Bush’s Multiplex Wars Iraq, “terrorism,” class, and environment




G

eorge
Bush and his cabal are not just attacking and conquering Iraq,
they are fighting a “war on terror,” a class war on
ordinary citizens at home, and a war on the environment. These
wars are linked. Bush would have had much greater difficulty
carrying out his regressive economic, social, and environmental
programs without the distractions of terror scares and war;
9/11 gave the cabal the excuse to move ahead, and the collapse
of the Democrats and spectacular propaganda service of the mainstream
media have allowed the Bush team to project force globally under
the guise of pursuing terrorists. This has enabled Bush and
the cabal to consolidate their power more firmly at home, posing
as the leaders of a more “security” conscious America
while actually stoking fear and reducing public security, both
economic and political. 


The Bush team’s success in portraying itself as a protector
of security is remarkable, given that the team was on duty and
had primary responsibility for the spectacular security failure
of 9/11. It had ignored numerous leads and warnings and actually
called for counter-intelligence budget cuts on 9/10. The team’s
over-reaction to the “security threat” thereafter
and the normal double-standard of the media in dealing with
Democratic and Republican miscues, helps us understand how Bush
and company could get away with—and even benefit from—gross
security failure succeeded by gross alarmist, mismanaged, misplaced,
wasteful, and civil liberties-threatening security excess. 


This has been a straightforward war of aggression carried out
by Bush in league with Blair, which made it clear that the post-Soviet
New World Order was one of U.S. military rule, with the UN and
other countries “relevant” only insofar as they aligned
with the United States. The motives for the attack and occupation
are still in dispute, but control of Iraq’s oil resources,
the excuse to establish military bases and military domination
in the Middle East, the desire to establish U.S. authority and
put lesser countries and institutions in their place on a global
basis, the aim of protecting Israel’s intensified ethnic
cleansing in the occupied territories, and the usefulness of
war and security threats as a cover for regressive domestic
policies, all deserve weight.   


The justification of the war in terms of Saddam Hussein’s
despotism and evil character, and his threat to U.S. national
security by virtue of his possession of weapons of mass destruction,
was laughable, but sufficed for the U.S. mainstream media. (He
had of course been a despot, and was supplied with weapons of
mass destruction and was protected when using them in service
to the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s, but he didn’t
use them in the Persian Gulf War when he would have suffered
disproportionate retaliation, and had few if any by 2003, according
to all authorities not in U.S.-British service.) But is there
any excuse, or lie, that the mainstream media would not swallow
as its members help orchestrate a wave of serviceable propaganda?
Vietnam’s “internal aggression” against a minority
regime imposed by U.S. force? The threat to U.S. medical students
in Grenada in 1983? The Sandinista government’s “revolution
without frontiers?” (fabricated to justify Reagan’s
actual “counterrevolution without frontiers”) 


 You name it, and the media will swallow and help put it
over. The obvious problem today is that since 1989, and the
disappearance of any serious external force of containment,
this unlimited gullibility gives unlimited sanction to the “projection
of power” by the cabal.



War
on Terror 



I

n the
aftermath of 9/11 the Bush administration declared a war on
terror, just as Reagan did when taking office in 1981. The media
never point out this similarity, because it is now obvious that
Reagan, supporting the Argentine military junta, Savimbi and
UNITA in Angola, and the South African apartheid government
in its struggle against Nelson Mandela and his “terrorist”
African National Congress, was actually supporting extreme forms
of state terrorism. In one important overlap, also, Reagan supported
Menachem Begin’s and Ariel Sharon’s invasion of Lebanon,
culminating in the huge civilian massacre at Sabra and Shatila.
At Sabra and Shatila, Ariel Sharon oversaw the massacre of at
least ten times the number of women and children that the famous
terrorist Carlos the Jackal killed in his entire career, and
that doesn’t exhaust Sharon’s death-dealing. Sharon
now leads Israel, and is implementing a very aggressive form
of ethnic cleansing and state terrorism in the occupied territories,
in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and numerous Security
Council resolutions. This is being done with the approval, protection,
and support of the Bush administration and without demurral
from congress or the mainstream media. This is dramatic evidence
that the “war on terror” is a fraud, as the Bush-
Sharon alliance involves active U.S. support of an extreme form
of state terrorism. 


