The last six years of neo-conservative dominance in American politics have moved this country closer to becoming an Orwellian fantasy and ever further from the ideals espoused by the Founding Fathers. In today’s GOP, there is no room for rational thought, open dialog, or compromise. This is the harmful legacy of Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, Feith, Wolfowitz, Rice, Gonzales, and their legion of toadies in the House and Senate who are more concerned with the power of their party than with the well-being of the country. The GOP has taken the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks and simultaneously used them as justification for dozens of legislative decisions and as a stick with which to beat anyone who would dare question their actions and motives.

Sadly, it seems that even in the wake of the 2006 midterm elections, much of the mainstream media is unable to critique or see through the GOP’s unimaginative rhetoric and tactics. Although Democrats control both houses of Congress, they are still struggling to control the tone and topic of the dialog between the American people and the officials steering our destiny. The GOP has advanced its agenda by appealing to the most basic of human impulses: fear. If every situation, every debate, every situation is boiled down to a good/evil, us/them mentality–”you’re either with us or you’re against us,” “axis of evil,” “aid and comfort to the enemy,” ” [Our enemies] wonder about America’s commitment to [the GWOT]“–we are doomed to make unenlightened and harmful decisions. There are alternatives to fight and flight.

Fear and loathing in America

The half-truths, rumors, and lies used to instigate the war of choice in Iraq are well-documented in other tubes of the Internet, so I won’t go into detail here. Now we are told, “failure in Iraq is failure of the United States” (oh, and that’s Dick Cheney quoting Osama bin Laden). Apparently the GOP defines our own success and failure as it’s determined by our enemies (who were our “friends” 25 years ago, but nevermind that). If someone has a critique of the Iraq conflict, it’s shouted down and dismissed by a reflexive retort like “are you saying Saddam wasn’t evil?,” or the unsubstantiated and purely speculative, “but if we leave, they’ll attack us here!”

We’ve supposedly seen at least three differentturning points” in Iraq since this misadventure began. One more would complete the circuit, right? What exactly does “success” mean in terms of this conflict? What does “failure” mean? Rather than give honest thought to these tough questions, GOP leaders would rather let our enemies set those parameters. And if our enemies are the ones controlling the terms of the dialog, it’s an easy logical jump for the GOP to say, “obviously, we can’t let this happen, because that’s what our enemy believes.” We’re right back at the lazy, binary, good/evil choice that got us in this situation in the first place. Once we’re at that decision point, roll out the memories of 9/11, remind people that there are people in the world who don’t like America, sip Kool-aid, lather, rinse, repeat.

Pushing the (wrong) limits of foreign policy

The GOP’s lack of foresight and general inability to discern facts from desired facts has resulted in unnecessary diplomatic brinksmanship with North Korea and Iran. Following a pattern all too similar to the faulty intelligence and bellicose assumptions that led us into Iraq, the administration and its cronies successfully made a bad situation worse (DPRK) and gave the Iranian government the means to justify its legitimacy to a population that might otherwise question its handling of domestic and economic issues.

W and Co. further isolated Kim Jong-il back in 2002, claiming that the DPRK was trying to enrich uranium to develop “noo-kyoo-lur” weapons. Then, in 2006, the DPRK goes and tests plutonium warheads. Oops. The GOP thinking on this seems to be along the lines of, “Well, it’s a Clinton policy, so it must be flawed. Let’s simplify it: North Korea is bad; we don’t wanna talk to bad people. There, that was easy.” The policy started by Clinton in 1994 wasn’t ideal, to be sure, but it was a workable and better alternative to the neo-con approach.

Now we’re faced with a situation where the administration is publicly accusing top Iranian of supplying IEDs/EFPs to insurgents in Iraq. (Maybe we recognize them?) Sure, these weapons are being used in Iraq, but if an anonymous, off-the-record briefing is how the hawks want to break this flimsy accusation, forgive me for being skeptical. In the context of the botched Iraq and North Korean intelligence, I would hope that there would be more calls for solid evidence and more steps taken to prevent another “preventative war.” Given the record of this country’s leadership over the last six years, is it any wonder that the Iranians are refusing to increase the transparency of their nuclear program?

The GOP policy is to browbeat its opponents (domestic and foreign) into seeing the world from its lazy and misguided black-and-white perspective. It’s on the level of the cave-dwellers who, we’re told, “hate freedom.” If the opponent can’t make that logical leap, he’s either attacked as an enemy, or lambasted as weak and foolish. There’s no room in the GOP psyche for nuance, consideration of equally valid viewpoints, or tact balanced with decisive action. This way of thinking and acting is beneath us as a country, and it’s despicable that we’ve allowed these “leaders” to behave this way on our behalf with such impunity.

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