Now It's Personal: Bush is a Global Menace

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Sat Mar 1 09:00:46 MST 2003


One might turn Saul's seeming lament that, "[c]onsciously or not, W's
policies threaten to destroy the very pillars of social peace on
which U.S. society has stood for decades," on its head and say, "yes,
indeed!"

Mike
-----------------------------------
CounterPunch

February 28, 2003

Now It's Personal:

Bush is a Global Menace

By SAUL LANDAU

George W. Bush has chosen a course to divide the country. Even before
9/11, he pitted Americans against each other as at no other time
since the 1960s. After 9/11 the polarization became dramatic: pro and
anti war groupings, environmentalists and polluters, workers and
bosses, landlords and tenants, citizens and non-citizens. He has
reached the point whereby if the UN Security Council does not abide
by his dictatorial wishes, he will launch a strike against Iraq and
render the UN essentially irrelevant.

Look at the stern curl of his mouth, the lines forming from his beady
eyes down his cheeks, that seem to force his lip into a seemingly
mean sneer. A parent who has lost his patience lectures the errant
child after giving him repeated warnings to change his evil ways:
"I've had enough of your nonsense. This latest offense means capital
punishment." I wonder if Barbara did a similar act when Georgie Poo
was drinking and using. Are we watching imitative behavior, with
Saddam Hussein taking the place of the once-naughty and now-reformed
George W. Bush?

He has translated his own religious beliefs into a divisive political
force, attaching anti-contraception and anti-abortion riders to
funding for UN programs and paying federal funds to religious
organizations to run programs for the poor, homeless, addicted and
unemployed. And Bush's judicial nominees share one overall
conviction: property rights over human rights.

Bush has sewn frightening seeds of conflict in the land. The
Democrats, who should oppose his war policies that will involve much
bloodshed and horrific consequences, wring their hands instead and
make squeaks about Bush's unfair economic program. They fear that
Bush's popularity ratings deny them the possibility of questioning
the many anti-civil liberties clauses in the USA Patriot Act. Indeed,
the Democrats ceded constitutional powers to Bush, whom, they did not
trust, when they passed the October 2002 Iraq war resolution.

Consciously or not, W's policies threaten to destroy the very pillars
of social peace on which U.S. society has stood for decades.
Moreover, he commits each act of divisiveness, from his reward the
filthy rich with dividend tax cuts at home to kill the heathen
terrorists with war abroad, with an air of forcefulness and
certainty, as if the very depth of his ignorance provides him with
the self-assurance that his paucity of knowledge should deny. The
Democrats do not challenge this ultra Teflon character who may well
have stolen the 2000 election from them, after spending years doing
super shady oil business and going AWOL from his Texas Air National
Guard unit.

This man with global ambition and moderate intelligence does possess
a smart and pushy set of advisers. They have changed the context of
world debate. Instead of talking about how contemporary
imperialism--in its military, economic and cultural forms--brutalizes
billions of people in the third world, Bush has manipulated
discussion toward the threat of Saddam Hussein and his alleged
weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq, which had remained and should continue to remain a back burner
and peripheral issue, has taken center stage in a seemingly
unstoppable march to war. Will we strike with the UN or without it?
The Democrats accept his false assumptions and shake their cowardly
heads.

Or, must we revert to political logic to explain why Bush marches
toward war with Iraq. On February 5, the Bush Administration
presented its best case. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the UN
Security Council with an illustrated lecture that he had an air-tight
case for military action against Iraq albeit he produced no smoking
gun. To show that Iraq had not complied with the UN resolution 1441 (
in other words, eliminating weapons of mass destruction), he showed
slides from aerial photos, played sound bites from supposedly
intercepted communications of Iraqi military and scientific officials
and related alleged links between the nefarious Al-Qaeda and Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein.

Powell did not convince the majority on the Council. U.S.
intimidation, bribery and promises lured a few members of the "new"
Europe like the Czech Republic and Poland, to join with rightwing
governments from "old" Europe like Spain and Italy, and, of course,
the lap dog Tony Blair of England. When Jack Straw, the British
Foreign Minister who as Home Secretary had engineered Pinochet's
phony medical escape from trial in Spain in March 2000, rose to
endorse Washington's bellicosity, the British press announced that
large sections of Tony Blair's "Dossier" on Iraq--that Powell had
praised as solid intelligence--had actually come from the work of a
graduate student using published sources.

No matter! The White House spinners had intended Powell's "smoke and
mirrors" show more for the U.S. public that also finds Bush's
obsession with Iraq less than compelling. The script, with speeches
stored in Oval Office file drawers for each stage of the war
foreplay, focuses on demonizing Saddam Hussein and then repeating
unfounded assertions that he poses an immediate threat to US security
-- while UN inspectors continue searching through his underwear. And,
of course, the speeches ignore the fact of U.S. complicity in the
very crimes that have now become unspeakable.

