IN THE COMMISSION OF HISTORY OR GOD

By Florian Roetzer

[This article published in the German-English cyber journal Telepolis is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://wwwtelepolis.de/r4/artikel/21/21095/1.html.]


In his apology for the global war against terror, US president Bush warns of a totalitarian world empire of evil and the necessary total final victory in the battle against the enemies of humanity.

For a long time after 9/11, the strategy of the Bush administration has made the global war against terror (abbreviated GWAT) together with the fear of “evil” into the center of politics. For years, this forged the nation together as expected and made the president nearly sacrosanct. However for some time, more and more US citizens see clearly that the war against terror as allegedly waged in Iraq nourishes terrorism and at best replaces terrorism. Behind this orientation, deficits appear like dealing with the flood catastrophe. Despite a threatened veto, Bush had to endure a defeat in the Senate when most senators voted for a law (1) ordering strict interrogation rules for the Pentagon. In a speech before the National Endowment for Democracy founded by Reagan (2), Bush tried to strengthen the trump card of the war against terror. The argumentation has shifted in some regards.

A BBC documentation may have caused a sensation by claiming that Bush according to his own testimony supposedly acted in God’s commission when he launched the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq to redeem the world from evil. After his first association of the proclaimed global war against terrorism with a new crusade, Bush or his speechwriter withheld explicit religious allusions, even if a religious Manichaism was always present in the USW destiny of redemption and in the struggle against evil.

One need not believe literally the reports of Abu Mazen (Mahmud Abbas), the Palestinian prime minister and Nabil Sharth, his foreign minister, about their first meeting with US president Bush in June 2003. Far from media publicity, Bush described himself here as commissioned by God. Perhaps he wanted to demonstrate his earnestness and determination in belligerent actions and in supporting the demand of the Palestinians for their own state. He should have said this was always his intention, according to Nabil Shaah (3):

President Bush said to all of us: “I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell him, “George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.” And I did, and then God would tell me, “George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq…” And I did. And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me. “Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.” And by God I’m gonna do it.”

This remark is not completely new. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz already reported it at that time (4). Abbas passed on the words of Bush:

“God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them.”

Bush naturally did not speak this way publically. The White House spokesperson denied the alleged quotation immediately (5). Many passages of his speech had religious undertones. He again portrayed 9/11 as the appearance of the “great evil” and as a “great turning point of our history.” A “call” was issued at that time to fight against evil until it was defeated. This was also true in the last speech at the National Endowment for Democracy [In the Commission of World History (6)] Only the nuances changed when the speech yesterday is compared with the speech two years ago. This is amazing since Bush must gain support today with new arguments that are not worn out and incredible.

At first, Bush tried to depict the motives of the Islamic terrorists who started a “global campaign of fear” to which he reacted with a “campaign of freedom.” The terrorists followed a “clear ideology,” Bush said. Their convictions and goals are “evil” but not “mad.” Bush comes to the defense of Islam as a faith and declares that “Islamic radicalism” or “Islamic fascism” only exploits Islam for a “violent political vision” or seizes Islam as a parasite. However he falls back into a Manichean worldview. The terrorist would force a “totalitarian empire” through attacks, subversion and resistance since there is no “political and religious freedom.”

Unlike the past tirades, Bush grants the great distinction between individual groups and movements that at most form a loose network but thinks they all have the same ideology and the same goal. The want to expel the “American and western influence” from their countries because these countries stand for “democracy and freedom.” After the withdrawal, they will exploit the “vacuum” left behind to realize their vision. Here Iraq comes into play as the “central front” for the Islamists. Bush obviously does not say that it first became that front through the invasion of the coalition troops. According to the argument, Islamic terrorists would have attacked the US before the invasion in Iraq. Now the US cannot withdraw from Iraq because that would only strengthen the enemy. This is analogous to its own domino theory in which Iraq should become the infectious economic and political master democracy for the Middle East. In this strategy, assumption of power in Ira could build an “Islamic empire” extending from Spain to the Philippines.

THE BATTLE FOR WORLD DOMINATION

With the expansion of territorial power, Islamism would then approach the “evil empire” that was once the Soviet Union in the eyes of Bush’s model. Bush compares Islamic extremists literally with communism with regard to the cruelty, submission under an ideology, struggle against freedom and will to totalitarian power. They would then produce weapons of mass destruction, destroy Israel, intimidate Europe, attack Americans and force the US government into isolation. This sounds like fanaticism. Persons like Bin Laden or Sarkawi are fanatical like Hitler or Pol Pot. Such determined “evil persons” must be taken seriously and combated “before their crimes can multiply.” Somehow this does not add up, that there is now a fateful battle between he forces of good and evil in which there can only be one final victory. The evil like communism once will collapse without a battle because of inherent contradictions. Afterwards “containment” could be pursued and need only wait until the right system prevails.

Bush maintains his ideology that the origin of terrorism has nothing to do with the policy of the US or other states in the past and present. The rise of terrorism remains unfounded since the US is innocent and only represents the good. As a result, nothing can be changed and the causes cannot be repaired. Only the battle remains to the “complete victory” against those who only trust violence.

“No act of ours invited the rage of the killers – and no conviction, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.”

As already in the Cold War, the good and the evil with their helpers are neatly separated. Irreconcilable oppositions are built. US or western values are not central but the final victory against the “enemies of humanity” and the battle necessitated by the “call of history” with its final purpose. Bush naturally lists the alleged successes of the war against terrorism but despite the successes maintains the danger of terrorism. He threatens groups and states – especially Syria and Iran – that support terrorists – with violence. He does not distinguish between terrorists and their supporters.

“Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account.”

Despite some small shifts, Bush holds unswervingly to the policy taken after 9/11 and the underlying worldview. There is no doubt or even the slightest self-criticism or correction. Self-criticism is only annoying if one wants to write world history following the “call of history” and its final purpose. However the constantly invoked freedom and selfless sacrifice in the service of freedom is a kind of missionizing. Freedom is ultimately God’s gift to all people. Now it is brought to all people by the historically commissioned nation.