The War on Terror: A Plot to Destroy America?
Watching the rising chorus of "protest" against Iran's nuclear ambitions is like watching a rerun of the lead up to the war in Iraq.
I won't bore you with all the war-drum-beating details that lead to the Iraq war, except to say that events have proven it to be an unmitigated disaster.
And George Bush's "stay the course" mantra is but an admission of failure from a man who has no answers - because he is asking all the wrong questions.
But right now I want you to imagine you've just arrived on the scene. Perhaps you've awoken from a six year coma or, like Dr Who, have recently arrived in a blue police telephone box!
Whatever, just imagine you are not aware of what has transpired since 9/11, and see if you can make any sense of the world you see around you.
As a keen traveller, your first action is to book a flight to the USA - that great haven of freedom and opportunity. However, you are shocked by the treatment you receive. First you are harassed at the airport. Asked to remove your shoes. Asked to hand over your bottle of mineral water. Asked to check in 4 hours before your flight. Asked to stand in unending queues to get on board your plane.
On the flight you are given a metal fork, metal spoons and a plastic knife to eat your meal. You wonder if there was a metal shortage, while you attempt to cut your steak with this toy of a knife.
When you arrive in LA International Airport, you wonder why you are treated so suspiciously - and are offended by the demeanour of the customs officer, who appears to be treating you as a potential felon, instead of tourist coming to spend up large and boost the local economy.
Welcome to the "New Brave World". Your uneasy discomfort is but a foretaste of things to come. Things like:
When you renew your passport, it will be new high-tech one with all sorts in intrusive devices implanted.
When you want to transfer funds overseas, you will be required to submit various forms of ID and jump through all sorts of bureaucratic hoops - just to move your own money around. And when you actually transfer it, using the SWIFT system, it will be scanned and reported to the US government.
When you want to open a new bank account, you will be required to produce a ream of documentation, including proof of funds, to make sure your money really IS yours.
When making phone calls overseas, you will be aware that the government is likely to be listening to your conversations.
But this is just the minor, irritating stuff.
When you turn on the TV, you are confronted with facts and scenarios you cannot understand - which point to a much bigger problem.
You learn that Israel has just bombed the bejesus out of Lebanon - schools, hospitals, ports, airports, transport systems, energy sources - not to mention hundreds of civilians. And you learn that this was started when two soldiers were kidnapped and some others killed, in a cross border skirmish with a private, non- state army called Hezbollah.
When you enquire further, you learn that Israel hoped such bombing and wanton destruction would be blamed on Hezbollah, and that the suffering Lebanese would "root them out".
But you note, without surprise, that it has had the opposite effect. You well recall, at school, how much you hated being punished as a class, for the mischief of one or two OTHER individuals. Times haven't changed much.
But Lebanon is just the beginning. Next you note how a war was waged on Iraq - on the pretence of eliminating weapons of mass destruction and getting rid of a dictator - and, on the bright side, to bring freedom and democracy to that country.
But having visited Iraq at an earlier time, you cannot fathom the reasoning for such a project. You remember all too well that Iraq was one of the freest Arab states - a place where you could do business, walk around without dressing funny, buy a beer, and generally lead a normal life. Sure, you couldn't criticise their leader, Saddam Hussein, but what's new? The same can be said for the leaders of Cuba, China, Zimbabwe, and a host of other countries.
Besides, there was more freedom in Iraq than in Saudi Arabia - which is a friend of the USA.
You turn on the news, and note how Iran is now being accused of wanting to build a nuclear bomb. They deny this, saying they just want to exercise their rights under the NNPT to develop peaceful nuclear technology.
The US leadership (and Israel) insist Iran is lying, but offer no proof, or any real reason why their assertions should be taken seriously - especially when they were so wrong on Iraq.
Besides, Israel is armed to the teeth (by the US) and is not a member of the NNPT, and has nuclear bombs, so you're not sure if the pot is calling the kettle black.
When you dig deeper into these seemingly unrelated happenings, you learn that all this started when the Twin Towers in New York were destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001.
You learn that subsequent to that act, which was blamed on Osama bin Laden (although he didn't claim responsibility at the time), a war was waged on Afghanistan - to rid it of the Taliban, who were said to be shielding bin Laden. But it appears that most of those responsible were Saudis - nationals of the country that America supports.
