By George Gregoriou
I wish there was a rating for world leaders, for lying. Bush and Blair would be very high on the list. So would others. Those who control the mass media would not be that far behind. The “truth” in political analysis is the first casualty in reporting. Take the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
It was planned for five years. The kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers was the excuse to start the war. What about the thousands Palestinians killed or kidnapped, still in Israeli prisons, for resisting the Israeli occupation, the Israeli settlements, and land grabbing. Peace could be in Palestine if Israel returned to the 1967 borders, the basis for a sovereign Palestinian state. Israel wants peace and more Palestinian land. It cannot have both.
George Bushʼs only concerns were civilian casualties in Lebanon (not Iraq?). Israel had the right to defend itself. Not the Palestinians or any other occupied people? But the White House did supply Israel with US cluster munitions, the anti-personnel weapons that spray bomblets over a wide area. The supplies were on the way during the war. With the carnage over, the concern of the State Department¹s was whether Israel violated a secret pact on cluster. What was Israeli supposed to do with these weapons? Put them in a museum or a warehouse, to rust? It used them. The Israelis need not worry. This concern is only for public relations, not to alienate Arab regimes still allied to the USA. Anti-personnel weapons had to be a brilliant invention by those who put property above people. The right to property is inalienable, supreme, god-given (John Locke and the US Bill of rights). So is life. But it is less important to property, acquired mostly through exploitation of labor (surplus value), theft, plundering, and war.
“War is a Racket” Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler wrote in the 1930s. The poor fight the wars. The wealthy make huge profits. In the words of Butler: ³I spent 33 years in the Marines, most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism.² War is a racket today. The invasion of Iraq already cost $500 billion (1/2 trillion). It is one of the most privatized wars in modern US history. The money goes mostly to Halliburton (charging soldiers $45 for a six-pack of soda!) and its subsidiary KBR (Kellogg Brown & Root), Blackwater Security Consulting, and CACI International, all tied to big Republican Party money-bags. Destruction through war is not bad. Big destruction equals big profits. Reconstruction equals bigger profits. Costs are inflated. Even hurricanes (like Katrina) means big profits.
Billions of dollars are needed to destroy, rebuild, destroy, and rebuild again. The military-industrial complex, the manufacturers of weapons, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the oil companies, and the home security industries make big money. Wars, like rapes and murders, are headlines. It means higher ratings. Ads cost big money. Even the weather report is “in just 10 minutes from now,” after the commercials. Experts on the war appear from everywhere, on the payroll of big media. Politicians talk tough, as long as someone else is doing the fighting. Who pays? The French say “Jacques le bon homme (you pay).”
The victims are young men and women (many 18-21), working class, hired guns to do the killing or get killed. They are recruited, through lies. They are vulnerable, from broken families, no education, no career or future, mostly black, latino, or poor whites. A young latino from El Salvador told me the other day he was offered not just the green card but US citizenship if he joined the military. Twice he had cold feet. He was recruited at 15 to fight the guerrillas in El Salvador. If he knew what he knows now, he told me, he would have fought with the guerrillas. Recruits kill other recruits and innocent civilians, working class men and women, enemies they never see, except through the telescope of a gun or a tank. It is easier if the bombs are dropped from high altitude. There is no blood or body parts to be seen.
The world is full of such war-mongering criminals, leaders and followers, on both sides of the killing fields. The victims are lured by the hype, the lies, the flag-waving, god, patriotism, defending liberty, the liberty of corporate capital to make huge profits by plundering the world, with state aid. War is also a distraction from the daily grind, boredom, a diversion, and a justification for depriving millions of people of food, shelter, and health. Itʼs even exciting. A kid can be all he can be, a man, drive a humvee, shoot with real guns. The military even provides beautiful women to sit on his knees (as in Iraq), for a photo opportunity.
When this “broken down” man/woman returns home in one piece, or minus a leg or two, an arm or two, an eye or two, brain damage, or a basket case psychologically, there may not be a job, health benefits, or psychiatric help. Only pain, drugs, and the subway, as shelter. The sight of an old veteran (just yesterday) with a flag outside a supermarket collecting funds for disabled veterans or letters in the mail for the same purpose is nauseating. There is plenty of money for war, not for healing. All the flag-waving, the talk of patriotism, guns at the ready, being tough behind the flag or the desk, or fighting for democracy in the Middle East (with someone else¹s son/daughter and the taxpayer¹s money) is hypocrisy at the highest level.
War criminals come in all forms. The religious fanatic or suicide bomber is no less a criminal when killing innocent men and women in a café than the war-mongering official in Washington or London hiding behind the legitimacy of a state mandated war. The White House made 9/11 the reason for everything it does, winning elections, assaulting our civil rights, cutting social services, tax breaks for the rich, and more wars. Bush stated he learned a lot since 9/11 (5th anniversary speech). It took him 5 years(?), and he is still on planet Mars. He is protecting “our families” he told Matt Lauder in an interview. On the other hand, the Israelis use the “victim” legacy of Hitlerism to victimize the entire Palestinian population, whether the attacks are on the jihadists (Hamas or Hezbollah) or innocent men and women, through bombs, the bulldozing of homes, curfews, mass unemployment, rising prices, and the fear of sudden death in the hands of another human being, an army of occupation. I guess, as I am told all the time, this is part of human nature, our DNA!
