BUSH WORLD – TOO MANY STATES – by Stephen Lendman
Choose from the following:
a. U.S. – imperial state
b. U.S. – terror state
c. U.S. – criminal state
d. U.S. – rogue state
e. U.S. – corporate state
f. U.S. – military state
g. U.S. – aggressor state
h. U.S. – torture state
i. U.S. – all of the above
Answer[s] found below. One other choice can be added – a state of disgrace. One choice not included – a model democratic state. One choice not needed is a state of confusion. The evidence is clear, overwhelming and conclusive. Explanation below with some brief background.
The history of U.S. governance has never been an exemplary standard to emulate. Although our leaders always claim it is, and all of us were taught it in school, this nation has never been a model democracy or champion of the rights of all people everywhere. Even our venerated Founding Fathers, elevated to near-sainthood by succeeding generations, were flawed mortals. A few hundred years of slavery and the near extermination of our native people [“merciless Indian savages” they were called in our Declaration of Independence] are just two stark examples that come to mind. And incredible as it seems, this nation since its birth has been at war with one or more adversaries every year without exception up to the present day. That’s in addition to all our other attempts to destabilize or overthrow governments of other nations for the “audacity” of their wanting to decide how to govern in their own national interest rather than do it in service to ours.
With so many instances of U.S. meddling and unwarranted intrusion to choose from, it’s hard to cite a single example. But a little known and now forgotten event is especially important. As early as 1917, the U.S. and U.K. [then the powerful British empire] were on record as wanting to destroy the newly emerged Soviet state. In 1918 [3 months before the end of WWI] the U.K., commanding a multi-nation force including thousands of U.S. marines, invaded Russia intervening in their civil war to fight against the Bolsheviks, who, of course, won. The importance of this act of aggression [unimagined at the time] and the seminal effect it had on events that followed changed history. We stayed embroiled until 1920, caused great upheaval and added human suffering, contributed to the rise of Stalin and Hitler, probably helped cause WW11 and all the fallout thereafter, and [aside from the Philippines] was the first international intervention that would eventually transform the U.S. from a regional to a world imperial power displacing the British. Those “great democrats,” Lloyd George of Britain and Woodrow Wilson, began it along with France, Canada, Japan and over a dozen other nations. The even “greater” most Machiavellian of modern statesmen, Winston Churchill [the Minister of War and Air in the Lloyd George government and 22 years before he became the British Prime Minister] fully supported it. Both nations feared the creation of a serious rival economic model that might spread like a virus to other nations and undertook a policy of “preventive war” to annihilate it at its birth. They also later allied themselves shamelessly with Mussolini, Hitler, Franco [during the 1930s before WW11] and all other fascist and tinhorn tyrants after the war as long as they embraced the capitalist economic model and dutifully genuflected to U.S. authority.
An important footnote to the campaign against the new communist/socialist state was the “great red scare” and Palmer raids from 1918 – 1921. Initiated by A. Mitchell Palmer, Woodrow Wilson’s Attorney General [the John Ashcroft of his day] and his aide, J. Edgar Hoover, the raids capitalized on a post-Soviet revolution state-induced climate of fear and repression against communists, socialists, anarchists, radical unionists and even 5 time socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs who served time in prison for opposing and speaking out against the U.S. entry into WW1. Debs, in fact, ran his 1920 and last presidential campaign while in prison and received 1 million votes losing to that “great American president” Warren G. Harding. Harding wasn’t all bad – he released Debs on Christmas day, 1921, a sort of backhanded Christmas present to a great man.
Through the years as the nation grew and matured, things got worse. In wealth, influence and dominance we peaked post-WW 11. With most of Europe and much of Asia devastated by war, only the U.S., unscathed, stood preeminent as the world’s only superpower, militarily, politically and economically. Even though the Soviets, once they acquired nuclear weapons, were anointed as “the other superpower” and a dire threat to the “free world” by our political establishment, that country was in such ruin it didn’t begin to return even to modest normality until about 1960. And the truth was, especially post WW11, the Russians were never coming and the “cold war” scare was that era’s “war on terror.” It was used as a convenient ruse to scare the public to support the building of the military-industrial complex Dwight Eisenhower warned against – while he himself went along with it. The U.S., in fact, had no threatening enemy [but the Soviet Union did, and we were it], and was mostly free to decide how the post-war world would be run with it in charge and using the political and financial institutions it helped create to carry out its bidding. It built and maintained enough military power to enforce its will against any potential challenger including those nations’ leaders not beholden to U. S. authority. The Soviet Union could never match us, except for their nuclear weapons and effective delivery systems that could be used against us in retaliation had we launched a nuclear strike against them first.
