On the eve of the Republican National Convention, Karl Rove went public with the GOP’s battle plan. Speaking of Bush, he said, “People know who he is and they know what his beliefs are and they know who he is and they know what his beliefs are.”
Is that clear enough?
Because if it isn’t, Rove went on to repeat the same redundant lines. “We’re going to be able to remind people of who he is and what he is all about. I mean, this is a person that, whether you agree with his policies or not, people tend to like him. They know that he believes what he believes and says what he believes.”
Rove managed to convey this message in a three-minute interview with FOX’s Brit Hume. Rove also emphasized his intention to highlight the President’s struggle for “liberty and freedom in the Mid East.”
Back in June, Dan Bartlett, the White House Communication Director laid out the GOP’s campaign blue prints. "We'll continue to talk about how Saddam Hussein was a threat, and his ties to terrorism, and we will not give an inch on what we've said in the past."
One must give grudging credit to the GOP for the Stalinist discipline of their party. Starting with Rudy Giuliani’s speech at the Republican National Convention, every line was vintage ‘Rove speak’. McCain, Schwarzenegger, Zell Miller and Cheney echoed much of what Rudy said – especially in regards to the war on terror.
What was remarkable about all five speeches was the absence of any reference to Bin Laden, Abu Ghraib, neo-conservatives, non-existent WMDs, the Iraqi insurgency and the fact that Afghanistan remains unfinished business.
All three speakers adhered to the party line. “They hate us because of our way of life and our freedom. Islam has been hijacked and the invasion of Iraq was an essential step in fighting Islamic terrorists. We went to Iraq to liberate a long suffering people and put Saddam behind bars. Our sacred mission is to spread liberty and democracy in the Middle East. Our European allies aren’t dependable and don’t have the courage to support us in our unilateral, pre-emptive and existential struggle. If the French don’t believe in Bush, they are against us.”
Perhaps the most disturbing part of this Republican charade is the insistence that the terrorist assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were inevitable. This thesis is alarming for a number of reasons. For a start, it fails to acknowledge that other free nations with similar life styles were not targeted by the terrorists. A critical mind would at least ponder why Sweden and Canada don’t seem to have a quarrel with Bin Laden and the assorted other terrorists who seek to harm America.
Why is it that the nation with the most formidable military arsenal in history is so insecure? Why have we been forced to convert the land of the free and the home of the brave into a paranoid garrison state? Did the terrorists target America for any special reasons other than some ideological obsession with ‘our decency and our values’?
If we are left with the absurd conclusion that we were assaulted because of the dictates of some foreigner’s theology – not as a consequence of our foreign policy – than we have an interminable struggle on our hands. Because then we are left to deal with a billion plus Muslims that show no sign of abandoning their faith traditions.
Islam just happens to be the only other religion that shares the belief in the Immaculate Conception of Jesus Christ. The portrayal of Islam as an exotic creed out of the mainstream of the Abrahamic traditions has been one of the most unfortunate casualties of the ‘war on terror’. None of these Republican demagogues – and their many Democratic fellow travelers –seem to have noticed that Al-Qaida is a very new player on the political stage. It wasn’t around a decade ago. On the other hand, Islam has been practiced for fourteen centuries.
Over the course of the last two centuries, the United States has taken up arms and quarreled with virtually every people on the planet – European fascists and communists, Japanese militarists, Asian liberation movements, Latin American nationalists, Canadians and Mexicans, native Americans and African slaves. Until very recently, Muslims were one of the few people we didn’t bother messing with.
All of a sudden, the only people designated as enemies are the billion or so Muslims – including six million American citizens who are now considered suspect nationals. What has changed on the face of the planet to cause the appearance of this new threat to our national security?
The notion that a few zealots have hijacked Islam exaggerates the dimensions of this new phenomenon. To portray Al-Qaeda as representative of Muslims is akin to inflating the Red Brigades to the size of a major Italian national movement.
Serious intelligence analysts now consider 9/11 to be a one off event. This is not to suggest that Al-Qaeda’s operatives – numbering a few thousand - have now been stripped of their lethal sting. Their ability to project themselves in Bali and Madrid are certain proof that they continue to pose a serious security challenge.
