Issue Number 17 - November 21, 2002




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"I 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 nations.

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 "big goals."

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.

Contragate criminal 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 tomorrow's dissenters.

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 on Bio-Terror.

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.

Corporate America 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.

The U.S.-educated 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 Afghanistan.

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 5, 2002.

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