|Apr/May 2003 • Miscellaneous|
On the morning after the tragedy in New York, the Bush Administration announced, "You are either for us or against us." As of 20 February 2003, the world is proving to be very much against George W. Bush and the direction he has taken the USA since taking office two years ago. As I write this, Bush is desperately seeking allies to help him in the United Nations Security Council. But I predict he will fail, because he hasn't got a real case, and the USA exhibits exactly the type of behavior that makes it such a tempting target for the outraged terrorist. The Bush Administration is guilty of the persistent jingoist attitude that the USA has a monopoly on moral uprightness and democracy, and couples this attitude with what it sees as a right and a duty to push its system and beliefs on the rest of the earth, and that it can do so by any means necessary. I wonder how they can justify trying to push what they see as good for the USA as good for the world as a whole, and yet they are most guilty of this conceit, of trying to "make the world safe for democracy."
One of the things that aggravates me most about the Bush administration, and the leadership of the USA in general, is the willingness of these leaders to always try to get a better bargain than the rest of the world gets, to exempt themselves from treaties because they don't suit American interests as closely as they would like. I mean here the Kyoto Accords on Global Warming, the International Ban on Land Mines, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the UN agreement to curb the international flow of illicit small arms, the UN conference on racism. Many of these agreements were signed by this country and reneging on them is acting in bad faith with regard to the international community. Would you trust a person who continually promises to behave and then doesn't? Who constantly makes excuses for why they should be allowed to break the rules, to not live up to the same standards as others? The USA acts like this, even though (or because) it has more means to live up to the standards than any of its neighbors. The Bush administration appears to be the most unilateral, self-satisfied and power-flexing government that the United States has ever known. They have no care what the rest of the world thinks about anything, and they expect the rest of the world to either join in with their policies or get out of the way. This is the behavior of dangerous madmen.
I would also point out that Bush is determined to drill in the unspoiled Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), a beautiful tundra ecosystem that is worth more by far as a place of natural beauty and habitat than the oil that lies beneath it. Unspoiled is an adjective that can only be used to describe ANWR as it exists today. Along similar lines, today it was announced that the Bush administration will allow snowmobiles back into Yellowstone National Park, even though millions of dollars have been spent by both his and the Clinton Administration on two separate Environmental Impact Statements, both of which concluded the same thing, that snowmobile traffic was unnecessary, and harmful to the Park, and both reports advised against permitting snowmobiles in the Park.
It is this purposeful disregard for facts and science, a seeming inability to live in reality, which makes me wonder what dementia this man has. It strikes me that by his inability to accept the terms of prior agreements, his inability to build a bridge to connect with those whose opinions differ with his own, his inability to master the part of partnership-building that calls for making sacrifices, this man fails as a human, as a leader, as a President. His administration is not content to break covenants with other nations, however. It actually feels the need to break the covenant of the Rights of Men, the rights spelled out in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights: the Right of Free Speech and Assembly, the Right to Know who your accusers are, to legal representation, the right to a prompt and fair trial by one's peers, the right to not be subject to improper search and seizure, your right to privacy. The Patriot Act has weakened many of the Basic Rights on which this country was built. There is talk of a second Patriot Act to strengthen the first one and deprive citizens of the USA of more of their rights and protections from their government. If John Ashcroft had everything his way, I think we'd be living under Martial Law. And to add insult to injury, now Bush wants to push through a $360 billion tax cut that is both bad for the economy and 40% of which benefits the top 1% of all taxpayers. Just to boil that down that's like $144 billion dollars that will go to the top 1% of taxpayers in the country. Based on a population of 290 Million people, that would be $50000 per person to the richest 3 Million people in the country. And it won't help the economy one bit, according to Alan Greenspan.
With a Code Orange Terrorism Alert by which the government seems to say be afraid, the need to buy duct tape and put together an emergency kit, with the always impending War with Iraq that it seems will never have any support from US allies other than Britain, Australia, Spain, and Japan, with the so many normal people so opposed to this war, with the increased inspection when boarding planes, and boats, it's beginning to feel more like a martial law state, or at minimum like the Cold War days of drilling people to hide under their desks in case of a nuclear bomb. Flat out, I am ready to get over the September 11, 2001 bombings. I am ready to live my life normally. Terror is the fate of a country that acts like this one has in many of its foreign affairs. The US government should quit trying to cheat the world and get away with it. Either lead honorably in world affairs, or quit meddling in concerns you are incapable of making better. I am not so naive to think that this nation didn't have some terror coming its way for what it has done to the world. I am not saying that the people who died in New York and Washington DC in any way deserved what happened to them. I am saying that the US government's actions historically have made it enemies abroad, and that the government was not innocent. Those people paid the price for the failures of American foreign policy. I believe you have to see it that way. If you want to blame some one, you can blame the terrorists who live in caves and you can blame the terrorists who work in the CIA and other governmental agencies in the greater Washington DC area, because both have played their role. The world is much more complicated than Good Guys and Bad Guys, than "You are either for us or against us." As for me, I am for us, the people; and against us, the government.
