[Marxism] Why W. might be the lesser evil (was Re: Who is David Cobb)
Jose G. Perez
elgusanorojo at bellsouth.net
Sat Jul 17 16:59:07 MDT 2004
On one of the Solidarity lists, dealing with some of the same
sorts of subjects as here, I wrote a half facetious post making the case
that the real lesser evil is Bush -- not, of course, on the basis that
his policies are less reactionary, but rather on his proven track record
of his performance being less than competent.
It seemed to fit in this discussion also.
The original message was dated July 9, and basically prompted by
a comrade who said that he'd be happy if Kerry beat Bush, or something
like that. Just to make clear, the individual is a supporter, I believe,
of the Nader-Camejo ticket: he wasn't arguing for a Kerry vote. I've
made a couple of editing changes to fix up some bad grammar and added a
few closing comments (the original went on to discuss other things).
* * *
I think this is a case where the old adage about being careful what you
wish for should be listened to.
I don't really give a damn which part of the Bush-Kerry ticket the
bourgeoisie decides to put in charge for the next four years, or whether
they rely on tradition and let the people decide which one fools them
However, I can make a really good case for Bush being the lesser evil.
One whole set of arguments revolves around simply how discredited the
Bush administration is. This needs no more argument than simply noting
the support for Kerry, a quite thoroughly disliked multibillionaire
politician whose sole saving grace is the fact that his name ain't
Bush. If you don't believe me go look at the Washington Post poll, by
far the most political of them all. It shows that MOST Kerry supporters
are voting against Bush, not for Kerry.
But another factor should be taken into account. And that is how
incompetent the Bush regime has proven to be.
The plain fact is that Saddam Hussein was so brutal and discredited that
most Iraqis did not actively oppose the invasion and the occupation,
including many within the regime.
But the paleolithic neocon cabal in charge of the Pentagon viewed any
sort of association with the Baath party or the Iraqi state as original
sin in a rigidly Calvinistic vision. Those were the damned, and
right-thinking Crusaders would have nothing to do with them. So instead
of seeking to base the new regime on the existing structures of Iraqi
society, which the old Baath Party and State apparatus undoubtedly
reflected and were part of, they decided to base in on the new Iraq, an
Iraq that didn't exist.
And they attacked up and down the line all the institutions of the old
Iraq. That was the meaning of the wave of looting and criminality which
swept Iraq as the occupation consolidated its grip. That was not an
accident, it may have started as that way but within hours it became
clear the looters had the green light from the U.S. command. That
decision was emblematic of a policy of razing the old Iraq that had many
other expressions: disbanding the army and police, firing all the
"Baathist" university professors, etc., etc., etc.
The revolutionary left could hardly have hoped for such an paradigmatic,
arrogant, blindly imperialist approach. Thus Wolfowitz and his cronies
have managed to turn a victory in which they were, if not welcomed as
liberators, at least tolerated as an evil that, at any rate, had brought
about some good (getting rid of Saddam), into an unmitigated
catastrophe. The occupation was so thoroughly botched that it has united
the Iraqi people against it.
It is true that it is rather late in the game to turn this around. But
Bush shows every sign of still not getting it, while no such good
fortune can be expected from Kerry. He was personally one of those Phil
Ochs sang about "We're fighting in a war we lost before the war began.
We're the white boots marching in a yellow land."
Please be clear. This is not a "the worst the better" argument. This is
simply an argument that we're better off with the imperialists led by a
cabal of half-baked ideologues rather than sharp political operators.
Iraq shows it does make a difference.
On the domestic side, Ashcroft and his ilk have also proved singularly
ineffective. They really do believe terrorism comes from Islam, so they
have not really used the campaign against "terrorism" to mount a much
more sweeping attack on domestic dissidents. Worse, they have under- and
over-reached at the same time.
The claim that the president gets to brand whoever he wants as "evil
incarnate" or "possessed by the devil" or "enemy combatant" and lock
them away forever in some American Bastille is a non-starter. Moreover,
if the administration were going to take that stance, they might as well
have made good use of the power while they had it. Instead they locked
up a few hundred random people picked up in Afghanistan 90 or 95 percent
of which have nothing to do with anything, and one by all accounts very
confused and alienated Puerto Rican convert to Islam.
