Fwd: Beware the Liberal War On Terror


Richard Moore

Date: Sat, 03 Jul 2004 16:38:23 -0400
From: "Charles D. Johnson"
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Fwd: Beware the Liberal War On Terror

Happy 4th !!!

This piece is interestingly critical of Bill Moyers - uncommon
in my experience.

To agree with much of this you should at least be accepting of
the idea of class war; hard for most Americans.   But from my
vantage point in USA 2004,  Orwell's "1984" looks more and
more familiar.  In fact, the War On Terror is described in

Non Illegitimi Carborundum


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Beware the Liberal 
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 2004 20:41:32 -0400 
From: Richard Hugus 
To: Recipient List Suppressed:;


Beware the Liberal War on Terror
By Dave Stratman
Jun 28, 2004, 16:19

Many people who oppose the war in Iraq are living under a
dangerous illusion: that the war is the work of a cabal of
fundamentalist Christians and Jewish neo-conservatives who
have hijacked the government for their own purposes-that the
war, in other words, represents not the policies of the core
American Establishment but the zany doings of some

There have been plenty of indications that this view is mere
wishful thinking. The war in Iraq had resounding support at
its inception from both Democratic and Republican politicians
and the media. Only now that the situation in Iraq has
dramatically deteriorated have some politicians and editorial
writers begun to backpedal. Even so John Kerry, the
presumptive Democratic nominee, has continued to give the war
vigorous support, calling for 40,000  more troops.

But the war in Iraq has been so much the focus of the antiwar
movement that we are in danger of accepting by default the
larger "war on terror" of which the Iraq war is merely one
part. While the war on Iraq has held horrors aplenty for the
people of that tortured land and for US servicemen and women
there, it is the war on terror which holds the greatest
long-term threat for Americans and for the people of the
Middle East and the world. As far as I am aware, no politician
of any note, no mainstream media personality or outlet has
called into question the war on terror or challenged the
rationale which it provides for a future of permanent war;
rather, what criticism has been raised of Bush's war on Iraq
often has been on the basis that it has detracted from the war
on terror and the search for bin Laden, as Richard Clarke
famously charged. In his National Security address of May 27,
2004, Senator Kerry outlined the defense policies he will
pursue if he is elected, all of them premised on fighting the
war on terror more effectively, so that we can we can "honor
the legacy of the Greatest Generation and restore respect to
the greatest country - the United States of America." The war
on terror is the framework within which all his security
policies are forged.

A recent and, I think, very disturbing article by commentator
Bill Moyers puts the centrality of the war on terror in
perspective. Along with John Kerry's speech, Moyers' article
suggests that the war on terror is the fundamental strategy on
which the US ruling elite has placed its hopes for controlling
the American people and the world in the 21st century.

Bill Moyers, former White House press secretary to Lyndon
Johnson, is America's most respected journalist. His "NOW with
Bill Moyers" on PBS reaches millions of viewers with in-depth
pieces on such issues as income inequality, the environment,
women's reproductive health, COINTELPRO, nuclear
proliferation, and White House secrecy. Moyers is a strong
advocate for racial equality, for civil liberties, for the
duty of government to protect the weak from the strong and the
average citizen from unrestrained corporate power. He is a
model of progressive thinking.

Moyers' "Winning the War on Terror" is a lament over President
Bush's leadership. Moyers accepts Bush's narrative of the war
on terror without question. He doesn't point out that Bush's
war on terror has done nothing but multiply terrorists, or
that Bush could easily have isolated terrorists after 9/11 by
addressing the authentic grievances of Arabs, or that Bush in
fact needs terrorists to justify Administration policies. On
the contrary, Moyers has no doubts about who the real enemy
is: "Islamic fanatics have declared war and seem willing to
wage it to the death. If they prevail, our children will grow
up in a world where fear governs the imagination and
determines the rules of life." Apparently to Moyers' mind we
are always at Orange Alert or worse; it's almost as if it is
Americans-rather than, say, Iraqis or Palestinians-who live
under constant threat of being bombed or strafed or tortured
or starved; the brutal realities of life for many Muslims are
transformed somehow into omnipresent dangers for Americans.
And so, writes Moyers, "Like most Americans, I want to do my
part" in the war. He makes clear that this war is not just
another issue du jour. In language evoking the grand old days
of World War II, Moyers agrees with Bush that the war on
terror "is an inescapable calling of our generation."

