the President who touts faith-based initiatives as the salvation of America
is himself the Destroyer of the Faith.
It is not religious faith that Mr. Bush
destroys – although he has certainly undermined that, too – but the
faith in the myth and systems that form the foundation of American power.
The bedrock of that power is 1) a belief in unlimited, inexpensive access to
natural resources, 2) faith in our economy and the robustness of the dollar,
3) confidence in our institutions, and 4) unshakable faith in our security
First, there is no rational
American who does not comprehend that the United States invaded Iraq, at
least in part, in order to gain control of its vast petroleum resources.
Implicit in this understanding is the glimmer of understanding that America
no longer lives in an age of plenty. No matter what gloss the Bush
Administration puts on its overseas adventures, the message has been
understood by all: America is vulnerable because, like a junkie, it must
procure from abroad its huge daily fix of oil that makes possible our
care-free, profligate lifestyle. Although this vulnerability was always
there, it is underscored every day by the news of American deaths in foreign
Second, tied to lost faith in
unlimited resources, is lost confidence in our economy and our currency.
Money is a measure of faith.
The dollars that uphold the world
economy are the memory of transactions and obligations, often many times
removed, digitally stored and electronically transferred by and between
computers. There is nothing there except faith in the faith of others that
others will continue to accept, in future exchanges, these computer digits
that you and they have faith in. This is a faith whose circularity is
unquestioned so long as the general conditions for exchange remain benign.
Under the current administration, faith
in our economy has been shellacked at home and abroad. Our forays have
become an economic sinkhole. Our government continues to operate, in large
measure, because other nations continue to buy our debt obligations. Any
economic “growth” we experience is due to prosecuting War. Our domestic
infrastructure has been hollowed out while the President and the Congress
cut tax revenue. All the while true inflation – the day to day costs
average citizens pay to live their lives – increases at a prodigious rate.
Faith in our economy is now, at best, a wish and a prayer.
International faith in the currency is
based on the knowledge that it remains "strong" only so long as foreign
nations will not risk the loss of their investment in America's debt. Their
debt would be repaid in dollars, too, so the foreign holders of our debt
must sustain the value of our currency, like the bankers who kept loaning
money to Enron even when they knew it was teetering. They knew that if Enron
fell, then they would lose their investments.
Moreover, the petrodollar remains the
international currency for petroleum. What undergirds the petrodollar is the
American military. Might makes money. A military that is strong enough can,
and will force others to accept it in exchange for their resources.
The system totters today, however,
because the American military looks like it can be tied in knots by
irregular forces, because it appears to be overstretched, and because the
seizure of Iraqi oilfields looks so incredibly desperate. As a consequence,
faith in the U.S. economy and the petrodollar are both falling.
Domestically, the loss of faith in our
economy is not measured by Wall Street's roulette wheels. It is measured in
the closed public parks and swimming pools, the impoverished public
education system, the skyrocketing cost and callousness of privatized
medical care, the impoverishment of our senior citizens, cuts in benefits to
our veterans, the curtailment of public library hours, the disintegration of
our transportation systems, the rising costs of insurance, housing, natural
gas, heating oil and water.
When the Federal Reserve Board says
that inflation is under control, it means that your wages are not rising.
When it says that productivity is increasing, it means that you are
working longer for less pay. The Federal Reserve Board is playing a
confidence game by its misleading edicts. The real facts are understood by
the rest of us, however, and the result is a further erosion of faith in the
Third among the faith-based
foundations of America is our institutions.
As public funding for K12 to college
has slammed shut, Americans have seen the doors of opportunity slam shut on
them. Education equates with opportunity and with the demise of public
education, so, too, shrivels the myth of America as the Land of Opportunity.
The Bush administration was born
illegitimately. When the Supreme Court elected the President notwithstanding
the flagrant disenfranchisement of so many voters, they destroyed faith in
the presidency and the electoral process. The Supreme Court also destroyed
faith in itself and all its subordinate branches of the judiciary.
