Although the quest for or preservation of “democracy” is often used as a justification for war, history has incessantly revealed that such a quest is often little more than a thinly-veiled attempt to install a puppet regime.
Nazi leader Herman Goering once remarked that it was easy to lead people into war, regardless of whether they resided within “a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.” All that was required, Goering argued, is for their government to “tell them they are being attacked, and [then] denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger.”
Many years ago, when I was younger and more idealistic, I would have viewed Goering's statement as an anachronism. After all, millions had suffered immensely during the nightmare of World War II, and it seemed that this historical imprint alone would have indelibly reminded people about the folly of blindly following leaders into war. Also (and despite Goering's assertion) democracy appeared to offer additional protections from this folly as well, particularly in wealthy, industrialized nations like America, where freedom of speech and press permitted the free exchange of ideas, which in turn served to balance emotion and reason, and exposed any lies used to rationalize an unjust war. While it is true that America still suffered through the Vietnam era, it did not do so unquestioningly, nor with a blind faith in the nation’s leaders.
But the coup by the plutocratic supporters of George W. Bush in the year 2000, coupled with the invasion of Iraq, changed all that, revealing how easily Americans can be manipulated, how willing they are to be lied to, and how vacuous the freedoms of speech and press have become when the bulk of information is filtered through corporate-controlled media that profit from jingoism, propaganda and dishonesty. But, perhaps most disturbingly, these events demonstrated that even though the words “freedom, democracy and human rights” are chanted like mantras by political leaders, many Americans have apparently welcomed, or at the very least are blissfully unconcerned about, the erosion of freedom, the abuse of human rights, and the nation’s growing transformation from a democracy into a neo-fascist dictatorship.
Although the quest for or preservation of “democracy” is often used as a justification for war, history has incessantly revealed that such a quest is often little more than a thinly-veiled attempt to install a puppet regime. Decades ago, the folk singer Phil Ochs, in his song COPS OF THE WORLD (the lyrics of which are still hauntingly relevant today), stated that in American lexicon democracy is simply another name for profits, and that in poorer, “third world” countries democracy normally consists of an imperialist power handpicking leaders for the local populace to “elect.” The late Cuban guerrilla leader Che Guevara went even further, stating that in these impoverished nations democracies are simply facades established by imperialist powers to placate the masses, when in reality “third-world” governments, burdened with debt and dependent upon wealthier nations for basic necessities, frequently have to implement policies that appease their imperialist masters even if it means the suffering of their own people.
More recently PRAVDA columnist John Bourke examined this phenomenon in the context of American efforts to allegedly install “democracy” in Iraq (Iraqi Democracy or Our Iraqi Democracy, 12/1/03) by pointing out that the majority of Iraq’s population are from the Shiite sect of Islam, and a truly democratic vote would undoubtedly place their representatives into power. This could, Bourke explains, eventually lead to the establishment of a “fundamentalist Islamic state.” Yet, despite all the Bush dictatorship’s pretensions about the Iraqi war bringing “democracy to the region,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has flatly stated that no government in Iraq, even a democratically elected one, will be permitted to install an Islamic state.
After Rumsfeld revealed that the desire to promote democracy in Iraq was basically a lie, another “justification” for the war became the need to defend “human rights.” Clearly Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who maintained power through the use of fear, torture, disappearances and mass murders. But he was just one of many such dictators, some of whom are still in power and supported by the United States.
The reality is that it was not the violation of human rights that disturbed the neo-fascist ideologies of the Bush dictatorship, but the fact that Hussein had simply exhausted his usefulness. It is particularly revealing that the demonization of Hussein came after he was no longer needed as an American ally, just as, under the first Bush regime, the demonization of dictator Manuel Noriega, and the subsequent invasion of Panama, occurred only after Noriega was no longer needed as an American ally. Prior to this, the human rights violations committed by both these men were routinely ignored, and sometimes welcomed. As I reported in a previous PRAVDA article (Politics of Assassination, 10/2/03), the CIA had on at least one occasion even turned over to Hussein a list of suspected communistswith the knowledge that those on the list would be brutally tortured and executed.