The problem, according to Moyers, is that "the president makes
it hard" for us to do our part. Bush confused us when he
switched from chasing Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to
hunting Saddam Hussein in Iraq. He undermined his own
credibility when he justified the invasion of Iraq with so
many patent lies. While Moyers is well aware that Bush's
justifications for the Iraq war were false, his response is
not to call the whole enterprise into question but to chide
Bush for weakening popular support for the war on terror with
his lying. Bush stands to lose public confidence in Iraq in
the same way that Lyndon Johnson lost public support for that
great liberal war in Vietnam. (Moyers was Lyndon Johnson's
press secretary until 1967 and was tasked with defending the
war to reporters and the public.)

Moyers does not question the goals of the president in this
war of aggression, much less raise awkward questions about war
crimes and the murder of innocent civilians. It doesn't seem
to occur to him to wonder what the president is really up to.
Instead the crucial question for Moyers is, "How to assure we
win this war?"

His answer: a bipartisan wartime Cabinet. "Why not a wartime
cabinet to serve a wartime nation? Al Gore as head of Homeland
Security. Gary Hart at Defense. The independent-minded John
McCain or Warren Rudman at State. The world would get the
point: This time we mean it, all of us - the war on terror no
longer a partisan cause." Americans need to show a united
front in the face of world criticism.

But, Moyers continues, a wartime Cabinet of national unity is
not enough. The president has called on all of us to unite in
a common purpose, "But so far sacrifice has been asked only of
the men and women in uniform and their families." Ever the
compassionate liberal, Moyers writes:

Even now the privates patrolling the mean streets of Baghdad
and the wilds of Afghanistan, their lives and limbs constantly
at risk, are making less than $16,000 dollars a year in base
pay. Here at home, meanwhile, the rich get their tax cuts -
what Vice President Cheney calls "their due." Favored
corporations get their contracts, subsidies and offshore
loopholes. And as the president praises sacrifice he happily
passes the huge bills that are piling up on to children not
yet born.

Never mind that Iraqis and Afghanis have disappeared from this
picture, much less that off-stage they are being bombed and
slaughtered and tortured. What really upsets Moyers is that
there is so much inequality in the war on terror; some
corporations are getting rich, while soldiers have to get by
on poverty wages. Apparently we should not seek to end the war
but to distribute its rewards more equitably. Moyers would
like to see "the moral equivalent of the draft" imposed on all
of us, so that the sacrifices are truly shared.

Moyers' lament is not that President Bush has led us into a
war of aggression based on lies or that he has undermined our
Constitutional rights or that he has caused untold suffering
and death for a great many innocent people or that he has made
America an object of fear and hatred around the world. No, his
lament is that Bush is failing "to lead all of us, and not
just a partisan few, to answer...the inescapable calling of
our generation." Bush has failed to rally all Americans to the
glorious cause of the War on Terror.

Bill Moyers, as Andrew O'Hehir put it in Salon, "has arguably
become the lone radical on television, openly challenging our
national failure to confront fundamental issues of class,
money, and power." This is why his fervent call for support
for the war on terror comes as such a shock, and it is also
why his call is so important to interpreting the significance
of the war on terror. We are not here dealing just with one
man's views, but with the views of a personage who has spoken
for and had the ear of those at the center of power in
American society, and who has often been one of their greatest

Are Moyers' views on the war on terror inconsistent with his
liberal political ideals? Not really. Liberalism is the
dominant philosophy of social control of American's ruling
elite. Liberalism does not challenge the structure of power in
society or question elite goals. Instead it aims to disguise
real power relationships while it mitigates or obscures their
effects, with programs ranging from the Great Society agenda
of the Johnson years to the affirmative action/gun
control/multiculturalism/gay marriage agenda of the past
decade. None of these programs poses the least threat to
America's financial elite. They are rather weapons of mass
distraction. They encourage those without power to see each
other as the enemy. They make the people seem to be the
problem and the government or corporations the solution.

