It would have been glorious...relatively speaking

Transcript of President’s Speech

January 25, 2005

“There will be no questions, please.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.”

[The President appears from the anteroom and takes the podium.]

“Good evening.

“Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Americans, I will not blow smoke about the situation in Iraq like the previous president did.  The situation is serious and of such consequence to America’s goals that the secretary of state will be holding a news conference tomorrow to provide all of the details.  When you know the truth, you will understand the action I have taken on your behalf, as citizens of a nation that is vested in the honesty and integrity it takes to lead the free world, as well as the power.

“I have just ordered the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to immediately remove all U.S. troops from the cities and populated regions of Iraq.

[The President pauses, waiting for murmuring of reporters to end.]

“In addition, the Department of Defense and State Department are revoking all civilian permissions and ordering immediate departure of all civilian contractors.  All U.S. development contracts for work in Iraq are now suspended, indefinitely.

“Some of our troops now there, the ready reserves, will immediately return to their U.S. bases and their civilian lives.  A large contingent of active units will join our troops in Afghanistan to expand the terrorist pursuit there.  The remainder will establish a military zone, somewhere along the Iraqi border, in an unpopulated area.  It will be, politically, somewhat like a very large version of Guantanamo base in Cuba—in effect, a securely defended, independent military-staging area for possible offensive operations against the hard-line, cleric regime in Iran, if the current posture that government has taken on nuclear-arms development does not quickly change.  The troops in this staging area are being complemented with the full range of assets necessary for offensive and defensive operations.  The units there will also carry out on-demand missions within Iraq, based upon intelligence and covert-operations initiatives against terrorist elements that may remain in the country, and they will patrol suspected insurgent border-crossing areas.  They will not be exposed, ready targets, involved in Iraq’s internal politics.  They will be in a position to react quickly and be moved to meet any force that may mistakenly believe that this policy is a sign of weakness or an opportunity to threaten U.S. interests in that part of the world, and they will remain there until the threats to our security are eliminated, whether by diplomacy or use of force.

“Productive diplomacy will be the first option, but it will not be allowed to drag on, and we will remain fully ready and willing to insure our own security, enforce our treaty obligations to other nations beyond Iraq’s borders, and to respond to any threat.  Our allies, in Iraq, are being encouraged to remove their troops, as well, and to join U.S. units in the staging area, if they wish.  We have already begun negotiations with our allies on these options, and troop movements that result will be announced.

“Remember, neither the United States nor its allies want to be inside other nations with soldiers.  We would prefer our citizens to be able to visit other nations in peace, as welcome teachers, students, builders, healers, and as tourists, all who have respect and appreciation for other cultures that are based upon the recognition of human rights and dignity.

“We are in Afghanistan because we were attacked.  One of our cities, a premier city of the world, like Madrid, was made the target, in an act of war, of an ideology that was exercised by the rulers in power there.

“And we are in Iraq because of poor, mal-conceived judgement, but also because of a non-discriminate, rush-to-judgement-and-acceptance fear for the capability and willingness of that ruler to contribute to another, even more deadly attack.

“So, this cannot, then, and should not be interpreted to signal a policy of isolation and withdrawal from a complex world with which the United States is irrevocably interconnected.  Nor should it be perceived as representing self-interest alone.  It does not.  Security for the United States will continue to mean security for other peaceful nations and allies.  But the United States has no obligation, whatsoever, to provide a democratic form of government to the Iraqis, or to any other nation.  The government of the United States perceived a threat to the security of the nation there, and we have now eliminated that threat, and we are returning the vast majority of the country to its natives.  To the extent that their government, whatever that will be, permits, they will continue to have access to humanitarian and developmental assistance, and they are free to develop and benefit from wise use of their considerable resources.  But we leave them with this stern warning: that if the government they will put into effect again threatens the security of the United States, we will return again to eliminate it, and then, we will not remain, again, to become convenient targets when we have finished.  This will never happen if a responsible government comes into existence there, so if it does happen again, it will be the consequence of the threat by another radical cabinet of authority, like that which rules Iran, or like the Taliban, or another Saddam, whose statue will also fall, and that is when we’ll leave, next time.  This time, we should have left when the search for level-one weapons and intelligence was effectively complete.

“The previously executed priority of creating a free market in Iraq for corporations, that is complete with a large, exploitable workforce, and a stream of revenue and resources for those corporations which are closely tied to the previous administration, will no longer be a priority in determining U.S. policy.  The support that was enjoyed by the previous administration, for the decision to place our troops offensively in Iraq, was because of the perception that the tyrannical government that existed posed a real threat to our security.  But now, no matter the reasons for deployment, that threat did not and does not exist, and the United States will depart to the new staging area.

“But we do not leave with a sense of failure when it comes to our responsibility to freedom.  To the contrary, we have spent lives and money to provide an opportunity for freedom loving Iraqis to embrace a democracy, but they made no effort to do so, allowing the insurgents and other fighters to operate at will and retreat to safety.  It is not enough for only the power brokers to be involved and to take risks to secure liberty’s blessings.  It must be a heartfelt desire of a whole people, and they must be willing to sacrifice, as did the American patriots.