The invasion of Lebanon brought many things to the surface, in the public discourse and the media, except the root causes. “Behind Hezbollah are the Syrians and the Iranians,” we were told. Why, isnʼt the US behind Israel? “Iran is the real threat (to Israel and Saudi Arabia?), determined to have nuclear weapons, and must be stopped, through war, if necessary”. The nuclear weapons in the hands of Israel, Pakistan, North Korea, Britain, France, Russia, India, China, and the USA, is that OK? Is it OK for big bullies to have nuclear weapons, but not the victims of bullying?
Bush and the “neocons” are doing their utmost to have a war with Iran. This White House cannot survive without crises. What can it do, other than giving tax breaks to the needy rich. The “neocons” must think they are good at war, as in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need another war, for the oil and the protection of Israel? They do not get it. The Muslim world was cheering Hezbollah, the terrorists, not the Israelis or the Americans! Terrorists are growing like mushrooms in the Muslim world, home-grown, thanks to Washingtonʼs policies. It is as if the White House “poked” a stick into a hornet¹s nest. The “terrorists” are out in full force, swarming. How is Israel protected from this rage, in the center of 1.2 billion Muslims in the world? How many more billions ($100 billion since late 1940s) would be needed for the defense of Israel? Why not use this money for peaceful needs at home or the Middle East?
The real cause is US militarism to maintain the empire, control of the oil, and its cozy relationship with the bullies in the neighborhood. But, is it not the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land (for that matter the Turkish occupation of 37% of Cyprus and the 160,000 settlers put on the island), or the US arming of the Talibans in Afghanistan (with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) and Saddam Hussein in Iraq in the war with Iran, or the occupations which followed, the real causes of anti-Americanism? No, the Palestinians, the Greek Cypriots, and the Iraqis who resist the occupations are the problem! The occupiers have good intentions! Those who resist the occupation have bad intentions! US officials and the media say so, or look the other way. The Syrians and Iranians are really bad. They happen to be in the neighborhood and support the Hezbollah, their Muslim brothers!
The world is divided between the good (US allies) and the bad, those who do not toe the Washington line. Though the world is in flames, the White House is still fighting the Cold War. To what end? To maintain The Empire for Profit, this time through much greater fear at home the transition from the Cold War to the 21st Century! The biggest and most powerful government on this planet cannot get it, with or without assistance, because the pursuit of profit after profit and power after power are the bane of its existence. The only superpower status is intoxicating.
How does the White House get away with this? It does not. Bushʼs line of defense ³the safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in streets of Baghdad.² Over the dead bodies blown up by roadside bombs, or shot on the head and dumped in the streets? “Staying the course?” Trying suspected terrorist, even giving them the death penalty, without hearing the evidence against them? George W¹s record is notorious. His CIA tells him in 2005 there was no connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. In August 2006 he publicly stated there was a connection! So does Cheney. The jihadists
love Bush and Cheney.
Bush/Cheney and the jihadists need each other, as enemies. The White House is the subject of ridicule, hated all over the world. The vast majority of the American people, Republicans and generals included, are against its policies. Destruction, body bags, critics, anti-Americanism are not the daily diet of the American people! Social amnesia is in. But the carnage is out there. This White House will stay the course, and attacks critics for sending the wrong message to the enemy, the terrorists! Our choice? Support the war or the terrorists. Fox News or Al Jazzeera! The real or manufactured threats of terrorist attacks and the attacks on critics for “aiding and abetting terrorism” is to instill fear in the people, to marginalize them. It is also a reminder of how the war on Iraq was orchestrated. Is Iran next?
The focus on Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheney, and Bush himself, as vicious, inept, not tightly wrapped, may be misdirected, as if they are the issue. We discuss them, not the issues. It is true that Bush, left to himself, whether at international conferences, or Qs and As with the press (with Qs & As in front of him, rehearsed) is a real source of embarrassment, to his supporters, the American people, and the world. This may provide some comic relief to many, especially the comedians, even to George W. Bush, himself, when he joins in, with his smirk. But, the joke is on us. The problem is much bigger.
We are discussing these characters (the shock absorbers?) on the premise that they should be forced to resign or replaced with competent leaders ….bla,bla, bla. To do what? More competent generals, CIA chiefs, more allies (bullied and bought) to fight US wars of choice, and better lies to the American people and the world, to carry on the same policies? This cabal is a problem, but not the “real” problem. They are not worth the time of the day. The real issue is us. We need a new policy, a new direction, for the country, one which will relegate these characters, their pathetic critics, and their cheer leaders to the dustbin of history.