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President Paranoia
 (May 5, 2004)     
        I seem to recall George W. Bush chanting "I'm a leader" to a hypnotized public during the last so-called election. Is he? Would a leader preach defeatism? Bush does. To listen to him and his advisors, one can only conclude that:
        We are a beaten nation. We are whipped. We are cowed. We are defenseless.
        To listen to Bush and Co., Osama has us on the ropes, and can take shots at will. He's Punch, we're Judy. He sends threatening videotapes at his whim, from his secret cave in the Unknown Mountains, in the Land of Nowhere, and the United States responds that there is nothing to be done about it, or that wimpiest of non-statements:
        "We're doing all we can."

This, That, and The Other. . .

        Two weeks ago, Condoleezza "Oil Tanker" Rice announced that Al-Qaeda might very well assault the U.S. before the election. This is all you ever hear from the Doomsday Delegation---Ridge, Cheney, Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Powell---that the United States of America is hapless. There is nothing we can do to stop terrorism. . .Al-Qaeda operatives could be here. . .We don't know where and when, but it will definitely happen. . .
        Whatever has become of "we have nothing to fear but fear itself?"
        Shouldn't a leader be telling the public that "even one attack is a failure on our part?" Shouldn't a leader be reassuring and inspiring---instead of depressing and frightening? Instead of conditioning the public to expect "dirty bombs" and aircraft-as-missiles and nerve gas in subways?
         Bush, who still claims unshakable resolve that "we will prevail" in Iraq, preaches "we have failed" at home.
        This martinet's idea of "leading" is to drive the media-pummelled citizenry to knee-knocking paranoia over threats from a band of religious fanatic murderers. How spectacularly shameful. Terrorism, after all, is older than Barbara Bush. Europe, Asia, Africa, Israel, Russia have known it intimately for decades. It is crime, not war, and should be treated as such. Worrying about a terrorist attack is like worrying about a lightning strike. But one 9/11---an astonishingly lucky "hit" born of flawed U.S. intelligence gathering, and a (deliberately?) lackadaisacal administration---and Bush saw to it that the country coiled up like the "Don't Tread on Me" snake.
Don't think that former oil executives Bush/Cheney/Rice are going to spend $150 billion and not get something in return. They're not there for the hell of it; they're there for the Halliburton.

        Remember his other election mantra, "I'm a uniter, not a divider?" True enough. President Paranoia united the country in fear of Osama the Boogieman, and Saddam the Boogieman---and united the rest of the world in unprecedented hatred for Uncle Sam. Gone was the chance to seize on the post-9/11unity at home, solidarity abroad, and take a firm, organized, cooperative stand against terrorism. To unite law enforcement and military efforts of the free world---and the Arab world, where there was considerable sympathy---to deter further attacks.
        But there is method is this madness. Keeping the public fearful, and thus prompting "blank check" support for policy, is the administration's ploy. Let Daddy protect you---no need to worry about details.
        The details, of course, are the "global Pax Americana" tenets of the Project For A New American Century.
       If you are yet unaware of the PNAC---the pre-2000-election blueprint for this administration's policies---then get caught up. The Iraq invasion and inroads into Constitutionally guaranteed rights were all planned before 9/11---and all are implemented strictly by tapping into fear. It's actually spelled out: the PNAC infamously called for a "Pearl Harbor-like event" to scare the populace into granting the government carte blanche authority to: invade any country on the pretext of defense ("doctrine of pre-emption"), and cancel civil rights (the "PATRIOT" act) in the name of terrorist investigation.
        So 9/11 was Bush's "Pearl Harbor"---the attack that allowed him to translate horror into unthinking support for what the PNAC actually terms "benevolent hegemony" (read: world domination)---an oxymoron if ever there was one. It was the Neocon dream come true.
        The ensuing and ongoing transformation of this nation's personality has yet to be fully absorbed. The U.S. rapidly went from being a participant in the "global community" reluctant to use military force, to a petulant, bellicose, frightened bully. Bush has plunged into an ill-planned, $150 billion (so far) blunderbuss occupation of Iraq---which had nothing to do with 9/11---on false pretenses, killing 700-plus U.S. soldiers and between 10,000 and 30,000 innocent Iraqis in the process.
       This is a man who would rid his backyard of a hornet's nest by hammering it with his fists, shouting at everyone around him to "run, run---the hornets are coming!"
        It's monstrously cynical. President Paranoia is deliberately goading terrorists, in order to exploit fear---and thus keep hold on power and further ramrod Constitution-shredding PNAC policies through. Terror attacks-plus-fear-equals-power. Simple. Anyone who imagines that the invasion of Iraq has not created and inspired exponentially more terrorists should be cleaning horse stalls for a living (and probably is.)
        With the new reports of U.S. and U.K. torture of Iraqi prisoners---many of whom, men and women, were rounded up indiscriminately---the ugly folly has become debacle. Graham Fuller, former vice-chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, and longtime Middle East analyst, told NPR that Bush's Iraq goals are no longer attainable:
        "In effect the U.S. is more the problem than the solution. We can no longer count on Iraq as a center of pro-American feeling in the region, a basis for U.S. operation in the region, a swing producer of oil in the region to replace Saudi Arabia, a country with normalized ties to Israel---all of those things are by the boards."
He is a man beyond doubt, as author Bob Woodward puts it, and therefore, like any fanatic, he is impervious to persuasion.
        Who can blame those who now call for total Iraq withdrawal? Retired Lieutenant General Jay Garner, initially in charge of the Iraq transformation, wanted to mop up long ago. With Saddam gone and the WMD absent, Garner called for immediate free Iraqi elections, and was fired for it. He correctly realized that to stay longer would make the U.S. oppressive occupiers mired in an urban guerilla war, its soldiers a focus for attack.
        Garner's fears are now realized---in spades. Mobs of Iraqis cheer every American death. The U.S. has been reduced to hiring Saddam's Baathists---the very people our military was recently killing!---as the new Iraq "security force," and the June 30 deadline to set up a "transition government" is a sham, as Iraq will remain under U.S. military command. U.N. Ambas- sador John Negroponte, a man with much blood on his hands from stints in Central America, is in line to be de facto viceroy.
        And still "we will stay the course" in Iraq, as Bush says incessantly. Why?
        Right: oil, and corporate profit to be had in "rebuilding" (read: permanently controlling) the country. Don't think that former oil executives Bush/Cheney/Rice are going to spend $150 billion and not get something in return. They're not there for the hell of it; they're there for the Halliburton.
        But there is another, far more important reason---revealed by President Paranoia in his recent press conference, in between obligatory warnings of more and more terrorist attacks to come:
        "We are changing the world," he said.
        Changing the world!
        Add to this his repeated claim to be divinely inspired---to have been put into office by God, as he told fellow 'born-again' Christians---and the picture becomes clear. Bush, like Osama, is a religious fanatic who believes he is doing God's work in vanquishing "evildoers." He is a man beyond doubt, as author Bob Woodward puts it, and therefore, like any fanatic, he is impervious to persuasion. A man who, asked to assess his mistakes as president, was unable to name a single one. A man who never fought in a war, and who calls heavy military casualties a "tough week." A man who brushes off images of U.S.-held prisoners bound, gagged, hooded, humiliated, urinated on as merely "disgusting." A man who, like 46 percent of  U.S. citizens, reads a Bible instead of a newspaper.
        A man who has one of the principal architects of the PNAC whispering in his ear, coaching him in his statements, deciding his every move. Dick "Machiavelli" Cheney.
        Yes, it is time to be afraid. Very afraid. But not of the terrorists.

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