 It is also demonstration of fraud because all independent
observers recognize that U.S. support of Israel’s brutal
occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is a festering
wound—a form of blatant discrimination-cum-violence that
stokes the fires of anti-U.S. hostility and a terrorist response.
The Western establishment cannot absorb the fact that many regard
the U.S./Israeli treatment of Palestinians as the primary terrorism
and the deadly responses to that violence as “retaliation.” 


The Bush administration’s closer embrace of the Colombian
government and army and open return to counterinsurgency operations
in that country is another major push of state terrorism under
the guise of a war on terror (previously named a “war on
drugs”). It is hardly a secret that the paramilitaries
affiliated with the Colombian army are among the most brutal
terrorists in action in the world today and their terrorist
activities now receive Bush administration support, direct and
indirect. 


 More broadly, any government that is “with us”
can count on U.S. support or toleration of repression of dissent,
from Putin in Chechnya to Mubarak in Egypt to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
in the Philippines to Karimov in Uzbekistan. In short, the war
on terror is a war of state terror against those targeted by
the Bush team or by an ally, targets who may be linked to Al
Qaeda or may just be people who oppose their state and its policies.
Factoring in the Iraq aggression/conquest and the Bush support
of large-scale ethnic cleansing in Israel and Colombia, we are
dealing with an across-the-board war against the world’s
people (who expressed their discontent in massive global protests
against the Iraq war in February/March 2003). 



Class War 



T

he Bush
administration is an open representative of the business community,
more aggressively assertive of business interests with the help
of numerous rightwing ideologues who for many years have been
cultivated in business lobbying and thinktank offshoots like
the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, and
Hoover Institution. The ideo- logues produce theoretical arguments
that ruthless attacks on labor, the poor, blacks and other minorities,
and largess to business and the wealthy, will serve the victims
as well as the well-heeled, in the long run. This provides an
intellectual and quasi-moral cover for aggressive class warfare
and infliction of pain on the weak. 


One clear piece of evidence of anti-people bias has been the
Bush tax program, with the massive income tax cuts hugely favoring
the upper 1 and 5 percent of income recipients and with tiny
benefits for the majority. In the latest tax proposal of the
Administration, 40 percent of the tax cut will go to the top
1 percent; and this follows on an initial tax cut similarly
regressive, along with a major assault on the estate tax. What
makes this so brazen is that virtually all of the benefits of
the economic growth and stock market advance of the prior 20
years went to the same upper income group, with the incomes
of the majority stagnant or falling, sometimes maintained only
by working longer hours or wives entering (or reentering) the
job market. 


Bush, like Reagan before him, has been steadily attacking the
safety net, trying to force more poor people off the welfare
rolls, cutting back unemployment benefits, shifting control
over social services to the states as regards housing subsidies,
unemployment benefits, health insurance, and the Head Start
preschool children for disadvantaged children. While sending
programs to the states for management, the Administration keeps
tight federal controls over some programs for the poor, as in
its effort to increase the number of hours parents on welfare
are required to work. Bush is cutting housing subsidies and
tightening up qualifications on the earned-income tax credit
for the non-affluent and discounted meals for children. 


As with Reagan, a Bush tactic is to cut taxes, and then when
deficits follow increased military spending or other greater-than-expected
expenditures, use this as an excuse to savage the non-military
budget. The pushing of service responsibilities on to the states
is done with capped block grants that shrink federal aid even
as new unfunded mandatory obligations are imposed on them (e.g.,
dealing with terrorism alerts). This is being done at a time
when the states are in a huge fiscal crisis, assuring both drastic
cuts in services and inappropriate uses of federal aid.


