Patriot Games

A. Scott Piraino

The Republican National Convention has served its purpose. George W. Bush is riding high and on message: The war on terror is the source of our troubles, and only he can win the war.

The fact is, the War on Terror is far from won. Al-Qeada is still dangerous, and Osama bin Laden is still at large. A recent study even concluded that al-Qaeda and other terrorist cells have grown in number since the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq.

Osama bin Laden is still at large because the Bush administration’s half-assed invasion of Afghanistan failed to capture him and thousands of other al-Qaeda operatives. There were more policemen in New York guarding the Republicans at their convention than there are troops in Afghanistan searching for al-Qaeda. The Bush administration failed to defeat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan because they were determined to invade Iraq.

We are not winning the War on Terror, but that does not matter. What matters is that the Bush administration has convinced Americans that the war in Iraq is the War on Terror. And they have accomplished this by lying.

Bush’s speech about Iraqi agents purchasing uranium in Niger was a lie. The President’s claims that we had evidence Iraq was developing chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons was a lie. The Bush administration’s claims that Saddam’s regime was involved with al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks was also a lie.

The 9/11 attacks are the most serious failure of US national defense since Pearl Harbor, yet our military response to al-Qaeda has been tepid. There are no WMDs in Iraq, but there is plenty of evidence that our enemies are developing, and even exporting, nuclear weapons technology. However, the evidence points to North Korea, Iran, and our reluctant ally Pakistan, not Iraq.

The truth is the national unity and international solidarity we earned after the September 11th attacks has been squandered by the invasion of Iraq. One third of the US army is entrenched in Iraq, and will be pinned down fighting a growing insurgency for the foreseeable future. And the unrest and violence has increased since the handover of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government in June.

148 US troops have been killed since the handover on June 28th, including 65 deaths and more than 1,000 wounded during the fighting in August. The Pentagon reported 87 attacks per day on U.S. forces in August—the worst monthly average of the war. In total, over 1000 U.S. military personnel have been killed in Iraq, another 7000 have been wounded, and nearly 13,000 Iraqis have died in the war.

The news only gets worse.

In in the past week over 200 Iraqis have been killed, and several hundred more have been wounded. Recent attacks included a massive mortar barrage targeting US Headquarters in Baghdad that killed sixty. Scores of Iraqi civilians were killed in the crossfire of a firefight between US forces and insurgents. Air strikes in Fallujah killed twenty. And the latest report is a car bomb has killed 47 Iraqis and wounded 114 at a Baghdad police station.

President Bush and his cabal of advisors have no one but themselves to blame for losing control over the war, and public perceptions of the war. But placing the blame on themselves, (where it belongs), would mean taking responsibility for the lies they told to garner support for the invasion of Iraq. Instead the Bush administration has adopted a new strategy: Minimize the negative news coverage from the war, at least until after the November elections.

To that end, whole cities and regions of Iraq have been declared “insurgent enclaves”. Fallujah, Ramadi, Samarra, and several other areas of Iraq are now off limits to US troops. In effect these areas have been ceded to the insurgents.

These safe havens have become staging areas where the insurgents can operate with impunity, and plan more coordinated attacks. US troops are now hunkered down and fighting off increasingly tenacious guerrillas, without being allowed to deliver a killing blow. During the heavy fighting in August, US forces defeated the Mahdi Army, but the fighting ended in negotiations that allowed the insurgents to retreat, with their weapons.

We are not winning the War in Iraq, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Bush administration has convinced us we have to keep fighting. Using simpleton slogans like “if we don’t fight them there we’ll have to fight them here”, the White House has convinced us that the war in Iraq is necessary.

The truth is we are fighting an enemy that would not exist, if we had not invaded Iraq. The Mahdi Army is our creation, as are the insurgent groups that have flocked to Iraq to battle the Americans. We are creating terrorists, not defeating them.

The people of Iraq are not better off than they were four years ago, and neither are we. There are one million fewer jobs in the US than there were when George Bush took office, and the average family has lost over 1000 dollars in annual income. Our budget and trade deficits have climbed to record highs, surpassing 400 billion dollars a year, each.

The budget surpluses inherited by George Bush have been squandered, but that doesn’t matter. Because the Bush administration has convinced us that the deficits, and the recession, are caused by the war on terror. Our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost nearly $200 billion since the 9/11 attacks, yet the Bush administration has run up over one trillion dollars in debt.

The truth is, our budget deficits are the result of George Bush’s huge tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. His administration passed a tax cut bill before the 9/11 attacks, then used the war on terror as an excuse to pass another “tax relief” package. As for the stubborn recession, technically, the recession of 2001 ended over two years ago.

It is difficult for the average American to believe that because they have not seen any profits from the economy’s recovery. Since the recession officially ended in late 2001, 47 percent of the real national income growth has gone to corporate profits, and only 15 percent to wages and salaries. This is the first economic recovery since WW II where corporate profits gained at the expense of worker’s pay and benefits.

And let’s not forget the real cause of the recession. It was not the September 11th attacks, but the collapse of companies like Enron that precipitated a stock market meltdown. Enron’s CEO was the number one contributor to the Bush campaign, yet the company managed to go bankrupt after legalizing the extortion of electricity and bankrupting the State of California.

Given the facts, you’d think that anyone could defeat George Bush in November. But The collapse of Enron, the energy debacle in California, tax cuts for the rich, our soaring deficits, nuclear proliferation, none of these issues matter today. The War(s) on Terror are the issues in this election, and Americans are convinced that only George Bush can win those wars.

And that’s just not true. Whoever wins the Presidency in 2004 had better be ready to face the music, and convince the American People to do the same. George W. Bush is not that man, and our country cannot survive four more years of his patriot games.

Published in: on September 17, 2004 at 7:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

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