Based on the direction that Bush is going, the isolationism, the posturing, the unilateralism, the complete disregard for well-informed dissent, the weakening of civil rights, etc., I am forced to conclude that the United States resembles the Germany of the early days of Adolph Hitler, more so than it ever has before. Never mind the fact that people who have met him say he is a charismatic enough guy, I can't believe he is enough of a man to achieve the Great Man stature of a Hitler or Stalin, but you never know. Maybe we'll all have to salute the terrible W someday. The way that Muslim Americans and their families have been treated by the US government over the last 18 months has been similar to the detention of the Jews. They have been rounding them up, taking names, keeping lists. I realize that the US response to the tragedy in New York requires investigation, but this zealousness for justice is also an injustice to many innocent people whose only crime is having come from a Muslim nation at one point in their lives. The real tragedy of this is that while most of the perpetrators of the tragedy in New York City were Saudi-born, a very small percentage of those detained in the aftermath were of Saudi Arabian descent. They were predominantly non-Saudi. Why? Because the administration does not have the guts to stand up to Saudi Arabia. No government of the USA has had the guts to stand up to the Saudi Arabian Royal Family, ever. You can't shake a stick at the power that controls Mecca without becoming the enemy of the entire Islamic world. Nor can you ally yourself with them when they are a reactionary force in the Islamic world either. Nor can you round up Saudi's in the streets of the USA and not have oil prices go up. Or so it would all seem. Look, I'm not against the Saudis living in the USA, just the government's treatment of non-Saudi Muslims. My Moroccan friend's brother was given a choice by the Immigration & Nationalization Service (INS): accept deportation or be held, tried, and deported for the minor violation of not providing obligatory address change information. He wasn't a terrorist; INS claimed that hadn't updated his address the last time he moved. The man had a receipt that he had in fact notified INS within the allowed timeframe. But they would make things very difficult for him and his family if he didn't leave the country. Why, if INS thought he was a terrorist, would they let him leave? And if he wasn't a terrorist, why were they bothering him? The only answer that makes sense is that he was profiled. My friend says that if Ashcroft and company thought they could get a way with internment camps, they would be setting them up and putting suspected Muslims there.
When I was in high school, I read a book that warned freedom-loving people how to know when fascism was knocking at their door. It begins by things like the Patriot Act. Taking away a few rights at a time for limited numbers of the population. People wave the flag more. If you don't wave the flag, you're not as good a citizen as one who does. I can't stand all of the "Proud to be an American" bumper stickers on all of the gas-guzzling vehicles that significantly raise the average US citizen's dependence on Middle Eastern oil. They might as well say "Proud to be Dependent on Foreign Oil." "Proud to be one of the 25% consuming 75% of everything." "Proud to be Rich in a Poor World." I was born and raised in this country. I was brainwashed to believe that this country was the best on Earth, that the USA could do no wrong in foreign affairs, that we were the Statue of Liberty, the torchbearer for all that is good in human affairs. In the course of human events, we have failed to live up to that promise. We fail everyday. I can tell that this President either has never had this romantic ideal of the USA dispelled (which I believe is the case, because I think he is not savvy enough for the other option), or has and plays to his constituency who still believe the Pledge of Allegiance nursery rhyme. They believe in the Noble Lie, the one that the state tells to its citizens to gain their acquiescence, to agree to be ruled. With a President such as this, whose claim to legitimate rule is extremely tenuous due to the doctored and illegal Florida election, and compounded by losing the popular vote in an antiquated Presidential Electoral system where the will of the people is ignored, with such a President who claimed the quality of compassion as his lead trait, it is an immense fraud to watch him behave as he does. He should be impeached for the very arrogance that leads him to defy not only the will of his people, but also the United Nations and thereby the will of the people of the world.
I believe the world is against George W. Bush and the policies he and his handlers and henchmen devise. I do not believe the world is against the USA. I am not afraid of this US government, nor am I afraid of terrorists such as al Qaeda, nor "rogue states" such as Iraq, North Korea, and Iran. I believe in human solutions to human problems. I believe that Israel and Palestine can be at peace. I believe that North Korea can be brought out of the dark ages. I believe China will one day have a free society with democratic institutions. I believe in the free flow of labor and goods to all parts of the globe. I believe that people should be free to live and work wherever they want on Earth. I believe that sustainable development is an idea whose time has come. I believe that if industries spent as much time in the next 500 years trying to save life on Earth as they have spent in the last 500 figuring out how to destroy life on Earth, that it would be hugely successful and that our childrens' childrens' children, etc. would thank us for being so wise and compassionate.
Please vote against Bush in the next election. Write your Congressman and Senators, and tell them to vote against the tax cut (demand that the rich pay their share, it's not them who need the cut, why should you have to subsidize the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor?), and the proposed War on Iraq. Personally, I would encourage Congress to not fund a war on Iraq. I would encourage a bill that denies the Pentagon money for operations in Iraq; similar to what Congress did to stop Ronald Reagan from trying to fund reactionary forces in Nicaragua against the Sandinistas. It's not that I want US soldiers to die in Iraq due to a lack of resources, it's that I don't want them to go there in the first place, and people who don't support a war shouldn't have to pay for it. Cost estimates released this morning put even a short Iraq war at One Hundred Billion Dollars. Think how much Iraqi oil we'll need to get that paid off. Maybe Bush should get that money from the top 1% in his tax cut plan, the ones splitting up $144 Billion. It would be just enough for his Splendid Little War. Overall cost estimates for the war and after come to one trillion dollars. Somebody and his friends plan on getting rich on those costs. Think infrastructure and oil companies: Bechtel, Halliburton, etc. My friend calls this war a "profit center for the Bush Dynasty" and says that its no wonder war is good for the economy; it takes the guesswork out of investing. You buy companies that put out oil-well fires and rebuild countries. Imperialism pays off in the contracts that your friends get when the war is over.
One last thing, and this is an important question to ask yourself. Iraq has the world's 2nd largest known oil reserves (Saudi Arabia is Number 1). (Not so coincidently, North Korea has no mineral wealth to speak of, and therefore no matter how badly it behaves, it is on the back burner). If you were a Texas oilman, and your Father was also, and many of your friends were Texas oilmen, would you be able to resist the chance to get your family and friends a chance to operate oil wells in Iraq (especially since nobody seems to want to let you and your friends drill for oil in Alaska!)? Saddam Hussein must go so Texans (and other United States citizens) can operate Iraqi oil wells.