Bush's Grand Game
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 @ 15:31:51 EDT
Topic: America

A "PNAC Primer"

Bernard Weiner

Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers

When the Bush Administration keeps hauling out its "we-didn't-know-nothin'" spin -- about Katrina, 9/11, Iraq, torture -- in effect they're using incompetence as their defense. How can you try to censure or impeach us, they're saying, when we didn't know what was happening, what to do or how to do it?

Their incompetence by this time has been well-documented and par for the Bush course. But, as the evidence demonstrates, in each of those cases they knew a lot more than they let on, having received adequate warnings of the scenarios that were about to unfold.

They knew the levees might well be breached in New Orleans and did nothing; more than 1000 died. They knew a major al Qaida attack was coming in late-Summer 2001, probably by air and aimed at icon American targets in New York and Washington, and did nothing; nearly 3000 died. They knew their own advisers had alerted them that Saddam had no WMD and no connection to the 9/11 attacks, but they went ahead anyway and lied the Congress and American people into Iraq; tens of thousands of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians have died and are continuing to do so. They knew, because they had approved the "harsh" interrogation methods, that tortures were being carried out on prisoners in U.S. care, but they did nothing (until photos leaked to the press); more than 100 detainees have died, and many thousands more have been brutalized and/or humiliated. They knew that eavesdropping on American citizens was illegal without court-sanctioned warrants, but they went ahead anyway, convinced nobody would ever learn of their law-breaking.

All of that is reprehensible, and will be added to the list of charges for the eventual impeachment hearings of Bush and Cheney, and/or to the criminal trials of those two and their subordinates. But what I propose to talk about here are not specifics of the high crimes, misdemeanors and thorough-going bunglings. To do that is to focus on the trees while ignoring the forest; we need to go deeper and find out who planted the seeds.


To get a handle on how Bush&Co. took America into its current domestic and foreign crises, one must first understand that their policies and actions did not originate after Bush was installed in the White House in January of 2001. The philosophy of greed and power-amassment already was in place years prior to that.

And so it's time to re-examine The Project for The New American Century, about which still too little is known by the American public. There were a number of us writing about PNAC three years ago -- William Rivers Pitt, myself, Neil Mackay, John Pilger, Tj Templeton and others -- but, after an initial flurry of interest by the media, discussion about that neo-con think tank mostly dissolved.

Much of the following takes off from my original 2003 essay "How We Got Into This Imperial Pickle: A PNAC Primer:"  A PNAC Primer" -- which is the most widely reprinted article I've ever written. That piece has been updated to reflect the new evidence that has surfaced in the past several years.


Most of us Americans saw the end of the Cold War as a harbinger of a more peaceful globe, and we relaxed knowing that the Communist world was no longer a threat to the U.S. The Soviet Union, our partner in MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) and Cold War rivalry around the globe, was no more. This meant a partial vacuum in international affairs. Nature abhors a vacuum.

The only major vacuum-filler still standing after the Cold War was the United States. The U.S. could continue the so-called "soft imperialism" approach, the kind of diplomatic, well-disguised defense of U.S. interests (largely corporate) carried out under Bush#1, Reagan, Clinton, et al. Or one could go the Karl Rove route of speeding up the process and accomplishing those same domestic and foreign ends overtly -- with an attitude of arrogance and in-your-face bullying -- within maybe one or two Republican administrations.

Some of the ideological roots of today's Bush Administration power-wielders could be traced back to the political philosopher Leo Strauss (short version: act aggressively, do whatever you have to do to win), and to GOP rightist Barry Goldwater and his rabid anti-communist followers in the early-1960s. But, for simplicity's sake let's stick closer to our own time.

In the early-1990s, a group of ideologues and power-politicians, most of whom had been in positions of authority in the Reagan Administration, found themselves on the outside looking in during the Clinton era, and were relegated to the fringe of the Republican Party's far-right. The members of this group in 1997 would found PNAC, The Project for the New American Century (PNAC); their aim was to prepare for the day when Republicans regained control of the White House, and, it was hoped, the other two branches of government as well. When that day came, their vision of how the U.S. should move in the world would be in place and ready to go, straight off-the-shelf into official policy.