These
cuts are required to help sustain the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts
mainly benefiting the wealthy. The wealthy are also protected
by the Bush team’s refusal to make any moves to close offshore
tax shelters, with Bush even supporting a rider to the Homeland
Security bill that allows these “profit patriots”
that have moved offshore to evade taxes to continue to obtain
government contracts. Bush and the Republicans have continued
the attacks and funding constraints on the Internal Revenue
Service, limiting its ability to pursue wealthy tax evaders
who are also looting the Treasury. 


 While protecting corporate looters, Bush has declared
open season on labor unions and worker rights. He quickly overruled
the Clinton proposed ergono- mics standard that promised help
to millions of workers, but was opposed by employers. He has
proposed rules on pensions that favor employers and threaten
older workers’ retirement funds. Just in the last six months
he has applied Taft Hartley in favor of West Coast shippers
and against dockworkers. He is threatening to weaken overtime
rules. He has called for privatization of the jobs of half the
federal workforce, which represents a major assault on an important
bastion of unionization. He has proposed new reporting requirements
for unions that will be a heavy financial burden and will provide
details on union affairs useful to union-busting employers.
He has stopped tracking mass layoffs and plant closings. He
has terminated collective bargaining rights for federal workers
entering the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security (see further,
www.aflcio.org/bushwatch). 


 On civil rights, Bush has continued in the great tradition
of the Republican’s “southern strategy,” using
anti-black code words and tactics to splinter the working class
and win the more numerous white vote. His main attack on black
people has been through his economic and social policies. Prominent
among the latter are his attempts to toughen work requirements
for welfare recipients and his push for marriage as the solution
to single mother poverty. His declaration of opposition to the
University of Michigan’s affirmative action program, larded
with lies about alleged “quotas,” was his assurance
to white racists that despite his reprimand of Tom Delay for
open support of segregation, he was still with them (see Derrick
Jackson, “The Great Demancipator,”

Boston Globe

,
January 17, 2003). 


 While claiming to be fighting enemies in the interest
of liberty, Bush has engaged in a systematic attack on liberty at
home. He has centralized power in the executive branch, bypassing
and overpowering the legislatures and judiciary, and therefore
threatening the touted checks-and-balances system. He has steadily
refused congressional access to important information, as in
the case of Cheney’s discussions with energy companies
prior to energy policy decisions and enactments, Patriot Act-related
records, and war plans prior to war; and he has made government-produced
information less accessible to the public. Through the USA Patriot
Act and executive orders he and his agent John Ashcroft have
badly weakened or nullified Fourth Amendment protections of
privacy, giving major new freedoms to the secret police to invade
homes, computers, and private records without warrant or evidence
of a crime or criminal intent. His Total Information Awareness
program, combining the culling of records and spying on neighbors,
is a police state program, causing conservative Republican Dick
Armey to declare that the “Justice Department right now
is the biggest threat to personal liberty in this country.” 


 The Bush team has deprived non-citizens of due process
and First Amendment rights and arranged for the seizure and
indefinite incarceration and “disappearance” of several
thousand mainly Arab and Muslim men. Many of these, “with
no links to terrorism or records of violence, charged with no
more than minor immigration violations, have been placed in
solitary confinement for months at a stretch” (Nancy Chang,

Silencing Political Dissent

). Even U.S. citizens have
been declared “enemy combatants” and held indefinitely,
and Ashcroft has expressed the view that we need military detention
camps to hold such U.S. citizens. 


  The Patriot Act’s definition of terrorist is
dependent on the arbitrary judgment of the Secretary of State,
and could easily be extended to an ordinary protester or contributor
to any action group. Penalties are severe, running from 15 years
to life in prison. In Ashcroft’s secretly prepared Domestic
Security Enhancement Act of 2003, known as Patriot Act II, anyone
designated a terrorist can be deported on the ground that his
terrorist affiliation implies an intent to repudiate his U.S.
citizenship. This and many other features of this monstrosity
would be a major step in fully terminating liberty and moving
us into a Christian-fascist world. A number of analysts believe
Patriot Act II was readied by Ashcroft and Bush to jam through
congress without debate at the start of the Iraq invasion (Chisun
Lee. “Bracing for Bush’s War at Home,”

Village
Voice

, March 26-April 1, 2003). This plan failed to come
to fruition, partly because the proposed act was leaked to the
Center for Public Integrity and exposed in early February and
the cabal was forced to deny its existence and any plan to push
such a proposal without debate. 


