An American Tale
by Karen Kwiatkowski
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.
~ John Adams (1735—1826)
"[The war was illegal, but…] I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."
~ Richard Perle, former Chairman and currently an active member of the Defense Policy Board, on the U.S. invasion of Iraq, 20 November 2003.
"Why wouldn't he have killed himself, or fought, to go out with some glory, some honor?"
~ Wolf Blitzer, 15 December 2003, on the 13 December capture of Saddam Hussein
In these three quotations, we have the alpha and omega of the American story. John Adams, discussing our Constitution, warned of avarice, ambition and revenge. The warning covers the current Bush administration's foreign policy, and much of its domestic policy. Avarice is seen in federal contracts created by the state for the state's friends and in the promise to continue propping up domestic pharmaceutical interests through continued market-warping subsidization for the wealthiest elderly class in the world. Congress, of course, went along with all of this avarice, understandable as most members are immune to honor or courage. As Lew Rockwell said recently, "men who seek power over the lives of others are the coldest, cruelest humans of all."
George W. Bush's primary ambition is to publicly exceed his father's record, through a presidential re-election. Cost is no object, the future and the past no impediment in Dubyaworld. One might wonder, "What happened to the fiscal conservatism in the Republican Party ?" and "Does George W. Bush realize his policies will ensure that his unborn grandchildren will live like today's Argentinean elites, and everyone else's like today's Argentinean middle class?" Don't bother wondering. These questions have no part in the ambition of George W. Bush.
Revenge is also prevalent. Bush pursues foreign policies aimed at revenging and humiliating the offending state — whether it is our former CIA friend and Ba'ath Party ally, Saddam Hussein, or current allies France, Germany and Russia. Likewise, he attempts to revenge and humiliate critics and truth tellers at home. From his treatment of reporters and major newspapers who dare write an honest word, or former ambassadors who dare to speak one, the policy is 100% predictable.
Adams also named gallantry as one of the four horsemen of the Constitutional apocalypse. Some think longingly of the Clinton administration where the President only lied about his closed-door sessions with a dozen other women instead of closed-door sessions with two-dozen imperial neoconservatives. However, Clinton's punitive bombings of Sudan and Afghanistan, his operations in Bosnia, the gallantry of the "humanitarian war" in Kosovo and Serbia, not to mention the long years of morally worthwhile sanctions and Vietnam-exceeding bombing of Iraq add up to nothing but trouble. Clinton was then, as surely as Bush is today, a critical part of U.S. public pursuit of empire and back-room practices of illegality. Further, both are exceptionally accomplished liars.
Adams warned us that the Constitution would prove inadequate in its role unless the nation remained restrained by morality and religion. We are not now, and have not for some time, been such a people.
Richard Perle, representing all that is elitist and imperial in Washington, and Wolf Blitzer of CNN, representing the less astute but outstandingly useful imperial and elitist media, illustrate the whale thrashing through that fine net.
Perle casually puts forth the idea that international law is not for us — indeed, who is it for? I share the concern of many still in the military and their parents that if we ignore international law in the activities of war, then others we fight, invade, occupy or with whom we militarily or economically interfere, are free to do the same. Geneva Convention protections of POWs and the idea of basic international norms of fairness in war were brought about by the brutalities of World War II, committed nightmarishly by allies and axis powers alike. Perle, of course, like most neo-conservatives in Washington, has never risked an ounce of his own flesh for his country.
But it is the innocent musings of Wolf Blitzer, as a cheerleader of neo-conservative aims (and who, as such, retains access to the White House and Pentagon), that bring forth the real omega of our story, in all of its crassness. Wolf asks "Where is Saddam's honor?" and finds it appalling that a former dictator would ever live in a spider hole garnished with half-used cans of Spam and rotting fruit, dirty clothes in the corner and hands-up at the sight of the Fourth Infantry. Blitzer seems to believe that a man who at the age of 25 sold out to the CIA; who achieved power through murder, violence and intimidation in his country; who after consolidation of power, launched an unnecessary eight year war with Iran that ended in a stalemate; and who then invaded Kuwait, and managed, with the help of US-insisted upon food sanctions, to maintain an iron hold on his ever-weakening state and economy until March 2003 — has even a passing acquaintance with either glory or honor?
I hope, upon reading this last long sentence, you protest with a paraphrase from the movie Jerry Maguire with, "Karen, you got me at ‘CIA'." While Wolf Blitzer may not get it, what is really mysterious about imperial states that use pumped up security concerns to reduce domestic freedom and centralize and increase state power? Iraq and America share much in this regard — in both growth of the state, and the quality of our recent and current leadership. Charley Reese points out that in this era of supreme danger to the Constitution and to the America we love, we need leaders who are not only smart, but wise.
Saddam will most likely be carefully preserved for a public trial, ideally by Iraqis, for Iraqis. It is interesting that Saddam's sons, who would have had much to say, cannot testify. The trial of Saddam Hussein will be interesting just the same. It will tell a story of a central government unrestrained by a Constitution or by morality, a story of state greed and the failures of statism, of fear-mongering and militarism in lieu of elections. It will be a story of avarice, ambition and revenge. It will be an Iraqi tale. Sadly, it is also an American tale.
December 16, 2003
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.
Copyright © 2003 LewRockwell.com