War on Terror parallels
It couldn't be worse: two men with something
to prove to themselves, each other and the world. George W. Bush and Osama
bin Laden have more in common than they know.
They may stand on opposite sides of ideology,
firm and unflinching, but when it comes to resolving differences they see
eye to eye and do it the old-fashioned way: They burn it.
As director of this "wag the dog" farce,
Bush has cast himself as the marshal of mayhem. With the "dead or alive"
(preferably dead) bounty he placed on bin Laden's head, Bush
assumed the role of white-hat-hero facing
off against a sinister, snarly and vicious villain. With a gun-slinging
demeanor and a less-than-quick-on-the-draw mind, Bush rallies the
public with hyperbolic sound bites designed
to deputize patriotism and hog-tie support.
Relying on seasoned marketing executives,
Sheriff Bush has brought entertainment value to the horror of war. We are,
after all, a society that flocks to the theater to vicariously
partake in Rambo-type heroics where the
good guy kicks butt and the bad guy is left face-down in the dirt.
When Donald Rumsfeld introduced reality
into Bush's Old West fantasy, commenting that bin Laden may be impossible
to find, West Wing staffers stepped in for damage control.
By the next day, Rumsfeld retracted his
statement, assuring the American public that bin Laden remained a military
priority. To fulfill Sheriff Bush's personal pledge to string the
boy up, we shamelessly continue to put
American troops in harm's way. Bush's own military brass has complained
that his quest for bin Laden's hide has compromised the war
Our own sense of retribution has empowered
Bush to expand the scope of his manhunt as he plans to gun down all enemies
of the state. We might ask ourselves, "Once he gets
his man, what does Bush plan for a sequel?"
Since the common-enemy scenario has proven to be a ratings boon, we should
expect to see more wanted posters identifying
at-large outlaws who need "taking out."
new kid in town. Rather than seek out strategies
that are aimed at calming global tensions by focusing on the root cause
of social stress, Bush is enjoying his newfound
On Sept. 19, Bush commented, "The mind-set
of war must change. It's a different type of battlefield. It's a different
type of war." He must have been referring to his debut as the
popularity by appealing to the very cause
of world suffering: ignorance.
An annual defense budget of $300 billion
wasn't enough to avert the acts of Sept. 11, yet Bush's grand plan for
world peace is based on building an arsenal of anger. It is illogical
to assume a massive increase in the defense
budget will foster harmony and goodwill. A scheme like this is designed
to instill fear, not freedom, trepidation or tranquility,
inspiring "others to get us before we
There is no question that those who masterminded
the events of Sept. 11 should be brought to justice, but we are risking
our own value system if justice is not served in a way
that dignifies America. At present, Bush's
curfew on civil rights and posse-led lynching bring shame to a country
that prides itself on an unbiased legal system and democratic
Winston Churchill once commented that the
United States ultimately does the right thing after exhausting all other
alternatives. In this instance, however, exhausting all
alternatives may result in the demise
of the Old West, not to mention the annihilation of the world, commonly
known as "Bushicide."
How do we explain to our children, the
future caretakers of the world, that we gleefully wish others dead? How
do we explain that we live in a "do as I say, not as I do" society?
How do we put in perspective the idea
of a "kinder, gentler" nation when the antics of Sheriff Bush render these
Bush's showdown with bin Laden only exacerbates,
not eradicates, not eliminates, not exterminates the hostility that currently
grips the world. Bush needs to hang up his holster
and surrender his pride; the future of
the world depends on it.