Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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To embrace Bush's worldview is to dream on
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   09/12/2003)

Tell me. How do you embrace this war, this expensive occupation of Iraq, this president?

People who love their country, their world, want to see their leaders as wise souls who have only the interests of Americans and humanity at heart, especially on days like 9-11, as this is written.

For a growing number of us, however, seeing our leaders that way has become an impossible dream. Every few days new acts of deceit by our president are revealed, and polls show more and more people are finding it hard to overlook them.

Recently, for example, several sources reported the Bush administration pressured the Environmental Protection Agency to lie about the air at Ground Zero following 9-11-01. CNN reports that air was among the most polluted ever recorded and that scores of people who helped clean up the mess or bravely returned to work near the World Trade Center site, on the misleading advice of their own government, could face early graves.

Or how do you make sense of another recent report that our government ushered hundreds of Saudis out of the United States immediately after 9-11, no questions asked, even though we knew many of the hijackers were Saudis? Or that Americans ushered thousands of complicit Pakistanis out of Afghanistan in the early days of our campaign there?

How do you embrace the knowledge that the Bush Administration deliberately exposed a CIA operative's identity to the world, in retaliation, because her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, refused to say Iraq tried to buy nuclear weapons fuel from Niger? How does such knowledge square with your view of Bush as an honorable man steeped in Christian values?

Speaking of which, how do you make sense of the carnage? The knowledge that Americans have now killed somewhere between 3,000 and 40,000 Iraqis of all descriptions when there's still no evidence Iraq had anything to do with 9-11?

How do you explain the Department of Defense's refusal even to answer the question, "How many people have died in Iraq?"

How does it square with your notion of a liberal press that one must rely on foreign media to see evidence of dead Iraqis? That, in order to report even a gross range of how many have died, reporters must trawl the Internet?

Or that most of those mass graves in Iraq date back to the late 1980s and early 90s when Saddam was our friend and ally?

How do you square the fact that we've now spent $80 billion on Iraq with another $87 billion planned for the coming fiscal year, after our leaders assured us just a few months ago that Iraqi oil would pay the costs of rebuilding the country?

Or that companies making the most money from rebuilding Iraq include Haliburton and Bechtel, who have direct ties to the administration, and that some of these companies dealt with Iraq, when that was illegal, through off-shore subsidiaries?

How you explain the lack of evidence that Iraq had anything to do with 9-11, the lack of evidence that they were capable of striking us with weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes from any given time? That they possessed unmanned drones with the potential to deliver WMDs any place in the world?

How do you embrace an administration that says it's O.K. for Americans to one day use nukes? An administration that kills treaties barring new nuclear weapons? How do you justify the fact that even now workers in Oak Ridge are turning civilian nuclear wastes into weapons grade material, even as we try to make other nations stop doing it?

How do you embrace Bush's undermining the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency. How do you embrace the destruction of old-growth forests? The failure to even mention global warming in the president's annual environmental report? How do you ignore the Navy's use of high-density sonic blasts that disorient and kill marine life the world over?

How do you make sense of an energy policy that places almost no emphasis on conservation? That gives tax breaks to companies that buy SUVs? That refuses to give automakers incentives for better mileage?

In short, tell people like me how to make sense of the dawning impression that if George W. Bush had run for president on a platform of making the world uninhabitable for humankind, he could scarcely have done better at starting us down such a path?

The only way I know to embrace such a litany is to close my eyes to the truth in front of my face and dream on.

I won't.