Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Safety and Security

Back in the fall of 2000, the man I voted for did not become President. Rather, the Supreme Court appointed his rival, George Walker Bush. I know some will argue this point with me, but the fact remains, that the election of 2000 was fraudulent and the beginning of the end of intelligent governance in this country.

Up until now, I never considered myself a sore loser. When the person for whom I did not vote was the one who took over the reins of government I sighed and accepted the fact. After all, in four more years, there would be another opportunity to vote and perhaps the person that I backed would make it. In the meantime, I would back the President of my country as he was the face of our nation to the world. George Bush had also stated that he was a "compassionate conservative" and as compassion is always good there was no need for alarm. Was there?

Then we had September 11, 2001 and the flood gates opened. Suddenly the benign, recovering alcoholic Texan was on the world stage and playing to a captive audience. We were all in the throes of fear. What was happening to our country? How, and why, had this happened? For days we were subjected to a video loop of the WTC destruction. Our cowboy President, minus the horse, stood amid the rubble in NYC and proclaimed through his bullhorn, his (our) determination to get those who had committed this atrocity, and we all said, YES! Let's get those suckers! Boy oh boy that George Bush is a take charge kinda guy! Little did we know that we were being set up. Our first clue should have been the seven minutes it took Bush to remove himself from the classroom in Florida. Not much of a "take charge" reaction, but then it was a "safety and security" issue.

A call went out to track the perpetrators down in Afghanistan. We cheered, we agreed, our elected representatives sang and prayed and off our troops went amidst a sea of their flag waving countrymen to get the job done. Once again make the world safe for democracy and for "safety and security" reasons. But somewhere along the way things went pear shaped and suddenly we were out of Afghanistan and now, without so much as a nod to his cave hiding persona, Osama Bin Laden was left in the dust of Afghanistan. An even greater threat, we were told, loomed against the "safety and security" of our country in the person of Saddam Hussein, President, CEO, lead rat and Butcher of Bahgdad.

Finally the stage was set and we embarked on that bleak and narrow path called war. We would shock them and awe them and then the Iraqi people would welcome us with open arms, parades and flowers. We would be their saviours! Now they too could be "safe and secure".

The war in Iraq has certainly shocked and awed. It has shocked most of us to learn that the war was instigated by lies. Iraq, we were told, was an imminent threat to the safety and security of our country, armed to the teeth with Weapons of Mass Destruction and with the words mushroom cloud bringing fear and trembling upon us, we believed. The shock was the fact that there were no WMD's , and, sadly, most of the country has only recently awoken to the fact that there had not been any for a very long time. But the die had been cast and we now find ourselves in a never ending state of fear, and color coded emergency, signifying nothing. And, it is under the guise of "safety and security", that we have been lulled into acceptance of this administration's policies.

As casualties continue to mount in Iraq, are we any more secure? Was there ever a real security issue beyond which newer and better safety measures might have been employed without the rush to bloodshed and war? Where, dare I say it, more intelligent, rational minds might have put us on a different path? Where are the safety measures covering our chemical plants, our railroads our ports? Are our airports safe even now? When the person who waves the wand, who barely speaks English is primarily concerned about the contents of an infant's diaper bag, or my choice of footwear, I am not feeling reassured. When a disaster of epic proportions occurs here, and we are totally unprepared to handle it, we are far from secure. And, given the fall out over the response to that catastrophe, and the unmasking of the inept people in charge, I am even more concerned about our collective safety given the combined intellect of those in charge.

There is no exit strategy for this war, and with the increase in terrorist activity, we can expect to be in a continual state of war for at least another decade. The DoD has a document, Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support which is chilling to say the least, and shows where we are headed thanks to Bush and his War on Terrorism. Saner, more rational voices are not to be heard or tolerated in this administration as they run counter to the goal of absolute power, and undermine the militaristic mind set. Terrorism CAN be handled and made manageable when it is taken as a global issue. Terrorism, after all, is not a thing, it is a means to an end. It is a schoolyard bully tactic.

It has been far easier and simplistic to lump all terrorist activity to "extreme Islam", when in fact we are the occupiers of a country which wants us to leave. The terrorist insurgency and activity in Iraq can be directly linked to our invasion of that country, and that invasion was the proof the jihadists needed as to our intent. Most of the terrorism is being carried out by Iraqis who wish to see their country returned to them and to be left alone to manage their problems. If this ends in a civil war, then so be it, as no one's purposes are being served at this point. Even with a referendum vote on a constitution, Iraq has a long way to travel, and with certainly no thanks to us, and certainly not "safe and secure".

In the meantime, for a country whose main objective was to spread democracy to a former dictatorship, it seems more and more as if the roles have been reversed. We are a country in lock down. This administration's operatives have made it harder and harder for those who would disagree with their motives or tactics to have a voice in the forum. If you wish to hear your President speak in an open forum you first must pass the "getting in the front door" test, the criteria for which is to be a dues paying, card carrying loyal Bush Republican.

The Constitution guarantees us the right to peacefully assemble and petition our government for a redress of grievances, but with "safety and security" at stake, God help you if you wear the wrong T-shirt or dare to ask a legitimate question (the answer to which has not already been cleared by Karl Rove and written on a 3 x 5 index card), for you may find yourself in handcuffs and being "detained". Even doing your homework for a high school Civics class can warrant a visit from the Secret Service operating on a "tip" from your friendly local Wal-Mart employee/spy who surely knows a "safety and security" risk when he sees it! Civics Student...or Enemy of America?

I do not know about you, but I am feeling far from safe, and sad to say, it is this administration which I fear the most.

Susan B. Goodwin