Number 17 - November 21, 2002
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will seize the opportunity to achieve big goals." - George W. Bush,
from Bush at War
The Bush regime's
strategic decision to seize effective control of the planet translates
domestically as wholesale pillaging of American civil society. Breathtaking
is too weak a word to describe the scope of what the Republicans have
accomplished under the guise of a War on Terror. The "opportunity"
referred to in Bob Woodward's new book presented itself in the form
of four aircraft under the control of Osama bin Laden's adherents. Bush
has parlayed the gift - for surely 9-11 is treasured as a Godsend by
Bush and his crew - to consolidate an approximate corporate coup at
home while smashing the delicate mechanisms of civilized relations among
The world is terrified
- hushed - in wide-eyed thrall of the cocked American hammer. Rule of
the international madman is at hand, and nobody wants to set him off.
Him is Bush, not Saddam Hussein, the petty tyrant who engineered for
himself the historical misfortune of becoming indispensable to Bush's
Stateside, the Hard
Right agenda becomes law at cyclonic speed, leaving a transfixed public
looking like tennis fans during a high-speed volley, heads swiveling,
jaws dropped, watching the world as we knew it whiz by. The rules of
domestic rule are changing as swiftly as the thickening theater of Middle
East battle. Each assault on labor, consumers, and civil rights is immediately
followed by a new offensive, with blurring rapidity. Legislative outrages
of proportions that would have commanded weeks of headlines and provoked
tag-team Senatorial filibusters not so long ago, are reduced to anecdotes
with the shelf life of a Jay Leno quip.
The Patriot Act,
now one year old, has metastasized state by state, replicated by local
yahoo politicians with Ashcroftian ambitions and a flag to wave. Civil
liberties lawyers attempt triage on a bleeding Bill of Rights, hoping
to save the rights they can, yet despairing of even that fragment. A
federal court allows the government to treat all citizens as suspected
foreign agents - and to spy on those friends and acquaintances that
might wander into the zones of surveillance.
John Poindexter, who escaped jail on a technicality for lying to Congress
in connection with illegally arming CIA terrorists, is put in charge
of developing a system called - gasp - Total Information Awareness!
The name, itself, would have been unthinkable without the War on Terror.
Yet the Defense Department scheme to keep track of everyone's everyday
transactions - credit card, telephone, internet, electronic toll booths
- sails on in proud majesty, more like a promise than a threat against
The adrenaline of
power overwhelms the inhibitions of deliberative lawmaking. "The
terrorists are not going to wait for a process that goes on days, weeks
or months," howled Republican leader Senator Trent Lott, damning
Democrats for poking around inside the bulging Homeland Security bill.
"We need to get this done, and we need to do it now." Among
the hundreds of packages jammed inside Bush's holiday sack - all wrapped
in brown paper and largely unexamined by the U.S. Congress - are numerous
special dispensations to GOP donors. Drug companies, for example, are
immunized against some consumer lawsuits, so as not to hinder the War
We are all being
defeated by War; labor, most of all. It is crystal clear that labor
is the main enemy on the domestic front of Bush's war. Homeland Security
means no job security for the new department's 175,000 employees, on
the theory that secretaries, accountants and janitors are soldiers in
the national defense against... whatever, with no rights that any Republican
appointee is bound to respect. Civil service rules might leave openings
for Osama. Trent Lott cut loose his Mississippi yell and overran the
union ranks. The 107th Congress retreated into inglorious history.
That's only the
beginning. Bush men take no working class prisoners. The White House
claims it doesn't even need Congress to privatize 850,000 federal jobs,
opening them up to competition from the private sector. Forget about
the unions in that bargain. Bush likes to bite twice before taking time
to swallow. On the one hand, he creates a giant political spoils system
on a scale that, as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman points out,
has not been seen since President Andrew Jackson invented American-style
patronage. Simultaneously, Bush massacres public employee unions, the
GOP equivalent of ecstasy.
But there's more,
always more. This is total political and economic warfare, scorched
earth. The U.S. Army must be privatized in order to make it safe
for war profiteers and invulnerable to subversion by public servants
carrying union cards.
Almost 60,000 military
personnel and more than 150,000 civilian employees could become redundant,
their jobs filled by private contractors like Halliburton, Vice President
Cheney's old firm, which specializes in training and housing armies.
The privatization plan was announced as yet another "anti-terrorism"
innovation in an October 4 internal memo from Army Secretary Thomas
White, the former Enron executive. Make that three bites before swallowing.
Or four. It's easy to lose track in a blizzard of corruption, especially
when the public is constantly distracted by the sirens and colors and
warnings and threats of Terror In The Homeland.
More mundane matters
such as making permanent the pre-September 11 tax cut for the rich,
privatizing Social Security, and health care legislation tailored to
corporate providers and insurers, will be left to the 108th Congress,
when thieves and rogues will form stronger quorums.
has transformed a national tragedy into a cornucopia of public booty.
The war profiteers have prepared a feast before the Middle East phase
of conflict has even begun, confident that dissenters will not be allowed
to crash the party.
They are about to
impose the awful silence of political police, listening.
The axis of addiction
Quietly, the facades
of the phony war against the international drug trade are being dismantled,
for lack of mission. It is just as well. American "interests"
in Colombia are more than ever defended by drug-dealing mercenaries
of rightwing terror; it is difficult for the U.S. military and CIA to
deputize men whom the Drug Enforcement Administration is attempting
to arrest on trafficking charges. Best to abandon the whole charade.
Instead, the Colombian military, packed with U.S. "advisors"
and wholly dependent on American dollars, actively secures areas of
operation for the narco-gangsters of United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia
(AUC), the regime's effective home guard.
The AUC was formed
from the private armies of rich ranchers, the founding architects of
the international cocaine network. Alvaro Uribe, a prince of one of
those semi-feudal families, sits in the Presidential Palace.
Uribe was once Mayor of Medillin, Colombia's second-largest city, known
around the globe as the capital of cocaine. This month, the army invaded
Medillin neighborhoods controlled by sympathizers of leftist guerillas
- the Greater Evil in the axis of George Bush's mind - to facilitate
occupation by the city's 400 AUC gangs, 10,000 members strong.
In the past decade,
over 40,000 people have been murdered in President Uribe's city, most
at the interchangeable hands of drug dealers and the AUC. These are
the allies the U.S. gets when Bush says to the world, "You are
with us or against us."
Similarly, the drug
lords of Afghanistan, U.S. allies all, have reestablished the country
as the unchallenged center of the international heroin trade. This is
a great victory for the CIA, whose officers bragged to author Bob Woodward
of their role in buying the warlords' allegiances in the war against
the Taliban. What they didn't tell Woodward was that heroin franchises
were part of the bargain.
The United Nations
has thrown up its hands, helpless observers in the face of a U.S. military
that considers opium poppies none of their business. "Expectations
are that it will take the best part of a decade before opium production
is eradicated," said Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN's top official in
Thus, the U.S. reigns
supreme in the heroin and cocaine capitals of the planet, having created
the optimum commercial environment for its closest allies in the War
on Terror - and a domestic drug nightmare for its own citizens.
For a deeper examination
of U.S. facilitation of narco-trafficking, see the
commentary, "Make the Amendment: How to get the U.S. Government
Out of the International Drug Trade," April