Choosing Sides

When Clinton was President, many of us in the military, among friends, openly dismissed his leadership and discredited his policies. When Bush was (s)elected, many of us breathed a sigh of relief, believing conservatism would be the order of the day. Neither of those reactions was valid. We in uniform are supposed to be non-political; we swear to support the Constitution, not an individual person in the oval office.

But if soldiers actually attempt to put the Constitution first, they find very quickly that good order and discipline is compromised, and that, not preserving the Constitution, is always the bottom line. An organized standing federal Army, by its very nature and politically responsive design, cannot place the Constitution or law over the wishes of the chief executive.

Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, for starters, graphically illustrate this point.

We have the BushWars raging in Afghanistan and Iraq. No one seems to know why we are there. Al Qaeda, not Afghanistan, is credited with the 9-11 attacks, and Saddam had nothing to do with either of them. Yet whole countries pay while Osama bin Laden remains just out of reach, and the international waiting list to get into Al Qaeda keeps growing and growing. Afghanistan and Iraq are probably just business. You can’t seem to get the truth from Washington, just more deployment orders and after the fact Congressional mea culpas.

We have a so-called conservative president who has spent every spare minute growing a more centralized welfare/warfare state. American citizens are more dependent on federal rules, regulations and largesse, in areas from education to agriculture to medicine to insurance to energy to trade to media, than ever before. One wonders if Bush is the American Caligula.

Comparing Bush to Caligula is perhaps too harsh. But the split personality of a conservative gone socialist, a man of the New Testament waging war for fantastical storylines because it feels good, a person of paranoia who insists that public critics be relegated to "Free Speech Zones" where the media is not allowed, does indeed fit the Caligula model. If true, it could be good news. Rome only suffered Caligula for four years.

Perhaps Lenin is another George Bush model. Lenin expected that Imperialism would be Capitalism’s highest stage, and clearly George Bush believes it. Lenin’s actions in 1918 were two-fold. He established "War Communism" at home to seize property, infuse domestic loyalty, and strengthen the federal state, along with a "Third International" to "promote world revolution according to the Russian communist model."

The pattern fits. If you consider the philosophies and writings of his neo-conservative advisors, it begins to look eerily familiar. Lenin would approve.

We have Martha Stewart found guilty of lying to the federal government about something that was not criminal. She will serve five months in a federal prison. If I told the federal government a lie, for example, about how many times I actually weeded my garden this summer, or that I wrote 10 checks from my checking account instead of 9, even though none bounced or were otherwise illegal, I too could get a federal jail sentence. Allow me to clarify. I could get a jail sentence only if it serves a federal purpose, like Martha does. I wonder if anyone in Washington is reading

We have one of the most important national security concerns we have ever known, the hunt for Bobby Fischer, who is being extradited to the United States to face federal prosecution for playing chess in Yugoslavia without United Nations permission. Huh? Perhaps this is some kind of warning to Bin Laden that we are serious and are not going to take it anymore!

Back to the dual personalities of Caligula, Bush is thrilled to be getting Bobby for violating the United Nations mandate, while Bush himself has spent inordinate energies in avoiding a similar UN mandate regarding American participation in and extradition for the UN’s International Criminal Court. The lesson here is you can violate human rights, imprison wrongly, and even murder at will, but a game of chess, well, now you’ve gone too far!

Speaking of freedom, democracy and murder, the latest reporting on our current favorite Prime Minister, Iyad "Little Saddam" Allawi, feature his pistol shots to the heads of captured Iraqi prisoners. I was concerned, before this, about Allawi’s newly established domestic intelligence bureaucracy, to keep Iraqis in line so they can all have a nice new democracy. I needn’t have worried, and you can bet George W. Bush isn’t.

What does it all mean? Like they say, you’re either with us or against us. I’ve seen enough, and I’ve chosen a side. And while I don’t support governmental safety laws on principle, like Bette Davis I must advise all Americans to fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.