The headlines tell the tale:
The President is naked: He is no longer a “wartime president”; he’s now the Torture President.
Officials in the Bush White House could be charged with war crimes.
So they were warned by then -- White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez after they launched their war against Afghanistan, according to documents obtained by Newsweek last Spring. Gonzalez warned that violations of the War Crimes Act can be punished severely -- including by death, and that it was “difficult to predict with confidence” how a future Justice Department might apply the law.
Special focus was placed on language in the Geneva Conventions that condemns "outrages upon personal dignity" and "inhuman treatment" of prisoners. These crimes were "undefined," according to Gonzalez, the same plea we hear today from President Bush.
Warning the administration of its potential culpability, Gonzalez urged the President, to, in effect, bluff it out. He wrote, "Your determination would create a reasonable basis in law that (the War Crimes Act) does not apply which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution."
A series of Administration torture memos have been made public, memos vetted by Gonzalez, lawyers at the National Security Council and staffers for Vice President Dick Cheney. They were meant to provide the regime with legal cover for state-approved torture and held that Bush, as Commander-in-Chief, was above the law.
According to a Justice Department memo on August 1, 2002, the administration’s “ban on torture is limited to only the most extreme forms of physical and mental harm" -- actions that might cause "death or organ failure." Anything “less,” the regime defined as mere “abuse.”
“Abuse” would seem to include these techniques used against detainees in Iraq, according to an FBI memo released by the ACLU: “strangulation, beatings, [and] placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees ear openings."
In a February 2002 letter, Bush took the matter of torture on himself: "I accept the legal conclusion of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice that I have the authority to suspend Geneva (conventions) as between the United States and Afghanistan. I reserve the right to exercise this authority in this or future conflicts."
That defense evaporated with the recent Supreme Court decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which held that the US is bound by the letter of the Geneva Conventions.
The administration, facing the reality of potential prosecution as war criminals, is increasingly desperate.
The GOP is a party in revolt against itself, one trying to distance itself from itself, ducking for cover from itself and from the fallout of simultaneously being too fascistic and not fascistic enough.
The Bush regime and the Republicans are in profound danger on other fronts as well. Following the lead of imperialist strategists from Democrat Zbignew Brzezinski to the Project for a New American Century, the regime committed itself to a plan of conquest in the Middle East and Central Asia, and to a fascistic program of political and racial repression at home, all under the rubric of a “war on terror.”
Bush apparently took Brzezinski literally when he warned in The Grand Chessboard, his 1997 call for a US global hegemony: “It is also a fact that America is too democratic at home to be autocratic abroad. This limits the use of America's power, especially its capacity for military intimidation.“
The Bush crew determined, in any case, to make the US less “democratic” at “home,” and to launch a series of pre-planned wars for global dominance abroad.
Deeply hated by people everywhere, on the verge of losing power in the House and Senate, divided over torture, spying, military tribunals, secret prisons, immigration, and plans for war against Iran, mired in loss in Iraq, rocked by scandal and widespread corruption, exposed as mass killers of the innocent in Lebanon and as racists in New Orleans, the Republican regime is finding that its center cannot hold.
The Christian Science Monitor says that 61% of people in the US oppose the war in Iraq.
By a margin of 52% to 43%, respondents to a Zogby poll want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge’s approval -- which, of course, he did.
The Republican Party and the Bush regime are in chaos.
Strategically, the Republicans have pushed things to a breaking point: they’ve overextended the Empire in ways that could lead to its defeat.
At last the mainstream press is on the attack -- they want no imperial defeat -- and would-be “moderate” Republican imperialists like John McCain are in rebellion. Even Colin Powell, who as one pundit noted “helped design and lead” Bush’s policy toward “terrorists,” is on the attack, breaking his public silence on the matter of torture years after the fact. The lifeboat is filled with rats.
