my friends in the airboats,
but they just smile and wave at me. Burros, whose noses are machine-guns,
are aiming at me from the bank; big sheets of paper are falling on me from
the sky. I feel like a perfect target: unable to get out of the tar; my
enemies can pick me off; my friends aren't coming to my aid; the paper
sheets are falling faster and faster; the black swamp is sucking me down.
I wake up in a cold sweat."
"I certainly can see why you'd be disturbed by those images. What do
you make of the dream? You began by saying it reminded you of the
nightmare you told me previously, where you were swimming in black sticky
stuff and crying tears of blood. Why do you think, for example, your
friends would not be coming to your aid?"
"In the dream, they think I'm going down anyway, so why come near me? They
might get shot also or get eaten by the sharks. So they smile and wave and
pretend they're still my friends. But they've really just deserted me to
save their asses."
"And can you translate that to your life in the real world? Do you
think your friends are deserting you?"
"My poll numbers are in the toilet, and I'm losing battle after battle in
Congress as conservatives and moderates peel off. I guess those are the
people in the dream smiling and waving at me. They're no longer in my
pocket, not afraid any more. They rode my coattails into power in
Congress, but having to face re-election in November, they're now happy to
put some distance between themselves and me, away from that mucky swamp."
ADMITTING WEAKNESS IS WEAKNESS
"Who's trying to shoot at you? What do you think the swamp means? And
who are the sharks and where do those dropping sheets of paper come from?"
"Burros are like donkeys, so no secret there; the Democrats are taking
pot-shots at me every day. And more and more elements in the press are
circling like sharks, smelling my political weakness, and dumping on me,
though we still have Fox and the cable-news shows and the radio talk-shows
that our base listens to. The swamp? Not a bad description of Washington,
D.C., if you ask me. And, like in the earlier dream, I guess the tar
probably is oil, and the blood is from the war in Iraq."
"You'd make a good therapist, sir; I think your interpretations are
spot-on. So let's extrapolate. If your current policies are losing you
support, bringing out the political and media 'sharks,' why not consider
altering your policies, perhaps moving closer to the center, so you can
get more of your programs passed?"
"For one thing, we can't be sure the people would vote for my policies
these days. Besides, I told you: That way says to the people, and
especially to my supporters: 'I was wrong, my policies were wrong.' That
makes me look weak. If a President appears weak, he loses his clout,
people are not afraid of him any longer, and thus he becomes even weaker."
"But the dream seems to be telling you that your behaviors and policies
have already weakened you. But let's put that political aspect aside for
now; the key question outside the dream is: What are you really afraid of,
deep down, that keeps you from making the necessary compromises
politicians must make?"
(Long silence.) "I'd be seen as what my parents and others have called me
all my life; I'd be a "loser," someone with no intelligence to get things
done effectively, just living off the reputations and assistance of
others. This office was going to change that for me. We were thinking big,
moving big in the world, and in the country; sure, people thought we were
cocky and arrogant, but it was more that we were absolutely sure we were
doing the right thing so why compromise with those who disagreed? God
chose me to save the country, to fight the Evil Ones, and to change the
world for the better, don't forget that."
SAVING THE LEGACY
"Yes, I do understand you feel that way. But I keep getting back to the
central question: Your way, the barrel-on-through approach, confronting
and threatening, seems to have alienated not only your enemies but many of
your friends as well. Unless you're willing to fight to the end, simply
continuing those behaviors that used to work for you in the past, then
you'll have to make adjustments to save yourself and your legacy. And, I
might add, to avoid impeachment."
"Yes, we may have to make a few tactical adjustments in these months
before the November election, so we can hold onto the House and thus stave
off any possible impeachment hearings there -- and maybe criminal charges
later. But my advisors and I are determined in the next two years to
continue to play hard-ball with our enemies and those who desert us.
That's the strategy that got us here, and kept our political enemies
totally flummoxed. We will stay the course in Iraq; we will continue to
roll back governmental regulation of corporations; we will rule from the
Unitary Executive position; we will monitor all communications, domestic
and foreign, and, if it comes to it, we'll force a constitutional crisis
and trust that our court appointees will rule in our favor."
"And if that doesn't work and you and the Vice President are impeached?
Would you resign rather than put yourself and the country through a trial
in the Senate?"
"I don't think it will come to that, but if it does, we'll take it to the
very end and let the chips fall where they may."
"May I speak freely here, sir?
"Of course. You're a rich psychiatrist who has been most generous to the
party; you're a Pioneer. Besides, you don't have an agenda, so it's easier
to listen to you."
"You used the word 'chips.' Many fellow Republicans might well respond
that you're not playing poker here, sir. Those 'chips,' they might say,
are the Constitution, and the GOP, and the people of this country, and
your wife and your girls and, and other nations, and your -- you're really
willing to take the country down with you, if it comes to that?"
SPREADING THE BLAME
"I said you could speak freely, but you're taking liberties, Mr. Shrink.
Watch what you say. Anyway, if we are taken down, it won't be my fault.
It'll be the partisan Democrats, getting revenge for what we did to
Clinton, and the weak-kneed in our own GOP ranks who couldn't take the
heat, and the Iraqis, who would do anything to get back at me for invading
them, and the people for electing me, and the neo-cons -- a number of them
are Jewish, by the way, which will come in very handy in assigning blame.
Our forces will take a hit, sure, but we'll reorganize our true-patriot
movement and go after those evil ones who 'lost Iraq' -- the cowardly
moderate Republicans, the slimy Democrats, the Iraqi terrorists, the Black
Caucus, the Islamists, the Jews, the liberal internet wackos -- and we'll
be back in a few years. And I'll be regarded as a saviour of our cause who
was done in by forces of Satan. I won't go off with my tail between my
legs, but brandishing a sword of vengeance and faith."
"Do you really believe all that?"
"No, of course not, at least not all of it. But it'll play out there in
the Red states, and I'm young enough, I'll be around to give it a focus."
"All this is very interesting. But let me, as your consulting
therapist, offer an alternative idea about your situation. It's just a
theory, so tell me if I've gone wrong here. It's possible that you are
indeed in a swamp, but it's not just oil but a moral quagmire that derives
from the blood you have to spill daily to maintain your control of those
resources, and, in a sense, even to keep control of yourself. In this
interpretation, that's why you're so agitated and depressed. There's no
implication that you're a bad man or a 'loser' in this regard; lots of
presidents, even the best ones, found themselves in that same area of
moral ambiguity when sending young men and women to die in wars."
"I don't like where you're going with this, doc. I'm warning you."
"Another way of looking at your situation, as one reason your poll
numbers have fallen so precipitously, is that the country senses that
you've been sucked down in that swamp not only by external enemies and
situations but by your own choices. In this view, you're a Faustian
character who exchanged his soul for power and control -- but it's not
just you who is suffering because of it. The country as a whole is feeling
the impact of your decisions, in a wide variety of areas, and realizes
that since you're incapable of or unwilling to alter the course of your
policies -- or even to acknowledge that you might have made some major
errors -- they have to move in a different direction.
"I know this interpretation might not be easy to hear, but I'm offering it
as a possibility, something you might want to think about. In my
professional opinion, you need to do something, quickly, sir, to ease the
internal pressures building up in you. I say all this both to help save
your presidency, since I still believe you're capable of greatness, and to
save you, since your psyche is too delicately balanced right now, and I
don't want to see you go over the edge into a total breakdown."
"You're just trying to tear me down, like the rest of them. I warned you.
I hope you enjoy your stay in Gitmo, fella. Guards! Take him away!" [They
start to exit.]
"I know this session may have been really painful for you, sir, but if
you change your mind once your anger subsides, you'll know where to find
"Shrinks! Meddling bastards! [picks up red phone] Rummy, shock-and-awe,
baby! It's Iran time." #
Bush's Grand Game:
A "PNAC Primer" UPDATE
By Bernard Weiner
April 5, 2006
When the Bush Administration keeps hauling out its "we-didn't-know-nothin'"
spin -- about Katrina, 9/11, Iraq, torture -- in effect they're using
incompetence as their defense. How can you try to censure or impeach us,
they're saying, when we didn't know what was happening, what to do or how
to do it?
Their incompetence by this time has been well-documented and par for the
Bush course. But, as the evidence demonstrates, in each of those cases
they knew a lot more than they let on, having received adequate warnings
of the scenarios that were about to unfold.
They knew the levees might well be breached in New Orleans and did
nothing; more than 1000 died. They knew a major al Qaida attack was coming
in late-Summer 2001, probably by air and aimed at icon American targets in
New York and Washington, and did nothing; nearly 3000 died. They knew
their own advisers had alerted them that Saddam had no WMD and no
connection to the 9/11 attacks, but they went ahead anyway and lied the
Congress and American people into Iraq; tens of thousands of U.S. troops
and Iraqi civilians have died and are continuing to do so. They knew,
because they had approved the "harsh" interrogation methods, that tortures
were being carried out on prisoners in U.S. care, but they did nothing
(until photos leaked to the press); more than 100 detainees have died, and
many thousands more have been brutalized and/or humiliated. They knew that
eavesdropping on American citizens was illegal without court-sanctioned
warrants, but they went ahead anyway, convinced nobody would ever learn of
All of that is reprehensible, and will be added to the list of charges for
the eventual impeachment hearings of Bush and Cheney, and/or to the
criminal trials of those two and their subordinates. But what I propose to
talk about here are not specifics of the high crimes, misdemeanors and
thorough-going bunglings. To do that is to focus on the trees while
ignoring the forest; we need to go deeper and find out who planted the
AN IDEOLOGY OF GREED & CONQUEST
To get a handle on how Bush&Co. took America into its current domestic and
foreign crises, one must first understand that their policies and actions
did not originate after Bush was installed in the White House in January
of 2001. The philosophy of greed and power-amassment already was in place
years prior to that.
And so it's time to re-examine The Project for The New American Century,
about which still too little is known by the American public. There were a
number of us writing about PNAC three years ago -- William Rivers Pitt,
myself, Neil Mackay, John Pilger, Tj Templeton and others -- but, after an
initial flurry of interest by the media, discussion about that neo-con
think tank mostly dissolved.
Much of the following takes off from my original 2003 essay
"How We Got Into This Imperial Pickle: A PNAC Primer:"
A PNAC Primer" -- which is the most widely reprinted article I've ever
written. That piece has been updated to reflect the new evidence that has
surfaced in the past several years.
THE ORIGINS OF THE CRISIS
Most of us Americans saw the end of the Cold War as a harbinger of a more
peaceful globe, and we relaxed knowing that the Communist world was no
longer a threat to the U.S. The Soviet Union, our partner in MAD (Mutually
Assured Destruction) and Cold War rivalry around the globe, was no more.
This meant a partial vacuum in international affairs. Nature abhors a
The only major vacuum-filler still standing after the Cold War was the
United States. The U.S. could continue the so-called "soft imperialism"
approach, the kind of diplomatic, well-disguised defense of U.S. interests
(largely corporate) carried out under Bush#1, Reagan, Clinton, et al. Or
one could go the Karl Rove route of speeding up the process and
accomplishing those same domestic and foreign ends overtly -- with an
attitude of arrogance and in-your-face bullying -- within maybe one or two
Some of the ideological roots of today's Bush Administration
power-wielders could be traced back to the political philosopher Leo
Strauss (short version: act aggressively, do whatever you have to do to
win), and to GOP rightist Barry Goldwater and his rabid anti-communist
followers in the early-1960s. But, for simplicity's sake let's stick
closer to our own time.
In the early-1990s, a group of ideologues and power-politicians, most of
whom had been in positions of authority in the Reagan Administration,
found themselves on the outside looking in during the Clinton era, and
were relegated to the fringe of the Republican Party's far-right. The
members of this group in 1997 would found PNAC, The
Project for the New American Century (PNAC); their aim was to
prepare for the day when Republicans regained control of the White House,
and, it was hoped, the other two branches of government as well. When that
day came, their vision of how the U.S. should move in the world would be
in place and ready to go, straight off-the-shelf into official policy.
PNAC was not a rag-tag group of lightweight amateurs. The PNAC founders
were heavy hitters, with juice: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, James
Woolsey, Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, James Bolton, Zalmay
M. Khalilzad, William Bennett, Dan Quayle, Jeb Bush, et al., most of whom
were movers-and-shakers in previous Administrations, savvy as to how to
exercise power to the max in Washington. But even given their reputations
and clout, the openly militarist views of this group -- attacking other
countries "pre-emptively," for example -- were regarded as too extreme to
be taken seriously by the generally mainstream, small-government,
isolationist conservatives who controlled the Republican Party.
THE EARLY DAYS OF PNAC
To prepare the ground for the PNAC-like ideas that were circulating in the
HardRight, several wealthy billionaires and corporations helped set up
far-right think-tanks, and bought up various media outlets -- newspapers,
magazines, TV networks, radio talk shows, cable channels, etc. -- in
support of that day when all the political tumblers would click into place
and the HardRight cabal and their supporters could assume control.
