Jason Miller – 2005-08-16 00:49:07
Redemption Within Reach for the American Empire
America’s “strong and resolute” Commander in Chief is safely enjoying a five week vacation on his Texas ranch. Yes, that would be the ranch he owns by virtue of that silver spoon that was dangling out of his mouth as he passed down the birth canal.
Following his example from Vietnam, his daughters remain stateside as Bush pontificates the nobility of the cause for which 2,000 Americans have died in Iraq. Despite his unflinching conviction, Mr. Bush lacks the courage to confront Cindy Sheehan and explain to her why her son really died.
Ultimately, George Bush bears the responsibility for the death of Casey Sheehan, yet he refuses to take a few minutes of his precious “R&R” to impart his wisdom to Cindy about the noble reasons for which he is putting our troops in harm’s way. He owes her and the rest of America an answer, but this Evangelical crusader cannot summon the mettle to meet with her on his own doorstep.
Your Lies Are Revealed and Your Cover Is Nlown
Support for the war continues to wane. According to a recent poll conducted by the highly respected, non-partisan Pew Research Center, 51% of Americans believe that Bush deliberately misled the public about whether or not Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (the primary justification for initiating the war). 58% of Americans now believe that the US will not be able to establish a democratic, stable government in Iraq (the notion that the US would establish the Iraqi government underscores the imperialistic nature of America’s intentions).
Only 43% of Americans are now predicting a victory in Iraq. It is time to start bringing our troops home to safety and to stop the senseless slaughter of Iraqi civilians (the “collateral damage”).
Since Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and no ties to Osama bin Laden, why have 2,000 Americans and at least 15,000 innocent Iraqi civilians died in Iraq? One could justify the American cause by stating that we toppled a brutal dictator who committed genocide against the Kurds (native Iraqis), but Hussein was a US ally while he was committing these atrocities (until Bush the First duped him into invading Kuwait so the US could justify the Gulf War against Iraq).
Besides, there are multiple nations in the grips of ruthless autocrats who are committing murders and atrocities, and America is not rushing to the aid of those innocent victims. In fact, the United States government has installed and supported many murderous regimes throughout its history.
In the paradigm of the Global Empire of the United States, abuse of power and murder is acceptable as long as it coincides with American economic and military interests. Why the sudden pangs of concern about the plight of the Iraqi people under Saddam, Mr. Bush?
The Grimm Truth
If fairy tales were true, the United States would be involved in the truly noble cause of “spreading freedom”, and America would have “firmly planted the flag of liberty” in Iraq. However, reality keeps rearing its ugly head to mock the Neocons and their fiction that the US is an altruistic, benevolent super-power sowing the seeds of democracy in the Middle East.
For openers, consider the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqis resulting from “collateral damage” inflicted by the American military. Bestowing a “better government” as an altruistic gesture would not involve obscene and scandalous profits for members of the military industrial complex like Bechtel and Halliburton, would it?
What spiritually aware human being could overlook the widespread Iraqi civilian suffering and death caused by the brutal economic sanctions the US spear-headed for 10 years prior to the war and perpetuated by the American invasion and occupation? How about the Neocon’s use of lies and defiance of the UN to initiate the invasion?
Torture and abuse of prisoners of war are not characteristic actions of a nation “spreading freedom” or planting a “flag of liberty”. Tragically, as was the case with Vietnam, there will be no happy ending to the “Tale of the Iraqi Invasion”. Suffering, war, terror, and death are the bitter harvest the Iraqis are reaping, and the flag firmly planted in their soil is one of economic servitude to the American Empire.
Behind the vacuous rhetoric about America “spreading freedom” lays a much more sinister motive for the Iraqi invasion. The Neocons launched the war in Iraq to begin implementing the Bush Doctrine, their strategy to advance US global domination. Invasion and occupation of Iraq afforded them what they believed would be a “soft target” (obviously someone forgot to account for the challenges of “post war” Iraq) to engage the four principles of their grand blueprint.
