This future of endless war and expanding repression represents Bush's grim vision. But the countervailing question is this: Is there a realistic alternative?
The answer is "yes, but." There are still routes available that might lead to a more peaceful world that isolates, marginalizes and eventually eradicates terrorist ideologues. But these strategies would require extraordinary bravery, wisdom, patience, humility and tolerance.
Kinda lets Bush out, huh?
Another important step back from World War III would come with a phased American withdrawal from Iraq.
Though Iraq would surely continue to suffer civil strife, a U.S. military departure would remove what the U.S. intelligence community has called the "cause celebre" for the jihadist movement and would create a dynamic for Iraqis to go after any remaining foreign al-Qaeda operatives.
As we have noted in the past, one of the major worries of the al-Qaeda leadership - expressed in the so-called "Zawahiri letter" - is that a rapid U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq would cause the non-Iraqi jihadists to lay down their arms and go home. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Al-Qaeda Letter Belies Bush's Iraq Claims."]
Indeed, Bush's policies have dovetailed so perfectly with al-Qaeda's dream of engaging the West in a worldwide struggle that CIA analysts believe bin Laden took the risk of releasing a videotape only days before Election 2004 to help Bush gain a second term. [See Consortiumnews.com's "CIA: Osama Helped Bush in '04."]
This "Bush-bin Laden symbiosis" is likely to continue until Congress finally asserts its power over making war or until Bush leaves office.
Given Bush's personality, it seems unthinkable that he would ever admit that he had made a mistake by invading Iraq or that he would order a full troop withdrawal. Nor is he likely to cooperate with peace initiatives by other nations that involve real compromise.
But a Republican defeat in the Nov. 7 elections could at least limit Bush's ability to interfere with initiatives by other international players who might want to step back from the brink of World War III.
Conversely, another Republican victory might well lock in a future of near-endless war abroad and ever-increasing political repression at home.
You better believe that last sentence.
When the Dems take back the House and Senate, that'll be the end of Bush's imperialistic war-mongering pipe dreams. Maybe. Whaddya wanta bet that, in an attempt to make himself look good when OBL can no longer help him, Bush's minions will produce bin Laden's body, evidence that they really were looking for him and thus really cracking down on al-Qaeda?
Note to the pathologist, if one is permitted to examine the corpse: look for freezer burn.