Two Roads Diverging in 2008: Which Way Will We Go?
By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers
January 8, 2008
Here's what I think could happen in 2008, some good, some bad, and a whole
lot of ugly.
For purposes of stimulating some out-of-the-box thinking, I've come up
with some scenarios that may seem over-the-top, but I hope the extreme
visions might provide lessons for action.
Let's start with the more positive 2008 scenario:
1. The House Judiciary Committee votes to begin impeachment hearings
against the Vice President; Cheney resigns, "for reasons of health,"
before he has to testify.
2. Bush nominates Condi as Vice President; Congress, anxious not to
leave the post vacant, agrees, led by weak-kneed Democrats and by
Republicans who realize that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, third in line,
potentially could become President if something were to happen to Bush
before a new V.P. had been installed.
3. Bush pardons Cheney for all crimes he "may have committed" while Vice
4. The pardoning of Cheney provides the tipping point for an angry
public. Bush is impeached, convicted, removed. Rice becomes President
and nominates Bob Gates as Vice President, who is quickly confirmed by
5. Rice pardons Bush for all crimes he "may have committed" ("the
country needs to move on...blah, blah"). (She appears to be unaware that
the International Court of Justice does not honor such pardons, nor can
her action stop the numerous civil suits against Bush.)
6. As a result of all the pardoning, a deteriorating situation in Iraq,
and an economy heading deeper into recession, public approval of
Republicans sinks to new low.
7. Democrats in November sweep into the White House and to huge
majorities in both houses of Congress. Obstructionist filibusters by the
GOP in the Senate are no more.
8. Following the departure of Bush from office, tens of millions march
throughout the world in joyous celebration, many holding signs saying
"Welcome Back, America, to the World of Decency and Reality."
9. At the same time strong anti-terrorist steps are taken, Congress
starts undoing the most egregious, unconstitutional policies and laws
from the CheneyBush era. Habeas corpus is restored, the most extremist
sections of the Patriot Act are removed, citizens' privacy rights are
respected (warrantless domestic spying, sneak-and-peek and black-bag
jobs, etc., are outlawed).
10. Congress and the Executive Branch work with the United Nations,
NATO, League of Arab States, European Union, African Union, etc. to
create a peacekeeping force of mostly Arab countries to help police the
withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, and to aid in helping resolve
the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Al-Qaida finds it more difficult to
recruit young jihadists and suicide bombers.
Well, OK, a lot of that might not take place. But a good share of
what's suggested above could happen with enough activism on our parts,
momentum and good fortune.
Now let's look at a possible alternative 2008 scenario:
1. CheneyBush, using the justification that Iran is obtaining
"knowledge" of how to build an atomic bomb, launch with Israel a massive
air assault on Iran's nuclear research facilities and missile silos. The
corporate mainstream media, as it did prior to the invasion of Iraq,
will have prepared the public for such a move by uncritically passing on
Administration lies as fact. Iran's military and political power in the
Greater Middle East is in shambles for at least a decade. CheneyBush
move to install pro-American, pro-free market politicians in these
Greater Middle East nations; insurgencies organize in those countries
against corrupt, pro-Western rulers.
2. As a result of America's unprovoked attack on Iran, the Greater
Middle East explodes into full-scale anti-U.S./anti-Western retaliation.
Americans are attacked and killed or taken hostage in one Muslim country
after another, starting with downed U.S. pilots captured in Iran.
Eventually, U.S. ground forces are dispatched to rescue trapped American
citizens; though intended as get-in-fast-get-out-fast operations, the
troops are soon battling local insurgencies and U.S. bombers are called
in to provide air cover. Many innocent civilians are killed as targets
are missed and missiles go astray; in addition to Afghanistan, Iraq, and
Iran, the insurgencies grow and America is enmeshed in military
quagmires in a number of other Muslim countries, most notably Pakistan.
