Is Global Democracy Worth Your Life Savings?
by Ryan McMaken
I didn't bother to watch the president's press conference Thursday night. It is always much easier to read the transcript in ten minutes than to waste a precious hour or more of my time on the president when valuable reruns of "That 70's Show" are on UPN. Apparently, I didn't miss anything good, since even the lapdog press admits the president was being repetitive, and was doing little more than relentlessly hitting everyone over the head with his convictions about the unprecedented threat that Saddam Hussein allegedly poses to the United States. Bush also made it clear that he won't be letting up on the war talk even though many of America's traditional allies, who incidentally have access to the same spy data as the Bush administration, have determined that Hussein has no connection to Al-Qaeda. The president has personally decided that such a connection exists, however, and in the end, the reality that the president deigned to let everybody in on was that more war, terrorism, debt, and international discord are the wave of the future, and that we'd all better get used to it because he's decided that that's the way it's going to be. So there.
The president's increasing resolve comes on the heels of solidifying international resistance to the Bush administration's relentless drive for an invasion and occupation of Iraq. Much of this opposition comes from the administration's insistence that Iraq is supplying Al-Qaeda in spite of the fact that this conclusion goes against not only the physical evidence, but against logic as well. The charge that Iraq has sought to revive its nuclear weapons program by shopping for uranium has also been proven bogus.
So, if neither our own CIA, or the intelligence communities of half of Western Europe will sign on to the charge that Iraq is tied to Al-Qaeda, why the rush to war? In response to some of my articles, I have received livid emails from war-crazed readers insisting that "we can't second-guess the President" and that "he has access to information we don't." First of all, putting aside the argument that the president was sent by God Almighty as the president clearly thinks he was, every real American should constantly second-guess him. And secondly, while there is certainly plenty of intelligence information that we peons don't have, the Bush administration has repeatedly insisted that they are sharing their intelligence data with our European allies; the same allies (including Britain) who have had to conclude that there is no Iraq—Al-Qaeda link.
The response from the War Party to this European reluctance has been to launch anti-European hysteria (albeit with different "enemies") of the kind not seen since the First World War, complete with the ludicrous renaming of French fries as "Freedom Fries" and local boycotts of French wine. The underlying motivator behind this among the war-loving rank and file is the suspicion that Europeans don't care about terrorism because it wasn't their populations that were attacked on September 11th. In a particularly embarrassing piece of populist nonsense, a piece called "They Didn't Hit the Vatican" in a "conservative" Catholic publication, asserted that the main reason The Vatican opposes the invasion and occupation of Iraq is because Vatican officials, sitting "over a glass of brandy," are simply gambling that they won't be a target of terrorism. The United States, the author tells us, as "de facto protector of the Vatican State" has given itself the moral authority to deem the foreign policy positions of the Vatican worthless, and the rest of the Western world would be wise to pay heed to this lesson.
Not only are such arguments nothing more than tacky self-righteous imperial snobbery, but they are also factually incorrect. Europe has been the target of all types of terrorism for decades (i.e., the Munich Olympics), with much of it coming from Islamic extremists. Many Americans still cling to the fantasy that, September 11th notwithstanding, the American state can provide total security from the threats of the world. All we need is one more war, one more government agency, and one more constitutional right trampled upon. The Europeans, who realize that they are much more accessible to Islamic terrorists, rightly see that an unjustified invasion of Iraq will only increase the threat of terrorism. Nowhere is terrorism presently a greater problem than in Russia, where terrorists, Islamic and otherwise, are emerging from central Asia to attack the Russian heartland. In fact, polls from last November find that 90 percent of Russians surveyed fear a terrorist attack on nuclear facilities, and 86 percent fear that a nuclear weapon in the hands of a terrorist could be used against Russia. By the "They Didn't Hit the Vatican" rationale, the Russians should be pushing hard for this war, yet they aren't.
Knowing the "they kill us because we love freedom" argument to be one of the most ridiculous theories ever uttered in public, Europeans, after decades of dealing with terrorism, have concluded that the best defense, is well, defense. As the Europeans see it, The American "plan" of unilaterally invading foreign nations while encouraging illegal aliens to stream across the border will have limited success against terrorism to say the least.
The European powers may also smell the role of Israel in all of the posturing over the "threat" of Iraq. The United States is the only place on earth where people accept as gospel the proposition that Israelis are always right and Palestinians are always wrong. The reality, naturally, is much more complex, and the thought of spending millions upon millions of dollars to invade a country that has not been proven to financially or militarily support international terrorism or to have a nuclear weapons program in the name of helping Ariel Sharon win the next election is not terribly appetizing for them. The Bush administration, of course, looks like it is willing to spend what may be as much as a trillion dollars on fighting this follow-up to the Six-Day War that will put America in the role of colonial master of the Middle East for decades to come.
We know that the stated goal of this decade of war the Bush administration is planning is to produce "democracy" in the Middle East, although it is quite unclear as to what any of this has to do with the safety of the American public. Both the CIA and the FBI have come to the same conclusion as many Europeans governments and made it quite clear that a war with Iraq will only increase the terrorist threat, and that they do not have the resources to deal with it. Apparently, the president is too busy starting wars to bother with domestic defense.
Throughout the entire debate over the invasion of Iraq, the President has repeatedly claimed that it is his decision alone that will be heard on this matter, and the American people, more of whom are becoming unemployed by the minute, are willing to just give the president a pass and buy the propaganda about the alleged selfish laziness of Europe.
With rising unemployment and outrageous deficit spending (which will be paid for by inflation), the interesting thing to see will be how long the American people are willing to put up with a stock market in ruins and a shrinking economy. Is global democracy worth your life-savings and another trillion dollars of national debt? Bush thinks so. It may not be long before preferring employment over global democracy will be deemed as treasonous as "second-guessing" the president.
March 11, 2003
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