Why I did not vote for Bush this time?
Why I did not vote for Bush this time?
Dr. Habib Siddiqui
There was a time when the Statue of Liberty in the Staten Island, NY was an icon that best tried to portray Americas declared role in the world. Not any more. Now, thanks to George W. Bush, a hooded prisoner on a box has replaced that image.
America went to the poll on Nov. 2. This is the seventh presidential election that I have closely watched. But never have I witnessed this level of excitement as I do this time. For many in the anti-war group, this election has turned out to be a race between two individuals who could best magnify Americas mucho-image in the world arena: John Kerry - a decorated veteran who later repented for the war-crimes of his country against the people in Vietnam - and George W. Bush - whose Hulagu Khan like hyper-ego took him to invade Iraq, an action that has been declared illegal (and by default, war-crime) by Kofi Annan of the United Nations. After return from Vietnam, Kerry openly criticized the war crimes of his fellow American soldiers, who had burned villages, dropped Napalm bombs, raped and massacred the Vietnamese people. His anti-war protestation then had made him a whistle-blower or a traitor in the unforgiving eyes of some veterans, most notably the so-called veterans of the Swift Boat. No wonder that they are now his harshest critics condemning him as one who is unfit to rule this country.
Bush, on the other hand, has been dubbed by his political opponents, probably with some justification, as an AWOL. Like so many chicken hawks that found ways to evade being sent to Vietnam (and thus, never saw the brutality of war firsthand), but get all too excited in sending others to fight their dirty wars, Bush is deliriously proud of his decision to invade Iraq. He does not realize that his doctrine of unilateralism, preemption, disregard for international laws and presidential-lies has made him the most hated individual on our planet. His actions around the world, far from his chutzpah, have made us all feel unsafe and insecure.
Like most psychopathic mass-murderers (Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Khiu Shampan and Milosevic) and serial killers of the past, Bush, however, remains undaunted and unrepentant for committing crimes against humanity. His administration misled the world into believing that Iraq possessed the WMDs and that there was a definite connection between the Baathist regime in Iraq and al-Qaida, both claims found to be utterly false.
And what crimes didnt Bushs forces commit in Iraq? Cities after cities have been bombed to oblivion. The entire infrastructure has been destroyed meticulously so that Halliburton and its subsidiaries could milk Iraq dry by making her pay from the sale of her oil for reconstruction. What a devious ploy in the name of war on terror!
The past is a basic part of our world today. It tells who we are and evokes what we want to be. The museums and ancient sites help define our evolution into the modern era. As a matter of fact, the ancient sites in Iraq represent the historical basis for all western civilization (including the basis for the predominant cultures of the USA), let alone the Islamic civilization. Yet, the Bush administration and his military forces there let destruction of those sites, and looting of the priceless archaeological treasures depicting the origins of human civilization from the Baghdad National Museum and other archeological sites. The stolen artifacts are now flowing into an antiquities market in New York, London, Rome, Japan and elsewhere. At the ancient site of Babylon, a U.S. military camp continues to bulldoze and cut through this city as it constructs military bases. A helicopter-landing zone has also been constructed there, causing massive destruction to the fragile walls. Such an attitude gives credence to the notion that America is racist and insensitive to other peoples or diversity. It could shed crocodile tears for the Bamian Buddhist statues, but what about the archeology in Iraq?
The war was truly more about establishing American/Israeli hegemony than anything else. So, outside the Iraqi oil ministry virtually nothing was protected; not even the conventional weapons site that stored 380 tons of explosives. To sustain its stranglehold over Iraq, the U.S. is now building the largest embassy in Baghdad, and also many military bases. The war was also about plunder of Iraqs wealth. Recently, an Iraqi government report accused Bremer administration of embezzling $8.8 billion. As to the much-touted Iraqi reconstruction project, as little as 27 cents of every dollar has actually filtered down to projects benefiting Iraqis. While Iraq has the most educated and technologically advanced society outside Israel in the Middle East, one wonders why Iraqis are barred from such jobs, and these are given to foreign contractors!
And as to the bastardly, monstrous crimes at the Abu Ghraib prison, the least said the better. What troubles me most is that they were systemic. They were reminiscent of those committed in My Lai. Disappearance of detainees were once a trademark of Latin American military dictatorships (aided by the CIA) in their dirty war on alleged subversion, now they have become a U.S. tactic in its war on terror. Nearly 30 detainees have disappeared or been killed, and hundreds tortured and sexually abused. So far only low-ranking soldiers have been charged with crimes. But a recent Army investigation says senior level officers were responsible for a breakdown in the rules at the prison. How could a nation that brags about its superior civilization and rules of law produce such savages and outlaws within its best-trained defense forces? What an example of perversion! Was the hatred of an alien culture at the root of such heinous crimes?
