George W. Bush says the war in Iraq has made the world safer. It may sound good in media bites but take a closer look. His campaign is playing on people’s fears of terrorism, wrapping itself in national security, and doing what it does best: lying.

The Bush administration ushered in a new kind of foreign policy with its war on Iraq. Called “preemptive war,” it could best be described as a “shoot first and ask questions later” foreign policy. In order to pursue this illegal action against Iraq, Bush lied to the American people, and continues to lie, about the reason for this war. There are no weapons of mass destruction. There was no connection between Iraq and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Yet Bush and Cheney continue to link the two, claiming the world is safer without Saddam Hussein, but they never mention the post-Sept. 11 number-one-wanted man, Al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden.

Former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and anti-terror chief Richard Clarke revealed Bush used the war in Afghanistan as his dress rehearsal — the real target, Iraq, was always in his sights. Why?

In the post-Soviet-Union world, some in U.S. ruling class circles pushed for a new approach to foreign policy. They argued for a “muscular,” single-superpower rule where U.S. corporations have the freedom to pillage and plunder world labor markets and natural resources. In order to do that, control of Middle East oil — on which Europe and Japan (potential rivals) are dependent — is necessary. After Sept. 11 they saw an opportunity to put this scheme into play (see the excellent PBS Frontline documentary on the Project for the New American Century). Their illegal, “shoot first, ask questions later” and go-it-alone unilateralist policies came together in the present Bush doctrine.

Certainly Sept. 11 has made the U.S. feel vulnerable, but truthfully, does anybody feel more secure with Bush and his corporate buddies calling the shots?

During Bush’s watch, terrorist activities have increased. Is it acceptable to say these attacks are “over there” and therefore the U.S. is safer? How safe are those 1,000-plus dead U.S. soldiers and the 20,000-plus wounded? Do you feel safer when you see Russian children taken hostage? Or when the terror-alert goes up to orange? Or when TV news shows promote anti-terrorist kits containing duct tape? How safe do you feel when firehouses are closed, police and fire departments defunded? How secure do you feel when you lose your job and health care? Or your local public hospital closes for lack of funding?

Dick Cheney threatened another terrorist attack if Kerry is elected. He warned a Kerry administration would undo their militarist foreign policy, described by Bush as, “We have to hit them over there before they hit us over here.” But it’s exactly this policy that has made the world more violent, unstable and less secure. Their aggression has opened the door for others to follow suit.

Terrorism thrives on right-wing ideology and policies. As is widely acknowledged, bin Laden was trained and supported by the CIA. Donald Rumsfeld, on behalf of the Reagan administration, shook hands and made deals with Saddam Hussein. U.S. corporations sold Hussein the poison gas he used in the 1980s war against Iran and against the Iraqi Kurds. U.S. imperialism trains and supports terrorists and dictators for its own corporate, profit-driven agenda.

If terrorism is a global issue, then it will take global cooperation and adherence to international law to isolate and defeat it. Bush’s never-ending war policies, including advocating first-strike nuclear attacks, have made that impossible.

In a recent speech, Al Gore called the Bush-Cheney masterminds “digital brownshirts.” With that phrase he pointed to a big concern of many — creeping fascism. This is what the Bush administration has created — fertile soil for creeping fascism. False patriotism, Big Lies, racism, chauvinism, terrorism and fanatical religion are the fertilizer for that bitter soil.

Concern over national security and terrorism can’t be ceded to Bush. The anti-Bush movement has to challenge the idea that Bush has made us safer — be it in letters to the editors, while canvassing or in workplace conversations. The best way toward peace and security is to dump Bush and his dangerous policies in November. The working-class, peace and democratic movements will then be in a better position to struggle for an end to war and terrorism.

Terrie Albano is editor of the People’s Weekly World. She can be reached at talbano@pww.org.