Ernest Partridge: The Unraveling, At Last?
The Unraveling, At Last?
The earth orbits the sun, as it has for four billion years, in perfect balance of two opposing forces: the centrifugal force which, in accordance with Newton’s first law of motion, draws the planet outward, and the centripetal force of the sun’s gravity which draws it inward.
Analogously, political rule remains stable only as long as centrifugal forces that would overthrow it are successfully resisted by centripetal forces that contain them. Among these centripetal forces are the rule of law and consent of the governed in democratic governments, and bribery, propaganda, intimidation, and brute force in despotic regimes.
History teaches us that while a threatened despotism can regain control through a ruthless imposition of force, as with the Russian revolution of 1905 and the Hungarian uprising of 1956, once the centripetal grasp of the despot is weakened, and is seen by the public to be weakened, an ever-accelerating collapse of the regime often ensues. Then, what begins as an appeal for reform can escalate into revolution. The American revolution began with appeals to the English Crown by petitioners who fully intended to remain British subjects. Mikhail Gorbachev’s efforts to reform Soviet Communism triggered events that led to the downfall of both the Soviet Union and Communism.
Although we are too close in time to realize it, last week may have marked the beginning of the downfall of Bushism – the fatal loosening of the centripetal Bushevik grip – as senior intelligence officials from sixteen federal agencies finally stood their ground and said to Bush and Cheney, and to the world, “no more! – we will no longer validate your lies and be complicit in your war crimes!”
When, prior to the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003, the Bush regime was determined to “fix” the facts and intelligence to fit the pre-determined policy, the intelligence apparatus complied, suppressing the compelling evidence that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction and was in no way involved in the attacks of 9/11, 2001. Then followed an illegal war and occupation in Iraq, the violation of the Nuremberg and Geneva Conventions, the looting of the U.S. Treasury, and the deaths of a million innocent Iraqis and four thousand American soldiers and still counting.
An attack on Iran, equally illegal and unjustified, would possibly have even more drastic consequences. The military Joints Chiefs of Staff are reportedly opposed to the attack, along with career officials in the State Department and the CIA. But who will prevent an attack on Iran? The Bush administration owns the courts and the media. The Democratic Congress, elected to end the Iraq fiasco, refuses to do so. Neither will the Congress support a resolution to refuse funding of an attack on Iran.
That leaves the intelligence agencies and their primary weapon, the plain facts and the evidence that supports them. In their National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), the sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously concluded, "with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.” It is reported that several senior intelligence officers told the White House that if the NIE report were not officially released, they would take the report directly to the media, even if it meant jail sentences for the leakers.
With the release of the NIE report, the primary Bush/Cheney pretext for an attack on Iran has been discounted, and the likelihood of such an attack reduced, though not, unfortunately, eliminated.
Bush responded to the NIE report with a package of excuses and outright lies so absurd and transparent that even the mainstream media had to take note of it. In a White House press briefing, “spokesmodel” Dana Perino’s attempt at defending Bush was met with unprecedented ridicule from the press corps.
It is clear that the Bush/Cheney administration is at a crossroads: if it is to retain its power, it must initiate some bold and likely ruthless means of control. If not, a disapproving public, an erosion of media support, a deteriorating economy, and a revolt within the administration may lead to a spectacular disintegration of this misbegotten regime and with it the Karl Rove’s “permanent Republican majority.”
Specifically, here is how the opposing forces are now lining up:
- The American public has had it with this regime. The approval rating of George Bush, in the mid-twenties, is at an historical low. Cheney’s score is in the teens. Equally significant, a majority of the public “strongly disapproves” of both. There is no prospect of reversal of these dismal numbers.
- As the mainstream media persists in its support of the Bush regime, it is increasingly at odds with public opinion. Accordingly, the media is losing its audience and its influence, and with these losses, its profits. Due perhaps to these pressures, the corporate media is becoming more critical of the regime, and even more significantly, is publishing and broadcasting damaging reports about the administration.
- As more information about the malfeasance and misfeasance of the administration comes to light, more and more of the public is willing to suspect the worst about the Busheviks: that the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 were stolen, that Bush, Cheney, Rice and Powell lied the country into an illegal war, that “inconvenient” political enemies were murdered, even that the Bush/Cheney regime was responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. While I personally doubt that last accusation, the widespread support of 9/11 conspiracy theories testifies to an extraordinary public distrust of the administration.
- The dire economic consequences of the Bush/Cheney policies are becoming ever more apparent to the public. Paul Krugman reports:
The dire economic consequences of the Bush/Cheney policies are becoming ever more apparent to the public.
“Americans’ Economic Pessimism Reaches a Record High.” That’s the headline on a recent Gallup report, which shows a nation deeply unhappy with the state of the economy. Right now, “27% of Americans rate current economic conditions as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’ while 44% say they are ‘only fair’ and 28% say they are poor.” Moreover, “an extraordinary 78% of Americans now say the economy is getting worse, while a scant 13% say it is getting better.” ...
[In contrast,] in the fall of 1998 almost two-thirds of Americans thought the economy was excellent or good.
- Bush and Cheney are being abandoned by their own party, as their names are virtually absent from the campaigns of the Republican candidates. There is an epidemic of GOP resignations and retirements in Congress, and a declining number of voters are willing to identify themselves as Republicans.
- As last week’s release of the NIE indicates, there is growing resistance to Bushism in the federal government. As I noted in July, 2005, when Bush and Cheney “outed” Valerie Plame Wilson, they may have made some formidable enemies: “of this much we can be confident; the rank and file of the CIA is super-pissed-off. One of their own has been trashed, her operation demolished, and [possibly] dozens of agents and operatives put in grave danger. Possibly some have been killed. Nor is that all. The CIA has been asked to take the fall for the Iraq fiasco – the result of ‘flawed intelligence’ the Bushistas tell us. The motto on the floor at Langley, ‘The Truth Shall Make Your Free,’ has been effectively supplanted with ‘The Truth Shall Get You Canned.’ Pissing-off the CIA can be a very dangerous business. These folks are very good at overthrowing governments.”