The courts are supposed to be bastions
of independence, the ultimate check on government power. Now, there are many
Americans who view the Supreme Court judges as partisan politicians who,
together with the Congress, form a seamless Government of One Will.
In the name of unrestrained free market
capitalism this administration has accelerated the Privatization of
Everything, exalted greed over good, championed free trade over free will,
profit over people. In both wings of the dominant American political party,
the politicians' biggest patrons and contributors have been the Ken Lays of
the world, the disgraced fraudsters of the corporate world, the lobbyists
for big businesses-without-borders. Once, the deluded citizens believed
these captains of business and industry were virtuous. Now, we regard them
and big business and the political beneficiaries of their largess as just
another bunch of con artists.
Worse, the current administration has
torn the veil of past administrations' apparent legitimacy. Although
past governments of both major parties have lied, dissembled and misled
their people, the current administration has not even bothered with the
art of the political lie. It lies through its teeth, patently,
recklessly, lying as it grabs you by the throat and threatens you with the
balled fist if you challenge its lies. This, then, is the cultural example
that the Administration sets for all our American institutions; an example
of leadership by lying and bullying that must, over time, corrode our
institutions to the bone.
Faith in our institutions shrivels. And
with the shriveling of confidence, our institutions are held up by the fear
of What Comes After The Collapse.
Fourth, confidence in our
security systems has taken a beating. Although that faith was never quite
rational, it was real for many Americans. What now of that faith?
The military was rankled because it was
beaten by an invisible rag-tag army of third world guerrillas in Viet Nam.
Now it is losing Iraq to another invisible rag-tag army of third world
guerrillas. It seems Resistance cannot be violently extirpated any more than
could the Third Reich extirpate the French or Italian resistance.
The American soldier who fights in the
belief that he brings goodness and civilization to a barbaric world must
disbelieve that myth when he is ordered to kill old men, children and women,
demolish homes and olive groves, torture bound and hooded prisoners. Even
the manufactured stories of heroism have been poorly executed and quickly
debunked: the Hollywood filming of the “rescue” of Pvt. Jessica Lynch, the
apparent “capture” of Saddam Hussein by the American military rather than
the Kurds, the needless death of Cpl. Pat Tillman by "friendly fire" and not
by the arms of the Taliban. The Rambo-Terminator hubris crumbles, and our
faith is flagging.
Not only is the soldier's faith and the
public faith eroding, so, too, erodes the faith of 'client nations' in the
omnipotence of America's military. For it is military power that props up
our dependent autocrats in Pakistan, Egypt, Columbia and around the globe.
They fear their own citizens' realization that the Protector's armies are
not invincible after all, and therefore their people could remove their
Other security agencies, too, have
suffered the same erosion of confidence on the Bush Administration's watch.
The so-named Independent 911 Commission will whitewash the tragedy of the
New York/Pentagon attacks as a lapse in attention, a failure of intelligence
on the part of the Pentagon, the FBI and the CIA. Reprehensible negligence,
the Commission will declare, but it will find no crime, no collusion, no
hoodwinking, no foreknowledge, no political opportunism.
However, this cleansing of the record
will fail to end the public inquiry into what really happened on September
11, 2001. In addition, it will also further the corrosion of faith in the
FBI and the CIA. Faith in those institutions stems from the mythology of J.
Edgar Hoover and Cold War spy days, and it was always misplaced. But the
fact that their credibility has been sacrificed in order to protect
the Administration's will make it ever harder to use the FBI or CIA in
support of future government actions.
We have been asked to radically
compartmentalize our thinking. We have been told that the 9-11 tragedy
occurred because the FBI and the CIA cannot walk and chew gum at the same
time. We were told that we invaded Iraq because it had weapons of mass
destruction. We were told that terrorism world-wide declined during our
occupation of Iraq. We were told that Iraq was in league with terrorists who
plotted our destruction.
