for Doomsday: George W. Bush and the End of the World
September 10, 2002
By Maureen Farrell
"What harm can he do in four years?" I'm ashamed to say
it, but that was my initial reaction to the Supreme Court's
selection of George Bush as president. Attempting to avoid
alternating waves of gnawing discomfort and quiet desperation,
I asked myself a question my imagination dared not answer.
Squelching a parade of fears, I sacrificed truth and clarity
at the altar of rationalization. "It's not the end of the
world," I said, and set my sights on 2004.
Now it appears those first fears were but legless underachievers.
Early concerns focused on the environment and education and
what Paul Krugman refers to as our "$7 trillion reversal of
fiscal fortune;" certainly nothing as dark as what's transpired
in the past year. Even as civil liberties, international commitments
and our right to petition the government fell by the wayside,
and it looked as if incompetence, neglect or something worse
contributed to what went wrong, I needed to trust that this
president was above exploiting tragedy for personal or political
Using the Statue of Liberty and Sept. 11 as backdrops, however,
he continues to shamelessly cull Americans into accepting
his agenda: "War is peace. Slavery is freedom. And we're going
to attack Iraq no matter what." As one seasoned government
official told the Christian Science Monitor, "This administration
is capable of any lie. . . in order to advance its war goal
in Iraq." Given Gulf War propaganda expert John MacArthur's
assertion that this crew will "make up just about anything
... to get their way," it's now clear that unimaginable harm
can occur in a matter of months. And, frankly, musings on
"the end of the world" are open to interpretation, too.
Initially, Armageddon chatter was met with amusement, a
la Y-2K hand-wringing and millennium madness. Some saw
Satan in the smoke clouds, just as others see the Virgin Mary
in their Cinnabons. Surprisingly, however, a recent Time/CNN
poll showed that a whopping one third of all Americans are
now checking the news for apocalyptic signs. And raptureready.com
webmaster Todd Strandberg joyfully updates his "Rapture Index"
as events unfold.
While Armageddon aficionados might be easily dismissed, when
Brent Scowcroft says an attack on Iraq will lead to Armageddon
and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa warns it will
"open the gates of hell," these matters take on more weight.
Likewise, when a Saudi diplomat explains that Bush's "obsession"
with Iraq will lead to tragedy, one thing becomes starkly
clear: Armageddon, tragedy and "gates of hell," aren't words
traditionally used by generals and ambassadors.
Various mainstream sources have also reported that Christian
Zionists are campaigning to oust the Palestinians in order
to make way for the Second Coming of Christ. Considering Biblical
prophecy a mandate for awarding regional control to Israel
(while downplaying another aspect of the "to do" list - conversion
of the Jews), conservative Christians are not only funding
Jewish settlers, but garnering immense influence in Washington.
The secretive Council for National Policy, for example, which
ABC News labeled "the most powerful conservative group you've
never heard of," includes John Ashcroft, Tommy Thomson and
"Left Behind" author Tim LaHaye as former members.
Despite pressure from the Democratic National Committee,
the Bush campaign refuses to release a tape of the rumored
"king-making" speech G.W gave before the council in 1999,
fueling speculation that the council was responsible for his
presidential nomination. Whether that's true or not, as the
Washington Post reported last December, "For the first time
since religious conservatives became a modern political movement,
the president of the United States has become the movement's
de facto leader."
Those looking for more scientific explanations for End Times
hoopla can find them. The Mayan calendar, for example, ends
abruptly on December 21, 2012. Decoded from Mayan text, it
centers on precise mathematical equations, and, unlike other
ancient calendars, is more accurate than our own. Orthodox
Jewish mathematicians have attempted to decode the Bible,
as well. Based on the premise that hidden messages are embedded
within the Torah, as a sort of in a crossword puzzle of world
events, this method was brought to the public attention in
1997, when Michael Drosnin's The Bible Code became
a New York Times bestseller. Using a letter-based numerological
system created by Jewish mystics and facilitated by computer
technology, Drosnin concluded that the Holocaust, Hiroshima
and Kennedy killings were among major events foretold in the
first five books of the Bible. He also used the code to predict
the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin (whom he personally warned)
and searched the Mezuzah scroll for signs of the Apocalypse.
There he found "terrorism" encoded with "world war," and "atomic
holocaust" aligned with the year 2006. For fans of the Mayan
prophecies, 2012 is encoded with the phrase "earth annihilated."
It should be noted, however, that Drosnin has his share of
detractors, even among scientists who endorse the Bible code.
One mathematician used Drosnin's technique to decode Moby
Dick, and found hidden messages regarding the assassination
of Gandhi, Leon Trostsky and Martin Luther King, while another
used Drosnin's method to discover the phrase, "the code is
bogus" embedded in Genesis.
A fake Nostradamus quote that snaked its way around the Internet
was similarly debunked. Written by a student mimicking the
French physician's style, it read that "2 twin brothers torn
apart by chaos" would be the catalyst for World War III. Identified
as a hoax, it detracted from Nostradamus' eerie prophecy that
a "King of Terror" would descend from the skies and usher
in a devastating global war. Though Nostradamus predicted
this would occur in 1999, one quatrain referred to "hollow
mountains" and the "new city" which, in retrospect, sounds
like New York skyscrapers. Author Francis X. King explained
it this way. "After the descent of the 'King of Terror," he
wrote, in 1994, "the world [will] be ravaged by conflict of
a previously unknown ferocity." Nostradamus cites a 13-year
alliance between the U.S. and Russia which falls apart when
both sides "give into barbarian power."
Of course, anyone doing the math will uncover monumental
inconsistencies while surfing Doomsday dials. If the Mayans
and Mezuzah scroll are correct, life as we know it will end
in 2012, yet Nostradamus suggests this war will rage for 27years.
And Christian Zionists won't be satisfied until the Jews control
Jerusalem and rebuild God's temple, whenever that might be.
In times of uncertainty, however, people reach for explanations
where none exist. Whether one calls it faith or superstition,
we seem to have an innate need to understand that which we
cannot. On one hand, it's silly to put stock in such things,
while on the other, Hamlet's observation that, "There are
more things in heaven and earth. . . than are dreamt of in
[our] philosophy" has never been more timely.
Which brings us back to King's 1994 translation. In the opening
pages of his book, NOSTRADAMUS: Prophecies Fulfilled and
Predictions for the Millennium & Beyond, he says Nostradamus
warned that a world leader aligned with a necromantic cult
would be responsible for "setting the East aflame." Anyone
familiar with Skull and Bones should understand why believers
question George Bush's role in this apocalyptic vision, though
a Cheney/Bohemian Grove connection fits, too. Mention any
of this at a cocktail party, however, and people will most
certainly move to the other side of the room. Even when accompanied
with credible warnings on how a U.S.-led attack against the
Middle East will lead to Armageddon and open "the gates of
hell," talk of Nostradamus and Mayans will make you sound
weird, if not crazy.
In any event, the question "What harm can Bush do?" now seems
woefully na´ve, just as the phrase "it's not the end of the
world" isn't quite as convincing. Odds are, it's not the end
of the world. But until the Bush bunch leaves the White House,
it will probably feel like it is.