The timid, equivocating, and compromising behavior of the Democrats today — in Congress and among the “top tier” presidential candidates — is despicable, arguably criminal, and gravely dangerous to their political ambitions and to the nation’s future.
The Democrats will not confront and discredit the most comprehensive and egregious of the Bush Administration’s countless untruths: the utterly fraudulent “War on Terror.” Instead they buy into the mega-lie, trying to outdo the Republicans in “keeping America safe from terrorism,” or outbidding them in praising “our brave men and women in uniform.” The Democrats have anxiously granted each of the President’s funding requests for the war and have acquiesced twice on the domestic spying issue, in the name of “national security.”
The Democrats benefit no one in claiming to be better fighters in a bogus war. We need them to cease totally their engagement in it and to expose the sham instead.
The violence called the “War on Terror” did not spring from the horrors of 9/11, as the Bush Administration falsely and consistently asserts. The aggressive militarism we witness in Iraq and Afghanistan was preordained years earlier in the crackpot ideology of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a group of neoconservative rightwing extremists. They came to power in the Administration of George W. Bush, and undertook immediately and successfully to transform a misguided concept into catastrophic reality.
These people advocate, in their own words, “global hegemony” and preemptive war to sustain it. They seek to maintain with military superiority America’s status as the world’s lone superpower, unchallenged and unchallengeable, and to attack any nation threatening it. Included explicitly is the need to take control of the vast oil and gas resources in the Middle East.
This retrograde strategy of bald imperialism was often expressed in tactical terms. On four different occasions, in formal, written, signed, and published documents, PNAC people sought the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The first threat was issued in 1992 — in Richard Cheney’s Defense Department under George Bush I (who publicly denounced it) — and the last in September of 2000, four months before George Bush II was inaugurated.
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For 18 years, “global hegemony” remained at the radical fringe of mainstream political thought; it was ridiculed, rejected, or ignored. But in 2001 it was injected intact into the structures of U.S. foreign and defense policy, when 29 PNAC ideologues moved into pivotal positions in the Bush Administration. Richard Cheney as Vice President, Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Richard Armitage, and 23 other secretariat-level officials quickly dominated the policymaking process in the areas of energy security, defense, and foreign affairs.
The decision to invade Iraq was formalized in the first ten days of the new Administration, and operational planning was begun soon thereafter. Weeks later Afghanistan was targeted as well.
The premeditated wars had nothing to do with terrorism: 9/11 was still six months in the future. The wars had much to do with “global hegemony” — and the oil and gas resources of Iraq and the Caspian Basin.
The attacks on the Trade Towers and the Pentagon provided a fortuitous and spectacular opportunity. After the months of planning and preparation for hegemonic, preemptive wars, here was a unique and credible means of disguising and launching them. The opportunity was seized in a heartbeat, and a monumental fantasy, the “War on Terror,” was born. It was and remains a calculated smokescreen.
The mainstream press, true to its notable and noted irresponsibility, has yet to disclose this epic deception, but the story is indisputable: it is fully documented elsewhere. (For merely the most recent example, see The Mega-Lie Called the War on Terror: A Masterpiece of Propaganda .)
If the Democrats are not fully aware of this, they are criminally negligent. If they are aware of it and choose to ignore it, elevating partisan political advantage over the rule of law, they are criminal accomplices.
Either way, they are placing in immense jeopardy a Democratic victory in 2008. Rank-and-file Democrats — and many decent, thinking citizens of other political persuasions — are appalled and outraged by the inertia in Washington, by the prancing superficial politicking while dozens of Americans, Afghanis, and Iraqis die each day in immoral, illegal, and useless violence. Few of these voters are likely to be enthusiastic about waffling, triangulating Democrats.
The Democrats have a recent record of demonstrated brilliance in losing Presidential elections, and the Democratic Congress at the moment is held in lower esteem than President Bush. A Democratic sweep in 2008 is by no means a given.
But the Democrats’ flaccid accommodating poses a far greater hazard: it imperils our nation’s institutions of governance and the character of our public life. The lying, deception, and distortion practiced by the Bush Administration, its secrecy, corrupt cronyism, tragic incompetence, repeated violations of Constitutional norms, and unmatched fiscal profligacy simply cannot stand unchallenged if our nation is to survive as we know and cherish it. George Bush has reconstituted the res publica , the “public thing,” into a state of crypto-fascism; absent a conscious disclosure and rejection by the Democrats, what can return us to decency and sustainable democracy?
The Democrats seem willing, however, only to issue softball rebukes to the Bush Administration and its counterfeit war. They offer non-binding resolutions and hopeful deadlines for troop withdrawals, applaud the shameful testimony of General Petraeus, and hasten to chastise MoveOn.Org for calling it that.
