Initially, we were misled into war based on President Bush’s assertion that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. We now know that this was but one of Bush’s big lies. When we couldn’t find the weapons, Bush pounded his flag-draped chest and re-justified the invasion as “cleansing the world of a brutal dictator” and bringing “freedom and democracy” to Iraqis.
Now our country is reeling from the collapse of what we were assured was our superior moral justification for the American invasion of Iraq. With the revelation of the atrocities committed by American soldiers and “contractors” at Abu Ghraib prison, it is Americans, not Saddam Hussein, who are torturing and killing Iraqis. These atrocities, which are being witnessed worldwide, are perceived as merely replacing one sadistic, murdering regime in Iraq with another. It hurts to read the stories and see the images, and few want to believe that this is where our flag-waving, super-patriotic rush to war has led us—but the undeniable evidence is there in grim detail before our eyes every day.
Unfortunately, the opinions of the civilized nations of the world mean little to President Bush. Remember, it was Bush who called the United Nations “irrelevant,” who insulted our longtime allies, and who took the position that America, blessed with his vision of moral rectitude, had a job to do in chasing down and eliminating “the evildoers” of the world. But now, as the images and stories of American brutality flood into our homes, we are becoming defensively aware of the historic dishonor the big lies of the Bush era are bringing to our nation.
If he had any shred of personal integrity, Bush would say: “The buck stops here.” He would admit that he led our nation into war based on false premises and he would take responsibility for his own huge part in setting the stage for the inhumane treatment of Iraqi prisoners. It is President Bush, after all, who continues to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to describe those who resist America’s invasion of their countries as “murderers and killers,” not as enemy combatants. Thus, it is Bush himself who has set the stage for his underlings to treat these prisoners of war in such degrading and dishonorable ways instead of receiving the humane treatment required by the Geneva Convention.
Instead, President Bush continues to delude Americans through bizarre diametric labeling, in which his “Clear Skies” program in reality means more air pollution and his “Healthy Forests Initiative” means more stumpfields. Rising to heights of deception of which even Stalin would be proud, Bush now tells us that our nation “owes a debt of gratitude” to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, on whose watch and under whose control these atrocities occurred.
Considering Bush’s avalanche of big lies, it now seems that he may succeed in once again twisting the truth backwards, because so many Americans are so dumbed down that they will believe anything he says.
First there was the Big Lie that started America on its downward path: Bush won the election. We now know that, if people are elected by a majority of the voters, Bush in fact lost the election. He didn’t garner a majority of the votes and, had the Supreme Court not curtailed the recount and appointed Bush to the presidency, he wouldn’t be in the White House today.
Or how about the Big Lie that the Sept. 11 attacks occurred because “our enemies hate freedom.” We are supposed to believe that people were willing to commit suicide by flying jetliners into buildings because they “hate freedom.” But isn’t it possible that the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were targeted because of America’s ruthless and exploitive global economic policies? After all, the World Trade Center was the undeniable symbol of America’s predatory economic domination, and the “muscle” for enforcing those policies is carried out by the long and bloody arm of the American military, which is located in the Pentagon.
Another big lie is that America’s corporate corruption, as evidenced by Enron, is the result of just a “few bad apples.” The proof is incontrovertible that a whole panoply of corporations colluded to manipulate energy supplies to ravage California—and unlike Enron, most of those continue to do a brisk business to this day. The truth, if it were to be told, is that there is little if any corporate responsibility to anyone these days. The most prevalent philosophy in this country, both in business and in society, is to “get yours while you can” and devil take the hindmost.
The most recent big lie is that record high prices for gasoline are occurring because of the so-called “economic recovery.” Now let’s see—the nation was genuinely booming throughout the ’90s and gas often barely cracked a buck a gallon. Now, with record numbers of Americans suffering economic hardship, the cost of gas has doubled.
Sometime in the future, as happened with California’s “energy crisis,” we will likely find out that our citizens have once again been the victims of market manipulation. Unfortunately, by the time the latest big lie is discovered it will be too late—especially for those who have been beggared by the unconscionable practices. But remember, oil companies spent a lot of money putting President Bush in office and they expect, and are getting, their huge and on-going payoffs.
How many more big lies will Americans fall for? It’s tough to say—but don’t be surprised if the next thing you hear is that “we owe a debt of gratitude” to Exxon, too.
When not lobbying the Montana Legislature, George Ochenski is rattling the cage of the political establishment as a political analyst for the Independent. Contact Ochenski at firstname.lastname@example.org.