Triumph of the Petropublicans

Almost every morning we read about the scores of Iraqis tortured and slaughtered or blown up in the past 24 hours by other Iraqis. The civil war there escalates in violence with each passing tragic day. This is George Bush’s civil war, unleashed by his unprovoked invasion four years ago.

He is fomenting another one, here at home.

The invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq were undertaken, respectively, to secure the pipeline route from the Caspian Basin and to guarantee access to the enormous inventories of Iraqi crude–in both cases to the colossal benefit of American and British oil companies–and the “Global War on Terror” is merely an elegant and fraudulent smokescreen.

This is not just another timeworn, trite, and impressionistic rant: it is now a matter of documented fact.

The attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon in September of 2001 provided the Bush Administration, either by design (the conspiracy theories) or default (the reality ), with the rationales for both invasions. But the planning for each of them was underway long before the 9/11: months in the case of Afghanistan, years in the case of Iraq.

This deception–this crime–is so outlandish and monstrous as to be scarcely credible. That is why, very likely, it isn’t front-and-center in public consciousness.

It is appalling to think a President could and would gamble the military might, the foreign policy, the public treasury, the lives of American service men and women, and the historic prestige of the United States for the commercial benefit of oil companies–our own and a few favored in Britain. Early in the war this was a vague, unsubstantiated suspicion, verbalized in protest rallies. But now the facts are inescapable–if you are willing to read widely: the records have been combed, the treatises written, and the case is closed.

The story is all there. Not in the newspapers, not on the nightly television news, not in magazines at the checkout counter. The story is found mostly in book-length treatments, and in the accumulation of topical pieces appearing on the Internet.

Those who want to read widely might start with an excellent book by a conservative journalist, Paul Sperry: Crude Politics: How Bush’s Oil Cronies Hijacked the War on Terrorism. Mr. Sperry is the Washington Bureau Chief for WorldNetDaily.com, and in the polarized parlance of today’s politics his credentials are Hard Right. His book is a detailed expose of the “war on terror” for what it truly is: Crude Politics in every ambiguous sense of the term. Mr. Sperry is no doubt a Republican.

Those with Hard Left credentials are writing in parallel. Joshua Holland on the AlterNet website described in minute detail the administrative mechanisms for capturing Iraqi crude. His reporting, “Bush’s Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq’s Oil,” ran recently as a two part series. Mr. Holland is no doubt a Democrat.

The motivated reader might go next to Amazon.com and search for authors Kevin Phillips; Craig Unger; David Corn; Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber; Christopher Scheer, Robert Scheer, and Lakshmi Chaudhry; Chalmers Johnson; John Perkins; Greg Palast; David Bollier; David Korten; Ted Nace; James Risen; Robert Parry; Richard Clarke; Ron Suskind; and so on and on. The literature of the war is large and rich, and across the political spectrum, those who see with clarity agree the “war on terror” is simply a cover for dominating the hydrocarbon riches of the Middle East.

The case is closed. But not, perhaps, the military aggression: North Korea has exploded a nuclear device, but the Petropublicans seem intent, even anxious, to bomb Iran instead. Iran’s oil and gas resources are huge.

The Petropublicans–the Bush Administration, its oil industry clients, its savvy financial supporters, and its clenched-teeth sycophants in Congress–are not conservatives at all, or even traditional Republicans. The foreign, domestic, and fiscal policies of the last six years have been as radical as anything in our history, and the violations of decent political behavior at home and respected diplomacy abroad are insults to Americans–thinking Americans–of every political stripe.

The violations were made possible for two interlocking reasons. In the normal hubbub of public affairs, American people don’t (and didn’t) expect such radicalism. Public policy typically takes incremental steps, not quantum leaps. And the spin, the secrecy, the deception, and the lies of the Bush Administration were both unprecedented and initially successful. Polls now show, thankfully, the smoke is thinning and the Petropublicans are no longer trusted by a majority of Americans.

