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Government By Pretext
By Rob Field
This administration has an appalling habit of dishonesty
about the motives for its policies; the revolving door of justifications for
tax cuts for the wealthy, simple fairness during surplus, economic stimulus
during deficit are all examples.
In no policy area, however, is this tendency more
distressing than in foreign and defense policy, where lives are at stake - and
have been lost by the thousands - in pursuit of a policy the American people
never would have supported had the true reasons for it been known.
The justifications advanced for the current war
policy keep shifting, and have been largely refuted. The Bush administration
has tried to mislead the public in many ways. Ever since the attacks of September
11, 2001, they have continuously tried to manipulate the public psyche into
believing that Iraq was responsible for those events. Officials made claims
about Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) that clearly
contradicted earlier pronouncements. They have ignored far more egregious
examples of WMD proliferation in Southwestern
Asia , South-central
Asia, and Northeastern
Asia. They have talked
up the capabilities of an Iraqi military that coalition
warfare and twelve
years of sanctions had rendered impotent
if not nonexistent.
They finally appealed to our consciences; don't we all
oppose a dictatorship? (This President's father found
that dictatorship quite acceptable when it served "American" (read
'oil company') interests) Hussein's was no worse than scores of other loathsome
regimes that American governments have found useful
ignorable over the years. Particularly pathetic among the justifications
assertion that Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were acting in concert
because they swapped class rings or some such nonsense.
But even the most stalwart supporter's credulity
must be challenged by the recent revelations about administration plans to conquer
Iraq no matter what, in the forms of the Downing
Street Memo and the secret
air war that preceded the invasion of Iraq.
It is now provable that during the entire period
of public debate about the prospective war with Iraq, the Bush administration
was rigging the evidence about Iraq's WMD programs, preparing its forces for
imminent war, bombing Iraq to set the stage for the introduction of ground forces,
and even inserting special forces to scout targets and perform other missions.
Now we have informed journalists reporting that
there are covert
operations under way in Iran. It seems clear that the administration has
already decided to initiate hostilities against Iran. Leaving aside (for the
moment) the question of precisely what forces the United States Government plans
to use to seize control in Iran, it is deeply disturbing that issues of peace
and war are again to be decided in the absence of public debate and consent,
regardless of the effects of such reckless policies.
These attempts to build an American empire in the
Middle East can only result in disaster for Americans and for those in the region.
The people who attacked the West in New York, Arlington, Madrid, London, Bali,
and elsewhere hoped that they could frame their actions in terms of a holy war
between Islam and the West, a war we cannot win. George W. Bush and his accomplices
seem determined to give them what they died for.