SHELL GAME

 

A year after 9/11, it is clear that George Bush and his administration are using the so-called War on Terror as an excuse to advance their dreams of unilateral domination abroad and their Right Wing agenda at home. The sooner we can be rid of This Disaster and his administration the better off we all will be.

Before 9/11 the Bush Administration established an arrogant, go-it-alone attitude toward the world community with acts such as withdrawing from the Kyoto Treaty for climate change. Then, after a brief post-9/11 sojourn into talk of coalitions and allies, Bush & Co. returned almost immediately to its myopic, unilateral way of approaching all issues. They thumbed their noses at Russia and withdrew from the ABM treaty; they refused to sign on to the International Court of Justice and demanded exemption from it; they withheld our contribution to funding for the United Nations Population Fund, to name only three in a depressingly long list of examples of ways in which the Bush administration is an international bully.

And the president’s abysmal failure of leadership in the Middle East, his embarrassingly pro-Israel stand, and his increasingly bellicose rhetoric about invading Iraq have not only alienated and infuriated moderate Muslims everywhere, they have also alienated and infuriated and frightened our former friends around the world.

And here at home Bush & Co. seem determined to alienate everyone but the most conservative. John Ashcroft invents TIPS–the Terrorism, Information and Protection System–so that we can spy on each other in the name of security. It sounds like the McCarthy Era or Communist Russia or Maoist China. The same man who invented TIPS also spent thousands of dollars to cover up the bare breasts of The Spirit of Justice. A year ago we were attacked by religious fanatics from far away; now our civil rights and our own spirit of justice are attacked by a religious fanatic here at home.

George Bush & Co. have found that The War on Terror is a handy tool for doing what they wanted to do anyway: gut environmental legislation and regulations, give more tax breaks to the rich, cut support for the young, the old and the poor. The list is endless.

Yet the American people are silent. Why?

Is it because Americans are brow-beaten and bamboozled by the shenanigans of the last Presidential election–an election that was “won” with illegal and racist tactics in a state where the president’s brother is the governor?

Is it because Americans know that “our” president was not elected but appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

Is it because Americans are incredulous at the Bush administration’s self-righteous, moralistic bombast about business ethics while criminal CEO’s run the White House?

Is it because Americans are genuinely threatened by and afraid of future terrorist attacks? We want wise, far sighted leadership in the White House, not self-serving megalomaniacs.

Is it because Americans are frustrated and angry, because an unelected President declared a war that is not a war? We haven’t smoked Osama bin Laden out of any hole. In fact nothing has happened except we’ve got a huge, new deficit, the stock market has fallen apart and the President has proposed a military budget larger than all the rest of the world’s military budgets combined.

And for what? So we can fight Rogue States? Some wacko Axis of Evil?

The plague of Pax Americana is upon the world. And it is upon us also. We–you and I and our country–we are the Rogue State. As Pogo said once, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Yet as a nation, it’s as if we are hypnotized by a bunch of fast talking street corner con-men and shills eager to sell us a bill of goods we know we shouldn’t buy.

When are Americans going to wake up and realize that this so-called War on Terror is a sham, a scam, a shell game played on a cardboard box on the nation’s street corner? On September 11, 2002, it is clear that George Bush has found a way with his War on Terror to keep the American public from speaking out about and rebelling against the insane travesty of justice and governance that is now transpiring in our nation’s capitol.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This essay first appeared in a slightly different version in THE RUTLAND (VT) HERALD and THE BARRE (VT) TIMES ARGUS on September 11, 2002. The essay was originally commissioned by THE BURLINGTON (VT) FREE PRESS, a Gannett paper, but was rejected for being “too partisan” and because it was “a two-by-six to the face.”