WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a speech about the war on terror this morning, President Bush was sounding like a neocon puppet. And that he is. But his advisors also must be hoping that another photo-op on behalf of democracy and the fight against evil in the Middle East would divert attention from his nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, and the continuing debacle over Hurricane Katrina.
Yesterday he tried bird flu to get people off his case. Today it’s the same old, same old—cheerleading for the neoconservatives who can’t possibly have more than a few hundred in their ranks. We’re not talking about the millions of fired up right-wing Christians.
Speaking at the National Endowment for Democracy,the neocon group long tied to political manipulations abroad, Bush said of Iraq, “We’re not facing a set of grievances that can be negotiated.” He continued, “We’re facing a radical ideology with an unalterable objective, to enslave whole nations and intimidate the whole world.”
There’s a radical ideology at play here, all right. And it is the Bush doctrine of unilateral strikes in the name of liberating the tyrannies of the Middle East from the yoke of oppression. This is the era of gunboat diplomacy. The list begins with Iraq. Next in line is Iran, then Saudi Arabia (where we get substantial amounts of oil), Syria, and Egypt. And usually when Bush talks about saving democracy in the Middle East, he’s thinking about Israel.
Bush is saber rattling because the U.S. is on the run. We are losing the war in Iraq, with casualties mounting. Polls show public opinion supporting that war is diminishing daily. Efforts to get Iran to drop its nuclear program have failed, with the British now trying to up the ante by charging that Iran was behind the attacks on their troops in the south.
At home, the Bush administration has basically given up on the hurricane victims. It can’t handle the job and has just walked away. There is rising consumer anger over gas prices. The president’s choice for the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers, is being savaged—not from the left, but from the right, signaling a possible split in Republican ranks over her selection.
It must have been time for a fear-making speech, and that’s exactly what Bush gave the nation.
Additional reporting: Isabel Huacuja
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 4, 2005