It was also revealing that the invasion of Panama conveniently came at a time when Americans were outraged about the billions of tax dollars they would be forced to pay to bail out defunct “savings and loans” companies, whose financial practices had resulted in the unjust enrichment of the few, and the loss of life savings for the many. It is equally revealing that the invasion of Iraq came while many, if not the majority of, Americans, felt that the corrupt appointment of George W. Bush to the presidency had undermined democracy, and that his inept handling of the economy was resulting in massive job losses for the poor and middle-class, while the rich were benefitting from “tax cuts.”
In addition, America's alleged “respect” for human rights continues to be a lie, since one of the largest terrorist training camps in the world, the School of the Americas, which is located within the boundaries of the United States, still trains murderers, torturers and rapists whose atrocities, primarily throughout Central and South America, make the number of people killed by Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups pale in comparison. Ironically (or perhaps not ironically) Manuel Noriega was a graduate of this “school.”
Of course all of the issues and facts discussed above are not “deep, dark secrets.” But they also are not items Americans are likely to see or hear while watching or listening to news broadcasts from corporate-controlled media. These media are still licking their collective lips over the ratings and profits windfall sired by the Iraqi war, and are certainly not going to report upon anything that will prevent the Bush dictatorship from engaging in more wars and invasions in the future. So it has become the province of fictionalized dramas to expose what the jingoistic “news” media want hidden.
One example is the medical drama ER (short for “Emergency Room”). In recent episodes an American doctor traveled to a war-torn African country to provide medical services for the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders. When asked why the American government's alleged concern for human rights did not extend to Africa, he sadly remarked, “They've got no oil.” Another aid worker later remarked that she was astonished that Americans were not “rioting in the streets” in protest of the deceptions that led to the Iraqi war.
Although “rioting in the streets” would undoubtedly bring more political repression, courtesy of America's megalomaniacal Attorney General John Ashcroft and his so-called “Justice Department” (those who saw the videotaped abuses inflicted on post 9/11 detainees clearly know what this means), the lack of outrage in America against the lies, hypocrisy and bloodlust of the Bush dictatorship, and those who support it, is frightening. It would seem that all Americans, but particularly those with children or other family members serving in Iraq, would be demanding impeachment after seeing a bellicose Bush in military attire on the deck of an aircraft carrier, since he avoided military service himself by joining the National Guard, and then went absent without leave (AWOL) from that. It would seem Americans would be equally infuriated that other deceptive instigators of the Iraqi war--like Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Paul Wolfowitz--avoided serving in the military. It would also seem that Americans would rebel against those who not only undermined democracy to create the Bush dictatorship, but who never even bothered to protect this democracy through military service--like former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, Bush’s brother (and Florida Governor) Jeb, and Supreme Court “justices?” Antonia Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Finally it would seem that Americans would demand that the political commentators and celebrities who supported the Iraqi war, yet avoided serving in the military--like Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough, William Kristol, Bill O’Reilly, Brit Hume, Kid Rock, Toby Keith, Ted Nugent, Bruce Willis and numerous others--now “put their money where their mouths are” by trading in their guitars, microphones, mansions and film careers playing “make-believe” soldiers for rifles, military fatigues and a “real” opportunity to get killed or maimed. After all, it is not difficult to be “brave” when the lives at risk are not one’s own.
But instead of outrage it appears that many Americans continue to be lulled into complacency by lullabies of propaganda and deceit, while those who exploit the war for self-aggrandizement and profit adroitly evade detection by camouflaging themselves in counterfeit garments of “patriotism.”
In a previous article for PRAVDA (Lessons Learned, But Forgotten, 8/13/03), I explained that, in forming America's government, the founders relied heavily upon the principle “that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This belief inspired a system of “checks-and-balances,” as well as a Bill of Rights, to guarantee that certain individual liberties would never be abrogated by either the government or the majority. I further asserted how history seemed to substantiate the founders’ judgment about the corrupting influence of power, since governments premised upon the hypothesis that human beings were intrinsically good (and thus no check-and-balance was necessary) consistently produced some of the world’s most brutal dictators.
The dilemma that persistently arises in America, however, is the fact that power, and those who hold it, resent being “checked and balanced.” Yet this delicate system is the only bulwark between American democracy and American fascism. Therefore it is no surprise that the primary target of the Bush dictatorship is not Afghanistan or Iraq, but the check-and-balance system.