That moment arrived with the Supreme Court's selection of George W. Bush
in 2000. The temporary "outsiders" from PNAC were once again powerful
"insiders," placed in important positions from which they could exert
maximum pressure on U.S. policy: Cheney is Vice President, Rumsfeld is
Defense Secretary, Wolfowitz up until last year was Deputy Defense
Secretary (now president of the World Bank), I. Lewis Libby (now under
indictment in the Plamegate scandal) was Cheney's Chief of Staff, Elliot
Abrams was put in charge of Middle East policy at the National Security
Council (and is now a Deputy Secretary of State), Dov Zakheim was named
comptroller for the Defense Department, John Bolton (now U.S. Ambassador
to the United Nations) was Undersecretary of State, Richard Perle was
chair of the important Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon, former CIA
director James Woolsey was on that panel as well, etc. etc. PNAC's
chairman, Bill Kristol, is the editor of The Weekly Standard. In short,
PNAC had a lock on foreign/military policy-creation in the Bush
But, in order to unleash their foreign/military campaigns without taking
all sorts of flak from the traditional wing of the conservative GOP, they
needed a context that would permit them free rein. The events of 9/11 rode
to their rescue. In one of their major reports, written in 2000, PNAC
noted that "the process of [military] transformation, even if it brings
revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic
and catalyzing event --
like a new Pearl Harbor."
The Bush Administration, which came to see 9/11 as an "opportunity," used
9/11 and the fear that it generated in the general populace as their cover
for enacting all sorts of draconian measures domestically and as their
rationalization for launching military campaigns abroad. The Patriot Act,
drafted earlier, was rushed through a frightened Congress in the days
following 9/11 and the mysterious anthrax attack; few members even had
read the huge document. The Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) to
go after al Qaida in Afghanistan now is hauled out by the White House to
justify torture, domestic eavesdropping, and anything else the
"commander-in-chief" wants to authorize during "wartime."
THE DOMESTIC RAMIFICATIONS
Today, the Bush manipulators, led by Karl Rove, continue to utilize fear,
hyped-up patriotism and a permanent "war on terrorism" as the basis for
their policy agenda, just as they did in 2004 to get Bush re-elected.
This, in order to continue to fulfill their primary objectives, not the
least of which is to roll back and, where possible, decimate and eliminate
domestic social programs that the far-right has hated since the New
Deal/Great Society days, and to free corporate ambitions from government
regulation. In short, a great leap backward to turn-of-the-(20th)-century
By and large, these long-established social programs (Social Security,
Medicare, Head Start, etc.) are popular with Americans, so Bush&Co. can't
attack them frontally. However, if all the monies are tied up in wars,
defense, tax cuts, etc., they can go to the public and, in effect, say:
"We'd love to continue to fund education and environmental protection and
drugs for the elderly, but you see there's simply no extra money left over
after we go after the bad guys. It's not our fault."
Up until recently, that stealth strategy has worked. But, as Bush's
fast-falling approval ratings suggest, the public is not buying that line
so unquestioningly any more. Even so, Rove seems wedded to what's worked
so well for the White House in the past, and so continues to use fear of
terrorism as the main selling-point to the American public.
Don't get me wrong. Islamist fanatics dedicated to killing are real and
deadly and must be stopped. The question is: How to do that in ways that
enhance rather than endanger America's long-term national interests, and
in ways that protect the very liberties and freedoms the terrorists
allegedly are against, and what the neo-cons claim to be defending? The
Bush approach is to use a howitzer in hunting for gnats; after all, Bush
said, the Constitution is
just a goddamned piece of paper."
One doesn't have to guess what the PNAC guys might be thinking, since
they're quite open and proud of their theories and strategies. Indeed,
their writings lay out quite openly what they're up to, but few took such
extreme talk seriously. Now that they're in power, actually making the
policy they only dreamed about a decade or so ago, with all sorts of
scarifying consequences for America and the rest of the world, we need to
educate ourselves quickly as to how PNAC, and other HardRight think-tanks,
work and what their future plans might be.
Given the absolute mess the Bush Administration has made in Iraq, the
neo-cons, whose ideology underpinned the invasion and occupation of that
country, are somewhat in disfavor these days. But, importantly, they
haven't given up on their ultimate goal of transforming the geopolitics of
various key regions in the world, and installing U.S.-friendly
governments, by force if necessary. The policy of setting up new
"democracies," however, comes with a caveat: Your country had better elect
the right candidates, meaning those that will accommodate U.S. desires.
Look how the Bush Administration is punishing Hamas in Palestine, Prime
Minister Al-Jaafari in Iraq, President Chavez in Venezuela. All
democratically elected but not quite what the Bush White House had in
PNAC'S PROUD PAPER TRAIL
So let's take a quick, chronological look at PNAC, to see how we got from
there to here. Some of these PNAC documents and strategies, which now are
official U.S. policy, you may have heard about before, but I've expanded
and updated as much as possible.
1. In 1992, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney had a
drafted for the Pentagon, written by Paul Wolfowitz, then
Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy. (Both men would later help found
PNAC.) In the report, the U.S. government was urged, as the world's sole
remaining Superpower, to move aggressively and militarily around the
globe. The report called for pre-emptive attacks and ad hoc coalitions,
but said that the U.S. should be ready to act alone when "collective
action cannot be orchestrated." The central strategy was to "establish and
protect a new order" that accounts "sufficiently for the interests of the
advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our
leadership," while at the same time maintaining a military dominance
capable of "deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger
regional or global role." Wolfowitz outlined plans for military
intervention in Iraq as an action necessary to assure "access to vital raw
material, primarily Persian Gulf oil" and to prevent the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction and threats from terrorism.
Somehow, this report leaked to the press, whereupon the negative response
was immediate. Senator Robert Byrd led the Democratic charge: "The basic
thrust of the document seems to be this: We love being the sole remaining
superpower in the world, and we want so much to remain that way that we
are willing to put at risk the basic health of our economy and well-being
of our people to do so." Clearly, the objective political forces that
could support this policy free of major resistance hadn't yet coalesced in
the U.S. And so President Bush the Elder repudiated the paper and sent it
back to the drawing boards.
2. Various neo-con/HardRight intellectuals outside the government were
spelling out the new PNAC policy in books and influential journals. Zalmay
Khalilzad (formerly associated with big oil companies, currently U.S.
ambassador to Iraq) wrote an important volume in 1995, "From Containment
to Global Leadership: America & the World After the Cold War"; the import
of this book was to urge the U.S. to move aggressively in the world and
thus to exercise effective control over the planet's natural resources. A
year later, in 1996, neo-conservative leaders Bill Kristol and Robert
Kagan, in their Foreign Affairs article "Towards a Neo-Reaganite Foreign
Policy," came right out and said the goal for the U.S. had to be nothing
"benevolent global hegemony," a euphemism for total
U.S. domination, but "benevolently" exercised, of course.
3. In 1998, PNAC unsuccessfully lobbied President Clinton to attack Iraq
and remove Saddam Hussein from power. A
January letter from PNAC urged America to initiate that
war even if the U.S. could not muster full support from the Security
Council at the United Nations. Sound familiar? Clinton replied that he was
focusing on dealing with al-Qaida terrorist cells. But PNAC's lobbying was
able to convince a GOP-dominated Congress to pass the "Liberation of Iraq
Act," with nearly $100 million earmarked for Iraqi opposition groups.
LAYING OUT "GLOBAL HEGEMONY" PLAN
4. In September of 2000, PNAC, anticipating a GOP victory in the upcoming
presidential election, issued its white paper on
"Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for
the New Century." The PNAC report was quite
frank about why the U.S. would want to move toward imperialist militarism,
a Pax Americana, because with the Soviet Union out of the picture, now is
the time most "conducive to American interests and ideals. ... The
challenge of this coming century is to preserve and enhance this 'American
As Neil Mackay
observed: "In its own words," he wrote, the PNAC report is a
"'blueprint for maintaining global U.S. pre-eminence, precluding the rise
of a great-power rival and shaping the international security order in
line with American principles and interests'." This 'American grand
strategy,' it says, must be advanced 'as far into the future as
And how to preserve, enhance and advance this Pax Americana? The
Rivers Pitt noted, lies in following a five-fold plan:
"Reposition permanently based forces to Southern Europe, Southeast Asia
and the Middle East; Modernize U.S. forces, including enhancing our
fighter aircraft, submarine and surface fleet capabilities; Develop and
deploy a global missile-defense system, and develop a strategic dominance
of space; Control the 'International Commons' of cyberspace; Increase
defense spending to a minimum of 3.8 percent of gross domestic product, up
from the 3 percent currently spent."
Most ominously, Pitt, wrote, "this PNAC document described four 'Core
Missions' for the American military. The two central requirements are for
American forces to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major
theater wars,' and to 'perform the "constabulary" duties associated with
shaping the security environment in critical regions.' Note well that PNAC
does not want America to be prepared to fight simultaneous major wars.
That is old school. In order to bring this plan to fruition, the military
must fight these wars one way or the other to establish American dominance
for all to see."
In serving as world "constable," the PNAC report went on, no other
countervailing forces will be permitted to get in the way. Such actions
"demand American political leadership rather than that of the United
Nations," for example. No country will be permitted to get close to parity
with the U.S. when it comes to weaponry or influence. Therefore, more U.S.
military bases will be established in the various regions of the globe.
Post-Saddam Iraq would serve as one of those advance military bases.
Currently, it is estimated that the U.S. now has more than 150 military
bases and deployments in different countries around the world, with the
most recent major increase being in the Caspian Sea/Afghanistan/Middle
East areas, the so-called "arc of oil" states in that area of the world.
5. George W. Bush was moved into the White House in January of 2001.
Shortly thereafter, a report,
Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century," was
commissioned from the James Baker III Institute for Public Policy -- yep,
that James Baker, the Bush consigliore. The report advocated a more
aggressive U.S. posture in the world and called for a "reassessment of the
role of energy in American foreign policy," with access to oil repeatedly
cited as a "security imperative." It's possible that inside Cheney's
secret energy-panel papers, which he refuses to release to Congress or the
American people, are references to foreign-policy plans for how to gain
military control of oilfields across the globe. We do know now that
maps were rolled out at those energy-panel meetings,
which detailed which foreign oil-companies might get a slice of the Iraq
"SWEEP IT ALL UP, RELATED OR NOT"
6. In February of 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National
Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said publicly that Iraq was contained
military threat to its neighbors or the U.S. But mere hours
after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Rumsfeld ordered his aides to begin
planning for an attack on Iraq, even though his intelligence officials
told him it was an al-Qaida operation and there was no connection between
Iraq and the attacks. "Go massive," the
aides' notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up.
Things related and not." Rumsfeld leaned heavily on the FBI and CIA to
find any shred of evidence linking the Iraq government to 9/11, but they
weren't able to do so. So he set up his own fact-finding group in the
Special Plans, that would provide him with whatever shaky connections
it could find or surmise.
Paul O'Neill, Bush's Secretary of the Treasury, reported that
he was astonished that the first Cabinet meetings in January 2001 were
focusing on war with Iraq. The leaked
Downing Street Memos also supply proof of how far along the
war-plans were developed, years before the invasion began.
William Rivers Pitt offered some intriguing possibilities
about why this Bush&Co. obsession with attacking Iraq:
"The purpose of this is threefold: 1) To acquire control
of the oilheads so as to fund the entire enterprise; 2) To fire a
warning shot across the bows of every leader in the Middle East; 3) To
establish in Iraq a military staging area for the eventual invasion and
overthrow of several Middle Eastern regimes, including some that are
allies of the United States...
"At the end of the day, this is not even about oil. The drive behind
this war is ideological in nature, a crusade to 'reform' the religion of
Islam as it exists in both government and society within the Middle
East. Once this is accomplished, the road to empire will be open, ten
lanes wide and steppin' out over the line."
And, of course, inherent in all these PNAC plans is for
the U.S. to act in concert with its one surefire ally in the region,
Israel, which has to be supported and protected economically and
militarily. (Jews and non-Jews alike in PNAC worked hard to maintain U.S.
support for Israel.) The U.S. has a friend it can count on, Israel has a
protector against its Arab neighbors. A two-country backscratching system.
"PRE-EMPTIVE" WARS OF CHOICE
7. Feeling confident that all plans were on track for moving aggressively
in the world, the Bush Administration in September of 2002 published the
Security Strategy of the United States of America."
The official policy of the U.S. government, as proudly proclaimed in this
major document, is virtually identical to the policy proposals in various
PNAC white papers and similar ones from other think tanks, such as the
American Enterprise Institute, the operational hub of Washington's
Chief among these proposals are: 1) "Pre-emptive" wars should be launched,
even if there is no meaningful provocation or imminent threat, whenever
the U.S. thinks a country may be amassing too much power and/or could
provide some sort of competition in the "benevolent hegemony" region. A
later corollary rethinks the country's atomic policy: nuclear weapons
would no longer be considered defensive, but could be used offensively in
support of political/economic ends; so-called "mini-nukes" could be
employed in these regional wars. 2) International treaties and opinion are
to be ignored whenever they interfere with U.S. imperial goals. 3) The new
policies "will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe
and Northeast Asia."
In short, the Bush Administration seems to see the U.S., admiringly, as a
New Rome, an empire with its foreign legions, and threat of
"shock-and-awe" attacks, including with nuclear weapons, keeping the
outlying colonies, and potential competitors, in line. Those who aren't
fully in accord with these goals better get out of the way; "you're either
with us or against us."
"FIXING INTELLIGENCE AROUND THE POLICY"
8. Paul O'Neill's wonderment at the early emphasis on making war on Iraq
was well-placed. Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair secretly were
colluding precisely to launch that war, even while they were telling their
skeptical publics that there were no plans to do so. We now know that Bush
told some U.S. Senators in March of 2002
"Fuck Saddam, we're taking him out," and that Blair and Bush
agreed in July 2002 to
launch such a war. (Four years earlier, when talking with his
speechwriter about a possible run for President,
then-Governor Bush said of Iraq: "If I have a chance to
invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it.")
