By MARC McDONALD
Media pundits have been abuzz lately, pondering whether Iraq is headed toward civil war.
The New York Times Baghdad bureau chief John F. Burns says he believes civil war has already been under way for some time. On the other hand, George W. Bush continues to show that he is dangerously out of touch with what's going on in Iraq.
As Iraq descends into bloody chaos and anarchy, I increasingly wonder if the U.S. could be facing a civil war itself one of these days. For a start, in many ways, this country is as polarized as it was at the dawn of America's first civil war.
Don't believe me?
If you think the Bush-bashing and partisan outrage is robust on the Web's progressive sites, then spend a few hours listening to the hate-spewers over on right-wing radio and Fox News these days.
Day after day, right-wing nut cases like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly slime and smear the Left, accusing us of everything from hating America, to treason, to giving aid and comfort to our nation's enemies.
America's long-poisoned well of political debate is now the equivalent of a dry, gasoline-soaked powder keg. All it would take is a spark to set it off into conflagration.
It's easy to imagine how all of this could eventually lead to violence in the streets some day. Any one of a number of factors could be the igniting spark.
For example, let's say that Bush decides to invade Iran: a very real possibility. Are America's progressives going to continue to sit idly by while Bush continues to launch war after war? The disastrous Iraq war is already unpopular enough; it's hard to fathom the popular backlash that a war on Iran would provoke.
There are a number of other potential sparks that could set off a civil war in the U.S. Many progressives (as well as independents) already believe that the 2000 election was a fraud. A growing number of us believe that the exit polls showing a Kerry victory demonstrated that the 2004 election was a fraud, as well. What if we see another highly suspect election in November?
Are those of us who aren't Republican fanatics going to continue to sit on our thumbs while the right-wing in this country continues to blatantly steal elections? I don't think so. Sooner or later, the people will realize that the sort of change that America needs can only be achieved by taking to the streets.
Other factors could be the igniting spark: civil unrest caused by a sudden crash in the dollar's value, caused by the out-of-control Bush deficits. Or an economic depression, caused by a sudden hike in the price of oil.
Last but not least, let's speculate for a moment what will likely happen if another 9/11-style attack hits America. It's almost certain that Bush will use this opportunity to launch a massive crackdown on the civil liberties he hasn't already stolen from us.
No doubt, the fanatical BushBots out there will predictably support this move, (just as they supported Bush's illegal wiretaps). But how about the rest of us? Are we going to sit around idly while Bush completes the job of turning America into a full-fledged police state?
Civil war in America? I really don't think it's that far-fetched.