When George W. Bush served as president I and other commentators often dropped the dreaded “F bomb” when describing him and his administration’s policies. It was easy to think of Bush, Cheney, Powell and Rice as fascist evil doers. They plotted and carried out acts of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti and established a system of military detention in Guantanamo and sites around the world. The Patriot Act was founded on their watch and with it the erosion of all our constitutionally based civil liberties.
While those criticisms were on target, I now admit to being somewhat mistaken in the final assessment. It wasn’t just Bush and company who were fascistic in their policy making. Our entire system fits that description and we see it in the decisions made by Barack Obama and the rest of American political leadership.
How else would one describe a country that is ruled by a small core of super wealthy individuals? The rich, the 1% in Occupy Wall Street parlance, decide who will serve as president and who will be elected to the Senate, and to the House of Representatives, and gubernatorial offices across the country. They make sure that their needs are met, while actively undermining the needs of the 99%. Bank bailouts, housing bubbles and high unemployment are all indicators of the lack of democracy in the country that lays claim to the word it no longer recognizes.
While the rich get even richer, the foreign policy empire-building begun under Bush has continued unabated in the Barack Obama administration. The destruction of Somalia has accelerated and the United States is not content to just kill human beings. Those who survive are denied food and other aid as a result of America’s insatiable desire for domination. Troops may be leaving Iraq, but Obama has come up with new ways to take out foreign leaders who fall out of favor with Washington.
Without sending a single soldier, the United States and other NATO countries laid waste to Libya, killed its president and thousands of others, and installed a new regime. This feat was carried out with full approval of the corporate media, congress and even people who protested Bush’s war against Iraq. If that isn’t fascism, nothing else is either.
The terror which the president directs towards people in the rest of the world will soon have the potential to be directed against every American citizen. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was recently passed by both the Senate and the House. This bill, which authorizes military spending, also has a provision which will permit the president to place any American citizen under indefinite military detention and to do so without charge or trial. The Democratically controlled Senate voted overwhelmingly, 93 to 7, in favor of this effort to end any semblance of democracy. If Bush had attempted such an openly tyrannical measure, Democrats might have called it fascism, but they will do no such thing as long as their party is in power. That too is a hallmark of tyranny and despotism. Any true opposition to the power structure is silenced and marginalized, and allegedly different interests support the same ends.
The Obama administration, adept at spin and trickery, appears to look like the good cop, claiming that the president will veto the NDAA legislation because of the detention provision. Unfortunately for the president and his spin meisters, his true intent has been revealed. Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services committee, reports that the Obama administration insisted on keeping the language which permitted American citizens to be detained by the military without trial.
“Senator Levin told Congress recently that under the original wording of the National Defense Authorization Act, American citizens were excluded from the provision that allowed for detention. Once Obama’s officials saw the text though, says Levin, ‘the administration asked us to remove the language which says that US citizens and lawful residents would not be subject to this section. ‘“
The “F word,” fascism, conjures up images of Hitler and Mussolini but that simplistic notion prevents a thorough examination of the direction our country is taking. We may be able to vote periodically, but the decisions are made long before we get to our local polling site. The candidates may claim to bring hope and change, but they are the candidates precisely because they have promised to do no such thing. One can debate the nomenclature used to describe our political system, but it is clearly undemocratic, even when Democrats rule.