As the election approaches, the Republican Party and its corporate owners are running out of options. Many of their favorite campaign attacks have lost their old punch. It's hard to pose as enemies of "welfare parasites" so soon after the GOP's beloved bankers and hedge-fund managers waddled out of Washington with $700 billion of taxpayer money in their pockets. So Republicans have resorted to another familiar trick from the right-wing playbook: accusing their opponents of treason.
In an effort to preserve what's left of John McCain's dignity, his running mate, Sarah Palin, has taken the lead in questioning Democrats' patriotism. She calls Barack Obama's plan to withdraw from Iraq a "white flag of surrender" and accuses him of "palling around with terrorists." (One of the Illinois senator's neighbors is a former member of the Weather Underground.)
It's bold of the Republicans to try to use Iraq as an election issue, especially since their justifications for that war turned out to be made up. But this campaign stunt has been in the making since 2007. The GOP cover story on Iraq is that Bush's deployment of extra troops (the "surge") worked and that violence in that country has diminished because of it. Actually, there are two reasons for the decline in terrorism and combat deaths in Iraq. First, ethnic cleansing was largely completed by early 2007. In the civil war between Sunnis and Shi'ites, each side consolidated its position by expelling or killing members of the rival group who lived nearby. That bloody process has now concluded in much of the country and fighting has therefore stopped in those areas.
The other reason for the "improvement" in Iraq is that the Bush administration is actually bribing insurgents and warlords not to fight. Earlier this year, payments to one Sunni militant group totaled $800,000 a day (http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts02192008.html). The Republicans have given up on their stated goal of rebuilding Iraq and are focusing instead on rebuilding Bush's image and buying election insurance for McCain and other GOP candidates. For a bunch of fiscally responsible patriots, the Republicans sure don't seem to mind spending our tax dollars on this scam. Nor are they worried about what these Muslim extremists are buying with their bribe money.
If anyone is guilty of surrendering to terrorists and other foes of freedom, it is the Republicans. Since 2001, President Bush has been selling our country to its enemies at discount prices. Bush Junior's war in Iraq triggered a massive increase in the price of oil and a similar rise in the national debt. Add the president's tax cuts for the rich, and Uncle Sam's debt reaches astronomical levels. Our debt is financed by sales of government securities—bonds, Treasury bills, etc.—and look who's buying. The Chinese dictatorship now owns $541 billion in U.S. government securities, and another big-time loan shark is the brutal, pro-terrorist regime in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi royals bought the Bush family in the 1970s (dir.salon.com/story/books/feature/2004/03/12/unger_2/print.html) and now they're using increased oil profits to buy America itself.
How does Chinese/Saudi ownership of our debt affect our country? By interfering with our ability to enact needed policies. If we're going to solve America's economic problems, two actions are essential. First, we have to stop foreign nations from flooding our market with products made by children, slaves, or other sweated labor. Second, we need to end our dependence on foreign oil. China is the world's top offender in terms of slave and child labor. If we stop importing products made in that manner, or follow Barack Obama's plan and gradually replace foreign petroleum with alternative fuels, China and Saudi Arabia could show their displeasure by selling their U.S. securities. A sell-off on that scale would trigger a new market crash and force steep increases in American interest rates. The effects could be devastating, but failing to take action on those two fronts would prove much worse in the long run. Thanks to the Republicans, there is no easy course.
Would a patriot put America in debt slavery to Saudi fascists and Beijing Stalinists? That's just what Bush, Cheney, McCain, and the GOP's other compulsive flag-wavers did. Like any other junkies, they have no intention of stopping. Proving once again that he's Dick Cheney with a comb-over, Senator McCain has proposed another tax cut, most of which would go to the wealthy, all to be paid for by further borrowing from the same rogues gallery of foreign creditors.
There is nothing pro-American about the Republican Party and its rich backers. If they're "pro-" any country, it's China or Saudi Arabia. The only thing they like about America is its currency, and if they can make bigger profits by trading dollars for foreign money, they will. If they can make bigger profits by trading our blood for oil money, they will—and they have. It will take a powerful effort by working Americans to put a stop to such schemes. On Election Day, November 4, we can win one battle in that long fight.