A Critical Time to Act
Bush Regime: Under Siege and Lashing Back
Revolution #021, November 6, 2005, posted at revcom.us
The Bush Regime is in trouble. Big trouble.
And that makes this moment both extremely promising and extremely dangerous. We stand at a crossroads where the impact of what we do--or don’t do--is greatly magnified.
The past week has witnessed a rapid-fire whirl of events. In Iraq, the 2000th American soldier died--on top of tens of thousands of Iraqis--and people took to the streets in hundreds of U.S. cities to protest. Coinciding with that, two major ruling class figures--Brent Scowcroft, who had been a chief foreign policy adviser to Bush’s father, and Lawrence Wilkerson, who is Colin Powell’s former chief of staff--made blistering criticisms of Bush’s conduct of the war in Iraq. On Thursday, Bush was forced to withdraw his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Then on Friday, Irving "Scooter" Libby--a major figure in the regime--was indicted on five felonies connected to the lies used to justify the war in Iraq.
Why is this happening? What class interests are represented in all this swirl? And what does it mean for the people?
We have to recognize that Bush came to power with a sweeping plan to transform American society--both its place in the world and its "social contract." The people who brought Bush to power--and remember, they shamelessly and coercively stole an election to get him in--wanted a much more untrammeled domination of the planet by the U.S. To help effect that and to keep the "home base" itself stable, they needed and wanted a fascist order at home, one propped up ideologically and socially by an extreme, know-nothing brand of Christianity. The end of the Cold War, the tremendous changes brought by globalization, the differences in people’s thinking off of both the struggles of the ’60s and the socioeconomic transformations of the ’90s--all these, and many other things besides, had introduced a lot of uncertainty and instability, and the imperialists saw the need for an iron fist to bludgeon their way through.
This has led to a very radical restructuring in how U.S. imperialism enforces its domination, overseas and domestically. For example: this is not the first time that U.S. intelligence and military personnel have tortured prisoners. But it IS the first time that the president has openly proclaimed that he has the legal right to order such torture! (It is also significant that those within the army who could not stomach the systematic and wide-ranging scope of the "new torture" regimen were forced out.) Nor is this the first time that religion has played a prominent role in U.S. public life. But it IS the first time when Supreme Court nominees must be vetted and approved by religious fanatics and when the president’s "model justice" (Scalia) says that the legitimacy of the government is based on "God’s will," rather than the consent of the governed (even though the "consent of the governed" is itself a myth, the fact that a Supreme Court justice would not even claim it as the source of legitimacy is significant. . . and ominous). And these are just a few examples of many.
Bush does all this not mainly out of perversity and ignorance, but because he represents a section of imperialists--the dominant section--that believes that these "new norms" must be enforced to maintain U.S. dominance abroad and hold U.S. society together while doing so. He and others are convinced that this and this alone can represent the interests of the system in a time of major and unpredictable changes. He is not the whole of the system, nor is he all of what’s wrong; but he is its main representative and the changes he represents will be very bad for the people and their ability to struggle for a better future.
THE MIERS NOMINATION
In an article that appeared earlier this year (and is now available in the pamphlet The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era), Bob Avakian outlined how Bush and Cheney must hold together a number of diverse and contradictory forces in their regime.1 The Christian Fascists are the driving and dominant force within this whole thing, but they are not the totality; there are different forces representing different interests and programs within the regime, and these get fought out in different ways. Bush has been known for keeping these conflicts under wraps. But with the Miers nomination, these conflicts came out very sharply, and when the dust cleared, the Christian Fascists emerged even more dominant.
Essentially, Bush had said to these forces, "Hey look, I got some problems with Iraq and Katrina, and I don’t want a big political fight over the Supreme Court right now. But I’m one of you, you can trust me, and I say Miers is okay. So get behind her." And the Christian Fascists, essentially, said back to Bush, "No way. We want someone who can bully like Scalia, we want someone who is openly going to transform the whole legal structure to our liking, and we don’t care if there’s a big fight in the Senate about it--in fact, all the better if there is. Let’s make it clear to the whole society that there’s gonna be big changes around here and people are gonna have to learn to accept those changes."
The past week has called to mind Bob Avakian’s characterization of the Christian Fascists as "monsters demanding to be fed." As if to give life to that very point, Paul Weyrich, one of their chief architects and strategists, was quoted this week as saying that, "If we don’t get a good nominee--if it’s somebody else who is a stealth candidate, and we don’t know what their judicial philosophy is--well then that will be the end of the Bush coalition." The fact that Bush gave in to the theocrats without a fight shows just how powerful and relentless these forces are. More ominously, it shows just how far along the road to theocracy we’ve travelled-- and just how much further we’ll go and how quickly we’ll get there if we fail to do something radical about it right now.
