President Bush Shares Many Characteristics of Tyrants

Sherwood Ross

Increasingly, President Bush demonstrates he has much in common with history’s tyrants. Here are 10 areas worth examining:

First, tyrants believe themselves superior to others. Hitler considered Germans "the master race."  President Bush and his backers would deny it, but their actions show they think Americans inherently better than other peoples. Republicans jeered the United Nations at their Convention. Bush rejects the global warming treaty and scorns the Geneva Conventions. Domestically, Republicans demonize liberals and seek to legalize the status of lesbians and gays as inferiors. Bush’s hatchet men impugned Senator Kerry’s Vietnam War record just as the Nazis claimed Jewish veterans did not deserve the medals they won in World War One.  

Second, tyrants tend to be congenital liars.  Bush lied about Iraq’s threat to America just as Hitler lied when he claimed German nationals living in Czechoslovakia were mistreated; just as he lied when he said Poland attacked Germany first in 1939. The UN told Bush there was no WMD in Iraq, yet Bush made war. An estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilians are dead so far because of it. Bush also lied when he claimed "we do not torture" prisoners of war. And there are numerous cases from generals to accountants to health care experts who have been fired or demoted by Bush for truthful speech.

Third, tyrants will use a "crisis" to grab total power. After the massacre of 9/11, President Bush pushed through the Patriot Act. Recall 1933, when Hitler declared a "state of national emergency" after the Reichstag (Parliament) fire, which likely was set by the Nazis. The new law gives Bush the power to arrest any American citizen. Of the thousands of prisoners in U.S. custody, few have been allowed lawyers and few, if any, trial dates been set for them, even for hundreds held over three years. The President also arbitrarily violates laws that protect individual privacy of the American people. He is reported to have said the Constitution "is only a scrap of paper."

Fourth, dictators resort to torture. President Bush has named his Attornew General Alberto Gonzales, the man who rationalized the torture of Muslim captives. The U.S. is also flying prisoners to Egypt for torture to keep them out of Red Cross oversight. The CIA, an agency with a history of teaching torture techniques, will not allow the Red Cross to enter its compound in Kabul. Bush has turned back the clock to the Spanish Inquisition.

Fifth, dictators, like Hitler, tend to make serial wars. Soviet Russia’s Stalin attacked Finland, Poland, and Hungary. Japan struck Korea, Manchuria, China, America, and U.K. One war is never enough for a tyrant. Recall Napoleon told Europeans he would liberate them from tyrants, only to put his relatives on their thrones. Having set Iraq ablaze, Bush now threatens Syria, Iran and North Korea. He has shocked much of the world by considering the "option" of using a nuclear weapon against Iran.

Sixth, dictators are notorious for their closed mindedness. They ignore their critics. Japan and Germany walked out of the League of Nations rather than respond to the charges against them. Bush doesn’t listen to critics, either. The Pope denounced America’s war on Iraq as immoral. The UN Secretary-General called it "illegal." Millions the world over protested it. And a majority of Americans call it wrong.

Seventh, huge military spending is another characteristic of tyrannies. In the Thirties, Germany, Japan and Soviet Russia lavished a high percentage of their gross national product on their war machines. Today, America spends more on armaments than all other nations combined. Dictators tend to be indifferent to the domestic needs of their publics. Bush proposes funding cuts from education to housing to Social Security to veterans’ benefits. But the Pentagon’s budget is at a record high. The Bush war machine is pouring perhaps $500-billion taxpayers’ dollars a year down military rat holes. Pentagon spending on research and development currently is $1.5-trillion for 80 new diabolical weapons systems.

Eighth, tyrants don’t respect the sovereignty of other nations. Bush rationalized his attack on Iraq as "preventive war." This is a euphemism for "aggression." Bush has given the Pentagon a green light to drop troops into other countries in pursuit of terrorists, sovereignty be damned, and operates 700 military bases in 130 countries. The CIA thinks it can kidnap any individual anywhere in the world, as it did in Italy, and transport captives via any airport.

Ninth, tyrants have double standards. Bush declares he’s for "freedom" but forges alliances with the heads of Red China, Saudi Arabia, and several former Soviet Republics where citizens have zero rights. He warns Iran not to build a nuclear bomb while he scraps treaties to make America’s nuclear arsenal even more lethal. Bush claims to be a Christian yet his military starts wars and commits atrocities.

Tenth, dictatorships engage in outright suppression or manipulation of the news. The Bush Administration has paid off newsmen to plug its achievements, sent out video press releases disguised as news stories, and even planted an imitation journalist in the White House press corps to pitch "softball" questions at the President. Bush also prevents the photographing of GI caskets coming home from Iraq. His is the most secretive Administration in the nation's history.

© 2006 by Sherwood Ross

Sherwood Ross contributes to national magazines and publicizes worthy causes.
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