Bush's Wars and the Declaration of Independence

(Editor's Note: The Fourth of July may be over, but as the holiday week concludes, sentiments about what it means regarding the politics of the moment remain high. Therefore, the next piece retains its meaning well beyond the holiday.)

by Laura Snedeker

July 4, 1776: King George receives a message from the Continental Congress that publicly declares the colonies’ independence from Great Britain and signals the start of the American Revolution.

July 4, 2007: Another power-mad George uses his Independence Day speech to address the soldiers stationed in Martinsburg, West Virginia, affirming his commitment to the so-called “War on Terror” and the continued occupation of Iraq.

To the Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing, President George W. Bush said: “Like those early patriots, you’re fighting a new and unprecedented war — pledging your lives and honor to defend our freedom and way of life. In this war, the weapons have changed, and so have our enemies, but one thing remains the same: The men and women of the Guard stand ready to put on the uniform and fight for America.”

Those are bold words, spoken by a man who believes fervently in the ability of a well-trained, professional army (plus 126,000 mercenaries) to defeat small bands of uncoordinated insurgents with inferior weapons. To the colonialist cabal that runs the government, it does not particularly matter who the enemy is or what it stands for, so long as there is always an enemy to fight and so long as there are always willing bodies to fight the war.

Economics are no small part of any war, but it does disservice to the memory of the American Revolution to compare our war of independence to a war of conquest over Middle East lands and resources. Would it have made a difference if General Cornwallis had marched through Yorktown promising to liberate the colonies from that old insurgent, General Washington? Would the colonists have accepted eternal British occupation in return for the right to pick their own puppet government?

In an earlier age, the president and his minions would have professed a belief in America’s right to take whatever was within the grasp of its army and to civilize the heathens. Today, liberals consider such sentiments too reactionary and reactionaries consider them too honest. Instead the president and his allies in Congress must soothe the doubts of concerned Americans by pretending to bring democracy to those troubled lands. Freedom is just another word for “might makes right.”

Shame on the president for using this national day of remembrance to stump for his war, a war that defines his presidency and leaves a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Washington. Independence Day is not about the strength and resolve of our standing army; it is not about whose firecrackers are loudest; it is not about whose flags are biggest. It is about ensuring the continuation of liberty in this country when it remains threatened by the national security state.

The rule of law must apply to the highest executive as well as to the lowliest street criminal. George Bush spoke of his right to overthrow foreign governments, and yet on Independence Day he forgot the inherent right of all people to “alter or abolish” any form of government that “evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism.”* He ignores the right of other people to decide for themselves what kind of government they want, and not to have USA-approved leaders imposed upon them by men with imperial ambitions.

Mr. Bush, as you watched the firecrackers this Fourth of July, and as you watch them every Fourth of July for the rest of your life, may you be reminded of the more deadly explosions over Baghdad and Kabul that you justified in the name of freedom and democracy. May you be reminded of the young men and women who you sent to their deaths even as you praised them. And as you sit in your fortified compound, unable to leave because you cannot escape nor comprehend the anger of the American people, may you be reminded of how your lies and deceit damaged America. Happy Fourth of July.

*For those who are unfamiliar with the text of the Declaration of Independence, you can see it here.

(Political graphic © copyright David Dees, and used with permission.)

(To hear a podcast with similar sentiments, check here, or review the playlist here.)

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