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September 19, 2003

Homeland Uncertainty: The Price of Losing the Terror War Is Unthinkable


And Unspoken Questions of the 2004 Election

by Anthony Gancarski

Presidential elections historically are predicated on the answers to questions that can't be asked in public. Would Reagan have won in 1980 if the Republicans hadn't cut a deal with Iran to release US hostages only upon his assumption of the Presidency? Why didn't Clinton, in 2001, simply refuse to abdicate the Presidency rather than transfer office to George W. Bush?

There are questions polite people don't ask, yet they deserve scrutiny, especially as the 2004 Election draws nearer. Here's one, just for kicks: what did Karl Rove mean when he referred to Florida as "Ground Zero" for the President's re-election bid? Was he saying that the shenanigans of 2000 would pale in comparison to what's to come next year?

No one who can answer those questions with certainty can speak on the record, of course. All that appears certain about the current Road to the White House is that Bush's eventual Democratic opponent probably hasn't even declared her intentions yet.

But enough about what might happen in 2004, especially when what's happening now is so poorly understood. Consider Bush's recent request for $87 billion from the US Congress for the Reconstruction of Iraq. Many stateside have been sharply critical of this initiative, asking this question: when we have so many needy in America who could use the money, why are we sending it overseas?

That would be a great question, if we weren't dealing with fiat currency, manufactured by the Washington government, unreflective of the Treasury's holdings or of anything deeper than the need to infuse the economy with liquidity. Still, even our staunchest allies in the War on Terror question this latest bold stroke from our President.

Jack Engelhardt of Israel's Arutz Sheva criticizes the $87 billion in a recent column. Englehardt claims that sum is intended to "find Thomas Jefferson in that seventh century feud-crazed swamp that is Iraq", a gambit he dismisses as ludicrous on its face.

Englehardt's position, even by the pro-Israel light of the American press, is extreme. The columnist takes the ever-controversial Daniel Pipes to task for differentiating between Fanatical Islam and Moderate Islam, and for maintaining that Islam is anything but a vehicle to undermine Western Values. Likewise, Englehardt lays into Rush Limbaugh's advocacy of $87 billion for Iraq: Rush is "wrong when he defends Bush's 87 billion for Iraq. He says it's for democracy. You cannot buy democracy, Rush, and you cannot sell democracy. You can impose tyranny. You cannot impose liberty."

More from Englehardt: "That is not the Bill of Rights they pray to five times a day in their mosques. Bush is pleased that the schools are running again over there, but does he have a clue as to what (besides hatred for the West) the imams are teaching those kids? By the way, that 87 billion dollar figure is nearly triple the amount the federal government spends on America's schools."

Of course, there is a certain amount of reductionism in Englehardt's claims. $87 billion is not going to Iraqi schools, of course, but to facilitate projects for Halliburton and similarly connected concerns. Such disbursements pique many who see the Iraqi war as a cynical power-grab masquerading as a war of liberation, but they should hold on to their hats. More is to come that will anger them, on the Iraqi front and others besides.

It's not accidental that well-placed Administration figures like Condi Rice refer to the US "generational commitment" to remake Iraq. Washington did not commit to this action capriciously; just as in Afghanistan, business opportunities were discussed as part of the lead-in to military action. Those opportunities must come to fruition, or the American economy will be exposed as the catastrophe it is.

It probably isn't a coincidence that one of the hottest songs of the summer was "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes. The lyrics read as a vision of the End Times: "I'm bleeding, and I'm bleeding, and I'm bleeding /Right before the lord/ All the words are gonna bleed from me /And I will think no more/And the stains comin' from my blood tell me "Go back home"."

The stains may tell the singer to go home, but the harsh reality of the global situation is that the US will not retreat from Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else – failure is unthinkable. Why that is exactly is the unspoken question of the 2004 Election, but don't expect anyone to ask it near a live microphone.

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Anthony Gancarski, the author of Unfortunate Incidents, writes for The American Conservative, CounterPunch, and LewRockwell.com. His web journalism was recognized by Utne Reader Online as "Best of the Web." A writer for the local Folio Weekly, he lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

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