PNAC was not a rag-tag group of lightweight amateurs. The PNAC founders were heavy hitters, with juice: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, James Woolsey, Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, James Bolton, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, William Bennett, Dan Quayle, Jeb Bush, et al., most of whom were movers-and-shakers in previous Administrations, savvy as to how to exercise power to the max in Washington. But even given their reputations and clout, the openly militarist views of this group -- attacking other countries "pre-emptively," for example -- were regarded as too extreme to be taken seriously by the generally mainstream, small-government, isolationist conservatives who controlled the Republican Party.


To prepare the ground for the PNAC-like ideas that were circulating in the HardRight, several wealthy billionaires and corporations helped set up far-right think-tanks, and bought up various media outlets -- newspapers, magazines, TV networks, radio talk shows, cable channels, etc. -- in support of that day when all the political tumblers would click into place and the HardRight cabal and their supporters could assume control.

That moment arrived with the Supreme Court's selection of George W. Bush in 2000. The temporary "outsiders" from PNAC were once again powerful "insiders," placed in important positions from which they could exert maximum pressure on U.S. policy: Cheney is Vice President, Rumsfeld is Defense Secretary, Wolfowitz up until last year was Deputy Defense Secretary (now president of the World Bank), I. Lewis Libby (now under indictment in the Plamegate scandal) was Cheney's Chief of Staff, Elliot Abrams was put in charge of Middle East policy at the National Security Council (and is now a Deputy Secretary of State), Dov Zakheim was named comptroller for the Defense Department, John Bolton (now U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) was Undersecretary of State, Richard Perle was chair of the important Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon, former CIA director James Woolsey was on that panel as well, etc. etc. PNAC's chairman, Bill Kristol, is the editor of The Weekly Standard. In short, PNAC had a lock on foreign/military policy-creation in the Bush Administration.

But, in order to unleash their foreign/military campaigns without taking all sorts of flak from the traditional wing of the conservative GOP, they needed a context that would permit them free rein. The events of 9/11 rode to their rescue. In one of their major reports, written in 2000, PNAC noted that "the process of [military] transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event --  like a new Pearl Harbor."

The Bush Administration, which came to see 9/11 as an "opportunity," used 9/11 and the fear that it generated in the general populace as their cover for enacting all sorts of draconian measures domestically and as their rationalization for launching military campaigns abroad. The Patriot Act, drafted earlier, was rushed through a frightened Congress in the days following 9/11 and the mysterious anthrax attack; few members even had read the huge document. The Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) to go after al Qaida in Afghanistan now is hauled out by the White House to justify torture, domestic eavesdropping, and anything else the "commander-in-chief" wants to authorize during "wartime."


Today, the Bush manipulators, led by Karl Rove, continue to utilize fear, hyped-up patriotism and a permanent "war on terrorism" as the basis for their policy agenda, just as they did in 2004 to get Bush re-elected. This, in order to continue to fulfill their primary objectives, not the least of which is to roll back and, where possible, decimate and eliminate domestic social programs that the far-right has hated since the New Deal/Great Society days, and to free corporate ambitions from government regulation. In short, a great leap backward to turn-of-the-(20th)-century laissez-faire policy.

By and large, these long-established social programs (Social Security, Medicare, Head Start, etc.) are popular with Americans, so Bush&Co. can't attack them frontally. However, if all the monies are tied up in wars, defense, tax cuts, etc., they can go to the public and, in effect, say: "We'd love to continue to fund education and environmental protection and drugs for the elderly, but you see there's simply no extra money left over after we go after the bad guys. It's not our fault."

Up until recently, that stealth strategy has worked. But, as Bush's fast-falling approval ratings suggest, the public is not buying that line so unquestioningly any more. Even so, Rove seems wedded to what's worked so well for the White House in the past, and so continues to use fear of terrorism as the main selling-point to the American public.

Don't get me wrong. Islamist fanatics dedicated to killing are real and deadly and must be stopped. The question is: How to do that in ways that enhance rather than endanger America's long-term national interests, and in ways that protect the very liberties and freedoms the terrorists allegedly are against, and what the neo-cons claim to be defending? The Bush approach is to use a howitzer in hunting for gnats; after all, Bush said, the Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper."