Even today, Bush hauls out his
retread lie that he did everything possible to avoid war and
was hoping to forestall it through diplomacy. In the latest
White House/Downing Street Memo, we learn that he even
considered provoking Saddam into providing a casus belli by flying a plane
low over Iraq painted with United Nations insignia on it, in hopes that
Iraq would shoot it down. Likewise, Bush continues to lie that Saddam
would not let the U.N. inspectors back in to verify that he had no WMD;
Saddam did let them in, the inspectors weren't finding anything, and Bush
quickly launched his attack.
Neither country had the proof required about Saddam's supposed caches of
WMD, so, according to the top-secret
Downing Street Memos, which were leaked to the British press
in mid-2005, it was decided to "fix the intelligence around the policy."
In other words, Bush&Co. would move the war plans forward and, in the
interim, try to cobble together some reasonable-sounding "intelligence"
that could justify the invasion. Hence, Cheney's red-hot anger that the
CIA couldn't, or wouldn't, come up with the proof required, so Rumsfeld
then established his own in-house Office of Special Plans, staffed with
PNAC political types rather than intelligence analysts. The required
"intelligence" was pasted together from unreliable raw data and rumors
from dubious exiles supplied by Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.
That "intelligence" was stove-piped directly to Cheney in the White House,
thus avoiding having to vet it through the government's professional
analysts, and the green light was turned on, with Powell delivering the
laughable pack of lies to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003. The
Council wouldn't vote for a specific authorization for war and so Bush
hastily launched "shock-and-awe" bombing and the ground-invasion of that
country before the international community could organize itself
effectively to resist.
Bush two months later, standing under a huge "Mission Accomplished"
banner, declared that the U.S. "has prevailed" over the Iraqi enemy.
Expecting to be welcomed as "liberators," and with no Plan B to rely on in
case that didn't happen, the U.S. soon became bogged down fighting a
mostly nationalist insurgency that continues until this day, one that grew
in ferocity because the U.S. was responsible not only for an enormous loss
of Iraqi civilians as "collateral damage," numbered in the tens of
thousands, but also because of lack of employment for young men and the
much-publicized torture and humiliation of thousands of detained Iraqis.
Iraq then became a magnet, and
perfect training ground, for jihadist fighters from all over
the Middle East.
SUMMARY & PNAC'S FUTURE PLANS
Everyone loves a winner, and American citizens are no different. Bush's
approval numbers were unusually high after his "Mission Accomplished"
speech. The situation is quite different today, with Bush's numbers down
into the low-30s (Cheney is at 18%!), and with a strong majority believing
the Iraq War cannot be won.
By following the PNAC precepts, the costs have been huge in troops and
treasure, and in damage to America's reputation. Bush&Co. may well be
losing the larger war around the globe: the U.S. now lacks moral stature
and standing in much of the world, is revealed as a liar for all to see
(no WMDs in Iraq, no connection to 9/11, no quick handing-over the interim
reins of government to the Iraqis as initially promised), has destroyed a
good share of the United Nation's effectiveness and prestige, is
needlessly alienating our traditional allies, is infuriating key elements
of the Muslim world (especially in the Middle East), and providing
political and emotional ammunition for anti-U.S. terrorists, etc.
Already, we're talking about half a trillion -- trillion, with a T! --
dollars in costs for the Iraq War and reconstruction. And PNAC is deeply
involved in preparing the ground for Bush's next war, which may either be
a ground invasion of Iran or, more likely, a joint Israeli/U.S. or
U.S./U.K. air assault on that country's fledgling nuclear facilities and
scientific laboratories. The propaganda assault against Iran already has
begun, and it is eerily similar to the pre-Iraq war propaganda. It would
appear that the evidence is once again being "fixed around the policy."
The consequences of such an assault on Iran -- unlike Iraq, Iran is a
formidable Mideast power -- are barely addressed.
One can believe that maybe PNAC sincerely believes its rhetoric -- that
instituting U.S.-style "free-markets" and "democratically-elected"
governments in Iraq and the other authoritarian-run countries of the
Islamic Middle East will be good both for the citizens of that region and
for American interests, but even if that were true, it's clear that these
neo-con incompetents are not operating in the world of Middle Eastern
These are armchair theoreticians, most of whom made sure not to serve in
the military in Vietnam, who truly believed, for example, that the Iraqis
would welcome the invading U.S. forces with bouquets of flowers and kisses
when they "liberated" their country from the horribleness of Saddam
Hussein's reign. Most Iraqis, especially the majority Shias, were happy to
be freed from Saddam's long reign of terror. But, as it stands now, U.S.
military forces are more likely to remain trapped in a political/religious
quagmire for years there, given that so many of the Shia population, along
with the rebellious minority Sunnis, just want the occupying soldiers to
BIG ON IDEAS, SMALL ON REAL-WORLD BRAINS
Despite the utter cockup that the Bush Administration has made of Iraq,
PNAC theorists continue to believe that remaking the political structure
of the Middle East should proceed as planned. It will be done by force if
necessary, although they hope the example of what the U.S. did to Iraq
will make war unnecessary.
These are men of big ideas who don't really think. They certainly don't
think through what takes place in the real world, when the genies of war
and religious righteousness are let out of the bottle. The military
planners did great with the actual invasion, but when the Saddam
government collapsed, and with it law and order, and much of the
population remained sullen and resentful towards the U.S., the Bush
Administration had no prepared way of dealing with this new situation on
the ground. They were dangerously slow to react, and had to change
Occupation administrators several times; many of the appointees dispatched
by the White House as political favors were young novices with no
expertise or smarts about the complexities of Iraqi cultural and political
No, friends, the PNAC boys and their AEI-type allies are dangerous
ideologues playing with matches in a region soaked in gasoline, and the
U.S. is going to get burned badly even more in years to come unless the
Bush Administration's hold on power is broken. Since censure and
impeachment at this stage are problematic (though we must continue to
agitate for them, making those topics part of the daily discourse), the
surest way to accomplish this is to defeat the Administration's party at
the polls in November 2006. That would result in Democrats taking over the
House, thus breaking the HardRight momentum that has done, and is doing,
such great damage to America's reputation abroad and to our country
internally, especially to our Constitution and the economy.
Burdened with an unpopular president and a corruption-ravaged party, the
GOP looks weak in the early run-up to the November voting. But this
election defeat of the Republicans will happen only if there is a huge
grassroots campaign to defeat them, and if there is genuine reform of the
voting process. Right now, the GOP continues effectively to control the
voting machinery and the vote-counting software, and may well have
manipulated the election results in 2002 and 2004. We must work tirelessly
to ensure electoral integrity and transparent ballot-counting.
We don't need or want an emperor in our country. We don't need huge tax
cuts for the wealthy when the economy is stagnating or tanking. We don't
need more "pre-emptive" wars, we don't need more shredding of
constitutional due process. Instead, we need opposition leaders with big
ideas who are capable of creative thinking. We need peace and justice in
the Middle East to help alter the chemistry of the soil in which Islamist
terrorism grows. We need jobs and economic growth at home, and we need
authentic and effective "homeland security" consistent with our civil
liberties. In short, we need a new Administration, which means that we
need to get on with our serious work to make all this change happen. ASAP.
Organize, organize!, ORGANIZE! The first primaries are only several months
Copyright 2006, by Bernard Weiner
Inside Rove's Diary:
Strangle That Censure Baby
By Bernard Weiner
Posted: March 29, 2006
Sorry, diary, no time to jot, it's been a helluva few months here in the
White House as one balloon after another has exploded in our faces.
We just can't seem to tamp down the Iraq situation enough for us to slide
by the November election. The goddamn ragheads can't even agree on a
government months after their own balloting! And if scores more civilians
and U.S. troops continue to get killed every day, it's not good news for
us politically. All we need is a few months of relative calm and a
government in place that will do what we tell them to -- for one,
permitting our military bases to remain on their territory. But we may not
But we'll use whatever comes along. If the Iraqis ask us to leave, we'll
announce that we'll leave. However, we'll make the effective date after
the election, and then things may change, ha ha.
That hope that our troops might be leaving should garner us more support
with our GOP base, at least enough to hold onto our majority in the House
in the midterm election. That's all that matters right now.
Then the Iraqis can go back to slaughtering each other, I don't care. The
few American casualties are "the price a nation pays for the defense of
freedom." Focus groups seem willing to buy that one, so that's our story
and we're stickin' to it. We gotta hope it will balance out the
"incompetence" albatross that's hanging around our necks.
The GOP base used to be monolithic in support of us. But now a good many
are drifting away, having figured out that we don't really have a coherent
plan for Iraq, and saying we're wasting our troops and treasure for no
good purpose. (They sound like goddamned Cindy Sheehan!) What do they
know? We do have a plan: It's called permanent war, permanent control, but
we prefer not to talk about it. As for bankrupting the treasury, duh,
that's the idea, stupids. How else can you get big government into the
bathtub for lessons in drowning?
MIDTERM ELECTION MACHINATIONS
Those GOP turncoats may not be able to bring themselves to vote for a
Democrat in November, but, if they sit on their hands on election day, it
amounts to the same thing. The Demoncrats could well sweep into power in
the House, and we can't have that. If the Dems control the House, we're in
They would control the committees and thus would have full use of subpoena
power and would put us under oath in a variety of dangerous hearings: on
domestic spying and break-ins without warrants, on our ties to Abramoff,
on our lies and deceptions that took us to war in Iraq, on the Halliburton
thievery, on our misuse of the FBI and Secret Service, on our encouraging
the use of torture of prisoners, on our Patriot Act and its shredding of
constitutional protections, on our theory that presidents can break the
law whenever they feel like it as long as they use the magic words
"national security" and "war on terrorism," and so on.
In short, we've got to win in November (Memo to Self: Be sure to call our
friends over at Diebold and Sequoia), which is why we've got to squash
Russboy's censure resolution real quick before it gains any traction.
Thank God the Demoncrats are such jellyfish, backing away from Feingold as
quickly as they can swim. If we can make the public think it's just a few
weird liberals and pro-terrorist bloggers behind censure, we're home free.
But if the public fails to take that bait, the Dems' censure ploy might
tempt more GOP moderates and conservatives to jump ship, and censure might
even lead to impeachment. I say strangle this little sucker right now in
its crib; don't even take the risk it might grow up.
If they want to play this game, we have to let them know they're in the
big leagues now. In short, find (or invent) dirt on Feingold and cover him
in it to the point where it will make the SwiftBoating of Kerry look like
a high school prank. I think the Dems will get the message and will remain
their usual docile selves. God, how I love my job! I just hope I can keep
A MISTRIAL OR PARDON
Fitzpatrick continues to let me dangle in the wind, and, if something goes
wrong, I could wind up indicted along with Scooter. Well, if it comes to
that, I'll join Libby's game of courtroom hardball: We'll both call key
Administration witnesses to discuss classified information, and the
government will have to withdraw the indictments lest "national security"
But if none of that works, there's no way I'm going into the slammer. Even
though it will smell to high heaven, Bushboy will simply have to pardon us
pre-emptively and stop the case in its tracks. Poppy Bush did it with Cap
Weinberger in Iran-Contra and got away with it, so why not Dim Son?
Sure, the Demoncrats will yell and scream, but what the hell can they do
about it if they remain in the minority and the mainstream media remains
pretty much in our control? The Dems are quite aware of our political and
criminal liability in so many areas, but they don't have the legislative
tools, or the balls, to try to stop us.
THOSE LOUSY POLLS
It's so much fun running at the Dems' perceived strengths full bore and
then watching them totally flummoxed, ducking and covering, instead of
simply standing up straight, taking the hit and breaking our momentum. On
the other hand, the Demoncrat opposition is starting to attack us on our
strong suit, "national security," and the poll numbers are showing more
and more Republican defectors don't feel as safe or as trusting under us
as they once did.
Jesus Christ, Bushboy is down to 33% in the polls! That's just about the
percentage of our rock solid evangelical base. Cheney is at 18! Why did he
have to go hunting quail in his condition? Lucky the sheriffs agreed to
come back the next day to interview him, when he was, uh, more sober in
his judgment. (Good one, that!)
We've got to do something drastic to change the news agenda. Wonder if
there's anything in the works: An assassination? A terrorist attack inside
the U.S.? Some "missing" WMD that suddenly gets found in Iraq? Maybe a bit
more anthrax powder making its way through the halls of Congress? Bombing
the Iranian nuclear facilities? McCain taking over as Veep after Cheney
resigns for "health reasons"? Something. Anything?
THE CLUELESS OPPOSITION
The point, which I have to keep reiterating to the weak-kneed down in the
bunker, is that no matter how outrageous our behavior, no matter how much
the Dems and a few GOP moderates twist and shout in pain and anger, we
don't have to worry. They haven't got a clue how to stop us.
We were declared the winners in 2004 (notice I didn't say that we "won the
election," hee hee), and that was the referendum on our rule. The Dems
don't get do-overs. Assuming we can squash all this talk about
censure/impeachment, hold onto the House in November, and keep our media
boys in line, the Dems will just have to wait until 2008 for another one
of their losing tries.
And, if we're lucky, they'll pick Hillary and we'll get another four years
of Republican rule, with our guys still in positions of power throughout
the three branches.
Eat that pickle, you pinko liberals.
Copyright 2006 by Bernard Weiner
Anti-Semitism From The Left
By Bernard Weiner
Posted March 22, 2006
Anti-Semitism on the Left is generally not spoken about, but it's real and
appears to be growing. For those so inclined, it's easy to slip from
denunciations of Israeli policy -- many of us on the Left are quite vocal
in opposing Israeli policies and actions -- to out-and-out anti-Semitism.
