With unprecedented aggressiveness and arrogance George W. Bush warned in his first State of the Union message, Jan. 29, that his “war against terrorism is only beginning” and other nations including North Korea, Iran and Iraq are on his target list.

Riding a wave of support induced by the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, Bush painted a picture of “thousands of dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder, often supported by outlaw regimes” who he claimed are now “spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs, set to go off without warning.”

Continuing to plow under the rule of law to ever expanding war efforts, he called the terror network an “axis of evil,” and a “terrorist underworld” and proclaimed the right of military incursions anywhere in the world to fight it.

In an echo of his father’s “sole superpower” State of the Union speech in 1992, Bush portrayed the Pentagon as the world’s self-appointed prosecutor.

“Even 7,000 miles away, across oceans and continents on mountaintops and in caves, you will not escape the justice of this nation,” Bush said. “We now have troops in the Philippines helping to train that country’s armed forces to go after terrorist cells that have executed an American.”

Only in passing did he allude to “allies” and not once did he mention the United Nations or the rule of international law. Not once did he allow for a future that could include the resolution of terrorism without war.

Sitting in front of him was Attorney General John Ashcroft who ordered the round-up of nearly 2,000 detainees across the U.S., holding them without charges or right to legal counsel. The overwhelming majority of detainees are legal residents or visitors with no connection to terrorism, caught up in a dragnet based on racial profiling. Most of them are of Middle Eastern origin.

Bush introduced to the crowd Afghanistan’s interim leader Hamid Karzai. The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan revealed that Karzai has been a Central Intelligence Agency covert operator since the 1980s, when he helped the CIA destabilize the socialist government in Afghanistan. After the overthrow of Najibullah in Kabul by the CIA-backed Mujahedin, Karzai became a supporter of the extremist Taliban and a consultant of Unocal in pushing for an oil and gas pipeline across Afghanistan from the former Soviet Central Asian Republics to the Arabian Sea.

Also sitting in front of him was Sec. of State Colin Powell who wrote a memo to Bush urging him to reconsider his denial that the captives of the war in Afghanistan are not allowed procedural protections by the Geneva Conventions.

Bush derided these concerns with a wisecrack that the captives “occupied Afghanistan but now occupy jail cells in Guantanamo Bay,” the U.S. naval base on Cuban territory.

Bush called on Congress to approve the largest increase in the Pentagon weapons budget in 20 years including his Star Wars missile defense scheme and other “hi-tech” weaponry. It’s more expensive, he said, but it saves lives.

Yet according to recent reports at least 4,000 Afghan civilians were killed by such weaponry.

The speech used the war fervor to deflect or silence criticism of his far right foreign and domestic agenda, especially the deepening economic recession.

The gaps between the economic reality faced by millions of Americans and Bush’s vision of the future were colossal. Having to face the mounting pressure to extend unemployment benefits and healthcare, Bush called for an “economic stimulus” plan that includes extended jobless benefits – he didn’t say how long – and a “tax credit” which he claims would help jobless workers pay for health care.

But nothing was mentioned for the millions of citizens and immigrants, who do not qualify for unemployment insurance.

Bush paid lip service to job creation, using it to demand his tax-breaks for the rich. He rejected calls for repealing tax cuts which benefit the rich calling instead to “make these tax cuts permanent.”

These tax schemes will not create jobs at a living wage when steel, auto and other industries are shutting down and state and local governments face budget crises.

Bush did not retreat in calling for privatization of Social Security, calling for “personal retirement accounts for younger workers who choose them.”

Bush received standing ovations from both sides of the aisle when he called for a wider war. But there were apparent splits on key domestic issues like Social Security and trade. Democrats sat on their hands when Bush called on Congress to approve “Trade Promotion Authority,” the new jargon for Fast Track authority to negotiate the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the expanded NAFTA, which has already destroyed three million jobs.

Not once did he mention his administration’s close ties to Enron the bankrupt energy trading corporation. In fact his advisors decided that “Enron” should not even be mentioned.

Skirting the real issue of corporate political influence he did not mention anything on campaign finance reform and ignored the 11 Congressional hearings currently under way.

But with a straight face, Bush added, “Through stricter accounting standards and tougher disclosure requirements, corporate America must be made more accountable to employees and shareholders and held to the highest standards of conduct.”

Yet he and Vice President Dick Cheney, who sat behind him as he spoke, are themselves refusing to disclose records of Enron’s meetings with Cheney and his secretive Energy Policy Task Force in which they drew up plans for more energy deregulation, more secrecy, and less accountability, the corporate culture that brought Enron down.

Congress, “must act to increase energy production at home so America is less dependent on foreign oil,” Bush said. Instead of proposing energy conservation, Bush’s renewed energy policy was a veiled reference to his drive for oil drilling in the pristine National Arctic Wildlife Refuge, strongly opposed by the environmental movement.

Though he did not mention the upcoming midterm Congressional elections, the months ahead will be the battle ground for defense of democracy, civil liberties and the living standards of working families and tying these battles to the ultra right corporate drive to wage war in all corners of the world.