from 22 august 2004
blue vol III, #16
Opinion Archive

A Boot Stamping On A Human Face
- For Ever

by Michael Lichter

"Stumping Bush Calls Kerry a Reluctant Ally on Iraq

New York Times, August 11, 2004

"ICEVILLE, Fla., Aug. 10 - Traveling here through Florida's conservative Panhandle, President Bush told supporters Tuesday that he had a new backer for his decision to invade Iraq: Senator John Kerry.

"Mr. Bush and allies seized on Mr. Kerry's remark of Monday that he would have voted to grant authority for the war even if he had known no weapons of mass destruction would be found. The Republicans said the comment amounted to what they described as another shift in position by the Democratic presidential nominee and an acknowledgement that administration policy on a crucial national security matter was correct after all."

What possible political advantage can accrue to Kerry by subscribing to Bush's doctrine of "we invade whoever we want, whenever we want, on whatever pretext we want"? He's telling anti-war Republicans (they do exist) to vote for Bush and everyone else who sees the world-destructive insanity of this doctrine to vote for Nader. It's not only disgusting, it's plain nuts - if he wants to win. If he only wants to show us that the system is rigged, he's doing fine. His position - that war on Iraq, never mind the faked-up pretext, was the right thing to do - appears to be the new consensus among a significant proportion of congressional Democrats, at least those who belong to or are influenced by the DLC. A recent item at the DLC web site, for example, praises Joe Biden for taking an anti-Bush/pro-invasion stand:

DLC | New Dem Daily | June 22, 2004
Democrats Draw Lessons from Iraq

Recent events in Iraq have led to an intensive re-evaluation of the war to topple Saddam Hussein. This re-evaluation has not included the Bush administration, which remains incapable of publicly admitting errors or publicly changing course. But the "Blair Democrats" who supported the use of force in Iraq are engaged in an honest effort to learn lessons from what's obviously gone wrong, and what must be done to salvage the situation.

One of the best re-evaluations has been written by Sen. Joe Biden, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and a top advisor to presidential candidate John Kerry. In a New Republic symposium entitled Were We Wrong?, Biden thoughtfully lays out a tough critique of President Bush's failures in Iraq, and a tough warning to Democrats about the right and wrong lessons to learn.

/p> Biden reminded readers of the bipartisan efforts in the Senate in 2002 to produce a use-of-force resolution focused on enforcement of long-standing U.N. resolutions that Iraq had consistently defied, rather than the dubious WMD claims and al-Qaeda links the Bush administration preferred as rationales for its new "preemption" doctrine. [snip]

Biden goes on to express concern about the broader implications of the administration's mistakes, if they lead to failure in Iraq. "Perhaps failure's most pernicious legacy will be a further hardening of the Vietnam syndrome that afflicts some in the Democratic Party - a distrust of the use of American power."

Fortunately, the Democratic Party's current leader is uniquely capable of understanding the true lessons of American wars from Vietnam to Iraq. [snip]

Like Joe Biden, John Kerry is capable of analyzing the mistakes the Bush administration has made before, during, and after the invasion of Iraq, without making the mistake of advocating a cut-and-run strategy for Iraq today, or an abandonment of U.S. leadership against terror or tyranny tomorrow. As another Blair Democrat, Sen. Joe Lieberman, said last week: "Democrats with a capital "D" have long been ready to stand up and fight for democracy with a small "d." We must and will stand up for democracy and Iraq today."

The message: a vote for either party is a vote for war. Lovely. I am reminded of a passage from Orwell's 1984. O'Brian is torturing Winston Smith, and he asks:

'How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?'

Winston thought. 'By making him suffer,' he said.

'Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery is torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy - everything. ... There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always - do not forget this, Winston - always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever.'

OK, as usual my post is long on quotes and short on analysis. My point, I guess, is that I didn't realize that the leading Dems, outside of Howard Dean apparently, were as committed to the military road to world hegemony as are the Bushes. I'm not sure why - or if - big capital has decided that the risks associated with a more aggressive American military policy are outweighed by the potential gains. We've seen evidence that neither big capital nor the big military guns are entirely comfortable with Bush-league bellicosity. What am I missing here?

–   Michael Lichter

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