As disgraceful as our past record was, Bush-Cheney took it to a new level of shame and outrage with the onset of their extreme reactionary, statist and sociopathic administration. Let’s be clear, the current Bush-Cheney leadership in essence is a continuation of and natural extension of all that preceded it. It’s pursued much the same policies seeking the same ends as its predecessors. What sets this regime apart from all those it followed is its brazen uncompromising methods, fanatical extremism, bold rhetoric and almost pathological insistence on secrecy. All other U.S. administrations at least paid lip service [and most often adhered] to the Constitution, the rule of law, international law, the sacred Geneva Conventions we’re a signatory to, multilateralism, international treaties and more. Not the Bush administration. From its inception in January, 2001, and especially after 9/11/01, the mask came off and the true face of its intent and methods were revealed – make or break the rules as it choses, ignore long-standing international norms, pursue its policies unilaterally and unchecked, let no other nation interfere or stand in its way and back it all up with a strong military ready and willing to act against any outlier. Nobel laureate Harold Pinter expressed it well several years ago when he said “U.S. foreign policy can be defined as follows: kiss my arse or I’ll kick your head in.” And he said that during the Clinton years.
The record of Bush-Cheney policies is unambiguous – a permanent state of war against a so-called and ill-defined “terrorism” threat [Dick Cheney’s “global war on terrorism” for decades to come]; an unstated class war at home against the poor and most disadvantaged and a partly hidden one against most middle income working people and families; the most massive transfer of wealth in our history from lower and middle income workers and families to the wealthy; an undisguised extreme alliance between the federal government and corporate America [the most extreme hard-wiring of government to business interests in U.S. history, especially in the energy and defense sectors] – a literal takeover or buyout of government by giant corporations for their own benefit; a systematic assault against all social services including an attempt to end those held most dear – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; a continued campaign to weaken the role and destroy the power of organized labor; the remaking of the U.S. into a garrison state; an attempt to go further and move the nation closer to a full-blown police state – through legislation like the U.S.A. Patriot Act and its newer proposed version that would make it even more extreme if enacted, stacking the federal judiciary including the Supreme Court with the most extreme far right ideologues, attempting to subvert the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act that prohibits use of the U.S. military for domestic law enforcement, and most insidiously the use of Executive Orders under the radar to give the Chief Executive near dictatorial power and a policy of extreme secrecy along with it to keep the public unaware of what’s happening. All that and a weak-kneed opposition willing to support nearly all Bush policies with only a hint of some opposition recently.
Further, add to the above Bush-Cheney’s assault on the environment; disregard for human and civil rights; the desire to privatize everything including the most essential elements of the commons like all health care [including for seniors now on Medicare and public health services]; Social Security; education [using vouchers to destroy the public system], water, you name it if it can yield a profit – maybe even the air we breathe one day if they can meter it; the corruption of the political/electoral process to a level never before achieved – with corporate dollars more than ever before able to buy the government they choose and corporations able to control election results through easily manipulated electronic voting machines they produce, program and service [with no verifiable paper trail as a validity check]; the transformation of the U.S. into a pariah state reviled and/or feared by the great majority around the world; the creation of a modern-day Sparta writ large with unchallengable military might and openly claiming the exclusive right to use it as it chooses, including a nuclear first strike, along with a formidable national homeland security apparatus and intelligence network – all of which combined poses the most dire threat to world and national security and to democracy at home.
The Bush-Cheney administration has recklessly and wantonly pursued policies to create and secure a global U.S. empire to control and exploit with no rivals the world’s resources, markets and cheap labor. It has openly made its intentions clear through its belligerence and diplomatic bullying at the U.N. and in one-on-one dealings especially with developing nations. At other times it’s acted more furtively to get its way as it has and continues to do in its trade negotiations. Under the guise of so-called “free trade” the U.S. goal has been to gain every advantage for U.S. transnational corporations while giving up little in return. But beginning in Chiapas, Mexico on New Year’s Day 1994 the Zapatista National Liberation Army [EZLN] staged an armed rebellion against the newly enacted NAFTA “free-trade” agreement. Then in Seattle in 1999 they encountered a level of “people resistance” at home they had never before experienced, and after a temporary pause post-9/11, that resistance continues unabated to the present.
