In the last couple of months there have been some disturbing developments that tell us a great deal about the Bush administration and the danger that it poses to the world.
A bi-partisan commission – the Iraq Study Group – came out with a series of recommendations on how the United States can deal with the disastrous situation unfolding in Iraq. Drawing from noted Democratic and Republican officials, the study group's recommendations did not go as far as I think they should. What they did suggest, however, was putting an emphasis on a political resolution of the Iraq crisis. The Bush administration and its allies not only ignored the recommendations, but mocked them as not serious.
We were then treated to the surreal State of the Union address where a very frightened and frightening President Bush essentially told the people he was going to pursue the war his way and his way alone. Following the State of the Union Address, when his speech was treated to the widespread criticism it deserved, he and his allies had the audacity to argue that if one did not like their plan of increasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq and provoking a war with Iran that they should come up with another plan.
Well, Mr. President, a bi-partisan commission did come up with another plan, and you disregarded each and every aspect of that proposal. What sort of plan are you looking for?
The answer, of course, is that there is no other plan than the one that the Bush administration wishes to advance, a plan that shows little chance of success and, even in the words of many of its own supporters, is nothing short of more of the same. Except for one thing: Bush's current plans may result in an expansion of the war in Iraq to a war with Iran, and from there, who knows?
So, given that we are dealing with a president who is convinced that only he knows what to do, what should people of conscience do?
The first thing that we have to accept is that we truly are in a situation of no more business as usual. In other words, it is not enough to express outrage through occasional national demonstrations and then go home and expect that things will improve. Don't get me wrong, national demonstrations are not only important, they are essential. They are just not enough.
We must combine national and local actions, including local demonstrations; send letters and calls to local media to express our opinions; write resolutions against the war signed by institutions with which we are affiliated; and one very big thing: an African American day of respect and opposition to the war. I have raised this in the past, and I will raise it again. African Americans need to stand up in opposition to policies that led to the Katrina catastrophe and the ongoing catastrophe in Iraq. They are intimately related. The same administration that is prepared to put billions into an illegal war and occupation of Iraq was prepared to ignore all the warning signs leading to the Katrina disaster and pay little attention to the recovery.
To add insult to injury, President Bush could not find the time or the willpower to include ANY mention of the ongoing Katrina disaster in his State of the Union speech. We must take the lead and call a national day where we withdraw our services and funds in protest over what has been taking place. There is no better way to make a political point than through our opponent's pocketbook.
In having a president who completely ignores the will of the people, including the views of some of his most trusted allies and advisors, we are dealing with a situation of arrogance bordering on tyranny. In such situations, pretending as if conditions are normal is absurd. If the president cannot hear our concerns, then we must shake things up in such a way that even he can no longer ignore them.
Bill Fletcher Jr. is a long-time labor and international writer and activist.