One doesn't have to guess what the PNAC guys might be thinking, since they're quite open and proud of their theories and strategies. Indeed, their writings lay out quite openly what they're up to, but few took such extreme talk seriously. Now that they're in power, actually making the policy they only dreamed about a decade or so ago, with all sorts of scarifying consequences for America and the rest of the world, we need to educate ourselves quickly as to how PNAC, and other HardRight think-tanks, work and what their future plans might be.

Given the absolute mess the Bush Administration has made in Iraq, the neo-cons, whose ideology underpinned the invasion and occupation of that country, are somewhat in disfavor these days. But, importantly, they haven't given up on their ultimate goal of transforming the geopolitics of various key regions in the world, and installing U.S.-friendly governments, by force if necessary. The policy of setting up new "democracies," however, comes with a caveat: Your country had better elect the right candidates, meaning those that will accommodate U.S. desires. Look how the Bush Administration is punishing Hamas in Palestine, Prime Minister Al-Jaafari in Iraq, President Chavez in Venezuela. All democratically elected but not quite what the Bush White House had in mind.


So let's take a quick, chronological look at PNAC, to see how we got from there to here. Some of these PNAC documents and strategies, which now are official U.S. policy, you may have heard about before, but I've expanded and updated as much as possible.

1. In 1992, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney had a  strategy report drafted for the Pentagon, written by Paul Wolfowitz, then Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy. (Both men would later help found PNAC.) In the report, the U.S. government was urged, as the world's sole remaining Superpower, to move aggressively and militarily around the globe. The report called for pre-emptive attacks and ad hoc coalitions, but said that the U.S. should be ready to act alone when "collective action cannot be orchestrated." The central strategy was to "establish and protect a new order" that accounts "sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership," while at the same time maintaining a military dominance capable of "deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." Wolfowitz outlined plans for military intervention in Iraq as an action necessary to assure "access to vital raw material, primarily Persian Gulf oil" and to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and threats from terrorism.

Somehow, this report leaked to the press, whereupon the negative response was immediate. Senator Robert Byrd led the Democratic charge: "The basic thrust of the document seems to be this: We love being the sole remaining superpower in the world, and we want so much to remain that way that we are willing to put at risk the basic health of our economy and well-being of our people to do so." Clearly, the objective political forces that could support this policy free of major resistance hadn't yet coalesced in the U.S. And so President Bush the Elder repudiated the paper and sent it back to the drawing boards.

2. Various neo-con/HardRight intellectuals outside the government were spelling out the new PNAC policy in books and influential journals. Zalmay Khalilzad (formerly associated with big oil companies, currently U.S. ambassador to Iraq) wrote an important volume in 1995, "From Containment to Global Leadership: America & the World After the Cold War"; the import of this book was to urge the U.S. to move aggressively in the world and thus to exercise effective control over the planet's natural resources. A year later, in 1996, neo-conservative leaders Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, in their Foreign Affairs article "Towards a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy," came right out and said the goal for the U.S. had to be nothing less than  "benevolent global hegemony," a euphemism for total U.S. domination, but "benevolently" exercised, of course.

3. In 1998, PNAC unsuccessfully lobbied President Clinton to attack Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power.  A January letter from PNAC  urged America to initiate that war even if the U.S. could not muster full support from the Security Council at the United Nations. Sound familiar? Clinton replied that he was focusing on dealing with al-Qaida terrorist cells. But PNAC's lobbying was able to convince a GOP-dominated Congress to pass the "Liberation of Iraq Act," with nearly $100 million earmarked for Iraqi opposition groups.


4. In September of 2000, PNAC, anticipating a GOP victory in the upcoming presidential election, issued its white paper on  "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for the New Century."   The PNAC report was quite frank about why the U.S. would want to move toward imperialist militarism, a Pax Americana, because with the Soviet Union out of the picture, now is the time most "conducive to American interests and ideals. ... The challenge of this coming century is to preserve and enhance this 'American peace'."

As Neil Mackay observed: "In its own words," he wrote, the PNAC report is a "'blueprint for maintaining global U.S. pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great-power rival and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests'." This 'American grand strategy,' it says, must be advanced 'as far into the future as possible'."

