PEACE PORRIDGE #37: 15 November 2004|
GOT DEM MEAN OL' DIRTY LOWDOWN ELECTION BLUES
Is the election finally over? NO! It ain't over yet. Cries of theft and reports of bizarre and unbelievable election data echo back and forth across the internet. First the Ralph Nader campaign, and then the Green and Libertarian parties file for recounts, while democrats sit on the sidelines.
No sooner had John Kerry made his premature concession and called for unity, then began the assault on the hapless City of Fallujah. A beautiful historic city of 300,000 people - virtually emptied, totally destroyed; hundreds, maybe thousands of civilians dead; an entire population turned into refugees; superhuman resistance from the embattled Iraqi people; and from the American people, stunned by the election results, hardly a whimper of dissent.
Months ago I argued that Bush would never win re-election. Why? He had failed so badly, by any metric one cares to use: the national debt through the ceiling, the economy in shambles, the dollar and the stock market down, our international reputation at an all-time low, American corporations boycotted in Europe and the Middle East, the Iraq war going poorly and costing billions, Afghanistan in chaos, the CIA angry over the outing of Valerie Plame, our Latin America neighbors thumbing their nose at us with impunity, nuclear proliferation into Iran and Korea, and to top it off, Bush's (at best) failure to act to prevent the September 11th disaster.
Basically, he failed to deliver the goods to many of the folks who put him in office, folks who had the power to see to it that he would not remain in the White House.
Kerry on the other hand was promising that he could deliver on Bush's unkept promises. And folks were buying it. Money was rolling into the Kerry campaign. Progressives were completely bamboozled, uniting behind Kerry. He appeared unstoppable.
I kept waiting for Bush's numbers to fall precipitously. It never happened - all this and more - brushed off, unimportant, inconsequential.
I really don't know how the Bush campaign pulled this one off. Maybe someday I'll understand. Bribery? Threat? Theft? Fear? Fraud? Prejudice? Bigotry? All of the above? It would seem that so many acted against their own self-interest: not just ordinary people, but also people of great power like Wall Street and the military.
I have a foreign-born friend who tells me simply, "Americans like war; so they vote for Bush." There is much truth to this. Why else have we spent almost six decades preparing for and fighting wars - often with devastating results?
Most Americans know little of war. Few of us have watched our children blown to bits by foreign guns and bombs. Few of us have watched our children die of dysentery and pneumonia because foreign soldiers, diplomats and businessmen have cut off our access to clean water and medicine. Even in the attack on the Twin Towers, I have not heard one single report of a young child being killed.
We have the power to wage war - so we do it - and enjoy it. Our leaders are blinded by arrogance. And we follow like sheep, ignoring Howard Zinn's warning that, "To rely on the wisdom of the people in power is the worst thing you can do."
When (not if) Americans learn of war, will we still like war? I suspect not.
Returning to the election: I can't help but wonder what would have happened if everybody had voted for the candidate they thought would make the best president. Suppose folks had not fallen for slogans like, "Anybody but Bush" and "A Vote for Nader is a Vote for Bush."
Quite likely, the Green Party would have overwhelmingly supported Ralph Nader. Quite likely, Nader's performance would have approached or even outdone Ross Perot's 1992 third party performance. The Green Party would now have ballot status in most states. The Peace Movement would be a real force to reckon with in U.S. politics. We would be poised to elect more peace and justice candidates to Congress, and maybe even to the White House. Perhaps, we would have prevented Bush from stealing the election. Maybe John Kerry would now be President Elect. Maybe we would now be strong enough to force those in power to back away from making war. And maybe we could have prevented the destruction of Fallujah.
Instead, the Peace Movement has been decimated, having squandered its credibility by supporting the campaign of a warmonger; a man who claimed that the Iraq war was simply a mistake that he could correct; a man who claimed he could win the war that he had voted for. In 2003, the Peace Movement brought a million Americans into the street demanding no war in Iraq; now it can barely speak above a whisper. The Green Party is only a shadow of its former self. And we don't even have "Anybody But Bush" in the White House.
I fear the negative consequences of the terrible mistake that we have made in this election will be tremendous.
In spite of our overwhelming military superiority, we are loosing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as we lost in Vietnam, just as the Soviets lost in Afghanistan. Aggressive imperial wars always come to disaster sooner or later. Our capacity for destruction is unparalleled in history. Our ability to create peaceful and just solutions is non-existent.
I fear the war will again be brought to the soft underbelly of the homeland. I fear the next attack may be far more devastating than the World Trade Center.
There is a great sense of honor, justice and fairness in Islam; and a willingness to give an adversary every opportunity to mend his ways. I believe that in the Middle East many were awaiting the outcome of this election. Would America elect a new President? Would it change direction? Would it end its assaults on Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and other lands?
More than anything, this election was a test; and we have failed. The cost of our failure may be tremendous.
In his October video address to the American people, Osama bin Laden discusses the consequences of our desire to wage war. What a shame that our media has treated us to so little of the contents of this tape. Here are some excerpts:
"I tell you in truth, that your security is not in the hands of Kerry, nor Bush, nor al-Qaida. No. Your security is in your own hands. And every state that doesn't play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security."
"[J]ust as you lay waste to our nation. So shall we lay waste to yours."
"And know that: 'It is better to return to the truth than persist in error.' And that the wise man doesn't squander his security, wealth and children for the sake of the liar in the White House."
Another possible consequence may well be the first military coup in U.S. history. Not all coups are the work of the CIA (although many are). It is not unheard of for the military to take matters into its own hands, when a civilian government becomes arrogant, corrupt, ineffectual, and loses the support of its own citizenry. Indeed, by this yardstick, the US is ripe for military takeover. All that is missing is a catalytic event, like the attack on the Twin Towers.
I think many in the military are seething with anger at a Commander-in-Chief who (at best) shirked his duty in the National Guard, knows nothing of war and refuses to listen to those who do, and frivolously endangers his own troops. I suspect the Bush administration would not fare so well under a military government.
I suspect the Peace Movement would not fare well either. And would those who believed that anybody is better than Bush support a military coup? I rather think that many would hardly raise a word of protest.
So what must be done now? First, we must recognize that many of us were duped into putting our energies into the Kerry campaign when we should have been working for peace and justice and an immediate end to the Iraq war.
Second, we must resolve NEVER to let this happen again. We must throw the "lesser of two evils" argument on the scrapheap of history, once and for all. When we support evil, we get evil. If we support peace and justice, we will get peace and justice.
Third, we must get over the shock and awe of the election, and return to our work for peace and justice. Our movement was decimated once before, on September 11, 2001. 17 months later, one million Americans took to the streets demanding no war on Iraq. We can and must phoenix-like arise again from our own ashes.