“There is, also, still no sign that the Muslim states, which are dictatorships—military, monarchy, or religious—are ready to assertively separate themselves from the radical fundamentalist ideology, or contribute to the creation of a democratic Muslim state in their midst, which they see as a long-term threat to their rule.  It is understandable, then, why we swim upstream in terms of allies in the region, and this will be addressed.  When, in the future, the Iraqi people install a peaceful and socially-responsible government, the United States will welcome them into our prospering world community.  And I have no doubt that, in time, when they are ready for a new and better life, this will come to pass.

“We sacrificed for the Iraqis, as well as to insure our security, despite that we had no obligation to take any action not related to eliminating the threat to our nation’s safety, and the United States will never be obligated to any nation that forces its hand to move against a threat to its security.  That is the risk those who would threaten us and our treaty partners face.  The old joke, of The Mouse that Roared—attack America and become wealthy, or better off as a consequence, will now be only that:  a bad joke.

“But we also recognize that an oppressive and hated regime has been removed from the governments of the world, and that is a worthwhile achievement for which, along with having secured the safety of our nation, our troops can be rightly proud, and to them we are grateful.

“I remind you that we still face real danger from irresponsible governments, and we must now bring all of our resources, focus, and diplomacy to bear upon them.  Radical Islamist states and dictatorships cannot, under any circumstances, ever be permitted to develop nuclear or biological weapons.  These actions constitute a first step, and the United States military has demonstrated, clearly, that this nation has the determination and wherewithal to quickly eliminate threats to our security, and I assure those who would be our enemies that we will aggressively continue to do so, and those actions will also meet the global test of credibility.

“The first-strike doctrine, outlined by the previous administration, is a necessary consequence of the new capability, and the expressed desire of non-aligned forces to deliver weapons of mass destruction to American soil, without warning, indiscriminately killing thousands of our citizens.  This is a terrifying prospect, where the attackers cannot be easily identified, and where the focus for retaliation is uncertain and of no recourse to the dead left behind.  The best defense against this new terrorism is to identify and eliminate the possible sources of such weapons.  This will continue to be the emphasis for U.S. intelligence.  But it is not correct to say that the United States will take pre-emptive action.  We have already put nations on notice that we will not allow such weapons-development efforts to succeed.  We will demand inspections, on our terms, not theirs, to make certain that the activities of these regimes pose no such threat to us or our allies.  And these regimes will always have a choice:  either to comply fully and unconditionally with peaceful inspections, or be attacked. And when we attack, we will spare no weapon or measure to completely eliminate both the target programs and the regimes that created them, and then we will leave, or stay to help the people to rebuild their government and determine a new path for their future, but having our help in the aftermath will be their choice, and we will only remain behind to assist if it is the demonstrated desire of the population for us to do so.

“We now must address our obligation to focus inward, as well.  We must achieve a feeling of normalcy again, and a state of normalcy, again.  Otherwise, if we live in fear, if we divert the whole of our resources attacking the fear, when we should only attack our attackers, and our would-be attackers, then the terrorists will have won, and they will continue winning every day that we so extend ourselves with political and expansionary purposes instead of defensive necessity.

“The terrorists we are fighting know that if they can divert us, they are buying time for Iran, and others who would provide them with a weapon, to succeed in the development.  And, I repeat, the real threat to our security is within the identifiable and vulnerable nuclear and biological laboratories of irresponsible regimes, whose resources make a real threat of the elusive terrorists, who hide in caves, with access to money and communications.  And, I assure you these resources can be and are being attacked as we continue the fight.  We are no longer getting any useful intelligence from our operations in Iraq; those who are, or were fighting us there are not a part of the al Qaeda network that attacked us, so we are shifting the tactical focus, from troops in Iraq to Afghanistan, and to wherever else the trail of evidence and intelligence leads, as well as to expanded intelligence and law-enforcement operations, whose missions are to cut the financial arteries and the throats of both the terrorist networks and those regimes that assist them, and all of our diplomatic agendas will be primarily in support of these goals.  When the work of intelligence and law enforcement is done, and diplomacy has failed, then it is time for the troops.  In Iraq, that has all come and gone, and it is done.

“So you see, this is not a retreat.  We are hardly going to be reducing the scope and weight of our fight to victory over this perverse and murderous ideology.  Stepped-up and more effective domestic and international intelligence and law-enforcement operations are what we need to be concentrating on while our troops carry on in Afghanistan.  Dedicated units of intelligence and military operations are now the most effective way to uncover and eliminate key insurgents who remain wanted for their criminal acts in Iraq and elsewhere.  We cannot afford to be diverted by propping up an unwanted government in a land that we have confirmed no longer poses any threat to this nation.

“America will instead be the leader in putting teeth into certain jurisdictions of the World Court and reinventing Interpol.  We must have a viable global-justice system to focus on the trade of drugs, arms, and the equipment needed to produce weapons of mass destruction, their financial trails, and identity-document forgery.

“It is past time to redefine the legal meaning of the term “sovereign nation.”  We can no longer afford, nor is it right to allow criminal regimes to hide behind that concept with impunity as they bring suffering to their peoples and threaten the economic and political security of the rest of the world.  We will create an international authority which will have the power to prosecute and bring justice to criminal regimes anywhere in the world.  The threat, alone, posed by this new or reinvented organization will be an effective deterrent to many of those who would otherwise go too far.