And as if to assuage the fears of liberals that perhaps at least in the
Padilla case some extreme measure was called for, they have revealed the
details of the confession they extracted from this hapless person. Which
is that he was going to create a "dirty bomb" using uranium.
The problem with this confession is that you can't make an effective
"dirty bomb" -- a conventional bomb that disperses a few pounds of
highly radioactive material -- using uranium. That's because Uranium and
its various common isotopes are for all practical purposes not
radioactive. The more common isotope U-238 has a half life of four and a
half BILLION years, the less common U-235 of more than 700 million
years, which is the scientific way of saying that the rate of decay of
atoms in uranium is slow -- not glacially slow, but cosmically slow. And
it is the decay of atoms -- their spontaneous breaking up-- that
[I should make clear to avoid confusion that Uranium is *slightly*
radioactive. And especially if ingested even the tiniest bit of
radioactivity is dangerous, causing cancer and so on. My point is that
Uranium does not provide the sort of intense radioactivity one would
want for a "dirty bomb."]
So why did Padilla confess to this? Because they extracted it under
torture. He would give them anything to get them to stop. They said you
were going to make a bomb with nuclear stuff and he said yes, and named
the first substance a common person without education associates with
radiation, which is uranium because it is used to make atom bombs.
Undoubtedly a report about this confession came across Ashcroft's desk,
and this shows the problem in having an Attorney General whose ignorance
is truly encyclopedic. A well educated person would know this would not
work, or at least be conscious that they do not know and seek expert
advice. A typically American arrogant ignoramus, of the sort Bush has
populated his administration with because they are just like him, will
take it for good coin and go public with it -- imposing on the
government as a whole the revealed truth that Uranium is highly
As if to underscore how completely and utterly phony the campaign to
"protect" us against dirty bombs is, the government announced this week
it had with great stealth moved a couple of tons of lightly enriched
uranium out of Iraq. That would be commercial reactor grade enrichment,
as little as 3%, possibly less. "Enriched" Uranium has a higher
concentration of U-235 than normally found in nature (in nature, Uranium
is about three quarters of one percent U-235). You need to enrich it far
more to get weapons-grade Uranium. And no matter how "enriched" the
uranium, the main effect of a Uranium "dirty bomb" would be to cause
heavy metal poisoning NOT radiation sickness. For this purpose, blowing
up lead would be just as effective.
Don't get me wrong, I'm entirely against each and every thing that
Ashcroft and Homeland Security have done, down to covering Lady
Liberty's naked breasts. But the plain fact is that 9-11 provided the
rulers a wonderful opportunity to go after the left, and they made no
serious effort to take advantage of it in a sweeping way.
The whole campaign has been so clumsy and clueless that it has evoked a
huge outcry of opposition, *dividing* the U.S. nationalist camp and
driving a whole wing of it into an alliance with the U.S. left instead.
Or look at the whole "WMD" fiasco. Now, let me be perfectly clear. I
*expect* an imperialist government to lie about something like this. But
I believe the smart imperialist government would know it was lying and
would at least go to the trouble of finding some "evidence" --needless
to say planted or fabricated-- after the fact. The Bushites believed
their own lies so much they have let the people know the truth. How
stupid can you get?
This galloping case of cretins in the cabinet has led, moreover, to deep
fissures in the state apparatus. This is an administration that has a
very substantial fifth column in its ranks, actually just below the
administration proper, particularly in the CIA and the Pentagon. The Abu
Ghraib scandal wasn't uncovered by the diligent digging of the press, it
was leaked by an organized anti-neocon cabal in the general staff at the
Why are the generals pissed? Because they can see where this whole Iraq
thing is going. The U.S. is going to lose, and the generals are likely
to get blamed. But the truth is that apart from a handful of careerists
like the head of the Joint Chiefs who would have said the moon is made
of Green Cheese if that is what it took to get the post, the
professional military opposed the Cheney-Wolfowitz plan for Iraq as
adventurist. They even had a member of the Joint Chiefs go to Congress
and fall on his sword, telling them point blank the force was
underweight by a factor of two or three. They begged the ruling class to
put in some adult supervision in this administration. For whatever
reason, the ruling class has been unwilling or unable to do so.
