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Don't Get Distracted by Cameron Diaz, Acne or Talk of War

A Guide to Bush’s Political Bipolar Disorder

by SAUL LANDAU

“What’s this Bush Administration really about?” A frustrated student asked me.

Good question! I suggested that he look into the clever manipulators–led by Karl Rove — who have woven together a novel coalition of voracious looters and naked imperialists. By employing styles and methods of bullying, secrecy and downright prevarication, they have developed a unique political mating process in which the national security mavens bond with religious zealots, fanatic gun lovers cuddle with anti-abortion and death penalty advocates and the rest of us get truly f……

Defense Policy Board Chairman Richard Perle and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz provide the “full spectral dominance” phrases for the mean and nasty Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. They embody both naked empire and corporate looting in their worldview. Rumsfeld has tried to squash dissent from the Pentagon on his Iraqi crusade and Cheney has signaled Congress that grass will grow on the Members’ palms before he delivers any information to them in his secret national energy plan negotiations with Enron executives.

On the domestic side Attorney General John Ashcroft, once the extreme advocate of personal freedom and states rights in the right wing of the Republican Party, now leads the charge against American’s civil liberties and into their private affairs. The FBI, whose unique email system challenged direct communication from other agencies, now slips silently into other peoples’ electronic and snail mail, tap their phones with skimpy cause and surveil members of their family.

The security state claims preeminence over all other needs. By routinely predicting terrorist acts, it keeps the citizens frightened and justifies its intrusion into business life as well. Once a vociferous states righter, Ashcroft now wants seemingly unlimited power for his federal agencies. In religion, however, he apparently favors a church-state marriage, but would deny homosexuals any marital rights or benefits. Ashcroft, the unofficial Commissar of Religious Activities, told a conservative Denver audience on January 13 that the government has “discriminated” against far right religious groups by not giving them taxpayers’ money.

These officials, known as budget cutting conservatives did actually slash some spending–that is funds directed toward the poor, social spending. However, these same allegedly compassionate conservatives presented wildly extravagant figures to fund the military. Supposedly to pursue terrorists and the axis of evil, Rummy and Dick encouraged the military brass and CIA to demand a $400 billion budget, far higher than any figure submitted during the Cold War.

If you plan to conquer the world, what’s a stinking $400 billion? The question is: how to carry out this epic evil without suffering many casualties so that the US public won’t catch on!

After Vietnam, the US political and military classes understood that we shouldn’t fight anyone who could fight back. After some serious Muslim enemies in Lebanon bombed a US Marine barracks and killed almost 200 men Reagan, following the counsel of his wife Nancy’s astrologer, refused to send troops to Central America to defeat the leftist government of Nicaragua. US casualties would certainly have ensued. Instead, he unleashed the CIA against the Sandinistas. When he did pick military intervention spots, like Grenada, he insisted on an overkill number of US troops to defeat a nonexistent enemy.

It took time for the military and the White House to understand how to stage aggression and spin it as heroism. Panama George Bush (41) captured Panama Strong Man Tough Tony Noriega in 1989, after the spinners built up Noriega’s forces as a serious opposition. They weren’t of course, but by demonizing Noriega, and exaggerating his strength, the White House fabulists could present Bush 41 as a hard-hitting hero who had done irreparable damage to the drug trade. (The drug trade barely felt the Panama invasion, but 52 felons, convicted on drug charges, testified against Noriega at his Miami trial and received sentence reductions.)

Then, the White House simulated boxing promoter Don King who would convert Saddam Hussein, a 50th rated lightweight once in their corner, into a heavyweight contender that represented pure evil. In fact, Saddam had no defense against US power. The Gulf War should have been called a technological massacre rather than a war.

After Clinton’s sporadic bombing of targets in former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan and his ambivalence toward conquering all by ourselves, the reign of Boy George the Emperor began.

Scale back, he said, expressing an approach to foreign policy that coincided with his ignorance on the subject. Then came 9/11. The world changed and the naked imperialists emerged from their closets–or Cabinets. Some, like the influential Perle who sits on the Defense Policy Board, have shrouded their shadowy organizations in secrecy. Wow, they must be really important!

Within months we had a war against terrorism and an axis of evil. Subsequently, Administration officials declared that they would engage in “pre-emptive” strikes and deploy nuclear weapons if necessary against their foes.

North Korea took this rhetoric at face value. Having been put into the axis of evil and having a loathed leader, the Koreans logically deduced that having nuclear weapons would be their only defense When North Korea revealed that it might have a few nukes and that it would withdraw from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, thus imitating Bush’s example of withdrawing from treaties, they won respect. Although W personally “loathes” North Korean leader Kim Jong Ill — W said he didn’t like leaders who starve their people — he has agreed to “talk” with him, but not “negotiate.” For Bush, talking means offering the hated Kim oil and money in return for Korea’s stopping nuclear weapons development. I’m trying to figure out what negotiation could mean.

Iraq has no nukes and therefore merits no respect. We can invade with probable impunity–maybe some chemical; and biological weapons, but after the inspectors do their job and get rid of them, Iraq is a piece of cake.

I conclude this after sifting through countless articles and reports. But it’s not easy to discern reality from the news sources. On January 15, I perused the MSN headlines looking for help in defining the difference between talking and negotiating with North Korea,.

I learned that Nicole Kidman coped with her divorce by working out her emotional problems through making millions filming “The Hours.” Equally important, Cameron Diaz had to miss the premieres of “Gangs of New York” in several European hot spots because of an outbreak of acne and Kate Winslet suffered the humiliation of getting her curves (read a trace of real human fat?) air-brushed out to make her look more beautiful (emaciated) in some GQ photos.

Further into the news, I discover that the White House spinsters are trying to air-brush the fat that would go to the rich under Bush’s tax plan. Under the guise of helping the little guy with a tax rebate, the looters have already begun filling their pockets while the naked imperialists under the umbrella of fighting terrorism have begun to conquer the world.

And practically no one in Congress objected to piratical agenda. The protestations from the Democratic leadership amounted to a wimpy plea to carry out aggression against Iraq with our allies, not alone, and a whine to spend a little money on social stuff. Tom Daschle did fly into a rage, but only when he felt that Bush had impugned his and his colleagues’ patriotism; he didn’t care about innocent Iraqis dying.

The rest of the public, the Rove gang hoped, would remain consumed with the ever more intense pressures of surviving daily work and home life and the idiosyncrasies and travails of actors and athletes.

So, I told my student, the Bush Administration defies traditional policy analysis. It is more like a bipolar disorder in which policy is directed by the compulsion to pillage at home and the obsession to conquer abroad. To undertake such behavior, the controllers of policy in the White House have created the permanent insecurity state, which they disguise under the label “security.” Security, a far cry from Peanuts’ thumb and blanket, means taking off your shoes and undoing your belt at airports, undergoing “wanding” and a variety of other meaningless procedures that supposedly will thwart the terrorists. If you’re a Muslim or Arab American, life has become anxiety ridden. You can expect a police raid at any time. The security state thrives on insecurity. Under the banners of urgency, federal police look into your personal business. It also means that at many airports certain shops have become inaccessible to non-passengers and that “security” checks at borders have grown longer. This hurts business, a symptom of this bipolar criminal madness. Let’s see if the “security” state can coexist with the shopping culture. If not, goodbye Bush.

SAUL LANDAU teaches at Cal Poly Pomona University and is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. His new film, IRAQ: VOICES FROM THE STREETS, is available through The Cinema Guild. 1-800-723-5522. He can be reached at: landau@counterpunch.org