This week the Pentagon released a report verifying what most people had suspected about the run-up to the Iraq war: that the Bush administration cherry-picked information from unreliable sources, contradicting the judgment of the professional intelligence community that Saddam Hussein had no active involvement with al-Qaeda. Basically, the American people and the world were lied to, and yes, it was intentional. At practically the same time the report was released, Dick Cheney was continuing the lie, and his boss was making erroneous speeches tying the war to 9/11.
I happened to be reading Chalmers Johnson’s recent book about American imperialism, Nemesis: the Last Days of the American Republic, after seeing him promote the book on C-SPAN. In the book, Johnson lays out a well argued and detailed case that since World War II the United States has become the world’s latest empire, spanning the globe with military presence, with presidents using increasing amounts of “dark” assets to influence foreign governments and now our own. Without exception, our attempts to force other countries to go our way (with almost no oversight by the American people) have been dismal failures. The Iraq war is just the latest and perhaps most egregious example of this. Johnson argues that we have two options to choose from, based on models from the past: the course of Rome, which sacrificed its republic by trying to maintain its far-flung empire, or the course of Britain, which sacrificed its empire to maintain its republic. Recent events seem to have us following Rome’s example.
Even more than usual, I was boiling mad at my country’s leaders. That they lied to me was one thing, but their motives were not even good ones. They are committing the worst acts of evil in my name, and I give a damn about my legacy. To add insult to injury, the Bush administration reacted predictably to the latest report by the United Nations panel on global climate change, arguing that the problem needs more study, and other countries must commit to action before we do anything to deal with global warming. My latest consumption model projects that Al Gore’s plan to reduce carbon emissions by 2050, if enacted worldwide, would postpone the crash of the human species by 100 years (from 2047 to 2147), which could buy enough time to reverse our destruction of the Earth. To resist even this modest approach is criminal, but our leaders don’t want to preserve the future; they want to exploit the present.