Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Comment: 11/20/02 Op Ed piece for the Saugatuck, MI Commercial Record

I suppose almost everyone has read George Orwell’s novel, 1984, never thinking that such a state of affairs could ever exist outside of the Soviet Union.

As I look around me, watch TV news and talk shows, read the papers, and contemplate what I observe, the more I am struck by how much like the early stages of Goldstein’s society must have been like. The world is slowly but inexorably moving to a three state international world. And how is it taking place?

Since September 11, 2001, we have been continually reminded of the presence of terror and terrorists “out there” as well as at home; we have been told repeatedly that in order to deal with and defeat terrorism, it is necessary to resort to secret tribunals, secret detentions, and secret information. Such has been the thrust of the Bush administration’s argument and action.

I am disturbed by the apparent capture of the Presidency by the very conservative right, which is highly nationalistic, parochial, and contemptuous of public opinion. Such individuals have filled in most of the key advisory positions around the President, and now that the Republicans have captured the entire Congress as well as the Presidency, may well soon include the Supreme Court.

Now we have not only terrorists such as Usama bin Laden to deal with, with his Al Queda terror network. Now we have Saddam Hussein as the focus. It isn’t enough that we have to fight the terrorists; we are told that now we must, if necessary, mount a pre-emptive strike against Iraq.

Why? It is alleged that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction; chemical, biological and nuclear. No doubt they do. It is claimed that Iraq presents a “clear and present danger” to the United States, its friends and allies, the Mid East in general. It is claimed that the United Nations must act through the Security Council, but will in any event act alone if necessary.

This watcher wants to know: Why Iraq now? Where is the concrete evidence that Iraq has the capability of delivering WMD to the U.S.? Where is the concrete evidence that Iraq has reconstituted its WMD program, and has made significant progress in their development? Why is diplomacy, through the United Nations, seen as such a weak approach? And, I have to add: what, if any, is the connection between the financial interest of Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush and the matter of Mid-east oil? There may be none, but it would be interesting to explore this line of inquiry. It is to be recalled that both, at one time or another, have been closely associated with domestic oil production and distribution corporations!

The press has been less than forthcoming in it’s pursuit of the truth, apparently willing to accept the Minister of Information Arie Fleisher’s word, or Minister of Military Planning Rumsfeld’s briefings. Oh, yes, the reporters ask questions, but they don’t seem to be able to pursue them to the core.

There are some who try, and valiantly speak and write, but in the background noise surrounding these events can be heard the words “traitor”, “un-American” and similar epithets. Not loud, not many, but they are there, and they are disturbing, to say the least.

Since when has it been unpatriotic to ask questions of the government? Since when has it been a treasonable act to express disagreement with policy.? One of the fundamental rights in a free society is the freedom of expression, freedom of speech, which includes a free press. Are we approaching the Alien and Sedition Acts of John Adams’ administration? The words of Attorney General Ashcroft do seem to lead in that direction.

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