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President George W. Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and others in the present administration have injected a new idea into U.S. political life - at war with "Islamo-fascism."
President George W. Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and others in the present administration have injected a new idea into U.S. political life. Or perhaps it is better to describe it as a new slogan for the 2006 election. They claim the United States is at war with "Islamo-fascism."
On any level, this expression is vicious, misleading and the same type of Big Lie that the Bush administration has relied on in the past to justify its imperialist aggression and military occupations.
It is unlikely that the Bush administration’s decision makers and spokespeople intend the term "Islamo-fascism" to have serious ideological content. They are more oriented toward using U.S. military power to conquer territory and bring in big profits, and toward winning national elections.
The administration is on the defensive after its disastrous failure to stabilize its occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan. Some Pentagon generals and even former supporters like Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia have begun threatening to with draw support from the Iraq adventure.
And Israel, supported and armed to the teeth by U.S. imperialism, has just faced defeat in its aggression against Lebanon, even after carrying out collective punishment against the population—a tactic of the Nazis.
It is small wonder then that the Bush administration, on the defensive about its policies in the Middle East from Iraq to Lebanon to Iran, is invoking the specter of the Nazi Holocaust against European Jewry in an attempt to justify its own war of imperialist expansion in the region.
Remember 'weapons of mass destruction’?
The Democrats are also committed to supporting U.S. imperialism and its military aggression. The thrust of the Demo cratic national leadership’s "opposition" to the five years of U.S.-led war, occupation and brutality in the Gulf region has been to attack Bush for his tactics, without disowning the imperialist goals.
Despite this limited, half-hearted opposition from the Democrats, polls show a popular approval rating of only about 35 percent for Bush’s Iraq policy and little more for Bush himself. This drop in support has made it conceivable the Repub licans will lose control of the House of Representatives in the 2006 election.
Thus for Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney, "Islamo-fascism" is this year’s substitute for the "war on terror" slogan of 2001, the "weapons of mass destruction" lie of 2002, the attempt to connect the 9/11 attack to the Baghdad government of Saddam Hussein and the short-lived cry of "mission accomplished" in 2003.
How do Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld justify the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, their threats against Iran and Syria, and the U.S.-backed Israeli war against Lebanon?
By equating anti-U.S. resistance movements in the Gulf region with a highly industrialized, aggressive and heavily armed world power like Nazi Germany.
This, they hope, will intimidate opposition from Republicans and Democrats alike into silence and submission, and con vince the population to vote for pro-war Republican candidates.
Bush first used the phrase almost a year ago, in October 2005. Then in early August he used it against Hezbollah, and a day or two later about the alleged bomb plot in Britain. Bush repeated it at an Aug. 29 Amer ican Legion meeting in Salt Lake City.
Speaking to the same American Legion audience, Rumsfeld compared opponents of the U.S. occupation of Iraq to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who conceded Czech territory to Nazi Germany in 1938 in Munich.
Cheney has been making similar attacks on anyone who suggests the United States should be looking for a way out of the disaster in Iraq, calling them "appeasers."
The 'Big Lie’
The Bush administration is slandering 1.5 billion people with its own version of the "Big Lie"—shorthand for the theory by Nazi propagandists that a lie repeated often enough would eventually be taken for good coin.
Bush is lumping together as "fascist" all the Islamic-based mass popular anti-imperialist movements, like Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the government of Iran. He throws into the same pot the Taliban movement in Afghanistan—a movement first supported by Washington and its ally Pakistan—and al-Qaeda. Bush even includes under the umbrella of "Islamo-fascist" the secular Baathist government of Saddam Hussein and today’s government in Syria.
The main thing these varied forces agree on is the desire to get U.S. imperialism and Israeli Zionism off the backs of the people of the region.
The imperialist fascist movements that came to power in Italy in 1922 and Germany in 1933 bear no relation to any of these anti-imperialist movements in the Middle East.
In Italy and Germany, severe and prolonged economic crises lasted for years, throwing workers out of their jobs and ruining many small businesspeople and farmers. The unemployed middle class became the mass base for a super-nationalist movement in an imperialist country. The anti-Jewish propaganda and dogma of Aryan nationalist superiority was a cover for a pro-militarist and violently anti-communist campaign.
When the crisis became sufficiently acute to threaten a workers’ revolution, the big industrialists and bankers in Italy and Germany put their money behind the fascist and Nazi parties to save capitalism.
The regimes set up by these fascist parties were characterized by their determination to seize colonies by military force as a way out of the economic crisis, even if it meant waging war against other imperialist powers.
Regimes that shared some of these characteristics—such as the decades-long Salazar dictatorship in Portugal, the similarly long-lived dictatorship under Gen. Francisco Franco in Spain after the civil war there, the regime of Gen. Suharto in Indonesia and the Gen. Augusto Pinochet regime in Chile—have also been called fascist, mainly based on severe internal repres sion of workers’ organizations through a military-police dictatorship.
In Spain and Portugal the dictatorships had the support of the Catholic Church hierarchy, although no one characterizes them as "Christo-fascist."
None of the movements in Southwest Asia and North Africa share the characteristics of the Italian or German fascist movements. Nor is any government in the region a powerful imperialist country with expansionist military ambitions.
In reality, U.S. imperialism’s attempt to dominate the region and impose its economic and cultural values on the people of the Middle East and Central Asia has aroused a massive struggle for national liberation. In many cases this struggle expres ses itself through organizations that have a religious basis to their ideology.
However, there are indications that this offensive Islam-bashing propaganda direc ted against 1.5 billion Muslims around the globe might backfire on the Bush administration.
Even the Saudi royal family, which is allied to the United States, took issue with the attack on Islam.
In the United States, even mainstream late-night comedian Jay Leno poked fun at Bush’s fearmongering, saying, "Today President Bush said that the United States is still under the threat of an attack and will continue to be right up until Election Day."
If the Bush administration is going to cavalierly use "fascism" as a pejorative to slander 1.5 billion people, this might boomerang. It’s not much of a jump for the people of the world to also apply the term to characterize the regime in Washington for its widespread imperialist expansion using Pentagon power, its indiscriminate use of bombs against civilian populations, its assault on civil liberties and increase of repression on the domestic front, and the almost complete big-business and government monopoly of the mass media in the United States.