Three years after the assaults, our political class continues to obstruct a national debate of the foreign policy environment that gave birth to Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Bush had good reason to fight any probe into the catastrophe on 9/11. When he was forced to relent by the relatives of the victims, Bush narrowed the focus of the commission to exploring the technical dimensions of the failure to prevent an attack. The CIA, the FBI and the INS were all targeted for investigation. On the other hand, The State Department was treated as an innocent bystander.
Pundits and political operators from both major parties continue to insist that we were assaulted because of our efforts to spread liberty and democracy in the Middle East. Their unlikely thesis is that the assailants’ only grievance was our efforts to project our democratic values to the rest of the planet. Like the communists, they were intent on changing the way we conduct business in City Hall not at Foggy Bottom.
See, they hate our freedom. How many times have you heard that malarkey?
If we continue subscribing to this neo-con argument, we are left with nineteen suicidal fanatics who killed thousands of Americans out of a missionary zeal to convert us to their way of life. Had Americans been properly dressed – they would have been safe and sound under the clear blue sky that graced Manhattan on that catastrophic September morning.
A five-minute tour of the Middle East reveals that maybe we have been doing something other than spreading the blessings of liberty to the natives of that region.
For a start, is it not deeply insulting to suggest that the United States was working to secure the freedom of Palestinians from the single most brutal foreign occupation in the whole world?
Can the Bush administration explain why our government has lavished over one hundred billion dollars to subsidize Israeli expansion on native Palestinian lands? Is collective punishment a new and advanced way to spread democracy? Are exclusive Jewish settlements and exclusive Jewish roads on stolen Arab land the best way of marketing our secular values? Are the suffocating Palitentiary walls merely bridges to the blessings of liberty? Was Bush’s warm embrace of a career war criminal like Ariel Sharon a sign of our intent to promote peace, justice and stability in the region?
Moving on to Kuwait. Remember Kuwait, the country we liberated in the First Gulf War. When we returned the keys of absolute power to the ruling Sabah family, where we promoting our love of freedom? Over, the course of the last decade, how much effort was expended on converting the Kuwaiti oil plantation into a showcase for democracy? Kuwaiti women still can’t vote in their sham elections for an advisory council. Considering our considerable influence over the Sabah clan, did we have a master plan to transform Kuwait into a constitutional monarchy?
Onto our relationship with the Saudi Royals who have the audacity to name their country after their father. How much liberty, freedom and democracy did we export to that particular oil plantation? Was that the cause of their ire? Where the fifteen Saudi members of the death squads that killed so many innocents on 9/11 possibly motivated by the presence of American military bases on what they considered holy soil? Is that why we closed those Saudi bases the same week we put up the ‘Mission Accomplished’ sign? Inquiring minds want to know.
How about that Saddam character – the Iraqi Stalin with all those gulags? When exactly did we discover his evil ways? Was it before or after the CIA provided him with lists of suspect communists and Nasserites that needed to be liquidated to ‘insure’ our national security and our way of life? Did we have a clue about his repressive ways when we encouraged him to wage a war on Iran – an epic eight-year affair that wasted a million plus Iraqi and Iranian lives? Wasn’t it Kissinger who cheered them on saying, “let them kill each other?”
Did we utter a single complaint when Saddam used chemical weapons against the Kurds in Halabja? Or when he used them against Iranian troops? When we knew that our genocidal sanctions were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, didn’t Albright insist that the death of so many innocents was ‘worth it’? Didn’t we invent the term ‘collateral damage’ to minimize the value of civilian Iraqi casualties? Why was there a need to damage so much essential civilian infrastructure in the First Gulf War? Was that part of some contorted strategy to improve Iraq’s standard of living?
How many repressive authoritarian regimes do we continue to support in the Middle East? Why does the Republican Party tolerate the fact that Tom Delay and Dick Armey publicly support the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians? Why does the GOP cater to the evangelical fringe and the Likudniks who see the mayhem in the Middle East as an untidy detail that paves the way for the Second Coming of Christ? Did Republicans or Democrats express outrage when Mississippi Senator Trent Lott suggested a novel way to spread democracy to Iraq. Here is Trent’s formula: “If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens.”