It's often difficult to locate that fine line. Jew-haters often can hide
their true feelings and arguments inside broadsides against Israeli
policy, but those opposed vehemently to certain Israeli policies (and I
count myself as one of that breed) are definitely not anti-Jewish in this
context. So how to tell the difference?
Certainly, AIPAC (the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee)
has no problem: Anybody writing anything in opposition to Israeli policies
is all too-often smeared with the "anti-Semitic" or "Jew-hater" brush; if
they happen to be Jewish, AIPAC types often throw the phrase "self-hating
Jew" into the denunciation.
In my experience, in order to judge articles about Israelis and Jews
somewhat accurately, you sort of have to follow a pundit's writings over
time, and discern where the arguments are coming from and where they are
REACTIONS TO ISRAELI POLICIES
Most liberals and leftists, including those who have grave disagreements
with Israeli policy and U.S. policy toward Israel, abhor generalized
statements about any subgroup of people, be they Jews, Arabs, Muslims,
African-Americans, gays, women, et al.
But because U.S.-supported Israeli policies are at the heart of much of
the conflict in the Middle East, and thus are connected in some degree to
Islamist terrorism around the world, anti-Jewish feelings get stirred up
more than usual in these current times.
The anti-Semitism-on-the-Left issue cries out for more in-depth
examination as to motive and intent. Perhaps in time, I will be able to
delve deeper into this topic. Suffice it to say that elements of
anti-Semitism are alive and well not only in the usual hate and neo-Nazi
sites on the internet but also can be found where most of us live in
alternative, progressive and even mainstream circles.
I realize that I come at this topic from an insider's extra-sensitivity,
having been raised Jewish and with many members of my parents' families
having perished in the Holocaust. Perhaps I'm over-reacting. I would love
to believe that, but I don't really think so. I'd love to hear others'
opinions on this development, which might help expand the thesis.
THERE IS NO VACCINE AGAINST HATE
Anti-Semitism is like a dormant virus, relatively quiet most of the time
in respectable society and discourse, but which bursts out into the open
now and again, usually in times of economic and psychological crisis. The
resulting social rash can be deadly. And there is no vaccine, other than
shining the light of truth on ignorance, with which to combat the disease
of hate. (In America, overt racism against blacks similarly is a virus
that tends to lie dormant until suddenly bursting out in tense times.)
Since the Israel/Palestine situation goes unresolved decade after decade,
and since the explosive region there is so much at the heart of U.S.
policy and thus of resistance to that policy, it should not surprise
anyone that the virus of anti-Semitism is erupting once again, and in so
Just a few examples:
THE FORGED "PROTOCOLS"
* We get more than the usual number of anti-Semitic letters these days at
The Crisis Papers, mostly disguised but more often recently out-and-out
Nazi-type screeds directed at "the Jews." For the most part, we don't
print them, but every so often we do so to reveal to our readers the level
of what passes for intelligent debate from some on the Right fringes. (And
how far are the incendiary comments about "traitorous" liberals by the
likes of Coulter, Horowitz, Limbaugh, O'Reilly and Savage from crossing
the line into incitement-speech?)
* In earlier years, world leaders would not speak openly in anti-Semitic
terms; but recently, for example, officials from Malaysia and Iran in
public speeches have stoked the fires of anti-Jewish suspicion and hatred.
And just a few years ago, Egyptian TV broadcast a documentary filled with
anti-Jewish propaganda, based largely on the long-discredited forgery
called "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," about an alleged Jewish plot
to rule the world. Schools in many Muslim countries (including states
allied with the U.S.) continue to teach their young students to hate Jews,
likewise using the phony "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" as their
* The fact that there are a number of well-known Jews at the heart of the
neo-conservative movement in America -- most notably Wolfowitz, Perle,
Feith -- has engendered a good many rants about how "the Jews" control
U.S. foreign policy and have taken America to war in Iraq for reasons
having more to do with protecting Israel than America. (Ignored in these
screeds are the majority of non-Jews involved in the neo-con and HardRight
movements, and the influence of Christian Zionists and the
military/industrial/Big Oil complex on American foreign policy.)
* The Left was somewhat split over last weekend's anti-war demonstrations.
Many liberals chose not to participate in the large marches organized by
one of the main national anti-war groups, A.N.S.W.E.R. ("Act Now to Stop
War & End Racism"), because that outfit's emphasis on Palestinian
statehood at the expense of Israel's existence -- thus implying that Jews
need to be eliminated from the region -- is both offensive and
ill-advised; the group also is much criticized for co-opting rallies
organized by other anti-war groups and bringing a whole host of domestic
and foreign issues into marches supposedly devoted to getting the U.S. out
of Iraq. Those not choosing to march with A.N.S.W.E.R. avoided Saturday's
rallies or made other arrangements; many are gearing up for the April 29
nationwide demos being organized by United for Peace, which concentrates
less on side issues and mostly on ending the war in Iraq.
Well, one could go on and on with such a listing. The point is that
scapegoats are required in any time of crisis. Often those scapegoats are
"the Jews," but at other times and at other places, the focus of hate is
directed at "the liberals," "the blacks," "the gays," "the Arabs," and so
"KILLING EACH OTHER, OF COURSE"
I recall my travels in Yugoslavia when Tito was holding together that
artificially-constructed, multi-ethnic country by force of his charisma
and his Communist police-state. I asked all the academics and students I
ran into what would happen when their leader died. It didn't matter
whether these reasonable intellectual types were Serbs or Croats,
Christian or Muslim, the answer was always the same: "When Tito dies?
We'll go back to killing each other, of course."
But, I protested, you've lived together in peace for decades now, you are
often good friends and colleagues, you even intermarry; why would you
revert back to such brutal ways of dealing with each other, to a kind of
vicious tribalism? The answer I got was heartbreaking in its scapegoat
simplicity: "Because you can't trust the [insert name of ethnic or
religious group], they're all liars and thieves." When, years later, the
Serbs and Croats began slaughtering each other, I was appalled but not
surprised. Ancient rivers run deep.
And Jews are, in some ways, as ancient as they come, and therefore
throughout history have served as handy scapegoats when an outlet is
needed for blame and resentment.
THE NEW "JEWS"
But there are Jews and there are those who might be considered the new
"Jews," who take their lumps as well: homosexuals, Chinese in Southeast
Asia, Palestinians and other Arabs in Israel and the U.S. (and often also
in Arab nations), African-Americans in the South and in the inner cities,
Mexican immigrants, whoever. It's the same process of stereotyping and
repression, which often leads to discrimination and violence, even when
the group being victimized changes.
Again, this topic of anti-Semitism on the Left and Right is enormous, and
I only want to raise it here as a warning flag for progressives, something
we need to examine and deal with in thinking about how
discriminated-against groups are treated.
For obvious reasons, anti-Jewish expression on the Left mostly does not
make its way into liberal discourse. But if you want a good starting-point
for thinking about the issue, I'd suggest a 2003 article that transcribes
a rare forum on the topic: Jamie Glazov's
"Symposium: Anti-Semitism - the New Call of the Left" at FrontPage
Perhaps what is called for is a national forum on
religious/ethnic/sexual-preference scapegoating that includes
representatives from all discriminated groups. The participants might then
become aware of the commonality of their persecution (and often of their
persecutors), and develop a coordinated way of defending themselves and
going after those who wish them ill.
The Middle East Muddle:
Is Peace Still Possible?
By Bernard Weiner
Posted March 21, 2006
The run-up to the impending war against Iran -- and make no mistake, the
foundations are being laid daily by the Bush Administration -- bears a
remarkable resemblance to the propaganda barrage before the U.S. attacked
Iraq: Iran is the repository of all things evil, they will destabilize the
region if they get nukes, they support terrorists, the U.N. and
international community can't wait until there are mushroom clouds in the
sky, etc. etc. All that's missing is an invented tie-in with 9/11.
Because of the thorough botch the Bush Administration has made of the Iraq
Occupation, and because there are no extra U.S. troops to go around, it's
a reasonable presumption that there will be no ground invasion of Iran.
Instead, following passage of some ambiguously-worded U.N. Security
Council resolution, there might well be a U.S.-Israeli air-bombing/missile
assault on that country's nuclear facilities. (The experts tell us that
Iran won't have nuclear-weapons capability for anywhere from three to 10
years out -- in short, there is no imminent threat to the U.S. or anyone
The reaction by Iran and other Islamic countries to such an air assault is
likely to be intense, perhaps including retaliatory attacks on Israel, and
damaging the American and European economies by withdrawing oil sales to
the West or blocking ships from entering the Straits of Hormuz into the
Persian Gulf. And, of course, one can anticipate that the Bush
Administration -- unless the impending attack can be stopped in its tracks
by popular opposition -- will be caught flat-footed (again!) by its usual
lack of planning for the unforeseen consequences of its wars.
But rather than focus on what is about to go down in Iran, the chaotic
disaster that the Bush Administration's attack on and inept occupation of
Iraq has led to, or even the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, I'd
like to propose an examination of the Middle East situation since it
serves as the kindling for the firestorms that sweep the entire region.
Hamas is now on the inside of the halls of power, Israel is about to
choose its new leaders, and the situation is encouragingly fluid, with a
tenuous truce in major fighting between the two sides. Thus, this is an
especially propitious time for all parties to reflect and meditate on how,
or even whether, a just solution is still possible, and what such a Middle
East peace might mean for the entire region.
THE MEDIEVAL ISLAMISTS
A resurrected holy Muslim empire has been the dream for many decades of a
segment of the Islamic religion. Or if that dream is unrealizable, at
least their desire to be left alone, outside the distractions and decadent
temptations of the 21st century, to implement their strict version of the
Regardless of what the U.S. does, that Islamist resurgence is bound to
occur, even, or especially, amidst a more widespread Islam that is willing
to exist side by side with Western modernity and tolerance.
But certainly the harsh treatment for nearly 60 years of Palestinians by
Israel, a nation supported by the U.S., has been a spur to the growth of
that fanatic Islamist movement in the Middle East.
U.S. NEGLECT OF THE REGION
On the surface, American policy in the region appears to make no sense. It
seems clear that if the U.S. is after a calmer Arab Middle East, and with
it a stable flow of oil to America and Europe, its first order of
business, one would think, would be to ensure a just peace between the
Israelis and Palestinians, so as to tamp down the fire that endangers so
much in that region.
But under both Democratic and Republican presidents, the status quo has
been left to fester, partially because intervening in this convoluted,
passionate dispute rarely pays off for the U.S. and often leads to
embarrassing failures. And so Israel, America's lone dependable ally in
the region, is blindly supported by U.S. administrations, no matter what
its leaders do. The Palestinians are teased with words about a coming
Palestinian state, but nothing much really happens from the U.S. end.
While Carter and Clinton at least tried to bring the parties together, and
actually were starting to accomplish something, the Bush Administration
promises much and delivers little, and is unwilling to use its leverage to
get its ally Israel to make the concessions it will have to make for a
WHY SHOULD U.S. WORK FOR PEACE?
The well-armed Israelis feel insecure, the powerless Palestinians feel
humiliated and brutalized, thousands die, terrorism grows in this
atmosphere -- and not much changes, decade after decade. And, from the
point of view of America's political leaders, why should it be changed?
The oil keeps flowing, so why would any U.S. administration risk touching
this dangerous third-rail of international politics?
How about because it's the right thing to do? How about because the Middle
East would be stabilized? How about because Islamist terrorism would lose
one of its most potent recruiting arguments? How about because the U.S.
would regain much of the positive prestige it has lost as a result of
Bush's wars against Muslim countries?
Even supposing a just peace could be worked out between the Israelis and
Palestinians, Islamist terrorism would still exist, would still be capable
of awful acts of mayhem and murder. But much of the passion behind today's
terrorism would be diminished or, in some areas, even disappear were the
Palestinians to obtain their own viable state. Similarly, there would be a
concomitant diminution of Israeli brutality and murder in the new
Which brings us to how we get to that state of peace. Even with the
victory of Hamas, an organization dedicated to the elimination of Israel
from the map, polls continue to demonstrate that most Palestinians prefer
a peaceful, two-state solution. Most Israelis, if their security can be
guaranteed by treaty, likewise seem to prefer peace with a Palestinian
neighbor-state rather than decades of still more bloodshed and insecurity.
WHAT WILL HAMAS & ISRAEL DO?
It's not going to be easy. Hamas has been dedicated to the destruction of
Israel, so asking them to recognize Israel's right to exist now that they
are in charge of the Palestinian Parliament seems to make no sense.
Likewise, Ehud Olmert, Israel's acting prime minister, wants to carry on
many of the hard-line policies of Ariel Sharon, such as completing the
Separation (Border) Wall and enlarging key existing settlements in the
Occupied West Bank, which antagonizes the Palestinians.
We don't know how the new Hamas leadership will look at the compromises
that will have to be made in the movement toward peace. Will it, can it,
evolve into a government that accepts a two-state solution? If a
geographically and economically viable Palestine state were to be created
next door to Israel, would they, could they, accept that neighbor?
