Have the American people capitulated to the manufactured fear fabricated by Bush, Ashcroft and Ridge? Are we the sheep Churchill mocked when he said, “Sheep don’t need whipping”? Do we sit passively in front of our television sets listening to lie after lie and do nothing, knowing now that these lies sent American boys abroad as administration aggressors, yea, as unprovoked invaders of a foreign land, as occupiers entrusted with securing the natural resources of that land to be used to pay for the reconstruction caused by the invasion? Had we known the truth would we have agreed to be the mercenaries of the Cabal, to secure for them the millions they will accrue from contracts paid for by our tax dollars while we suffer the indignity of being labeled across the globe, “foot soldiers of the corporate elite”? Has the “dumbing down” of America, that has turned our Democracy into a “Corpocrisy,” turned us as well into corporate robots to be used at will by those who buy our politicians?
Tyranny in any guise, the medal bedecked uniform of the military dictator or the meticulously pressed pin striped suit, steals the unalienable rights of the citizen, and we have been robbed! This administration assumed power; it did not receive the consent of the governed. Its actions have not secured the rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness; rather its actions have fostered insecurity, restricted freedom, and cobbled the pursuit of happiness. A review of this administration’s abuses of power tells the tale, and we need only reflect on a few of these abusive actions to prove the case.
The peoples’ freedom to authorize their government to go to war in their name cannot be exercised correctly or legally if the arguments presented by the administration have been fabricated to delude the people. Yet that is exactly what this administration has done: it raised the specter of WMD because it would “sell” to the public; it lied brazenly to the people about the existence of nuclear weapons; and, perhaps the most insidious lie of all, it gave the people reason to believe that Iraq participated in the terror that brought death to 3000 Americans on 9/11. None of these purported facts are true.
Nothing a government does has more lasting impact on its citizens than war. To rouse a nation to pre-emptively invade another without provocation forces on its citizens an implicit moral responsibility grounded in the belief that the action is justified. Such justification did not exist; it was manufactured by a group of men for their ulterior motives unknown to the American people. The consequences have been devastating: American soldiers die daily, the cost of the invasion mounts beyond comprehension, more than 7000 innocent Iraqi civilians have died, unrecorded thousands have been maimed and injured, an estimated 30,000 conscripted Iraqi soldiers, many young boys, have been killed, the cultural heritage decimated by bombs and looting, streets, homes, hospitals, schools, water and energy plants destroyed, horrendous unemployment, crime everywhere, and a people distrustful of the Americans with many determined to throw out the occupiers at any cost. The moral responsibility can no longer be couched in justifiable terms; it becomes now a moral responsibility of restitution due the Iraqi people. Yet, no one in this administration will take responsibility for this turn of events; no one will pay the cost, only the American soldier, only the soldier’s family, only the taxpayer.
What protection of American life has this pre-emptive invasion secured for our people? Prior to the invasion, no American woke in fear that an Iraqi would cause them harm. Prior to the invasion, Iraq did not provide sanctuary to terrorists. Prior to the invasion, Americans enjoyed the approbation and sympathy of people throughout the world. Prior to the invasion, Americans united in compassion and charity for those who had suffered the atrocity of 9/11. Now 135,000 soldiers wake to the imminence of death; now terrorists flock to Iraq to foster the fanaticism that fuels terror; now Americans have become the pariah of the world, the cause of the terrorism that we set out to eradicate; now Americans stand divided not united as they contend with the deception fostered by this administration. Rather than protecting American life, the administration imperils American life around the globe.
That reality becomes the more frightening when we remember that the “war” against Iraq became a threat just before the 2002 fall elections, announced in September before the UN, the best time to “sell” a new product following the August vacation break. The selling of Saddam’s demise coincided not only with the fall elections but also with the UN report on the inhumane catastrophic conditions in Palestine and the second invasion of the Palestinian refugee camp at Jenin. Iraq, as the administration knew all too well, would dominate the news relieving the administration of responsibility to intervene in the Israeli invasion just as it released Sharon from any fetters Washington might impose on his savagery. The deception held until Bush declared the aggression over in Iraq. In the interim, Bush took his case to the UN.
The Arab world sat in disbelief as Bush went to the Security Council to demand that Iraq comply with UN resolutions, condemning its inaction against a nation that defies its resolutions while citing its irrelevance if it does nothing. The duplicity of the administration’s behavior was lost on America but not on the rest of the world, for they knew that the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the frightening power Israel wielded against its powerless foe had full American support. Still Bush went to the UN condemning Iraq. Iraq, Bush claimed, defied 16 UNSC resolutions; he did not mention that Israel continues to defy 69. Iraq, he bellowed with fingers crossed behind his back, has WMD including nuclear, biological and chemical, a clear threat to peaceful nations; he did not mention that Israel has nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and has threatened to use them. Iraq, he cried, has invaded its neighbor, Kuwait; he did not mention that Israel has occupied all but 22% of Palestinian land since 1967 and refuses to return that land despite numerous UN resolutions demanding that it do so. He pointed out that the UN has cited Saddam for human rights violations; he did not mention that the UN has cited Israel for such violations over and over since its founding in 1948.
