21 September 2014

"The trappings of a state of siege trap us in a state of fear ..."

Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis open up their new collection of essays
with the extraordinary speech - "A Prayer for America" - that Dennis
Kucinich delivered two years ago, when the wound of 9/11 was fresh and the
Bush Administration had just begun to serve notice how it intended to
exploit it.

Reading Kucinich's words again, and the 50-plus essays that follow it in
"George W. Bush vs. the Superpower of Peace," all of them chronicling events
that unfolded after the 2000 election, leaves me reeling anew from the hits
we've taken as a nation since W assumed control of the office he lost.
The two authors, whose investigative pieces originally appeared in the
alternative publications Columbus Alive and the Columbus Free Press, have
been around a long time, writing and agitating for peace, economic justice
and a sane energy policy, among other things. Their book is unstinting in
its critique of the Bush crew, dredging up its covert agenda and creepy
connections to shadowy neo-fascists like the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and
patiently countering three years of bald-faced lies.

If you want polite political discourse, stay away from this book, but check
it out if you'd like a little perspective on the next troubling revelation
about this presidency that inevitably will flicker in the mainstream media.

You're less likely to be surprised.

"My assessment is, these guys are sowing the seeds of their ultimate
demise," Wasserman said to me the other day. "The question is, how soon?"
Since our conversation, the country has learned, by way of former Treasury
Secretary Paul O'Neill, that President Bush is out of it in a C-student sort
of way - "disengaged" is the delicate term being used - with nothing of
substance to contribute either to Cabinet meetings or one-on-one
conversations with his underlings. But he was a true believer in the war
with Iraq well before 9/11 supplied him with a bogus pretext for it.

Next, a veteran defense specialist, Jeffrey Record, in a report published by
no less a source than the Army War College at Maxwell Airforce Base, called
the war with Iraq unrealistic and pointless, indeed, a military disaster,
Hitlerian in the scale of its overreach. It could lead us into further
conflicts with countries that pose no threat and has pushed the U.S. Army
"near the breaking point."

Finally, former Nixon staffer Kevin Phillips, a well-credentialed Republican
commentator, writing in the Los Angeles Times about the Bush family dynasty,
sounded this alarm: "Between now and the November election, it's crucial
that Americans come to understand how four generations of the current
president's family have embroiled the United States in the Middle East
through CIA connections, arms shipments, inherited war policies and personal
financial links."

My God, here are members of Bush's own party and the defense community, not
merely breaking ranks but waving frantically, warning us that their own guy
and the fanatics and shameless profiteers around him are leading us to

Orange alert? Try red alert!

All of which leads me back to the words of Kucinich, congressman of rare
courage, who stood against the tide of fear and anger at a time when almost
all of his Democratic colleagues held their noses and voted for the USA
Patriot Act and later gave the unelected Bush regime carte blanche to go to
war with the world.

Wasserman and Fitrakis, by reprising his speech in their new book, signal
that cynicism, fear, special interests and allegiance to revealed truth need
not be the glue that holds this republic together.

This is a nation built on principle - principle that is alive in the
documents and music at its core: My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of
liberty, of thee I sing. Please listen to the words, said Kucinich. We stand
for something other than a steady flow of oil, profits for Halliburton and
designated "free speech zones" for the rest of us.

"George W. Bush vs. the Superpower of Peace" is a prosecutor's summation of
the evidence against leadership that has betrayed us. It is also a stake in
the ground, a cry of "Enough!" It's time to put our principles to work
against the threat to peace - ours and everyone else's - the Bush
Administration has become.

If you're reading this, the buck stops here.

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Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, is an editor at
Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer. You can respond to
this column at bkoehler@tribune.com
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