BUSH AND OSAMA: FEARFUL SYMMETRY
Progressives all over the United States are licking their wounds in the wake of the Nov. 2 electoral debacle. Not only was George Bush returned to office, but four more Republicans were elected to the Senate, and three to the House, and constitutional amendments banning gay marriage passed in 11 states. There were certainly some voting irregularities. Greg Palast predictably (and perhaps accurately) maintains in an article for TomPaine.com now circulating on the 'net that "Kerry Won"--citing "spoilage" of 110,000 "overwhelmingly Democratic" votes in Ohio.
But the underlying dynamic spells a long-term sharp decline for what little remains of progressive content in national politics. The Faustian bargain between rural religious conservatism and corporate economic conservatism (ironically called "neo-liberalism" in the rest of the world) represented by the Reagan revolution has now become hegemonic. Until the electoral college is overturned, the Christian heartland and South will be able to hold sway. In a Nov. 4 post-mortem on the Kerry campaign on the New York Times op-ed page, "The Day the Enlightenment Went Out," Garry Wills summed up the successful Republican strategy--and its ominous implications: "Mr. Rove understands what surveys have shown, that many more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin's theory of evolution... Which raises the question: Can a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?"
This presidential race was a de facto referendum on pluralist values, and a look at the Red-Blue map finds these values surviving significantly only in clusters around the Northeast seaboard, the Great Lakes and the West Coast.
This map will look familiar to history buffs as nearly identical to the Grey-Blue map of the Civil War, and that of free versus slave states in its immediate prelude. A basic divide in the American body politic seems to have persisted for a century and a half, and in retrospect the victory at Appomattox appears in many ways a Phyrric one. The only irony is that the postures of the two parties have completely switched. In 1860, the Republicans were the party of the Northeast, urban liberals and free labor. The Democrats were the party of the South and the frontier (today the heartland), rural bumpkins, racism and slavery.
The flight from modernity represented by the Bush base is ironically reflected in America's ostensible new enemy of Islamic extremism. Even the alliance with the most sinister sectors of corporate power is there, as elements of the Saudi petro-elites continue to fund the jihadis (in a deal initially brokered by the Reagan White House to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan).
Commentators made much of Osama bin Laden's surprise video communique released days before the election. Conservatives, of course, made an analogy to the devastating March 11 terror attacks in Madrid which apparently prompted Spanish voters to repudiate Bush's terror war ally Jose Maria Aznar just four days later. The most widely-quoted lines from the communique seemed to offer cessation of terror attacks if the White House assumed a less bellicose stance: "I tell you in truth, that your security is not in the hands of Kerry, nor Bush, nor al-Qaeda. No. Your security is in your own hands. And every state that doesn't play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security."
A reading of the communique's complete transcript reveals a different picture. One largely overlooked passage explicitly identifies Bush as at least an objective collaborator with al-Qaeda's agenda:
"[T]hose who say that al-Qaeda has won against the administration in the White House or that the administration has lost in this war have not been precise, because when one scrutinizes the results, one cannot say that al-Qaeda is the sole factor in achieving those spectacular gains. Rather, the policy of the White House that demands the opening of war fronts to keep busy their various corporations--whether they be working in the field of arms or oil or reconstruction--has helped al-Qaeda to achieve these enormous results. And so it has appeared to some analysts and diplomats that the White House and us are playing as one team towards the economic goals of the United States, even if the intentions differ."
Another overlooked passage takes on Bush's accusation that al-Qaeda are "freedom-haters"--and makes clear that Osama, like his nemesis in Washington, believes he is acting on behalf of freedom:
"Before I begin, I say to you that security is an indispensable pillar of human life and that free men do not forfeit their security, contrary to Bush's claim that we hate freedom. If so, then let him explain to us why we don't strike for example--Sweden? And we know that freedom-haters don't possess defiant spirits like those of the 19--may Allah have mercy on them. No, we fight because we are free men who don't sleep under oppression. We want to restore freedom to our nation, just as you lay waste to our nation. So shall we lay waste to yours."
An interesting question is whether Bush recognizes his connivance with Osama--just how cynical the game really is. It is also intriguing to contemplate whether either man recognizes the degree to which he is mirrored by the other. But more important than these intellectual exercises is the critical question of how the mantle of freedom can be de-coupled from the agendas of social reaction, both in the Islamic world and the US of A. (Bill Weinberg)
See also WW3 REPORT #99
Special to WORLD WAR 3 REPORT, Nov. 6, 2004
Reprinting permissible with attribution WW3Report.com