Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Rewriting History?

We see President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney pointing their fingers and we hear them saying all sorts of things in defense of their increasingly unpopular war in Iraq. They scowl and say those who criticize the Bush war strategy’s failings are “rewriting history.” Ha! It seems once again the best way to know what the Bush administration it up to, indeed, is to listen to what it accuses others of doing.

That ploy has Bush claiming no one knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, while history tells us the UN’s chief weapons inspector, Hans Blitz, was saying to anyone who would listen in early-2003 that he could find none.

Bush acts as if we were all behind him in the lead-up to the invasion, but now we’ve turned on him because as it has turned out -- it looks like preemptive war is hell, too. Who knew? asks Bush.

The truth is millions of people, all over the world, demonstrated against the war in Iraq, beforehand. Yes, and the truth is Bush blew off those passionate outpourings of opposition with a smirk -- over a million were in the streets in Madrid, alone. Bush quipped he wasn’t going to listen to “focus groups.”

Well, at least he’s smirking less these days. Yes, and there were plenty of other people who put it on the record that they were totally against the launching of that war to find and seize WMDs in Iraq. Some of them dared to believe Blitz might be right. Remember, WMD's ready to go off in our faces was the reason Bush said we had to move then, not later. So, Bush simply bashed the UN as a bunch of wusses and did what pleased him.

The way the Democrats' leadership was cowed into complicity by the Bush administration in that period is one of the understandable reasons too many voters still see the donkeys -- who now bray that they were lied to by Bush, Cheney, et al -- as wishy-washy.

Still, others weren’t cowed. On January 15, 2003 a British writer, the spy novelist John le Carré, put his opposition in plain terms. Below is a portion of his hard-hitting piece, “The United States of America Has Gone Mad,” which was originally published by The Times in the UK, and subsequently reprinted in other publications. Le Carré voice was just one of millions that Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush laughed off then, and conveniently tries to forget existed now.

“America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War.

“The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press.

“The imminent war was planned years before bin Laden struck, but it was he who made it possible. Without bin Laden, the Bush junta would still be trying to explain such tricky matters as how it came to be elected in the first place; Enron; its shameless favoring of the already-too-rich; its reckless disregard for the world’s poor, the ecology and a raft of unilaterally abrogated international treaties. They might also have to be telling us why they support Israel in its continuing disregard for UN resolutions.

“But bin Laden conveniently swept all that under the carpet. The Bushies are riding high. Now 88 percent of Americans want the war, we are told. The US defense budget has been raised by another $60 billion to around $360 billion. A splendid new generation of nuclear weapons is in the pipeline, so we can all breathe easy. Quite what war 88 percent of Americans think they are supporting is a lot less clear. A war for how long, please? At what cost in American lives? At what cost to the American taxpayer’s pocket? At what cost - because most of those 88 per cent are thoroughly decent and humane people - in Iraqi lives?

“How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America’s anger from bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history. But they swung it. A recent poll tells us that one in two Americans now believe Saddam was responsible for the attack on the World Trade Center. But the American public is not merely being misled. It is being browbeaten and kept in a state of ignorance and fear. The carefully orchestrated neurosis should carry Bush and his fellow conspirators nicely into the next election.

“Those who are not with Mr. Bush are against him. Worse, they are with the enemy . Which is odd, because I’m dead against Bush, but I would love to see Saddam’s downfall - just not on Bush’s terms and not by his methods. And not under the banner of such outrageous hypocrisy.

“The religious cant that will send American troops into battle is perhaps the most sickening aspect of this surreal war-to-be. Bush has an arm-lock on God. And God has very particular political opinions. God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America’s Middle Eastern policy, and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist.

“If Saddam didn’t have the oil, he could torture his citizens to his heart’s content. Other leaders do it every day - think Saudi Arabia, think Pakistan, think Turkey, think Syria, think Egypt.

“Baghdad represents no clear and present danger to its neighbors, and none to the US or Britain. Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, if he’s still got them, will be peanuts by comparison with the stuff Israel or America could hurl at him at five minutes’ notice. What is at stake is not an imminent military or terrorist threat, but the economic imperative of US growth. What is at stake is America’s need to demonstrate its military power to all of us - to Europe and Russia and China, and poor mad little North Korea, as well as the Middle East; to show who rules America at home, and who is to be ruled by America abroad.

The most charitable interpretation of Tony Blair’s part in all this is that he believed that, by riding the tiger, he could steer it. He can’t. Instead, he gave it a phony legitimacy, and a smooth voice. Now I fear, the same tiger has him penned into a corner, and he can’t get out.”

Click here to read the entire piece.
Illustration by F. T. Rea

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