You also learn that this war is ongoing, and that bin Laden has not been caught yet.
Then you learn that Iraq was also attacked because of 9/11, as it was widely reported (and believed) that Hussein was somehow involved or even responsible.
Slowly, the big picture is coming together. The reason why your travelling is now so onerous, why your financial transactions are of so much interest to the state, and why even your personal phone conversations are of importance to others - is all because of what happened on that fateful September day.
It seems that after that day a new world was born - and a whole new lexicon was created to define it.
There is the phrase "war on terror", which you find hard to understand (apart from its Orwellian overtones), because terror is a tactic, an alternative means of war - so a war on terror is a "war on war". Sounds even more implausible than the failed "war on drugs", you think.
There is the Department of Homeland Security - which sounds more like a phrase borrowed from Nazi Germany than anything a true patriotic American would think up.
Then there's the term "enemy combatant" - that unhappy state of being where you can be accused without evidence, and end up in a legal limbo with no rights and no recourse.
And rising up above all this apparent chaos and change is an overriding new political principle and goal, to bring "freedom and democracy" to the world - starting with the Middle East.
You listen carefully to George Bush, and how he passionately believes in what he is doing. In fact, you learn that he is also a born-again fundamentalist Christian - you know, those people who believe Jesus is coming back and that the "end-times" scenario involves a mighty war called "Armageddon". The war to end all wars. A war in the Middle East - involving Israel.
It reminds you of the Crusades and how, perhaps, the Christian and Islamic fundamentalists are at it again.
Rev. George asserts that 9/11 was caused by persons of Islamic belief who "hate us for our freedoms". You note how he makes no mention of the possibility that they hate us for our ACTIONS. Actions like the constant meddling in Middle Eastern affairs (for the oil no doubt), the support of Arab tyrants and one party states - and of course the carnage wrought by the ongoing military adventures.
Then there's Palestine - that festering sore of Middle Eastern reality. You wonder why a nation created to escape the historical reality of dreadful persecution can turn around and become the persecutor. And you note America's uncritical support of Israel and its complicity in the continuing plight of Palestinians.
But now the fog is clearing from your befuddled mind - slowly.
You look at America's standing in the world, and note how much different it is to when you last were aware of it. You notice how less and less people are making the USA a holiday destination - and conversely, how more and more Americans are feeling decidedly "unwelcome" overseas.
You remember it as the land of the free. The one country founded on the principle of individual rights. A country of hope and inspiration, and a beacon to the downtrodden of the world. You wonder at how much it has changed in just six years.
You look at the costs of maintaining such an expansive military machine. You look at the overall economic condition of the U.S. - with its endemic indebtedness, its dependence on foreigners (in particular the Chinese) and it's collapsing dollar.
You wonder how long such economic mismanagement can continue, before it eats up every last dollar of residual seed capital - the capital that made America economically powerful in the first place.
You note how the Chinese are engaged in vigourous and expansive "dollar diplomacy" - making friends around the world by doing business (what the USA used to be good at), while America is instead making enemies by force of arms.
You wonder at the leadership of America, and whether they truly have their country's best interests at heart.
Then you wonder no more. You realise that you are witnessing the strangulation of America - of its values, its freedoms, its wealth, its generosity, its reputation, its capacity to impact for good in the world.
You see it happening, but you don't know why. Are Americans asleep at the wheel? Can they not see how they are being lead like sheep to slaughter? Are they not aware of how much their country has lost, on every front, since 9/11? Can they not see through their vacuous leader's propagandist rhetoric - and question those so called "patriots" who believe they have the power and the right to ignore and trash America's great constitution?
To all intents and purposes, everything that is happening is having the opposite effect to what it has been declared to achieve. If this is "winning" the "war on terror", then god help us if we lose it!
To your eyes, eyes that have not witnessed the gradual erosion of freedom since 9/11, all this cannot be a plan to "win" at all. Rather, it seems like a diabolical plot to undermine and destroy America - by running its economic engine to a standstill, grinding its military capacity to dust, and obliterating the once positive image of America around the world.
But then you slap yourself on the face to remind you of the fact you are awake, and that there are no conspiracies.
There must be another reason. You hope.
Yours in freedom