3. The stretched-thin U.S. military is forced to call up virtually all
its Reserves and National Guard units, as well as "postpone" leaves and
retirements ("stop-loss") for American troops. Many angry families
rebel, joining appalled generals at the Pentagon and Guard commanders in
the States, in denouncing the action. There are few, if any, National
Guard units available to deal with increasingly-severe natural disasters
in various states (floods, earthquakes, massive fires, riots, etc.).
Congress introduces bills to stop CheneyBush's actions.
4. CheneyBush fire the recalcitrant Chiefs of Staff and generals and
appoint their own neo-con military leaders from the lower ranks. The
military situation grows even more disastrous on the ground. There is an
emergency call for "volunteers" to join the armed forces, with $75,000
signing bonuses. When even that doesn't work, the military draft is
re-instated. Money to pay for all of these military initiatives is
borrowed from China. The economy tanks even further.
5. Prior to the scheduled November 2008 voting, CheneyBush announce a
"postponement" of the election, "temporarily suspend" the Constitution,
and govern by martial-law decree. They claim the reason has to do with
"increased terrorist incidents and threats." The "commander-in-chief"
during "wartime" (the "war" being Bush's self-proclaimed "war on
terror") announces that Congress is closed. Armed troops keep the
peoples' representatives from approaching the Capitol; some legislators
secretly convene to discuss impeachment in Philadelphia, in the same
chambers where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were
hammered out. These legislators and tens of thousands of protesters,
including noted political and other military figures, are rounded up and
sent to detention camps -- originally built by Halliburton to contain
illegal aliens -- which are guarded by Blackwater mercenaries. Mass
protests in all areas of the country are broken up and thousands
arrested and sent to the camps; in a few cities, troops refuse orders to
fire on the protesters -- and they are arrested and immediately
6. Abroad, tens of millions of appalled, angry citizens pour into the
streets to denounce the CheneyBush coup in Washington, and urge their
governments and the United Nations to take action to restore America's
democratic republic. Among the economic sanctions imposed: a) An
international agreement to switch from the dollar to the euro as the
recognized international currency. b) A "call" on all U.S. debts,
primarily by China and Japan. c) An embargo of all exports to the U.S.,
which means primarily oil; U.S. oil consumption is ordered cut in half.
The result of all these moves is not simply an economic depression and
unemployment but areas of mass starvation throughout the U.S. The sharp
decline of the U.S. economy causes world-wide economic distress and
dislocation, to be sure, but amounts to much less damage abroad than
would result in the event of a full-scale war against, and invasion of,
the U.S. by the world community. (For more on this, see Ernest
Oil Trap" and
"The Vulnerable Giant.")
Vladmir Putin, the effective maximum leader inside Russia, offers a good
share of his country's nuclear submarine fleet in the event the United
Nations might want to send a military force toward the United States.
The U.N. says no thanks, for now.
7. Cheney and Bush vow not to resign, but to "defend America's freedoms,
economic system and sacred soil to the last man, woman and child,"
suggesting they are willing to unleash a "scorched-earth" policy, and,
if necessary, take the country down with them. Top generals in the
Pentagon launch a counter-coup in an attempt to return the U.S. to
Constitutional rule -- promising speedy democratic elections -- but, due
to a mole inside their ranks, are foiled and either executed as
"traitors" or placed incommunicado in military prisons.
8. A large delegation of respected Republican elders, all staunch
supporters of the Administration -- including former Reagan and Bush
Cabinet members, Nobel Prize winners, Wall Street bankers -- sets out
for the White House to urge Cheney and Bush to resign and leave the
country, with several billion dollars at their disposal. The GOP
delegation is arrested, and is sent to a detention facility near the one
housing oppositional Democrats and Independents. The nascent rebellion
building in the country loses steam.
9. The U.S. is kicked out of the United Nations. The economic-sanctions
plan proceeds apace, with every major country on board except France.
The stock market collapses.
10. Seeing the handwriting of their demise on the wall, in the dead of
night Bush and Cheney and their families secretly depart for Paraguay,
to the huge compound the Bush clan had purchased years before. Paraguay
has no extradition agreement with the U.S. (However, Paraguay does have
extradition agreements with the United Nations and the International
Criminal Court in The Hague.)
