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13 March 2002
Yes, democracy is under attack by religious fundamentalists led by the son of an oil-millionaire who wants to impose his will on the rest of the world. No, I'm not talking about Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. It's Bush Jr. and the Christian Right I'm worried about.
As if the discovery of Bush's shadow government last week wasn't horrifying enough, now comes the Pentagon s nuclear hit list laying out contingency plans for attacking seven countries. That right. In the latest example of Bush's characteristic style of secret and unilateral governing, the Pentagon has called not only for the development of smaller nuclear weapons, but has even opened up the possibility of using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries. This retreat from using nuclear weapons only as a deterrent is a return to a pre-Cold War era that threatens to reduce political solutions to bunker diplomacy. Welcome to bunker nation.
This bunker mentality so characteristic of the Bush administration, unfortunately, shows no signs of retreat. Recall that last week it became public knowledge that since September 11, Bush has constituted a hyper-secret National Emergency Management Team, composed of up to 100 senior officials living in underground bunkers, whose solely task is to govern in case of a national catastrophe that would incapacitate Bush and Cheney. The catch with Bush's secret government is that it is unconstitutional - especially when the people in Congress endowed with the legal power to replace Bush and Cheney didn t know about this plan. How can Bush and Cheney unilaterally go ahead and set up a backup government by themselves without consulting Congress is anybody's guess. What is not a surprise however, is the pattern of secret and confrontational ditch mentality permeating this current administration.
This administration's undemocratic and confrontational style of governing behind people's backs is not limited to the so-called war on terror. Cheney's arrogant refusal to turn in the notes from his meetings with energy tycoons from Enron, and to discuss how Enron and other oil companies have shaped his energy policy proposals is a perfect example of the elitism and antidemocratic style contaminating this administration. Cheney's insolence is so out of control that not only has he been sued by the General Accounting Office (an office which is run by a hardcore Republican by the way,) he has been reprimanded by a Federal judge for delaying the release of public documents and ordered to turn in documents related to his energy task force. This of course on top of Bush's latest decision to make it more difficult to access White House archival documents that might shed light on historical policy issues. The list goes on and on.
The key point is that when we combine Bush and Cheney's bunker nation mentality together with the government's de-facto abolition of the Bill of Rights as reflected in the passing of the Patriot Act last November, we have to conclude that something has gone terribly wrong with our system of government. Let's not forget that in the name of freedom this government has abolished and suspended whole sections of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eight Amendments, making it OK for the government to conduct secret searches, and to subject people to detention without limits - all of this without having to show probable cause. And if on top of that we add Bush's (and Ashcroft's) obsession with imposing their extreme religious beliefs on everybody, we have to conclude that there is a profound crisis of democracy currently confronting our society.
As we observe the six month anniversary of the World Trade Center disaster, let's not forget that our country still has to acknowledge, and deal, with the root causes of this tragedy. Simplistic and medieval-type of analysis that reduce this crisis to good vs. evil categories won't do. CNN nintendo-type news don't work either. And shutting down public debate and critical analysis by forcing shallow patriotism and blind obedience is only going to make things worse. The solution to our present crisis requires a bottom-up democratic movement, not our current top-down electoral system of always choosing between Enron-funded millionaire candidates. The sooner we start getting involved and making our voices heard, the sooner it will become clear that, despite what Bush and CNN wants us to believe, this country is by no means a homogeneous entity, but that a lot of people are actually on the side of peace and global justice. Get involved now.
René Francisco Poitevin