FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush’s War Drive

by NEVE GORDON

One better think twice before supporting Bush’s initiative to launch an attack on Iraq if only because war, as Martin Luther King pointed out, is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrows.

A good way to grasp the logic underlying Bush’s plan is by examining the intricate mechanisms his Administration is using to shape public opinion, the most conspicuous of which are distraction, fear, and self-adulation.

DISTRACTION. The Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro film Wag the Dog was a comical expression of this strategy, which is currently being put to use in ways more cynical than the movie producers imagined.

Considering that Saddam Hussein’s modus operandi has not changed in the past few years, the urgency with which the Bush administration is pushing the war against Iraq at this particular moment in history requires an explanation. Not surprisingly, the answer lies very close to home.

Bush’s war cry succeeded in sidelining widespread corporate corruption, which made headlines right before his combative designs were revealed. Enron, Worldcom and the like are no longer under the limelight.

The call to arms has also been used to suppress figures pointing to the rising number of poor Americans, which reached 32.9 million, an increase of 1.3 million from the year before. The Census Bureau’s annual report on income and poverty provided evidence that the weakening economy is beginning to a have detrimental affect on large segments of society, regardless of race, region and class. I, for one, don’t see CNN spending much time covering poverty and its threat to American society.

Along the same lines, civil liberties, worker’s rights, and the environment have all been under attack by this Administration, and only recently have citizen groups managed to mobilize and fight back. What could be more effective than a war to deflect mounting domestic criticism?

FEAR. In order to convince the public that the Iraqi campaign is not simply being used to distract the public from pressing issues at home, a real and present danger must be created.

Just two years before the Gulf War, President Bush — the father — stood by without a murmur of protest as Saddam Hussein massacred 100,000 Kurds. The relation to Iraq’s premier changed dramatically when he invaded Kuwait, thus threatening U.S. interests in the Middle East, which come down to one thing: access and control of oil. Overnight Hussein was transformed from a Third World ally into an evil monster, a modern day Hitler. It worked then, and it is working now.

We are currently being told that Hussein is dangerous because he has access to weapons of mass destruction. Considering, however, that most countries in the Middle East possess chemical weapons, including Israel, Egypt, Syria and probably Saudi Arabia, the “preemptive” elimination of Iraq’s weapons program is, to say the least, peculiar. It’s really about whose a friend and whose a foe, not about weapons.

The Administration is not taking any risks, however, and recently decided to spread its eggs among a few baskets. Suddenly Saddam Hussein is not merely a recalcitrant tyrant who has weapons of mass destruction, but, in Bush’s words, a man who hates America, loves to link up with Al Qaeda, and is a true threat to America.

Ironically, Israel’s Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon, who is not known for his dovish opinions, recently averred, “Iraq’s capabilities are shallow compared to what they were in the Gulf War. They are not capabilities that give me sleepless nights.”

If Israel isn’t worried, why, one might ask, is Bush?

SELF-ADULATION. The Bush Administration justifies its actions by engendering a sense that Uncle Sam not only knows better, but is also more responsible and righteous than any other country. This tactic produces a certain type of patriotism used to avert all forms of criticism, as can be seen by how the Administration’s seemingly omnipresent knowledge and moral high ground is employed to counter the claims made by an overwhelming number of countries that adamantly reject Bush’s war plans.

Just envision the good that could be done if an extra 100 or 200 billion dollars — the war’s estimated cost! — were allocated to education, training programs and creating new jobs. The public education system would receive a vital injection and millions of people could finally exit the vicious cycle of poverty and deprivation. Wouldn’t that be a more worthy endeavor than the one Bush is pursuing?

“To be a patriot,” Mark Twain once wrote, “one had to say, and keep on saying, ‘Our country, right or wrong,’ and urge on the little war.” And then Twain added, “Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation?”

NEVE GORDON teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, Israel and can be reached at ngordon@bgumail.bgu.ac.il. Some of his articles recently appeared in The Other Israel: Voices of Refusal and Dissent edited by Roane Carey and Jonathan Shainin (The New Press 2002).

Neve Gordon is the co-author (with Nicola Perugini) of the newly released The Human Right to Dominate.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail