Thirty years after defeat in Vietnam, while the mainstream media contorts itself with oil-free justifications for the Bush attack on Iraq, George Will speaks clearly.

An administration that does not believe in democracy is not in Iraq to impose democracy.

It is there, says Will, to maintain the empire. Yes, he's used the E word and is proud of it.

But what he doesn't say is that the empire is in the process of getting its butt kicked. Again. The mainstream debate is now about whether or not the US should have gotten into Iraq, and how to maintain its presence.

But few are facing the reality that when the US finally leaves Iraq---and it will---in defeat and disgrace, its personnel are likely to be fleeing embassy rooftops by helicopter, yanked skyward as desperately as in Saigon on this day in 1975.

The George Wills and George Bushes of the world will blame the debacle on those of us who opposed this war when it started and continue to oppose it. But the root cause of defeat will be in the same word that got us in---empire. It's the Imperial idea that our white, Christian nation has the right, the duty, the divine mandate to dominate whomever we please, especially those countries with resources we want, like oil.

Will is quite clear on all this. It no longer matters that the United States of America was established in the first anti-imperial revolution in history. He doesn't care that the heroes who declared Independence, won that war and then drafted the Bill of Rights founded this nation on the presumption that it would never go into the business of conquest.

Nor does it matter that the Founding Fathers were Deists, who believed in Enlightenment and Reason. Remembering the Salem witch trials, they hated crusading theocracies, Puritan and otherwise. They explicitly banned a church-state alliance with the very first article of the Bill of Rights. The word Christian does not appear in the Constitution of the United States.

But, for the new Kings Georges, America is the new Christian Rome and proud of it. You better get used to it, writes Will, whose verbosity is exceeded only by his pomposity. The price of empire, still the white puritan burden, is your money and your lives (but not his or George Bush's, for whom there are "other priorities" when it comes to serving in wartime).

Will says the US must re-establish a "monopoly on violence." Will's problem is that people, i.e. terrorists and Iraqis, who are not part of the government, i.e. the imperial machine, have killed contractors from Halliburton, whose profits are thus jeopardized. More than 700 soldiers have died. More than 100 killed this latest bloody April came home in caskets whose photos images are banned from a compliant US media.

The imperial response, Will proclaims, must be "precise" and "overwhelming."

But it hasn't been, in large part because the US just no longer can get it up.

Will still argues the US could and should have "won" the war in Vietnam, whatever that would have meant. Like Bush, he never went there. But "in the war against the militias," Will pontificates, "every door American troops crash through, every civilian bystander -- there will be many -- shot, will make matters worse, for a while. Nevertheless, the first task of the occupation remains the first task of government: to establish a monopoly on violence.

"It is too late for debate about being in Baghdad," he adds. "And the (relatively) pretty phase of empire -- the swift dispatch of an enemy army -- is over."

We must all learn that "regime change, occupation, nation-building -- in a word, empire -- is a bloody business."

Indeed, "Americans must steel themselves for administering the violence necessary to disarm or defeat Iraq's urban militias."

Quoting Napoleon (what was HIS fate) Will says resistance to American imperial benevolence comes from a tiny handful of malcontents, all linked to Saddam Hussein.

So more imperial troops must be dispatched. Since 9/11 Will concludes, Americans know they are at war, but have not been told of the "sacrifices" needed to "sustain multiple regime changes and nation-building projects.

Telling us such "truths," he says, is the job of "a war president." Or an Imperial Potentate.

But George W. Bush who has never been to war himself, has resolved to fight to the last Guardsman for US hegemony.

A classic product of imperial inbreeding in which he's been sired by "a higher father," Bush's proclamation of "Mission Accomplished" a year ago has been followed by more than 600 American deaths and the slaughter of countless thousands of Iraqis. Each innocent victim sows the dragon's teeth of escalating resistance, as they did in Vietnam.

But the Iraqis are proving far fiercer and at least as determined. Suicide bombing played no major role in Vietnam. But in Iraq, crusader Bush and minions like the ever pedantic, mean-spirited Will, face an enemy far fiercer and better equipped for an urban guerilla war that US cannot win.

The debate over whether the US should have invaded Iraq and how it can achieve its ends there are ultimately beside the point. With more US soldiers killed this April than died overthrowing Saddam in the first place, the slaughter has barely begun. Imperial warplanes pour down fire Guernica-style on unseen civilian-soldiers in Fallujah while devastating and infuriating the civilian population. The spectacle of blind, blundering bloodshed can only escalate. The US scurries the streets with a big bull's eye painted on its back.

This war is over. The mopping up has begun---by the Iraqis. The hatred of we Americans by the people we have attacked far exceeds what we experienced in Vietnam. There, they admired our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our democratic core.

Today, the most cynical and effective enemy of those sacred American values sits ignorant and unelected in the White House. Why would the Iraqis or anyone else believe the US is waging war to bring them democracy while it crusades to crush it at home?

And why would we grace the argument over how many troops we should send at what cost when what's left of our army is drowning in a nation that wants us gone.

Theodore Roosevelt, the founder of the modern American empire, famously advised to "Speak softly and carry a big stick."

But his malapropic progeny George W. Bush can barely speak at all. Bush will never admit that the big stick of Empire has shattered in Baghdad. Or that every minute US troops stay there only makes things worse, with no tangible payback in sight, only the twisted prospect of yet another rooftop exit.


Harvey Wasserman is co-author (with Bob Fitrakis) of GEORGE W. BUSH VERSUS THE SUPERPOWER OF PEACE, available via HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US is available via