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Weapons of Mass Confusion
August 6, 2002
By punpirate

Let's back up a moment, to the couple of months preceding the 2000 election. Al Gore was being attacked for his choice of clothing colors. George Bush was describing himself as a "moderate." "Compassionate conservatism" was being touted, on the campaign trail and in the press, as the answer to all of America's domestic problems. Bush sought to convince the public that he would defend the environment, Gore's strong suit, and would defend the Kyoto treaty.

Now, on the eve of Bush's second month-long vacation, the situation looks a bit different. "Compassionate conservatism" has come to be seen as a means of wiggling the religious right into position to receive lots of government dollars. Bush has presented himself, once installed in office, as a bigger right-wing threat than any thought Reagan to be. What remains to be seen is if Bush is as somnolent and mentally disengaged as Reagan was in office. The media hasn't helped at all in this determination, just as its representatives were loathe to describe Reagan, in office, as he actually was - hopelessly out of touch with the country and the world, and barely in touch with his own political philosophies.

Now, nineteen months into Bush's term in office, Bush, Cheney and the Enron cronies they hired for White House positions seem to be jokes, broad, big belly laughs on the theme of "corporate responsibility." These people, by and large, wrought disaster for their stockholders and now wish us all to kneel, deferentially, at their feet. Gimme a break.

George Bush, the self-avowed Christian, is actively, foaming-at-the-mouth frantic for a war with Iraq. No matter that internal strife in Saudi Arabia is about to cause revolution there, and that the Israel-Palestine intifada has not been diminished, in neither degree nor kind, our faux Christian president is determined to start a major war in the middle of that.

What have we gotten under the younger Mr. Bush? More war. New threat of war. An economy which is unable to recover jobs lost, and now threatens a so-called "double-dip" recession. Substantial evidence that Bush's administration is obsessed with secrecy. Substantial evidence that the FBI and CIA and other services dropped the ball on 9/11 and even more substantial evidence that this administration wants to hide and obfuscate the evidence of those failures. Bush's desires to sweep away any possibility of a truly independent commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks have been consistent and insistent. That Congress is complicit in that wish of Bush's is even more contemptible.

New law which has diminished the rights of all Americans, the text of which was simply laying in wait for 9/11, or any other suitable pretext for its introduction, in the name of the USA PATRIOT Act. Further rules from Mr. Ashcroft's Department of Justice to undermine the FOIA, to introduce a program for neighbors to spy on neighbors, in the silly name of TIPS (these guys do, indeed, have a way with clever acronyms, but not much else).

What else have we gotten? Lies. Before the election, there were lies, and the public should have been able to make them out, with or without the help of the press. After Bush's inauguration, more lies, especially about the need for a war with Iraq.

Is the issue solely one of weapons of mass destruction? If it were, we would be actively preparing for war against Israel. Israel has quietly, with the help of American physicists, developed, in comparison to its relative size, population, and importance in the world, a huge nuclear arsenal, now estimated to be 300-400 nuclear warheads. Most of the Middle East countries which count Israel as one of its neighbors, are very fearful about Israel's capabilities in this regard. In the past, Israeli leaders avoided either mention of or use of those weapons. Our starting a war with Iraq might, as it did in 1991, promote attacks by Iraq on Israel. Israel resisted then, but may not now.

What nineteen months of yet another Bush administration has proved, first, is that the American people cannot trust any Bush to carry out American policy in their best interests. There are those who will, as in a recent Mike Keefe political cartoon, think that all is right with the world, despite layoffs, lack of unemployment and destruction of retirement benefits, because "W's gonna cream Saddam." But, there are other American citizens who will think otherwise. Will think that America has been forced, wholesale, into a right-wing, fascistic society with a dry drunk at its helm.

The response from the loyal opposition? Most prominently and recently from Al Gore in an editorial in the NY Times, suggesting that the Bush administration has not done right by the middle class, because of its adamant support of tax relief for the rich. Hmmm. Let's just put this in perspective. The people most in need of consideration by any party are those who do not vote, because they have been left behind by both parties, are now under the radar forever - the poor and the working poor. The middle class spend their money. They can contribute to the economy because they've been subsumed by horrible levels of available credit. The poor and the working poor have no such advantage. All they can do is work for marginal wages to keep the economy going.

The roughly 20% of the working population who work for minimum wage or near minimum wage aren't interested in politics, because politicians aren't interested in them. As Barbara Ehrenreich has amply demonstrated in her books and articles over the years, these citizens, these potential voters, have been left out of the process, and yet they represent in votes a more powerful force than even the religious right in the polling place. But, both Republicans and Democrats have left them out of the process. In fact, both the Republicans and Democrats have ignored the poor and conspired to make their lives more difficult through so-called welfare reform which was intended not to make their lives better, but to reduce the tax load on the middle class and the wealthy.

How do the poor connect with the war on Iraq? More simply than one might expect. They supply the sons and daughters to fight that war. In the new order, there is no draft (at least, not now). The poor, without access to education, because of lack of money, use the military as a stepping stone to education and a better life. With the coming conflict, those sons and daughters of the poor may not have the opportunity to use their benefits. They may, instead, return from service in a body bag. If the reason for their deaths were good, and sound, one could commiserate with their families and explain those deaths in greater and more glorious terms.

However, there are no good reasons made manifest by the Bush administration. None. All those who will die in any war promulgated by yet another venal and self-interested Bush, American, Iraqi and possibly British citizens, will not have a good reason for their deaths. They will have died to further the interests of a self-interested president and the interests of his corporate friends. There is no pressing international interest in a regime change in Iraq. Hussein is despicable, of that there is no doubt. But, if America sacrifices its young and poor to depose Hussein in the name of the American religious and economic right, it opens itself up to further attack from the Muslim religious right. Osama bin Laden thinks himself no less a leader of his cause than does George W. Bush of his.

Without immediate and desperate cause, George W. Bush's insistence on war with Iraq damages Iraq's ordinary citizens, and all of us, as well, especially our working poor, for which our government has done very little in the last two decades. We have canonized the rich and powerful, in that time, but the rich and powerful are not the ones to fight this coming war, on the ground and in the trenches. And yet, this war is to be fought for their benefit. When a Ken Lay or a George Bush is an infantry rifleman getting shot at in a war fought for their interests, I will think differently.

Maybe, as with much of George W. Bush's administration, there are lies at the root of this war. It's the obligation of all the people to discern the truth in this matter. At this juncture in time, though, the Bush weapons of mass confusion seem to be winning the war for popular support for this latest Bush war against the enemies of American corporate interests.


punpirate is a writer living in New Mexico who remembers American wars and the purported reasons for them being fought.

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