Editorial Page
Who is the greatest threat
to democracy in the world?

Bush's impending war on Iraq represents a horror that must concern the entire world. The once- great, democratic American nation is rapidly becoming anything but -- and we must not allow ourselves to get sucked into the downward spiral.

Our friends, the American people, are being brainwashed by the Bush coterie and their co-operative, corporate-owned-and-controlled media. But not everyone has been fooled. Many Americans believe the real regime change should be at the White House. The media are not permitted to tell us that however. They also play down, even ignore, the outrage against Bush that is growing all around the world. Foreign newspapers report it -- in London, Paris, Berlin, throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. There one can read the heartbreak of many Americans, including the Texan who believes that Bush is merely trying to divert attention from his failure as a leader: "Under Bush we are giving up all our civil rights in the name of fighting the war on terror," he said. "If we do not agree with him, we are anti-American."

And there it is, in a nutshell.

Here is a man who managed to become president by questionable means and without a clear mandate from the people. He has wasted little time in pursuing his agenda. The tragedy of 9-11 was his catalyst. It stunned the American people, allowing him to build his "Big Daddy" persona and to convince them that he would look after them. He moved swiftly into action, following a plan that many believe was formulated long before the election that saw him seize the presidency -- and long before the events to which he appears to be reacting.

What has happened to bin Laden? In the beginning Bush claimed to have no greater goal than to nail him. No one has any idea if he is alive or dead and his name is now rarely even mentioned. How is he less important today than when the first bomb hit Afghanistan?

How does Iraq fit into Bush's "war on terrorism"? There were no Iraqi hijackers on 9-11. Iraq is hostile to El Qaeda. Iraqi women are not required to wear a veil. The Iraqi government may be brutal, but it is secular -- it does not encourage the types of religious fundamentalism that lead to suicide bombing. But Bush claims Saddam is building up an arsenal of prohibited weaponry, particularly of the anthrax/smallpox kind -- that it plans to unleash on the U.S. He offers no proof whatsoever. And he seems to have no interest in what the weapons inspectors might find!

There are scores of dictators in the world who could be proven to be more vicious than Saddam Hussein and, therefore, more worthy of U.S. attention. Let's see. Executions, torture and terror are the order of the day in Myanmar (Burma) where that nation is little more than a slave labour camp. Six million people in Zimbabwe have been forced into famine because of the racial strategies of Robert Mugabe. In North Korea, dictator Kim Jong has turned a once fertile and prosperous land into a concentration camp where people eat grass to survive -- and he claims to have the forbidden weaponry!

So why does the U.S. not attack one of them? Oops. Almost forgot. None of them have oil. Iraq has lots, some say more than Saudi Arabia.
The careers of both Bush and Cheney have long been shaped by oil interests, and their political fortunes have been boosted by the oil lobby. U.S. oil companies stand to garner billions of dollars if the U.S. invades Iraq -- Bush and friends could become multi-billionaires on the spoils of such a war.

The energy industry was happy to fatten Bush's election fund, to the tune of $1.8 million. And the minute they were assured of election victory, Cheney's first meetings were with people from the energy industry -- behind closed doors. He would not release records of the meetings, the names or even the corporate affiliations of those with whom he met.

Strangely, the U.S. media have been focusing their attention on anything but these facts.

Everyone in the world (except for some poor, still-deluded Americans) knows that Bush's longing to attack Iraq is to get control of the oil there. And if he is delaying his onslaught at all, it is simply because a wartime president's party is more likely to be re-elected and has more power than a peace-time president. Just give him a little more time.

With his blatant attack on civil liberties, his disrespect of national and international laws, and his totally self-serving policies, Bush is driving a stake into the heart of democracy and treading ever closer into the uniform of a fascist.

Desperate to remain within Washington's Fortress America, our Liberal government has introduced a battery of anti-terrorism laws, further restricted the rights of refugees, introduced a bill that will make it easier to deny and strip persons of their citizenship, and negotiated a series of new security and military pacts with the U.S. -- including for eventual Canadian participation in the U.S. military's new Northern Command.
Is Bush happy? Are Canadians still their good friends? Not quite good enough, it seems. It's apparently time to teach us upstart Canadians a lesson or three. And they've started by cracking down on our citizens at border crossings and harrassing us wherever they can. They pick on visible minorities because they believe it is then easier to "justify" their actions.

In September, Syrian-born Canadian citizen Maher Arar was picked up at New York's JFK Airport and detained for questioning for two weeks. He was only changing planes while enroute home from a holiday in Tunisia. He was deported to Syria, not Canada (they claimed he had terrorist ties). Canada was never informed, nor even given the courtesy of an explanation.

On November 1, celebrated Canadian-born novelist Rohan Mistry (of East Indian descent) felt forced to discontinue his book tour in the U.S. because he and his wife were being repeatedly subjected to humiliating interrogations at every single airport.

And how does our government react to such slaps in the Canadian face? Well, complaints have been made to the U.S. government. But Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham really put it into perspective when he rose in the House of Commons recently to announce that Canada could join the U.S. in a war against Iraq, mounted without express United Nations authorization. He said that if the U.N. did not pass a strong resolution threatening Iraq with war, Canada might be compelled to support unilateral U.S. action. "Doing nothing about Iraqi defiance poses great risks," he said, not quite saying out loud that the threat was from our neighbour to the south.

Who poses the greatest risk to the world and to world democracy? Saddam Hussein? Mugabi? Kim Jong? Surely it couldn't be George Bush Jr.?!

It is scary to realise Bush is the most powerful man in the world. Who can stop him?

Only our friends, the American people. We implore, we pray that they will open their eyes.

Your opportunity to seek solutions

Canadians are concerned about a great many things today. American influence is increasing rapidly and may soon pass the point of no return. Then it will be impossible to recover any significant degree of control over our own lives and destiny.

There is a growing gap between the rich and the poor -- both nationally and internationally. Something must be done about it.

Treaties that result in the sale of our most valuable assets and industries at fire sale prices are atrocious -- especially when those assets and industries are increasingly coming under foreign control.

Our voting system does not provide results that reflect the real wish of the people -- so much so that Canadians are losing interest in even bothering to vote. Fewer and fewer Canadians make it to the polls on election day.

Feeling disempowered? How can changes be made? Well here's your chance to do something.

Some caring Canadians have joined forces to organise a conference to seek solutions. Find out all about CUSP on page 7. Participate!

Personally:

Apologies for the preponderance of U.S. coverage in this issue. The decisions made there have consequences for all of us.

Since our next D&D comes out in 2003, we want to wish each and every one of you a Blessed Holiday Season and a promising New Year. Heartfelt thanks for your continued support!