The Military Option
After a string of political setbacks, the talking heads are now guessing how Bush will respond. But the predictions and political advice are all based to some degree on the erroneous assumption that Bush is capable of acknowledging mistakes and changing direction. If he has proven anything, it is that he does not have the capacity to learn from his mistakes.
Bush has already demonstrated that the only mistake he sees – in the treasonous outing of a CIA agent for instance – is in the fact that ‘Scooter’ Libby was caught and indicted. He made that much clear when both he and Cheney lavishly praised the traitor afterwards. Can you imagine George Washington praising Benedict Arnold for his service after the latter handed over West Point to the British? What ‘Scooter’ handed over to our enemies was potentially just as damaging. I have no doubt that ‘Scooter’ has been promised a presidential pardon when he’s convicted, as a reward for keeping his mouth shut. Just as his father did with all the Iran/Contra felons.
The administration must take it as a kind of victory - inasmuch as Rove, who was no doubt the mastermind behind this act of treason, got away with outing Valerie Plame’s identity to only two reporters, vs. the six times for Libby. Fitzgerald isn't a bad guy, but he seems to have lost his nerve at the last minute. Who knows what threats the administration made behind the scene - only that it would be out of character if they didn't. Apparently our legal system is like basketball - you have to commit treason on at least five separate occasions before fouling out of the game. Right-wingers are spinning it a legal technicality, as if lying about revealing the name of a CIA agent and thereby endangering national security, wasn’t quite as significant as lying about having sex with an intern. As far as I’m concerned, those now trying to cover-up for these traitors, by minimizing what they have done, are just as much traitors to their country.
Face the facts: this is not an administration with a few bad apples. This is an administration that, like a dead fish, was rotten from the head down. Libby might have led an honest life if he hadn’t gotten entangled with the Bush mafia.
That’s also why calls for Bush to shake up his administration and turn over a new leaf miss the point entirely. The problem is with Bush. The real problem is his character. Bush is a skilled liar and crook who has led a consistently corrupt and checkered past. More recently he stole the presidency in 2000, and nothing has changed since then.
The real problem is that the same corporate media that recently conspired with Bush to cover up all the facts in the outing of a CIA agent, had previously conspired with him to sell the American people on an image that has nothing to do with the facts. As a result, people still want to believe that either he’s a decent president who’s been ill-advised or badly served by others, or that he’s too stupid to know what’s going on in his own administration. Neither is the case.
Bush is basically a thief who’s out to steal as much as he possibly can from the government and the American people. That hasn’t changed at all, and as with any other thief, this isn’t going to change unless/until he’s put in jail. So if he has to out a few more CIA agents, in order to cover-up all the lies he told in order to drag this country into a war that was really all about oil reserves, government contracts and gaining political advantage, than so be it. The oil companies are reporting record windfall profits, Halliburton has never had more no-bid contracts, Republicans are raking in more corporate bribes than ever before and he still controls the most powerful office in the world. Mission accomplished.
The question that the media should be asking is this: If this president doesn’t see anything wrong with outing a CIA agent and endangering national security (and clearly he doesn’t, in spite of any false apologies he may be forced to issue in the future), than what does that say about our future? The real question is not whether or not this administration is capable of rehabilitating itself, because clearly it is not. The question becomes – how low is he willing to sink in order to salvage his power and political influence? Something that the outing of a CIA agent demonstrated is that Bush’s real edge has always been his willingness to sink much lower than other politicians to achieve his political ends.
We really cannot look to other presidents to find out what they did when they were in this much political trouble, because Bush is not like other presidents. We have to think outside the box, because up until now, we have been realtively fortunate in our choice of leaders. Though we can look at the president who Bush is most like, and at what he almost did in a similar situation.
Even today, few people realize that just before resigning his office, Richard Nixon almost dragged this country into military dictatorship. If it had not been for people in his own administration who acted to stop him, he might have succeeded.
"Defense Secretary James Schlesinger requested a tight watch in the military chain of command to ensure that no extraordinary orders went out from the White House during the period of uncertainty (and) that no commanders of any forces should carry out orders which came from the White House, or elsewhere, outside the normal military channels."
If Nixon was crazy enough to do something like that, fortunately he was also crazy enough not to have covered all his bases. I doubt that Bush/Rove would make the same mistake. Was it just a coincidence that on the most recent day of uncertainty last Friday, when nobody knew for sure who or how far up the special prosecutor Fitzgerald was going to indict, that the Washington Post reported how both Bush and Cheney fled Washington, and flew off to the safety of a military base? I would like to think so, though I don’t entirely believe it.
It doesn’t seem likely that Bush’s failed policies in Iraq and at home will turn around any time soon, inasmuch as they are based upon lies, deception and theft. Like a fish that can’t stop rotting – this administration will just keep stinking more and more, and become that more desperate. We have a corrupt, one-party government, and the system of checks and balances is no longer working.
So what happens if there is another terrorist attack - one much more deadly than before? Is Bush the sort of man to take full political advantage, and declare martial law? Having already pushed through the Patriot Act after 9-11, we know that he is. Is he the sort of man who would lie to the country in order to get us into a war for political gain? He already has. Is he the sort of man to use fear to solidify his base of support. He does it every day.
So the real question, with over three more years to go, is not whether Bush is willing use the military option, but how, when and if he can effectively use it to secure and maximize his hold on power. Because the sytem of checks and balances isn't working anymore, and the media is in the president's back pocket, and because the nation has moved so much further to the right in recent years, Bush stands a much better chance of transforming the United States into a military dictatorship, or some quasi right-wing/religious police state, than Nixon ever had.