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Sunday, October 31, 2004

The US, 2000-2004

As the Election Day approaches, it is certainly a good idea to take a look at what the last presidential term has brought us. In his Baltimore Chronicle article Chris Knipp attempts to do just that.

The term of George W Bush started in a controversy.
First the period brought us a president who was, in the view of at least half the population, not elected but slipped in over the wire through shifty maneuvering.
Personally, I do believe that the 2000 Election was stolen. That belief is based primarily on the research by investigative reporter Greg Palast whose findings were widely reported on just about everywhere throughout the world excluding the US. In this article of his Palast describes the process in considerable detail.

But let us for now disregard this fact and move on as Mr Bush's Presidency has been a fact of life, whether you like it or not. As Knipp correctly observes, at least at one point during his presidency George W Bush enjoyed an overwhelming popular support,- and that fact in itself lends some considerable legitimacy to his presidency.
A lackluster, shaky leader, he rallied and gained confidence as a public speaker and a figurehead after the shock of the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attacks.
However, the question emerges: was that support earned. The answer to this question is, most likely, in the negative.
The 9/11 Commission revealed to everyone the strongest warnings, well prior to the event, ignored by Bush, yet the Commission's final report rapped knuckles but ultimately blamed no one. A new, even more Bush-friendly, arguably even more incompetent CIA director was appointed.
I might add that concerns voiced by many insiders, people like Sibel Edmonds, only serve to further affirm the smokescreen nature of both the 9/11 Commission Report and the measures taken by the US Government in connection with it.

Here is what Knipp has to say about the wars our government has launched as part of its "war on terror".
Afghanistan, Osama's headquarters, was attacked, thousands of civilians were killed, the Taliban were put to flight, but Osama wasn't caught. A Gucci-clad leader whose siblings run American restaurants was put in to head a nonexistent government. The country went back to tribal chaos and opium exportation.

The next push was for Iraq, bombed and invaded without UN or general European approval in spring of 2003. The new "democracy" thus allegedly created was "turned over" to an unelected puppet government in the summer of 2004, and now, in late October, Iraq grows more dangerous every day for the "Coalition," for newsmen, businessmen and mercenaries, and last but not least for Iraqis.

Knipp also makes a good point about the administration's measures diminishing the civil liberties of both Americans and foreigners in the US custody, and the critical perception of this process by the rest of the world.

September 11, 2001 has been the pretext for widespread US human rights abuses. These are of many kinds. Most visible are the crypto-Nazi-named Homeland Security, the civil rights-crushing Patriot Acts I and II, and Attorney General John Ashcroft's Gestapo-esque arrests and lengthy imprisonments of suspect foreigners. Even worse is the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq, but it will have an echo when practices at Guantanamo, where prisoners are held in overt violation of the Geneva Convention, are fully revealed. These are, alas, homemade horrors: investigative reporters say similar conditions already prevailed in US prisons, whose population is the world's largest. All these things are increasingly visible blights on the US's image as a "showplace of western democracy."
In my opinion, a critically important issue is largely absent from the public discourse in the US: how much are we willing to sacrifice in terms of our freedoms in order to defeat the world's evil forces,- if they are indeed attacking us.

In Knipp's article one finds many a critical remark. And this moves us to the next issue,- what to do about this? With the Election only two short days away, it is clearly important to review that issue too. Here is Knipp's take,- and it happens to be one with which I largely agree and which I implore you to consider in the remaining two days.

Does this election matter?

Is Kerry, then, a man from the same background of wealth and privilege and posh schools, even the same establishment secret society (far wealthier, by marriage, than any previous presidential candidate ever) "the lesser of two evils"? Yes, certainly, he is that. But the gap between greater and lesser evil promises to be larger than usual this time, because it's not simply Bush the US and the world need to be freed from, but that dangerous and destructive crew and world view for which he is the figurehead, and whose aims we have seen writ large over the last four years.

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