Well, you may think the above is pure nightmare fantasy, highly
unlikely to happen. But how many Americans thought that the United
States would invade and occupy a country that offered no imminent threat
to us, and would persist in occupying that country even though nearly
80% of the native population has indicated that it wants the U.S. to
leave and nearly two-thirds of Americans polled think the war was a
mistake and it's time to go?
WHO NEEDS AN OPEN COUP?
I'm not saying that this scenario will play out exactly the way it's
sketched above. For one thing, is an open martial-law "coup" by
CheneyBush actually necessary? Virtually all the authoritarian
structures already are in place, anti-terrorism bills passed by Congress
give Bush the power to declare martial law in emergency situations, the
ostensible "opposition party" offers precious little opposition, the
corporate mainstream media is in ideological lockstep with the
Administration, the counting of votes remains secret and in the hands of
Republican-supporting corporations, the bulk of the citizenry says
they're opposed to extreme CheneyBush actions but are not really doing
much to vociferously object.
Remember that CheneyBush control the Justice Department including the
U.S. Attorneys, FEMA (the department that runs the camps), most of the
courts, the National Guard, Homeland Security, the Pentagon, the
domestic-spying apparatus (NSA, CIA, FBI, et al.), the corporate
mainstream media. The public has been warned time and time again to
"watch what you say"; those objecting to the CheneyBush moves, the
Administration's argument goes, would be "weakening the U.S." and thus
would be "supporting the terrorists," thus making these "traitors"
liable for arrest.
Bush&Co. thus repeat their M.O. of using the horrific events of 9/11 to
frighten a nervous population into giving them the massive police powers
they have assumed, into writing nearly a trillion dollars worth of blank
checks for their various foreign misadventures, into supporting or
acquiescing to their illegal behavior in twisting and shredding the
Constitution's legal protections all citizens should enjoy.
True, most citizens would prefer that Cheney and Bush quickly depart the
White House, so that the work of constitutional restoration and a return
to a relatively sane foreign policy can begin. But like their elected
representatives, they don't seem to have the stomach for a determined,
never-yielding opposition, one that could start by putting these guys
into the impeachment dock for their gross high crimes and misdemeanors.
Actually, there does seem to be a growing willingness in the body
politic to impeach Cheney, but the timid Democratic leadership, for
incomprehensible reasons, has chosen not to pursue the matter, and thus
impeachment goes nowhere.
LESSONS TAKEN FROM IOWA
What the Iowa returns suggest, given the Obama-Edwards one-two finish --
and what is likely to happen in New Hampshire along similar lines, with
Obama and Edwards amassing a majority of the vote totals -- is that more
than half of the Democratic electoral base wants significant change in
the way the party deals with the worst aspects of Republican policy. It
wants an opposition party worthy of the name, not the
go-along-to-get-along crew currently in charge.
True, the liberal-centrist orator Obama talks more about change than he
probably would be willing to deliver (the more populist Edwards would
appear to be the more effective change agent), but the point is that the
electorate as a whole is eager for a significant alteration of the way
things are done in Washington. Even Huckabee's defeat in Iowa of the
establishment GOP candidate Romney may be saying much the same thing,
though the theocrat Huckabee certainly is no liberal.
In short, 2008, assuming that the American public makes clear that it
will never support CheneyBush attempting to cancel the election and
ruling at the barrel of a gun, promises to be a most fascinating,
watershed political year.
We progressives need to rev up our activism, realizing that the best
that may come out of the November election is a slight shift of the
center a bit to the left. But that move, given the extreme-conservative
juggernaut that's been in power for the past seven years, would be
momentous and could open the way for more progressive policies and
candidates down the line. #
Copyright 2007, by Bernard Weiner
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught
government & international relations at universities in California and
Washington, worked as a writer/editor at the San Francisco Chronicle for two
decades, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org).
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