At the November, 2005 34 nation summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina, as many as 100,000 Argentines protested the Bush visit to their country in a mass expression of contempt and derision against this president and U.S. neoliberal and imperial policy while huge cowds greeted and cheered their Bolivarian populist hero and champion, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias who spoke out in support of the people and railed against the destructive policies of Bush-Cheney. At the end of the summit, the U.S. proposal for a sweeping hemispheric “free trade” zone failed after it met stiff resistance and was rejected by 5 attending nations including Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. The stage then was set for a lively WTO Doha ministerial round ahead in Hong Kong in December for which difficult pre-negotiations have already lowered final agreement expectations. After the September, 2003 failed round in Cancun, Mexico, there’s no guarantee about the outcome this time but a certain guarantee of extreme U.S. pressure and intimidation to force opposing nations to succumb to our will. Those doing it guarantee great benefits for the transnational giants and the elite in their countries and more poverty and human misery for their own people. And working people here at home are also affected with the continued loss of higher paying skilled manufacturing and other jobs exported to lower wage countries.
Nothing characterizes the Bush-Cheney junta more than its policy of military aggression post 9/11. In its first 4 years it committed two acts of illegal aggression against countries posing no military threat [Afghanistan and Iraq], carried out a middle of the night coup against a third country with a democratically elected leader beloved by his people [President Jean Bertrand Aristide in Haiti], and attempted and nearly succeeded in carrying out one other coup against another democratically elected leader [President Hugo Chavez Frias in Venezuela]. They did this claiming these 4 nations posed a threat to our national security or were unstable or failed states and/or their leaders were corrupt, dictators or demagogues and that we acted to “liberate” those nations and bring “democracy” to the people in each instance. All untrue and deliberate lies. More on this below.
In 2001, his first year in office, Bush’s ratings were sinking, and his inner circle was seeking a way to revive them. 9/11 solved their dilemma transforming overnight a mediocre president, put in office by 5 arrogant Supreme Court Justices who annulled the will of the people, into a larger-than-life “leader” spoken of in the same breath as Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR. The republican spin machine along with their complicit corporate media partners played no small role in this near-miraculous reshaping. All significant policies and events that followed were only possible because of the effect of that fateful day, which has now been investigated independently in great detail revealing a sinister and disturbing story far different from the official explanation and the so-called 9/11 Commission investigation and report that suppressed the truth in their shameless whitewash. Had we known early on what’s now known, and had that information been revealed to the public, Bush-Cheney probably would have been impeached and removed from office. Instead, until the Iraq war began turning sour and the stated reasons for undertaking it were shown to be false, George Bush was portrayed as worthy of Mt. Rushmore status instead of ignominy or even criminal guilt.
We now know beyond any doubt, from thorough investigation and documented evidence, that the U.S. intelligence community knew as early as 1995 of terrorist plans to strike the World Trade Center by an air attack, but nothing was done to prepare for, prevent it or inform the public. In fact, from 1995 to 9/11/01 efforts to counter such a terrorist attack were deliberately curtailed and obstructed. It’s also now known prior to 9/11 that hijacked civilian planes would be used to attack key U.S. buildings like the World Trade Center, Pentagon and/or others in New York and/or Washington, and it was known these attacks would occur on or around 9/11/01. Since that day, a deliberate and systematic effort has been made at the highest levels of government to suppress the evidence to allow the Bush-Cheney administration to be able to pursue its extremist policies without opposition and with strong support from a public ignorant of the truth.
To gain public support for a state of permanent war abroad and oppressive assault on civil liberties at home, Bush-Cheney used a proven effective golden rule technique. They created a climate of fear in the public mind to allow them license to do as they pleased to appear to achieve promised homeland security. [In fact, we’re now far less secure because of their actions.] At key moments, they cited supposed credible [but unsubstantiated and likely fabricated] intelligence claiming an imminent potential terrorist attack. They further heightened the level of fear through clever color-coding, highlighted and repeated round-the-clock by their complicit corporate media partners, and then sought to allay it by clear and forceful action including going to war, witch-hunt mass roundups and illegal detentions with no allowed contact with families or legal counsel, and immigrants-of-color and fundamentalist Islam bashing to create an illusory bogeyman – all done, they claimed, to protect the public and national security. All deliberate calculated lies.
