Thursday, July 12, 2007

That Gut Thing

It isn’t often that one sees things taking shape with such crystal clarity. I’m talking about the language of fear, the Neo-Conservative’s number one instrument for controlling the public. The Republican right, which still believes in the Iraq war is in a quandary. Public opinion is evidently strongly against it and support for the war is flagging on all fronts. How do you restore public support for a disastrous military campaign? Traditionally, one did this by instilling fear in the populace and so, perhaps led by the inimitably corrupt Karl Rove, a murmur, which started a couple of years ago, transformed into a whisper and has emerged as a ‘gut feeling.’ The Neocons are good at ‘gut feelings.’

“Never mind what your brain says, always trust your gut,” to paraphrase the wonderful Stephen Colbert. The gradation with which this has developed into something tangible is really to be respected and so let us pass review on the evolution of this process of fear-mongering. Really, these guys have been on a roll since 9/11. But it was back in November 2005 that a secret GOP memo surfaced, expounding the theory that only a disastrous terrorist attack could restore Bush’s credibility somewhat by unifying Americans behind him. The context then was the looming mid-terms and the GOP, it turned out rightly so, were worried about losing control of one, or even both of the houses.

Fast forward to 2007 and the upcoming Presidential Election of 2008, where we have five strong Democratic candidates and four weak Republican ones. Iraq is a quagmire – even right-wingers admit that now and the question is how to restore national unity behind a Republican pro-war candidate? Well the same ideas seem to be popping up in their heads a second time around: a big bomb detonated by some Arabs would do it! Back in July, our friend Rick Santorum the one who compared homosexuality with incest, bigamy and adultery seemed to be very keen on something blowing up somewhere and said this on the Hugh Hewitt radio show:

"Between now and November, a lot of things are going to happen, and I believe that by this time next year, the American public’s going to have a very different view of this war, and it will be because, I think, of some unfortunate events, that like we’re seeing unfold in the UK. But I think the American public’s going to have a very different view."

Between now and November? How does Rick know? Is he just hoping that something will happen, in other words, is the mother of all family-friendly, Catholic politicians wishing for a disaster? Inquiring minds want to know.

But then along came Dennis Milligan. He’s the new chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party. This is what he had to say to the
Arkansas Democrat Gazette on June 03, 2007:

“At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001 ], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country,”

“All we need is some attacks….?” Please tell me he apologized for saying that. But he didn’t. In his own words, the man is 150% behind President Bush. How do you back someone 150% who has a 26% popularity rating? Only blindly, is the answer. But I digress! Now we come to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's gut. Mr. Chertoff’s gut tells us that there will be a terrorist attack on US soil in the summer. There has been much written about Chertoff’s commentary about his gut. It’s a pretty amazing gut I must say. It has the ability to predict terrorist attacks. Never mind the $50 billion spent on counterterrorism measures, never mind the several billion dollars spent on surveillance and intelligence each year, never mind the warantless wiretapping of US citizens and never mind the giant apparatus the government has allegedly now in place to predict terrorist threats – it’s all down to one man’s bowels.

I’d love to know what kind of gut feeling it was. Suddenly, the entire United States Homeland Security depends on an intestinal muscle twinge? A fart maybe? What is Chertoff thinking? Well, one thing that it does is it makes us all wonder, whether he’s right. But it’s actually a pretty smart move. If something happens, he becomes the new Billy Graham and his gut becomes famous at predicting cataclysms. Upon his death it will be preserved in formaldehyde in the Smithsonian for us all to wonder and contemplate. If he is wrong, he shrugs and says it was only his gut – the department intelligence will have not betrayed us.

But the overall effect will be this: that millions of Americans, will now again worry about a terrorist attack. Millions of Americans will be afraid. Millions of Americans will be worried and millions of Americans will be more than ever willing to undergo a clampdown and will be willing to have their rights removed. Millions of Americans believe, now more than ever, that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 in some way and millions of Americans will feel, perhaps, that it is fundamentally important for the safety of this nation that more American soldiers get fed into the meat grinder that Iraq has become and that it is fundamentally important that education, arts and health care cuts are made to fund the War on Terror.

But here’s the conundrum that no one is talking about. There is a general creed amongst the Neocons, that the reason for the Iraq war is that it is better to fight “them over there” than to let “them” fight us “over here.” Now you would think, that if there is a terrorist attack on the U.S., people would think that the “War on Terror” is not working, particularly in Iraq and therefore it’s time to bring the troops back.

But the Republican Neo-Conservatives are likely to say “We cannot let up for a minute or they will strike us again – we need hasher measures and we need to redouble our efforts in Iraq.” The truth is that the Republicans know that the Democrats will lack the spine to call for a total troop withdrawal in the face of such an attack and that they will most probably join the fray in calling for stronger anti-terrorist measures all the while criticizing the Bush Administration.

The Republicans will do everything they can to claim that they, and only they, can continue to fight the “War on Terror” even if it means invading foreign countries and sacrificing the youth of America in a pointless attempt to control the Middle East for what they believe, is the ultimate good.

That is why the Rick Santorums and the Milligans of this world have been ruminating on its possibility. That is why Michael Chertoff’s gut twinged or bulged or burped its message, that there will be an attack, this summer, or this fall, or maybe next week but he’s not sure when. They can crank up the fear machine and hope to control the masses again, those masses who have slowly understood, that terrorism is not something you fight with a war. It isn’t something you throw more bodies at, something you crush with tanks or bomb with planes; it is something that is fought with education, with courage and with conviction. That’s something the Michael Chertoffs and Karl Roves of this world don’t want anyone to remember.

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