Once again, these crimes have cemented the notion that Bushs America is at war with Islam, and it despises everything to do with Muslims. As much as its architecture, archeology and culture did not matter, so do its people. They can be dehumanized, sodomized, raped and cold-bloodedly murdered or pulverized, all with blessings from the top brasses in the Pentagon. Even with Fallujah (a hotbed of Sunni insurgence) factored out, a recently published scientific survey, jointly conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and al-Mustansiriya University, indicates that death toll associated with the invasion and occupation of Iraq is more likely than not about 100,000 people, and may be much higher. The report also said that most victims were women and children.
The American war in Vietnam was wrong, so is the current war in Iraq. Michael Hoffman, who served as a Marine artilleryman during the invasion and later formed Iraq Veterans Against the War, says he saw, entire Iraqi towns in flames What really got me were (sic) the kids. I saw so many Iraqi kids who lost an arm, or a leg, or their parents because of what we did. This statement from a veteran contradicts Bushs claim squarely.
It took nearly 30 years for Robert McNamara, one of the architects of the Vietnamese catastrophe in which over 3 million South East Asian peasants were murdered, to confess that he was wrong. One wonders how long it would take Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to confess that they were wrong! Would the world conscience demand trial of these war criminals of our new century? Or, should we let the likes of Hulagu Khan write the books of history justifying their wanton massacre and cruelty?
Do I sound critical about Bushs presidency? You bet, I am. The irony is: like many other Americans, I voted for Bush in the controversial 2000 election. I was fooled by his pre-election promise of a compassionate America. I truly wanted to believe him, and went against my gut feelings to cast my vote for him. It did not take long time for me to have a rude awakening when he installed John Ashcroft, a favorite of the Christian/Zionist right with a history of insensitivity to civil liberties, as attorney general. Together they put in place a strategy for a domestic anti-terror war that had all the trademarks of the administration's modus operandi: disregard for civil liberties, obsession with secrecy and clumsy management. Ethnic and religious profiling became the order of the day. Ashcroft himself set the standard with his bigoted statement against the prophet of Islam. US citizens were detained for long periods, while they were denied access to lawyers or family members. Immigrants and foreign students were (and still are) rounded up and forced to languish under "unduly harsh" conditions.
Mr. Ashcroft appeared on TV time and again to announce sensational arrests of people who turned out to be either innocent, harmless braggarts or extremely low-level sympathizers of al-Qaida who, while perhaps wishing to do something terrible, lacked the means. Nevertheless the courts in Alexandria (VA), Lackwanna (NY) and Portland (Oregon) issued sentences ranging from 3 to 18 years against Muslim defendants, who were not charged for plotting terrorist activities, but with supporting jihad by training for battle. Even some grown-up Muslim children playing paint-ball marker game have been charged with the intention to commit terrorism. What an abuse of civil liberty! David Cole, a constitutional law expert at Georgetown University criticized the governments preemptive legal strategy as dubious. No longer are you held liable for your own wrongdoing but for your connection to a group, without the need to show any nexus between your activities and any illegal much less terrorist activities of that group, Cole said. (And compare the harsh punishments against these Muslim Americans to those of the U.S. soldiers and civilian operatives, found guilty of the prison torture, abuse and murder in Iraq and Afghanistan. It makes a mockery of the fairness of the American judicial system.)
Scores of Muslim charities have been clamped down, with their assets frozen and accusations that they were funneling money to terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Muslims are now afraid to write cheques for donation or charity. That says much about the quality of Muslim life in the USA! By default, every Muslim is now treated as a terrorist. Recently, the State Department unmasked its Janus face when it barred the entry of two world-renowned Muslims - Cat Stevens and Tariq Ramadan, both known for their unswerving contribution to making our world better.
Teenage boys and adult men captured in the Afghan war were transported to Guantanamo in the most inhuman condition that the world has ever seen since the days when many Africans were forcibly brought as slaves to the new world. It epitomized savagery. They were denied their POW status, and the access by human rights groups and the International Red Cross. They were held incommunicado with no right to challenge their confinement. The Geneva Convention and the U.S. law prohibiting torture were both described by President Bush's White House counsel as "quaint," and then effectively discarded as a constraint, so that Bush and Rumsfeld could institute policies that resulted in the widespread torture of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and numerous secret locations elsewhere. The Justice Department became a cheerleader for skirting decades-old international laws and treaties forbidding the brutal treatment of prisoners taken during wartime. Thanks to Mr. Bush, Jay Bybee, the author of an infamous Justice Department memo justifying the use of torture as an interrogation technique, is now a federal appeals court judge.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was personally involved in reviewing the specific extreme measures, authorized for use by interrogators in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. Astonishingly and shamefully, investigators also found that more than 90 percent of those tortured and abused were completely innocent of any crime or wrongdoing whatsoever, says former Vice President Al Gore. However, Rumsfeld has still not been held accountable.