- International support of the Bush/Cheney regime has virtually disappeared, as one by one allies of the administration have been ousted from power: Blair in England, Aznar in Spain, Berlusconi in Italy, Howard in Australia. Hendrik Hertzberg reports that “An avalanche of new international polls... show that anti-Americanism has reached astronomical levels almost everywhere and has solidified in the Northern European belt from Britain to Poland.”
Despite these myriad forces that are
undermining the Busheviks, the capacity of the regime to
retain command and control is still formidable.
- Interstate 95/495, “the beltway” that surrounds Washington, DC, remains a veritable moat, effectively isolating the “DC society” of corporate lobbyists, pundits, military brass and politicians from the country and citizens that presumes to “govern.”
- The levers of Bushevik control – the compliant media, the privatized voting devices, the intimidation and punishment of dissenters and whistle-blowers – though diminished, remain in place. Some administration retaliations are well-known: Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame, General Eric Shinseki, Bunnatine Greenhouse, Dan Rather. But we can only speculate as to the pressures exerted “below the surface” and out of sight. Why are the victims of small aircraft accidents (e.g. Senators Mel Carnahan and Paul Wellstone, and John F. Kennedy, Jr.) disproportionately democrats? Why were the Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle, and the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, specifically targeted with Anthrax letters, and why hasn’t the culprit who sent them been apprehended? What extraordinary threats may be preventing the congressional Democrats from responding to the voters’ mandate that put them in control of the Congress?
- If, in fact, Bushevik control has been accomplished through crimes such as extortion, bribery, intimidation and even murder, then the regime is extremely motivated to remain in power, or, failing that, to transfer power to those who will neither investigate nor prosecute these crimes.
- Finally, and most significantly, the administration, with the connivance of Congress, has passed a series of “enabling acts,” supplemented with uncontested executive orders, which today gives Bush the virtual powers of a dictator, should he choose to exercise them. Among these are The PATRIOT Act, the Military Commissions Act, The National Continuity Policy of May 9, 2007, The Executive Order of July 17, 2007. (See my “A Republic if We Can Keep It.”). Due to the pernicious vagueness of these acts and orders, Bush can, virtually at his personal say-so, imprison without charge, counsel or trial, any dissenting citizen and/or seize all the assets of that citizen. He is presumably restrained by the likely outrage that such behavior might provoke. Nonetheless, its all there, “in the books.” All it takes is another “national emergency,” and perhaps not even that.
“A Criminal Regime:” The phrase is no longer hyperbole: it conveys a demonstrable truth, clear and incontrovertible to any and all willing to face the facts.
Aggressive war is a crime. Torture is a
crime. Warrantless surveillance is a crime. Contempt of
Congress is a crime. Defiance of acts of Congress is a
crime. Extortion and bribery are crimes. Election fraud is a
crime. The Nuremberg and Geneva conventions, the
Constitution of the United States, and the federal statutes
say what they say. The remedy is unequivocal: “The
President, Vice-President and all civil officers of the
United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment
for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high
crimes and misdemeanors.” “Shall,” not “may.”
(Constitution of the United States, Article 2, Section
Without question, the Bush regime now rules in disregard and defiance of the rule of law. Each and every day that passes without decisive action against this lawless junta, is another day of anarchy.
The courageous senior intelligence officers who demanded the release last week of the NIE have opened a window of opportunity for the dissenting activists, journalists, government officials and members of Congress. We would all be foolish and derelict in our civic duties not to respond promptly and decisively to this opportunity.
The catalytic moment may be at hand, wherein a mass of individual dissenters coalesce into a “movement” – when these dissenters look about and discover that they are participants in a significant political force; when they achieve perceivable results, perchance minor at first, but with the realization that significant reform is within reach and even, through coordinated effort and inspired leadership, irresistible; when, in short, perception becomes reality.
As I wrote in February, 2006, although we have come upon evil times, we Americans are not an evil people. Woefully ignorant at times, and short on political sales-resistance. But when we sense that we’ve been swindled and lied to, watch out! Our nation was born in rebellion against tyranny. We have a Constitution and we have a tradition of liberty and the rule of law. We have vivid memories of a short time ago when we lived in a country that was both prosperous and free.
But neither were the Germans or the Russians fundamentally evil people. Yet they succumbed to evil regimes. The Germans had to be liberated at horrendous cost. After seventy long years, the various nationalities of the Soviet Union threw out their oppressors. We may suffer the fate of the Germans – there are no guarantees.
On the other hand, we the people just might take back our government, for, as Edward R. Murrow observed in March, 1954, “We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men ... We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result.”
As the founders of our republic proclaimed in their Declaration of Independence, “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” If the Congress refuses to act in behalf of the people and to honor the oath of each member to defend the Constitution of the United States by impeaching and removing this criminal regime, then it is time at last for the people to withdraw their consent from the Congress and recognize it for what it is: bought and paid for vassals of the corporate oligarchs.
Armed rebellion is not the answer: it is both immoral and impractical. The Busheviks and the Congress have effectively abolished Posse Comitatus, which means the that military can now turn its weapons on the citizens. And if the military refuses, the private armies, Blackwater, etc., are locked and loaded.
Far better that the public follow the lead of Gandhi, Mandela, Sakharov and King: non-violent resistance. They have indicated the way with their words and deeds.
But I must say no more about this, for, according to the new “enabling acts” of this Congress and this administration, to do so would be a “crime.”
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers".