Friday, September 01, 2006

To no longer walk in fear

Click the link to watch Olbermann's broadcast on Rumsfeld who, with a stomp of his boot heels, attacked American dissent by likening administration critics to fascist appeasers (Olbermann's transcript at Crooks and Liars). Unsurprisingly, Bush has been spinning, fascist , in his speeches as if the label is the new Republican buzz word. With a majority of Americans now in opposition to the Iraq War and favoring troop withdrawal, the administration desperately trots out the smear of appeasement. Ha!

How conveniently they forget:

IN HIS MOST recent justification of his Pentagon stewardship, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reached back to the 1930s, comparing the Bush administration's critics to those who, like US Ambassador to Britain Joseph P. Kennedy, favored appeasing Adolf Hitler. Rumsfeld avoided a more recent comparison: the appeasement of Saddam Hussein by the Reagan and first Bush administrations. The reasons for selectivity are obvious, since so many of Hussein's appeasers in the 1980s were principals in the 2003 Iraq war, including Rumsfeld.
In 1983, President Reagan initiated a strategic opening to Iraq, then in the third year of a war of attrition with neighboring Iran. Although Iraq had started the war with a blitzkrieg attack in 1980, the tide had turned by 1982 in favor of much larger Iran, and the Reagan administration was afraid Iraq might actually lose. Reagan chose Rumsfeld as his emissary to Hussein, whom he visited in December 1983 and March 1984. Inconveniently, Iraq had begun to use chemical weapons against Iran in November 1983, the first sustained use of poison gas since a 1925 treaty banning that.
Rumsfeld never mentioned this blatant violation of international law to Hussein, instead focusing on shared hostility toward Iran and an oil pipeline through Jordan. Rumsfeld apparently did mention it to Tariq Aziz, Iraq's foreign minister, but by not raising the issue with the paramount leader he signaled that good relations were more important to the United States than the use of poison gas.
This message was reinforced by US conduct after the Rumsfeld missions. The Reagan administration offered Hussein financial credits that eventually made Iraq the third-largest recipient of US assistance. It normalized diplomatic relations and, most significantly, began providing Iraq with battlefield intelligence. Iraq used this information to target Iranian troops with chemical weapons. And when Iraq turned its chemical weapons on the Kurds in 1988, killing 5,000 in the town of Halabja, the Reagan administration sought to obscure responsibility by falsely suggesting Iran was also responsible.
MSNBC adds this detail from 2004:
Washington helped Saddam obtain intelligence and military equipment and, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control document in the Senate record, Iraq also obtained from the United States biological agents that could have been turned into weapons.
The United States was at the time supporting Iraq in its war against the old U.S. foe Iran, at a time when Saddam used chemical weapons against Iranian forces and Iraqi Kurds.
Video clip of Rummy and Saddam from 1983 is here.

Remember when John Dean said a cancer was growing on the presidency? Well, maybe not. Too many people forgot that lesson and swallowed the Bush lie that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. Strangely, almost a third of Americans still believed the lie in February of this year. Fourteen percent were "Not sure." Besides a gullibility in authority, many citizens unfortunately lack an efficacy in basic civics. Politics? Oh, they couldn't be bothered. Granny needs her flu shot, mom's shopping at the mall, and daddy's riveted to the idiot box. Well, if they're too lazy or time-starved to catch up on the homework, they'll have to take the word of say, conservatives with a conscience like John Dean.

Since Dean made his famous remark about the Nixon presidency, a malignancy has spread throughout U.S.A. The cancer is Republican authoritarianism that dutifully and self-righteously oppresses women and minorities while lying to the public that it is good, moral, and just. Complicit Americans who act like herded sheep--voting GOP jackboots into office, extolling them as honest and decent leaders--shoulder responsibility for the mess we're in along with the thugs themselves. I don't recognize some of "my fellow Americans." They have x's over eyes that only light up with racist speech dripping from the lips of conservatives George Allen, Trent Lott, and talk show punditry or sexist tripe published as if it's reasonable discourse in the financial press.

Meanness, tribalism, rampant patriarchy, and blind loyalty has infected not only Washington, D.C., but the Bible Belt, the Midwest, and all four corners of the land. It advances daily with every chance it's given. Immense neediness drives blind obedience and incurious spectators--more interested in watching football than the government decisions that affect us all--allow our democracy to be hijacked. Like victims of ID theft, if citizens don't proactively protect themselves, they won't realize they've been injured until the damage appears stuffed in their mailboxes or on their records. Such crimes haunt for years.

The condition of our national malaise existed long before the 9/11 hijackers fueled the march to war. Somewhere, somehow, Americans overlooked that education continues after the diploma and is paramount to becoming self-aware and mature. Courage plays a role too. Instead, conformity, the abdication of personal responsibility, and American superiority that entitles itself to exceptionalism permits some groups of our citizenry to excuse all manner of evil. Some even call it God's Will. Ignorance and fear disguised behind the red-white-and-blue curtain as religion and so-called family values causes many to live in dis-ease. Some of us were immune or had already recovered. More will follow. Others never will realize that human decency withers when patriotism and religion defines itself as you are either fer us or agin us.

People who subscribe to this motto don't think twice about ramming their flagpoles and crucifixes into places where they don't belong. They respect no one's boundaries. Like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their cronies, they violate the principles of democracy and freedom in forgetting that elected officials are "our employees," not our rulers or our daddies. From those who put the Republican authoritarians in office, I want an apology; voters who will owe us a debt of gratitude if we accept their penitence. I won't hold my breath because denial provides a powerful defense mechanism.

Go to sleep behind the wheel and you can run off the road. For those who are awakening, how do we begin to climb out of the muddy ditch? How do we dissipate the Fog of Fear? At the very least... remember, remember, the 7th of November.

Hat tip to Digby for the Keith Olbermann interview.