The Bush Administration's Penis Envy
"Iraq must comply, or it will be made to comply with military
force"—Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
It is that time of year. The holidays are over. Another National Football League season is culminating in the Super Bowl. Men across America are responding to their feelings of personal inadequacy by puffing out their chests and letting the world know that they have plenty of lead in their pencils. But the Super Bowl is just part of the pre-game ceremonies. America's premier team of peacocks, the Bush administration, has their plumes of feathers out in full display. America is going to war.
What is an unelected president to do when the state of the union is a mess? Bush's leadership has brought about a sharp decline in the stock market, loss of faith in corporate management, declining investment in infrastructure, rising medical costs, an aging population with inadequate retirement savings, trade deficits, stagnation in the incomes of working men and women, infringement of personal liberties, increased terrorism directed at Americans, and a decrease in America's standing in the world community. Should he tell Americans the truth? No, our unelected president did not get up in front of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the American people and tell us that his administration has failed. Our un-elected president told us that our real interests lie in winning an away game, against a pitiful country halfway around the world, against a country so backward that the CIA Factbook reports that it has exactly one internet service provider.
The Scouting Report: Iraq
Iraq is approximately twice the size of Idaho with a population of 24 million people. Despite natural resources that include the richest oil reserves in the world, Iraq's economy is a horror show. Military action, trade sanctions, and a corrupt political system have ravaged the economy. Iraq was formerly part of the Ottoman Empire. Today, Iraq is an independent republic controlled by a military dictator, Saddam Hussein. In the 1980s, the United States supported Iraq in its eight-year war against Iran. The Reagan and Bush administrations believed the dictator to be a friend to the United States and a secular force in opposition to rising Islamic fundamentalism.
In the summer of 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, also rich in oil reserves, and the Bush administration's view of Saddam changed. A United Nations coalition, led by President George H. W. Bush, ousted Saddam from Kuwait. The Bush administration chose not to occupy Iraq, but allowed the regime to stay in control, because it believed that the dictatorship brought stability to the region. For the last 10 years, the United Nations Security Council has required Iraq to abandon both weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Its trade sanctions have taken a devastating toll on Iraq's civilian population. A byproduct of Western intervention in Iraq and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf has been the fanning of the flames of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. The present Bush administration claims that Iraq is part of an "Axis of Evil" along with Iran and North Korea. However, the administration and the United Nations have been unable to point to any factual evidence that Iraq has a horde of weapons of mass destruction or that it has any connection to Iran or North Korea, never mind the al-Qaeda terrorists. It appears the Bush administration wants to prove Iraq's possession of banned weapons by motivating them to use them against an invasion.
The Scouting Report: United States
The United States is the undisputed champion of the world. It has the largest and most technologically advanced economy in the world and is the world's third largest country by size (behind Russia and Canada) and population (behind China and India) with over 280 million people. America's original 13 colonies declared their independence from Britain in 1776. Since that time, our nation has expanded across the North America and into the Pacific, increasing the number of states to 50. America's influence is seen throughout the world. The American Empire has proven to be resilient, surviving a great Civil War in the 1860s, the Great Depression in the 1930s, and military and political defeat in Southeast Asia (1959-1974). Politically, the United States has won great victories in World War I, against fascism in World War II, and in the Cold War of the mid to late 20th century, resulting in the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In the 1960s, American citizens fought to improve the living standards of America's poor and minority population while challenging the government's prerogative to wage war in Southeast Asia. Dramatic changes in mass culture pushed a sexual revolution and women's liberation. Despite a rash of assassinations of movement leaders and politicians sympathetic to these causes, these movements resulted in significant change, including the decision to withdraw armed forces from Vietnam and the loss of that country to communism. Despite a conservative backlash, the mass movements forced the conservative Nixon administration to institute public policies (wage and price controls, revenue sharing, and détente with the Soviets and Chinese) that were outgrowths of the mass movement's demand for change.
Since 1975, capital and the managerial class have regained control of America's domestic and foreign policy. The gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. During the Clinton administration the United States realized increases in productivity, low inflation rates, and a drop in unemployment to below 5%. The gains in economic output and resulting increases in government revenues allowed the federal and state governments to operate at surpluses, creating conditions favorable for investment capital. Despite the gains, social issues such as single-payer healthcare were deemed too expensive or bureaucratic to address. Social conservatives and the Republican Party were so emboldened by the country's swing to the right that they impeached a popular Democratic president, Clinton. The conservatives in the United States Supreme Court put the loser of the popular vote into the office of the presidency. A combination of tax cuts and lower revenues due to weak economic performance under George W. Bush has ushered in a return of large budget deficits and fiscal crises for many state governments. The Bush administration used the response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 to spark a heightened nationalism and support for his presidency. The Bush administration believes that spending billions on war, despite its negative impact on the American economy, will secure a second presidential term for Bush and restore the United States to a position where both allies and enemies acquiesce to our will. America is a country born of the need and desire to be free of the control of the British Empire. Now, we are the empire, forcing the hand of world leaders through paternalistic carrots or through economic and military force.
The United States in a rout. But, to what end to we take such action?