Reichsmarschall Herman Goering, second in command to Adolph Hitler, explained the technique well in a private interview conducted at his Nuremburg trial after WW11 [before he took his own life] by prison psychologist U.S. Army Capt. Gustave Gilbert. When asked how the Nazis ever convinced the German public to go along with all they did, Goering candidly explained that “common people don’t want war.” But it’s easy for leaders “to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship………..All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.” It worked well for Bush-Cheney, at least for a while.
The U.S. record of illegal aggression against weaker adversaries goes back to the beginning of the republic. However, it can be argued that it became standard practice post WW11 once the U.S. became the preeminent world power. From Korea to Vietnam to Granada to Panama to the Gulf War to Yugoslavia/Serbia/Kosovo, the U.S. in each instance committed an act of illegal aggression against other nations posing no threat whatever to this country. In each case we were lied to about the reasons for doing it, and in each case the chief executive with no congressional authority [as constitutionally required] acted on his own. In each of the foregoing instances, the president did pay lip service to and made a pretense of adhering to the law and common international norms. With the onset of the current Bush-Cheney administration everything changed post 9/11. This administration on its own, with no pretense and no regard for the law in any form or concern about world opinion, committed acts of illegal aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq that continue under an equally illegal occupation of these countries by the U.S. and forces from other countries the Bush administration has enlisted as war crime allies. The Bush-Cheney administration is guilty of the same crime as high level Nazis, including Herman Goering, were tried for and convicted of at the Nuremberg trials after WW11. But victors aren’t indicted and brought to trial, only losers. That’s victor’s justice, which is no justice at all when the victor is the war criminal.
U.S. and especially the Bush-Cheney administration’s designs on Afghanistan and Iraq go back at least to 1992 and a Pentagon document written by Paul Wolfowitz and the now-indicted Richard Cheney aide Lewis Libby. Rejected at the time as off-the-wall and over-the-top, the document was an outline of a plan for U.S. world dominance with no allowed challenge from other nations. In September 2000, the neo-conservative think tank Project for a New American Century [PNAC – established in 1997] revived the plan and put meat on its bones in a document they called – Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century. PNAC members included Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and many other high ranking current Bush-Cheney administration officials. This document was an imperial plan and for U.S. global dominance to extend well into the future and to be enforced with unchallengeable military power. The PNAC plan was a blueprint for the current “war on terror” and “preventive war” and was a 21st century update of the Truman Doctrine, conceived by State Department advisor and analyst George Kennan who was the ideological godfather of “containment” and the “cold war.” Kennan’s plan became the first post WW11 formulated strategy for U.S. global military, political and economic dominance.
In September, 2002 the Bush administration made its intentions even clearer in its National Security Strategy. This “imperial grand strategy” was nothing less than a declaration of “preventive war” against any nation or force this administration claimed to be a threat to our national security or an unstable or failed state [not defined] on its unsubstantiated say-so only. And it got still worse two months later when the Air Force Space Command issued their Strategic Master Plan FY 04 and Beyond which outlined their plan to “own outer space” as an exclusive franchise and weaponize it with the most advanced and destructive weapons and technology, including nuclear ones and unmanned space vehicles to surveille the entire planet.
Two other important U.S. planning documents are also key to understanding current Bush-Cheney policy and intent. One is the Department of Defense’s Joint Vision 2020 issued in May 2000 that outlined a plan for “full spectrum dominance” by any means including war as a strategy for achieving total global military and political control. The other is the Nuclear Policy Review of December, 2001 that shows how we might unilaterally decide to wage future war using first strike nuclear weapons. Both of these plans and the ones discussed above clearly show the great danger we all are in should the Bush-Cheney administration continue to act as they already have in Iraq and Afghanistan without restraint and with no regard for the potentially disastrous consequences.
