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Desperate measures

Tell the lie often enough and you believe it yourself, the saying goes. This is not enough for the current Bush administration. As Barack Obama tied up the Democratic Party nomination, the Republican machinery prepares to play the same terror card they’ve used over the last three election terms in America. There’s nothing surprising in this, for the entire ideological framework of that party is based on “the global war on terrorism”. This ideological framework also provided the basis of the entire policy setup of this current administration for the last seven years.

Ah! But there is something new here. And it has everything to do with the influence of Obama’s foreign policy outlook in the media and especially on Wall Street. There is a widespread trajectory that the Republicans face a devastating thrashing in the general elections in November. Placing the terror card central to its renewed bid on power is seen as breathing new life into an all but lifeless campaign. Prepare for a very desperate campaign, terrorising the American public with the supposedly ubiquitous threat of terrorism. At a recent donor function ($1000,00-dinner-a-plate), Dick Cheney mentioned seven years in which “they tried to hit us”, but failed to come up with a single episode. All the terrorist plot persecutions over the last number of years share one interesting feature: the alleged conspiracies would not have existed without the active intervention of confidential informants. There will be nothing surprising, although the reasons for doing so might have a new twist to them.

When the Republicans stole the previous election, there was at least the tangible sense of unity within the ruling elite in America about that country’s foreign policy. The drumbeat over terrorism this time around has as its context a US elite bitterly divided over the future of America’s foreign policy. The groundswell of support Obama has amongst this establishment and Wall Street is partly as a result of opposition to a continuation of Bush’s course in the Middle East, but essentially because there’s a realisation that exploiting foreign markets are best done with the consent of elites in those countries. It is less risky as well.

Recycling the terror refrain and invoking the charge that the Democrats are soft on terror is aimed at intimidating the Democrats (it works — look at the rightwing turn Obama takes at every matter on national security and how it forces him again and again to bring the Iraq war back on the polical agenda). There are two other aims here. One is to change the debate in influential media circles and policy makers, and the other is the stampeding of public opinion.

But the Republicans are masters of deception and disregard. They got away with theft of an election once, but they also know it won’t do this time around to return to the scene of the crime. Knowing that, they also understand that they need more than rhetoric and pulling the ‘terror card’ is not enough to intimidate the American public in the run-up to the elections in November. Deeds are stronger than words, aren’t they? And that is exactly what the Republican machinery has. Deeds to match their fear mongering words…

Off the Cuban coast is an American torture chamber. It’s called Guantanamo Bay. There are five detainees charged with conspiracy in the attacks on 11 September 2001. Defence attorneys for the five revealed that they filed a twenty page brief, charging the Pentagon with rushing their clients before a military commission so the proceedings coincide with the peak of the upcoming presidential elections. That this is an intense debate going on behind the backs of the American public is not even a question. This is an administration that has committed the worst war crimes in modern history (aggressive war, torture, illegal detentions and assasinations). And it pays doing these things. They’re not giving up the one resource allowing them to do it. It’s their White House.

They are desperate…and desperate people do desperate things. Looking at the major donor lists to both Republicans and Democrats over the last eight years, an interesting occurence sheds light on party funding. Almost all the major donors moved as one person in support of the Democratic candidates. Both Obama and Clinton received two times more in donor funding from the American dollar barons than McCain. The American elite may just have announced their trust in Obama to defend their interests at home and abroad.

The prospect of a Democratic sweep in November must be profoundly upsetting for Bush, Cheney, McCain and Co. The question is: how desperate are they?


  • Steven Lamini

    Steven Lamini is a specialist adviser in one of the key policy fields troubling modern-day Europe and works across a range of equality fields, advising on policy and strategic approaches to cohesion. His interests are wide and varied, and he writes on world politics, economic issues, current events, mediocrities and lame-duck presidents of countries. He believes that heads should be enlightened, but somehow regrets having such a stubborn principle, for some heads are rather best chopped off. He lives in York.