So you have the division commander of the 82nd Airborne talking to the
Washington Post about how badly things are going. Full bird colonels
piss in reporters ears that the reason we are losing is that at the top
of the chain of command they're clueless about the war we're fighting.
U.S. units are carrying out sweeps and air raids targeting foreign
jihadists. They get civilians at a wedding party instead.
Make a policy of torturing people to get "actionable intelligence" and
that is what is going to happen.
Today there's another leaked story by the AP, with a high ranking
military person telling us the problem is not 5,000 foreign jihadists,
the problem is 20,000 Iraqi guerrillas. Moreover, there is a chilling
description of who these guerrillas are that should make the blood of
any general who knows war turn cold. The fighters are organized and led
by the prominent people in villages and clans, they are an organic
expression of Iraqi society. This would mean that to win this war, Iraqi
society must be *shattered*, tens or hundreds of thousands arrested and
put into concentration camps and a reign of terror imposed throughout
the entire country.
And yesterday the NY Times front-paged an article, citing military
sources, about how Fallujah is basically liberated territory in the
hands of the insurgents, and the only way to change that is a bloody
ground campaign that is likely to provoke a nationwide anti-American
upsurge like the one in April. And that it was the politicians acting
against military advice that cut the deal that accepted Fallujah's
status as the capital of the insurgents.
In the CIA you have a similar thing. There is for the U.S. no higher
priority than getting Bin Laden. This they have failed to do. They're
going to say it's because they sent them chasing after the non-existent
Iraqi WMD's. You do the math.
On the domestic economic front, the administration is equally
ideologically bloody minded. They are guided by these right-wing wackos
who say cut the federal government's income, and the state will shrink
to that size. Magic. This is precisely the sort of thing that George the
Father denounced as "voodoo economics" when Ronald Reagan espoused it in
1980. Except that Reagan at least had the paper-napkin "Laugher curve"
to claim that the economy would grow so much so as to wipe out the
deficit. Of course, you wouldn't expect George the Lesser to remember
any of that -- in those days religion wasn't his opium, he preferred the
less spiritual kind.
I could go on and on but why bother. My point is simple. There is no
percentage *for us* in the U.S. government being led by more competent
people. Quite the contrary. The things [a comrade] cites may be true,
but it is also true that there are arguments just as or more compelling
on the other side, .
* * *
That above was my Soli post.
Just one more example of the sort of thing this administration does,
drawn from today's NY Times. They have these plainclothes federal
marshals that fly on airplanes. Well guess what,
the Ayatollah Republicans in charge of Homeland Security are requiring
them to look "professional" on the job. Like wearing ties and coats.
They might as well have "FED" stenciled on their forehead.
The thing is that there isn't one of these aircops on every flight.
Homeland Security "thinks" people willing to die slamming airplanes into
buildings are going to be dissuaded by the *possibility* that there
*might be* a skycop aboard. But of course, if the government makes them
dress so that everyone knows who they are, a terrorist can avoid doing
anything on the planes that they are on.
Now, I don't want to underestimate the Democrats. But what are the
chances of a truly kretinous Kerry kabinet? Certainly not more than one
in five. Even the *republicans* had a hard time coming up with enough
people who are so stupid they don't even have a clue as to how stupid
they really are to fill the cabinet. So they had to include a Colin
Powell. What's HE doing in Bush's cabinet? Although, be it said in
Powell's defense, his instinctive feel for the role of doormat goes a
long way to compensate.
My point isn't that ABB is wrong because it should EFB (Everybody for
Bush) instead. It is simply that picking between the ruling class
operatives running for President is a fool's errand. There is nothing
inherently in it for us if one or the other side wins. Our concern
should be building up OUR side of the order of battle, not trying to get
them to name a certain one of their generals as their commander in
People keep writing *as if* the choice is between Democrats and
Republicans. That fails to understand the way the United States is
actually run, which is by a two-party *system*, a permanent coalition
government. The choice is between leaving working people to be led by
the nose by the politicians of that system or encouraging a break in the
direction of working people creating their own party, a development I
believe is best promoted this time around by supporting the Nader-Camejo
ticket and Green campaigns downticket.
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