We don't know who the new leaders of Israel will be after the upcoming
election. If it's the hard-line Likudist Benjamin Netanyahu, peace
prospects are minimal. But if the new Israeli leaders are open to the idea
of an equitable two-state solution, progress can indeed be made. (And,
looking at the demographics, as Sharon did, Israel simply has to divest
itself of the Occupied Territories, lest the Jewish nature of the State of
Israel be placed in jeopardy. The probable outcome is that the bulk of the
Palestinians will be on one side of the border in their own state, with
the bulk of the Jews on the other side in a smaller, but more religiously
WHAT A SOLUTION MIGHT LOOK LIKE
So, everyone knows, and always has known, what the eventual solution will
be, will have to be: A secure Israel, a viable Palestine, an
internationalized Jerusalem of some sort. To get there, Israel will have
to exit from virtually all of the West Bank, abandoning almost all of the
settlements there and agreeing not to attack inside the new Palestine's
borders; the Palestinians will have to recognize Israel's right to exist,
and refrain from terrorist attacks on their neighbor.
Those Palestinians who would prefer to return to their ancestral homes
inside Israel will, for the most part, have to relinquish their claims and
agree to accept financial compensation for those properties, money that
will help them purchase land and buildings inside the new Palestine state.
As Ernest Partridge ingeniously has suggested, only partially tongue in
cheek, Jewish settlers in the West Bank would be allowed to remain on
condition that they renounce Israeli citizenship and accept Palestinian
citizenship. One imagines that the settlers would leave voluntarily.
Those parts of Jerusalem that are regarded as Holy Land by three great
religions will have to be administered by an international body of some
Once the peace treaties have been signed and implemented, then the doors
will be open for bilateral treaties on water, jobs, environmental
WHAT'S BLOCKING MOVEMENT TOWARD PEACE
I suspect that there will be no significant U.S.
movement toward bringing peace to the Middle East while Bush/Cheney are
in power. It's simply not a priority for them; indeed, it's possible
that they are quite content with keeping the Palestine/Israel dispute on
the boil, thus ensuring their superpower hegemony in the region. (Then,
too, Bush&Co.'s fundamentalist Christian base requires that Armageddon
take place in the Holy Land prior to the Second Coming of Christ, so
peace is not what they're after.)
Keeping the parties at war reminds one of the reason why the Reagan
Administration supported Iraq's war against Iran in the 1980s, to ensure
that the two regional giants would battle and decimate each other.
Because of Bush Administration screwups, if current trends hold, Iraq
will be ruled by Iran-leaning Shi'ite parties, bringing Iraq and Iran
closer together. The irony of history.
Nobody quite knows how to factor in Fatah, Arafat's
organization, into the Palestinian equation. Would the more moderate
Fatah, defeated in the recent parliamentary elections, be willing or
able to serve as a mediator between Israel and the new Palestinian
rulers (since the Israelis don't want to negotiate with Hamas)? Could
Fatah, would it, work out tentative peace proposals with the new Israeli
leadership? If so, could the Fatah negotiators sell it to Hamas?
Will Hamas, now that it is the governing body rather
than the secret militant opposition, move somewhat toward the center? In
doing so, would they be willing to deal for a
geographically/economically viable Palestine by agreeing to recognize
Israel's right to exist -- and would their fanatic base permit them to
do this? (Sort of like the Catholic IRA making peace with the
Protestants in Northern Ireland, which spawned "the Real IRA," those
extremists eager to continue the violence.)
THE HOPE THE OTHER WOULD VANISH
It seems to me that no progress whatsoever toward peace can be made
without a willingness to start at a point "beyond history," as it were.
That is, both sides would acknowledge historical grievances going back
decades, or in some cases hundreds or even thousands of years -- but, in
the interest of bringing the conflict to an acceptable close, simply
stipulate that each side has its historical grievances and move on. No
more "my victimhood was worse than yours, and you owe me for this, that
and the other atrocity."
In the past, neither party has wanted to move seriously toward peace
because, in truth, each side believed that with just a bit more pressure
or violence, the other side would disappear. Yes, I know this attitude
doesn't make rational sense, but not much is rational in this ages-old
The Palestinians believed that they could force the Israelis to give in
and grant them everything they wanted, which would mean the effective
destruction of Israel; the Israelis believed they could force the
Palestinians through the brutalities of an Occupation to move to other
lands and abandon their desire to push the Jewish state into the sea.
Now, it's possible that both sides, after ceaseless murders and
brutalities over the decades, might come to a mutual awareness that enough
is enough, that the Other is not going to disappear, that the Israelis can
destroy Palestine if they so choose, that the Palestinians can ensure that
Israel will never live in peace. In short, a political accommodation will
have to be made, for the sake of the children and grandchildren, and
economic viability, of both countries.
Supposing that a peace treaty can be obtained, and implemented properly
with sensitivity, peace and prosperity for both peoples may eventually be
But, as always, how to get from here to there? Aye, there's the rub. All
we can be sure of is that Middle East peace won't be, can't be,
accomplished as long as the current U.S. administration is in power.
Conservatives Are Jumping Ship:
Bush Is Going Down
By Bernard Weiner
March 8, 2006
I'm more and more convinced that it will be Republicans, many of them of
the true conservative and realist kind, who effectively will do in the
In this, I am reminded of the behavior of Richard Nixon when he realized
that he was fast losing his middle-class, bourgeois base: He called it
quits on the Vietnam War, and likewise on his presidency after his crimes
But unlike Nixon's crew, Bush&Co. seem willing to take the country down
with them, so desperate are they to hold onto power, deplete the treasury,
pay off their corporate friends, carry out their ideological revolution --
and keep themselves out of the federal slammer.
The crimes of the Bush Administration are so many and varied that none of
us should be surprised by anything that might happen in the coming weeks
and months: Bin Laden captured or reported killed, a U.S.-Israeli air
assault on Iran's nuclear facilities, a major terrorist attack inside the
U.S. to be followed by martial law, the announcement of a bird-flu
outbreak with the military placed in charge. I'm pretty level-headed and
don't usually think in these dire terms, but these guys have backed
themselves into a tight political corner and are desperate -- and
THE IMPLODING SCANDALS
Bush is at 34% approval rating (Cheney is at 18!), and their scandals are
blowing up in their faces: Katrina lies and incompetence; Iraq lies and
incompetence; the Dubai Ports deal and incompetence; GOP bribery and
corruption; Libby under indictment and Rove apparently about to be; Bush
claiming authority to authorize torture, spy on millions of American
citizens and violate the law whenever he incants the magic words "national
security"; Congress rebelling at being frozen out of decision-making, etc.
etc. But in the face of all that, the Roveian M.O. is always to attack
their foes and to hype the fright quotient.
The Administration didn't have to consider the most extreme options until
recently, when the wheels started falling off the Bush bus. The attacks
were no longer coming mostly from liberals and Democrats; more and more,
they were coming from loyal conservative Republicans, who, cognizant of
the sinking poll numbers, saw the handwriting on the wall: They realized
they could well lose their majorities in the House and Senate -- in other
words, severed from their jobs and access to the spoils of power -- and
they started distancing themselves from the Administration.
So, rather than beating my usual drum here denouncing the high crimes and
misdemeanors of the Bush Administration, I thought I'd just lay out the
comments of those conservatives and let them speak for themselves. (My
late friend Emile de Antonio, the documentary filmmaker, taught me a good
lesson; it's always better, he pointed out, to quote what the Wall Street
Journal is saying rather than quoting a hippie or left-activist making the
same point. When your own posse smells the moral rot up top, the end is
The quotes here are on Iraq and the neo-con ideologues who took this
country to war, though currently the flak is also coming hot and heavy
from the Right on both the domestic spying and Dubai ports scandals. (Even
conservative Republican Senator Richard Shelby says Bush broke the law in
the way he handled the
Dubai ports contract, and neo-con leader
Bill Kristol suggests the other "i" word ("incompetent") in describing
how Bush&Co. stumble around trying to govern: "I think it's become in
people's minds an emblem of the administration that just isn't as serious
about the competent execution of the functions of government as it should
THE NEO-CONS BEHIND THE WAR
Let's begin with a reminder that the conservative establishment didn't
agree from the very beginning with Bush's neo-con obsession to invade
Iraq. President George H.W. Bush, who successfully organized a massive
coalition to push Iraq's army out of Kuwait in the first Gulf War, warned
his son privately and through his spokesmen of the dangerous consequences
both of invading and occupying Iraq and of doing so without wide
international support. As he said of Iraq in "A World Transformed"
(written with Gen. Brent Scowcroft): "Had we gone the invasion route, the
United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly
hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different -- and perhaps
barren -- outcome."
Fast forward to the present, when so many Republican stalwarts are saying,
in effect, that they backed the wrong horse. Their party was taken over by
rightwing extremists, incompetent at that, whose reckless neo-con policies
are doing great danger to the country and to the future of the once-great
Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, chair of the Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation,
going even beyond the war into the deeper crimes being committed against
"Most Americans do not yet realize that a war is being
waged -- not against Iraq but against each of us. It is not the
Republican Party that is charge in this administration but a small cadre
who seized executive branch power and converted it to their own uses.
Most Republicans are experiencing a deer-in-the-headlights moment right
now. Their Party has been hijacked, their president has been hijacked,
and they do not know what to do. I remain a registered Republican
working for an effective coalition. The attack on us and on our rights
has hardly begun. You don't go to the trouble of setting up this degree
of control without having made plans to use it."
NEO-CON FUKUYAMA HAS SECOND THOUGHTS
Or try this out. Francis Fukuyama, who wrote the 1992 neo-con best-seller
"The End of History," is exhibiting some
recantation these days in interviews and in his new book, "America at
He now says that neo-conservatism has "evolved into something I can no
longer support," and should be tossed onto history's pile of discredited
ideologies. The doctrine, which has demonstrated "the danger of good
intentions carried to extremes...is now in shambles," and needs to be
replaced by a more realistic foreign policy.
For example, though he once supported regime change in Iraq, he now
believes the war there is the wrong sort of war, in the wrong place at the
wrong time. "The most basic misjudgment was an overestimation of the
threat facing the United States from radical Islamism. Although the new
and ominous possibility of undeterrable terrorists armed with weapons of
mass destruction did indeed present itself, advocates of the war wrongly
conflated this with the threat presented by Iraq and with the rogue
state/proliferation problem more generally...
"By definition, outsiders can't 'impose' democracy on a country that
doesn't want it; demand for democracy and reform must be domestic.
Democracy promotion is therefore a long-term and opportunistic process
that has to await the gradual ripening of political and economic
conditions to be effective."
THE CHENEY-RUMSFELD CABAL
Then we go to a long-time Administration stalwart who couldn't take it any
Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army colonel who was chief of staff
for Secretary of State Colin Powell.
"What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States,
Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical
issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being
made," Wilkerson said in a well-publicized speech at the New America
Foundation last October. "And you've got a president who is not versed in
international relations and not too much interested in them either."
Wilkerson has also focused attacks on the Bush administration for
condoning torture, setting lax and ambiguous policies on treatment of
detainees that inevitably led to the scandal of the abuses at Abu Ghraib
prison in Iraq and elsewhere.
BUCKLEY BUCKLES TO REALITY
Onward to the intellectual godfather of the modern conservative movement,
National Review founding editor
William F. Buckley Jr., who concludes that what may have started as a
decent move has evolved into disaster:
"One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has
failed. ... Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved
uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human
reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt
they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against
the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and
pistols. ... Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because
to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate
requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in
high-flown pronouncements. His challenge is to persuade himself that he
can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments
in foreign policy. ... The kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat."
THE TROOPS WANT OUT, SOON
Speaking of the troops in Iraq,
reveals that nearly 3 out of 4 of U.S troops in Iraq think the U.S. should
exit the country within the year, and more than one in four say the troops
should leave immediately. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff admits
also that the Iraqis want us to leave
"as soon as
Here are some pertinent
comments by a
U.S. soldier in Iraq, writing as "djtyg," about why the desire to
leave that country:
"We need to get out because our military cannot take
much more of this. We are stretched too thin and it's about to get
worse. ... Soldiers are frustrated. Every soldier I have talked to says
that they are getting out of the military when they get home. Every.
One. Of. Them. Regardless of rank, experience, or time in, they all want
out. There has not been a single Soldier I've talked to that says they
want to stay in. This includes officers, NCOs, and rookies who are on
their first tour of duty. We need to get out of Iraq because Iraq is the
reason why the military is shrinking. We, like Cindy Sheehan, are
curious as to what 'noble cause' we are fighting for. We can't seem to
find one. This is weakening America. At the rate we are going, we are
going to have a military that can't fight because it has old and broken
down equipment, and no troops to fight a war with."
SEN. HAGEL LOWERS THE BOOM
Then there are key Republican senators who are willing to stick out their
necks by talking truth to power about Iraq. For example, Nebraska Senator
Chuck Hagel, who said the U.S. is losing in Iraq and
raised a parallel to an earlier conflict.
The Vietnam War, he said, "was a national tragedy partly because members
of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage
to challenge the administrations in power until it was too late. To
question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your
government is unpatriotic," he said, arguing that 58,000 troops died in
Vietnam because of silence by political leaders. "America owes its men and
women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."
O'REILLY QUESTIONS STAYING IN IRAQ
So, let's see: Bush is losing old-money Republican conservatives, GOP
senators, neo-con theorists outside the Cheney-Rumsfeld nexus, military
insiders, troops under fire in Iraq -- who else can he lose? Would you
believe the lunatic fringe, as symbolized by that raving Limbaugh wannabee
The Fox News pundit, who usually is in lockstep with the Bush program and
calls anybody who criticizes those policies idiots and worse, had this to
say the other day about the need to get out of Iraq ASAP:
"[We need to] hand over everything to the Iraqis as fast as humanly
possible [because] there are so many nuts in the country -- so many
crazies -- that we can't control them."