And how to preserve, enhance and advance this Pax Americana?  The answer, William Rivers Pitt noted, lies in following a five-fold plan: "Reposition permanently based forces to Southern Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East; Modernize U.S. forces, including enhancing our fighter aircraft, submarine and surface fleet capabilities; Develop and deploy a global missile-defense system, and develop a strategic dominance of space; Control the 'International Commons' of cyberspace; Increase defense spending to a minimum of 3.8 percent of gross domestic product, up from the 3 percent currently spent."

Most ominously, Pitt, wrote, "this PNAC document described four 'Core Missions' for the American military. The two central requirements are for American forces to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars,' and to 'perform the "constabulary" duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions.' Note well that PNAC does not want America to be prepared to fight simultaneous major wars. That is old school. In order to bring this plan to fruition, the military must fight these wars one way or the other to establish American dominance for all to see."

In serving as world "constable," the PNAC report went on, no other countervailing forces will be permitted to get in the way. Such actions "demand American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations," for example. No country will be permitted to get close to parity with the U.S. when it comes to weaponry or influence. Therefore, more U.S. military bases will be established in the various regions of the globe. Post-Saddam Iraq would serve as one of those advance military bases. Currently, it is estimated that the U.S. now has more than 150 military bases and deployments in different countries around the world, with the most recent major increase being in the Caspian Sea/Afghanistan/Middle East areas, the so-called "arc of oil" states in that area of the world.

5. George W. Bush was moved into the White House in January of 2001. Shortly thereafter, a report,  "Strategic Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century,"  was commissioned from the James Baker III Institute for Public Policy -- yep, that James Baker, the Bush consigliore. The report advocated a more aggressive U.S. posture in the world and called for a "reassessment of the role of energy in American foreign policy," with access to oil repeatedly cited as a "security imperative." It's possible that inside Cheney's secret energy-panel papers, which he refuses to release to Congress or the American people, are references to foreign-policy plans for how to gain military control of oilfields across the globe. We do know now that maps were rolled out at those energy-panel meetings,  which detailed which foreign oil-companies might get a slice of the Iraq oil pie.


6. In February of 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said publicly that Iraq was contained and posed  no military threat to its neighbors or the U.S. But mere hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Rumsfeld ordered his aides to begin planning for an attack on Iraq, even though his intelligence officials told him it was an al-Qaida operation and there was no connection between Iraq and the attacks. "Go massive," the aides' notes  quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not." Rumsfeld leaned heavily on the FBI and CIA to find any shred of evidence linking the Iraq government to 9/11, but they weren't able to do so. So he set up his own fact-finding group in the Pentagon, the Office of Special Plans, that would provide him with whatever shaky connections it could find or surmise. Paul O'Neill, Bush's Secretary of the Treasury, reported that he was astonished that the first Cabinet meetings in January 2001 were focusing on war with Iraq. The leaked  Downing Street Memos also supply proof of how far along the war-plans were developed,  years before the invasion began.

William Rivers Pitt offered some intriguing possibilities about why this Bush&Co. obsession with attacking Iraq:

"The purpose of this is threefold: 1) To acquire control of the oilheads so as to fund the entire enterprise; 2) To fire a warning shot across the bows of every leader in the Middle East; 3) To establish in Iraq a military staging area for the eventual invasion and overthrow of several Middle Eastern regimes, including some that are allies of the United States...

"At the end of the day, this is not even about oil. The drive behind this war is ideological in nature, a crusade to 'reform' the religion of Islam as it exists in both government and society within the Middle East. Once this is accomplished, the road to empire will be open, ten lanes wide and steppin' out over the line."

And, of course, inherent in all these PNAC plans is for the U.S. to act in concert with its one surefire ally in the region, Israel, which has to be supported and protected economically and militarily. (Jews and non-Jews alike in PNAC worked hard to maintain U.S. support for Israel.) The U.S. has a friend it can count on, Israel has a protector against its Arab neighbors. A two-country backscratching system.


7. Feeling confident that all plans were on track for moving aggressively in the world, the Bush Administration in September of 2002 published the "National Security Strategy of the United States of America."  The official policy of the U.S. government, as proudly proclaimed in this major document, is virtually identical to the policy proposals in various PNAC white papers and similar ones from other think tanks, such as the American Enterprise Institute, the operational hub of Washington's neo-cons.