Indeed, traditional Republicans are turning against the Petropublicans with increasing rancor, and with good reason: no one has been more savagely victimized by George Bush than honest conservatives and decent, trusting Republicans. Evangelical Christians, sincerely worried about the ecological health of God’s Creation, are turning vigorously against the Bush Administration’s indifference to global warming. Other conservative groups are aghast at the Bush Administration’s breathtaking budget deficits. Many Republicans valuing individual liberty above all cannot abide the assault on the Bill of Rights by the Patriot Act or, more egregiously yet, by the recently signed War Commissions Act. Still others, Christians with unshakeable, fundamental faith, resent being called “nuts” by Whitehouse insiders.

All these Republicans are at least disenchanted.

There is, however, a sizeable block of Republican voters who have not yet seen the “war on terror” for what it is: an obscene, indefensible smokescreen killing American kids (and Iraqis) for the sake of Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, BP/Amoco, and Royal Dutch Shell. They have not yet seen the hypocrisy of George Bush, nor what his Administration has done to the wholesome and honorable heritage of the Republican party. They have an unshakeable, perhaps an unexamined faith in George Bush.

Should they prevail in the upcoming midterm elections, George Bush will continue to have a compliant, lapdog Congress.

That would be dangerous in the extreme. The Democrats, skeptical by definition and outraged by today’s circumstance, will be joined in bitter disappointment by many true, thinking Republicans who are outraged as well. Such a coalition of outrage is not likely to disappear, and it would certainly represent a majority of the American people.

Retaining the Petropublicans in power, some have argued, would cement a one-party system into place, encouraging (or ratifying) a fascist dictatorship.

The efforts to create a one-party state, at least, are well documented. The cabal of Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Jack Abramoff, Rick Santorum, and Tom DeLay, and their “K Street Project” and other such hijinks, have been daylighted. A Petropublican victory in November, in spite of the exposed scandals, might sustain one-party dominance for a few more years.

But stable dictatorships require a complacent body politic, and the outraged coalition will render that impossible.

No, retaining the Petropublicans in power is more likely to spark a civil war.

You could say the war has already begun in Washington, D.C.

The Rove cabal’s early successes ignited a firestorm of acrimony in the nation’s capital. In the U.S. Congress, Republicans locked Democrats out of conference committee deliberations. Democrats retaliated, invoking obscure parliamentary gimmicks to obstruct Republicans. Partisan language and divisiveness became bitter and savage without precedent.

A fundamental loyalty to democracy, and to our country, has always conditioned and constrained Congressional debates, which might be lively, but were always civil and courteous. All this has been overridden and displaced by the unwavering bludgeoning of the Republicans and angry, vicious counterattacks by the Democrats.

In referring to Democrats President Bush speaks of the Cut and Run Party. Democrats use the term Party of Corruption to describe Republicans. These are vitriolic, not merely hyperbolic descriptions. And the vile smearing and negativity in campaign advertising demolishes the mutual respect and civility a healthy democracy demands.

The depth of animosity between partisan citizens throughout the country as well is sobering, troubling, even frightening. When the heated rhetoric of politics might escalate into physical actions, or even violence in the countryside, cannot be foretold, but the ingredients are in place and the trigger could take either of two forms.

If there is ANY evidence of voting fraud in the coming election, there will be protest demonstrations at the very least. There will be deafening calls for redress. There may well be violence. The bitter polarization apparent today will only intensify, and proceed in directions that are impossible to see.

If George Bush bombs Iran all bets are off.

RICHARD W. BEHAN’s last book was Plundered Promise: Capitalism, Politics, and the Fate of the Federal Lands (Island Press, 2001). Behan is currently working on a more broadly rendered critique, ‘To Provide Against Invasions: Corporate Dominion and America’s Derelict Democracy.’ He can be reached by email at rwbehan@rockisland.com.

This essay is deliberately not copyrighted; permission to reproduce it is unnecessary.



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Richard W. Behan lives in Corvallis, Oregon. He can be reached at: rwbehan@comcast.net.

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