The only noteworthy thing about Bush’s State of the Union address was his unmistakable belligerence toward Iran.

He mentioned that nation first in the context of why the United States must stay in Iraq: otherwise, we would “strengthen Iran,” Bush said.

He could have thought about that before invading Iraq, but he didn’t. And now he’s back in a bombing mood.

Never mind that that the National Intelligence Estimate said Iran didn’t have nuclear weapons and didn’t have an active nuclear weapons program. Bush still raised the specter of Iran with a nuclear weapon.

He castigated the Iranian government for opposing freedom wherever it “advances in the Middle East.” And he said Iran was aiding terrorists or militia groups in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and in Iraq.

It’s the latter excuse that he’s going to hang his helmet on.

I’m betting that Bush will try to come to the American people once more before his term is up and declare that forces trained by Iran have attacked our troops in Iraq, and that he therefore is going after them.

Listen to his words: “Above all, know this,” Bush warned. “America will confront those who threaten our troops. We will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf.”

Even more ominous was Bush’s line, “Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with you.”

As Robert Fisk has pointed out, this is the mantra that Presidents use whenever they are about to attack another country.

It is an imperial tic, a ritual throat-clearing before the war-making, the rattle of the snake before the lashing bite.

Here are some quotes from the imperial tic file:

“The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people.”

Sept. 12, 2002, Bush to UN

“We have no quarrel with the Iraqi people. They are the daily victims of Saddam Hussein's oppression, and they will be the first to benefit when the world's demands are met.”  Oct. 5, 2002, Bush radio address

“Our message to the people of Iraq is clear: We have no quarrel with you.”

Jan. 28, 2003, Bush State of the Union

Then there was Tony Blair, echoing his boss:

“Let me make it quite clear that our quarrel is not with the Iraqi people.”

March 19, 2003, Tony Blair addressing Parliament

And, for a little family fealty, here is Bush’s dad:

“Let there be no misunderstanding. We have no quarrel with the people of Iraq.” Sept. 17, 1990, George H.W. Bush, speech to the nation

Finally, the beatified Ronald Reagan:

“The attacks were concentrated and carefully targeted to minimize casualties among the Libyan people with whom we have no quarrel.” April 14, 1986, Ronald Reagan speech to the nation.

So when Bush told the Iranian people on Monday night that he’s got no quarrel with them, that could hardly have been reassuring.

And for those of us who cherish peace, those of us who abhor imperial misadventures, we must pressure our elected officials to stop this madman before he wages yet another reckless war, this time in Iran.

We can’t say he didn’t warn us.

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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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