Containing communism during the “cold war” became today’s permanent “war on terror” and current doctrine of “preventive war.” Invading and controlling Afghanistan and Iraq are two key parts of it and were planned long before 9/11. They were part of an overall “grand strategy” to control and/or contain all Central Eurasia and its essential resources to include all nations east of Poland to the Pacific, including China and Russia, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. Afghanistan was key to establishing an opening to that vast area as well as being in a strategic location for pipelines to transship Caspian oil to the west. And, of course, the U.S. had long coveted direct control of Iraq’s vast and largely untapped oil reserves [second in amount only to Saudi Arabia]. All this, with more to come, is a modern-day version of the 19th century “Great Game”, today pitting the U.S. against Russia, China and even possibly a united block of western European and/or Asian nations. One can only tremble trying to imagine how it all will play out.
It’s likely by all the current signals the U.S. is next targeting Iran, Syria and possibly Lebanon to solidify its iron grip on the Middle East, gain control of Iran’s vast oil reserves and serve the interests of the Ariel Sharon government in Israel by removing a threat it sees to its security, especially from Iran. And without a doubt, the U.S. is again targeting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias and the “viral threat” of his populist Bolivarian government for elimination by any means [preferably by elections they can manipulate] including assassination. But with 2 out-of-control tigers already by the tail, it seems hard to imagine Bush-Cheney would want to risk tangling with 3 or 4 more. They already know they’ve created in Iraq possibly the greatest blunder and disaster in U.S. history and that the battle for control of that country can’t be won. They also know as renown Middle East journalist Robert Fisk has said that “they must leave [Iraq], they will leave, and they can’t leave.” But in spite of this hopeless quagmire, they don’t seem ready to let it or any other formidable obstacle stand in their way [or maybe they’re just afflicted with tunnel vision], so it’s quite possible and maybe likely they’ll add new battlefronts in the new year. Should they do it, the consequences would be enormous, far-reaching, incalculable and even devastating.
In its ruthless policies at home and abroad, the Bush-Cheney junta is a rogue, criminal, terror state unlike any other that’s ever preceded it – likely the most unrestrained and dangerous ever. It’s overwhelming power, with weapons and technology of almost unimaginable destructive capability, and an out-of control and reckless intent to use them with impunity against any stated adversary is a classic definition of criminal terror and a rogue state. The U.S. doesn’t just wage war. It does so without restraint using every weapon in its arsenal thought necessary to achieve its objective, including nuclear, illegal chemical and possibly biological agents [in the 1950s and later, the U.S. tested the effects of toxic biological agents through aerosolization and dispersal on our own unwitting population in selected U.S. cities including New York and San Francisco]. Through the years post WW1, the 1925 Geneva Protocol and various succeeding Geneva Weapons Conventions specifically outlawed the use of chemical and biological agents in any form for any reason in war. Although no Geneva Convention or other treaty specifically bans the use of radioactive uranium weapons including so-called depleted uranium [DU], these weapons are, in fact, illegal de facto and de jure if only judged by the standard of the Hague Convention of 1907 which prohibits use of any “poison or poisoned weapons.” DU weapons in all their forms and uses are radioactive and chemically toxic, and thus clearly fit the definition of poisonous weapons banned under the Hague Convention. Any use of them for any purpose is a war crime.
The U.S. military under Bush-Cheney in Afghanistan and Iraq has and continues to use these outlawed chemical and radioactive DU weapons in clear violation of international law this country is a signatory to. The U.S. uses various toxic substances and agents that fall into these two categories, the two most prominent being DU used in projectiles fired from aircraft and tanks and napalm-like white phosphorous bombs and shells, known as Willy Pete, that burn flesh to the bone and an updated version of napalm called Mark 77 firebombs which do about the same thing to flesh. Used against civilians, these weapons are illegal under the 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and as U.S. forces use them, they really are weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. military admits to using them – in their words “very sparingly.” That’s a deliberate lie based on clear documentary evidence from Fallujah alone that these weapons are used freely and indiscriminately against civilian and military targets and that use of these and all other of the most dangerous and destructive weapons are authorized by officials at the highest level of the Bush-Cheney administration.
