Potemkin Government

by JONATHAN SCHELL

The Nation

[from the October 25, 2004 issue]



The longer the Bush Administration is in office, the clearer it becomes that it has a disordered relationship not just with one aspect of the world or another, such as the war in Iraq or the budget deficit, but with something like the factual world per se. Perhaps the best example is the recent decision to deploy five rockets in silos in Alaska as the first stage of a national missile defense. The problem is that strictly speaking, there is no such thing as NMD. That is, no functioning NMD has yet been invented or tested. Even the chief weapon evaluator in Bush’s Pentagon says that at best the missiles have “20 percent” functionality. A previous Pentagon evaluator, Philip Coyle, now at the Center for Defense Information, goes further, saying their capacity is “nil,” and calling the system “a scarecrow.” Gen. Eugene Habiger, a former chief of the US Strategic Command, states flatly, “A system is being deployed that doesn’t have any credible capability.” And yet George W. Bush has announced to the world, “We say to those tyrants who believe they can blackmail America…you fire, we’re going to shoot it down.”

“That is incorrect,” Coyle has commented.

Misrepresentation of programs, including weapon systems, is an old story. But the installation of a system of proven unworthiness is something new. It requires not just denial–a passive operation–but an active insurgency against facts and the scientific laws that guide them, in a sort of a pre-emptive strike against reality itself.

The disorder appears in many forms. Programs announced for one purpose accomplish the opposite. The Clear Skies program dirties them. The Healthy Forests Initiative clear-cuts forests. The No Child Left Behind program, unfunded, leaves millions of children behind. Social Security “reform” defunds Social Security.

Read the rest of the story…

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