Chief among these proposals are: 1) "Pre-emptive" wars should be launched, even if there is no meaningful provocation or imminent threat, whenever the U.S. thinks a country may be amassing too much power and/or could provide some sort of competition in the "benevolent hegemony" region. A later corollary rethinks the country's atomic policy: nuclear weapons would no longer be considered defensive, but could be used offensively in support of political/economic ends; so-called "mini-nukes" could be employed in these regional wars. 2) International treaties and opinion are to be ignored whenever they interfere with U.S. imperial goals. 3) The new policies "will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia."

In short, the Bush Administration seems to see the U.S., admiringly, as a New Rome, an empire with its foreign legions, and threat of "shock-and-awe" attacks, including with nuclear weapons, keeping the outlying colonies, and potential competitors, in line. Those who aren't fully in accord with these goals better get out of the way; "you're either with us or against us."


8. Paul O'Neill's wonderment at the early emphasis on making war on Iraq was well-placed. Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair secretly were colluding precisely to launch that war, even while they were telling their skeptical publics that there were no plans to do so. We now know that Bush told some U.S. Senators in March of 2002 "Fuck Saddam, we're taking him out," and that Blair and Bush agreed in July 2002 to launch such a war. (Four years earlier, when talking with his speechwriter about a possible run for President, then-Governor Bush said of Iraq:  "If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it.")

Even today, Bush hauls out his retread lie that he did everything possible to avoid war and was hoping to forestall it through diplomacy. In the latest White House/Downing Street Memo, we learn that he even considered provoking Saddam into providing a casus belli by flying a plane low over Iraq painted with United Nations insignia on it, in hopes that Iraq would shoot it down. Likewise, Bush continues to lie that Saddam would not let the U.N. inspectors back in to verify that he had no WMD; Saddam did let them in, the inspectors weren't finding anything, and Bush quickly launched his attack.

Neither country had the proof required about Saddam's supposed caches of WMD, so, according to the top-secret  Downing Street Memos, which were leaked to the British press in mid-2005, it was decided to "fix the intelligence around the policy."

In other words, Bush&Co. would move the war plans forward and, in the interim, try to cobble together some reasonable-sounding "intelligence" that could justify the invasion. Hence, Cheney's red-hot anger that the CIA couldn't, or wouldn't, come up with the proof required, so Rumsfeld then established his own in-house Office of Special Plans, staffed with PNAC political types rather than intelligence analysts. The required "intelligence" was pasted together from unreliable raw data and rumors from dubious exiles supplied by Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. That "intelligence" was stove-piped directly to Cheney in the White House, thus avoiding having to vet it through the government's professional analysts, and the green light was turned on, with Powell delivering the laughable pack of lies to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003. The Council wouldn't vote for a specific authorization for war and so Bush hastily launched "shock-and-awe" bombing and the ground-invasion of that country before the international community could organize itself effectively to resist.

Bush two months later, standing under a huge "Mission Accomplished" banner, declared that the U.S. "has prevailed" over the Iraqi enemy. Expecting to be welcomed as "liberators," and with no Plan B to rely on in case that didn't happen, the U.S. soon became bogged down fighting a mostly nationalist insurgency that continues until this day, one that grew in ferocity because the U.S. was responsible not only for an enormous loss of Iraqi civilians as "collateral damage," numbered in the tens of thousands, but also because of lack of employment for young men and the much-publicized torture and humiliation of thousands of detained Iraqis. Iraq then became a magnet, and perfect training ground, for jihadist fighters from all over the Middle East.


Everyone loves a winner, and American citizens are no different. Bush's approval numbers were unusually high after his "Mission Accomplished" speech. The situation is quite different today, with Bush's numbers down into the low-30s (Cheney is at 18%!), and with a strong majority believing the Iraq War cannot be won.

By following the PNAC precepts, the costs have been huge in troops and treasure, and in damage to America's reputation. Bush&Co. may well be losing the larger war around the globe: the U.S. now lacks moral stature and standing in much of the world, is revealed as a liar for all to see (no WMDs in Iraq, no connection to 9/11, no quick handing-over the interim reins of government to the Iraqis as initially promised), has destroyed a good share of the United Nation's effectiveness and prestige, is needlessly alienating our traditional allies, is infuriating key elements of the Muslim world (especially in the Middle East), and providing political and emotional ammunition for anti-U.S. terrorists, etc.