In the Iraq border town of Al-Qaim as part of operation “steel curtain” and in nearby Husaybah in western Iraq, U.S. forces have attacked civilians as part of a broader effort against the Iraqi “resistance” using these and other illegal and questionable weapons like chemical gases, cluster bombs and a terror weapon called “flashettes” which explode and shoot out 1000s of nails in all directions with deadly results. White phosphorous shells and DU weapons are also being used in an operation based on the “Fallujah model” to destroy these cities and the people in them. Along with these terror weapons, all water and electricity in these towns were cut off, homes, schools and mosques destroyed or severely damaged, hospitals entered violently and the patients in them terrorized and/or taken prisoner and doctors targeted as they might treat the wounded thought to be part of the “resistance.” Overall, just as in Fallujah one year ago, in Tal Afar in September this year and elsewhere, a scorched earth policy is being employed to terrorize and destroy everyone and everything in the targeted areas. This seems to be the central depraved U.S. strategy to “win hearts and minds” and bring “democracy, humanitarian intervention and liberation U.S. style” to the Iraqi people. I doubt Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine would approve. The latter’s historic quote – “These are the times that try men’s souls” – is most apt in Iraq today and sadly here at home as well. And I wonder how Martin Luther King, if he were alive today, would update what he said in 1967when he called this country “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”
All the weapons discussed above as well as the more conventional ones are deadly and destructive and especially so when used against weak or defenseless adversaries and innocent civilians who just happen to be in the area attacked. However, DU weapons are especially dangerous and lethal. They’re the likely main cause of “Gulf war syndrome” causing chronic muscle and joint pain, fatigue, memory loss, birth deformities and a significant increase in cancer among those exposed – both Iraqis and U.S. Gulf war veterans. As many as 200,000 U.S. soldiers complained of these symptoms and problems following the 1991 war. No one knows how many Iraqis were and are affected, but clearly this illegal weapon along with about 12 years of brutal economic sanctions caused the death of over 1 million Iraqi civilians, at least half of them children, as well as an incalculable number of cancers and other serious and fatal illnesses that add to the death toll each day under an illegal occupation – in sum, a massive war crime of clear and deliberate genocide. The effects of DU exposure are already showing up in our military from the current Iraq war and probably from Afghanistan as well. With much longer deployment now in those countries than in the 1991 Gulf war, it’s likely hundreds of thousands more of our military will be affected by a new “Iraq and Afghanistan war syndrome.” And vast areas of Iraq especially are so contaminated with lethal radiation and other toxins in soil, water and air [that’s easily ingested into the lungs] they should be judged uninhabitable for many thousands of years.
In its campaign against Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military, despite repeated denials, systematically violated the rules and established codes of warfare [as established at the Geneva and Hague Conventions going back to the 1850s] including using banned weapons, mistreatment of prisoners and denying proper care for the sick and wounded. It also invented the category of “illegal combatant” that has no legal basis whatever. In addition, it’s done little to avoid civilian casualties and at times deliberately and willfully attacked civilian targets as part of an overall assault against a neighborhood, town or city. While always claiming to be targeting only “terrorist insurgents,” al-Queda elements or foreign fighters, nearly always those most affected were innocent civilians including women and children.
No target symbolized these brutal attacks more than Fallujah, a city of about 350,000 and site of repeated resistance against the illegal occupiers. After the killing of 4 American private military contractors [aka “paramilitary hired guns” with license to kill with impunity] in March, 2004, the U.S. military began a campaign of retribution against the city that culminated in November with a full force assault killing a large but unknown number of mostly civilians and injuring a great many more, causing vast destruction, and forcing half the population out of the city and into temporary camps under harsh conditions. The city was largely destroyed using “scorched earth” tactics in the manner described by a special forces colonel in Vietnam when he stated regarding the city of Ben Tre that “we had to destroy the town in order to save it.” Iraqis thought otherwise and haven’t forgotten the atrocities committed against them in Fallujah, a war crime by any standard of international law.
Since the March, 2003 illegal assault and invasion, war crimes have been widespread, systematic and sanctioned by those at the highest level in the Bush-Cheney administration. Probably no crimes resonate more than the systemic and officially approved use of torture. Since the first photographs and reports surfaced of U.S. personnel torturing prisoner/detainees held at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, it became apparent from eyewitness accounts and detainees later released that often brutal physical as well as cruel, inhumane, and degrading psychological torture has been systematically used as standard practice. Further evidence was obtained from leaked International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] reports, inquiries by Physicians for Human Rights and some reports by investigative journalists. At this time, it’s clear that torture is widely used at least at most U.S. prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo as well as being “subcontracted out” to other willing terror state partner countries like Syria, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere in a practice known as “extraordinary rendition.” In addition, secret CIA run prisons have been revealed in Romania, Poland and other unnamed countries where torture is used. Using torture routinely as a way to break down resistance and obtain intelligence not only doesn’t work, as is widely known, it’s a practice of extreme depravity for those nations using it, especially those claiming to be “democracies.”