They exercised preemption by invading a country which they deemed a threat to the United States. Acting in opposition to the United Nations, they attacked Iraq unilaterally. Placing over 100,000 American troops in harm’s way, they placed Congress in a moral Catch-22 as they demanded billions of additional dollars to perpetuate the American military’s “strength beyond challenge”.
Despite their constituency’s growing opposition to the war, Congress could hardly deny American troops the funding they needed. To complete the “quadrifecta” of principles forming the bedrock of the Bush Doctrine, the Neocons are carrying out their morally despicable invasion and occupation under the guise of “promoting democracy and freedom”.
It is critical to note that the chief architects of the Bush Doctrine, which ensures that the poor and working class of America were (and will continue to be) thrust into the inferno of war, found ways to evade conscription into service during previous US imperialistic endeavors.
Bush, Cheney, “Scooter” Libby, Karl Rove, and Paul Wolfowitz each sat safely on the sidelines during the Vietnam invasion, which claimed the lives of 58,000 Americans (and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese). Donald Rumsfeld rested comfortably in his dorm room at Princeton while 37,000 Americans died in Korea (with an estimated 2.5 million Koreans).
As a vehement opponent of US imperialistic wars, I would laud them for choosing not to participate in those wars were it not for the fact that now that they are ineligible for military service (and enjoy more security than any humans on the planet), they use the poor and working class as disposable components of their military industrial machine to advance US corporate and plutocratic interests.
While one could argue that the current military personnel joined voluntarily, it is quite reasonable to conclude that most US soldiers did not sign on to die for the expansion of an imperialistic empire and the further enrichment of America’s elite.
“We the People” Still Have a Voice
On September 24, United for Peace and Justice (http://unitedforpeace.org/) and International ANSWER (http://www.internationalanswer.org/) will orchestrate a non-violent march to the White House (involving an anticipated hundreds of thousands of advocates for peace and social justice). The participants will make the following demands upon the administration:
1. Stop the war in Iraq
2. End colonial occupation from Iraq to Palestine to Haiti
3. Support the Palestinian People’s Right of Return
4. Stop the threats against Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea
5. US out of the Philippines and Puerto Rico
6. Bring all the troops home now
7. Stop the Racist, anti-immigrant and anti-labor offensive at home
8. Defend Civil Rights
9. Military recruiters out of our schools and communities
Not coincidently, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, two of the American Empire’s primary vehicles for enhancing corporate profits and wielding financial tyranny over other nations, will be meeting to plan further economic conquest as protestors are delivering their demands to the White House.
Without Justice, There Will Be No Peace
What the proponents of the Iraq invasion do not realize (or care about, perhaps) is that peace and justice are inextricably linked. While terrorist acts are evil and their perpetrators deserve severe consequences, they are ultimately desperate acts of revenge against the imperialism, hubris, avarice, abuse, and murder perpetrated by the US government for many years.
I strongly believe the United States has the right to pursue its attackers to the ends of the Earth to render justice and to defend its people, but that is not what the Bush administration is doing. The Neocons simply have simply used terrorist attacks as a rationale to unleash the Bush Doctrine. By invading and occupying a sovereign nation, America’s leaders have wasted many lives and vast resources, while fueling antipathy toward the US and creating new terrorists.
If the Neocons truly had noble intentions, they would be employing far fewer American military forces in a much more efficient way by hunting down and rooting out the true perpetrators of terrorism, and they would be revising US foreign policy to root out imperialism, economic aggression, and flagrant disregard for international law. Instead, the Neocons chose to brutalize a nation and thumb their collective noses at the world.
You’ve Got to Change your Evil Ways, Baby….
America needs to drop its obsession with being Number One. It is time for the United States to become a member of the world community rather than a murderous bully. Obscene over-consumption has become a hallmark of the United States. While not all Americans fall prey to Madison Avenue’s propaganda glamorizing gluttony, many do.
People of other industrialized nations enjoy a respectable standard of living without consuming a quarter of the world’s resources (while representing only 5% of the world’s population). Other nations face reprisals and penalties for the violation of international law. Without regard for justice, the United States wields international law like a club or blatantly defies it, depending on what best suits American interests at the time.
