Go F*ck Yourself, Mr. President

I am so sick of George W. Bush: sick of his petulant preppie voice, sick of his studied belligerence, and, most of all, damned sick of his threats. If we don’t toe the line and support his crazed foreign policy of “preemptive self-defense,” he constantly claims, we will reap the whirlwind. As he puts it in a recent television ad paid for by the Republican National Committee:

“It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.”

Well, then, how come we’re fighting in Iraq – thousands of miles away from the scene of the terrorists’ target? Instead of kicking the shit out of Iraqi POWs, why aren’t those Army reservists inspecting each and every crate that comes into this country? One vial, one canister, one crate – yes, and if it gets through, Georgie boy, we’re gonna hold you responsible!

Like everything else about his Presidency, this line – taken from his State of the Union address – is a lie. In the speech, you’ll remember, he flubbed this line, pausing uncertainly before the word “vial,” and then pronouncing it as if it were “while.” But in the ad, the presidential pronunciation is perfect, and there is no uncertainty: the pause has been edited out. “Cut and pasted,” according to Republican officials. Yeah, just like the “intelligence” they used to justify the Iraq war.

The makers of this ad have entitled it “Reality,” which they apparently believe is infinitely malleable, averring:

“Some are now attacking the President for attacking the terrorists.”

This is a flat-out lie. Critics of the Iraq war are attacking the President for not attacking the terrorists – for ignoring Osama bin Laden and, instead, going after the tinpot tyrant of a fifth-rate military power, because, as deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz put it, it was “doable.”

A President who lied us into war is now hoping to lie himself back into the White House. This election year, Republicans are selling fibs and fear, mixed with a generous dollop of hubris:

BUSH: “Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?”

ANNOUNCER: “Some call for us to retreat, putting our national security in the hands of others. Call Congress now. Tell them to support the President’s policy of preemptive self-defense.”

We must act, even if the threat is nonexistent – because of the potential danger. If “self-defense” consists of necessary “preemption,” then what would happen if we started acting on this Bushian principle domestically? After all, killers, robbers, and rapists don’t announce their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike. Why not just jail them before they have a chance to commit a crime? This principle, if applied within the U.S., would lead straight to totalitarian rule. Applied abroad, it means perpetual war.

Oh, but that doesn’t factor in the risk of not acting, which, in the post-9/11 universe we have landed in could be a fatal error. Given that premise, it is perfectly logical that we must immediately embark on a campaign of world conquest, such as not even Alexander the Great dared to dream of. I am reminded of my old friend and mentor, Murray N. Rothbard, who foresaw this moment in a 1994 piece entitled “Invade the World”:

“We must face the fact that there is not a single country in the world that measures up to the lofty moral and social standards that are the hallmark of the U.S.A.: even Canada is delinquent and deserves a whiff of grape. There is not a single country in the world which, like the U.S., reeks of democracy and “human rights,” and is free of crime and murder and hate thoughts and undemocratic deeds…. And so, since no other countries shape up to U.S. standards, … I make a Modest Proposal for the only possible consistent and coherent foreign policy: the U.S. must, very soon, Invade the Entire World!”

“Sanctions are peanuts: we must invade every country in the world,” Rothbard declared – and I can hear him laughing, even now – “perhaps softening them up beforehand with a wonderful high-tech missile bombing show courtesy of CNN.”

We’ve had many such bombing shows, courtesy of Fox and MSNBC as well as CNN, since then, and now there’s one every night – along with news of fresh American casualties.

That is what has the RNC so desperate as to portray Bush’s critics as de facto allies of terrorists. But this strategy could easily backfire. For the President to constantly invoke 9/11 is to focus on the single greatest failing of his adminstration: after all, it happened on his watch. Not a single person has been fired, demoted, or otherwise held responsible for letting 19 terrorists slip through our fingers and deliver a devastating blow from which we are still reeling.

“It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.”

The only proper answer to this is: go f*ck yourself, Mr. President. You don’t scare me one friggin’ bit. Americans will never be intimidated in this fashion: and, if they are, they will cease being Americans.

By raising this volatile issue in the context of a presidential election, it seems to me that the RNC is ignoring some pretty good advice regarding glass houses and those who live in them. It was a Republican administration that dropped the ball on 9/11 – which is why the White House is stonewalling the 9/11 Commission.

And this injection of neoconservative rhetoric into the campaign seems potentially dangerous for the President. Does he really want to make the extremism of the neoconservative ideologues who dominate his administration the central issue of the campaign? The RNC, by exhorting their followers to “call Congress” on behalf of the policy of preemption, is in effect telling them to demand new wars, more casualties, and fresh invasions. Syria, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt – which of these are now in the President’s sights? That is the question his opponents need to be asking.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

That none of them are asking it is hardly surprising, considering the Democratic field. Howard Dean, the alleged “antiwar” candidate, and likely nominee, flatly opposes withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, although he has made some vague noises about the extremism of the policy and those who made it. Things have gotten so bad that not even the Libertarians are dependably anti-interventionist: the Libertarian Party’s upcoming national convention features none other than Neal Boortz, the poor man’s Rush Limbaugh, who fulsomely supports this rotten war on supposedly “libertarian” grounds. If this fourth-rate radio ranter is a libertarian, by any coherent definition of the term, then we truly have entered Bizarro World through a rip in the space-time continuum, and the plain meaning of words has not only been changed but inverted.

For years, I’ve argued with anti-voting, anti-political libertarians, who refused to join the Libertarian Party or to launch any kind of political action on the grounds that such activity is profoundly immoral, and itself amounts to coercion. This position always seemed a mite too precious to be true, and I always suspected that it served as a cover for posturing pedants content to criticize from the sidelines without having to lift a finger on behalf of liberty. Today, it still seems like a suspiciously self-serving argument, but I’m less inclined to believe in the practicality of political action.

Call Congress? You mean those cowards who gave George W. Bush a blank check, and then feigned surprise when he and his neocon handlers cashed it?

Run for President? Against candidates with unlimited sums of money and complete control of the media?

Start a third party? Impossible, unless laws that effectively ban third parties – by keeping them off the ballot – are repealed. Given the current state of ballot access laws, America’s third parties are destined to spin their wheels, going nowhere, until they are either absorbed into one of the two major parties or else degenerate into ineffectiveness.

I can see that this column has veered off into territory I’d rather not explore right now, except to say that the LP’s invitation to Boortz is an outrage. As a former member, one who has a sentimental attachment to an organization that I spent many years helping to build, I am saddened – and sickened – by the spectacle of the only consistently anti-interventionist party in America giving a platform to one of the country’s foremost warmongers. This is a slap in the face to those who take the LP platform seriously, especially at this crucially important time.

I know that many of my readers are Libertarian Party members, and many are activists who write me angry letters whenever I diss the LP. I admire their loyalty, and I’m asking them to do me a favor. Give me a reason to have hope in the Libertarian Party. Write to the convention committee, and the National LP headquarters, protesting this decision. Send email to torchess@austin.rr.com

Read more by Justin Raimondo

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].