On the local or national levels, democracy requires that voters pay closer attention.
I voted a straight ticket one time in my life. It was unwise and I regret it.
The reason was the second Gulf War. The first Gulf War was in support of a United Nations police action declared by the Security Council to repel Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The dispute was over money, the kind of thing normally settled in the Permanent International Court of Justice in The Hague. Iraq’s autocrat, Saddam Hussein, sent representatives to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in July of 1990 to talk about their differences with representatives of Jaber Al-Amad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait.
Iraq demanded $10 billion; Kuwait offered $9 billion. Mr. Hussein apparently felt he did not have to sit still for being nickeled and dimed when he commanded the fourth largest army in the world. Within two days, Iraq occupied Kuwait and Kuwait occupied a suite in a Sheraton Hotel in Raif, Saudi Arabia, excepting the Emir’s youngest brother, who died defending the Emir’s palace.
This invasion was plainly unlawful and the United States had the authority to support a Security Council police action, as it has done in Korea.
(Russell digression™ I have set out the cause of the first Gulf War. It is the Second Gulf War and particularly the pack of lies my country chose to peddle to the United Nations so President Bush ’43 could claim he needed to go to Baghdad — something his father had not done — to hunt for “weapons of mass destruction” that caused my straight-ticket vote. It was my son’s second deployment.
While Iraq had in fact invaded Kuwait before the first Gulf War, it came out later that there were some serious lies behind that expedition as well. At the time, the U.S. public was told that Iraqi tanks were massed on the Saudi border, poised to take the rest of the Middle Eastern oil fields. An investigation by the St. Petersburg Times, for which the Times purchased satellite photos showing empty desert, cast doubt on that.
Kuwait engaged a U.S. public relations firm to build public support for military action. The Kuwaiti royals got their money’s worth. Through a front group, Citizens for a Free Kuwait, the Kuwaiti government hired New York public relations firm of Hill & Knowlton for $10.7 million to win public support for going to war. The zenith or the nadir of that effort — depending on your point of view — was a hearing in front of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in October of 1990.
A woman who only gave her first name, Nayira, gave eyewitness testimony to having seen Iraqi troops rampaging through a neonatal unit at al-Adan Hospital in Kuwait, throwing babies out on the floor to steal their incubators. Nayira’s horrifying report made prime time news and was cited repeatedly in Congressional debates about authorizing war. President Bush, according to Bill Moyers, cited Nayira’s report no less than ten times in public statements.
Nayira’s report was bogus.
Two years later, The New York Times was able to report that “Nayira” was in fact the daughter of Saud Nasir Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s ambassador to the U.S., and that she had not been in Kuwait at the time of the alleged Iraqi atrocity.
While the truth was suffering at the hands of professionals, it was bad enough without embellishment, and President George H.W. Bush was able to get a resolution of the U.N. Security Council authorizing military force to liberate Kuwait.
Saudi Arabia, fearing the army that had rolled up Kuwait so easily, asked for protection by the U.S., and Operation Desert Shield was born. On August 7, 1990, Desert Shield led to infidel boots on some of the holiest sand known to Islam. Osama bin Laden was outraged at what he viewed as desecration and said as much. This was the origin of the Middle Eastern tar baby we still call the “war on terror.”)
When I took out my anger over the second Iraq War with that straight-ticket vote, I was not the only one. The result was that a lot county-level Republican elected officials who were both competent and honest were suddenly out of work.
They did not deserve to be shown the door like, say, Donald John Trump, the POTUS who brought incompetence to a whole new level. You think justice was done in that case?
Are you ready for four more years of The Donald as President of the United States?
Impossible, you say? I hope it’s improbable, but here is one scenario.
The Democrats lose at least one of the Georgia senate seats. Senate Majority Leader Moscow Mitch McConnell, for several easily foreseeable reasons, comes at the Biden agenda the same way he came at the Obama agenda. Biden, as he takes this pounding, is not getting any younger.
The GOP media machine, at the same time, unleashes scorched earth tactics on Kamala Harris, to the end of working the same personal destruction that worked on Hillary Clinton. Harris is beaten up for a fraction of the time Clinton was, and she has no trouble securing the Democratic nomination when Biden bows out. It isn’t just fatigue — polling says the voters have had enough of what they see as Biden’s empty promises.
The crisis and chaos of the Trump years have continued but the Washington gridlock has prevented any effective response. The Lincoln Project and other mainstream Republicans have not managed to take their party back, and those holding elective office continue surfing waves of cowardice. Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski continue speaking truth from the safe seats that are also the cheap seats.
Trump’s cruise to the Republican nomination is if anything even easier than Harris’s capture of the Democratic nod. The flow of the campaign comes out more like 2016 than 2020.
This scenario does not necessarily end in another Trump presidency. It does, however, create a horse race where most of us — myself included — could not imagine this country having to dodge the Trump bullet again.
Previously Published on Medium