By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
I am about to offend some of you by using the N word. I know it is a word so laden with emotion and historical horror that it should not be used lightly. But sometimes no other word gets the point across.Nazi.
That's right, I'm adding my voice to the other hysterical-seeming Americans who are likening the current White House administration to Germany's grim men in gray.
You know that I don't like George W. Bush and his crew. I think he is the worst president in our nation's history. Maybe Andrew Johnson was worse, I don't know, but he didn't live in a time when his bad decisions could imperil our democracy and the stability of the world. Bush does.
But a Nazi? Bush would have to go a ways to even begin approximating the horrors of Saddam Hussein, let alone Hitler. But so many of what we could call "Nazi precursors" have been adopted by his administration that it warrants a hard look before the coming election, lest we all wake one day to the sound of goose-stepping.
Governing in secrecy? Check. Unbridled arrogance? Check. Putting ideology ahead of reality or the public interest? Check. Acting as if the end justifies the means and that might makes right? Check and check. Acting as if big lies repeated often are better than the truth? Check. Playing on people's fears? Check. Using diplomacy merely as a cynical tool to forward a war agenda? Check. Showing a sociopathic disregard for the lives of others? Checkarooni.
Look at Iraq. From their first week in office, the Bushmen made the war a secret priority, one they never bothered mentioning to the American people during the election. Iraq remained their focus, despite briefings from the outgoing administration highlighting far-more-pressing security concerns and despite subsequent, similarly ignored warnings, such as one titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." After bin Laden did attack, the single-minded White House invoked the specter of Sept. 11 to sell the war, lying to Congress and us about Iraq's terrorist connections and the threat it posed to the U.S. According to Bob Woodward, $700 million intended for Afghanistan and the hunt for bin Laden was secretly diverted to war plans for Iraq.
Despite the wishes of a then-majority of the American people, as well as most other nations and the largest anti-war protests in the planet's history—and despite UN inspectors in place to assure Iraq posed no threat—Bush took us to war.
Military commanders unashamedly likened the initial "Shock and Awe" phase to the German Blitzkrieg. It was an aerial war against a nation with no air force, and we didn't bother counting the tens of thousands of Iraqi conscripts blown to bits. If they're uncounted, how can we assume there were tens of thousands? Because the conservative count of civilians killed in those months was more than 10,000. If, as our leaders assured us, we were doing our utmost to avoid civilian casualties, it stands to reason the toll among those we were purposely trying to kill would be significantly higher. Most of these draftees and civilians had families and friends, which goes a long ways toward explaining why their survivors aren't pelting us with flowers in the streets. What did any of them ever do to us? There's a word for needless killing: it's murder, and that's what Bush plunged us into.
At this writing, there have been 780 U.S. casualties and more than 4,300 wounded (most felled after Bush's taunt to insurgent leaders to "bring 'em on" against our troops). That's a remarkably low count for a war, but it's 780 too many in a war based on lies.
But who's counting? Not the administration. When Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was asked about our war dead when he testified before Congress on April 29, he undercounted them by more than 200. It's his job to know and to at least give the appearance of caring about the sacrifice they've made. But for guys like him, war is apparently just moves on a chessboard, and who counts pawns? Who cares that the 130,000-plus troops still there are strained to the limit or that their families at home are sliding into poverty?
Maybe on their abstract chessboard, it looks like we're winning this war. When the Army Secretary, Gen. Thomas White, warned last year that Donald Rumsfeld's deployment plans were insufficient, White was fired. Now, according to Tobias Naegele, editor of the pro-military Military Times, a significant number of military leaders have lost confidence in Rumsfeld due to his "bullying techniques" and refusal to listen to opposing views as the situation in Iraq spins out of control.
Rumsfeld was equally deaf to reports of abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison, which he and the administration did nothing about for months—not even informing Congress—until the press forced their hand. The Republican response has been to blame the press—"I'm outraged by the outrage," blustered Congressman James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma)—to go into PR overdrive—look, Rummy beamed down to Baghdad!—and to point out that prisoners had it worse under Saddam Hussein.
Of course, Rumsfeld could have more effectively raised that issue when he visited with Saddam in the 1980s at the behest of his boss, Ronald Reagan. But he didn't because Saddam was their good buddy then, and their only caveat about him massacring his own people was that he should do it quietly so human-rights scandals wouldn't scuttle the business deals they were brokering. Our CIA had helped the Ba'athists and Saddam come to power, and many in the Bush administration were also there when Reagan and Bush the First aided Saddam during his worst atrocities. With that sort of history, we look as much like liberators to the Iraqis as the Nazis did to Parisians.
Despite the firm June 30 date for handing over an undefined amount of power to a hand-picked government, and despite the billions in no-bid contracts handed out to Bush cronies to stabilize and democratize Iraq, the place remains a flaming hornet's nest.
How are our tax dollars being spent there? How about the $96 million given to Florida's Harris Corp. to establish a free press? Though jobs are precious in Iraq, the editor and nearly the entire staff of the Harris-run Al Sabah newspaper quit in disgust this month, claiming the paper was just a U.S. propaganda organ.
In that respect, the situation mirrors the state of U.S. democracy, where rich conservatives own most of the media. Remember Clear Channel Communications manufacturing its own pro-war rallies and then giving them extensive coverage? This past month, Bush-aligned giant Sinclair Broadcast Group refused to air ABC's Nightline because it considered the show's memorial to our war dead anti-Bush. Disney refused to distribute Oscar-winner Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9-11 because it's "political"—and we can't have political films in an election year—though Disney stations broadcast Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing hatemongers. Meanwhile, the Bush administration is doing all it can to allow these behemoths to control even more media.
These guys are verging on creating their own thousand-year Reich. Conservatives have a lock on Congress via their unprecedented unrepresentative gerrymandering, which was allowed to stand by the conservative Supreme Court, which also appears unconcerned that the American people are kept in the dark about how our energy policy was forged in secret by the same corporations that gamed the California energy crisis and are now gouging us on gas prices.
And the record profits the oil companies are reaping are pouring into Bush's equally record-breaking $200 million-plus campaign war chest. Like it or not, you are paying at the pump for Bush's election campaign.
America is a wonderfully resilient country, but I don't know if it could recover from another four years of Bush degrading our democracy and coarsening our spirit. Since when did torture become okay with us? When did rights and justice come to be viewed as impediments to our way of life? When did premeditated pre-emptive murder become a righteous cause? We are on the slope to depravity, led by a NASCAR Nazi who talks about Jesus while acting like a Roman emperor.
The White House insider accounts in recent books depict a president who is steadfastly uncurious about any viewpoints, analyses or options that might deviate from the shining path dictated by his instincts. "I go the way that Providence dictates with the assurance of a sleepwalker," Bush has said.
Do you think this article is all bullshit? Then go check the facts. I think you'll find that there's only one untruth here: the quote about sleepwalking wasn't Bush; it was Adolf Hitler in 1936. That's not a walk we want to take.