THE ATTACK ON THE NEOCONS
Another big element in the Bush-Cheney axis has been the neoconservatives, or neocons. Here again we want to draw on The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era, and in particular the article "Bush I. . . Bush II . . . And Things Going To Extremes." In broad strokes, Bush the father represented "imperialism as usual"--the maintenance of brutal, openly authoritarian and murderous regimes to enforce the status quo. But the neocons envision a much more wide-ranging transformation of the world. In particular, within the Middle East these neocons want to restructure things to bring in governments that (a) would have at least some democratic forms (though these states would remain even more firmly under U.S. domination, which gives a good sense of the strict "limitations" of the kind of democracy they have in mind), so as to be able to better channel and contain the forces unleashed by modernization in those countries and the rising discontent among the people, and (b) would more openly cooperate with (and subordinate themselves to) Israel in maintaining American domination of the region.
People like Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Wilkerson opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq not because it would be utterly unjust and brutal--Scowcroft, after all, played a huge role in orchestrating the Iran-Iraq war of 1980s (which took one million lives!), as well as planning the war against Iraq in 1991. Rather, they worried that the wild ambitions of the neocons risked damaging imperialist interests, in a range of dimensions. Scowcroft spoke out against the Iraq war in early 2002, before it began, but then withheld criticism until it became plain that the plans and dreams of the neocons were crashing against the realities of Iraqi society and the resistance of Iraqi people. Now--and again, coming from their viewpoints as dedicated and conscious servants of imperialism--he and Wilkerson object that the Iraq war has at the very least "courted disaster."
We need to be very clear on this: the changes advocated by Scowcroft et al are extremely limited and bound by these same imperialist class interests. They want to maintain U.S. troops in Iraq in the service of U.S. domination over Iraq. But they want this to be part of a different strategic mix and they want much more limited ambitions in regard to actually transforming the social structures of the Middle Eastern states under U.S. domination. Viewed from the standpoint of those under the boot of U.S. domination, neither Bush I nor Bush II is better--they are both worse. And viewed from the standpoint of the world’s people, including the vast majority in the U.S., nothing short of immediate American withdrawal from Iraq is acceptable.
The recently indicted Libby, it should be noted, is a top neoconservative and was a very powerful figure in the Bush administration. He was "Cheney’s Cheney," in the words of one reporter--that is, both the brains and enforcer of the neocon policies within the Cheney clique, just as Cheney developed and enforced these in the regime as a whole. Exactly how and why and by whom Libby got brought down must remain a matter of speculation for now--though it is very much in the interests of the people to force the truth to come out and to defeat any attempts to "close the books" on this whole pattern of lies, deception, fraud, suppression, intimidation, and punishment. In any event, it is hard to imagine that the disagreements over how best to fight the war in Iraq and carry out broader imperialist interests as well did not enter into the whole thing.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS
So, a few lessons from the past few weeks.
First, the Bush Regime is powerful and determined, but they are not all -powerful. The regime (and beyond that, the system it represents) faces enormous challenges in trying to radically restructure the forms of its domination both worldwide and within the U.S. itself. Especially to the extent that people resist, cracks and conflicts within the regime itself can burst into the open. The withdrawal of Miers, the indictments and resignation of Libby, and the criticism of the war grow out of big centrifugal pressures within the Republican camp, and create serious difficulties for Bush. And these difficulties for Bush--again, if we seize on them and struggle relentlessly on our part to drive him and the whole package he represents OUT--can in turn create more openings for people to "break free" in their thinking and actions.
Second, Bush and the people around him are not about to back off. The Christian Fascists are, to borrow a phrase, hell-bound to ram their agenda ahead, despite the fact that the vast majority of people in this country clearly do not want to live in a fascist theocracy, even one with "democratic trimmings." As to the war in Iraq, Bush himself has been going around the country giving speeches justifying it in very sweeping terms in an effort to both "firm up his base" and "make a case" more broadly for continuing this bloody, brutal occupation.
Third, unless the people come into the streets in powerful resistance, with November 2 as the beginning, the Bush Regime can knit itself back together again, possibly even stronger than before. But if, on the other hand, we do seize on this crisis in the regime to make our case even more convincingly on why we must drive them out; and if, in the words of a very insightful analysis on worldcantwait.org, 2 we seize on this "to build, ever more powerfully, a movement of massive resistance to do just that, beginning in a big way on November 2 (the first anniversary of Bush's ‘re-election’)," then the possibility of a totally different and much better future can emerge. To continue from that essay:
"Once again it is crucial to understand that the growing difficulties and mounting crises of the Bush regime, and Bush's response to all this, only serve to underline both the urgent need, and the growing possibility, to drive out this regime, through the mobilization of millions of people who know in their hearts that in fact they must, and are coming to see that they can, change the course of history through their own independent historical political action. And, as the 'Call' for November 2 concludes:
"‘The point is this:history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined.
"‘The future is unwritten. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.’"
THE WORLD CAN'T WAIT! DRIVE OUT THE BUSH REGIME!
MOBILIZE ON NOVEMBER 2.