Because of all the practices discussed above, the U.S. under Bush-Cheney is the world champion rogue, criminal, terror state. Thanks to them and their high-level officials and policies, the U.S. is feared and overwhelmingly reviled as a pariah nearly everywhere abroad and heading there at home. The term “ugly American” when first coined referred to the misbehavior of American tourists when traveling abroad. Today the term might be used to apply specifically to George Bush, who can’t escape mass protests against him whenever he travels abroad and at times at home, far greater and more frequent than any previous U.S. president would ever experience even occasionally. Through its reckless, outrageous and criminal practices, this administration squandered the overwhelming [but unjustified] world sympathy it had after 9/11 when Bush’s approval rating jumped from 51% on Sept. 10 to 86% 5 days later as polled by the Gallup organization. Today his approval rating at home is below 40% and dropping – surprising since his “base” is about 40%. As judged by world public opinion, Bush’s world is unmasked and clearly understood by the world’s majority. It’s one based on brazen unrestrained imperial world domination and rule; aiding the rich; depriving, demonizing and oppressing the poor and disadvantaged, especially people of color and immigrants from developing countries; ignoring the rule of law and international norms and backing it all up with overwhelming military power used willfully, brutally and recklessly around the world to achieve its ends. There’s no sign of a change in this policy. There’s every sign it will get worse. But the Bush administration may have an achilles heel that could prove its undoing. It’s afflicted with the sometimes fatal disease of hubris and is blinded by the notion that its way is not the right way. It’s wrong, dead wrong, and hopefully its miscalculation will be our salvation.
Overwhelming public disapproval alone may prove their undoing. But if there’s to be any true justice, Bush and Cheney should be impeached and made to answer for their crimes against the American people and against all those people abroad affected by their administration’s illegal aggression. Bush-Cheney and all officials at all levels in their administration connected to their criminal acts should be indicted and tried in federal courts, convicted of the most egregious possible crime of deliberately and willfully lying to take the nation to war and given the harshest penalty for their crime without the possibility of parole or pardon. They should also be taken to the International Criminal Court [ICC] at the Hague [even though the U.S. refused to ratify the Rome Statute it signed but 100 other nations did] which was established in 2002 to try individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Bush, Cheney and those administration officials complicit with them are guilty of all three crimes. They should all be held and brought to trial at the ICC, convicted and again sentenced with no leniency to the harshest possible penalty. Might this happen? Probably not. Could it? Absolutely, if mass public opinion demands nothing less.
Short of achieving real justice, thoughtful, caring people everywhere should wonder when this appalling criminality and reckless endangerment will end, where it will lead us and what will be its consequences. We must ask, can we even survive unless and until a way is found to stop this out-of-control force that may consume us. We better hope so and soon.
An important worrying sign was clear and present at the January signing ceremony for the FY 06 Defense Authorization Bill. That bill contained the McCain Amendment (banning the torture of detainees) and Graham-Levin Amendment (effectively denying detainees their sacred habeas rights and taking a reckless first step toward denying those rights to all of us). At the ceremony George Bush made an extraordinary statement. In it he effectively nullified “McCain” entirely by claiming the right to govern as a “Unitary Executive” with the power to abrogate the separation of powers doctrine (implied though not specifically stated in the Constitution), bypass the Congress and courts and act as he chooses to protect national security. In effect, he way saying to protect the nation, he will ignore the law if he chooses and govern by presidential edict – an unequivocal usurpation of dictatorial power. He also violated the notion of “judicial supremacy”, established in 1803 in the famous Marbury v. Madison Supreme Court decision which affirmed that the Court alone is the final arbiter of what is and is not the law.
Rule by presidential decree alone is called a totalitarian police state where the people have no recourse through the courts or legislature to protect them against government abuse. We should all be very worried. We should also be fed up and willing to act in our own defense. We can’t afford to lose hope and should take heart and be driven by the words of famed civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer when she said over 40 years ago she was “sick and tired of being sick and tired” – a call to action. And we should be inspired by the wonderful aphorism of equally famed Italian political theorist and revolutionary Antonio Gramsci who spoke of the “pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the will.”
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org