GOP DISCONTENT ON NATIONAL SECURITY
Well, one could go on and on with the criticism coming from the Right --
conservative former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, former Reagan
Administration official Paul Craig Roberts, Congressional Dem warhawk John
Murtha, et al. The point is that the Republicans, formerly associated with
a winning national-security message, are now regarded much differently by
many GOP politicos and rank-and-file citizens.
Many Representatives and Senators also deeply resent the way the Congress
frozen out of the power loop by the Bush Administration. "We simply
want to participate and aren't going to be PR flacks when they need us,"
Florida's conservative GOP Congressman Mark Foley said. "We all have
roles. We have oversight. When you can't answer your constituents when
they have legitimate questions -- we can't simply do it on trust."
Scott Reed, who managed Robert Dole's 1996 presidential campaign, called
the current low poll ratings for Bush and the GOP "pretty shattering,"
noting especially that Bush's support among Republicans fell from 83
percent to 72 percent. "The repetition of the news coming out of Iraq is
wearing folks down," Reed said. "It started with women [voters] and it's
spreading. It's just bad news after bad news after bad news, without any
light at the end of the tunnel."
THE PRESIDENT AS DICTATOR
"Even if you're a Republican member of Congress, you don't buy the
exaggerated view of the unified executive theory, in which the only part
of the Constitution that matters is Article II," on presidential power,
said James B. Steinberg, a dean at the University of Texas at Austin. "If
you want them to be in on the landing, you have to have people there for
staunch conservative Southern Senators won't accept Bush's Unified
Executive theory of governance. "I think the administration has looked at
the legitimate power of the executive during a time of war and taken it to
extremes," said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "[It's]
to the point that we'd lose constitutional balance. Under their theory,
there would be almost no role for the Congress or the courts."
Mississippi's Sen. Trent Lott was even more blunt: "Don't put your fist in
EVEN WALL ST. IS TALKING IMPEACHMENT
All those defections from the Bush orbit are doing great damage to the
once-unified Bush&Co. juggernaut, but I've left out one key one: Wall
Street. The titans of finance are agitated, to the point of raising the
awareness of the possibility of impeachment or even urging serious
consideration of Bush's removal.
Street Journal, alone among mainstream daily newspapers, has deigned
to mention that there is a growing impeachment movement and an active PAC
(impeachpac.org). And here's some of what Barron's Editorial Page Editor
Thomas G. Donlan wrote in that
establishment financial journal:
...The administration is saying the president has
unlimited authority to order wiretaps in the pursuit of foreign
terrorists, and that the Congress has no power to overrule him...Perhaps
they were researched in a Star Chamber? Putting the president above the
Congress is an invitation to tyranny. The president has no powers except
those specified in the Constitution and those enacted by law. President
Bush is stretching the power of commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy
by indicating that he can order the military and its agencies, such as
the National Security Agency, to do whatever furthers the defense of the
country from terrorists, regardless of whether actual force is involved.
Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is
at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval
Office desk and lying about it later. The members of the House Judiciary
Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as
outraged at this situation...
It is important to be clear that an impeachment case, if it comes to
that, would not be about wiretapping, or about a possible Constitutional
right not to be wiretapped. It would be about the power of Congress to
set wiretapping rules by law, and it is about the obligation of the
president to follow the rules in the Acts that he and his predecessors
signed into law. ...
THREE MORE YEARS?
So, friends, when we're down in the dumps, depressed by the fact that
Bush&Co. are still in power even in the face of all their lies and
bumblings and policies that result in thousands of people getting killed
and maimed and tortured, let us consider that even their once-loyal rats
are deserting the sinking ship of state.
The thought of nearly three more years of Bush&Co. misrule is too horrible
to contemplate. So let's ratchet up the pressure, incorporate distressed
GOP moderates and conservatives into the impeachment momentum, and send
the Bush Bunker crew packing and return the country to reasonable people
dedicated to a restoration of Constitutional rule of law and a realistic
foreign policy. It's the least we can do for our country.
Slicing Away Liberty:
1933 Germany, 2006 America
By Bernard Weiner
February 21, 2006
I must confess that I'm utterly baffled by the lack of sustained,
organized outrage and opposition from Democratic officials and ordinary
citizens at the Bush Administration's never-ending scandals, corruptions,
war-initiations, and the amassing of more and more police-state power into
And so, facing little effective opposition, the Bush juggernaut continues
on its rampage. How to explain this? Certainly, one could point to a
deficient mass-media, to the soporific drug of TV, to having to work so
hard that for many there's no time for activism, to education aimed at
taking tests and not how to think, to the residual fear-fallout from 9/11,
to a penchant for fantasy over reality, to the timid and unimaginative
Democratic leadership, to scandal-fatigue, etc. But I would suggest that
even more disturbing answers can be found by examining recent history.
Just so nobody misunderstands what follows: I am not saying that George W.
Bush is Adolf Hitler, or that the rest of his Administration crew are
Nazis. What I am saying is that since history often is opaque (making it
difficult to figure out the contemporary parallels), when the past does
offer a clear lesson for those of us living today, we should pay special
What happened in Germany in the 1920s and '30s can teach us much about how
a nation in a few years can lose its freedom in incremental slices as a
result of a drumbeat of never-ceasing propaganda, strong-arm tactics,
government snooping and harassment, manufactured fear of "the other," and
wars begun abroad with the accompanying rally-'round-the-flag patriotism.
In America of the 1980s and '90s, it was extremists on the far-right
fringes who believed the country was moving toward "black helicopter"
authoritarian rule in Washington, and often blamed big-government liberal
Democrats. Now, as a result of just four-plus years of the Bush
Administration (supposedly anti-big government, conservative Republicans),
huge segments of American society, including many in the mainstream
middle, wonder what has happened to our democratic republic, our civil
liberties, our time-honored system of government.
THE ENABLING MANTRA OF 9/11
The Busheviks defend the Administration's harsh, sweeping actions as
necessary in a "time of war." The U.S. was attacked by forces representing
fanatical Islam, this reasoning goes, and the old rules and systems simply
don't apply anymore -- they are old-fashioned, "quaint." Instead, we are
expected to inculcate the "everything-changed-on-9/11" mantra, the effect
of which is to excuse and justify all. Defense of the fatherland comes
first and foremost, trumping all other considerations, including the
Constitution, checks-and-balances in the three branches of government,
separation of powers, the Geneva Conventions, international law, etc. etc.
(The Busheviks refuse to believe that one can be muscular in going after
terrorists and do so within the law and with proper respect for the Bill
of Rights and Constitutional protections of due process.)
Not only do the Busheviks pay no attention to modern history, but they
seem to have forgotten how our very nation came into existence and why:
Our Founding Fathers rebelled against a despotic British monarch, a George
who ran roughshod over their rights and privacy and religious beliefs.
Learning that hard lesson, they established a system of government that
scattered power so that no person or party or religion could easily
reinstate authoritarian rule. Politicians and citizens would have to
compromise and cooperate in order to get anything done. It's a slow,
cumbersome system ("Democracy," said Churchill, "is the worst form of
government ever invented, except for all the others"), but the system they
devised served this nation well for more than two centuries, making
American government a model for much of the rest of the world.
And now, using the fear of terrorism as justification for all their
actions, the Bush-Rove-Cheney-Rumsfeld crew within just a few years have
moved America closer to a militarist, one-party state, led by a ruler in
whom virtually all power is vested. In '30s Germany, this was called the
Fuhrer Principe, the principle of blind obedience to the wise,
all-powerful Supreme Leader. We've seen other such examples in Stalin's
Soviet Union, Kim's North Korea, Mao's China, Saddam's Iraq, etc.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & LOTS OF UGLY
To the Busheviks, there is pure Evil and pure Good, and because we
Americans are pure Good, especially blessed by God, we can do anything in
the service of fulfilling God's plan, which only we understand. If you're
not with us, you're against us; get on board or get out of the way.
And so, under BushCheney, we've become an America that has codified
torture in official state policy, that admits it went into a war under
false premises but continues to keep our targeted troops there anyway,
that spies on its citizens without court orders, that is willing to out a
covert CIA agent (one who was probing the extent of Iran's nuclear
program) for reasons of political retaliation, that "disappears" American
citizens into military jails and doesn't permit them any contact with the
outside world, that flies suspects in its care to secret prisons abroad
and "renders" others to countries that use even more extreme torture
measures, that passes laws permitting police agents to "sneak and peek"
into citizens' homes, phone records, computer databases, library requests,
e-mails and medical records without permission or even informing those
whose privacy had been violated, that neuters the Congress by saying it
will listen to "suggestions" but that the ultimate decisions are to be
made by the Chief Executive, that emasculates the political opposition in
Congress by cutting them out of the key decision-making processes, that
declares the president has the right to violate the law whenever he so
chooses and Congress and the courts have no role to play in reining in
that power-grab, that keeps America on a permanent war footing in a
never-ending battle against a tactic (terrorism), and on and on.
Even though much of the above transpired in secret and is only now being
revealed, not all of this desecration of the American ideal happened
overnight. As in Germany in the 1930s, the extremists placed in charge of
the government said one thing in public and did another in private, slowly
slicing away at rights of the citizenry, to avoid triggering a popular
THE SLICING MACHINE
In the beginning of their rule, the Nazis would announce restrictive
policies aimed at marginalized citizens (the mentally handicapped, for
example), and if no great uproar of objection came from any power centers
such as the churches or hospitals or political parties, the Nazis would
proceed to the next slice aimed, say, at Communists or homosexuals or Jews
or Gypsies. All of these moves were carefully couched in terms of saving
the "national security" of the Reich or purging the country of
"non-productive" or "destructive/dangerous" elements in society. The Nazi
propaganda machine was clever, intense and all-pervasive, using the Big
Lie technique masterfully -- endlessly repeating its falsehoods until the
drummed-upon populace came to accept them as truths.
Many ordinary "good Germans" and moral arbiters went along with these
violations of civil rights and liberties either because they inwardly
agreed with the propagandists or because they were afraid to disagree in
public. Those few leaders in academia, the church and the press who
courageously or even tentatively demurred or asked too many questions
tended to be punished -- demoted, fired, their honors revoked, etc. -- and
so more and more citizens got the message to "watch what you say." The
Nazi juggernaut pushed on, widening its list of what was forbidden,
issuing harsher and harsher edicts, and treating any dissidents roughly.
Hitler, leader of the rabidly rightwing Nazi party, was installed as
Chancellor in 1933, even though his party was not in the majority, in the
hope that he could bring some order and stability to a society still
reeling from the horrendous economic/social Great Depression that had
devastated the country during the '20s and early-'30s. Given the reins of
power, Hitler felt free to unleash policies that most citizens earlier had
rejected as way too extreme. He had written about them in his book "Mein
Kampf," but many thought he would modify his demented views once he was
inside the establishment corridors.
The "Enabling Act" that gave Hitler total control of the organs of power
in Germany was passed in 1933, following the burning of the German
Reichstag (Parliament), an arson that was blamed on Communist
"terrorists." Hitler "temporarily" suspended civil liberties during this
"national emergency," which of course never ended. Hitler lied to the
Reichstag about his true intentions in order to obtain approval of the
Enabling Act. Shortly after its passage, Hitler began rounding up tens of
thousands of political enemies and sending them to concentration camps.
Democracy was dead in Hitler's Germany.
The corporate titans, seeing that there might be profit to be gained from
Nazi economic and military policies, supported Hitler's rise and rule;
those who had objections to what he was doing thought they could tame his
passions through their immense influence. But slowly, and then quickly,
the Nazis took over one institution after another; totalitariansim was in
full force. To stamp out any hint of dissent, all citizens were to spy on
each other --"each one of us the Gestapo of the others," to use Sebastian
Haffner's scary phrase -- and the security forces arrested and tortured at
will. (To learn more from Haffner's contemporaneous account, see
##"Germany in 1933: The Easy Slide Into Fascism"). (
Arming itself to the teeth, Hitler's military forces carried out
lighting-quick wars of conquest ("Blitzkrieg") on weaker nations and the
fascist German empire spread over Europe and, in alliance with Japan, in
Asia as well. More than 40 million human beings would die in the resulting
World War II. Hitler's arrogant belief in his own intuition and
infallibility led to his downfall, as, against all common sense and advice
and military history, he invaded the Soviet Union and wound up in a
destructive quagmire of the worst sort.
THE PARALLEL UNIVERSE
Again, what follows here is not to allege one-for-one comparisons to
Nazism, but to note certain parallel events and tactics that require
special consideration if we are to avoid imitating disastrous history even
In our time, a Leader (who, we later learned, probably lost the 2000
election) was installed in the White House by a far-right majority faction
of the Supreme Court. The HardRight had been laying plans for a
restoration of Republican rule after Clinton won re-election; first they
made sure Clinton would be unable to concentrate on his political agenda
by constant iterations of supposed scandals that, as various probes
demonstrated, revealed no illegality. When Clinton handed the Republicans
an opening by engaging in a sexual dalliance in the White House, they
engineered an impeachment and trial by the Senate; it didn't really matter
that Clinton was not convicted, as the requisite damage had been done,
with a side benefit -- his Vice President and presumable successor, Al
Gore, was tainted by being close to Clinton and thus weakened politically.
