George's tradition was handed down and became more robust over time. Along the way to the present day, we expanded the frontier west and south and slaughtered about 18 million of our native people in the process. Their only offense was they happened live on the land we wanted, so we stole it from them. It didn't matter that they'd been there for about 20-30,000 years. How could we let a "little tradition" stand in the way of "progress" and "development." Once we had it all from coast to coast (including the half of Mexico we also stole), we set our sights offshore for conquests and easily found a few. In our beneficence to our southern "neighbor" we let the Mexicans keep half their country, but only because the majority population was in the southern half, and we didn't want all those dark-skinned people "diluting" our white Anglo-Saxon majority.
As fate would have it we spared Canada. But it was touch and go for our northern neighbor as we coveted their land too, and it may only have been our attention diverted to other "adventures" plus a few cooler heads that kept us from taking it. During our so-called War of 1812, there were those in the US more interested in annexing territory in "British North America" than fighting the British over their naval blockades, interception of our ships and impressment of our seamen. We were humming "O Canada" again in the 1920s, when the "Canucks" as now were friendly allies with no hostile intention toward us or anyone else. We actually drew up serious war plans to invade the country and occupy it. I'm not kidding. Why? The same reason we invaded Iraq or at least one of them. To steal their oil, and back then we had plenty of our own and lots more we'd find. We also had a similar war plan approved in 1919 to attack Mexico and steal their oil too. We want everyone's oil and most everything else they have as well. One day we may change our mind and just declare both countries and all others (or just their resources, markets and cheap labor) US property by an act of Congress or a Presidential directive or decree. Our neighbors (and all other nervous nations) shouldn't worry though. Whenever we conquer or colonize we make it clear we come as friends to help them. In the old days it was to bring them civilization. Now that "help" comes in our special style of "friendship" at the barrel of an M1A1 tank or sights of a cruise missile or nuclear bomb. But "it's for their own good, to bring them democracy and freedom" and the rest of the tired old rhetoric. It was shameless bunk back then just as now.
Fast forward a bit to WW II and its aftermath when the US emerged as the only nation left standing as the world's sole superpower. The Soviets may have developed "the bomb", but the war so devastated them (along with most of Europe and East Asia) it took about 15 years of redevelopment for them to regain even a semblance of normalcy. The US was now free to run amuck and took full advantage. What "amuck" we've run since needs much more space than I have here. So fast forward again to the current era and let Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter explain more recent US policy and its incurable addiction. He did it eloquently when he said "US foreign policy can be defined as follows: kiss my ar*e or I'll kick your head in." He said that during the Clinton years. He had a lot more to say about the Bush administration in his 2005 Nobel lecture and acceptance speech when he called the invasion of Iraq "a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law." He went on to say the US "quite simply doesn't give a damn about the UN, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant."
YOU GOTTA SHOW YOU MEAN BUSINESS
That brings us to Rule No. 2 - When you're the meanest, toughest, baddest guy in the neighborhood, you gotta show it by beating up on a weakling occasionally. Otherwise no one will take you seriously, and someone else might try to challenge your supremacy. That's how a local godfather does it in my city of Chicago. It works the same on the global stage as it does on the South Side here.
I can hardly improve on Harold Pinter's eloquence so I'll just add to it by calling the Bush-Cheney administration an unchallengeable practioner of reckless and outrageous policies at home and abroad and being the most reactionary, statist and psychopathic
administration in our history. It stands alone in its brazen uncompromising methods, fanatical extremism, bold and deceptive rhetoric and almost pathological insistence on secrecy. In sum - they're crazy and out-of-control. How's that Harold? It all came out after 9/11 that we now know was an event much different than the official explanation we were given. On that fateful day, the mask came off, the ugly face of a threatening tyranny could be spotted, and the bombs began falling.
So what's going on with us? Was this warped proclivity always there but never understood or quite so visible as now? Or is there something in our DNA that makes us like a modern day out-of-control Sparta? Is it a "bad seed?" Is it curable? Not a chance with the crowd running wild in Washington now declaring they'll throw nuclear bombs around like hand grenades in future wars and are already doing it below the radar in the two we're now fighting - that's right two ongoing wars, the other one being in Afghanistan which in case you hadn't noticed is still "hot" and killing US and other occupying forces. And that one has no end in sight either.
