President Bush’s big lie 

Slowly, oh so slowly, we have been carefully groomed to accept our selected president’s war against Iraq. If the ministry of truth hasn’t quite won our hearts, it has at least gotten us resigned to believing that it is inevitable.

“All Aboard! America’s War Train Is Leaving the Station!” a cheery headline in the New York Times chirped last weekend. George Bush’s logic is simple and unwavering, like that of most not-very-bright people who are fixated on some crazy notion, like those who believe that the moon landings were faked.

His logic, and that of his devoted lackeys in the administration, goes like this: A) Saddam Hussein is a very bad man; he even tried to kill my dad; B) The nation suffered horrible atrocities and lost its innocence on Sept. 11, 2001; C) We therefore must launch a war to overthrow Saddam, no matter what the cost.

For months, intelligent observers and analysts who know more about the Middle East than Dubya knows about cocaine have concluded that A) and B) are both true, but that there is absolutely no evidence that Iraq was linked to Sept. 11.

Furthermore, even if we can swiftly vanquish Iraq and set up a better regime, such a war may well destabilize the entire region, topple shaky governments now friendly to us and boost al Qaeda like nothing else could.

To that, Bush and Rumsfeld and his other lackeys calmly respond: A) Saddam Hussein is a very bad man; he even tried to kill my dad; B) The nation suffered horrible atrocities and lost its innocence on Sept. 11, 2001; C) We therefore must launch a war to overthrow Saddam, no matter what the cost.

They have repeated this for months. I fully expected Dubya to say that the loss of the space shuttle Saturday required us to invade Iraq. And after endless repetition, our nonanalytical and mostly housebroken media have begun to accept this nonsense as fact.

Unfortunately most of the nations who backed our mainly just war against Saddam in 1991 aren’t buying it. We do, however, have some new allies, such as Hungary and Spain, who don’t have much by way of armies, but who want stuff from us. They have absorbed Bush’s main intellectual argument, which is: You’d better be with us if you want us to be nice to you later.

Our own media mostly haven’t a clue. Incidentally, our shrewder warmongers know that the news media, especially television, are on their side. TV news executives would love a war. Their ratings would go through the roof, and they wouldn’t have to fret about finding visuals that can illustrate how Bush and the boys have converted Bill Clinton’s budget surpluses into huge, Reagan-era deficits, and why that hurts the poor guy in Sterling Heights trying to start a business.

Oh, I know all the arguments for launching a pre-emptive war. The best one goes like this: Remember Adolf Hitler? Well, if the good guys had shown just a little backbone at the beginning, he’d have been stopped before he had a chance to murder tens of millions.

That’s absolutely right too. As anyone who has studied history knows, Hitler thumbed his nose at the Treaty of Versailles in 1936, and sent his army into the Rhineland, which was meant to be a demilitarized zone.

Had France or Great Britain shown any force, he would have been finished. His army was still small and weak, and his own generals had secretly agreed to overthrown him if his gamble didn’t pay off.

But they let him get away with it. Emboldened, he demanded more and more — Austria, a chunk of Czechoslovakia, then the whole country. “Our enemies are worms,” he told his inner circle. “They will do nothing.”

By the time somebody finally took a stand, he had an army damn near strong enough to conquer the world. Yes, we should have taken Hitler out. But you have to have a mind like George Bush’s to conclude that this situation is the same. We did stop Saddam, back during the Gulf War. Now he is bottled up, under constant watch, bombed from time to time, and can’t even fly his own planes across much of his own country.

Does he have nasty bad weapons? Maybe. But so do many other people we aren’t bothering. He also seems to want to live. He didn’t use chemical weapons in the Gulf War because we told him he’d be meat paste if he did.

Now ask yourself: What incentive would he have not to use them if he thinks we are coming to kill him?

At the very least, Bush, the alleged strict constructionist, should honor the Constitution and ask Congress to declare war. This isn’t a sneak attack by a nuclear power; we’ve got time enough to do it right.

Don’t expect that to happen, or all to go as it should. Presidents don’t have to worry as much about protest since Dick Nixon was smart enough to abolish the military draft. The odds are that boys from this town will be dying soon.

Naturally, we expect a quick war without many casualties, on our side at least. That’s just what everybody thought at the start of World War I. Hawks love to quote George Santayana’s famous motto, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” He could have added that half-educated fools who make policy based on a misreading of history are the most dangerous of all.

P.S.: Joan Hall writes to suggest that I list the top 10 U.S. weapons manufacturers, so that working-class stiffs can invest in them and make money on the coming war. Memo to Joan: Never in a million years.

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. E-mail comments to

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