Red alert

Thursday, January 15th, 2004

“The trappings of a state of siege trap us in a state of fear …”

Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis open up their new collection of essays with the extraordinary speech — “A Prayer for America” — that Dennis Kucinich delivered two years ago, when the wound of 9/11 was fresh and the Bush Administration had just begun to serve notice how it intended to exploit it.

Reading Kucinich’s words again, and the 50-plus essays that follow it in “George W. Bush vs. the Superpower of Peace,” all of them chronicling events that unfolded after the 2000 election, leaves me reeling anew from the hits we’ve taken as a nation since W assumed control of the office he lost.

The two authors, whose investigative pieces originally appeared in the alternative publications Columbus Alive and the Columbus Free Press, have been around a long time, writing and agitating for peace, economic justice and a sane energy policy, among other things. Their book is unstinting in its critique of the Bush crew, dredging up its covert agenda and creepy connections to shadowy neo-fascists like the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and patiently countering three years of bald-faced lies.

If you want polite political discourse, stay away from this book, but check it out if you’d like a little perspective on the next troubling revelation about this presidency that inevitably will flicker in the mainstream media. You’re less likely to be surprised.

“My assessment is, these guys are sowing the seeds of their ultimate demise,” Wasserman said to me the other day. “The question is, how soon?”

Since our conversation, the country has learned, by way of former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, that President Bush is out of it in a C-student sort of way — “disengaged” is the delicate term being used — with nothing of substance to contribute either to Cabinet meetings or one-on-one conversations with his underlings. But he was a true believer in the war
with Iraq well before 9/11 supplied him with a bogus pretext for it.

Next, a veteran defense specialist, Jeffrey Record, in a report published by no less a source than the Army War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, called the war with Iraq unrealistic and pointless, indeed, a military disaster, Hitlerian in the scale of its overreach. It could lead us into further conflicts with countries that pose no threat and has pushed the U.S. Army “near the breaking point.”

Finally, former Nixon staffer Kevin Phillips, a well-credentialed Republican commentator, writing in the Los Angeles Times about the Bush family dynasty, sounded this alarm: “Between now and the November election, it’s crucial that Americans come to understand how four generations of the current president’s family have embroiled the United States in the Middle East through CIA connections, arms shipments, inherited war policies and personal financial links.”

My God, here are members of Bush’s own party and the defense community, not merely breaking ranks but waving frantically, warning us that their own guy and the fanatics and shameless profiteers around him are leading us to disaster.

Orange alert? Try red alert!

All of which leads me back to the words of Kucinich, congressman of rare courage, who stood against the tide of fear and anger at a time when almost all of his Democratic colleagues held their noses and voted for the USA Patriot Act and later gave the unelected Bush regime carte blanche to go to war with the world.

Wasserman and Fitrakis, by reprising his speech in their new book, signal that cynicism, fear, special interests and allegiance to revealed truth need not be the glue that holds this republic together.

This is a nation built on principle — principle that is alive in the documents and music at its core: My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Please listen to the words, said Kucinich. We stand
for something other than a steady flow of oil, profits for Halliburton and designated “free speech zones” for the rest of us.

“George W. Bush vs. the Superpower of Peace” is a prosecutor’s summation of the evidence against leadership that has betrayed us. It is also a stake in the ground, a cry of “Enough!” It’s time to put our principles to work against the threat to peace — ours and everyone else’s — the Bush administration has become.

If you’re reading this, the buck stops here.