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24 Feb-03
Chronicling the new Empire of America, the uber-Bully.

Turd of the Week

George W. Bush wins the award, mostly 'cause we've slighted him in this column too much lately. His emerging strategy of world makeover at gunpoint is truly unsettling. When is the new moon?

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Bush Motivations Slowly Clarifying
It has mystified this crap-sickened pundit and many others who look beneath the soundbite driven rhetoric of this administration, exactly what is motivating the Bush administration's push for war?

Of the stated reasons, the administration and anyone who looks beneath the soundbites knows:

  • Saddam is not any significant supporter of Al Q'aeda
  • Saddam's greatest days for citizen oppression are well behind him (when Cheney, Reagan and Bush1 were down with it)
  • Saddam's defiance of UN arms control agreements is nothing new, but he currently does not possess a credible threat to the US, Europe or even the rest of the middle east.
  • Saddam's threat to the world and even to the region is certainly not urgently menacing

But even the left wing's claims of unstated reasons ring hollow:

  • He's doing it for oil. I'm just not cynical enough to believe this slimy resource is anything more than a tasty bonus spoil of victory.
  • He's doing it to avenge Dad. Makes nice Greek drama, but I just can't see it as a primary motivator.
  • He's doing it to detract from his yet-to-produce-the-ultimate-head-on-a-stick war on terror of dubious results. He's got North Korea as a much more plausible distraction.

None of the stated reasons is fooling anyone other than the bumper-stickered, SUV wielding, Joe Millionaire numbed, Fox News gobbling masses. And even the preponderant left-wing aforementioned reasons seem implausible to this pundit. So what could be the prime directive?

What is emerging in editorials by Charles Krauthammer, last week's PBS Frontline piece and recent articles in The New Yorker is a much more visionary, arrogant and frightening justification for war. Apparently, as in most executive administrations, there are schisms in the cabinet regarding foreign policy. Powell, and to a lesser extent Condi shore up the moderates while Rummy and Paul Wolfowitz head up the hawks.

Wolfie is considered the visionary among the hawks, who in turn are getting most of Bush's attention these days. Wolfie believes that America should be projecting its power (militarily, of course) across the globe so as to change the world into one more closely aligned with American interests. This phrase has starting showing up with alarming frequency from the Bush White House: A world more closely aligned with American interests. Wow.

So, the government that claims to represent 5% of the world's population seeks to impose its will on the other 95%. It will be interesting to see the extent to which the Bush administration comes forward in stating this strategy. Colin Powell has discussed these intentions with the UN, Wolfie's philosophies have been well self-documented, Rummy is on the record pushing for American hegemony on several concurrent fronts.

Fasten your seatbelts world, Uncle Sam is coming to redesign your culture! Like the bodysnatching pods of the 50's scifi movie, you may resist at first, but you will learn to love your new world view!

screw all the other stockholders, we're cashing out!

Hey, what do you know? We make money from American militarily screwed up countries in the Middle East!

We're already negotiating with the “new Iraqi democracy” for oil rights!

Selling weapons all over the globe to ensure civilian death and instability which in turn ensures a strong market for years and years...

Budget Cuts Hit Afghanistan
The Bush administration spent countless hours and millions of our children's tax dollars preparing for the 2004 budget. But as Freud will tell you, mistakes are often thinly veiled acts of volition. Yep, the Bush White House is allocating $0.00 for Afghanistan rebuilding in 2004. Whoopsie! I guess when you're planning your next kill, you can't always finish gutting the last carcass.

Yet another example of campaign promises cruelly trampled by action.

Talkin' Turkey
While the deficit soars, the rich get tax relief, the budget ignores Iraq war and aftermath monies, the homeland continues to have serious security exposures borne of underfunding, Istanbul is wheedling $26 billion from the Bush fantasy budget in order to give us base rights. Wow, that's expensive real estate!

Coast Guard requests for $4.4 billion to shore up port security have yielded a paltry $92 million - that's 2% for the math fans among us. A Brookings Institute report projects a Bush budget shortfall of $7 billion for basic security needs.

So, the war costs keep mounting, but since we're not quite yet killing Iraqis, the Pollyanna budget remains only at orange alert. Between Bush's cash incentives to the very rich and his determination to wage war unilaterally at any cost, our national budget is screwed for decades. Our moral budget is maxed out at the Paycheck Advance and is looking into debt consolidation loans.

J'aime les français, encore - Professor Pissed
There seem to be two different American publics confirmed (if not entirely manufactured) by media coverage of the build-up to the US's threatened attack on Iraq. On the one hand, the nutty, counter-cultural "serial protesters" scoffed at by Fox t.v. news -- those supposedly anti-American citizens who are actively challenging the Bush administration's march to war; on the other, the "patriotic" war-mongers and supporters of Bush's every move, who express violent contempt for individuals and countries who would dare to question the unfolding of events.

Needless to say, I marched in my city's version of the anti-war protests last Saturday (February 15) with my two kids in tow. Given that information, it won't be a surprise that what really makes me mad is the characterization of extremely diverse protesters in unflattering and over-simplistic terms on the part of reactionary components of the media (Murdoch-owned Fox news leading the pack). Even worse (because more globally dangerous) are the absurd and grotesque mischaracterizations of the actions of countries refusing to support the war unconditionally -- France and Germany especially -- as somehow pathetic, ignorant, or arrogant.

Which country is arrogant here? The country that acts as if it has a right to invade any sovereign nation it sees fit if its oil or other potential (usually political) interests are supposedly being compromised? Or the country whose emissaries voice a protest in the proper international forum, and exhort the US to act more carefully before invading said sovereign nation? The grounds for such an exhortation have been clearly outlined by the French and German governments as well as by the protestors: the planned invasion is clearly motivated by questionable political interests (Bush hasn't caught Osama yet and needs to up his ratings, etc.); it will undoubtedly incite far more animosity against the USA and spawn new terrorist networks not even dreamed of to date; it will cause rampant deaths among civilian and military populations, and will destablize the already fraught Middle-East. Just the threat of such an invation is already fracturing the coalition of Western "democracies," alienating from the US even those countries that used to be allies.

I would place more trust in those who are clearly actually thinking things through than in those rushing to cast aspersions on the thoughtful dissenters. As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted in his February 18 editorial column, Americans' naiveté about world affairs is compounded by the vast ignorance among the general populace about world and domestic affairs, an ignorance promoted by the over-simplifications and conservative bias of much television news in this country (sadly, where most Americans get their information on national and international affairs). He notes that recent surveys have shown that most American think that some or all of the hijackers of 9/11 were Iraqi and that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, a claim (he notes) "even the Bush administration has never made."

I hate to sound elitist, but education really matters. With even a slight improvement in the t.v. news coverage, and less skewing to the right, I would guess that an even greater percentage of Americans than currently (around 50%) would be increasingly suspicious of what's going on -- they'd be out there with me, that "nutty professor," protesting this ill-advised rush towards military action.

Professor Pissed, a writer based in Southern California, is trying to address the question of "What the hell does France know about war?"

Troops to the Philippines - An Army of, umm, One?
With US troops cramped into confined Army bases around the world, Afghanistan deserts and soon, the suburbs of Baghdad, a military juggernaut needs a little room to stretch out. So, let's spread a little love, Daisy-Cutter style to the Philippines ("Hey McArthur told you 'we shall return!'"). Yep, the brilliant strategy of creating jobs by stocking the front lines with fresh meat is really paying off.

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