Making the US less secure: our own Nero

Sep 1, 2005

The Bottom Line ****

I am already on record with my belief that its 43rd president has done more harm to the United States and the world than any of his 42 predecessors. I don't know which amazes me more: his hubris, his incompetence, or the acquiescence of the American people to making us less safe at home and more and more despised abroad. The contempt for science of Dubyah and his regime ranging from AIDS prevention voodoo to rejection of evolution should be well known, though few Americans seem to care. Seemingly, the dangers of Hurricane Katrina were shrugged off. The president was, after all, on vacation (as he is a great deal of the time).

That a very major hurricane was bearing down on New Orleans (and much of the Gulf Coast) was known (and, but for a last-minute rush of drier air from the north might have led to a direct hit by a force-5 hurricane on the city). As was the case in the conquest of Baghdad—and especially in light of it—hat there would be looting could have/ should have been foreseen and the National Guard mobilized.

But substantial contingents of the National Guard, usually available for domestic deployment following natural disasters, are already mobilized and stationed ten thousand miles away. Nearly 7,000 National Guard from Louisiana and Mississippi are currently stationed in Iraq. This prolonged deployment of the National Guard has enabled Rumsfeld et al. to avoid reinstituting the draft as military recruitment. has regularly fallen short since the start of the invasion justified by lies of Goebbels proportions by the Bush regime.

The post-Katrina debacle has also shown how the vaunted new Department of Homeland Security is totally unable to respond to a disaster. If al-Quaida sleepers had blown up the levees, DHS would have been no more ready or able to respond to the disaster. Indeed, it had more warning and lead time to prepare for the civic disaster than has followed the natural one than has been the case for terrorist attacks.

The hurricane was in insurance jargon "an act of God" rather than destruction from terrorists, but the (in)human response deserves scrutiny. Is preparedness for failing levees any different from preparedness for exploded ones? If New Orleans had been bombed, and looters were not battled for days, more people would blame the supposed leader of the country for negligence.

Instead of directing military aid to the state next-door to his vacation home, the president was strumming his guitar. Substitute a lyre and a toga and the analogy to Nero fiddling while Rome burned would be made by everyone. (Another analogy nearer in time is to the continuation of Dubyah's dopey photo-op when the World Trade Center Towers were hit.) Why does Dubyah get a pass for doing no more than flying over in Air Force One after days of looting? Are Bushies going to laud him for ending his five-week nth vacation two whole days early? I expect that they will again not hold him responsible for the lack of planning for what was obviously foreseeable (the looting of Baghdad, the resentment at foreign occupation, the looting in New Orleans, the indefinitely extended major deployment of National Guard, the hardships faced by the families of those who like Bush never imagined that being in the National Guard would result in being shipped overseas for ongoing guerrilla warfare, etc.)

In the not-so-long range, George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld have made the United States less safe with the ill-prepared (or even unprepared) occupation of Iraq that has
(1) tied down a substantial part of American military forces,
(2) cost thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars that could better have been spent on the crumbling infrastructure (including education) in the US,
(3) made it increasingly difficult to recruit for the military and for undercover operations (the casualness about the revelation of Valerie Palme for the sake of political attack that endangered all those under her has exacerbated this along with the demand that CIA analysts spin analysis to fit the agenda of invading Iraq),
(4) transformed an ill-governed secular state into an ill-governed and incipiently Islamist one (Iran II),
(5) transformed Iraq from a place where Islamists were repressed to a training ground for al-Quaida terrorists,
(6) made the US more resented across dar-al Islam (the abode of Islam) and more distrusted by long-term allies, squandering the solidarity people around the world felt after the 9/11 attacks,
(7) made the leaders of Iran and North Korea feel a greater urgency in developing weapons of mass destruction and a freer hand since the US military is tied down in Iraq,
(8) guaranteed that the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoner will not be adhered to by future enemies of the United States and ensured US POWs will be more likely to be tortured in the future,
(9) led to a massive increase of poppy cultivation (the base of heroin production) in Afghanistan.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, as are many rulers which the US has backed and is backing (including the Reagan-Bush provision of support for Saddam Hussein himself). He deserves to be tried for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Nonetheless, he kept Iraq from being ruled by anti-western imams, al-Quaida could not operate within Iraq while he was misruling it. (Similary, the appalling Taliban significantly reduced poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.)

Moreover, there is now overwhelming evidence that the UN inspection process was working. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein did not provide any imminent danger of attacking the US. The rationale for invading Iraq was a tissue of lies. (This is one of the many analogs to Vietnam: the Gulf of Tonkin attack was also a fraud used to justify US military involvement.)

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the strategy of Rumsfeld and his chiefs of staff made it possible for Osama bin-Laden to escape. Much of the country of Afghanistan is unsafe, the Northern coalition that co-operated with the US to oust the Taliban is increasingly unhappy with the US-protected government in Kabul, al-Quaida and the Taliban are again presences away from Kabul, etc. (And even with the grant of extraordinary surveillance authorizations, the Bush Justice Department has yet to find the anthrax terrorist or a single person who provided support to the 9/11 terrorists who was not already in custody then.)

It is too soon to see if Afghanistan and Iraq are like Vietnam in winning all the battles and losing the war, but rather than being too soon it is way late to recognize that George W. Bush and his administration have been whittling away at the freedom of Americans under the guise of "security" while making us ever less secure. (I won't even get started on the extent to which the national debt held by the communist oligarchs appeased by the Bushes and by other foreigners, a mounting debt that has made the US into a dependent, defacto bankrupt state, the North American Brazil.)

As for "What is to be done?". I long ago advocated impeaching Donald Rumsfeld (not for incompetence, but for the Defense Department's policy of torture, for lying to Congress, and diverting funds from what they were appropriated for). That is not going to happen with a Republican Congress, nor is any serious investigation of forcing "intelligence" to fit with justifying the invasion of Iraq. Perhaps by November 2006 the American people will realize how badly they have been served by the Republican government and Democrats will stop shilly-shallying and being flummoxed by Karl Rove's mastery at propagating disinformation. More likely, the Bush administration will go down in history as the time of the arrogance (hubris) of power and the erosion of liberty and security within the United States with popular support for the disastrous course set by the neo-conservative agenda. (I realize that a significant number of Bush supporters want to speed Armageddon and expect to be raptured out of turmoil, so see this rushing towards disaster as a good thing.)

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