"I don't battle anymore! I uplift motherfuckers!" - GZA
Monday, April 03, 2006,6:46 PM
Creeping Fascism
By Nicholas Klassen

A few months after Tom Ridge stepped down as US Homeland Security chief, he set the record straight: the White House had repeatedly disregarded his advice and raised the government’s terror alert to orange, or “high,” without justification. Ridge wanted to “debunk the myth” that his department was needlessly frightening the American public with the alerts and told reporters “More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it . . . There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, ‘For that?’”

It’s no surprise that the Bush administration has fudged the terror warnings for its own benefit. Exploiting fears of terrorism is central to Bush’s presidency. His aides don’t even pretend otherwise, explaining to a Washington Post reporter in the 2004 election campaign that Bush’s strategy was “aimed at stoking public fears about terrorism, raising new concerns about Kerry’s ability to protect Americans and reinforcing Bush’s image as the steady anti-terrorism candidate.”

But beyond ensuring his re-election, Bush’s manipulation of his citizenry’s national security concerns has proven enormously politically expedient. Americans are regularly told by their government that they should be scared. For many, their identity is wrapped up in their sense of how safe they feel, and the “Other” may have to die so that they feel protected. Bush has deftly balanced his paradoxical assertions that Americans should be very afraid of terrorism, but that they’re safe with him. And as such, he has cultivated a large pool of malleable citizens who are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, no matter the circumstances. The shades of fascism in this equation are hard to deny. For though the US may not be a bona fide fascist state in the traditional sense, the current obsession with national security, militaristic rhetoric and imperial ambitions conform with any general theory of fascism. Other traits of Bush’s government fit the bill as well: hyper-nationalism, emphasis on machismo, rollback of personal freedoms, reliance on authoritarian and charismatic leadership, and framing day-to-day life as permanent war.

Bush claims that much of this is necessary because “The world changed on September the 11th.” But the reality is that Bush had an aggressive foreign policy waiting in the hopper long before the terrorists struck. His coterie of neoconservative hawk advisers were chomping on the bit to implement their decades-old vision of advancing US military and political hegemony over the globe. The threat of al Qaeda provided a fortuitous opening. With the inception of a “war on terror” the divisions between what’s allowed in peacetime and what’s allowed when the nation is at war have dissolved. Even better, a war on terror is a war without end. In December 2001, White House aides told Time magazine that they expect the war to endure for at least the next 50 years.

For Bush, the beauty of his alarmist vision is that it’s impossible to quantify safety. Perception is key. And if the water is muddy, all the better. In the spring of 2004, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage released his department’s annual report on terrorism and trumpeted it as “clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight” against terrorism. Two skeptical professors scrutinized the data and found that — surprise! — Armitage was wrong; the number of significant international terrorism episodes had in fact risen, and the number of injuries due to international terrorism had gone up more than 50 percent. So this year, facing the ugly truth that serious terrorist incidents had tripled over the year previous, the State Department quietly decided in an unprecedented break with tradition not to publish the data that accompanies the report.

So it turns out that America’s descent towards fascism is all for naught, that Bush’s “bring it on” rhetoric has actually escalated the terrorist threat. Certainly, the US invasion of Iraq has birthed a new terrorist front and swelled the numbers of radical jihadis, just as the CIA predicted. And former CIA psychologist Jerrold Post told a recent counterterrorism summit in Madrid that “most strong counter terror attacks are for ensuring domestic voters that something is being done. But there is usually an increase in terrorism afterwards.”

Despite all this, Bush has succeeded in keeping a great portion of his subjects scared, showing the same fortitude of the strong man leaders who’ve gone before him. But how long can he hold on?How much more damage will he inflict before we see the full extent of the crack in his fascist facade?
posted by R J Noriega
Permalink ¤
Oriental Trading Company