The Sad Saga of American Politics
By Habib Siddiqui
It is said that Americans are the most schooled and least educated nation on earth. This is a severe assessment when we reflect upon the fact that most of the best universities of our world are located in the USA, which graduate thousands of brightest minds every year. Living in an expansive country that is separated by the two great oceans, the in-house prosperity and America’s status in the international arena as the most dominant power of our age have not pushed most Americans to have a decent education about the world they live in, or the world that their elected representatives like to shape. In the words of Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi, “Numbed and dumb from media overflow, isolated in a Hollywood fantasy they called ‘The American Dream’, its people remain cut off from mankind, indifferent both to their suffering and the destruction of the planet.” 1
While the above statement may be contentious and sound too harsh or critical, fact is America matters globally for either good or bad. As much as she is capable of stabilizing global political and economic fault lines, she is equally capable of destabilizing such. It is this acquired international status that bestows extra responsibility upon its citizenry to elect absolutely the best from its candidates in matters of running this country. After all, a bad leader chosen here in the USA can become a world tyrant, much in the likeness of Nimrod, destabilizing the entire world. Suffice it to say that Americans have sometimes failed to elect better candidates for their highest position.
In the past eight years, America seems to have been streaming in the un-chartered waters, probably in the wrong direction. 2 Truly, a closer scrutiny would reveal that there are worrisome signs posted everywhere touching all sectors - economic, political, social and international. That is why an objective analysis is required to understand the major problems faced by America in the aftermath of 9/11 and assess her voyage. Only then apposite measures can be formulated to fix such problems and redirect her in the right direction under right stewardship.
There is no denying that terrorism has become an important phenomenon in our time and needs to be eradicated. Nothing can justify or excuse an act of terrorism, whether it is committed by hate groups, religious or ideological fundamentalists, private militia - or whether it is dressed up as a war of retaliation by a recognized government. As Arundhati Roy had argued, the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan was not revenge for New York and Washington; it was yet another act of terror against the people of the world. 3 It is high time for the human race to dig into its wells of collective wisdom, both ancient and modern, to find a way out of this spiraling morass of terror and brutality that threatens us today.
As is well-known a great nation simply can neither hide behind its past glory nor can it afford to behave irrationally and irresponsibly. It must weigh in pros against cons before every major action it takes. It also needs adhering to a higher moral compass to demand respectability of its actions and positions. Unfortunately, with her unlawful invasion, wanton murderous campaigns and destruction, and despicable records of human rights abuses and tortures in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Guantanamo Bay (rightly called the Gulag of our time) 4, America can no longer claim higher moral ground. With phony trials and exoneration of some accused U.S. service men that have committed Mai Lai type massacres, premeditated murders and gruesome tortures in Iraq and Afghanistan, America has lost that moral fortitude essential for sustaining an empire. She has exposed that no genocide, no murder, no torture, no abuse, no rape, nor any crime can be laid at her door. She is simply above the law. Her war criminals are untouchable by courts – foreign and domestic. In so doing she forgets that it took less than thirty years for the British Raj to collapse since the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919. 5
Obsessed with the all but nonexistent terrorists, America has forgotten some basics about what had made certain empires survive longer than others, and conversely, what made some to succumb to pre-mature death. She has miserably failed to learn from other’s experiences, especially those of the Brits who had a long experience dating back at least to early 20th century in matters of dealing with terrorism in India and Ireland. Thus, her Global War on Terror (GWOT) is becoming, at one level, more like a witch-hunt or firing canons to kill mosquitoes. Instead of eliminating terrorism, American offensive is germinating it multifold. Surely, there are more terrorists today than ever before. The cost of the war is expected to be in trillions of dollars. And at this rate, America will probably be forced to write obituary to her own imperial aspiration under the heavy burden of debt and budget deficit. Her engagement to wipe out terrorism can be summed up in the phrase “Pyrrhic victory”.
At a more ominous level, especially for the international community, the GWOT has become a smokescreen for establishing America’s hegemony in the Muslim world. That is an untenable goal by any measure. Even regional super powers like Russia and China, which are America’s potential adversaries, don’t want America to spread her hegemony in their neighborhoods, something that the USA would not have tolerated either for those countries in Latin America.
Bush’s GWOT is also doomed to failure on the ground that while it increases the potential for broader war, America’s capacity to either manage or win is diminishing.