I don't mean to suggest that Moyers' declared sympathy with
the underdog and his campaigning against the excesses of
corporate power and big money are in any way insincere. But
these sympathies don't in any way challenge the most powerful
in our society any more than they truly help those in need.
The man whose heart bleeds for underpaid GIs in Iraq while
cheering the strategy that put them there is not a threat to
any elites.

More to the point, the warm glow of Moyers' folksy and
egalitarian patter can be put to use by the  monied interests
to rally the American people to permanent war against "Islamic
fanatics" or, indeed, against any purported enemies government
leaders want to name. Anti-warriors should take heed: our
enemies are not just some cowboy oilmen or Likudnik neocons,
but the Eastern bloc of corporate and financial power which
dominates US foreign and domestic policy. Should John Kerry
become our next president, expect to see the "war on terror"
waged ever more aggressively, but with more sophisticated,
pervasive, and liberal PR to rally Americans to the cause.

Only a Democrat with liberal credentials can lead the American
people in sustained military conflict. This is true for two
reasons. Only the Democratic Party has deep and extensive ties
with labor unions and with black, white, and Hispanic
workers-in other words, with the people who will do the
fighting; without effective working class support, no military
effort can long be sustained. In addition, of the ruling
parties, only the Democrats have a seemingly generous and
uplifting ideology capable of summoning a majority of
Americans to a cause demanding blood and sacrifice.
Republicans can call frequent Orange Alerts and remind SUV
drivers of the need for Arab oil ("How did our oil get under
their sand?") as motivating factors, but these can't inspire
most people for long, and calls for "democracy in the Middle
East" don't ring true coming from Republican moneybags like
George Bush or Dick Cheney. However dishonest or manipulative
they may be, Democrat leaders waging the war on terror can at
least attempt to dress that war in their party's
long-abandoned first principles and paint the war as
progressive. Making a convincing case for permanent war on
Islam will require huge efforts of propaganda and deceit, but
this is clearly the strategy on which the ruling class is
embarked, and it is not clear what other options they have.
Given the strategy, US success in the war depends on liberal

Aristotle some 2400 years ago said that the tyrant declares
war "to deny his subjects leisure and to impose on them the
constant need for a leader." The war on terror is meant to
serve the purpose for which wars have been waged by rulers
from time immemorial. It is not mainly about oil or about
projecting American power into the Middle East and Central
Asia or supporting Israel, however important these goals may
be to the elite. It's key purpose is more central.

The war on terror is the new strategy for elite domination of
US society. It is their desperately-needed successor to the
Cold War, which for fifty years legitimized government power
and Pentagon budgets and held people in thrall to Mutually
Assured Destruction. The war on terror is intended to strike
fear in the hearts of Americans, so that they sacrifice
liberty for security and mobilize behind their leaders to
smite the foe wherever and whomever he may be. It is meant to
justify the far-flung bases of Empire and to make Americans
eager to sacrifice their sons and daughters and treasure in
the noble cause. It is meant to turn an alienated and ever
more unequal and undemocratic society towards unthinking,
patriotic zeal. Most of all, it is meant to focus on
carefully-selected foreign enemies the anger and revolutionary
solidarity which should be focused on the enemies of democracy
and peace here at home. 

If it is the case that the war in Iraq is only one element in
a broader elite strategy, the antiwar movement must have much
more ambitious goals than just military disengagement from
Iraq. It must challenge the rationale and motive force behind
the Iraq war: the war on terror. Our goals must be to shut
down the war on terror with mass popular action, dismantle the
worldwide phalanx of US military bases, and bring about a day
of reckoning for the war criminals responsible for these
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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland
    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
      suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the
      Reichstag fire."  
      - Srdja Trifkovic

    There is not a problem with the system.
    The system is the problem.

    Faith in ourselves - not gods, ideologies, leaders, or programs.
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