Then we are told that the CIA got it
wrong about the weapons of mass destruction. We are told that they got it
wrong about terrorism abating – it has actually increased. We have
learned that Iraq actually had no nuclear arms program; but Pakistan did
and it sold its nuclear weapons technology to others - however that
merits only a rebuke and an increase in military aid. We were lately
told that the Iraqis were not in league with terrorists (although
Vladimir Putin, the Russian protector of America, purportedly did urge the
U.S. to attack Iraq before Iraq attacked the U.S. Or, was he, is he, sucking
the U.S. deeper into Iraq and into four more years of Mr. Bush to return the
favor we paid the Russians by sucking them into Afghanistan?) We are told
that our CIA and FBI were deceived by Ahmed Chalabi's lies; but then Chalabi
remained in office and the Director of the CIA resigned.
We are then asked to trust these very
same CIA and FBI to authenticate every grainy video or audio tape
purportedly released by Osama bin Laden whenever Mr. Bush's poll numbers
begin to flag. We are asked to trust the CIA and FBI's verification that the
dead amputee al-Zarqawi has come back to life and grown a new leg just to
terrorize Americans in Iraq. We are asked to believe these same security
agencies that purportedly cannot walk and chew gum at the same time when
they tell us that North Korea and Syria and Iran threaten America's security
or that terrorists lurk behind every tree. They might be right or they might
be wrong, but what rational person can believe them any more?
We have been asked to suspend our
credulity while maintaining our faith in America's myths. The Administration
tells us our only goal is Democracy while we simultaneously seek to
overthrow Democracy in Haiti and Venezuela. We are supposed to be
spreading popular elections while we prop up monarchies in
Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Our credulity is in crisis, and Mr.
Bush is destroying our faith.
This is the danger posed by the
destruction of faith. As it evaporates, we begin to seek changes, and we
begin to talk to others who have lost faith in their systems. What Mr. Bush
called a “focus group” is, in fact, a small, multi-million-person
trans-national snowball that has begun to roll down the hill.
There are those in the highest circles
of the highest levels of world society who recognize that this rolling
snowball could cause an avalanche. It is the impetus for world-wide change
borne from disillusionment with the current world model. This portends bad
things for the rulers who benefit from the world as it is.
Note that many of the most elite
Republicans do not share the blurred vision of the Bush demagogues. These
elite power-brokers were willing to let the messianic Neocons and religious
extremists experiment with power. But they will absolutely not
countenance anything that threatens to destroy the lovely world order
from which they profit. The power elite knows better than we do that Mr.
Bush is the Destroyer of the Faith, and they will not tolerate him to
threaten their interests.
Many established, credentialed,
powerful people are coming out of the woodwork, here and abroad, to
castigate the Bush administration. It is also happening in Europe.
They are not conspirators. They
naturally share common interests and common values. They value themselves
and others like themselves. They collude because their rulers' interests
tend to coincide. They do not care whether the President is a Republican or
a Democrat. They do not care whether there is peace or war, justice or
injustice, so long as they are not at risk and so long as there is
justice enough for them. National boundaries are irrelevant to them. They
want stability and maintenance of the status quo. Their status quo.
Notice that they do not often condemn
the Bush agenda, but mainly the means by which he seeks to
achieve it. It is Mr. Bush's style, not his objectives that worries them. He
worries them because he has let the snowball start rolling down the hill.
The rulers do not like Losers and Mr.
Bush is a Loser. He does not lie well. He does not have the gift of
dissimulation. If he does not satisfy their concerns, they will seek to
replace Mr. Bush with someone more malleable. They will support someone who,
in the future, will enlist the support of their class, here and abroad;
someone who can better pull off the propaganda stunts; someone who can
better fool the people than can this President.
Eventually, the elite and influential
might even throw their support to another party's presidential candidate
who, as the "lesser evil" in their minds, will stay the course, but soothe
They believe that they might thereby
staunch the erosion of that all important faith that Mr. Bush seems bent on
destroying, and prevent the rolling global snowball from growing into an
avalanche for change.