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Election 2006 & World War III

By       Message Robert Parry       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   16 comments

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As Americans go to the polls in two months, they should have one thought fixed in their minds: they will be voting on whether to commit the nation to fighting World War III against large segments of the world's one billion Muslims. Beyond the cost in blood and treasure, this war will mean the end of the United States as a democratic Republic.

Those are the stakes that were made clear by George W. Bush in an alarmist speech to an association of U.S. military officers on Sept. 5. He declared that the United States must battle not only likely or even possible threats from terrorists, but the most fantastical dreams of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda about a mystical global "caliphate."

Adopting some of the most extreme rhetoric favored by his neoconservative advisers, Bush also broadened the "war on terror" beyond al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists and the Sunni-dominated Iraqi insurgency to include the Shiite-run Hezbollah movement in Lebanon and the Shiite government of Iran.

"As we continue to fight al-Qaeda and these Sunni extremists inspired by their radical ideology, we also face the threat posed by Shia extremists, who are learning from al-Qaeda, increasing their assertiveness and stepping up their threats," Bush said.

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"This Shia strain of Islamic radicalism is just as dangerous, and just as hostile to America, and just as determined to establish its brand of hegemony across the broader Middle East," Bush continued. "And the Shia extremists have achieved something that al-Qaeda has so far failed to do: In 1979, they took control of a major power, the nation of Iran, subjugating its proud people to a regime of tyranny, and using that nation's resources to fund the spread of terror and pursue their radical agenda."

Bush also cited his determination to defeat Hezbollah, a Shiite movement in Lebanon that is now a prominent part of the elected Lebanese government and broadly popular because its militia battled the Israeli army when it invaded Lebanon in July.

Bush referred to Hezbollah's leader as "the terrorist Nasrallah," suggesting the United States has joined Israel in its determination to kill Sheikh Sayyad Hassan Nasrallah who was rated the most respected leader in the Middle East by an August 2006 poll in Egypt, which is considered one of Washington's staunchest regional allies.

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Ranked second in that Egyptian poll was Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, another target of the Bush administration. By contrast, Egypt's pro-American president Hosni Mubarak wasn't even in the top 10, coming in 11th. Polls across the Middle East also have shown almost universal disapproval of the Bush administration and its policies.

So, Bush has set the United States on course to battle not only the stateless terrorists of al-Qaeda and the stubborn insurgents in Iraq but Islamic political leaders who have widespread support among the Muslim masses. How the United States would win such a war or even assemble the vast numbers of soldiers needed is hard to comprehend.

'World War III'

Bush's virtual declaration of war on the Islamic world ranks as possibly the most ambitious military plan in American history – and without doubt the most reckless. This so-called "long war," which Bush's followers hail as "World War III," would mean fighting large portions of a religious movement that has the allegiance of about one-sixth of the planet's population.

Muslims are concentrated in nations from northern Africa to East Asia, but also include large numbers in Europe and North America.

Nevertheless, in his address to the military officers, Bush talked bravely about how confident he is that the United States will win this war. "America will not bow down to tyrants," he declared to applause.

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Bush's experience over the past five years, however, suggests that his strategy would require a full-scale transformation of the United States into a warrior nation, committed to a virtual endless struggle against any and all Islamic extremists who harbor thoughts of power, no matter how fanciful those imaginings might be.

A key point in Bush's argument is that al-Qaeda has expressed a dream of creating a "caliphate" reaching from Spain to Indonesia. Bush described the steps to this empire as starting with "numerous, decentralized operating bases across the world, from which they can plan new attacks, and advance their vision of a unified, totalitarian Islamic state that can confront and eventually destroy the free world."

But the reality is that prior to Bush's presidency, al-Qaeda was a marginal movement in the Islamic world, driven out of countries across northern Africa, hounded by secular governments in the Middle East, and expelled even from the Sudan.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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