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Bush's Willing Executioners

America Betrayed by Cowardly Citizens

By Ted Rall

07/02/03: PITTSBURGH--Today's version of the heroic Nathan Hale would fall to his knees, beg for mercy, and swear fealty to the British crown. A 21st century Patrick Henry would no doubt argue that homeland security trumps personal liberty. Benedict Arnold would make the rounds of the TV talk shows, lauded as an "heroic pragmatist." In a land of wimps, the dimwit is king--such is the dismal state of post-9/11 America.

As George W. Bush's aristocorporate junta runs roughshod over hard-earned freedoms, as his lunatic-right Administration loots $10 trillion from the national treasury, as his armies invade sovereign nations without cause, as he threatens war against imagined enemies while allowing real ones to build nuclear weapons, those charged with standing against these perversions of American values remain appallingly, inexplicably silent.

We have become a nation of cowards, and I am ashamed.

Where are the Democrats? Under our two-party system it is their patriotic duty to represent the opinions and beliefs of their constituents, who are mostly liberal. That responsibility becomes an urgent necessity when the GOP, in firm control of all three branches of government, abandons a proud tradition of conservatism in favor of outright fascism. With the exception of a few principled men like Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), leading Democrats have made little or no effort to stymie Bush's agenda, launch a real investigation of 9/11 or appoint a special prosecutor to go after the WMD scandal. To their eternal dishonor 82 Democratic Congressmen and 29 Senators voted for the invasion of Iraq--this despite the pleas of millions of demonstrators. Among the nine leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, only two have made opposition to runaway militarism a staple of their stump speech.

Easily spooked and even more easily fooled, Democratic leaders are neither leading nor acting like Democrats. Thirty years of political duck-and-cover has brought them to the brink of irrelevance. Far more damning, they have abandoned their rightful role as loyal opponents.

Where is the left? The radical theoreticians who provided the intellectual rationale for opposition to the Vietnam War--Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, et al--are touring the nation's universities, each pushing books and promoting their personal "brand" to youthful idealists. Former leftist Christopher Hitchens, who so desperately wanted to fit into the new paradigm that he endorsed attacking Iraq, has been reduced to insisting that weapons of mass destruction will turn up someday. Probably.

Unlike Saddam, Bush needn't cut out his opponents' tongues. They're keeping silent on their own.

It may be nave to pose the question, but where are the principled Republicans? Not long ago, conservative leaders trudged down from Capitol Hill to tell an embattled Richard Nixon that he could no longer count on their support. Now the moderate, fiscally responsible Republicans one might expect to stand up to Bush's fiscal depredations--men like John McCain, Bob Dole and George Pataki--remain mute as their party and nation are hijacked by fanatics. Bush's rich man's welfare will cost the average U.S. citizen $500,000 over the next decade--isn't that the kind of government waste Republicans are supposed to deplore?

Partisan politics are so dead that the American resistance is entrusted by default into the unlikely hands of the same intelligence establishment that poisoned Fidel's cigars. Every day brings startling revelations from angry CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency spymasters: despite what Bush said over and over again, there was never any proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the trailers Bush claimed were mobile chemical weapons labs were no such thing, and Colin Powell presented, in the UN, evidence on Iraq that he privately considered doctored and unreliable. The recent DIA leak of a November 2002 analysis shows that intelligence experts believed that Saddam Hussein  would never use WMDs--even if he had them--unless "regime survival was imminently threatened." The Iraqis would use them only "in extreme circumstances," the report said, "because their use would confirm Iraq's evasion of UN restrictions."

Where is the outrage? Even though it's painfully clear that Bush lied about the WMDs, even though daily ambushes of American troops indicate that the war is far from over, a CBS News poll shows that 62 percent of Americans still support Bush's con job on Iraq. "The president is 99 percent safe on this one," says Newt Gingrich.

Protestors who demonstrated against the war before it began ought to be energized by the WMD scandal, but the streets of Washington are quiet. Editors who parroted the Administration's lies, given the chance to redeem themselves now, downplay the latest Slaughtergate news. An army colonel e-mails, urging me to keep asking questions, yet confesses, "I'm keeping my thoughts to myself and waiting until I retire to get the hell out of here." Daniel Goldhagen's controversial 1996 book "Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust" pointed out an obvious truth: that the Nazis could never have triumphed, retained power or gotten anything done without the explicit complicity of the people they ruled. Therefore, Goldhagen argued--and thoughtful people agree--the failure of the German people to resist Hitler made them just as guilty as he was.

How will history judge us?

(Ted Rall is the author of "Gas War: The Truth Behind the American Occupation of Afghanistan," an analysis of the underreported Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project and the real motivations behind the war on terrorism. Ordering information is available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.)

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