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Bush Knows the Jig is Up: So Let's Hurry on to Baghdad
February 21, 2003
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

One can almost sense a palpable shifting of momentum, from an unrestricted Bush war-juggernaut rolling to its bloody unfolding to an administration caught between Iraq and a hard place, condemned if it unleashes the dogs of war (imperial warmonger), condemned if it pulls back and bides its time (wimp).

In a sense, what's transpiring reminds one of the delicious secret of "The Wizard of Oz": more and more people are beginning to sense, and sometimes even see, that the "all-powerful" governmental leader behind the curtain is just a flawed little man broadcasting to an overly-awed (and/or frightened) polity. Or, to shift fairytales: "The Emperor's New Clothes," where the leader, who has been nude all this while for all to see, suddenly finds that his subjects, heretofore willing to swallow the illusion of the emperor's new garments, realize that he's not wearing any.

In short, Bush is just another leader - not even an elected one at that - who, to disguise his incompetency and true motives, has lived on propaganda and falsification, and now the jig is up. His citizens are beginning to see through the charade - even many who once supported him, including a good many ordinary, moderate Republicans, appalled at the powers assumed by Big Government and its willingness to eviserate the Constitution in its push toward more and more authoritarian control.

Certainly those outside the United States have seen through America's ostensible leader, and they, being more familiar with imperial arrogance, have not liked what they've seen. No, not at all. Even though they know they might pay a high price for telling the emperor to his face that he's full of bullbleep and that they refuse to have blood on their hands just because he says it's time to go to war, they have stood up. (Sad to say, there are some signs of wavering these days.)

What's about to come down over the next several weeks doesn't look hopeful. Bush&Co. are pulling out all the stops - threatening, bribing, cajoling, arm-twisting, bullying - in an effort to smooth the path to war, to give fig-leaf cover to their rush to military onslaught devoid of overt evidence to justify the haste.

There IS going to be a war, you know. Bush&Co. will not have it any other way. The Bush&Co. domestic and global agenda requires it. How can you get your extremist domestic agenda passed unless a frightened Congress and populace rallies around the flag being unfurled in a Mideast desert? How can the U.S. exercise its "benevolent hegemony" of the globe (and totally by coincidence, have effective control of the world's natural resources) unless would-be upstarts get bombed to smithereens, to demonstrate to others that they'd better not make the same mistake of getting in our way? So, it's full speed to Baghdad.

Doesn't matter if the allies are opposed, doesn't matter if thousands of Iraqi citizens get slaughtered as the missiles rain down (no wonder "Guernica" was covered up when Powell arrived at the U.N.), doesn't matter if North Korea insanely is threatening nuclear war against the U.S., doesn't matter if the American citizenry doesn't want a pre-emptive war on its conscience, doesn't matter if America is torn apart by dissension and economic disaster, doesn't matter if millions are demonstrating in the streets of America even before bombing has begun - none of that matters. (Reminiscent of what Bush once told an ordinary citizen when that man deigned to criticize him at some public event: "What do I care what you think?")

But, let's clear up something right away. Iraq War #2 already has begun. U.S. special forces are currently operating in northern Iraq, moving to protect the oilfields from Saddam's orders to destroy them. U.S./British bombing of military targets is happening on a more frequent basis. Propaganda leaflets are already being released from U.S. planes over Iraq, warning soldiers not to follow the orders of their superiors to use biological or chemical armaments or risk "war crime" trials later.

So the war is on. All that's missing is "Shock & Awe" - the U.S. plan for the first several days of missile attacks (hundreds and hundreds of them) aimed at Baghdad and Basra and elsewhere - this to break the back and morale of Iraq's defense forces and to keep civilians from wanting to fight when the U.S./British troops arrive in downtown Baghdad.

There is little doubt that the U.S. onslaught will defeat the Iraqi forces - ignoring for a moment what might happen if and when Saddam uncorks his biochem agents and aims them at the invaders. But, per usual when it comes to Bush foreign/military policy, little thought has been given to the consequences of what happens when the dogs of war are loosed on the world scene, especially on that ready-to-explode part of the world. (But this is in keeping with Bush&Co.'s we'll-deal-with-the-consequences-later domestic agenda - for example, pushing for more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate sectors in the face of an economy that already is in shambles because of earlier take-the-money-and-run policies.)

So, here we are - we liberals and progressives and radicals and moderates - congratulating ourselves on our marvelous work of the past few months, building a stop-the-war coaliton here and abroad that culminated in those fantastically impressive marches and rallies and demonstrations around the world and throughout the U.S. last weekend (perhaps as many as 11 million! peacefully protesting). True, those demonstrations were effective morale boosters and put the fear of electoral defeat in the rulers of a number of countries as they saw millions of their normally passive, ordinary citizens marching in the streets.

But Bush&Co. will have their war. So, what we in the opposition need to do now is to start reckoning with an overt, shooting-war situation: How can we throw sand into our government's war machine? How can we mobilize for peace candidates? How can we help the Democrats become a true party of opposition? How can we best help educate more of our fellow citizens - the ordinary, somewhat-troubled middle-class ones sitting on the sidelines for now - about the duplicity of our rulers and the dangerous policies being carried out in our names? How can we move toward impeachment for this incompetent, dangerous-to-American-interests Administration?

In short, how can we use the energies displayed on the streets in the past few months to build a dynamic, unstoppable Movement for peace and justice and economic recovery?

Those of us who were active in the civil rights/anti-Vietnam War Movement of the '60s and '70s know how much work is involved in building to critical mass. it took years and years of hard, slogging work to eduate and agitate and begin to change the way the great American muddle class saw the world and their political leaders devoid of illusion.

That transition can be accomplished much faster in 2003 - especially given the speed with which news and information and communications can be disseminated these days, via the Internet and television and cell phones.

Don't get me wrong. It's not going to be easy. And it's going to come at a heavy price for many - who will be persecuted, arrested, beaten, perhaps killed, censored, etc. - as the forces of reaction fight tooth and nail to hang onto their greed-and-power agenda.

But none of us doubt that the battle needs to be waged - in as creative and life-affirming way as possible. Let's continue to try to stop the war from happening, but, if - as seems likely - we can't, let's get our nascent Movement in gear and revved-up for the fight ahead. If you love your country, and your Constitution, and the world, and your kids, we can do no less. Onward! #


Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught government and international relations at various universities, worked as an activist journalist during "The Sixties," was with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 20 years, and is co-editor of The Crisis Papers.

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