For example, Bush harps on Saddam's criminal behavior. But the Reagan
and senior Bush Administrations both supported Saddam during the
period in the 1980s when he allegedly gassed Iranian troops and
civilians at Halabja (now put into doubt by former U.S. Intelligence
experts). Stephen C. Pelletiere, a Senior CIA political analyst on
Iraq in the 1980s, analyzed U.S. military intelligence and claims
that the Iranians dropped the gas on the Kurds, not Saddam (NY Times
Op-Ed 1/31/03, "A War Crime Or An Act Of War?"). The US provided
Saddam with logistical help--showing the position of Iranian troops
-- the better to deploy his use chemical weapons. Indeed, Reagan
approved of U.S. companies selling Iraq components of what became
their biological weapons systems--nasty stuff like botulism and West
Nile virus. And, of course, in 1983 Reagan dubbed Rumsfeld as his
special envoy to Iraq.

Theories of Bush's motives abound: finishing the unfinished business
of his father, seeking to control the vast Iraqi oil reserves and
water supply, furnishing the U.S. with a permanent base in the
region, helping Israel by giving them a place to remove the
Palestinians, and, of course, performing his sworn duty to God.

But one of his high up pushers and planners laid out an actual world
domination scheme--a "full spectral dominance" scheme as their
national security lingo calls it. British journalist John Pilger (New
Statesman, December 16, 2002) quotes Defense Policy Board Chairman
Richard Perle speaking after 9/11: "We are fighting a variety of
enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first
we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq . . . this is
entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of
the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to
piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war . . . our
children will sing great songs about us years from now."

According to Pilger, Perle waited patiently for "some catastrophic
and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor". 9/11 then became
"the opportunity of ages". Perle worked on The Project for the New
American Century, says Pilger, a joint planning operation of the
American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute and members of
the current Bush regime (like Vice President Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld,
and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. Pilger). He calls these men "the
modern chartists of American terrorism."

As the candidate who once espoused a more humble nation, Bush now
serves as an instrument for a 21st Century empire unlike any seen
before. Defense spending--meaning money for aggression--will continue
to rise under the "we need to fight and win several wars at once"
doctrine. The high tech weapons makers will reap benefits, of course;
the rest of the economy will fend for itself with an ever-increasing
deficit. But these dreamers [vague] don't want to face practical
reality.

One doesn't have to look beyond Bob Woodward's Washington Post series
on how 9/11 fell into the lap of opportunists. The ubiquitous
Rumsfeld supposedly asked the Cabinet to endorse his scheme to bomb
Iraq as the main target of anti-terrorist warfare, not Afghanistan.
Powell slowed the process down to prepare the gullible U.S. public.

Indeed, one has to no more than glance at a post 9/11 map to see the
proliferation of 60 plus U.S. bases in regions where "strategic"
resources lie--oil, gas, uranium. Bush has used the fiendish Al Qaeda
attack to stand as a strongman, a reversal of his prior image. Since
his bold post-attack speech, the media have treated him as the super
Teflon president--allowing his old sins, stupid remarks and
incoherent "logic" to pass unquestioned.

Bush and his intimidators have frightened the nation and the world.
Their rhetoric vitiates reflection. It induces panic and anxiety. The
public must beware. Controls increase at borders, train stations and
airports. On February 7, one Los Angeles supervisor notified his
staff:

"The Federal Department of Homeland security has raised the
nationwide alert status from yellow to orange. Orange is a high
condition declared when there is a high risk of terrorist attacks. We
must do the following countywide procedures as established by the
County's Office of Emergency Management:

-- Review existing building evacuation plans.
-- Review mail handling/package delivery procedures.
-- Review information systems security issues.
-- Test rapid employee notification procedures.
-- Notify Executive Office of the alert change.
-- Take additional precautions at public events.
-- Check availability of alternate work sites in case of an incident.

Just an added note: Please be sure you have a calling tree that
includes each staff member in your organization in your possession at
all times.This is not meant in any way to imply that our facilities
are a target. We work closely with the County's Office of Emergency
Management to insure we get the most recent information on
emergencies and disasters. Should you have any questions on this
matter, please call me at .."

As the grim-faced Attorney General warns the nation of an impending
tragedy somewhere in that vast, vulnerable public space and increases
police patrolling of various locations, he simultaneously advises the
public to shop, travel and do their regular business--behave as if
everything was normal.

Welcome to the less than brave and somewhat second hand world of
George W. Bush.

Saul Landau is the Director of Digital Media and International
Outreach Programs for the College of Letters, Arts and Social
Sciences, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. His new
film, IRAQ: VOICES FROM THE STREETS, is available through The Cinema
Guild. 1-800-723-5522. He can be reached at: landau at counterpunch.org


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