Tuesday, August 23, 2005

'Twarnt the WMDs, stoopid

The standard line has become that George W. Bush took the imperial army to war in Iraq because of faulty intelligence or lies about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. The reason so many of us believe that is because of the Big Lie theory: We've heard that lie repeated so many times, we believe it.

Well, here is a truth from someone who hasn't developed political Alzheimer's: Regime change was the U.S. policy toward Iraq from the day Dubya's father rolled his troops into Kuwait in 1991. It was the U.S. policy throughout the eight years of a Democratic administration, and the Republican administration that followed seized an opportunity to implement regime change. This is Exhibit No. 1 for anyone who believes that replacing the Republican administration with another Democratic administration would make any kind of difference: President Bill Clinton's justification of his decision to bomb Baghdad Dec. 16, 1998:

"Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: He has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. Unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war. Not only against soldiers, but against civilians, firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. And not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.

"The international community had little doubt then, and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again ...

"The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world.

"The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government -- a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people. Bringing change in Baghdad will take time and effort. We will strengthen our engagement with the full range of Iraqi opposition forces and work with them effectively and prudently ..

"Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people.

"And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.

"Because we're acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future."

Bush could have used Clinton's speech as a template in March 2003. It was the final nail in the coffin for anyone who thought that replacing Clinton-Gore with Bush-Cheney would make any difference.

Why did we invade Iraq in March 2003? For the same reason we bombed Iraq in December 1998: To implement the U.S. policy of removing Saddam Hussein from power. The "why" of it can be debated until kingdom come: To prevent or destroy the WMD program. To gain revenge for his plot to assassinate Bush I. To make up for the mistake of backing Saddam in the Iraq-Iran war. Perhaps, probably, all of the above. But if Bush was lying, so was Clinton.

I have no problem believing both lied. In fact, it's a bit liberating to realize that Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same Big Nanny Government coin; they just have different priorities in the race to control our lives. I heard it once described as Big Brother vs. Big Daddy. Another way of looking at it is what a Libertarian candidate once said: Both parties want the government to be your parent. Republicans want to be your father, and Democrats want to be your mommy.

Some of my friends think the solution is to elect a Democratic president to counter the Republican Congress, so we have gridlock. Or, shorter term, to elect a Democratic House or Senate and hope the Republicans hold the other house, again so we have gridlock. This assumes a major difference between the two major parties, a false assumption.

Other friends think the solution is a strong third party. I've been there for a long time now. The best we can expect is a 10-20 percent showing by a third-party candidate, to "scare" the Big Government Party into behaving for a while. Still other friends have stopped voting, believing that casting a vote is condoning a system corrupt beyond repair. Some days I'm almost there.

I am convinced the solution to this dilemma is not going to come from the ballot box. First we need to re-educate people (and in many cases educate them from scratch) about the Bill of Rights. Unless and until there's a basic understanding of the need for free speech, freedom of worship and assembly, the right to bear arms, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures -- unless and until we realize that the arguments over why we're at war are diversions from the basic problem that we're waging war unconstitutionally and therefore illegally -- unless and until people realize the president is an administrator, not a Leader, and the federal government was not designed to be the Supreme Power -- then we will continue down the road to tyranny, and we really don't want to be there. And yet, surprise, surprise, surprise, here we are.

So what's the answer, Richardson? I'm not quite sure. Let's educate everyone about what the American experiment was supposed to be, and see where an educated populace takes us. I'm the eternal optimist; I think it'll take us back toward liberty.


Anonymous John Newman said...

BWR writes:
So what's the answer, Richardson? I'm not quite sure. Let's educate everyone about what the American experiment was supposed to be, and see where an educated populace takes us. I'm the eternal optimist; I think it'll take us back toward liberty.

You certainly are an optimist, even when there is no reason to be such. Let's look at just one recent example of our populace. The TSA is considering lifting a few of its banned objects from airline flights, objects like nailclippers, small knives, fingernail files and such. After the TSA's idea was made public, NGOs of all stripes and citizens in general bemoaned the fact that that would be diminishing the 'security' they feel now with these items banned. We have reached the lowest point in our history. The majority of the American people want more government to do more for them, including supplying them with a security blanket. There is no hope in educating them, that time has passed. Amos Alcott has described today's average American perfectly with this quote: "To be ignorant of one's ignorance is the malady of the ignorant." That is where we are. I will not say that being optimistic on educating the American people to liberty is verging on being ignorant, but I don't think it is a reasonable prospect.

10:52 AM  

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