But Bush duplicity does not end there. He condemns Arafat for support of terrorist acts; he doesn’t condemn Sharon for hurling $300,000 missiles into crowded streets ostensibly to kill a person judged and condemned to death on Sharon’s say so without recourse to any legal process while 17 die and many others are wounded, actions that even Israeli pilots have condemned. He praises Israel as a democratic nation, the only one in the mid-east; but he refuses to recognize the duly elected President of the PLO who garnered more support from his people than the “elected” Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, did from his. He demands that Iraq draw up a constitution before it receives full independence, yet Israel has had 50 years to draw up a constitution and has not done so, but continues to be proclaimed a democracy. He won’t allow Iraq to have general elections fearing that the Shite majority might win and design a theocratic form of government, yet he says nothing about Israel and its Jewish citizenry that denies equal citizenship to non-Jews. While the world, through its UN representatives, drew up a resolution condemning the Israeli government’s statements that it would force Arafat out of Palestine or assassinate him, actions decidedly opposed to democratic principles, Bush chided the UN for one-sidedness. Bush calls upon the EU to freeze the assets of Hamas and condemn that organization as a terrorist front, but he did not ask the EU to recognize as terrorist supporters the right-wing Evangelical Zionist churches for providing millions of dollars to the terrorist settlers in occupied Palestine. This duplicity rouses anger, indeed, hatred against America, not only in the Arab world, but also in Europe and Asia.
Some in America took heart when the administration appeared to balk at the continued construction of the Israeli security “fence” that ostensibly protects Israeli citizens even as it secures the future inclusion of Zionist settlements that exist illegally in Palestine territory; perhaps this concretion of duplicity would even wake the sleeping American public. But the fence continues, a fence constructed of slabs of cement garnished with barbed wire and electric currents, the kind of impediment used to corral cattle and wild animals in zoos. And how does the administration demonstrate its anger at thwarting the Commander’s orders? By withholding millions in the supplementary Israeli aid package, monies earmarked for years down the road ensuring that nothing will impede the building of the wall. Avraham Burg put it succinctly: “The Zionist revolution has always rested on two pillars: a just path and an ethical leadership. Neither of those is operative any longer It turns out that the 2000-year struggle for Jewish survival comes down to a state of settlements, run by an amoral clique of corrupt lawbreakers who are deaf both to their citizens and to their enemies.” (The Observer, 9/14/03)
Last March I spent time in Prague visiting the Jewish ghetto there. Walls surround much of that ghetto even today, walls constructed by the authorities when the Catholic Church through an edict of the Third Lateran Council decided in 1179 that Catholics should not come in contact with Jews who had resided in Prague since the 10th century, something like the situation in Palestine where the indigenous population (say Palestinians), lived since the 4th century CE. That edict resulted in the “ghettoizing” of the district, forcing 7,000 Jews to be packed into a network of putrid, squalid alleys where personal indignity rotted beneath the wall that separated those in power from those imprisoned. Now we have a government that acts in our name, like the Lateran Council deciding for Medieval Catholics whom they shall meet with and whom they shall spurn, as it allows and provides the money to a sordid regime in Israel to wall-in a population in their own land even as that regime defies the world community by refusing to give back the land to the indigenous people to whom it rightfully belongs. America’s absolute support for the Sharon government, despite the terrorism it levels at the Palestinians, and its obvious belittlement of the PLO, mocks the roadmap it proffers as a solution to the crisis. How can a people so treated construct an “Israeli wall of humiliation”? How can an American support a President who acquiesces to such degradation of a people?
Condoleezza Rice called the creation of a democratic government in Iraq “the moral mission of our time.” Yet she speaks as an advisor to a government that manufactures policy out of politics, fabricates evidence from lies, conjures reason from duplicitous acts, extols freedom of speech as it maligns dissenters, lauds democracy as it illegally occupies a sovereign state, decries terrorism as it supports the most savage terrorist regime in the world, and she has the gall to overlook the need to create a democratic government in America! This regime, this Bush regime, has failed the American people. It is time we give our consent to those who govern us. Sitting passively is no longer an option.
William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His new book, Psalms for the 21st Century, was just published by Mellen Press. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU