No I am not talking about the philosophical treatise by Christian existentialist Søren Kierkegaard; I am talking about President George W. Bush’s continued strategy to sell the Iraq war as a vital component of our national security and our need to combat terrrorism.
AMNESTY International yesterday launched a scathing attack on the United States, accusing it of trampling on human rights, and using the world as “a giant battlefield” in its “war on terror”. The human rights group charged that the war in Iraq and the politics of fear being spread by the Bush administration around the globe were fuelling deep international divisions. Of course the report did not seem to phase Mr. Bush and in fact he used his usual arsenal of fear mongering and actually stepped it up a notch in a speech yesterday and a press conference today.
Yesterday President Bush wasn’t just talking to the cadets at the graduation at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy; he was shamelessly manipulating the public in an attempt to evoke fear and trembling in the American people who no longer believe his neo-conservative based pack of lies about why we are in Iraq.
Although he didn’t acknowledge those wielding signs and disapproval just outside the gates, when the president went on about al-Qaeda linking the group repeatedly with the war in Iraq – he seemed to be addressing the growing number of people in the country who no longer support his fight. He wants the American people to retain their post-9/11 worry about terrorism.
President Bush wants the disenchanted American people to believe that Iraq is the potential stage for international terrorists. He wants them to support “fighting them across the world so we do not have to fight them at home.”
“In the minds of al-Qaeda leaders, 9/11 was just a down payment on violence yet to come,” Mr. Bush stated during the commencement speech. “It is tempting to believe that the calm here at home after 9/11 means that the danger to our country has passed,” he said continuing during his “scare” diatribe.
Much of the intelligence information Mr. Bush cited in his speech described terrorism plots already revealed. But he cherry picked and declassified information to flesh out details and highlight U.S. successes in foiling planned attacks orchestrated by Osama bin Laden.
The assertion that Osama bin Laden is thought to be communicating with insurgents in Iraq is not new. But President Bush sought to infuse it with details. He said intelligence officials believed bin Laden had asked another top terror operative, Hamza Rabia, to help Abu Musab al-Zarqawi develop his terrorist cell by providing him with a briefing about Al Qaeda’s “external operations,” including information on attacks planned on American soil. Mr. Bush said another senior Qaeda leader, Abu Faraj al-Libi, at one point suggested that Mr. bin Laden send Mr. Rabia himself to Iraq, with the idea that “Al Qaeda might one day prepare the majority of its external operations from Iraq.”
Mr. Bush has long contended that withdrawing from Iraq would create a vacuum that would let Al Qaeda flourish, and he reiterated that argument on Wednesday, saying, “We are at a pivotal moment in this battle.” He painted a picture of a deepening terrorist threat even as he said Al Qaeda had been repeatedly thwarted by the United States and its allies. In actuality- most of the thwarted efforts against terrorism have been accomplished by out allies.
As I watched the speech I was revolted by the blatant use of the politics of fear. The line that shocked me was “Here in America, we are living in the eye of a storm,” he said. “All around us, dangerous winds are swirling and these winds could reach our shores at any moment.” What a cynical manipulative ploy to grasp at a last hope to revive public support of his “folly” in Iraq- a “folly” that has made us more vulnerable and less safe. I use the word folly- but it is really a disaster- an unmitigated disaster. Mr. Bush is, to use his own administration’s words, in his “last throes”.
If there are any dangerous winds swirling, they are of Mr. Bush’s making. Thomas Sanderson, a terrorism specialist at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies, called Mr. Bush’s argument “completely ridiculous,” and said Iraq would not have become a training ground for Al Qaeda had the United States not invaded. “We created the biggest terrorism training ground known, which is Iraq,” he said.
In “The Assault on Reason” by Former Vice President Al Gore seems to offer an elegant critique and direct indictment of Mr. Bush’s presidency. His statements that hat the president ignored “clear warnings” about the terrorist threat before 9/11 and that it has made Americans less safe by “stirring up a hornets’ nest in Iraq,” while using “the language and politics of fear” to try to “drive the public agenda without regard to the evidence, the facts or the public interest” about sums it up.
Mr. Gore continues his well documented critique, according to Michiko Kakutani’s “New York Times” review of the book by stating that the administration’s pursuit of unilateralism abroad, has isolated the United States in an ever more dangerous world.
One would think that Mr. Bush would have been sated with his need to stir up the dust of fear in yesterday’s speech but no- he continued it today in his Rose Garden Press conference.
At his press conference, Mr Bush himself yielded not one inch of ground to his critics – even when a reporter directly challenged his credibility as commander-in-chief in a four-year war that has taken the lives of more than 3,400 US servicemen, and tens – perhaps hundreds – of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Instead he reiterated his familiar arguments: that Iraq was better off without Saddam; that America must stay on the offensive; and that it was better to take on al-Qaeda in Iraq than on US soil.
“These people attacked us before we went into Iraq,” said Mr Bush. A US withdrawal would merely embolden al-Queda in its efforts to restore the caliphate, “if they could say they drove great, soft America out of the region”.
Mr. Bush knows there is no connection between 9/11 and Iraq- he has admitted it on occasion. But it doesn’t stop him from hinting at a connection in a sleazy and cynical ploy that is a propaganda trick. He doesn’t directly link it- because he will be called a liar, but in infers it so it sinks into the consciousness of the American people.
Maybe this president mangles the English language- but he is a master in the use of the language of fear and is a first rate propagandist.