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By David Podvin
Unaltered AP photograph of George W. Bush, taken at a
fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Bob
Beauprez in Denver, Colorado September 27, 2002
American foreign policy is
revisiting the most brutal period in our history. George W. Bush has resurrected
the scourge of Manifest Destiny, a depraved philosophy that states we are
morally compelled by God Almighty to kill weaker people and steal their land.
There is no scriptural evidence that this is the covenant of Jehovah or Jesus or
Mohammad or Buddha; the God whose will is now being carried out more closely
resembles Attila the Hun. The stated desire for world domination has some
observers comparing Bush to Adolf Hitler. It is a comparison that is entirely
inappropriate - Hitler did not pretend to love the innocent civilians he was
On the home front, there is also an
unwelcome blast from the past. As has happened so many times in American
history, conservatives are expediently detecting the scent of treason in the
air. The moon is full, and the blood is rising in the wolf. Right-wingers are
now working themselves into the irrational, frenzied state that precedes the
hunt, lustfully anticipating the carnage they are about to inflict. Yet again,
conservatives are patriotically preparing to lay waste to their natural born
prey: the evil ones amongst us who endanger this sacred land by failing to
conform to the Lord’s fascist agenda.
Having fostered imperialism abroad
and McCarthyism at home, and with the stock market teetering on the edge of
collapse, Bush is closing in on a Trifecta for the ages. Add the fact that he
previously prevented blacks from voting, throw in the current discrimination
against citizens who physically resemble the enemy, and Bush has delivered a
reprise of the worst of twentieth century America – all deftly compressed into
less than two years
The Bush record
is a logical extension of what happened in 2000. The theft of that election was
not just a power grab – it was a policy statement by someone who has contempt
for democracy and the rule of law. The inevitable result is the introduction of
the Bush Doctrine. It declares that, while the United States would prefer to
behave legally, "We will not
hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by
acting pre-emptively." The Bush Doctrine is the latest incarnation of the
Manson Doctrine, which clearly states, “I
reserve the right to kill you if I feel like it.”
This is not the
best of America.
America at its
best exports freedom and democracy, not death and destruction. One
of the shining moments in our history occurred when the Marshall Plan
rebuilt Europe, even the part of Europe that had just tried to kill us.
After defeating our enemies, we fed them and then helped to create free
societies in which they could thrive. As a result, we turned adversaries into
allies. Contrast this approach with the current situation in Afghanistan, where
Bush has replaced the Taliban with thugs of his own and left the peasants
to fend for themselves - without food or shelter - by growing opium poppies.
at its best allows people to read library books without having the Attorney
General pass judgment on their selections, and go to museums without being
monitored by FBI agents, and publicly demonstrate against government policy
without being harassed.
The best of America is George
Washington declining to become king because he preferred to live as an equal
rather than rule as a sovereign. This stands in sharp contrast to the current
George, who attempts to rule as a sovereign even though he fails to qualify as
The best of America is Abraham Lincoln imploring his countrymen to avoid war by listening to the better angels of their nature. It is quite different than imploring Congress to slash Medicare benefits for old Americans in order to help underwrite the cost of sending young Americans off to die.
The best of America is Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr., risking and ultimately sacrificing his own life so that others
could be free at last. Personal sacrifice is alien to the man who now insists
that our country pay a huge toll in blood and treasure to satiate the greed of
his campaign contributors.
America is a great country when we
follow the lead of great people.
And then there is the America that
is led by George W. Bush. While the litany of ways in which Bush has disgraced
our nation is seemingly endless, one example is especially compelling. Under
Bush, self-proclaimed child of God, America is currently torturing foreign
nationals who are suspected of committing terrorism. This return to the caves is
cheered by the ruling class and their echoes in the mainstream media, who
emphasize that our sadism is different than that of Torquemada and Idi Amin
because we are the good guys. The conduct of the Bush administration must always
be viewed through this prism, because merely looking at the facts as they exist
would lead a moral person to some very troubling and socially unacceptable
conclusions. The prevailing wisdom among America’s elite opinion makers
is that torturing captured foes is an unpleasant but essential part of our noble
fight against barbarism.
The dungeon also beckons indigenous enemies of the state. Bush is petitioning the courts to permit “coercive interrogations” of American citizens who are not even accused of terrorism. The current descent into totalitarian savagery qualifies as one of those many things that are questioned only by traitors.
Ultimately, the American people will
decide whether war is better than peace and conformity is better than freedom.
Bush can insist on creating Pax Americana, but he has not consolidated enough
power – yet – to act in defiance of an aroused public. If the people of this
country do not yearn for a world that exists only to increase the profits of oil
companies and defense contractors, then we must take a stand. If we do not want
to live in a nation where opposing perpetual war is an act of sedition, then we
must register that view at the ballot box.
The crucial yet unspoken issue in
the upcoming election is whether Manifest Destiny and McCarthyism were disasters
that are best left to the dustbin of history, or whether they are blueprints for
governing the United States in the twenty-first century. The Republicans have
embraced Bush’s determination to build an empire in the name of all that is
holy, while disdaining Benjamin Franklin’s admonition against trading
essential liberty for temporary safety. The Democrats have shown no inclination
to rule the world, and this alone is enough to make them virtuous by comparison.
The events of the past two years
have clearly proven that, in contemporary politics, the lesser of two evils is
significantly less evil. There is definitely more than a dime’s worth of
difference between the two major political parties: one of them wants the
government of the United States to forcefully eradicate dissent wherever it
exists, and the other doesn’t.
On Election Day, Americans should reject the return of expansionism abroad and repression at home by voting for the congressional candidates of the Democratic Party.
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