On March 17, 2003, George W. Bush appeared before the American people to announce that he had ordered the invasion of Iraq. In a short speech, Bush declared that there was “no doubt” that Saddam Hussein possessed a storehouse of weapons of mass destruction that posed an imminent threat to the security of the United States and the world.
This was offered as a straightforward and unambiguous statement of fact, unqualified by any caveats. It was, of course, a blood libel, the culmination of an intensive propaganda campaign designed to whip up war fever in the populace with lurid images of Saddamite nukes mushrooming in Manhattan and robot spy drones spraying anthrax all over Boise, Idaho. Later, with the bloodletting underway, chief warlord Don Rumsfeld, bolstered this iron certainty about the existence of Iraq’s fearsome weapons, announcing forthrightly: “We know where they are.” He even pinpointed the location: “the area around Tikrit,” Saddam’s hometown. Again, there was no ambiguity, no doubts, no qualifications.
Then last week, the Bush Regime’s own CIA hireling, David Kay, leader of the search for Saddam’s smoking guns, confirmed what the rest of the world has known for months: there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There was not even an active program to develop them. In the face of these facts, the Bushists—and the lapdogs they keep kenneled on that little island north of France—were reduced to making the ludicrous argument that their war of aggression was justified by Kay’s alleged discovery of some evidence that Saddam had a plan to one day re-start a weapons program that could have led to the development of WMD somewhere down the line. This assumed, of course, that any such new capabilities would not have been immediately destroyed by the ongoing Anglo-American bombing campaign against Iraq (which raged unabated for 12 years) or taken out in a limited strike like the 1998 Desert Fox operation, or—and here’s a novel idea—circumvented by the presence of United Nations inspectors crawling all over the country.
In fact, there were many options short of war that could have been taken had Saddam actually possessed any WMD. Kay’s report, along with dozens of pre-war intelligence concerns that have since come to light, show clearly that there was absolutely no justification for launching a full-scale conquest of Iraq in mid-March 2003. Even by the barbaric standards of the Bush Regime, which holds—in contravention of international law and American tradition—that aggressive war is justified under certain conditions, the invasion of Iraq was a wanton criminal act. Their own evidence proves that their own conditions were not met. Even by their own lights, the Bushists cannot justify the decision to go to war in March.
No, that particular date was chosen for one reason only: to get the long-planned conquest of Iraq out of the way before George W. Bush’s presidential campaign next year. Thus, every Coalition soldier killed in Iraq has died solely for the personal aggrandizement of George W. Bush. Every one of the estimated 30,000 innocent Iraqi civilians killed in the invasion (according to a detailed body count carried out by an anti-Saddam Iraqi dissident group) died for the personal aggrandizement of George W. Bush. And the soldiers and civilians go on dying, day after day.
All this blood and destruction so that Bush might remain in power, and dole out the plunder of two nations—Iraq and America—to the gilded corporate mafia he represents. And now the greatest prize in the history of the world beckons: domination of the world’s oil reserves, precisely at the point when the rising, insatiable demand for oil is about to exceed the remaining supply. Nations will be increasingly desperate, willing to pay any price—financial and political—to those who control access to the precious, dwindling resource.
For the criminal mind, this is indeed a prize worth lying for, worth cheating for, worth killing tens of thousands of innocent people for. And as often noted here, a gang that doesn’t blanche at aggressive war will certainly have no scruples about subverting the political process—by any means necessary, even violence—to maintain their power.
Yet the political fate of George W. Bush is insignificant. What matters now is the fate of the Republic itself. Always an imperfect instrument—as are all human constructions—and buffeted by decades of militarization and vast corruption, the Republic nevertheless has served as a vehicle to carry forward some of the best instincts and noblest aspirations of our fragile, conflicted and unstable human nature. But Bush has crossed the Rubicon. He has taken the worst aspects of U.S. society to unprecedented extremes, breaking down the already-weakened civic and social structures of the Republic. The center will not hold; the rule of law will be replaced by the rule of shock and awe, the rule of arbitrary force, rampant corruption, witless diversion, sugared piety, aggressive nationalism and empty pomp. These perverted values are already ascendant in American public life today.
With Bush’s criminal war and autocratic decrees—remember, he’s asserted the right to imprison or even kill any American citizen he designates an “enemy”—the traditional restraints on arbitrary power have been broken, and the pattern of lawless tyranny established. Even if Bush himself should fall, someone else—perhaps more charming, clever, capable, seductive: a true Caesar instead of a clownish thug—will step in and take these developments to their inevitable conclusion.