The point of all this is that the HardRight restoration forces were
planning for a Bush administration far in advance of the actual 2000
election. There was no one person's "Mein Kampf," but other writings had
laid out in stark terms what this neo-conservative cabal had in mind for
the country's foreign/military policy should they return to power,
especially in the reports of The Project for The New American Century:
"pre-emptive" wars of conquest, permitting no rivals for influence,
control of energy sources, etc. (See ##"How We Got Into This Imperial
Pickle: A PNAC Primer", ( www.crisispapers.org/Editorials/PNAC-Primer.htm
) where PNAC lays out the sole-Superpower strategy for achieving
"benevolent hegemony" around the globe.)
Some of that planning included an invasion of Iraq. Even though Cheney
still won't reveal which oil executives were part of his secret energy
task-force, we do know that at least part of that panel's meetings in
early 2001 involved the question of Iraq,
discussion and a map of which companies might get exploration blocks
after Saddam was removed from power. Further, former Treasury Secretary
Paul O'Neill revealed how astonished he was that at the first meetings of
the Bush Cabinet in early-2001, much time was spent on the need to invade
The terror attacks of 9/11/2001 served as the equivalent of the "Reichstag
Fire" -- or, seen another way, as a "new Pearl Harbor," the phrase lifted
2000 PNAC document. The Bush Administration's "Enabling Act" came in
several key bills passed by Congress: the unread and barely-debated
Patriot Act, which gave virtually unlimited police powers to the
government in rooting out "terrorism," and the Authorization for the Use
of Military Force (AUMF), written so broadly as to give the "commander in
chief" authority to take whatever unspecified actions he considered
necessary against those responsible for 9/11. Attorney General Gonzales
recently claimed that the AUMF, in conjunction with Article 2 of the
Constitution, permits Bush to authorize both the torture of prisoners and
spying on American citizens, without the need to seek any court warrants,
thus over-riding the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act that states in no uncertain terms that ALL such
eavesdropping requires court permission.
REINING IN DISSENTERS & THE INTERNET
Even though the mainstream, corporate-owned media by and large does the
bidding of the Bush Administration, ignoring and playing down bad news and
hyping the Administration's spin points, full control of the mass media is
still not complete -- even with the Bush Administration spending
$1.6 billion tax dollars
last year on its own public-relations spin. The few insurgent media
outlets and reporters, and the unruly analysts on the internet, are still
to be dealt with. (FEMA has contracted with Halliburton and others to
build several hundred detention camps around the country, ostensibly to
house illegal immigrants but easily convertible for malcontents of one
sort or another. See Maureen Farrell's
Likewise, the Judiciary. Bush&Co. have placed nearly two hundred of its
HardRight jurists on the federal appeals courts, and got its new
Federalist Society justices onto the Supreme Court -- presumably tipping
the balance in favor of more rightwing decisions -- but more work needs to
be done to lock down total control of the Judiciary.
The democratic institutions that possibly could still backfire on the Bush
agenda are approaching terminal weakness: the Republican-controlled
Congress has become a rubber-stamp appendage of Karl Rove's political
office; the Democrats are essentially marginalized with no real power
except to whine and complain and embarrass.
Plus, and most importantly, election votes are counted by the same
GOP-friendly corporations that controlled (and appear to have manipulated)
the vote-tabulations in 2002 and 2004, that manufacture the
computer-voting machines, and that own the secret, proprietary software.
The one dangerous element that cannot be fully controlled are the human
beings who are the public face of the HardRight elite. Bush is a simpleton
who often says more than he should, giving away the game; Cheney is a
callous Rasputin whose penchant for secrecy and power-lust as he runs the
government constantly gets the group into hot water; Rumsfeld is a
media-savvy incompetent whose dirty fingerprints are all over the Iraq
disaster and the torture scandal; Rove, a brilliant dirty-pool tactician
(his grandfather reportedly was an active Nazi Party supporter in
Germany), is likely to be indicted in the Plamegate scandal. Others
Administration heavies, such as Condoleezza Rice and Alberto Gonzales are
little more than toadies for the big boys.
WE'VE BEEN WARNED
So, let's see: a Supreme Leader who has taken his country into blitzkrieg
("shock & awe") attacks on foreign nations, bogging down in an ill-advised
invasion quagmire in Iraq; who has traded historic civil rights and
liberties for defense of the fatherland; who has destroyed or rendered
toothless his nominal opposition party; who has wrapped himself in the
flag and questioned the patriotism of those who raise questions about his
policies; who has engaged in a Big Lie propaganda strategy to move his
agenda; who has demonized internal enemies; who violates the law to get
what he wants and claims that he serves a higher power in doing so; who
has marginalized the other two branches of government; who effectively
controls the voting process; and so on.
What's scary is that it didn't take much verbal stretching to come up with
those parallels, even admitting that life in Bush's U.S.A., however
comparable in many areas, can scarcely be equated to life in Hitler's
Even so, history has presented its warnings to us. Will we understand and
act in time to return our country to a more moderate balancing point, thus
making us better protected in terms of national security? It's up to each
This bungling Bush crew seems to have a reverse Midas touch; virtually
everything they touch turns not to gold but to foul-smelling waste matter.
They are so out of touch with the American mainstream that they've brought
their own poll numbers down into the 30s, and key Republicans in
self-defense are racing to separate themselves from BushCheney before the
November elections. Bush&Co. may be reckless bumblers, endangering
America's national security and economy and environment, but they still
wield the levers of power and they're not about to give them up; indeed,
it appears they are willing to take us all down with them as they fall.
That's our challenge, to get rid of them as quickly as possible -- by
agitating for impeachment hearings now, or moving for impeachment and a
Senate trial after taking back the House in November -- and help bring
America out from its current dark cave to the bright light of hope and
civility and reality-based governance.
Pushing 'Em Off the Precipice of Power
By Bernard Weiner
February 15, 2006
The Bush Administration these days is like a sickly iceberg. The inside
structures are weakened by moral rot, and the outside walls are thinning
because of the heat they're taking. As the Bush iceberg suffers yet
another scandal and embarrassing revelation, every so often another huge
chunk breaks off and crashes into the political sea.
In short, the once-solid Republican iceberg is melting and falling apart.
Polls are showing Bush sinking lower and lower in national approval
ratings. CIA insiders are revealing yet more
embarrassing details about Bush&Co.'s pre-war fiddling with the truth.
GOP senators are joining Democrats opposing Bush's attempt to rob them of
their co-equal power in our checks-and-balances system of government. More
evidence is surfacing of how the White House knew immediately what was
going down in
post-Katrina New Orleans, but did nothing and thousands died or barely
escaped. The Abramoff influence-peddling and bribery scandals are getting
closer and closer to the Oval Office. More lies and deceptions are being
revealed here and in England about how Bush and Cheney raced to war with
Iraq; Rove (and
perhaps Cheney) are closer to being fully unmasked by Patrick
Fitzgerald's special-counsel probes. More statistical and other evidence
is coming to light about
fraud in key states, and on and on.
The question is no longer whether the Bush Administration will implode and
be forced to disappear before 2008, but when. By their unconscionable
actions and thorough-going incompetence, they find themselves perched ever
so perilously on a political cliff; our job is to build enough united
oppositional force to help them over the edge.
A TRUE OPPOSITION PARTY
To accomplish this task, the Democrats, of course, need to gather strength
and remain united against Bush's atrocious policies and misbehaviors -- in
short, behaving as a true Opposition Party should. But it's clear that the
strongest impetus for impeachment or resignation must come from the
Republicans. More and more of them are beginning to see the handwriting on
the wall: Not only is the Bush Administration endangering the United
States with its policies and corruptions, but, perhaps more importantly
for them, their re-election chances are badly damaged by being associated
with these incompetent, reckless, arrogant extremists -- and, this time
out, they may not be confident that they can count on, or get away with,
any fiddling with the vote-tabulations.
Major conservative media, legislative and business leaders -- some of whom
are beginning to make noises along these lines -- may well decide to cut
their losses by urging Bush and Cheney to resign. Or, prior to November,
they may start leaning toward impeachment hearings, along with their
Sure, what I'm speculating about may not take place, at least not as
quickly as my scenario imagines. There are so many perks associated with
being the majority party in Congress in league with an Administration of
the same party. It wouldn't be easy to give that up. But, by the same
token, wanting to stay in power may provide more incentive for
Congressional Republicans to get the Bush/Cheney albatross from around
FLYING ON FUMES
Were it not so tragic, it would be almost pitiable to watch Bush&Co.
flailing these days, trying anything to bring those poll numbers back up.
But, the truth is, their political larder is virtually bare. Whatever
political capital they once had has long been spent; they're running on
credit (and anxiety) now. Or, put another way, they're flying on political
And so, they're hauling out the only thing that has worked for them for
the past five years: fear. It's not called that, of course (it goes by the
names of "national security" and "war on terrorism"), but we all know
that's what it is. Their aim is to frighten just enough American citizens
to eke out a "victory" in November -- as they claimed to have done in 2000
and 2004, ignoring the likelihood of electoral fraud. If they can pull
another electoral rabbit out of the hat, they will feel politically secure
for the final two years of Bush's term, and somewhat insulated from the
possibility of being held accountable for their sins of commission and
omission, especially through the impeachment process.
The NSA domestic-spying scandal is one case in point. It seems clear, just
judging from the ferocity of their determination not to let anyone know
the actual dimensions of what they've been up to for four years, that they
are concealing something truly monstrous and dangerous to their continued
WHAT THEY COULD BE HIDING
Since al-Qaida terrorists long ago figured out they'd better stop using
telephones and emails, that "something" may well have to do with illegally
surveilling and monitoring the communications of countless thousands of
American citizens, many of whom oppose aspects of Bush's program and
policies, perhaps including key Democratic leaders. Such blatantly illegal
behavior doomed Nixon's presidency, and if my suppositions are correct,
could take down Bush's administration as well. (You may remember that the
Supreme Court blasted apart Nixon's assertion that actions taken by the
President ipso facto are always legal.)
Even though the Bush Bunker crew is greatly weakened and harassed, they
still control the organs of authority in this country -- with most of the
corporate-owned mass-media still doing their bidding -- and they seem
willing to do whatever is required to keep themselves in power. Cornered
beasts are at their most dangerous in such trapped circumstances.
To save themselves, they are not averse to pushing the country into a
constitutional crisis -- with their discredited theory that the president,
when acting in his capacity as "commander in chief," can violate whatever
laws he wants, without the Legislative and Judicial branches of government
being permitted to question such authoritarian behavior. And now, in
cahoots with their Mideast ally Israel, the Busheviks are moving to attack
at least one more country, probably air-dropped bombs and missiles aimed
at damaging Iran's fledgling nuclear facilities, thus setting back their
atomic program at least a decade. (Don't forget that in 1981 Israel bombed
Iraq's nascent nuclear program, effectively shutting it down for decades.)
REPEATING MISTAKES WITH IRAN
The scenario that got the U.S. bogged down in Iraq is likely to be
repeated here. Iran, ruled by an isolated, arrogant president, is not now
even close to being an imminent threat; experts agree that it would take
Iran a minimum of three to five years to achieve nuclear-threat
capability. And, even if one were to agree that Iran had to be confronted,
there is plenty of time for diplomacy and threats of sanctions to work
and/or to organize the world community if and when such a threat does get
closer to military reality. But the Bush Administration, despite the fact
that U.S. troops are stretched to the breaking point in Iraq and
Afghanistan, seems determined to act unilaterally anyway, perhaps using
Israel as its proxy. We are the one remaining Superpower, get out of our
And, as in Iraq, Bush&Co. seems unconcerned about the short-term and
long-term consequences of such an attack. For example, the neo-cons in
control of the Administration's foreign and military policy seem to
believe, as they did when planning the war on Iraq, that the local
population will support such a move and maybe even try to overthrow the
ruling mullahs. The more likely prospect is a united front of Iranians
against the attacking "infidels" and "imperialists." Nor have the
Busheviks taken into account Muslim sensibilities around the world, or the
law of unintended consequences after an attack is launched on another
Islamic state. The likely result might be Iran's refusal (perhaps joined
by other Muslim countries as well) to sell oil to the U.S., which could
cause incalculable chaos in America and trigger economic depression in the
West in general.
But the Bush Administration is fixated on Iran. With its hardened military
bases next door in Iraq, and Iran (or any other nation) unable to prevent
a massive onslaught from the air, the Busheviks feel the time is right.
And it just so happens that such an attack -- pure "coincidence," of
course -- will precede a midterm election in the United States. "Don't
change horses in the middle of a war" will be the GOP meme; rally 'round
the flag, boys.
Some posit that so desperate are the Bush forces to regain the support of
the American population that there might be another claimed domestic
"terrorist attack" in the works that the Bush folks will tell us they
nipped in the bud before it happened, much like their unverified claim
that they supposedly broke up a terrorist plot in Los Angeles years ago.
Or conceivably, that they will choose to look the other way again, similar
to their pre-9/11 behavior, and allow such a terrorist incident to happen,
to hype the fear factor.
In short, friends, even or especially in this period when Bush&Co. are
taking blow after blow to the body and head, I'm scared. Both because of
what Karl Rove might have in store for us in the near-term but, in case
his tactics were to work, also at what lies ahead for America in the
long-term. Whatever it is, it ain't going to be pretty.
OUR JOB IN THE OPPOSITION
So what do we do while the White House crew grows increasingly more
self-destructive? Stand aside and let them and their GOP cronies destroy
themselves, and take the economy and political system down with them?
Imitate their smash-mouth politics and cut-throat tactics?
