First, some fundamentals on the subject of "representative democracy,"* our source "The Scientific Solution of the Problem of Government" by the "Comte de Fenix."** In pertinent part:
"1.The average voter is a moron. He believes what he reads in newspapers,*** feeds his imagination and lulls his repressions on the cinema, and hopes to break away from his slavery by football pools, cross-word prizes, or spotting the winner of the 3.30.****
He is ignorant as no illiterate peasant is ignorant: he has no power of Independent thought. He is the prey of panic.
But he has the vote.
2. The men in power can only govern by stampeding him into wars, playing on his fears and prejudices until he acquiesces in repressive legislation against his obvious interests, playing on his vanity until he is totally blind to his own misery and serfdom.
The alternative method is undisguised dragooning. In brief, we govern by a mixture of lying and bullying."
So much for fundamentals; on, just this once!, at ridiculous but perhaps illuminating length, to current events.
For reasons of politics (among politicians of both parties) and incompetence (among, well, everybody), there's a lot of nonsense floating around about Iraq these days. For the sake of posterity, and the minuscule few of you reading this, a review of the facts as best I understand (and am willing to post about)***** them.
After running on an anti-interventionist platform in the 2000 elections (claiming he didn't believe in the U.S. as world policeman, or in engaging in "nation building" overseas; claiming he opposed ever committing U.S. military forces without clear goals and a timetable for withdrawal), George W. Bush began preparing for war with Iraq in his first foreign policy meeting, immediately after his inauguration (Jan-Feb 2001; source: former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neal, in Ron Suskind's book; in the same meeting, btw, and allegedly to Colin Powell's visible horror, Bush also announced that the U.S. could do nothing about the Arab-Israeli situation, and decided to let the Israelis do whatever they liked to settle the matter...arguably a prescription for turmoil in the middle east).******
After the September, 2001 Al Qaida terror attacks in the U.S., Bush tried to go after Iraq immediately; we have not only Richard Clarke's word for this, but the C-SPAN appearance (at the time) of longtime analyst Anthony Cordesman, warning that he had never seen such a push on to attack a country without clear justification. This proved difficult -- one writer has compared it to FDR responding to the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by invading and occupying Mexico ;) -- so they went first after the Taliban in Afghanistan, among whose many other crimes was the harboring of Osama bin Laden. This attack had nearly universal support (including, btw, from yours truly -- I wish Clinton had done it in the '90s, though given the constant GOP attacks on him I understand his hands were tied). Bush also announced that we were in a world war, fighting terrorism in sixty countries, and that this war could last the rest of all our lives. To the criticism of many (including, albeit quietly, some few brave souls in his own party), Bush refused to do what every other President had done in such circumstances: raise a war tax, institute a draft, and the like. Indeed, he actually rammed through massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and reassured everyone that, contrary to every lesson of history, world wars can be won virtually sacrifice-free.
(This is when I started referring to "cocaine government," btw -- based on seeing my late father's use of that dangerous and illegal drug in his last years. I don't mean to suggest that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, etc., are actually using the stuff...but they certainly act like those who do: entertaining impossibly grandiose schemes with a total inability to envision possible difficulties; responding to naysayers with a savage and bitter fury; spending money like lunatics, and dealing with increasingly obvious failure by jacking their chemically-inflated egos further and further to the skies. You get the idea. To quote cocaine addict Crowley once again, "Damn the man that isolated cocaine!")
Lap dissolve, it's a year later, Bush is the savior of Afghanistan...and as the November 2002 Congressional elections near, guaranteeing cowardice from the opposition Democrats, the administration begins to sell an attack on Iraq to the American public and the world. There was bipartisan consensus that Hussein's Iraq was a regional threat -- hence the decade-plus of brutal sanctions against the country, under Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II -- and nearly universal certainty that Iraq had at least some biological and chemical weapons (hence Agency Director George Tenet's infamous "slam-dunk" comment). This was not, however, enough to sell Americans, much less the world, on the notion of aggressive war against an enemy who clearly posed no credible threat to the U.S. itself.******** To get the war which they had (contrary to election promises) wanted even before assuming office, they were going to have to scare the American people -- and the world, if they could -- into going along.
[Concluded in Part 2.]
* Equally true of dictatorships, btw. Even absolute dictatorships have to "sell" their populaces to some extent; fear alone is frequently insufficient, particularly in controversial circumstances.
** The said "Comte" was, of course, Aleister Crowley; the piece written in the 1930s or '40s, if memory serves; it's reprinted in the exceptionally fine posthumous collection The Revival of Magick and other essays, edited by Hymenaeus Beta and Richard Kaczynski. AC also noted that the businessmen who ran the world (ca. the 1940s, and this is a paraphrase from memory) betray their countr[ies] as a matter of obvious routine -- clearly true when he wrote it (as major U.S. industrialists helped Hitler to fight America), arguably truer today than at any time since then. Anyway, for a divine oddball, pretty insightful guy, that AC. ;)
*** How much worse, then, in the age of television. Let alone FOX "News"!: a partisan outlet (owned by rightwing nut Rupert Murdoch, run by GOP political operative Roger Ailes) in the full-time business of hypnotizing people -- occasionally even otherwise intelligent people -- into becoming morons. This is far from unprecedented; the Soviet Union did it as a matter of course, as do many third world nations; but in this country, such overt propaganda has been less common in the past fifty years or so.
**** Modern translation: "by winning the lottery."
***** I don't write everything I'm thinking here, of course. In particular, it's not impossible that the current destruction of American power was deliberate in some circles...and if so, them's the sort of people I have no great wish to antagonize.
****** I don't pretend to understand his personal motives: outdoing (and/or avenging) his dad, grabbing oil on the cheap, bringing the light of laissez faire capitalism (clearly not democracy) and/or Jesus Christ to the middle east, causing Armageddon...who knows? He also demoted terrorism advisor Richard Clarke, and sank his action plan for dealing with Al Qaida, thus giving paranoids a field day eight months later, after 9/11...as did the pre-2000 "Defense of the Realm" plan for defending Israel, prepared for Israeli politicians by folks subsequently employed by the current administration. Ain't going near any of that stuff, neither. Sorry.
******** Indeed, even when Hussein definitely had stockpiles of WMD's, and was under actual invasion by U.S. ground forces in 1991...he didn't use them. Difficult threat to sell, that one.