Fascism fits well into the simplistic ideologies of the Bush dictatorship. While fascists essentially agree with America’s forefathers that people are basically evil, they actively manipulate this evil by trumpeting emotion over logic, and “great lies” over truth. This is normally accomplished through the exploitation of “scapegoats,” who are marketed as the source of all social ills, coupled with appeals to humanity’s basest instincts--bigotry, greed, fanatical nationalism, fear, and lust for conquest (just to name a few).
In fact, several disturbing analogies exist between George W. Bush and history's most infamous fascist, Adolph Hitler: Both men assumed power in defiance of the will of the majority; both men used “great lies” to pursue their warmongering agendas; both men preyed upon humanity's basest instincts to disseminate those “great lies”; both men were appeased by the British government, Hitler through Neville Chamberlain and Bush through Tony Blair; both men were willing to use national tragedies to justify the destruction of civil liberties, Hitler through the burning of the Reichstag and Bush through the September 11th terrorist attacks; both men were/are suspected of either participating in, or ignoring warnings about the imminence of, these tragedies in order to enhance their political stature and power; both men demonstrated no compunction about exploiting a culture of death for political self-aggrandizement, Hitler through his well-publicized genocide campaigns, and Bush who, while governor of Texas, routinely denied DNA tests to death row inmates, even though such tests could prevent wrongful executions; both men were willing to appeal to racism, Hitler through his quest for a “master race,” and Bush through his condemnation of affirmative action policies, which primarily benefit racial minorities. While denouncing such policies as “preferential treatment,” Bush predictably displayed no such aversion to the preferential treatment enjoyed by wealthy white people, like himself, through a system of nepotism and cronyism; both men reveled in war and exploited the military to satiate their personal ambitions and vendettas; both men used war to enrich their political cronies; both men demonstrated contempt for international law and the concerns of the world community; and both men believed they were/are on some holy crusade inspired by a “divine province” that placed them into power.
But the disconcerting advantages the Bush dictatorship enjoys over Hitler's are the scientific advances that have made the implementation of fascism much easier. New technologies have given the government Orwellian capabilities. Programs now exist to decipher every stroke made on a computer keyboard, to spy upon people from great distances, to create databases designed to blacklist and harass those who don’t obsequiously genuflect before official dogma, and to install microchips into vehicles, and even into people, to monitor their every move. In addition, advances in genetics provide the opportunity to establish a “master race,” simply by denying insurance or other medical care to those with genetic proclivities to certain diseases, and to create DNA databases that will enable the government to categorize and/or spy upon individuals with certain genetic predispositions.
There is also the glut of “recreational” technology to keep Americans inactive and thus ill-informed: computer games, videos and DVDs, 24-hour sports broadcasts, hundreds of television channels available through cable or satellite, and a media enamored with a “cult-of-celebrity” to distract the populace with superficialities (innocuously called “infotainment”) while social injustices are ignored and freedom and democracy decimated. In fact some social critics recently noted the irony that more outrage had been generated over the methods used to select a champion in college football than the methods used to elect a president.
Of course some may argue that Hitler clearly was compelled by evil motives, while Bush was compelled by “benevolent” ones. But this ignores the reality that the primary difference between Bush and Hitler may simply be milieu, not mind-set. In fact, actor/activist Harry Belafonte once courageously asserted that the Bush administration is “possessed of evil.” These words should not be dismissed as hyperbole. Hitler, after all, did not begin his campaign for world domination until fascism was deeply entrenched in Germany. The Bush dictatorship is still manufacturing this entrenchment. Given the analogies above, one must wonder if history would have been so radically different if George W. Bush and his
war-crazed cronies were in power in 1938 Berlin instead of 2004 America.
Even a cursory study of American history reveals a nation that perpetually swings, like a pendulum, from overreaction to regret. During these periods of regret, the excesses and harms that overreaction generates are usually cured. But, with the new millennium only a few years old, concerned Americans, as well as the rest of the world, are now facing the prospect of the most powerful country on earth metamorphosing into a neo-fascist nation, existing in a constant state of war as truth is sacrificed on the altar of bellicosity, nationalism, greed, hypocrisy and selfish ambition. If this is left unchecked, those who seek to resurrect that long moribund world of peace and justice will soon become lone voices in the wilderness, eventually being heard no more. And by the time the people of the United States realize how myopic they were to have placed their democracy, their freedoms, their trust and their lives into the hands of deceitful and evil people, the pendulum will have ceased swinging.
David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of PRAVDA