The Republican National Committee is broadcasting a political video containing some useful lessons about George Bush and terrorism. It employs an educational Sesame Street approach. In addition to the millions of dollars raised by the Bush electoral machine, this video clip is brought to us by the letter P.
Critics of the clip say it discourages free speech by equating criticism of Bush with support for enemies. The ad does say, "Some are attacking the President for attacking the terrorists."
With "Some call for us to retreat, putting our national security in the hands of others," it discourages criticism of the President in his war in Iraq, while making a subtle appeal to those who consider working well with others to be a bad thing. The video warns those who advocate a quick return of the country (and its oil) to the Iraqis, and a quick return of our troops to the business of defense, not occupation.
The clip closes by encouraging viewers to write Congress in support the vague neo-conservative idea of pre-emptive self-defense.
One should view this adventure in electoral strategy with another P-word. Perspective. First, the ad does contain some factual information. Canisters and crates of bad juju can easily be brought into this country, and they might indeed cause a disaster on the scale of the 9-11 attacks. The Bush-led construction of an American empire, beginning in Baghdad, has certainly made the U.S. a more desirable target. The deployment of our active, guard and reserve forces all over the globe chasing ghosts and creating brave new neo-conservative worlds ensures they won’t be available to protect our borders or help out in a domestic disaster.
Secondly, we now know that 9-11 was preventable. It was preventable because all the information needed to stop the attacks and arrest the evildoers was possessed by various government security agencies. Unfortunately for all of us, this information was inaccessible, unshared, and ignored by one stove-piped agency after another. Not to mention the failure of post-hijack, pre-impact procedural response.
You’d think President Bush, as a strong president in a time of national crisis, would have done something about all those security agencies and how they work to defend our borders and share information. But, as indicated by the Republican National Committee itself, it’s as easy today to attack and damage soft targets in America as two years ago. Instead of strength, the RNC is insinuating that George W. Bush consistently demonstrates limited capacity in managing his major governmental departments.
Bush’s most important post 9-11 battle was to reorganize and streamline U.S. domestic agencies away from fiefdoms and towards far greater effectiveness. Instead, he took the easy path and created one of the world’s largest (and least accountable) governmental bureaucracies. Ron Paul warned this ill-conceived growth of government power would expand the federal police state. As usual, Representative Paul was right.
Lastly, nurturing empire-lust and calling it a "forward pre-emptive battle against terror" isn’t working. Bush’s claim of bringing the terror fight to "the terrorists" also illustrates his basic misunderstanding of what terrorism is. Terrorism is a particular tactic used by the weak against the strong, and by the strong against the weak. Who would argue that Stalin’s 20 million dead or Hitler’s 6 million dead or Mao’s 15 million dead do not define the very essence of government terrorism? Russia’s war in Chechnya, and Clinton’s war in Waco, on a smaller scale, also lend meaning to the word terrorism. It is an act, a tool, a weapon, a technique, usually employed against civilians. Terrorism, especially attacking non-combatants, is actually far more effective in achieving its political aims when used by governments against its citizens, rather than the other way around. That kind of terrorism, of course, is rarely reported in the media’s 24-hour news cycle.
In the RNC-produced clip, Bush states that in these types of battles "perseverance is power." In the traditional and all-important American resistance to police states, Constitutional trampling, and ill-conceived foreign policy agendas like pre-emptive self-defense, I couldn’t agree more. This statement is a ray of light in an otherwise uninteresting political con job.
Plutarch, speaking for the state and for the sustained success of the Roman Empire, wrote "Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together yield themselves up when taken little by little."
Contradicting the wisdom of Plutarch and missing the point of empire maintenance entirely, Bush’s most recent speech in London instead extols the usefulness of violence. As for the RNC, I hope they do a better job in the future of showcasing the administration’s conservative successes, if they can find any.
Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a recently retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley.