Saturday, October 30, 2004


By Jack Random

It is the season when all promises and all actions must be taken with a great deal of cynicism. Having waited four years for an economic recovery to register beyond corporate profits, the president is searching for answers to joblessness and the loss of living wages. Having failed to slow the rising trade deficit or reduce the national debt, he renews his call for permanent tax cuts. Having failed to deliver a prescription drug benefit to seniors, he pushes through a Medicare reform bill written by the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Having failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he no longer believes the question is relevant. It is sufficient that Saddam Hussein had the intention to develop such weapons. It is sufficient that Saddam committed crimes against humanity. It is sufficient that Saddam was a very bad man.

Given the president’s enormous insight and incomparable certitude, he is confident he did the right thing. He is confident that American soldiers are not dying in a mistaken war. He is so confident that he swears, knowing what we know now, that there were no weapons of mass destruction, that there was no link between Saddam and Al Qaeda, he would still go to war.

“I’m a war president,” he intoned with a smirk.

Finally, we found an issue upon which we could take the president at his word. If by some miracle of incredulity, you were not frightened before, now is the time. Until now, the president has been constrained by the prospect of a coming election. If he were to be reelected, the true war-seeking nature of this administration would be unleashed upon the world.

As the Bush Doctrine clearly dictates, the warlords of this White House do not require an imminent threat. They do not require international alliances or the blessings of international law. They proclaim the right to strike any nation at any time in order to advance their cause of global supremacy. They speak glowingly of democracy but their actions belie their words. Democracy notwithstanding, they are content with controlling the world’s resources.

Much of the debate in civil society has been directed at the wars already begun. Considerably less has been devoted to the wars that will follow if the policy of global dominance is allowed to grow and flourish. The possibilities are as varied as moves on a chessboard but the signs are all around us and they are neither disguised nor hidden. The warlords are so arrogant that they promote their dark vision openly and without shame. They boldly state their plans for remaking the world but their portraits lack depth; they are not drawn in flesh and blood detail. It is time to take them at their word and follow the lines of their intentions to real world consequences.

Immediately upon election to a second term, the Bush team will confront a monumental problem. Plainly stated, there are not enough soldiers to pursue their objectives. They cannot continue to abuse the guard and reserves as they have. They will press for international support but it is a hopeless cause. They will expand the use of mercenary forces but it will not be enough. Mark it: They will find an occasion, real or fabricated, to renew military conscription. It will not be the first time the president has betrayed his word and he will no longer face the judgment of the electorate. To those who remained unconvinced: What in the president’s record suggests that we should believe him on the critical question of the draft? He has practiced a policy of deception on every issue from nation building and the war on terror to prescription drugs and the tenor of his tax cuts.

Mark it, post and save: If the president is reelected, there will be a military draft.

Young Americans, many of whom are woefully unprepared to make such judgments, will be compelled to choose between military service and civil disobedience. The antiwar movement will grow tenfold and the guard and reserves will come home to fight the battle on America’s streets. The machinery created by the Patriot Act will be brought to bear on our own citizens. More divided than ever, America will be at war from within.

Undaunted and eager to secure his legacy, the president will be in search of war. The search will begin where the staff has already been planted: The Middle East. Those of us who have listened carefully have come to realize that when he speaks of terrorist ties in Iraq he is no longer merely summoning Al Qaeda; he is speaking of Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations known for their efforts to free Palestine from Israeli occupation. By redefining the enemy to include such organizations, the war on terrorism will be expanded to engage the entire Arab and Islamic worlds, beginning with Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Palestine. Every nation in the region would be compelled to take sides: Us or them?

In this manner, the misbegotten policies of one president could easily evolve into a war of centuries, a battle of civilizations, and a march of death and destruction that would surpass anything the world has yet known. We cannot know what this president intends but the ends of warfare are often unpredictable and this administration, despite its vaunted brainpower, has displayed a startling lack of foresight.

The Middle East scenario is the most dangerous we will face. At its worst, it is Armageddon. At best, it is a horrifying waste of human life, a waste that would be inconceivable if not for the liquid treasure beneath the sands of Arabia. It is a scenario that engages the second of the president’s infamous Axis of Evil.

The third member of the exclusive club is North Korea, a nuclear threat that has grown seven fold in response to the Bush doctrine of war. Of course, it would be sheer madness to attack a power whose immediate response would bring death to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Seoul but the Bush doctrinaires have a high tolerance for the deaths of dark skinned foreigners – especially when it supports their vision of unconscionably evil enemies.

It should not go unnoticed that the administration has pushed the development of a new class of tactical nuclear weapons. This alone is evidence that the madness of King George has taken hold and its names are Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Perle. Given the “bunker busting” bombs we have already demonstrated, it is unlikely that the tactical nuke is for this purpose. It is more likely that they are designed for a preemptive strike that would decimate all nuclear facilities in a target nation before that nation could strike back. While such a strike could be applied to North Korea, it could also apply to Pakistan – especially in the event of another military coup. Since the destruction would be somewhat contained, our leaders could claim humanitarian motives but the nuclear nightmare would be upon us and the world would shudder in horror.

As terrifying as these scenarios may be, we cannot leave the future wars in faraway lands. Latin America has long been the favorite playground of American warlords. When presidential adviser Condoleezza Rice prematurely expressed satisfaction at the news of a coup in Venezuela, she not only signaled American approval but probable American involvement. The admission was particularly revealing because Hugo Chavez was a lawfully elected president. Support for a military takeover exposed the lie of our support for democracy. It is also revealing that Venezuela has the richest oil reserves in the hemisphere.

All of Latin America is suffering under the failed policies of the US dominated World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Electorates have increasingly turned to progressive, anti-American parties. The people have begun to suspect that the WTO-IMF policies have not failed at all. Rather, they have enabled international corporations, America’s partners in global dominance, to take control of their natural resources. Poverty is good business except that it has a tendency to breed discontent. Discontent has a tendency to breed organized opposition and organized opposition has a tendency to be labeled “terrorism.”

America has a rich tradition of intervention in Latin America with only minimal cover. In Chile, 9-11 has a dual meaning: It was also the day the CIA overthrew Salvador Allende and supplanted him with the monstrous dictator, Augusto Pinochet. Throughout the region, the people are well acquainted with American foreign policy. Under prior administrations, the excuse was always the drug war or the Cold War. Now, it is the war on terror.

If the administration engages in Latin America, it will hope to draw Fidel Castro into the conflict. If it succeeds, the administration will achieve the one goal it cherishes even more than the overthrow of Hugo Chavez: Regime change in Cuba.

These are but a handful of the possibilities awaiting a second term of the Bush administration. Potential conflicts are as easy to foresee as geological surveys allow. Wherever oil is in the equation (Nigeria, Somalia), intervention is an excuse away. No longer will such scenarios belong in the realm of screenwriters and novelists. They will no longer be remote and many of them will most assuredly become stark realities.

We cannot afford to test the hypotheses. We cannot afford to gamble the lives of so many soldiers and innocent bystanders. The world cannot afford four more years of a war president in the White House. For though we are shocked by the losses already sustained, they are but minor compared to the profound horror the future may reveal.

The lords of war and avarice will go to the ends of the world to maintain their hold on the reigns of power. If we fail to deny them, we will become the generation that lives forever in infamy and shame. Often has it been foretold but never with more urgency: We hold the future in our hands.

For all the derision heaped upon him in a campaign of partisan politics, Howard Dean was right: As long as we live in a democracy, we have the power. It is time we used it.

On Election Day 2004, the right and privilege of voting carries with it a heavy burden of responsibility. When you close the curtain, you will be alone with your conscience. Let your conscience cast your vote.