Our response to 9/11 has focused on revenge. In response to the atrocity, the Bush administration decided to turn over the Middle East file to the neo-con cabal whose primary allegiance is to Ariel Sharon. Was George Bush unaware that Wolfowitz and Feith were professional Arab-bashers long before 9/11? The neo-con’s social-engineering blue prints were designed to pave the road for Israel’s continued annexation of Palestinian real estate. And Iraq was just a repeat of Israel’s failed project to change the political map of the Middle East by invading Lebanon in 1982. The failure of that quagmire did not dissuade these Likudniks from staging a repeat performance – yet another ‘war of choice’ – this time with American soldiers in harm’s way.
Blinded by their ideology, these anti-Arab Likudnik fanatics were the least likely Americans to promote liberty and democracy in the region. In fact, their record of embracing the expulsionist lunatic fringe of Israel’s right wing government should have raised alarm bells about their very presence in the councils of power. The fact that Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz get paychecks from the American government is a scandal in and of itself.
The United States has had a major role in shaping the modern Middle East. Even George Bush, in a rare lucid moment, admitted that for or the last six decades, America has accommodated repressive regimes in the Middle East. He stopped short of elaborating on the nature of American 'accommodations’. A policy of 'accommodation' sounds like we were giving these regimes discount hotel vouchers while they were going about the nasty business of brutalizing their people and ripping off the wealth of their nations. In the case of Israel, we didn’t just tolerate their brutality against the indigenous people of the Holy Land – we paid for every dime needed to ‘accommodate’ thirty-six years of vicious systematic repression and ethnic cleansing.
At the end of the convention, George took to the podium like some rock star. He stuck to Rove’s script. “At least you know what I believe and where I stand”. He avowed that he was intent on ‘expanding liberty’ and ‘extending the frontiers of freedom’. Go sing that song in Gaza and Nablus and Jenin, George. Bush used his standard line that “freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman in this world.” Well, considering the president’s record of collaborating in the repression of the Palestinians and conducting a brutal occupation of Iraq, one must assume that George is not on God’s side.
I believe I know where Bush really stands. He stands with Ariel Sharon of Qibya and Jenin and Rafah and Sabra and Shatila. He stands against the liberty and freedom of the Palestinian people. He subsidizes a vicious occupation regime that steals other people’s real estate at the point of a gun and inflicts draconian collective punishment against defenseless men, women and children. He has lent a hand in laying every brick of the Palitentiary wall that will confine the Palestinians in open-air internment camps.
I believe I know the real George Bush. He is a cruel and unjust man who, even before 9/11, had a three-word policy to deal with the Palestinians: “let them bleed”. George ‘Abu Ghraib’ Bush used the nation’s trauma after 9/11 as a convenient excuse to launch a pre-emptive strike against the one country in the Middle East that didn’t have weapons of mass destruction.
Yes, it is a good thing that Saddam is gone. But the Iraqis insist that it would be an even better thing if the Anglo-American occupation packed their lethal gear and headed home. No WMDs. Saddam’s in Jail. Who needs this occupation? The GI’s on the ground realize that their very presence is the cause of the insurgency. Why doesn’t George?
Bush has given his neo-con advisers, every one of them a certified Likudnik, a free hand to chart the future of the Middle East for the greater glory of Ariel Sharon. Their allegiance is to Tel Aviv not to America. They are certainly an unlikely cast of characters to hire if you had the slightest interest in promoting peace, justice, liberty and freedom for the Palestinians and Iraqis.
The neo-cons have a single mission - to give Sharon a free hand to pulverize the Palestinians and dominate the region. None of this is a secret in the Middle East. While the average American might not have a clue about the neo-cons agenda - ‘neo-con’ has become an Arabic word. The Arabs don’t think of George as the great liberator. Rather, they see him as a tyrant who wants to inflict his vengeance on the whole region for the sins of a few.
So all this talk at the Republican Convention about Bush’s efforts to spread liberty and democracy in the Middle East should be discarded as just another Rove ruse. Those who promote such views are either liars or just plain ignorant slobs with the intellect of dog fleas.
Let’s hope they are just practitioners of a core value of the neo-con movement – deception. Because if they actually believe their stale mantras, we don’t have a prayer. You gotta believe they are just well rehearsed conventional Republican liars who are implementing Rove’s blue prints.
Why do American presidential campaigns have to be so insulting to those we have already injured? Have you no sense of decency, Karl.
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