If the Democrats expect a clear — and deserved — victory in 2008, the Bush Administration and its “War on Terror” must be repudiated, not merely rebuked. The crypto-fascism Mr. Bush has created must be stopped dead in its tracks and vigorously reversed.
In the minds of millions of Americans the grounds for impeachment are superabundant. That would accomplish the repudiation, but the Democrats refuse, whining “We don’t have the votes.”
That alibi is laughably specious. How can you count the votes in the jury before the trial begins, before the evidence is marshaled and presented? No, the Democrats don’t lack the votes: they can’t possibly know if they do or don’t. They lack courage and integrity. But let us for the moment yield to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Reid, and the others and leave impeachment off the table.
We must believe the partisans in the Congress today all share a genuine dedication to the nation’s long-term well being. We must believe they would be well served by the truth about the “War on Terror,” and would not back away from acting on it.
The Democrats have an inescapable responsibility — and the indisputable power — to provide that truth, and they don’t “need the votes” to do so. The chairs of every committee in both houses are Democrats, and they can orchestrate investigations and hearings virtually unrestrained, with full powers of subpoena and the ordering of testimony under oath.
We were promised inquiries when the Democrats recaptured Congress, and yes there have been some — into such trivial issues, by comparison, as the clumsy political firings of U.S. attorneys. Yes, there has been sworn testimony — that the witnesses’ memories had lapsed. Yes, subpoenas have been issued — and ignored. If the Democrats can do no better than this, they do not deserve to sweep the elections in 2008 and to govern the country thereafter.
We need two vigorous and sharply-focused inquiries, and we need them now: one into the Administration’s warmaking activities in the early days of its tenure, long before 9/11, and the other into the facts and true circumstances of that horrendous day.
There is substantial, credible, and responsible disbelief about the Bush Administration’s official explanation of 9/11. Dismissing the skeptics, however, as “conspiracy crazies” has become a popular sport.
This is extremely unfortunate. The issue demands not to be trivialized, and deserves more than acrimonious debate and sarcastic accusations. If there is serious and widespread doubt about any one of the elements of 9/11 — the failure of our air defenses, the nature of the collapse of the several buildings, the Administration’s initial refusal and subsequent delay and obstructionism in seeking the facts, the conflicts-of-interest in the 9/11 Commission, the rigor and veracity of the 9/11 Report — then there is ample reason to call for a new inquiry, one of unquestioned rigor and integrity. And no one can doubt there are doubts: we must have that inquiry.
We must also learn the truth of the covert war planning underway in the first six months of the Bush Administration: how and why the National Security Council virtually declared war on Iraq in January of 2001; how and why the Security Council and Richard Cheney’s Energy Task Force were directed, in a memorandum dated February 3, 2001, to “meld” their policies; how and why that memo spoke of “the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields”; how and why the Cheney Task Force was studying maps of the Iraqi oil fields in March of 2001; how and why the privatized structure of Iraq’s postwar oil industry was designed in the U.S. State Department a year before the war began; how and why the secret White House Iraq Group was directed by the President to market the war, through its skills in perception management; how and why the Bush Administration continued negotiating Afghan pipeline rights-of-way with the Taliban (unsuccessfully), until weeks before the Trade Towers were hit; whether in fact 9/11 served as the “new Pearl Harbor” called for and anticipated by the PNAC people exactly a year earlier; how and why the military invasion of sovereign nations trumped the demonstrated efficacy of international police action in apprehending terrorists; how and why President Bush twice refused offers from the Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden; how and why the Bush Administration was ready with financing to build a Trans-Afghanistan pipeline and with permanent military bases to defend it 16 months after invading the country; how and why five permanent “super bases” are nearing completion in Iraq to accommodate up to 100,000 troops; how and why the U.S. Embassy under construction in Baghdad today is ten times larger than any other American embassy in the world.
The “War on Terror” is the signature accomplishment of the Bush Administration. Secrecy and subterfuge are the signature processes of its governing. Before we can choose intelligently our next President, and our next Congress, we need to know the truth about this war, in all its dimensions.
The hesitating, timorous Democrats don’t need to “have the votes” to provide this truth. They need only the dedication to the survival of the rule of law, and to their oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.
If the Democrats refuse to seek the truth, they will not deserve nor can they expect the financial support, the votes, or the respect of patriotic and concerned Americans.
Richard W. Behan lives and writes on Lopez Island, off the northwest coast of Washington state. He is working on his next book, To Provide Against Invasions: Corporate Dominion and America’s Derelict Democracy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. (This essay is deliberately not copyrighted: it may be reproduced without restriction.)
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