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Future crimes occurring now

The war in Iraq reached another milestone last week. It was reported on Tuesday that more American troops have died since the declared victory than during the invasion. The roles of victor and vanquished are suddenly reversed.

When George W. Bush stood on the deck of that aircraft carrier and declared us the winners, his hubris overshadowed his myopic world view. Our president lacks the judgment to foresee the play of history in relation to current events that will later be categorized as “crimes.”

The Nazis never anticipated that their “final solution” would become punishable at Nuremberg. Richard Nixon felt impervious to the consequences of his debauched presidency. Ken Lay ignored the prospect of having to liquidate his Aspen real estate to cover his criminal acts.



Life is what happens while we’re making other plans. Crimes of the future happen when we surrender our vigilance to the pandering of politicians, corporate executives and special interests. It is only later that we wring our hands over decisions that our grandchildren will rue.

The war in Iraq is foremost among these crimes of the future. It was launched for spurious reasons and with no exit strategy. As the death toll mounts and terrorism intensifies, Bush attempts to refute his critics with bluster, innuendo and denial.




Joe Klein, Time Magazine’s sagacious political observer, recently compared Donald Rumsfeld to the deranged Captain Queeg. He wrote that Dick Cheney believes that “America has the power to create the world it wants.” He charged that the Bush administration is “dysfunctional.”

What does this say about the misguided policies coming from Capitol Hill? They, too, are dysfunctional. Grandstanding on an aircraft carrier was the ultimate illusion, but most Americans bought it. They also bought the crime of Bush’s unjust war.

Meanwhile, the death toll for American troops in Iraq has heightened our frantic withdrawal as Bush attempts to extricate his regime from the sticky tar baby of Middle Eastern intrigues. But where, asks U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, is America’s conscience?

When Byrd addressed the Senate last week, he began with a retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen parable, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” He suggested that the American emperor is wearing garments fashioned by the same tailors who outfitted the fabled king in his birthday suit.

“We were told that we were threatened by weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but they have not been seen. We were told that the throngs of Iraqis would welcome our troops with flowers, but no throngs or flowers appeared. We were led to believe that Saddam Hussein was connected to the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, but no evidence has ever been produced.”

Byrd decries the risks of truth telling in America today. “Those who have dared to expose the nakedness of the administration’s policies in Iraq have been subjected to scorn. We have seen the untruths, the dissembling, the fabrication, the misleading inferences surrounding this rush to war in Iraq wrapped quickly in the flag.”

As if the war in Iraq isn’t enough, consider America’s war against the environment, a war that author Paul Ehrlich says we are winning decisively. Adding his voice to the groundswell of protests over specious domestic policies, Phil Clapp of the National Environmental Trust said: “This nation is devouring itself.”

According to writer and mountaineer Rick Bass in a recent essay for Mother Jones, (“Why Wilderness Matters”) Bush and his cronies don’t even know what it is they’re killing! “Money matters more than integrity,” states Bass.

In our own back yard, Referendum A is a damnable piece of legislation that conspires to stop the free flow of our rivers. Cloaked under a “save Colorado water for Colorado,” Referendum A is an end run to irrigate suburban sprawl and grease the skids of commercial real estate development at the expense of free-flowing rivers.

Crimes of the Future are taking place today. We either ignore them and plead ignorance to our children and their children, or we use our votes and our voices to denounce and defeat them. The responsibility is ours. The choice is clear.

Paul Andersen’s column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times.


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