The current episode of Star Wars is dynamite for the duplicitous Bush administration. Palpatine, a Sith Lord masquerading as a galactic Republican, becomes Chancellor of the Galactic Republic through deception. Palpatine uses wars that he instigates to elevate security over the power of the Senate and to become dictator.
In a moment of triumph, Palpatine tells the Senate: "In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society." The senators respond with sustained cheering and applause. Padme says, "So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause."
Sith lords use the powers of the dark side of the force. Jedi knights use the power of the good side. The Jedi are selfless and use their incredible powers to protect the Republic. Sith are evil and crave absolute power.
Palpatine, who is really Darth Sidious, manipulates the Senate and enlists the Jedi Council’s patriotism to "defend" the Republic against a "separatist" army that he secretly directs. The purpose of the orchestrated war is to erode liberty in the name of security. The naïve Jedi catch on too late and are decimated. The Republic falls.
Bush’s "war against terrorism" is no less orchestrated than Palpatine’s war and has led to the same result: a society dominated by security concerns.
The top secret British government memo that was leaked to the London Times proves beyond all doubt that Bush invaded Iraq for none of the changing reasons that he has given a too-trusting public. Bush did not invade Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction or because he wanted to bring democracy to Iraq.
Why did Bush invade Iraq? No one, least of all the Bush administration, has come up with a believable reason. Yet, there is no shortage of patriotic Republicans who sincerely believe that Bush has made America safer by turning the Muslim world against us and stirring up a hornets nest of terrorists united by their hatred of America.
Moreover, like Palpatine’s war, Bush’s war in Iraq appears to be interminable. US military commanders say the US will be fighting in Iraq for years to come. Forecasts are that the war will have cost taxpayers $600 billion by 2010.
Meanwhile, Bush, like Palpatine, has brought civil liberties to a crisis. In the US civil liberties are everywhere biting the dust. Not content with the Orwellian-named "Patriot Act," the Bush administration is pushing for expanded secret police powers. Even conservative Republican Bob Barr (Washington Times, May 17) writes that provisions of the "Patriot Act" go far beyond fighting terrorism "and undermine our constitutional freedoms and Fourth Amendment rights."
Barr is chairman of a coalition, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances. In other words, dear readers, the checks and balances are gone. Bush has enabled the police to bypass the courts. Executive power rules, and there are no Jedi knights.
The Sith, however, are everywhere. In our day the Sith masquerade as neoconservatives. Neocons deal in absolutes. They believe the end justifies the means. As the Jedi master Obi-Wan tells Anakin, who is turning to the dark side and emerging as Darth Vader, "only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes." Anakin to Obi-Wan: "If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy."
Palpatine is able to manipulate the Galactic Senate with the clever use of words that play upon emotions. People want to feel secure. They want their side to prevail and will do whatever it takes to win, including trading their Republic for an Empire. Palpatine prevails because people deceive themselves.
Republicans have become adept at self-deception. They will believe any argument that justifies Bush and no news report that casts doubt on Bush’s war. The leaked British government memo is dismissed as just more anti-Bush propaganda from the liberal media, like Dan Rather and Newsweek.
Newsweek’s retraction of its story that US soldiers flushed a Koran down a toilet proves to Republicans that the only problem is an anti-American liberal media. The fact that Newsweek was absolutely correct in reporting desecration of the Koran by US troops — and only got wrong the particular way in which the holy book was desecrated — has been totally ignored by Republicans.
Republicans believe everything Bush says. When he tells them he needs a police state to save them from terrorists, they believe him.
Who will save us from Bush’s police state?
Just as Child Protective Services has had to frame innocent parents and child care providers as child abusers in order to justify its budgets and a massive bureaucracy, the vast Homeland Security apparatus will have to "find" terrorists. Otherwise, there is no point to all the expanded police powers and the huge budget.
Just as the indignities of Airport Security and its assorted searches fall on loyal American citizens, the police state measures will also fall on loyal American citizens.
With the courts bypassed, a terrorist is whoever the secret police say is a terrorist. The US government is already committing the crime of kidnapping people mistakenly identified as terrorist suspects and flying them to brutal regimes to be tortured.
Police states have an insatiable need for enemies. In Stalin’s time, the secret police conducted "street sweeps." People waiting for buses and shopping for food were carted off to prison, where they were tortured until they implicated others. Thus was the Gulag filled with innocents.
"It can’t happen here," but the beginnings of it already have. The US prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is full of mistaken identities and people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time — including, according to the Associated Press, a chicken farmer and an invalid. Bush’s brand of democracy — a regime that holds people in prison for three years without charges — does not have civil liberties at heart.
Republicans are cheering. According to news reports Congress has passed — and Bush is about to sign — a law requiring a national identity card (Real ID) containing invasive digital information about the person.
How long will it be before the card specifies whether the person is a gun owner? If it is dangerous for air travel to permit a passenger to have a toothpick or nail clippers, how can a terrorist-threatened society permit mass gun ownership?
If the constitutional protections of civil liberties can be suspended in order to better fight terrorism, the Second Amendment doesn’t have a chance. A government that spies on its citizens will not trust them with guns. When gun control becomes an essential feature of Homeland Security, the National Rifle Association and talk radio conservatives will be as astounded as Bail Organa and Padme when they hear Palpatine declare "an empire . . . and a sovereign ruler chosen for life."
Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.