Already, we're talking about half a trillion -- trillion, with a T! -- dollars in costs for the Iraq War and reconstruction. And PNAC is deeply involved in preparing the ground for Bush's next war, which may either be a ground invasion of Iran or, more likely, a joint Israeli/U.S. or U.S./U.K. air assault on that country's fledgling nuclear facilities and scientific laboratories. The propaganda assault against Iran already has begun, and it is eerily similar to the pre-Iraq war propaganda. It would appear that the evidence is once again being "fixed around the policy." The consequences of such an assault on Iran -- unlike Iraq, Iran is a formidable Mideast power -- are barely addressed.

One can believe that maybe PNAC sincerely believes its rhetoric -- that instituting U.S.-style "free-markets" and "democratically-elected" governments in Iraq and the other authoritarian-run countries of the Islamic Middle East will be good both for the citizens of that region and for American interests, but even if that were true, it's clear that these neo-con incompetents are not operating in the world of Middle Eastern realities.

These are armchair theoreticians, most of whom made sure not to serve in the military in Vietnam, who truly believed, for example, that the Iraqis would welcome the invading U.S. forces with bouquets of flowers and kisses when they "liberated" their country from the horribleness of Saddam Hussein's reign. Most Iraqis, especially the majority Shias, were happy to be freed from Saddam's long reign of terror. But, as it stands now, U.S. military forces are more likely to remain trapped in a political/religious quagmire for years there, given that so many of the Shia population, along with the rebellious minority Sunnis, just want the occupying soldiers to leave.


Despite the utter cockup that the Bush Administration has made of Iraq, PNAC theorists continue to believe that remaking the political structure of the Middle East should proceed as planned. It will be done by force if necessary, although they hope the example of what the U.S. did to Iraq will make war unnecessary.

These are men of big ideas who don't really think. They certainly don't think through what takes place in the real world, when the genies of war and religious righteousness are let out of the bottle. The military planners did great with the actual invasion, but when the Saddam government collapsed, and with it law and order, and much of the population remained sullen and resentful towards the U.S., the Bush Administration had no prepared way of dealing with this new situation on the ground. They were dangerously slow to react, and had to change Occupation administrators several times; many of the appointees dispatched by the White House as political favors were young novices with no expertise or smarts about the complexities of Iraqi cultural and political life.

No, friends, the PNAC boys and their AEI-type allies are dangerous ideologues playing with matches in a region soaked in gasoline, and the U.S. is going to get burned badly even more in years to come unless the Bush Administration's hold on power is broken. Since censure and impeachment at this stage are problematic (though we must continue to agitate for them, making those topics part of the daily discourse), the surest way to accomplish this is to defeat the Administration's party at the polls in November 2006. That would result in Democrats taking over the House, thus breaking the HardRight momentum that has done, and is doing, such great damage to America's reputation abroad and to our country internally, especially to our Constitution and the economy.

Burdened with an unpopular president and a corruption-ravaged party, the GOP looks weak in the early run-up to the November voting. But this election defeat of the Republicans will happen only if there is a huge grassroots campaign to defeat them, and if there is genuine reform of the voting process. Right now, the GOP continues effectively to control the voting machinery and the vote-counting software, and may well have manipulated the election results in 2002 and 2004. We must work tirelessly to ensure electoral integrity and transparent ballot-counting.

We don't need or want an emperor in our country. We don't need huge tax cuts for the wealthy when the economy is stagnating or tanking. We don't need more "pre-emptive" wars, we don't need more shredding of constitutional due process. Instead, we need opposition leaders with big ideas who are capable of creative thinking. We need peace and justice in the Middle East to help alter the chemistry of the soil in which Islamist terrorism grows. We need jobs and economic growth at home, and we need authentic and effective "homeland security" consistent with our civil liberties. In short, we need a new Administration, which means that we need to get on with our serious work to make all this change happen. ASAP.

Organize, organize!, ORGANIZE! The first primaries are only several months away.

Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at various universities, worked as a writer-editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers ( www.crisispapers.org ). He is available for public speaking events. For comments: >> crisispapers@comcast.net <<.

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