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George W. Bush says he wants to attack Iraq to install democracy. But as he explained on December 18, 2002: “If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”
Under Bush the Constitutional guarantees that have made America a beacon to the world for two centuries have been shredded in two short years.
In terms of basic legal rights and sanctuary from government spying, Americans may be less free under George W. Bush than as British subjects under George III in 1776.
Though the trappings of free speech remain on the surface of American society, the Homeland Security Act, Patriot I, Patriot II and other massively repressive legislation, plus Republican control of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, plus GOP dominance of the mass media, have laid the legal and political framework for a totalitarian infrastructure which, when combined with the capabilities of modern computer technology, may be unsurpassed.
The Administration has used the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, as pretext for this centralization of power. But most of it was in the works long before September 11 as part of the war on drugs and Bush’s modus operandi as the most secretive and authoritarian president in US history.
So with today’s US as a model, what would be in store for Iraqis should Bush kill hundreds of thousands of them to replace Saddam Hussein?
President Bush has asserted the right to execute “suspected terrorists” without trial or public notice; The Administration claims the right to torture “suspected terrorists,” and by many accounts has already done so; Attorney-General John Ashcroft has asserted the right to brand “a terrorist” anyone he wishes without evidence or public hearing or legal recourse; The Administration has arrested and held without trial hundreds of “suspected terrorists” while denying them access to legal counsel or even public notification that they have been arrested; The Administration has asserted the right to inspect the records of bookstores and public libraries to determine what American citizens are reading; The Administration has asserted the right to break into private homes and tap the phones of US citizens without warrants; The Administration has attempted to install a neighbors-spying-on-neighbors network that would have been the envy of Joe Stalin; The Administration has effectively negated the Freedom of Information Act and runs by all accounts the most secretive regime in US history; When the General Accounting Office, one of the few reliably independent federal agencies, planned to sue Vice President Dick Cheney to reveal who he met to formulate the Bush Energy Bill, Bush threatened to slash GAO funding, and the lawsuit was dropped; After losing the 2000 election by more than 500,000 popular votes (but winning a 5-4 majority of the US Supreme Court), the Administration plans to control all voting through computers operated by just three companies, with code that can be easily manipulated, as may have been done in Georgia in 2002, winning seats for a Republican governor and US senator, and in Nebraska to elect and re-elect US Senator Chuck Hagel, an owner of the voting machine company there; FCC Chair Michael Powell (son of Colin) is enforcing the Administration’s demand that regulation be ended so nearly all mass media can be monopolized by a tiny handful of huge corporations; Attorney-General Ashcroft has assaulted states rights, a traditional Republican mainstay, using federal troops to trash public referenda legalizing medical marijuana in nine states; Ashcroft has overridden his own federal prosecutors and assaulted local de facto prohibitions against the death penalty, which has been renounced by every other industrial nation and is now used only by a handful of dictatorships, including Iraq.
Overseas, the US record is infamous. Among those it has put in power are Saddam Hussein, the Taliban and Manuel Noriega, not to mention Somoza, Pinochet, Marcos, Mobutu, the Shah, the Greek Junta and too many other murderous dictators to mention in a single article.
Afghanistan, leveled in the name of democracy and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, now stands ruined and abandoned. In sequel, Bush is gathering Iraq attackers with the promise of cash bribes, oil spoils and conquered land.
Turkey, Bulgaria and Bush’s manufactured Iraqi opposition are already squabbling over the booty. Bush says rebuilding will be funded by Iraqi oil revenues, probably administered through the same core regime now in place, but with a different figurehead.
In other words: the media hype about bringing democracy to Iraq is just that. There is absolutely no reason to believe a US military conquest would bring to Iraq the beloved freedoms George W. Bush is so aggressively destroying here in America.
A regime that so clearly hates democracy at home is not about to wage war for one abroad.
HARVEY WASSERMAN is author of “The Last Energy War: The Battle Over Utility Deregulation” (Seven Stories Press, 2000).
Copyright (C) 2003 by HARVEY WASSERMAN