“This type of enforcement is also a necessary component of the newly emerging global economics.  No one nation can effectively deal with these serious issues alone, and powerless international-recommending bodies are not enough to do the job.  A formal, empowered, international body will be far more effective in dealing with these critical problem areas, and we and our allies must commit to bringing this type of meaningful and effective, global law-enforcement into existence, and to coordinating the activities of the various domestic and international law-enforcement and intelligence operations with this new system of international justice and security.  The United States will lead the way to its creation and success.  The consequences of failing to do so are far too high to endure.

“At home, there is much need, and there is the American dream, which we can either choose to preserve, or let go, by dropping the rules that created it and helped it grow.  Fair trade means a fair dollar paid by the standard of the market.  It does not mean to make all markets equal, ignoring the different talents of the work forces and production capacities of the nations.  And corporations need to flourish, but not through a process that destroys the homeland market base and the homeland consumers.  And we must insure the welfare of our own citizens before doing so for outsiders.  For example, federal regulations now require agricultural guest workers—immigrant workers in temporary visa programs—to be paid at least $8.06 an hour, while the minimum wage for our citizens doesn’t even reach $6.  That is wrong.

“The reason for profits and work is the rewards, and that means people cannot be made obsolete or secondary.  A life without time for family, and freedom from worry of illness and ability to work, is not a life that should be imposed upon many so that a few can enjoy all the rewards and the safeguards.  The economic divide between the wealthy and the poor and middle class in the United States, has reached its greatest span in history under the previous administration, and this trend must be reversed.  Those who have the most, because of their incentive, ingenuity, vision, hard work, heredity, and their luck, owe the most to this nation’s cost of operating, because the government of America makes their riches, rewards, and security possible.  This government, unlike the previous administration, is not going to be just about owners.

“Instead of spending billions of dollars on Iraq, today I am instituting measures that will benefit American jobs and American education.  The School Construction Act will forever eliminate portable school classrooms from the American education system.  Like President Eisenhower rejuvenated the economy by initiating the construction of the interstate-highway system, the School Construction Act will put taxpayer monies back into America by providing quality school structures and internet connections in all American public school systems, and it will provide jobs to planners, architects, builders, contractors, and construction crews throughout this country, while giving new generations of children a quality environment for learning and advancement.

“As to the democratic process, today, I have introduced legislation that will establish candidate debate, in an academically-recognized format, as an integral requirement of presidential-election law, legislation that will set the stage and forever eliminate rules that create the sterile, confining environment that makes debates little more than rehearsed public-relations deceptions.  No candidate who requires such restrictions to address the voters, or to guard against mistakes or a true speaking of the mind, is the right candidate to be president, and it is not for the candidates’ campaign staffs to dictate format to the American people, but rather, the other way around.  Americans deserve to have interactive, spontaneous debates that address the issues and reveal the candidates and their positions before they cast their ballots for the person who will occupy this office.

“America is confronted by a crisis of values.  This is evidenced by the salaries of entertainment purveyors in comparison to teachers, providers, researchers, and a multitude of professions whose business is to serve the safety and advancement of all citizens.  This crisis extends to standards of decency, as well as respect among people:  the weakening ties of family, the decline in volunteerism, and the degradation of and decline in respect for women that is advanced by most forms of pornography.

“Tax-code legislation can address many of these issues, but in the area of decency and pornography, we can do something now.  The government of the United States has authority over all uses of its airspace, which includes toxic emissions, aircraft, radio, TV, and it also includes microwave and satellite signals.  If the peddlers of smut and degradation believe that they can rain their viscous acid upon the people of America by moving from radio and TV to satellite-based services, they are dead wrong.  Government will keep up with technology, and the airwaves of America, in all their forms, will not be made a conveyance for the contents of anyone’s cesspool.  I am ordering the commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission to fully establish and enforce licensing, decency standards and penalties for all transactions through American airspace which are not independently encrypted to a key system, including satellite and microwave.

“An imposed, unobjective view of family and values forms the umbrella under which the question of gay rights is shaded from the light of legal equality.  Science, in exploring Mars, and Jupiter’s moon, Europa, is expected to yield answers that will alter the perspective many have upon the question of whether life is a divine concept and result, or instead, a natural one that is repeated anytime and anywhere that the conditions of gravity, temperature, and elements of proper quantity and kind exist; specifically:  carbon in a watered environment.

“Human beings are a life form, a product of evolution that is driven by sexual process. Therefore, human beings have a sexual component that is determined by nature’s construction of the proteins that make up the genes.  Gay persons are, by the natural requirements of evolution and survival of the species, a biological deviation that is in violation of natural law, a law which is singular, stating:  divide and multiply.  If we were all gay and we all acted on our sexuality, we would cease to exist as a species in the universe.  To those who believe in a God, or anything else, this would not be the intended biological result.  These critics do not consider that God may have allowed only that the Deity should be faultless, perfect.  None of this addresses the human emotion that is a consequence of the physical, biological drive, or the human right to be at peace with nature, at every level.  Government goes against nature if it attempts to prevent these people from being at peace in their relationships.

“Science has given us an ever-more refined perspective of our place in the physical universe. It has given us the ability to see ourselves from the Moon and to know our physical origins and see the confirming trail of its evolution through billions of years, almost to the beginning, and science will answer many more questions as the history of mankind unfolds.  But science cannot answer the question of God.  That is a personal link of faith for each person to either feel or not, believe or not, be they gay or not, and the pursuit of spirituality should remain a personal realm from which government is excluded.

“The problem with government interference in this naturally-driven, human relationship, is that the judgement—of whether or not such behavior is immoral and exclusionary—is dependant in large part upon whether or not the person making a judgement believes in the concept and reality of God, and if so, that God’s will would be for government to interfere.  God, by all who claim to know and feel spirituality, is a personal presence, a reality of personal choice and belief that brings comfort and draws people together through love, or in the case of Islamic fundamentalist extremists, hate.  God does not cause governments to rule over people for any motive.  Government, as envisioned by the founding fathers in America, is authority derived from the people, not God, for the security and benefit of the people, that will be guided in its rule by moral right, not made into a tool of non-criminal moral enforcement.  By any measure, the decision to separate gay people from the rights bestowed upon married heterosexual people is a religious decision, and as such, the protections of the Constitution, upheld by the Supreme Court, which does not allow interference or promotion of religion, and which, in so doing, effectively guards against internal strife and conflict in a multi-cultural society, must be followed.  The leading founding fathers were geniuses, with special insights into social interaction and its evolution.  Technology has changed, knowledge has expanded, but human nature is the same as it was when the founder’s ink dried on the parchment, and America would be well advised to look to its founders to guide the application of government that will be in the best interest of the nation, in this and any other issue, and this administration will be so guided.

“Science has also proven that the greatest threats to mankind come from without, and the threat posed by near-Earth objects must be addressed.  To begin doing so, I am authorizing an immediate appropriation to increase observatory operations to locate and track these dangerous objects.  Second, I am cancelling President Bush’s space-program initiatives for the moon and directing that NASA make one of its primary rockets, a fleet staple, one that can meet the worst-case threat of asteroid impact, and that a number of these rockets be in ready reserve, the inventory to be rotated through this reserve of vehicles.  A coordinated program for development of detection, tracking, and response systems will be created to determine the type of warhead and other options that can be reliably designed and produced, and then that work needs to be started.  These efforts will be ongoing for a decade or more, in conjunction with the law-enforcement, military, and diplomatic operations to eliminate terrorism, until we have a system we can employ against any threat; refinement and improvement will then be perpetual.  The costs of all of these measures will not be borne by America alone.  All nations that are finance viable in the global organizations will contribute based on some criteria, perhaps per-capita income.  Yet these costs will not begin to meet what would have been spent by remaining in Iraq, and we will have made the important steps to begin creating a viable and dependable response to the ultimate natural disaster.

“A free and diversified media is an essential pillar upon which democracy rests, and it is a conduit through which community and national values are drawn and communicated.  It is far too powerful a force upon society to be vested in so few nonpopulist hands.  We have seen how the shrinking field of media ownership has adversely affected the news media, and how it can be abused when the few owners are special-interest to a corporate-prioritized government that uses media to manipulate the facts and views presented to the public, and that believes such manipulation is a key and necessary part of governance.  Fewer media owners is convenient to that goal, and it is equally convenient to the corporate goal of controlling communications and viewpoints.  Under the previous administrations, the Federal Communications Commission has gone too far in loosening the restrictions on media ownership, and a roll-back of that process will now begin.  Divestiture of the media conglomerates and tighter limits on foreign ownership is in the national interest, is necessary to insure the preservation of freedom and democracy, and it will result in an increase in the quality and diversity of the content which the industry provides.

“As regards illegal immigration and the many faces of its debilitating affects, the country is very close to being lost.  No politicians have yet had the resolve or courage to take the drastic and forcible steps necessary to halt the invasion and attendant erosion of cultural and economic quality in America that the invasion from Mexico threatens.  Even setting meaningful citizenship requirements, beyond only a cursory knowledge of English and government, to protect the voting base, including barring citizenship to children born of illegals, has been beyond them.  This will change.  In conjunction with expanded law-enforcement funding and organization against terrorism and trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, illegal immigration will be brought under strict and comprehensive control, and those who have broken the law to establish themselves here will be sought out and deported.  Children born of illegal immigrants will remain illegal immigrants themselves, without prejudice.  Those now on U.S. soil who turn themselves in for deportation will be provided work permits under the guest-worker program that will be established.  Those illegal immigrants who do not voluntarily report, will be deported when found and forever barred from participating in the program or applying for permanent residency or citizenship.

“The United States will control its immigration through the quota systems established by congress, and to serve the economic needs of those sectors of the economy that need imported labor, the guest worker program will satisfy those needs.  There will be no path to permanent residency or citizenship through the guest worker permit.  The path to those privileges will remain, as now, through the legal immigration channel.  However, those aliens who are honorably discharged from the Army or Marines, which will be authorized to recruit non-citizens, up to 20 percent of their enlisted troop strength, will be granted citizenship, along with their spouses and children, if requested.  The legal immigration process will be strengthened to require those who wish to become voters to have the same knowledge of English and American history and government as the average, C-student, high-school graduate.  The Department of Defense, under a joint education program and facility, will provide such learning and certification to all aliens it recruits.  Cursory English and a few simple questions will no longer suffice.  The guest worker program will prohibit wages higher than the minimum wage set by law for U.S. citizens, and any employer will be required to replace any worker in the program with a qualified U.S. citizen upon such qualified citizen’s application.  And the penalties for employers who hire illegal aliens or fail to replace with qualified citizens will be made severe, as will the penalties for those who traffic in smuggling aliens across the border.

“The previous president was dead wrong when he said the Mexican government is a friend to the U.S.  Mexico’s government is not a friend to the U.S.  With its corruption, allowing the drug trades to flourish and use its territory as a conduit to poison America’s citizens with its product and its violence, with Mexico’s refusal to curb the flow of illegal immigrants, who drain American resources and diminish the quality of American culture, while returning dollars to Mexico’s economy and relieving it of social-support responsibility for its illegal-immigrant citizens, Mexico is a greater threat to American security and America’s future than is Cuba!

“Even if a president could get all the funding needed to stem illegal crossings and eradicate the drug trade from Mexican and South- and Central-American sources that flow through Mexico, with the current Mexican policies, it couldn’t be done with greatest effect unless the U.S. invaded and occupied Mexico.  The only way to eradicate the violence and deterioration of American life that stems from the Mexican drug trade and illegal-immigrant invasion, without spending Americans’ dollars and lives, is to give the Mexican government a strong incentive to do what it can do itself and should have been doing all along.  Mexico can eliminate corruption and the drug cartels on its own, if it sees an incentive to do so, though it would, on request, continue to receive U.S. drug-enforcement assistance.  Action to seal the border and impose trade and traffic prohibitions, as has been done with Cuba, will quickly provide that incentive, and I am initiating that action immediately.  The ambassador to Mexico will present that government with the terms for removal of the barriers and for normalization of relations.

“The American people will not stand for, and their government will no longer tolerate and support a situation wherein the F.B.I. makes the outrageous statement, as it did in the third week of May, 2006, that the only way the Mexican drug violence on U.S. streets will diminish is when one of their cartels takes control!  The F.B.I. is thus revealed to be as much in need of leadership as was the government, and I am removing the director immediately.  His replacement will be named by the Treasury Secretary later this week.  The loss of Spring-break destinations, trade, and corporate expansionism that will result from the Cuba-like restrictions I am imposing against Mexico, during the short term I expect that it will take for the Mexican government to finally pick up the ball and play responsibly to lift the restrictions, is not the most important issue.  America will survive that—it will not survive business as usual, with drugs, illegal immigration, and exporting plants and jobs as it has been over the last three decades!  New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican mouthpiece for the previous president, who wants to welcome the immigrant law breakers, should be aware that the solution for shrinking-workforce support of increasing social-security needs, that he alleges so concerns him, is not to bless the low-wage, unskilled, criminal-ridden, social-service- and education-draining illegal-immigrant invasion, but rather to damn the legal exportation of good jobs and plants that idles American workers and sends them overseas to compete against foreigners for U.S.-corporation-owned jobs, a relevant factor he chooses not to mention!  New York, like Washington, is in dire need of more leaders and fewer politicians, and this exportation of jobs will now be controlled, along with foreign ownership of vital assets.

“America should not be concerned with the self-serving objections of its neighbors, or its politicians, when it comes to protecting and insuring its sovereignty, and I will not be so concerned.  Yes, America has a responsibility to the world community, but its first responsibility is to itself, and mark the words of Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tx.), iterated in the Senate chambers, concurrent with the F.B.I.’s defeatist conclusion on border violence, and Sen. McCain’s (R-Az.) support of a deceptive, non-temporary Guest Worker Bill, that if America does not see to its own interests first, the interests of all free and democratic nations will eventually, along with those of American citizens, pay the toll of that negligence.  That toll will not be assessed on my watch.

“America faces a challenging time ahead.  But the biggest challenge will be the ability of our nation to become and remain benevolent toward itself.  The strongest America is the one where we don’t have to turn away from what repulses and embarrasses us:  our own sick, elderly, homeless, hungry, afraid, and impoverished.  We can eliminate that disgrace.  We must.

“The strongest America is made of citizens who have a valued family life and sense of self-esteem and satisfaction, right from the penthouse of the economic hotel to the basement, and together, we can pick up the tools again and renew the growth and security of the American ideal.

“I'm sorry, but no questions this time.

“Good night.”

1,800 Plus

Campaign 2004

In the 2004 election year, the rights, liberties, and guarantees of the American system of government rested in the hands of the voters.  Fear, inspired in part by the Bush administration’s manipulation of the terrorist-alert system, which it may have created for that purpose, was one factor overtaking just enough voters to quash Democratic hopes for a new, responsible, responsive, and ethical government.

Nothing in hindsight

The balance could have been tipped by any little one thing done, left undone, or done differently.  The election was lost to an administration alien to American precepts of popular sovereignty, because of one small error among a multitude of possibilities.  Which was to blame?

Kerry’s failure to show that Iraq is apart from, not a part of the war on terror?  A platform to end Bush’s war, not win it, could have been the difference to some who voted red or not at all, eliminating the paradox of a promise to win rather than end a war that was wrong to start.

Was Kerry’s failure to recognize and take some part of Bush’s religious morality as his own a fatal factor?  Affirmation of religious rights and individuality is fine, as is defining the impact history had on the founders’ consideration of the separation of church and state when they drafted the Constitution, but a platform to take control of smut on the nation’s airways—all the airways—might have brought home a few hundred-thousand votes.

A different running mate?  A dozen or more possibilities, but they don’t matter now.  As the retiring dean of television news anchors, Tom Brokaw, said when he closed his broadcast the night following the elections, bitterness is pointless.  The fight for the next election has just begun.

Slack citizenship requirements?  Bush’s slim victory would not have been possible without recent-immigrant voters, many of whom have no real sense of American history and cannot profit from or act on its lessons.  If the law required comprehensive courses in American history, government, and culture awareness, as well as the ability to speak conversational English before bestowing citizenship, a more-informed electorate would have defeated Bush, more than 1800 soldiers would still be alive, serving in a healthy military ground force not straining its resources and reserves, and American culture would not be as divisive and segmented as it is becoming.  Immigration without acclimation is going to be a source of great trouble in a future of competitive global economics, where governments act on corporate agendas at the expense of the self-made American advantage, American workers and consumers.

The fight for the next election, in progress, requires a double-edged sword, because it will also be a fight to hold on to all that Bush and Cheney’s private-reality team will attempt to destroy.

Bush held up, as always, an unwavering certainty of rightness as his strongest asset, which Kerry assailed as mistaken, saying to him in debate, “ can be certain and be wrong.”  President Johnson was certain, and so was Nixon after him.  Both were dead wrong.  But they, along with Bush, Sr., left valuable lessons behind, from which this Bush will not be guided.  Perhaps that is because war provides opportunities to pursue ventures that would otherwise be out of reach, and for President Bush and his clique, 9/11 opened up Iraq as just such a multi-pronged opportunity.

Yet, with no recognition of his poorly motivated judgement and mistakes, it is no surprise that the president still crowed, accusing Senator Kerry of being expedient in his view on the Iraq war.

But the president finds it is expedient to allow insurgents sanctuary, hamstringing troops and increasing casualties. Sen. Kerry knew that this tactic, done to create the best possible election appearance, repeats the mistakes that were so costly in the war he bravely fought, when troops were prohibited from going after fighters and supplies on the other side of a political line.  This was, in hindsight, considered a major reason why the United States lost that war, and the military vowed it would never fight a war in that way again.  A president made that promise.

Now there are the protected cities and sacred mosques.  Europe and Asia were full of sacred structures that were made rubble in a desperate struggle.  If Iraqis knew that their mosques would not be valued above the lives of our soldiers, would they continue to permit insurgents to use them for refuge and storage of munitions?  No.  They probably would not.  Destruction is one reason why wars are to be avoided, and America should not be in the business of making wars easy for its enemies, or valuing brick and mortar above the lives of its citizen soldiers, or allowing walk-away agreements with those who kill them, sacred weapons in tow, as was done with al-Sadr in Najaf.  But this war is a war of aggression.  Bush now openly calls it a war to make the world free in victory statements, saying it without mentioning terrorism.  Now, with the restraint of elections removed, the aggression in Iraq, for which our troops share no blame, will begin to change the landscape, increase casualties, feed hatred, and drain America as Vietnam did.

The president accused Sen. Kerry of bowing to pressure in his views on the war in Iraq.  He said, again and again, “We must stay the course,” that this is “a battle of wills.”  Like many things said again and again, too many Americans came to believe the claims.  The battle-of-wills fabrication is, of course, a childish, school-yard, dare-me, dare-you philosophy, and it was the same philosophy that Presidents Johnson and Nixon used to justify America’s waste of lives and resources in Vietnam, a war America entered into just as carelessly and surreptitiously as Bush invaded Iraq.  President Bush has not learned from history, recent or ancient—the over-extension of Roman power, the consequences for Germany, and the rest of the world, of power combined with unchecked ambition—and America needs to be smarter than that.

Fear overcame wisdom.  Bush’s reality does not recognize that about half of the nation’s voters want him and his policies out, and he will not temper his actions with anything to recognize them except lip service.

The president deceived us under pressure to paint a good face on the Iraq incursion, a face that is not American, so that America would feel detached and that the war was really under control and the burden shifting.  Yet, it is not, and the clearest indicator of the real future dawning on Iraq is the fundamentalist Muslim takeover of education there since the fall of Saddam, which spells the kiss of death for the corporate-economic stage the administration is determined to set, as well as for the president’s ideological goals, carried on the backs of soldiers who are supposed to be the final instruments of a free society acting in defense and without prejudice or territorial ambition.  Can America really continue to point with pride to an unambitious, defensive military history now that this president’s unjustifiable aggression has been rewarded, allowing him to continue to use the force of American troops and the finite power of American resources to reshape the world according to his image?  One way to maintain world respect and admiration, and cut the deficit in half, would have been to end a special-interest war.

But now there will be no quick end.  The president knows that he must win and convert Iraq and Afghanistan if he is to secure the White House and Congress for the next election’s Republicans, and as a result, the pressure is on to quickly win, with casualty counts, particularly collateral, no longer a pre-election priority.

Now, Iraq is an American war, not just Bush’s war.

Now, U.S. citizens, no matter how or why they voted, must answer along with Bush for the toll and the injustice that accompanies any aggressor’s horrific travels.

All Americans now share in the responsibility for the death of the next child bombed, the next obliterated family of innocents, none of whom ever lifted a finger against us.

Deception, fear manipulation, and repeated lies turned an election and made objectors into co-conspirators.

The most bitter pill of Kerry’s defeat:  Bush’s aggression has been endorsed by us as our own...

And the generation of those Americans who have died, and will die, never showed up to stop it.

Despite that they were the ones with the power.

To sweep away a government is one thing; to wrest a whole population—a factioned and antagonistic population—from their past, their inbred beliefs and convictions, and their animosity toward the invader and each other, is quite another.   President Bush will not change a nation whose culture has been rooted in tribe and religion for centuries into one that lives by the rule of law, especially Western law, capitalist law, not by force, and not within the boundaries of his most pessimistic timetable, or to the satisfaction of either the patience of, or an advantage to America.  And he can’t change the faces in the tanks or those under draped flags, or those who worry and suffer at home, as he tries to take and hold on to an untenable position as, all the while, the wasting of time and resources and lives continues.

And in the midst of suffering, within days of a painful, yet resolved 9-11 memorial, Vice President Cheney dipped low into his bag and played the fear card, unashamedly stating that if the American people vote for change in the White House, that the chance of another deadly terrorist attack will increase.  That despicable remark was not later explained away by scampering Republican-campaign and administration spokespersons, it was not denounced by the president, it was not retracted by Cheney in debate, and it deserves no response, other than to report it, and in so doing, reveal the flawed character of the man.  And he is a man with great experience in government, experience linked to the defense establishment, where his interests still remain active, biased, and reflect upon the problems that will now continue facing the nation in Iraq.

Cheney’s campaign counterpart, Senator Edwards, only had the government experience of a senator, but he knew that the government is too large and specialized for any president, no matter the political experience, to be able to manage it without a lot of help, and he would have known how to maintain a trusted and knowledgeable cabinet if he had to, and more important, how to listen to them, which has been a demonstrated liability of President Bush, as evidenced by his decisions to set aside assessments by his intelligence advisors and his secretary of state, decisions that have been proven wrong.  But more important, as a trial lawyer, a litigator, Senator Edwards would have known, if necessary, how to question people and how to dig for information, and how to judge the confidence level of what his advisors might have told him.  Beyond that, he only needed the experience he would have had as vice president, his judgement, good sense, and his compassion.

But two or three Southern states were more important.

Perhaps a minister instead of a lawyer.

The administration’s judgement and common sense is biased by the priorities of wealth and corporate expansionism, and a worrisome, spiritually motivated self-image the president has revealed as the leader of a crusade (his word, which he now avoids but nonetheless believes) against evil, with the lives and resources of America as his weapons.  Bush’s hand-picked Republican candidate for Florida’s senate seat, Mel Martinez, who also, unfortunately, won his election, said in debate, on television, that he does not support an increase to the minimum wage because the situation for those who are so poorly paid is so bad that the added dollar of an increase wouldn’t be of any help!  Will he be guided by the fact that more than 70 percent of Florida’s voters passed a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage by a dollar?  Dream on.  The record of lost lives and jobs, and increased costs for health care, and decreased support for AIDS programs speak directly to the administration’s low priority for compassion, so lacking that the vice president, in debate, admits ignorance of the AIDS death toll that rages.  But how could Cheney do otherwise?  How could he support the president’s record and also admit awareness of the terrible toll of lives; yet, if a compassionate man, how can he be vice president and not know the horrific depth of the toll?  How does that speak of the man who is, and now will remain, a heart beat away from the Oval Office?

John Kerry reminded us that respected former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, now Bush’s Secretary of State, warned the president that if he invaded Iraq, he would be faced with the pottery-barn rule, “If you break it, you’ve got to fix it.”  This boils down to the reason the United States is in Iraq?  Fighting a war that was, according to the president, supposed to be over on May 1, 2003?  The fact is that the United States hasn’t finished the fight in Iraq to begin any fixing at all, and that Bush is trying to do both things at the same time, making the fighting more difficult, more costly, and more enduring.  And the pottery-barn rule, whatever its source, doesn’t apply.  The United States did not break Iraq by removing Saddam and insuring that there were no nuclear or biological laboratories threatening national security.  Saddam is the one who broke his country.  But in this push to establish a new economic resource, under the guise of freedom for a deserving and desirous people, when in reality there is no help from sympathetic Iraqi fingers pointing to the terrorists or guerilla fighters in their midst, when in reality, the objective is to establish a cooperative group of corporate-economic players who are not viewed as leaders by the population, with the naive hope that the newly-trained Iraqi police or army will somehow, any time soon, be able to keep this group in power, when they are now being fired en masse for security reasons, and hundreds killed by their own countymen, as well as outsiders, in this, Bush is making his next big mistake and is again exercising his special brand of tunnel-visioned judgement, and in this, he is breaking Iraq, and the U.S., with each bomb and bullet that does its work when, instead, the U.S. should have been gone long ago, mission accomplished and ending the violence.

Iraq is a minefield, planted by radical fundamentalists to mire and distract the U.S., and there is no way to argue that it is not doing just that.  Even if those who argue that Iraq is a force to be dealt with in the war on terror are right, and all the evidence says they are not, Bush did commit our troops and resources there out of time, with faulty analysis of the intelligence, a demonstrated bias against Saddam’s rule, and faulty motive.  If we were to attack any nation other than Afghanistan, it should have been Iran, to permanently end their ongoing nuclear-weapons program, and the failure to do so may well come back to bite as Bush’s largest and most costly mistake ever.  But can it really be called a mistake, when Iraq’s oil and multi-million-dollar-contract potential are so vested in the administration’s business interests?  How else does one explain that only the oil ministry received protection when troops entered Baghdad?  How else can one explain the logistics that placed miles of pipeline, and oil-drilling and pumping machinery on the ground there, during an active war, even before the first troops rotating on two-week leaves returned?  Why else would Bush commit ten times the number of troops to invade and occupy Iraq than the number engaged in Afghanistan, searching for and fighting those who brought down the Trade Center towers, bombed our embassy, one of our Navy ships, and who continue to plan and carry out other attacks around the world?

The U.S. army in Iraq has become a magnet of violence and hate, and the best, kindest thing to be done now is to place that army out of reach of the guerilla fighters who see themselves as fighting at God’s side against occupiers in their own land, just as the president’s own father before him saw they would when he withdrew after accomplishing his mission there.  Terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Qaeda frontliner, is in Iraq because the U.S. is there.  The terrorists will follow the United States to Afghanistan when they can no longer reach its soldiers in Iraq, and they can be disposed of that much sooner.  The U.S. no longer has a regime to fear or fight in Iraq.  It no longer has a national-security reason to be there, except the self-anointed vision and spiritually derived arrogance of the infallible President Bush, who sees no mistakes to correct or need for change, no matter what changes around him or around the fighting troops he jeopardizes, no matter how many nuclear bombs North Korea amasses, no matter how much closer Iran comes to wielding its nuclear club.  His obstinance matches President Johnson’s stubbornness, bleeding U.S. troops so that, in that era, the anti-communist “cooperative group” in Viet Nam could build an army to keep itself in power.  There, then, a pretty good, homegrown, Vietnamese army was assembled in six bloody years, to no avail, despite that the United States stayed the course to the bitter end.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in his testimony before Congress and in his speaking engagements, most often and best illiterates the administration’s vision, of Iraq as the first democratic domino that will turn the rest of the Middle East into democratic dominoes that will fall into America’s lap if we stay the course.  This is a far cry from seeing Iraq as an imminent threat.  Nonetheless, this vision for Iraq is variously described as requiring hard work, as a lengthy process—years and years, as costly, in lives and money, and with no assurance that the objective is achievable, but that, regardless, it is worth it.

There is the question.  Worth it to whom?  Certainly not to dead soldiers and their families, or to the American taxpayers, many of whom will not live long enough to see this new map of fallen dominoes, if it ever comes to be.  If democracy is so good, and if the Middle East is so important a cog in its machinery, political and economic diplomacy, and time will eventually bring them into the fold, as it did the Soviet Union, at least until Vladimir Putin’s latest house cleaning, and that way, it will be far less costly, and it will not distract from other priorities, military and civil.  The people in the administration, and those to whom they are beholding, are not stupid; so, the question of worth must have a viable answer, and that answer is the military-defense establishment and the corporate-economic elite and their global expansionism, all of whom do benefit and will continue to benefit as the struggle is engaged.  There is no other entity that could view the administration’s domino vision of Iraq as being worth it, except the president’s Saudi friends who, along with Bin Laden family members, fled the U.S., escaping post-9/11 investigators through Bush’s criminal, obstruction-of-justice motivated permissions and arrangements.  Should a president be excused for obstruction-of-justice hindrance of a criminal investigation?  Martha Stewart, deposed ruler of home and garden, got five months for a lie that never got anyone killed.

Does no one remember the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan?  How is Iraq different, except to the hypocritical eye?  Terrorism is not an answer to that question—terrorism in Iraq was pre-election spin.  And the use of pre-emptive force to create a democratic Middle East is the subsequent justifcation for a Bush vision that prompted defacto military action that is today stealing lives, resources, and time, not only from the war against terrorism, but also from the remedies for America’s social and economic ills, forestalling a better life for this and subsequent generations.

The only worth the American people saw in risking and spending lives in Iraq was to eliminate an imminent threat, not this substitute, domino reasoning that has been dished up since the imminent-threat excuse was exposed as unfounded and deceptive.

We have all been pushed into accountability for war’s continuing despair, pushed by some who were pulled by fear, and by the religious and moral values of others who are somehow detached from their delivery of unprovoked death and destruction upon others who gave this nation no cause to even turn the other cheek.

In his concession speech, Senator Kerry hoped to heal when he said, despite the outcome of the election, that there are no losers because we all wake up the next morning as Americans.  In light of the stain of responsibility for an unjust war, from which many will never awaken, which has now spread beyond Bush to us all, Kerry’s hopeful words hold no solace.

Last update:  July 15, 2005.

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