Under the provocative title of "Operation Infinite Justice," the Bush Administration is gearing up to expand the cycle of violence and to engage in further injustices. Although reprimanded by those who believe that "Infinite Justice" sullies certain religious beliefs, the reference to "Justice" surely is a misnomer of the first order. To understand the full extent of this Orwellian double-speak, one needs to consider the following ironies, contradictions, and egregious policies of this and previous Administrations:
1.) The rhetoric and reality of war have continued to inform the foreign affairs of Washington policy-makers even in the aftermath of the end of the Cold War. Burying the peace-dividend under the imperatives of military Keynesianism, both Democratic and Republican Administrations have sought ways to sustain the obscenely high levels of military spending. (In fact, according to some recent reports, there are secret plans by the Pentagon to put into place a ten-year program of war against terrorism.) In the face of increasing questioning of a failed drug war, an allocation of billions to intervene in a civil war in Colombia on the side of leading violators of human rights in the Americas garnered bi-partisan support by a narrow margin. Moreover, only a month ago there were even calls by some Republicans about cutting back on the military budget. Now, as a consequence of the horrific incidents of September 11th, the Congress with only one dissenting vote has given Bush a blank check to advance military objectives and spending. Although claiming to be concerned with the security of US citizens and a world free from terror, Bush and the Congress are now committed to an unending military campaign that will further squander US lives and resources while primarily punishing innocent civilians abroad.
2.) While seeking to win allies to the cause of fighting terrorism, the Bush Administration refuses to consider the ways in which Washington policies harm the very people who become possible recruits for future anti-American activities. With the recent closing of Afghanistan borders and stopping of food supplies to starving Afghanis, further suffering as a consequence of actions by the US government will alienate the victimized poor of Afghanistan. From the refugee camps in Lebanon and Palestine to the impoverished neighborhoods of Iraq, Washington has sponsored and supported those who have tormented the most vulnerable. In addition, US backing of corrupt and dictatorial regimes throughout the Middle East have created multitudes of aggrieved peoples. On top of this, the US covert operations programs will seek out some of the worst elements to hire for "intelligence" and "anti-terror" operations.
3.) Although claiming not to stigmatize all Arabs, Moslems, or South Asians, the rhetoric of the Bush Administration and the media-induced hysteria about "terrorists" has resulted in murderous attacks on individuals in the United States and elsewhere solely on the basis of their perceived ethnic/religious identities. With overheated references to protecting civilized values, the hatred unleashed by such rhetoric has led to acts of violence and intimidation of US residents and citizens.
4.) At the very moment when people are fleeing for their lives from such brutal regimes and ethnic/religious conflicts, the US is criminalizing immigration. The right-wing agenda of shutting down the borders of the US has been given a boost by the lax security that failed to identify the perpetrators of the actions on September 11th. Although a few of the hijackers were under FBI surveillance for months before the awful events of that day, now the Justice Department is developing plans to deport immigrants without any evidence of involvement in illegal or criminal activities.
5.) In clamoring for security and a society free from fear, the Bush Administration and Congress are rushing into operation a variety of proposals that would curtail and erode civil liberties in the United States. Dispensing with court-required wiretaps, there is a movement to increase interference in private phone conversations. Other measures that violate privacy and fundamental liberties are rapidly headed towards enactment.
6.) After years of successful lobbying with Republican and Democratic Administrations against safety procedures, the corporate heads of the airline industry are now seeking taxpayer bailouts for their ailing corporations.
7.) With the economy in a tailspin, Republicans and Democrats refuse to reconsider the disastrous and unfair Bush Administration tax scheme. Bush and his corporate allies will now undoubtedly go after Social Security funds under the subterfuge of providing for the future security of US citizens.
When one considers all of the above, the putative concerns about justice seem to shrink into insignificance. In the most dreadful irony of all, US politicians from Bush on down are declaiming their faith in the US as a beacon of freedom and justice for the world as the very moment they neglect a real commitment to freedom and justice. If there is to be justice in the aftermath of September 11th, it will have to come from the American people and not their political leaders.
Fran Shor is a peace and justice activist presently in Australia on a Visiting Scholar fellowship at the University of Melbourne.