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October 31, 2004

Alternative realities


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Here is the full text of Osama bin Laden's Letter to America yesterday, which is interesting reading, and an excellent commentary by Wayne Brown of The Jamaica Observer examining the impact of Osama's trump and predicting chaos after the election:

"With Election Day almost upon us, it's not clear whether President Bush is running a campaign or plotting a coup d'etat. By all accounts, Republicans are spending these last precious days devoting nearly as much energy to suppressing the Democratic vote as they are to mobilising their own. Time was when Republicans were at least embarrassed by their efforts to keep African/Americans from the polls. For George W Bush, Karl Rove and their legion of genteel thugs, however, universal suffrage is just one more musty liberal ideal that threatens conservative rule. Today's Republicans have elevated vote suppression from a dirty secret to a public norm."

I also heard an interview with George Soros yesterday on National Public Radio. In it he said that he is working against the Bush administration because he sees disturbing signs of things that were happening under Hitler before WWII, particularly the harsh recriminations brought against those who criticize Bush. He said he and Bush share the goal of bringing freedom to the world, but they have very different ideas about how to do so. He says that Bush has Messianic fantasies, doesn't deny his own, but notes that, unlike Bush, he can admit his mistakes and try to learn from them.

I had an image of Soros entering a situation with birdseed in his open palm, sitting quietly, waiting for the birds to find him. In contrast, was a vision of Bush entering a similar situation with an Ouzi, shooting what moves, and intimidating the survivors.

Soros expects the beneficiaries of his financial assistance to be suspicious of his motives. He encourages that suspicion, and responds to it by being scrupulously open about The Open Society Institute and the reasons for his political activities. An excerpt from Soros' final appeal not to elect George W. Bush:

"I have been crisscrossing the country for the last three weeks arguing against the reelection of President Bush. On my travels I have heard many doubts about John Kerry. Why can't he project the same certainty as President Bush? Admittedly, he won the debates, but does that qualify him to be our Commander in Chief? Will he be as single- minded in pursuing the war on terror as George W. Bush?

Let me address these concerns. John Kerry has presented a cogent and coherent case but the Bush campaign managed to define him before he could define himself. They made fun of his explanation of the various votes he cast on the $87 billion appropriation for Iraq, although it made perfect sense. He was practically not heard, except in snippets, until the debates.

But the trouble goes deeper. The war on terror as defined by President Bush is a one-dimensional presentation of reality. We cannot fight terrorism by military means alone. We can use military force only when we have a known target; but it is the habit of terrorists to keep their whereabouts hidden. To track them down we need the support of the populations amongst whom they hide. Offense is not necessarily the best defense if it offends those whose allegiance we need.

John Kerry is aware of this other dimension. That is why he cannot be as single-minded as George W. Bush. He is nuanced because reality is complicated. This has been turned into a character flaw by the Bush campaign. Yet, that is exactly the character we need in our commander in chief. John Kerry is prepared to defend the country as he showed in Viet Nam; but he has learned first hand the devastation that war can bring and will use military force only as a last resort.

By contrast George W. Bush revels in being a war president. His campaign is shamelessly exploiting the fears generated by 9/11. Vice President Cheney is conjuring mushroom clouds into our cities. But fear is a bad counselor; we must resist it wherever it comes from. President Roosevelt had the right idea when he said, "We have nothing to fear but Fear itself." If we re-elect President Bush the war on terror will never end. The terrorists are invisible, therefore they can never disappear. It is our civil liberties that may disappear instead.

An open society is always in danger. It must constantly reaffirm its principles in order to survive. We are being sorely tested, first by 9/11 and then by President Bush's response. To pass the test we must face reality instead of finding solace in false certainties. This election transcends party loyalties. Our future as an open society depends on resisting the Siren's song."

Osama, in his latest tape, refers to Benjamin Franklin's warning - I think he means about Jews, but this is the warning Google found for me "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."

Photo note: Osama, Bush. Two pumpkins --something's way off about both of them. Happy Halloween

Posted by Dakota at October 31, 2004 06:41 AM