March 23, 2003
The Plot ThickensThere is a release about the ground advance into Iraq from Reuters that adds to concerns that the illegitimacy of the entire Bush project may be starting to cause the regime problems.
The administration has bet everything on its massively superior power. It has conducted all its affairs from the standpoint of employing its overwhelming might at every juncture, to force its way no matter whether there is any justification for it or not. The strategy is to bring to bear whatever it takes to win in every exchange and every negotiation. Any concern for ethics or justice has been cast aside in favor of pure power.
It has operated this way in every field of play on which it has engaged, and so far with impressive results. The administration has unleashed the awesome economic and military power of the US in pursuit of a narrowly partisan, aggressive agenda for world domination. There are no secrets about this, it is out in the open in the papers of the cabal's think tanks and its National Security Strategy position paper. The theory is that the US possesses an unprecedented military advantage in the wake of the collapse of the Evil Empire and must move quickly to consolidate that lead and prevent any other country from challenging it as the unquestioned boss of the world.
The attack on Iraq is a demonstration to the rest of the world of what can happen to any country that the US turns its destructive power upon. This is meant to show the world that the US is not going to be restrained about using its maximum power, including nuclear power, to enforce its will. And it may do so arbitrarily, as it is doing in Iraq, with no just cause, to pre-empt what it deems to be a possible threat in the future.
The theory is that if you operate on that basis you can always force a victory in any situation because you have the most power. Everyone will cower before you and you will prevail in any conflict. The position papers state clearly that the US wants to retain its present advantage, and increase it. It is an extension of the domestic policies upon which the rich get richer. They always get richer because since they "own" the system, control the politicians, they can arrange the revenue flows and power structure so that the lion's share always comes back to them. They can always beat those with less. Those who have no economic base have nothing to fight with.
In US politics the radical right has used this set of principles with tremendous success. By dropping any ethical restraints one can gain tremendous short-term advantages. Going back to the $50 million get-anything-on-Clinton investigations, which succeeded in paralyzing the presidency, the right wing has employed these strongarm tactics to enhance its power and take over the government.
Bush's dirty tricks campaign to destroy the McCain candidacy was part of the same set of non-ethical power games. The same applies to the election of 2000, with massive voter fraud carried out through the highest levels of state government in Florida, then rising to the level of the Supreme Court, which compromised itself by making a partisan, illegal and undemocratic choice for president.
The Bush-Rove machine pushed Republican congressmembers around so much they forced one old-time Republican to defect, giving the control of the Senate to the Democrats. But for the most part the strategy has worked for them nationally. Lately we are seeing the strategy meeting obstacles.
The Bushites took the same brazen strongarm style to international politics and caught the world off guard the same way they had defeated their domestic opposition with their willingness to abandon all sense of justice, humanity or fair play in favor of pure power politics.
Once again, it worked beautifully for a while as the world was taken back by the brazenness with which these people put aside all sense of ethics or fair-play and just bulldozed their way through every situation with raw power, pulling out of any treaty they didn't feel suited them, forcing conditions on others but refusing to accept any limitations on their own power.
But it may be catching up with them. We are seeing a limit to how far you can push people with pure force, but no legitimate right. What the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Perle-Rove types figured clearly were the quotients of power in terms of the resources they could put on table and add up. In those terms their advantage is massive. In a one-on-one confrontation with any country in the world, the US has a nearly insurmountable advantage.
By using Iraq as a demonstration of that destructive power, they hope to discourage others from ever challenging them. The threat of destruction would be so shock-and-awesome that no one would dare put themselves in the line of fire. The mad bull may charge anyone at any time. This is not a new strategy. Creating the impression that you are erratic, perhaps mad, and may lash out unpredictably has served many a tyrant in the past.
They are smart strategists, but their main advantage is to have no restraint, to be utterly ruthless, without a trace of remorse or pity. But as impressive as they are as game-players, what they have not figured on may yet be their demise, as it has been for many tyrants in the past.
What they have not figured into their calculations is the human element. Ultimately their power will reside not just in their adept application of game theory, but is also dependent on the perception of legitimacy. Brute force cannot hold up a government without some perception of legitimacy. With the administration's latest act, the unleashing of its destructive power on a defenseless country, it has taken a big step toward undermining that perception of authority both at home and abroad.
The administration ran into impediments pushing around the world community, trying to get everyone behind its bullying, plundering invasion of Iraq. At that point, the nations of the world began to resist. A new alignment of solidarity -- against the roque US -- began to take shape.
Now we are seeing cracks in the wall. Leaking through between the lines in the Reuters report is a recurring allusion to the kinds of weaknesses that go with a lack of legitimacy.
Although stateside college boys like Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush can sit around an make war plans, the people who must carry out these plans must draw on tremendous resources to succeed. It is one thing to tell people to go out and kill other people, but if there is no good reason for it in their hearts, it's going to be terribly hard to do it, not because they are not brave, but because they are human beings with hearts and consciences. There the structure starts to come apart. They are not machines to be used by George W. Bush for whatever unjust cause he may wish to employ them in.
The action is barely begun and we have one story of a soldier attacking his own men out of what a military spokesman calls "resentment." Resentment of what? The food's not good enough? What could it be? What could he resent that was not part of his contract when he signed on? Giving one's life, or killing innocent people for the conquest of another country's oil resources, most likely. That's not what he signed up for. All of these lies are going so start unraveling.
It's one thing if the TV viewing public buys the administration's non-logic for why they are tearing Iraq to pieces. They don't have to do anything but watch TV right now and they can switch to another channel if the moral questions are too taxing for them. The consequences of the war have not yet come home to them. It's another thing for a person to put his or her life on the line for those paltry pretexts. They don't hold up, and people will have a hard time believing them, even with the best of intentions.
Now there are Americans advancing into the countryside of Iraq, encountering the resistance of people who are really defending their homeland and their families against a brutal, murderous invader. They have no problem knowing why they are there. They have no choice. They have nothing left to lose, they have only to fight valiantly in the few moments they may have left.
Do the Americans want to kill them? Of course not. Rumsfeld and Cheney want to kill them. Most Americans don't. These soldiers would have no problem motivating themselves to fight a just fight. Here they are forced to make existential decisions people like Cheney, Rove and Bush have never encountered. They have been given the same flimsy justifications we've been given. It's not going to be easy for them.
The Reuters report says that a fight against some Iraqis with a machine gun on a pickup truck took seven hours. A US Army colonel is quoted as saying, "It wasn't even a fair fight. I don't know why they don't just surrender."
It's a perfectly logical question. The problem is, these people are working under a different logic than Americans. They are defending their country and facing almost certain death. They have nothing to lose.
As tightly powerful and monolithic as the power structure of the Bush regime is, there are limits to how much a ruthless machine can coerce people to do what is essentially a contradiction of what their instincts and socialization tell them is right. So we see the structure starting to fall apart. Human beings are falling out of the regimen. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld may not have consciences, but many others do. If you truly believe your cause is just, you are buoyed by that belief and can perform beyond ordinary human capacities. If you don't, the opposite may be true. Bush has put our troops in an impossible situation, forcing them to perform in a cause that few can believe in. This is the real dirty work. Bush just has to order it. Someone has to carry it out. The soldiers are taking the brunt of it. God help them. The whole world, including Iraqis, prays they come home soon.