Bush sent the Senate one ideological, activist judicial nominee after another. He moved quickly to implement a far-reaching anti-choice agenda including censorship of government Web sites and a clampdown on embryonic stem cell research. The economy is weak with record trade- and budget- deficits that are enough to scare anyone.
Lastly, no president in the last 40 years has done as much harm as Bush has to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In essence, he became a partner-in-crime emboldening another war criminal Ariel Sharon to unleash the most gruesome crimes against the Palestinian people. His actions, both inside and outside the UN, were so outlandishly biased in favor of the rogue Zionist State that it only solidified the notion that America cannot and should not be trusted as an evenhanded intermediary. His reckless foreign policy has become a recruiting ground for more violence in our already fragile world. I see him follow the footsteps of the demons from the past that caused so much of bloodshed in our world.
In summary, Bushs presidency is a litany of false claims, deception, arrogance, recklessness, incompetence and polarization. Shockingly, his actions here and abroad are blurring the distinction between true patriotism and fascism.
True patriotism is whatever ennobles humanity, not a blind allegiance to a flag or an individual or a party that symbolizes fascism, discrimination, hatred and inhumanity. Thanks to George W. Bush, America's moral authority, if there was ever one, in the world has been severely blemished, and her ability to persuade others to follow her lead has virtually disappeared. I simply could not afford another four years of Bush. Period!Parroting the legendary Nasreddin Hodja, let me say, Mr. Bush, you have fooled me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
 A European poll, conducted a few months ago, found him to be the greatest threat to humanity.
 According to Time magazine, 70% of Americans, in November of 2002, thought that Iraq was behind the attack on America on Sept. 11, 2001. Contrarily, the 9/11-commission report established that there was no connection between al-Qaida and the Iraqi Baathist regime. (See, also the PBS TV program on Oct. 29, 2004 with Bill Moyers.) Arms inspector Charles Duelfer said that Iraq had no weapons stockpile (Phila. Inquirer, Oct. 7, 2004, p. A20).
 See, Richard M. Leventhals piece U.S. has obligations to protect sites and artifacts in Iraq, Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 8, 2004 for a discussion on this subject. He is the Williams Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.
 See, the Philadelphia Inquirer, front-page caption - Video: Arms at site after invasion, Oct. 29, 2004, for the report on disappearance of Iraqi explosives after American occupation. (See, also the ABC TV report, Oct. 28, 2004.)
 The report was published by the non-partisan Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C. (Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 7, 2004, p. A20)
 See, e.g., the MPR report Abu Ghraib interrogator tells his story by Lorne Benson, Oct. 11, 2004.
 This is the statement of Reed Brody, special counsel with the Human Rights Watch (parenthesis mine).
 See, e.g., the report by Human Rights Watch on disappearance of detainees.
 See, the article: Survey suggests war-linked deaths in Iraq may be as high as 100,000, The Philadelphia Inquirer, p. A7, Oct. 29, 2004.
 The Philadelphia Inquirer, Nation grapples with its place in the world, p. A3, Oct. 29, 2004.
 In an article Men of Faith in Washington D.C., Need Our Prayers by Cal Thomas, a Christian Talk Show host and columnist, in Crosswalk.com News Channel, Ashcroft was quoted. (See, www.counterpunch.org/ashcroftbigot.html)
 See, this authors Abuse of Human Rights in America in the Media Monitors Network, Nov. 12, 2003; also Human rights, Islam and the charlatan activists in the Media Monitors Network, June 25, 2003. See also the articles Questions over men in terror probe by Lois Romano and David S. Fallis, Washington Post, Oct. 15, 2001; and Many held in terror probe reports rights being abused by Richard A. Serrano, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 15, 2001; Detainees offer a glimpse of life in N.Y. facility by Steve Fainaru, Washington Post, April 17, 2002. As I write this essay, an Australian student of Bangladeshi heritage, studying in the Trinity University, San Antonio, TX has been detained last week.
 See: The Philadelphia Inquirer article: Engineer gets 10.5 years in terrorism case, Dec. 18, 2003.
 See, e.g., the Phila. Inquirer, 4 Britons freed from Guantanamo sue, p. A7, Oct. 29, 2004. Their suit alleges mistreatment including beating, extremes of temperature, forced nakedness, threat of death, and many hours of short shackling (chaining ankles and wrists closely together to force them into a contorted and painful position.
 The Failed Presidency of George W. Bush by Al Gore at the Gaston Hall at Georgetown University, October 18, 2004.
About the author: Dr. Habib Siddiqui (saeva@...) lives in a suburb of Philadelphia, USA. He is an anti-war activist. His essays appear in a number of websites and Newspapers. He has written six books. His book on Islamic Wisdom is now available in the United States and Canada.