Ongoing support of repressive regimes (like Saudi Arabia’s) to further America’s economic interests, unflinching support of its proxy military enforcer in the Middle East (Israel), disregard for the plight of the Palestinians, and hypocrisy over who gets to join the “nuclear club” are but a few more examples of how America’s government engenders more abhorrence of America and invites continued terrorism.
While the Neocons make a mockery of global justice with their foreign policy, the Bush Doctrine has also enabled them to begin sweeping away the gains made by domestic forces for social justice during the Twentieth Century. Whether one believes that these achievements were reached with the cooperation of men like FDR and LBJ, or that these leaders simply acquiesced to the pressure of labor and civil rights movements, America made great strides toward equality and justice through social programs and reforms like Social Security, Minimum Wage laws, the Voting Rights Act, school desegregation, Medicare, Medicaid, the advancement of women’s rights, environmental laws, and consumer protection laws.
By spending $600 billion per year on programs related to their precious military industrial complex (consider that $600 billion represents 60% of the world’s total annual military expenditures of $1 trillion and that the US has only 5% of the population), deepening the federal deficit to an unconscionable $7.5 trillion, and utilizing shameless propaganda to convince the minions of legalistic Christian sects and many undereducated Americans to act in a self-defeating way by embracing an agenda of Social Darwinism and global conquest, the Neocons have ensured serious setbacks to social justice in the United States.
Remember When the “Good Old Days” Were Not So Good?
Emma Goldman, a crusader for social justice until her death in 1940, was imprisoned by the US government during World War I for daring to criticize mandatory conscription, and was eventually deported to Russia (with J. Edgar Hoover presiding at her deportation hearing). Despite her US citizenship, she was banished from the US for having the audacity to question the leaders of the American Empire. With great clarity, she described the Empire of her time:
“The history of the American kings of capital and authority is the history of repeated crimes, injustice, oppression, outrage, and abuse, all aiming at the suppression of individual liberties and the exploitation of the people. A vast country, rich enough to supply all her children with all possible comforts, and insure well-being to all, is in the hands of a few, while the nameless millions are at the mercy of ruthless wealth gatherers, unscrupulous lawmakers, and corrupt politicians. Sturdy sons of America are forced to tramp the country in a fruitless search for bread, and many of her daughters are driven into the street, while thousands of tender children are daily sacrificed on the altar of Mammon. The reign of these kings is holding mankind in slavery, perpetuating poverty and disease, maintaining crime and corruption; it is fettering the spirit of liberty, throttling the voice of justice, and degrading and oppressing humanity. It is engaged in continual war and slaughter, devastating the country and destroying the best and finest qualities of man; it nurtures superstition and ignorance, sows prejudice and strife, and turns the human family into a camp of Ishmaelites.”
She published these words as part of her New Declaration of Independence in 1909. While much changed for the better after Emma Goldman penned her thoughts, the Neocons are ushering in an era of oppression and misery similar to the one she described. In spite of the humanitarian gains of the Twentieth Century, the American Empire is thriving, and Emma Goldman’s words ring as true today as they did in 1909.
In the throes of spiritual death
For decades, J. Edgar Hoover continued his dogged pursuit of threats to the Empire. In the 1960’s, he focused his tenacious efforts on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., another champion of social justice who had the unmitigated gall to speak out against US imperialism. While often dismissed as paranoid conspiracy theory, there is even the realistic possibility of Hoover’s involvement in King’s assasination. Perhaps Hoover participated, and perhaps he did not, but the elite of the US government certainly did not shed tears at King’s demise. They were rid of a serious threat to their agenda to keep the wealth in the hands of the few and to maintain US global hegemony.
Once he was safely dead, America’s leaders could sanitize King’s message and appease black America by placing him in the hallowed pantheon of “American heroes”. While I believe that King was truly a hero, the recent elevation of Ronald Reagan to the status of American hero by our leaders demonstrates how little “official hero” status means in the US.
