As public sentiment belatedly begins to build for impeachment, it might be worthwhile to examine the characteristics President Bush shares with history’s tyrants. Ten areas that come readily to mind:
First, tyrants think of their nation as superior. Hitler considered Germans “the master race.” President Bush and his backers would deny it, but their actions betray them. At their last convention, Republicans jeered the very mention of the words “United Nations.” They don’t want to be, like Socrates, citizens of the world. They want a New American Century, one in which America dominates the world. Those who get in their way are going to get slimed. Bush’s hatchet men impugned Senator Kerry’s Vietnam War record just as the Nazis claimed Jewish veterans who fought for Germany did not deserve the medals they won in World War I. Bush’s backers would also legally reduce gay and lesbian Americans to second-class citizenship.
Second, tyrants tend to be congenital liars. Bush lied about Iraq’s threat to America just as Hitler lied when he claimed Poland attacked Germany first in 1939. The UN told Bush there was no WMD in Iraq, yet Bush said there was and made war. As many as 600,000 Iraqi civilians are dead and a nation is being destroyed before the eyes of the world. Bush also lied when he claimed “we do not torture” prisoners. He claims he is a “compassionate conservative.” Hitler said, “Thank God I am merciful to my enemies.”
Third, tyrants will use a “crisis” to grab total power. After the massacre of 9/11, President Bush pushed through the Patriot Act. Recall 1933, when Hitler declared a “state of national emergency” after the Reichstag (Parliament) fire, which likely was set by the Nazis. The new law gives Bush the power to arrest people and imprison them on his say-so and throw away the key. His other end runs around the Constitution are legion.
Fourth, tyrants torture. Of all people, Bush picked Alberto Gonzalez for Attorney General, the very man who rationalized the torture of captives, for the top legal position in the nation. Bush also lavishes billions on dictatorships such as Egypt, whose Gestapo obligingly tortures individuals the CIA kidnaps in other countries and delivers to them. Bush has turned back the clock of history to the Spanish Inquisition.
Fifth, tyrants tend to make serial wars. Soviet Russia’s Stalin attacked Finland, Poland, and Hungary. Japan struck Korea, Manchuria, China, America, and U.K. One war is never enough for a tyrant. Recall Napoleon invaded nations to liberate them from kings, only to put his relatives on their thrones. Having invaded Afghanistan and set Iraq ablaze, Bush now threatens Iran, where the U.S. already has put “boots on the ground,” according to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh of “The New Yorker.” All three nations are deeply involved in oil production and/or transmission.
Sixth, tyrants are notorious for their closed minds. They ignore critics. Japan and Germany walked out of the League of Nations rather than answer for their conduct. Bush doesn’t listen to critics, either. The Pope denounced America’s war on Iraq as immoral. The UN Secretary-General called it "illegal." Millions the world over protested it. Bush made it anyhow. Now that a majority of Americans call it wrong and want their troops withdrawn, Bush will ignore their wishes, too.
Seventh, huge military spending is characteristic of tyrannies. In the Thirties, Germany, Japan and Soviet Russia lavished a high percentage of their gross national product on their war machines. Today, America spends more on armaments than all other nations combined, plunging the nation ever deeper into debt. Bush has become the world’s Number One arms merchant by selling to dictators.
Eighth, tyrants don’t respect the sovereignty of other nations. Japan believed it was meant to rule "the eight corners of the world," beginning with Manchuria and China. Bush rationalized his attack on Iraq as “preventive war” -- a euphemism for “aggression.” The Pentagon operates 700 military bases in 130 countries and refuses to quit Okinawa and Greenland despite citizen protests. Again, the “Master Race” creed at work.
Ninth, tyrants have double standards. Bush declares he’s for “freedom” but forges alliances with the heads of Saudi Arabia, and former Soviet republics where citizens have zero rights. He warns Iran against making a nuclear bomb while he scraps non-proliferation treaties to make America’s nuclear arsenal more lethal. Bush threatens Iran, which spends $4-billion a year on arms, while he spends $500-billion on arms. He warns Iran might make a nuclear bomb while he has 10,000. He accused Saddam Hussein of having "hideous" germ warfare capability while he has been secretly building a greater germ warfare capability than Joe Stalin.
Tenth, tyrants engage in outright suppression or manipulation of the news. The Bush Administration has paid off newsmen to plug its achievements, sent out video press releases disguised as news stories, banned photographs of coffins returned from Iraq, and even planted a phony journalist in White House press conferences. It is spending millions to bribe Iraqi journalists just as Hitler spent money to bribe alcoholic British journalists to tell his side of the story. It’s ugly stuff.
Are the above reasons grounds for impeachment? Not if you believe this is the New American Century. Not if you believe Americans are the new Master Race. Not if you believe America should rule the world.
(Sherwood Ross writes on political and military subjects. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org).