THEY PUT THEIR PLANS IN WRITING AND WE CAN ALL READ THEM - AND SHUDDER
Rule No. 3 - Write it all down clearly and in detail. That way everyone can read it and understand you mean business. What better way to scare shaky allies and intimidate and deter other nations thinking about defying us to forget about it or we'll beat up on them. It works most of the time.
The Bush-Cheney crowd try to make it work every time and since 9/11 have kept practicing to let everyone know they're not kidding. We believe 'em. But just to make sure no one forgets they just updated their September, 2002 National Security Strategy with more belligerent language than the original. The original, in case you didn't know or forgot, lays out an "imperial grand strategy." It's nothing less than a declaration of "preventive war" (the term "pre-emptive" is used incorrectly as that can only apply in a defensive action against a known impending attack) against any nation or force this administration decides is a threat to our national security. It doesn't mean it is, just that we say it is. That threat includes any nation we label "unstable" or a "failed state" (whatever that is). And a little add-on to the original NSS was their FY 04 Air Force Space Command Strategic Master Plan. It laid out a plan to "own outer space" (think the Martians will buy it), weaponize it with the most advanced and destructive weapons and technology including nuclear ones, and develop and place out there unmanned space vehicles to surveille the entire planet.
And there are two more gems everyone should know about. One is the May, 2000 DOD Joint Vision 2020 that outlined a plan for "full spectrum dominance." That's code language ("Militaryspeak" again) meaning total control over all land, sea, air and space and using any means including nuclear war to achieve it and keep it. The other jewel is the Nuclear Policy Review of December, 2001 that claims a unilateral right to declare and wage future wars using first strike nuclear weapons. Anyone nervous? You'd better be because the Bush administration declared a permanent state of war against "bad guys" we call "terrorists." I have my own definition of what each of those terms means and it's lots different from theirs. Dick Cheney gave us his message when he declared a "global war on terrorism" that may last for decades and may include in our target queue dozens of countries (the number keeps changing, but they have plenty in mind and don't plan to run out).
THEY'RE NOT KIDDING AND IT JUST GOT WORSE
Rule No. 4 - Just in case anyone still misunderstands, ratchet up the rhetoric, make it even meaner and tougher and start beating the war drums to announce you're planning to demonstrate your seriousness. That should get everyone's full attention.
If all this doesn't scare you, then you didn't read the morning papers right after the ides of March (amazing they didn't choose that day when another noted warning was made, went unheeded and led to a bad ending for a guy whose initials were JC - no, the other one). On March 16 we learned that an updated National Security Strategy outlined the first full statement of US strategic goals since the original 2002 document written in the run-up to the Iraq war and which, in fact, was a declaration of war against that country six months before it began. The new Strategy identifies Iran as the "single country" that may pose the biggest threat to the US and reaffirms our unilateral right to take preventive military action against them. It denounced Tehran as an "ally of terror" and "enemy of freedom" along with daily accusations they're trying to acquire nuclear weapons and even use them. It also audaciously claims "we may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran."
Iran never attacked any other nation or even threatened to. It endorses a negotiated settlement (didn't we use that ploy with Saddam) but warns of "confrontation" if that effort fails. Sound familiar? Haven't we heard that song before? The clincher will be when we call the Iranian mullahs and/or President Ahmadinejad "Hitler." And haven't we overdone that one too? Can't we let the old brute stew in his special hell without degrading his ignominy by equating all our other designated "bad guys" with him? And shouldn't the public have caught on to this snake oil sales pitch by now? You're giving them too much credit. They never get it or understand in this nation the renowned author and social critic Gore Vidal calls the "United States of amnesia." The equally renowned author and my fellow Chicagoan, Studs Terkel, calls our malady a "national Alzheimer's disease." Sadly, it's true. The public can't recall last week's headlines let alone the events of months or years past or heaven knows any knowledge or sense of history - the real kind, that is, not the mythology we're fed in school or through the corporate media.