However, the Bush attack on free speech and a democratic order
has already been impressive. As Yale law professor Jack Balkin
has said about Patriot Act II, “It is frightening to think
that our leaders would try to undermine our civil liberties
through a cynical manipulation of public opinion in time of
war. It would be even more frightening if they succeeded”
(“USA Patriot Act: A Dreadful Act II,”

Los Angeles
Times

, February 13, 2003).   



War on the Environment 



T

he Bush
administration’s war on the environment is not deliberately
aimed at the environment, rather it is a derivative of Bush’s
almost total subservience to the corporate interests that funded
his career and election and who expected and have received a
payoff for services rendered  The Bush team is embedded
in the corporate community and pursuing its interests came naturally.
Put otherwise, the Bush economic and environmental policies
and the related appointments of “public servants,”
have been characterized by massive conflicts-of-interest and
self-dealing (see "Paybacks," by Public Campaign and
Earth- justice: www. publicampaign.org/publications/ reports/paybacks/
Paybacks.pdf). 


The
Bush team is virtually an arm of the oil industry, which may
have something to do with the attack on Iraq and projection
of power around the Caspian Sea, as well as profoundly influencing
environmental policy. That influence can be seen in the peremptory
abandonment of the Kyoto agreement, the drive to open the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling,  the expansion
of oil-drilling rights in Big Cypress National Preserve, and
the weakened protection of wetlands. But business across-the-board
has received help from Bush in his undermining of environmental
rules. They have all shared the benefits of a halving of environmental
enforcement budgets and prosecutions as compared with the Clinton
years. Many have benefited from the elimination of the tax on
polluters to fund the cleanup of toxic waste sites. 


 The mining industry has gotten reduced regulation of its
operations on federal lands and the opening of formerly protected
areas like the Everglades. The timber industry was given enlarged
access to national forests in the name of fire prevention, although
this “Healthy Forests Initiative” will surely reduce
forest size and health. The electric power industry obtained
a major windfall in the Bush administration’s rule revision
making voluntary the Clean Air Act’s requirement that companies
install modern pollution equipment when they expand older plants.
The nuclear power industry got a break when Bush went back on
his campaign promise and backed the Yucca Mountain plan for
disposing of nuclear wastes. The automobile industry received
a windfall with Bush’s ignoring the deadline for boosting
auto efficiency in April 2002.    


Bush has been given essential help in getting away with this
war on the environment by the “liberal media,” sometimes
also referred to as the “corporate media,” or “advertising-based
media,” that have treated each gross conflict of interest
appointment and each abuse lightly if at all and moved on quickly
to more important matters, in contrast with their treatment
of Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinski or his pardons
or Bush’s weekly warnings about terrorism at home or Hussein’s
weapons of mass destruction allegedly threatening U.S. national
security. 


The Bush administration is a war regime, dependent on armed
conflict to achieve its goals at home as well as abroad. Abroad,
war carves out opportunities for domestic business enterprise
both directly and indirectly, via war contracts and the establishment
of positions of access and privilege in an expanding empire.
At home, the wars abroad create a moral environment that facilitates
class war and a ruthless exploitation of the environment. This
may be at the expense of liberty, but many businesspeople and
affiliated ideol- ogues would consider—in Madeleine Albright’s
memorable words about the sanctions’ price of 500,000 dead
Iraqi children—that it is “worth it.”  





Edward
S. Herman is an economist, author, and media analyst. He has
been a regular contributor to Z since 1988.