Our frozen friend, Winter Patriot, is on fire this week, weighing in on, among other things, the state of emergency now being mooted — and denied — in Pakistan. WP has been covering the seething cauldron in this pivotal nation more thoroughly than almost anyone else in the blogosphere, and brings his in-depth knowledge to the latest tremor in Pakistan's quaking political landscape.
He takes special note of the powerful, well-placed extremist elements emerging from the chaos. The curse of Bush's "friendship" has weakened Musharaff's standing as a strong, independent leader in the eyes of his people, which in turn has forced him into increasingly hardline measures to bolster his faltering authority. As an unconstitutional military dictator, Musharaff has no institutional legitimacy as the ruler of Pakistan; everything depends on his personal stature, and the willingness of various powerful factions to acquiesce to his leadership. One by one, these factions, both religious and secular, are withdrawing that acquiescence, and Musharaff is watching his authority bleed away.
The result could be a nightmare scenario: a failed, extremist-riddled state with nuclear weapons. [Hmm, sounds a bit like a description of Bush's America, doesn't it?] Then again, what better way to ensure the continuation of the "War on Terror"? Islamic extremists with nuclear bombs? Smell the fear, baby. Or as they used to sing back in the Harding Adminstration, "My God, How the Money Rolls In!"
As always with our Terror Warriors, it's a win-win situation: you get either an obedient client state with sweetheart deals for your Homeland cronies and military bases for "projecting dominance," or else a nice little hellhole spawning profitable instability and "imminent threats" that must be met with, well, sweetheart deals for your Homeland cronies and military bases for projecting dominance. As we've often pointed out here before, this dynamic is operating with wild success in Iraq, and to a lesser extent in Afghanistan. (There are a few more players cutting into the pie there, such as NATO). As long as the Bush gangsters remain out of jail, free to enjoy their ill-gotten gains and use them to further their rapacious agenda (either in or out out of office), then they will have "won" the Terror War — no matter what actually happens in Iraq (and see WP's excellent commentary on Patrick Cockburn's demolition of the current "surge" propaganda), or Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iran — or in a blowback-battered America, for that matter. (For more on the Bushists' triumph, see Claiming the Prize and Why Bush Smiles.)
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We can't really put it any plainer than this: they literally do not care how many people die and suffer as a result of their policies. The only restraint — the only one — on their actions is the need to preserve the acquiesence of various American factions and institutions to their own illegitimate, authoritarian rule. They have continuously, relentlessly pushed the boundaries to see how far they can go and still retain this acquiesence — and at every step, no matter how outrageous, they have found that it still holds. And so they keep pushing one step further. (We can see a perfect example of this in the FISA farce: Bush demands draconian powers of unfettered mass surveillance; the Democrats give them to him; then he demands even more.) There seems to be no limit to the docility of Americans in the face of this authoritarian onslaught — clearly, the nation as a whole has lost the independent spirit of its founders — but still, a tyrant must always tread carefully, testing the waters for what the populace will swallow. Killing a million innocent Iraqis is obviously OK — but would two million, or six million, cause an uproar? Dropping bombs in residential areas is fine with the folks — but would carpet bombing Sadr City be a bit too much? But these restraints, such as they are, are merely political; moral, legal, and ethical concerns play no part in the Bushists' calculations.
A piece I wrote on this theme in 2004, Blood of Victory, seems equally if not more apt today, as we approach yet another performance of the hollow Byzantine ritual known as a presidential election. Here's an excerpt:
In fact, the whole adventure [in Iraq] has been a win-win scenario for the Bushists from the start, no matter how it ends up. This is what many of the opponents of the war — and even most of its now-fretful supporters — have failed to grasp, because they don't understand what the Bush Family is about.Under the malign rule of the unholy trinity of oil, arms and investments, the fate of Pakistan means nothing. Junk it, nuke it, invade it, bolster it — it doesn't matter. The money will just keep rolling in.
Put simply, the Bushes represent the confluence of three long-established power factions in the American elite: oil, arms and investments. These groups equate their own interests, their own wealth and privilege, with the interests of the nation — indeed, the world — as a whole. And they pursue these interests with every weapon at their command, including war, torture, deceit and corruption. Democracy means nothing to them — not even in their own country, as we saw in the 2000 election. Laws are just whips to keep the common herd in line; they don't apply to the elite, as Bush's own lawyers have openly asserted in the now-famous memos establishing his "inherent power" as Commander-in-Chief to "set aside the law" and order any crime in the name of his self-proclaimed "war on terror."
The Iraq war has been immensely profitable for these Bushist power factions (and their tributary industries, such as construction); billions of dollars in public money have already poured into their coffers. Halliburton has been catapulted from the edge of bankruptcy to the heights of no-bid, open-ended, guaranteed profit. The Carlyle Group is gorging on war contracts. Individual Bush family members are making out like bandits from war-related investments, while dozens of Bushist minions — like Richard Perle, James Woolsey, and Joe Allbaugh — have cashed in their insider chips for blood money.
The aftermath of the war promises equal if not greater riches. Even if the new Iraqi government maintains state control of its oil industry, there are still billions to be made in refining, distribution, servicing and security for oilfields and pipelines, as in Saudi Arabia. Likewise, the new Iraqi military and police forces will require billions more in weapons, equipment and training, bought from the U.S. arms industry — and from the fast-expanding "private security" industry, the politically hard-wired mercenary forces that are the power elite's latest lucrative spin-off. And as with Saudi Arabia, oil money from the new Iraq will pump untold billions into American banks and investment houses.
But that's not all. For even in the worst-case scenario, if the Americans had to pull out tomorrow, abandoning everything — their bases, their "commissioners," their contracts, their collaborators — the Bushist factions would still come out ahead. For not only has their already-incalculable wealth been vastly augmented (with any potential losses indemnified by U.S. taxpayers), but their deeply-entrenched sway over American society has also increased by several magnitudes. No matter which party controls the government, the militarization of America is so far gone now it's impossible to imagine any major rollback in the gargantuan U.S. war machine — 725 bases in 132 countries, annual military budgets nearing $500 billion, a planned $1 trillion in new weapons systems already moving through the pipeline. Indeed, Democrat John Kerry promises even bigger war budgets and more troops if elected. [Note 2007: as do all the "serious" Dem candidates for the 2008 election.]
Nor will either party conceivably challenge the dominance of the energy behemoths — or stand against the American public's demand for cheap gas, big vehicles and unlimited consumption of a vast disproportion of the world's oil. As for Wall Street — both parties have long been the eager courtesans of the investment elite, dispatching armies all over the world to protect their financial interests. The power factions whose influence has been so magnified by Bush's war will maintain their supremacy regardless of the electoral outcome.
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