Neither approach would seem to be the answer, though the Democrats
definitely need to hone their street-smarts and learn how to fight back
consistently and aggressively. They could learn a tactical lesson from
Rove: Go after your opponents where they are strongest -- here the
Republicans on "national security." Americans shouldn't even listen to
Cheney, for example, a Vice President who engineered the outing of a
covert CIA agent working on discovering the true nature of Iran's
nuclear-weapons program. Bush&Co. are dire threats to America's national
Our job, it seems to me, is clear. We need to do everything within our
power to create a reconstituted "Movement" and an effective opposition
party to forcefully (often with creative humor) counter the Bush&Co.
machine, a Movement with a built-in set of moral principles and a clear,
practical policy agenda. Doing so might well draw into the impeachment
movement more moderate Republicans, independents, Libertarians, anti-Big
Brother activists and the like.
While we're building the grassroots opposition and launching our creative
campaign to educate the populace, we must simultaneously aim toward taking
at least one of the Houses of Congress away from the GOP toadies who
provide the legislative shock troops for Bush&Co. That means supporting
courageous progressive candidates in the primaries and, if they don't win,
voting for anyone who is not Republican, even if they don't line up fully
with our progressive agenda.
The aim, the only aim, is to break the lock Bush&Co. have on virtually all
the levers of power in this country. Removing GOP control of the House,
for example, would have the practical effect of giving the Democrats
subpoena power to force the appearance of Administration witnesses under
oath, to obtain documents, to prepare impeachment charges, etc.
Finally, our job is to agitate for and publicize the need for honest,
transparent election processes; we may have to take election officials to
court in state after state. We cannot permit the continued outsourcing of
election vote-tabulation to private corporations who are ideological
bedfellows with Bush&Co., and who, it has been demonstrated time and time
again, easily can (and probably did) manipulate the computer tallies
without anyone being the wiser. No more election fraud, no more dirty
tricks at the polls, no more secret vote-tabulations by HardRight
corporations. America had enough of all that and wants to feel secure that
their votes are counted honesty and correctly.
If we can mobilize the electorate so as to generate huge leads in the
pre-election polls, and if we can restore exit-polling to its rightful
place in the process, ballot-counting manipulation probably can be spotted
easily and thus kept to a minimum. We must activate our energies and
prepare the table for a Republican defeat of huge, super-majority
proportions in November.
But unless we can ensure honest balloting procedures, and non-corrupted
vote-counting, our votes will count for nought; there will be no social
progress and our country will move even further into becoming a
militarized, one-party, neo-fascist state. That's it in a nutshell. And
that's what must motivate our Movement to help return us to an America of
which we all can be proud.
Bush Takes Heat on Oprah's Couch
By Bernard Weiner
February 9, 2006
Oprah: We're back with President Bush. Recently, you may
remember, author James Frey sat here with me and admitted that he
told lies in his so-called "memoir." I asked him to come back on
the show because I had supported him initially, telling everyone
to read his book, and felt that he had betrayed me, the reading
public, and literature itself.
Bush: Yes, that was a bad thing Mr. Frey did, fudging like that,
and the market will decide what his punishment will be. But the
real reason I agreed to come on your show, Oprah, was to talk
about my optimistic outlook for America and the new optimistic
initiatives I announced that should make our citizens feel good
and optimistic about the future, both domestically and abroad. I'm
an optimist, you know.
Oprah: Yes, I fully understand that we have a Congressional
election coming up in November, but I have some questions I'd like
to discuss with you first, and perhaps members of the audience do
Bush: (apparently listening to earpiece) Uh, Oprah, those weren't
the ground-rules worked out for my appearance here. The President
of the United States decides the agenda, and your people signed
off on that. We began the show in that spirit, so let us continue.
Oprah: I'm sure we'll get to the talking-points you want to
discuss, Mr. President, but let's do it in the context of an
authentic discussion between you and me sitting on a couch. I'm
sure you don't want to just get up and walk out on a show that
daily reaches many millions of viewers, each a potential voter.
How about it?
AS LONG AS THEY DON'T ENCROACH ON ANYTHING
Bush: [listening attentively to earpiece] We will talk first about
the issues raised in my State of the Union speech and then, if we
have time, I will respond to your questions -- as long as they
don't encroach upon presidential prerogatives, classified topics,
personal matters, or national security.
Oprah: In other words, anything you don't want to talk about.
You do realize that this is my show, Mr. President, and it became
so popular largely because of the intimate conversations, real
conversations, that take place on this sofa.
Bush: You do realize that this is my country, Oprah, and I could
have you arrested -- ha, ha, just kidding around. [nervous
reaction in audience]
Oprah: I've always loved your self-deprecating humor, Mr.
President. OK, let's start with some discussion about your State
of the Union speech.
Bush: Good. Yes. That's where I want to go. In that speech, I told
the American people that we are addicted to oil in this country
and we've got to break that habit. I promised that our program
would reduce oil consumption from the Middle East by 75% in the
next 20 years.
PLANS TO HAVE PLANS
Oprah: Announcing a major decision like that sure sounded good,
Mr. President, but we learned two things immediately afterwards.
First, your spokesmen had to recast what you said, since it wasn't
true; instead, we were told, your numbers were to be regarded as a
"metaphor." And, second, you have no policies that can help us
break our oil habit -- not even raising the miles-per-gallon
standard on vehicles.
Bush: [listening to earpiece] Everything changed on 9/11. The
terrorists hate us for our freedoms, you know, and would love to
get Americans arguing with each other. There is responsible
criticism of our policies and there is irresponsible criticism,
which weakens America's resolve and creates doubt in the public
mind. I hope you hear what I'm saying, Oprah. For national
security reasons, I can't tell you all that I know about our oil
policy. But one thing I can say is that we need to get unaddicted
to the stuff and we have plans for doing that.
Oprah: Your administration -- which is intimately tied to the
oil and energy industries -- keeps saying that you have plans for
oil-use reductions, but they are never presented. You've been
saying for three years that you have plans for victory in Iraq as
well, so that our troops can come home, but no such plans are ever
presented. Excuse me, sir, but the clear impression one gets from
listening to your administration is that you say things that you
know Americans want to hear but there's no follow-up to get us to
the goal. Maybe your polls are so low because the American people
realize how much public-relations spin is substituting for real
policies, both here and in Iraq.
Bush: Iraq. Yes, I was sure that you'd bring that up. You say we
have no plans. But we are fighting the terrorists over there so we
won't have to fight them over here. 9/11 changed everything. Iraq
has become the frontline of the war on terrorism. We --
A VIETNAM QUAGMIRE
Oprah: With all due respect, sir, there were no al-Qaida
terrorists in Iraq before the U.S. invaded. And, in any case, as
your own military has noted, the great majority of the insurgents
in Iraq are Iraqis, struggling to throw the occupiers out of their
country. What your polices have done, reminiscent of the U.S. in
Vietnam decades ago, is to create huge problems where only minor
ones existed -- with the open-ended nature of this war costing us
hundreds of billions of dollars, money that could be spent more
wisely on our own people here at home. And the worst part is that
you got us into Iraq by deceiving us here in this country.
Bush: We used the best intelligence we had at the time, everyone
believed it; it just hasn't worked as easily as we thought it
would. But we're making good progress, the Iraqis are being
trained to defend their own country, the terrorists are desperate
and running out of steam. Pay attention to all these positive,
optimistic developments and don't give aid and comfort to the
enemy by always talking about the negatives.
Oprah: Not everyone was taken in by those deceptions at the
time; arms experts, 10 million people marching in the streets
worldwide -- they weren't fooled. But are you really saying it is
unpatriotic, tantamount to treason -- you just used the term
giving "aid and comfort to the enemy" -- to point out things that
are going wrong in Iraq and elsewhere?
ONLY RESPONSIBLE CRITICISM IS PERMITTED
Bush: Of course not. Debate is an important part of our
free-speech tradition in this country, what we fight for. But
there is responsible debate and irresponsible debate; we hope and
expect that our critics will forsake irresponsible debate by --
Oprah: By not saying anything really negative about your
Bush: By not saying anything that could weaken our defenses and
give our enemy the feeling that he can win because some American
citizens are tearing down the president and his policies. They are free to speak their minds -- that's what makes our
country great -- but they must watch what they say and how they
say it, and not go blaring their objections around the internet
and press where someone might hear it and act on it.
Oprah: I wonder if you're referring to foreign terrorists or
your domestic critics, Mr. President. But let's move on. In your
State of the Union speech, you said that "hindsight" about how we
got into Iraq is to be avoided; we're there, you said, and let's
deal with the situation as it exists now.
Bush: Yes, the blame game is a waste of energy. It doesn't really
matter if possible mistakes might, in some instances, have been
made. We need to --
Oprah: But avoiding the assignment of "blame" means that nobody is
accountable for anything that goes wrong there. Tens of thousands
of Americans and Iraqis have been, and are continuing to be,
killed or maimed because of those "possible mistakes" that "may
have been" made by some nameless force that's prone to error. One
definition of sanity is to stop doing something that constantly
causes you and others great pain. Admit your mistake, correct it
as best as you can, apologize and move on. Why can't America do
that in Iraq? Why can't YOU do that in Iraq. There were no WMD to
be found there, there was no connection to 9/11, there was no
relationship to al-Qaida at that point, there was no nuclear
program, there was nothing but a contained country, run by a
brutal beast, with ambitions but no real means of doing much
damage outside his borders. Didn't you deceive the country to take
us into that war?
"THE PRESIDENT TOLD THE TRUTH"
Bush: Would you like to also ask if I've stopped beating my wife?
Ha, ha -- another joke there. But you've accused me of a great
many sins in one question, Oprah. First, the President of the
United States does not lie to the American people. He told the
truth, as he knew it at the time. We believed, on the basis of the
best intelligence that we could find, that Saddam had all these
dangerous weapons, or would soon have them, and we, the world
community, had to do something to stop his aggressive plans. We
gave him every opportunity to come clean about his weapons
programs, but he didn't, so we, as the leader of the free world,
organized a coalition to remove him and destroy his WMD weapons
arsenal. We --
Oprah: But he had NO extraordinary weapons arsenal; he did have
a lot of conventional weaponry, which, because the U.S. military
never secured the ammo dumps and arsenals, is now being used to
build bombs that are blowing up American soldiers. Plus, he did
let the U.N. arms inspectors back in and their preliminary reports
were that there were no WMD -- nevertheless, at that point you
began the war. Reflecting on how we got into this mess might help
us get out, and might help us prevent another such war in the
Middle East. I'm talking about Iran.
Bush: Bad man in charge. Dangerous. He's rushing to get nuclear
weapons capability. The fundamentalist mullahs oppress the people.
The international community can't let this situation deteriorate.
THE COMING ATTACK ON IRAN
Oprah: There are reliable rumors floating that the U.S. and our
ally Israel will attack Iran's nuclear facilities sometime this
spring, maybe even next month. Can you comment?
Bush: All options are on the table. Iran must abandon its nuclear
ambitions so as not to destabilize the region.
Oprah: But both the U.S. and Israel have nuclear weapons in the
region. Are you suggesting that there be nuclear disarmament for
all countries in the Middle East?
Bush: If the United Nations Security Council determines that Iran
is creating an explosive situation in the region, action will have
to be taken. I'd prefer that to be diplomatic action, but all
options are on the table.
Oprah: That kind of talk sounds suspiciously similar to what
you said before invading Iraq three years ago. And most Americans
believe you deceived us into that war. Even if Iran is as
dangerous as you say -- and most experts believe Iran is at least
3 to 5 years away from developing a nuclear weapon -- why should
anyone believe what you say now about them when you fed us lies
about Iraq then?
ROILING SCANDALS AND IMPEACHMENT
Bush: That kind of question is what I'm talking about, giving
comfort to our enemies abroad by liberal attacks such as yours on
the president and his policies. Let's move on.
Oprah: Our audience will make up their own minds about no
answer being provided. But, yes, we will move on. Next question:
If your chief advisor Karl Rove is indicted in the Plamegate case
(with Vice President Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby already
indicted), and if the Abramoff scandal leads back into the White
House, and if the NSA tapping American citizens' phone calls and
emails without authorized court warrants is determined by the
courts to be illegal -- if all this happens, would you object to
the naming of a Special Prosecutor? Don't you think the American
people deserve to find out what happened, who was involved in the
scandals themselves, and who participated in the coverups that
Bush: None of what you're suggesting will happen, because there's
nothing there to find. No proof whatsoever. Besides, the Justice
Department is perfectly capable of doing investigations.
Oprah: But Justice is headed by your longtime friend Alberto
Gonzales, the same person who made up legal rationales permitting
the U.S. government to torture prisoners and for you being able to
violate the law whenever you, as "commander in chief," decide it's
necessary, with no checks on that power by the legislature or the
courts. There's an obvious conflict of interest there -- Gonzales
himself eventually could be a target as well -- so why not a
Special Prosecutor? And, if an investigation reveals that you and
Mr. Cheney might have been involved in any or all of these
scandals, will you cooperate with a House impeachment panel? Would
you consider resigning, to save the country the trauma of yet
another impeachment of a president?
Bush: I warned you that these types of questions were out of
bounds. You are providing our enemies -- they hate us for our
freedoms, you know -- with ammunition to harm the United States.
Everything changed with 9/11, and you liberals haven't woken up to
that fact. This interview is over. [He removes microphone from his
jacket and walks off the set, to stunned silence, and then some
loud boos, from the audience.]
Copyright 2006 by
The views expressed are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Bush Watch.
previous essays by...BERNARD WEINER
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