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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Bush's gamble, our world
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   01/12/2007)

We'd best get ahead of this game. The Kid from Waco may be wacko, but he's the one dealing the cards. And near as I can tell, the game is chaos. It's as if somebody powerful made the town drunk sheriff and he thinks he's a gambler and a gunslinger. The real problem could be his sidekick, though, Deadeye Dick.

Yes, I'm harping on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney again, and people who don't mind being lied to and jerked around outrageously by oil and arms merchants will complain against critics like me. But what can you do? What other subject is worthy of op-ed writers who take the world seriously? True, “there are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke,” in the words of Bob Dylan, “but you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate, so let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”

How late? So late that Bush's “shock and awe” has ignited a fire that's spreading like flame chasing spilt gasoline--into Somalia, Pakistan, Lebanon, Israel, possibly Iran and Syria. It's moving so fast so suddenly that the posse who built Bush up as someone worthy to run the world—people like James Baker, Republican Supreme Court justices, and once overly-friendly Big Media types like Tim Russert--are learning the hard way that George W. Bush is out of control.

Item: While you were sleeping, Thursday morning, Americans raided the Iranian consulate in Irbil, an industrial town in Kurdish Northern Iraq, near the Iranian border. This just hours after Bush accused Iran and Syria—without offering evidence—of providing material support for attacks on American troops. Meanwhile, American gunships are killing people in Somalia. Our government is calling them al-Qaida, and people without pride will take Bush's word for it. Me? I'll wait on the evidence.

There are times when America needs to exert force, but we'd best find a way to curb a president who rules through use of signing statements, “faulty intelligence,” torture, wiretaps, press leaks, threats, manipulation and whim, all while ignoring the majority.

It's not enough for Congress to make a fuss with a vote of no-confidence against sending 22,000 more troops to Baghdad. That's already happening. Some talking heads say smart move, he's passing to his successor—maybe John McCain or Hillary Clinton. The new presidential sweepstakes have begun, they exult. Isn't this fun?

But not so fast. Two years can be a long time, and international poker's a deadly game when played in the Texas gunslinger style. Dubya's going double or nothing, drawing to an inside straight, with lots of wild cards. And if he loses in Iraq, he'll curtail the game by starting a brawl, I'd wager. You could hear it in his speech Wednesday night, when he put Iran and Syria on notice. With gunboats in the Gulf and serious reporters like Seymour Hersh citing contingency plans for bombing Iran, those of us who oppose WWIII had best get ahead of the game.

Lest you think spreading the war is new policy, consider a widely quoted saying from halcyon days of the Neocons. “Men go to Baghdad, real men go to Damascus and Tehran.” Or this from writer Ron Suskind, quoting a White House Neocon: “We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality… we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too… We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'' Time to run the Necons out of the game.

A report on CNN, Wednesday, pointed out Bush's so-called “surge” tactic was hatched at the American Enterprise Institute, a Neocon think tank in Washington. And it was little noted by big media last week that Cheney's hand has been dramatically strengthened. Zalmay Khalilzad, set to replace John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is a Cheney protg. So is Mike McConnell, whom Bush dealt in as our new national intelligence director. I'm not heartened to hear Tim Russert say on MS-NBC, Wednesday, “Iran is going to surface in a very acute way… we have to cover it very carefully.” Remember yellowcake? Aluminum tubes? Mobile anthrax labs? Aerial drones? Saddam ties to al-Qaida? Well, get set for a new parade of lies on TV. Face it, media profit from wars. So do arms merchants, energy corporations, aircraft makers and congressional people of both parties. So who'll stop the war?

As Molly Ivens said recently, “It's up to us, Bubba, you and me.” But what can a person do? You might start by taking two minutes to phone (800) 614-2803, to reach the Congressional switchboard and ask for your senator or representative. Tell them you're against spreading the war in Iraq. Then you might take a moment to email . That's the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is taking citizen comments through Jan. 17, 2007, on a proposal to build a new nuclear bomb factory. It's a factory that could return us to Cold War levels of production—with attendant cancer, pollution and treaty violations. Tell them you oppose it. Our so-called leaders and their minions are way ahead of us in having their way with reality. Maybe to them it's a game. But it's our world they're gambling.