Rev. Martin Luther King Spoke Out on War
Before he was assassinated, King had this to say about the unfulfilled promise of America in his 1967 speech entitled Beyond Vietnam: a Time to Break Silence:
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.”
America is indeed approaching a spiritual death. Our dark cabal of Neocon leaders, several of whom have held positions of great power under Reagan, Bush I, and now Bush II, are perpetuating unrestrained expansion of the American Empire while utilizing Orwellian propaganda to convince its subjects that they are still living in the “land of the free”.
They have taken advantage of the inculcated apathy and ignorance of many Americans to begin the erosion of civil liberties through the Patriot Act, to increase regressive taxes while decreasing progressive taxes, and to launch an unabashed assault on the UN rather than working to help reform it in a way that would benefit the world, including America. They are bankrupting the federal government to the point that it will no longer be able to “afford” social welfare programs.
They have launched the Bush Doctrine in Iraq. Thanks to the Neocons, many Americans are convinced that the Judicial Branch needs to be relegated to the status of “junior partner”. Bush’s proposed 2006 budget laid out aggressive cuts to social welfare programs and increases in defense spending.
The administration steadily chips away at the wall of separation of church and state, which serves to protect both entities from undue influence over one another. Neocon policies are assaulting the rights of workers and consumers to enhance corporate profits. Exploiting the alleged necessity brought on by their “war on terror”, this administration conducts many of its activities in secrecy.
Under Bush, the environment is under siege. With the Neocons at the helm, those exhibiting xenophobia, hubris, proper support for the “American Way”, anti-intellectualism, and over-consumption are considered to be patriots.
As a nation, America is quite near spiritual bankruptcy. Like pigs rolling in the mud, the Neocons thrive in an American culture which promotes shallow thinking, immediate gratification, excessive spending based on easily obtained credit, bellicose attitudes, and a shameless narcissism devoid of empathy.
The Soul of America Can Be Resuscitated
There is still time for America to change course. Armed with the Constitution (an outline of governing principles without equal), unparalleled wealth and resources, brilliant minds, a strong capacity to rise to challenges, a melting pot of cultures and nationalities from which to draw human resources, and unprecedented military strength, the United States can still fulfill its destiny and responsibility to guide humanity back to the light (http://www.worldwiderenaissance.com/mainstuff/mainportalpage.asp?Level=Main) through leading by example, using its power responsibly, and cooperating with other nations rather than pursuing global domination.
I know from the responses I have received to my previously published essays that there are many Americans ready to join in this spiritual renaissance to direct our energy and resources away from war, hatred, and materialism, and toward the advancement of human rights, the environment, science, medicine, and humanity in general. Many have written me asking why I stay here if I hate America so much.
My answer is that I do not hate America. I loathe the corruption, hatred, murder, and gluttony that our leaders carry out and promote in the name of Americans, but I also see the positive aspects of our nation, and its rich promise and potential. I have no intention of leaving my homeland. I will continue to advocate for social justice and to dissent against tyranny and corruption through my writing.
I will continue to pursue and practice my spiritual values of moderation, non-violence (except in defense of family, friend, nation, or self), honesty, responsibility, living within my means, acceptance and empathy for others (regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation), zealous pursuit of self education, commitment to my marriage, responsible co-parenting of my children, respecting the environment, donating money to organizations supporting charity and human rights, teaching my children to pursue intellectual and spiritual freedom, engaging in critical thinking, and applying a strong work ethic.
My wife and I will travel from our home in Kansas to be at the White House on September 24 to help hundreds of thousands of others delivering the demands for social justice and peace. It is my sincere belief that there are many others who care as much as she and I do, and it is my sincere hope that together we can reinvigorate the soul of America.
I leave you with one final thought, complements of Theodor Seuss Geisel from The Lorax:
Unless someone like you cares a whole, awful lot. Things aren’t going to get better, they’re NOT!
Jason Miller is a 38 year old activist writer with a degree in liberal arts and who works in the transportation industry. He is a husband and a father to three boys. His affiliations include Amnesty International, the ACLU and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He welcomes responses at firstname.lastname@example.org or comments on his blog at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.