I never thought I’d ever hear the United States of America called an “oligarchy”. But now I have.
My dictionary says an oligarchy is a form of government where most or all political power effectively rests with a small segment of the society. As Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia, puts it, “Oligarchies are often controlled by a few powerful families whose children are raised and mentored to be heirs of the power of the oligarchy, often at some sort of expense to those governed.” Does that sound like the administration of George W. Bush?
For all my life, ever since grade school, I’ve been taught that the United States of American is a paragon of democracy. We have popular elections on every level-local, state and Federal. We have two houses of Congress, a President and a Supreme Court, a system of checks and balances, a Constitution second to none, and a Bill of Rights, the pride of our forefathers. Most Americans see our country as Ronald Reagan did-the shining city on the hill-beacon to the world.
But here we are, today, when, according to the most recent CNN/USA Today poll, six of ten Americans see the Iraq war as a huge mistake and want our troops out of there, yet they are incapable of making that happen. Why? It’s simple. It’s the oligarchy that’s keeping them there-that tight little group around Bush in the White House and Rumsfeld in the Pentagon, who run things for corporate feeders. You know who they are, Halliburton, Bechtel, and Lockheed Martin, to name a few of the no-bid war profiteers. They can make 18 billion dollars, allocated for the reconstruction of Iraq, disappear in the blink of an eye. That is really slight of hand.
The war in Iraq is the best example of an oligarchy at work-produced and managed to make money and to secure the remaining reserves of oil in the world. As they say, the world’s oil has “peaked”. It’s all down hill from here, so we better grab it before somebody else does. To do this, we’re got to keep a perpetual war spinning in the best oil-producing areas, the Middle East and the Caspian region. (We’d do it in Venezuela if we could.) With Iraq as a pivotal base, the oligarchy is planning to stay there into the foreseeable future. Any talk about drawing down troops is just that, talk-a tease offered for the 2006 mid-term elections. Using Iraq as a military base also explains the moves on former Soviet states, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and others in the Russian orbit-targets of the giant oil conglomerates.
Oligarchies operate in secret. They spawn conspiracy theories. The 9/11 World Trade Towers collapse, for example. That garnered more than a million references in Google. Enough conspiracy theories for everyone. But the event caused a number of reputable construction engineers to raise their eyebrows. They saw it as a controlled demolition, as did Dr. Steven E. Jones, Physicist and Archaeometrist of Brigham Young University, who has done a major investigation on his own. He asks, why was this possibility not investigated by the 9/11 Commission and other governmental investigating agencies at the time? Not much help from the mainstream media, either. They accepted the Commission finding that it was an al-Qaeda attack. That’s been the conventional wisdom ever since.
Everything is up for questioning. Does the media have the Chutpah to investigate any of them? No way. The Israel Lobby? No way. Untouchable. Look what happened when somebody tried to touch it. Two esteemed academicians, Professor John J.Mearsheimer of the Political Science Department of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt, Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard did a study and wrote a report on the Israel Lobby for the London Review of Books giving their views on the influence of Israel and the Israel Lobby in Washington on US foreign policy. Of course, the establishment, media and otherwise, came down on them like a ton of bricks. Alan Dershowitz, Professor at Harvard Law School and proponent of torture, reflects the kind of hysteria that was generated “it is fair to ask why these distinguished academics chose to publish a paper that does not meet their usual scholarly standards, especially given the obvious risk that it would be featured, as it has been, on neo-Nazi and extremist websites, and even those of terrorist organisations, and that it would be used by overt anti-semites to ‘validate’ their claims of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy”
All Mearsheimer and Walt were trying to do was bring a few facts to public attention and open the subject for discussion.
The oligarchy knows how to lock down.
Spike Lee’s documentary, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts reveals, with heartbreaking accuracy, the devastation that hurricane Katrina caused to a truly shining city, New Orleans, and the Gulf Coast, one year ago. What’s equally devastating is the fact that our care-less Federal government, the oligarchy, overwhelmed in its own bureaucracy, allowed it to flounder for a year doing little to heal a part of its own body and help its own people.
We used to say, if we can land a man on the moon, why can’t we end poverty; or why can’t we solve the race problem in America? Now, we say, why can’t we heal a severely injured and traumatized part of our nation, the Gulf Coast? How about a Marshall Plan for the Gulf Coast. We did it in Europe after World War II. In a very few years, we saved a continent, in many areas little more than a pile of broken bricks. We saved it from despair, and some say, from Communism. We restored a thriving Capitalism. It takes a thriving democracy to do that. No job for an oligarchy. Sorry, Gulf Coast.
So, what we see is more of the same. But remember. What goes around comes around.
STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN, television writer-director-producer, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC, starting in 1953. In 1959, he participated in the formation of the renowned Murrow-Friendly “CBS Reports” series. In 1983, Fleischman won the prestigious Columbia University-Dupont Television Journalism Award. In 2004, he wrote his memoir. See: www.ARedintheHouse.com, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org