Republican operatives have a keen eye on Bush’s military lap dog, Tony Blair, as his engine sputters in mid-flight, as his key supporters demand his resignation, his Labor Party painfully aware that if it “stays the course” its dominance of British politics is lost. Blair has promised to resign by Spring -- just long enough to help Bush launch war against Iran, one assumes.
Even here the Republicans are divided. According to Martin Walker of UPI, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has cold feet over the regime’s plan for striking Iran while Vice President Dick Cheney is pushing all the harder for war. Walker writes, “This heralds the first important policy breech between the triumvirate of Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld, sometimes known in Washington as "the iron triangle," in almost six years of the Bush administration.”
Let no one think the mainstream press or the Republicans suddenly “got religion,” or anything else akin to morality.
The Bush regime is failing miserably -- in Iraq and elsewhere -- at fulfilling the geo-strategic mandate laid out by the “Democrat’s Kissinger,” Brzezinski whose strategic thinking finds striking parallels in the Project for a New American Century cabal that runs the White House.
"The most immediate task,” Brzezinski wrote, “is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role."
The Bush failure in Iraq sets the stage for just such a scenario to unfold, and the regime’s move on Iran threatens to crystallize an opposing war bloc -- precisely the bloc Brzezinski most openly worried about in The Grand Chessboard, one that might expel the US from Eurasia or severely limit its imperial designs there:
Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran, an "antihegemonic" coalition united not by ideology but by complementary grievances. It would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower.
The Republicans have nothing of the certainty the Labor Party shows. Some think they’ve gone too far, others not far enough down the road to global war and internal repression. Bush faces one “revolt from below” in the Senate over torture and military tribunals, and another from House Republicans who favor a profoundly racist and punitive attack on brown migrants.
Seven leading conservatives, including Richard Viguerie and Christopher Buckley recently issued a call in the Washington Monthly for a Republican defeat.
The Republicans can no longer rule, and the Democrats offer no alternative at all; however you slice it, the US is still the US, and if anything stirs people here it is hatred of Bush and Cheney, not love for the imperialist “B” team called the Democrats.
If there were a mass radical movement in the US, the Bush regime would be toast.
The only force poised to fully capitalize on the Republican crisis is the Democratic Party. It’s a crime. Silent during all the long years of torture and “secret” prisons, silent on the coming war against Iran, silent on Iraq -- except to say that they know how such things should be done -- silent as they played along with developments toward fascism, the Democrats will now pose as upholders of the “real” “American” values.
And it will be a lie.
They will impeach and try Bush if they can and if they have to by resorting to nothing but lies: “America” really doesn’t torture they will say -- while evading the history of the Philippines, Viet Nam, the Indian Wars, and the death squads and torture regimes the Empire has backed from the Shah of Iran to Guatemala, to their ex-puppet Saddam Hussein himself.
But make no mistake, despite the Democrats, the emerging crisis of the Bush regime is of historical importance.
At this moment the Empire’s rulers are vacillating -- they can’t back down and apparently can’t move forward. What we see developing could turn quickly into a vacuum of power, a paralysis of the ruling class.
That means its time for us to stop vacillating.
The regime is not all powerful. The steamroller toward fascism is not unstoppable. It never was.
Their grip is slipping, right now.
This is a chance for us to stop the coming war against Iran and with it the awful risk of a nuclear war; to force a pullout from Iraq, to stop the secret dungeons and torture chambers; to abort fascism in the US -- to see it stillborn. Even, perhaps, to clear the path so we can force drastic action on global warming, to stop the mass death of Life on Earth.
It’s not time to rely on the Republican’s Silent Partner.
It’s time to take it to the streets. It’s our chance to drive out the Bush regime.
It’s the only chance we’ll get.
* Santos is not formally or informally
The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime! and does
not represent that organization in any capacity.
Other Articles by Juan Santos
There is No
War On Terror: Oil, the New Reich and the Coming War on Iran
Endgame: May 1st and America’s New Race War