From Liberty Street: Bush's Dream

If you were to hire the world's consummate schemer and ask him to design a program to insure that the war on terror lasts forever, he would be sure to come up with something pretty close to the current foreign policy of the United States. There has never been an American politician who needed anything more than George Bush needs the war on terror. He has to have it or else his dream will crumble to dust.

Without the war on terror, Bush would have no chance to achieve his goal of a topdown country where the majority of the population is placid and dull-minded, living on a marginal income and ruled over by an oligarchy possessed of greater wealth than has ever before been accumulated in the history of the world. It's a Wal-Mart vision of paradise.

When people want a conflict to be brought to a close, the first thing they concentrate on is the enemy's source of power. And then they ask themselves how that source can be depleted. This is the very opposite of what the Bush administration has done. If anybody asks who it is that is threatening us nowadays, and what their foundation is, the Republicans deploy against him legions of attack dog propagandists, who impugn his love of country and insinuate that he is a traitor to the United States. There is only one thing to be known about the enemy. He is insanely evil, so much so that even to wonder whether he has motives that might be used against him is to commit treason.

Bush doesn't want anybody monkeying around with his war. He's got to have it, and he will defend its continuance with any weapons at his disposal, no matter how vicious they are. There's a rationality in this because if Bush didn't have the war on terror, what would he have? How would he be seen? The answers are obvious. It's hard to think of a major politician in American history who can be viewed as pathetic as Bush would be if he didn't have demagoguery about the war on terror to support him. Even James Buchanan rises to majesty beside that picture.

The message from Osama bin Laden this week, suggesting a long-term truce, has created a tiny ripple of speculation on the internet. But, of course, it has not washed into the principal media because they know if they  reported on it they would make themselves targets of unrelenting government denunciation. We seem to be pretty well beyond the time in this country when the media will actually stand up against the governmental power structure on a vital issue.

I may be putting myself in danger by saying this, but it seems to me that Osama is fairly shrewd. When he releases a message, he is speaking not to the people of the United States, who are so much under the influence of a government-induced hysteria they can't begin to hear what he said. He is speaking rather to the people of the world, and he's positioning himself to be seen as a more rational man than the president of the United States. That's because he knows that his own power depends on maintaining reservoirs of respect all around the world. He needs sanctuaries where his associates can operate effectively. And the more he speaks in a way the world regards as sensible the more those sanctuaries will be be extended. And right now, he's doing it effectively. Mr. Bush, by contrast, has persistently shown nothing but contempt for the opinion of the rest of the world.  But then, you've got to remember, Bush has a different gig from Osama. The president's power source lies in the befuddlement of a majority of the American people.

If a government really wanted to do away with terrorism, it would be trying everything it could to penetrate those sanctuaries and gain influence there. Instead, the U.S. government does everything it can to harden them, persistently dropping bombs we know will kill women and children, which  provide Osama with the popular rage he needs  for persisting in his struggle.

It's hard to say who needs the war on terror more, Bush or Osama. In actuality, they have formed the kind of alliance now that the Soviet and the American military establishments formed forty years ago. It's working pretty well for them. But, for the rest of us, it's murder.

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