What is also so wrong with this imperial madness is that it bared naked how abusive and criminal an elected democratic government could become. The Bush Administration, backed up by an obtuse and/or too compliant corporate media, had no problem in creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence recently released a long-awaited report on prewar Iraq intelligence that concluded President Bush and Vice President Cheney knowingly lied to the public and to Congress about Iraq’s links to al-Qaeda and the threat the country posed to the U.S. in the aftermath of 9/11. 6
John Dean, the former counsel to President Richard Nixon, said in 2003 that manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be “a high crime” under the Constitution’s impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony “to defraud” the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose. 7
Polls in 2007 have shown public support ranging between 39% and 45% in favor of impeaching President George W. Bush, and between 46% and 55% opposed. Congressman Dennis Kucinich has been at the forefront of impeachment movement. On June 9, 2008 Kucinich introduced 35 articles of impeachment resolution (H. Res 1258), co-sponsored by fellow Congressman Robert Wexler, against Bush to a near-empty chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives. 8 On July 14, 2008, Kucinich introduced a new impeachment resolution (H. Res 1345) limited to a single count. 9 The Article of Impeachment alleges that President Bush falsely told the nation that it had no other choice to go to war because Iraq was an imminent threat in possession of weapons of mass destruction, and that the President had repeatedly implied that Iraq had abetted al Qaeda in its devastating attack of 9/11. Kucinich, in his Article, cited documents which assert the White House knew the statements were false at the time they were made.
While the House Judiciary Committee has begun impeachment hearing on July 25, in all likelihood, the current Congress will not take any action against Bush. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been opposed to impeachment from the very beginning. She fears that it could hinder the Democrats’ chances of securing a bigger majority in Congress in November, or worse still it could result in a public backlash causing the party to lose the November election. On July 28, Pelosi appeared on ABC’s The View and suggested impeachment was off the table because there is no evidence President Bush has committed any criminal act. She even sounded condescending: “If somebody had a crime that the President had committed, that would be a different story.” 10
The apathy from the Congress, including Pelosi’s opposition, to impeach Bush and Cheney paints a very disturbing picture about American democracy. 11 It shows that the House has been transformed into nothing more than a debating club and that political expediency is more important than accountability and upholding the Constitution of the USA. This is echoed in Kucinich’s tone when he said, “These articles of impeachment are about accountability. I think our country is at risk. We’re setting a terrible precedent for future administrations if we choose to turn a blind eye to the crimes committed by this administration. We need to send a message to the next president that if he conducts himself in a similar capacity it would be met with a response from the Congress that you are going to be held to account.” 12 He is right.
The reluctance of the Congress to impeach Bush and Cheney on Iraq war is quite understandable knowing that it was the U.S. Congress that had failed to do its civic duty and had given a carte blanche to Bush’s criminal ploy. When a vast majority of Americans now believes that the invasion was wrong, there are still some powerful supporters of the war inside the Capitol Hill. One of them, Senator McCain, now the Republican candidate, called the Iraq conflict “necessary and just.” 13
This entire experience around events leading to and from the Iraqi invasion indicates that the USA is descending into the morass of a failed social order in her inexcusable inability to protect moral values and human lives, and uphold justice and law. There is no denying that future history will be too unkind to all those American politicians who went along with Bush’s criminal ploy. People are not stupid, but politicians are when they imagine that they have fooled them with phony talks.
What also came out loud and clear is the overarching influence of Israel Lobby, war party and the industrial military complex on American politics. That industry craves for war without which they would be out of business. The nexus of this evil Trinity, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war 14 and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic.
As the New York Times had recently pointed out - most of the media analysts on war and terrorism have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air. If that is not enough, just digest this: records and interviews show that the Bush administration used its control over access and information in an effort to transform those analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks. 15
The current media hype and talks of war from the Bush Administration against Iran, therefore, shouldn’t be taken lightly. These are part of a very sinister and calculated tactics of the war party and its allies within and outside the Pentagon and White House to push the nation to yet another avoidable, senseless and criminal war that would do no good to America and the rest of the world. Obviously, the miserable failure of the elected representatives plus an educated, informed and caring citizenry to hold the Executive branch of the government accountable for its monumental crimes against humanity has only emboldened these criminal few within the American society to again toy with the destiny of so many.
These are some of the worrisome developments in American politics today. With so much power to destroy our planet, the President of the USA is undeniably the most dangerous person in our planet, if he/she chooses to be so. And as the current Bush Administration has demonstrated people can be totally fooled like the rats in Hamelin to rally behind the whims of the government playing the role of the pied piper. It is that easy even in this age of information technology!
1 Afghanistan – The Next Phase by Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi, November 2, 2007.
2 A recently concluded national poll showed that 81% of Americans believe that the country is going in the wrong direction, Bill Moyers Journal, PBS TV WHYY), 9:30 p.m.. (Philadelphia time) July 11, 2008.
4 The phrase “Gulag of our time” was first used by the Amnesty International in its report on abuses in the Guantanamo Bay where hundreds of Afghans and other nationals have been detained indefinitely. For a full report, see Amnesty International’s website.
5 For a brief study of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jallianwala_Bagh_massacre.
6 http://intelligence.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=298775 The C.ommittee’s report cites several conclusions in which the Administration’s public statements were NOT supported by the intelligence. They include:
Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.
Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information. Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products. Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing. The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information. The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.
11 A previous attempt to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney also went nowhere.
13 USA Today, April 12, 2007, p. 8A.
15 Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand, N. Y. Times, April 20, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/washington/20generals.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin