Are we just wired different? That’s how some explain the widely disparate opinions and beliefs of people. But, of course, it’s not hardware that explains the political differences in the electorate. It’s software. And even my software is not that different from yours. Modify the program a bit or plug in some new or different data and maybe I’ll think like you.
Or maybe I’d think like Zell Miller who was livid with anger at the Republican Convention as he claimed that, “motivated by partisan politics, today’s Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator”, and accused Senator Kerry of voting against a list of weapons systems. On the other hand, how would Miller’s thinking machine have handled the information that George W. Bush himself had recently and repeatedly referred to “the U.S. occupation of Iraq”, or that Dick Cheney (who hypocritically smiled and applauded Miller’s attack) had himself publicly urged Congress against funding those same weapons systems when Cheney was the Defense Secretary? Did Miller think about the fact that George W. Bush didn’t weigh in for the record at that time on those weapons systems because he was still struggling under a cloud of alcohol and drug abuse, and overlooking accounting scandals for which he was responsible at Harken Energy Corporation? Harken went belly-up right after Dubya unloaded his shares on unsuspecting investors for big bucks.
With a different software program, I might think like those partisans who have permitted, and even participated in the vicious personal and political attacks on the patriotism of combat veterans like ex-Senator Max Cleland, a triple amputee grievously wounded in Viet Nam, like Senator John McCain, a prisoner of war for five years, like Senator John Kerry, who received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts for combat service, like Senator Daniel Inouye, a WWII vet and Medal of Honor recipient, like Senator George McGovern, who flew combat missions in Europe and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross while actor Ronnie Reagan was making films in Hollywood. And maybe I wouldn’t be so sick of, and angry at those wrong-wing chicken-hawk neo-con Republican politicians who managed to draft dodge the entire twelve years of war in Viet Nam and then had the nerve to lie and slander these heroes with outrageous charges of being ‘soft on defense’. Have these Machiavellian phonies no honor? Have they no shame?
Two full years ago, six months before the invasion of Iraq began, when I had much less data to consider than we have available now, I wrote, in this column, that “Targeting Iraq, when no evidence exists and none of the hijackers were Iraqi …” would be a misdirection that indicates “… that the Bush Administration is off course and heading us for the rocks… In the months to come,” I warned then, “do not forget how a reluctant Congress was persuaded in 1964 by a lie about an incident in the Gulf of Tonkin that never happened, fabricated by the Secretary of Defense and the CIA, to pass a resolution authorizing the use of combat forces in Vietnam.” Now that we all know that both of the two specific original reasons advanced by the Administration to justify pre-emptive invasion of Iraq were false, where is the accountability? When America goes to war, we cannot allow it to be a cynically speculative enterprise where persons entrusted with the responsibility figure out the supposed reasons, and make up new ones at will, after the bombs and the bodies start falling.
Terrorism is horrific to contemplate, and wreaks cruel tragedies on immediate victims. But terrorism by itself cannot threaten the strength or existence of a nation or its government. It is the response to terror that can threaten or protect the nation. Terrorism is insidious because fear can grow like a cancer in the populace. The greatest danger of terrorism is that this fear can be manipulated, nurtured and exploited. The Nazis employed and exploited terrorism against their own people to replace the German Republic with the Third Reich. There are three warning signs. One is the constant official and media reminders of fearful terror. Two is the convoluted stretch of logic connecting a war on terror to any and every official action. Three is the constant repetition of lies. When those in charge of a state get hooked on the rush of unbridled power and blank checks they get from it, terrorism becomes their drug of choice, and it becomes their object to exploit terror rather than to effectively combat it.
The Administration’s handling of, and actions in Iraq should be evaluated in this light. To the full extent that it is possible to prove a negative, there is no link between 9-11 and Iraq. And no evidence has ever been found that WMD’s existed in Iraq in the months prior to the invasion. The real clues to the invasion of Iraq can be found in the papers of the Project for a New American Century, written by the neo-cons before 9-11 ever happened. It’s time for a fresh, closer look at the data and at our programming.
September 23, 2004